You can’t treat people like crap!

“We are not a holding company. We are people.”

“We care about you. Really.”

“We are about opportunity. Opportunity to create, to grow and to have an impact. We want all of our people to be as successful as they can be to reach their full potential.”

These are all statements taken directly from the Deckers Brands website.  Sounds great! Right?  Not so much.  Recently, I had a very short-lived career with Deckers.  In fact, it lasted all of 9 days and 4 hours. That is definitely a record for me as the quickest exit from a job I have ever had.  (I lasted longer gutting fish at a fish market in high school.) It’s a very long way from my 15 years with David’s Bridal. So what happened?  I wish I knew.

Somewhere between the last in-person interviews that resulted in a unanimous vote of “we love you” and the same day offer, and ten days later when I showed up for my first day of work, something changed.  I don’t really know what happened because all they would tell me was that I wasn’t a “good fit”.

I wrote two letters to the corporate office about my experience – not because I thought it would change anything, or because I wanted to get my job back, but because it is wrong to treat people in the manner I was treated. And somebody should know.

Since then, I have not had a single response from my emails. I didn’t really think I would, but one can hope. I have moved on – doing contract work with a great non-profit organization.  I have support from my family and friends. I am greeted with I’m sorry’s that are laced with smiles because they are happy to have me back.  I’m okay.

But I want you to know what happened.  Why? Becuase leaders need to know that you can’t treat people like crap. We are currently experiencing an upside-down, backwards-facing, pond-scummy, whatever-I-want, idiotic political race, where our potential leaders seem to think it is acceptable to treat human beings without dignity. Well, I say it’s not.  We are better than this – even if those who have influence over the direction of our lives disagree.

This is the letter I sent to the Chief HR Officer

Attn: 
Graciela Montgomery, Chief Human Resources Officer
Deckers Brands

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Good Day Ms. Montgomery,

I am forwarding to you a letter I sent to Andrea Jackson with regards to my termination.  I feel that it is important for you to understand the manner in which your leaders have been handling the staffing in the new Denver call center.  You may look at this as simply sour apples, but in my long experience in working in customer service, I have never seen – or moreover, been treated – in the manner that Heather Bissell, Call Center Director, Kim Heidt, VP Customer Experience, and to a lesser extent Andrea Jackson, SR Manager Human Resources, handled my very short-term employment with Deckers Brands.

I interviewed with a number of your home office associates over a fairly long period.  My application was accepted on July 19 and I received my first request for an interview on July 26.  The process was very drawn out, and I continued to interview with other companies, however as the interviewing went on and I spent more time researching and learning about the company, I became increasingly excited about the opportunity I saw in front of me.  After each interview, I was assured that the interviewer had been very impressed with me and was excited about the possibilities we had discussed.

My first interview with Heather Bissell was very short and although she was pleasant enough, she seemed disinterested in my background or qualifications – very quickly ending our call.  I chalked this up to her being new in the position and let it slide.  The interview with Lucy Gros renewed my excitement about the prospects of working to build a new and customer focused training program from the ground up, something I had successfully done at David’s Bridal.  When offered the three interviews at the call center location I felt very good about my prospects and began to turn down other offers.  I felt that at this time in my life I wanted to align myself with a quality company – not just accept any job that would pay my bills.  I had spent 15 years with my last employer and was looking for the next place to lay down roots. On September 8, the offer for the position as the Call Center Training Manager came on the same day as those interviews. I was told it was unanimous and that everyone was eager to have me start as soon as I could.  I accepted, completed the required paperwork, and eagerly awaited my start date on September 19th of what I thought was to be an exciting career.  What happened was as far from the set expectations as it could have been.

Your website speaks of the “importance of people”, “ethical corporate behavior”, “being valued as a human being”, “about an opportunity to create, to grow, and to have an impact.”

The company Code of Ethics states, “Our good name and reputation depend on the actions of each and every one of us. Our individual actions must be guided by trust, accountability, honesty, fairness, respect and integrity each and every day.”

