Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

For seven years, we lived in a tiny house halfway down a side street that ended in a cul-de-sac by the river.

Our neighborhood had old houses and trailer houses and empty lots, young neighbors and old neighbors, and one crazy guy on the corner who cavorted in his garden naked at night and yelled a lot. Not kidding.

One hot stormy night there was a tornado that uprooted the big cottonwoods and took out the power lines and left our street piled with debris. We were standing in what was left of our yard when the news came down the line that an old woman in a trailer by the cul-de-sac had had a heart attack and the ambulance couldn’t get down the street to get her. Within minutes, in the pouring rain, neighbors were wielding chainsaws and dragging tree limbs and pushing cars out of the way so the ambulance could inch its way down the street and get her.

What neighbors do in times of trouble is what my June 5K is all about.

I don’t know Chris Boxley personally but I know his mother-in-law. I’ve known Sarah Deters since she was a teenager. One lives in my community, one used to but doesn’t any more. But I still feel like they’re part of my neighborhood, an area in which I live that while it may not be geographical is still some place where you help people when they’re in trouble.

If you live near my actual neighborhood, there are a couple of special fundraisers coming up for Chris and his family: Thursday, July 5 at the Bill of Rights Brewery in Pierre, SD and Wednesday, July 11 at the Pizza Ranch in Fort Pierre, SD. Donations can also be made through the family’s GoFundMe page and at Oahe Federal Credit Union in Pierre, SD.

Want to show your support for Sarah and her girls? Take part in the Love Her Back event.

I’m at the halfway point of my Year of 5K’s with six months to go. I’m also on the lookout for a cause, event, or place to walk about for the month of July so if you want to point me in a new direction, post your suggestions in the comments.

 

smiley oil 0316

How important is it to be happy where you work?

No, I wasn’t fired.

Just about a year ago I quit being a Director of Advertising and Public Relations to become a Senior Secretary.

When news spread that I was making the move, I got the firing question a lot. Legitimate ask. In the sector in which I work, people seldom go from management to the secretarial pool unless they lost the upper job and had to settle for the lower one. That wasn’t my situation.

I’d had the Director position for 8 years and while there were many things I liked about it (and some I still miss), overall I was enjoying it less. The paycheck was great but I worked damn hard to get it, and physically and emotionally, it was taking its toll. My oncologist said it best: “You didn’t survive cancer to kill yourself working, did you?”

No, I didn’t. So I started thinking about moving on.

Then three things happened. The opportunity came up to buy into the shop where my husband Jeremy worked. There was a chance to go back into radio full-time (my first love, as you’ll note from previous posts). And I hit my one year anniversary of being in remission from cancer.

So I took the leap.

The landing was not as soft as expected.

The seller backed out of the shop deal and eventually closed the business, putting Jeremy out of work. The radio station gig went to someone else (who recently quit and I’m just bitchy enough to find that funny). And three months into my new normal hours/less stress job, Jeremy got cancer.

When you jump off the cliff, you don’t think about how to climb back up it. You’re already in the valley – why not just walk out? Poised to make a leap like I did? Do these things:

Have some money in the bank. Less hours and responsibility meant a hefty pay cut for me, and the shop situation suddenly made us a one-income household. Fortunately, we had savings and investments to fall back on. Don’t underestimate the importance of a nest egg.

Take a good look at what you can do and where you can do it. I thought I was leaving to go back to radio. When it turned out I wasn’t, I had to consider what else to do. Being a secretary had never crossed my mind. Just because you’ve always used your skills and experience for one type of job doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable for something totally different. Be open to possibilities.

Realize that who you are in your new position is not who you used to be. It’s been harder going from a manager to a worker than I thought it would be. I don’t miss the management headaches. I do miss having the authority to make decisions without asking, to lead a team, and to voice an idea without vetting it through a higher-up. The lesson here? Look for ways to make a positive impact with whatever power you’re given.

Understand that not all benefits are tied to a paycheck. My wallet is now leaner but my life is richer. My Director job had long hours, too many meetings, a work cell phone I constantly had to monitor, and a combative work environment. Now I have time to spend with those important to me, I’m not up all night trying to solve work problems, my mind is clear at the end of the day so I can get back to doing things I LIKE to do. And my friends and family tell me I’m nicer. I THINK that’s a compliment.

“Never leave a job unless you’re going somewhere better”. We think that means a bigger paycheck, fancier title, roomier office. If those things don’t make you feel better about who you are, maybe climbing a few rungs down the corporate ladder will put you in a place that does.

Have you ever stepped back from a bigger career? Was it the right move for you?

When I was a kid, misbehaving could get you a swat on the butt, and mouthing off, the threat of tasting soap. It was considered discipline and the practice was fairly common among everyone we knew. We considered ourselves punished, not abused. Abuse was breaking a child’s arm, burning their hand, leaving them out in the cold with no jacket. That wasn’t happening to us.

Under the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, child abuse and neglect occurs when a parent or caretaker takes an action (or fails to take an action) that results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and it’s why I was walking the streets this morning:

I cannot conceive of the horrific things parents are doing to their children in our world. I’ve known since I was 20 that I couldn’t have children and I’ve often wondered why God has granted that privilege to monsters that hurt, maim and kill their kids instead of to someone who would love and protect them.

Despite not being a mom, I’ve been fortunate to always have special kids in my life – nieces and nephews, the children of friends, kids I’ve come to know through where I live, work and volunteer. When I hear the terrible stories of children being neglected and abused, I think if anybody did that to a kid close to me, I would beat the hell out of them. I get the irony of that statement – punishing violence with violence. But it’s hard not to feel that an abuser deserves the same treatment they’re dishing out.

So how can we help? Pay attention to the kids you know. Watch for signs of abuse. And if you see them, report it. If you missed the numbers in my video, the National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-422-4453 and in South Dakota where I live, you can also call the Department of Social Services, Division of Child Protection Services, at 1-877-244-0864.

I’ve no shortage of causes to walk for in my “5K A Month” challenge for 2018, but if there’s a group, organization or event you’re passionate about, give me a shout and some information and I’ll add it to my list. Logging miles that have meaning is kind of my thing and I’m happy to help.

Some years ago I was among a small group of people interviewing a woman for a job. When we asked about her computer skills, she hesitated. Then she explained that she’d been out of the workforce for a while but had been proficient in Lotus and WordPerfect at her previous job.

The interviewer across from me rolled their eyes and snorted.

That ticked me off.

We didn’t know the circumstances that had kept that woman from working. Or what had thrust her back into the job market again. But I knew it took guts for her to tell us that.

Ours is a world in which we need to keep up. Not just to get ahead but even to be where we’re at. Knowing where to get the skills you need is crucial. In my community, a good place to start is the focus of my February 5K:

The circumstances that bring people to the Right Turn vary. Maybe you’re recently divorced or widowed and need a job to support yourself and your family. Could be you’re a high school student who had trouble fitting in at a conventional school but still want a diploma. Perhaps you were raised in a home where English wasn’t spoken and having it as a second language will help you to communicate.

Nobody there will judge you. But they will empower you. Find out more at therightturn.org.

Who will I be hitting the streets for next month as my Year of 5K’s continues? I’m still undecided – what do YOU think? Drop me a comment with your suggestions.

If you ever see me running, I’m either escaping from danger or trying to get somewhere that’s closing in 5 minutes.

I’m a walker. Which is the same as a runner except it takes me longer to get there.

We all walk a certain distance every day to get from one place to another to do whatever it is we need to do. I also walk for exercise, physical and mental, mostly alone or with the dogs, but sometimes in groups to benefit causes.

Our community plays host in the spring and summer to a variety of runs and walks to benefit local organizations and events. If it’s a cause I support, I sign up, pay my fee and walk. The longest benefit walk I’ve ever done was the Breast Cancer 3-Day in St. Paul, MN, which was 60 miles walked over the course of 3 days. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of doing in my life.

Planning a walk/run takes time, money and good promotion. While many organizations do it successfully, there are other groups who could benefit from the exposure but may not have the resources. In 2018, I’ll tell you about 12 of them.

Each month this year I’m doing my own 5K to highlight one program or organization that’s doing good in our world. It’ll just be me (and whoever wants to join me) walking 3.2 miles to raise awareness. No entry fee, no tee shirts, no time limit. My first walk was this morning in 8-degree South Dakota weather with barely any wind or ice (which you’ll appreciate if you live in snow country). This is who I was walking for:

Maybe we don’t all have the opportunity to do good things on a grand scale affecting millions of people but as long as you’re upright and breathing, you have the ability to do SOMETHING. Even if that something is telling a couple of people about something good that’s going on in your corner of the world. They could tell a couple friends who tell a couple friends and so on and so on and so on. It worked for selling shampoo – why couldn’t it work for raising awareness?

If you missed it in the video, the program is the Pennies for Robert Bed and Breakfast Program through Countryside Hospice in Pierre, SD.

One month done, 11 to go. If you have an organization or event you’d like me to highlight in the coming months, drop me a comment and some information. I’m always up for a GOOD, long walk.

blog santa(Don’t be put off by the negative, gang – stick with it to the end, O.K.?)

On the first day of Christmas, I looked around to see: a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the second day of Christmas, I looked around to see: two massive earthquakes and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the third day of Christmas, I looked around to see: three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the fourth day of Christmas, I looked around to see: four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the fifth day of Christmas, I looked around to see: five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the sixth day of Christmas, I looked around to see: six wildfires raging, five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the seventh day of Christmas, I looked around to see: seven crazy shooters, six wildfires raging, five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the eighth day of Christmas, I looked around to see: eight addicts using, seven crazy shooters, six wildfires raging, five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the ninth day of Christmas, I looked around to see: nine hackers hacking, eight addicts using, seven crazy shooters, six wildfires raging, five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the tenth day of Christmas, I looked around to see: ten terrorists bombing, nine hackers hacking, eight addicts using, seven crazy shooters, six wildfires raging, five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, I looked around to see: eleven crooked leaders, ten terrorists bombing, nine hackers hacking, eight addicts using, seven crazy shooters, six wildfires raging, five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I looked around to see: twelve sexual predators, eleven crooked leaders, ten terrorists bombing, nine hackers hacking, eight addicts using, seven crazy shooters, six wildfires raging, five flowing floods, four racists ranting, three hurricanes blowing, two massive earthquakes, and a world lacking peace and harmony.

It’s been hard to see past the negative in 2017. Which makes it even more important to look for the positive. What good things happened to you this year? Can you come up with a dozen, or half a dozen? Nothing coming to mind? How about this: the year is ending and you’re still here. Maybe better off than you were last Christmas, maybe worse but YOU’RE STILL HERE. It’s a positive place to start for 2018, isn’t it? Peace and hope to you and yours.

Care Package

Hand out or hand up?

He could be lying. That’s the thing: we just don’t know.

In the two and a half weeks we’ve been driving to and from a city 150 miles from where we live, we’ve seen him less than half a dozen times. A small, worn man on the shoulder of the highway ramp holding a sign that says “Homeless Vet. Anything will help.”

There are four ramps at the intersection where we see him: two eastbound, two westbound, two exit, two entrance. He rotates among all of them to better his odds, I suppose, and because there’s a lot of construction in that area.

I’d guess him in his 60’s, maybe older, his beard is white and I can’t see his hair because he wears a cap with a hood pulled up over it. He’s hunkered down on the gravel, his gear on his back, his sign out in front, his gaze stoic.

“What’s the story on the homeless vet?” I ask at the gas station where we stop every day.

All of the regulars acknowledge they’ve seen him but nobody knows anything because none of them have stopped to ask him.

“Do you think he’s really a veteran?” the clerk asks me.

It bothers me that we don’t believe him. I’ve heard the stories same as you have about unscrupulous grifters conning sympathetic do-gooders out of their hard-earned money. My husband and I discuss it during our daily trip.

What kind of proof would make a person believe him? His military service records? An eviction notice? An empty wallet with a faded picture of him in uniform? Who would really ask him for it?

Is he making a statement? He doesn’t wave the sign or shout anything or directly approach any vehicle. He stays away from the traffic lights (a good idea because the intersection is always busy) and he must not be bothering anyone because even law enforcement drives right past him.

Why would he do it if he didn’t actually need help? It’s getting colder in South Dakota and on several recent days, the winds have been gusting over 50 miles an hour. He’s out in the open, on the side of the road. Aside from the weather, he could get run over or have things thrown at him or even be dragged into a vehicle and robbed of what little he has. Why take the risk of being out there if he didn’t have to?

On today’s drive, we made a decision. If he was on our ramp today, we’d stop next to him, thank him for his service to his country, and give him something.

We saw him but not on our side. The construction crews were grading the shoulder by the overpass and he was across the intersection on the eastbound entrance ramp, the opposite direction of where we were headed.

We have four more trips to make and if he keeps his usual rotation, he’ll be on our ramp one more time.

Yeah, he could be lying. And here’s the thing: how much does it matter?

Would you stop and give him something? Or look the other way and keep going?