I no longer believe that your leaders live by this creed.  I was treated so poorly on my first day that I can only think something had occurred between my being offered the position and when I arrived. I know that I am an eager and high energy type of individual.  I can be odd, quirky, and overly exuberant at times. But these were some of the traits that the interviewers mentioned they liked in me.  On Thursday of my first week, I had a discussion with Heather regarding the need tone down my excitement.  Fair enough.  I did.  I focused on being a part of the new hire training class – learning the systems needed to respond to consumer calls.

She also questioned if I thought this position was a “good fit”.  An inquiry I found confusing as it was only day four and I had not even seen a job description or had a planning meeting about the expectations of the position or even knew what was to be my first project.  At the time, I had been told to simply behave as a new hire participating in the new hire agent training process.

During the nesting period, between customer calls,  I spent time revising my notes, confirming understanding through the help center, and beginning to write a new opening to the training class.  Heather was out of the business on vacation, and I had no indication from anyone else that I was behaving in a manner in any way unacceptable. 

That is until Thursday.  I received a request from Andrea Jackson to have an immediate call together.  This was my first indication that anyone had been concerned about my behavior and frankly I was confused as to what could have been the problem.  She brought to my attention that a report was made that I was “unengaged in my own learning, preferring to spend my time playing solitaire.”  I was flabbergasted as this was a far from the truth as it could have possibly been.  Yes, I spent some time at the beginning and before the end of my break or lunch, engaged in a computer game.  I learned a technique to transition out of one state of mind (such as a break) and into another (such as learning mode) when I was a special education teacher in the early 90’s.  It is one I teach and use to help focus quickly on the next task at hand.  A simple game of solitaire, a few minutes of a puzzle, or a quick drawing are a proven way to help an individual leave behind the previous activity and focus on the next. (In fact, this is the basis of the latest adult craze for coloring books.)

I have 56 pages of handwritten notes, accessed at least 30 to 40 of the Zen Desk help center tutorials, began a One-Note notebook of 5 sections to organize the material I was absorbing and created an outline to present as a better way to help new hires readjust their paradigms regarding a customer-centric call center.  And all this while I made every customer I spoke to happy with the results of their calls.

Then on Friday, I was let go.  Kim Heidt would only state that I was “not a good fit.”  That she had to spend part of every day talking about me with Heather (while on vacation), that she had never had to have two conversations with any new manager in their first two weeks before. She was insistent that her time with Deckers has helped her know who will work out and who won’t.  She would not answer my questions about what I had done to cause this impression.  She was dismissive, rude, and unwilling to explain other than to say I was simply not going to “work out.”

Please tell me how any of this is in keeping with your company standards?  I changed my life in many ways to accept this position.  I began to build hopes, plans and saw a future that was better than my husband and I have had – all based on the promises made in the interview and hiring process.

I believed in what was told to me.  I made plans. I spent hours preparing to move out of the training class and into my actual position.  And now, quite frankly, I am devastated. I will be fine. I will find a position that will actually value my skills and abilities, will celebrate what I can bring to their company – quirky traits and all – but I am still devastated. For three weeks I have imagined the possibilities of this position, began planning and creating something new – and your seemingly unethical, unbelieving, dishonest, unfair, and disrespectful leaders would not even tell me why I was not a “good fit.”

In at “at will” employment state, I probably have no grounds for a wrongful dismissal suit.  I will look into this, but I am sure this will not worry you. I have not met you and do not know if your leaders are representative of your beliefs as well.  I sincerely hope not. I hope that somewhere in your organization are individuals that actually believe in the creed you express on your website.

Sincerely,

Angela R. Nevin

 

Reflections on day 6

 

Today is our last day of construction. Tomorrow we are heading back to Managua to stay as our flight out on Friday is very early in the morning.  I was supposed to work on the high school building again – and I really wanted to – but my wanna-make-it-better-for-everyone side warred with my I-wanna-be-selfish side, and the wanna-make-it-better side won out. I’m glad too because it turned out to be a good choice.

Here’s a little bit of what happened: a number of our volunteers ended up with stomach issues, so instead of 23 people strong, we were only 16.  Of those, only 3 were left to go out to Casa Rio del Coco.  The remaining 13 volunteers going to work on the school were joined by 12 additional school attendees and teachers.  Soooo, the school has plenty of help and the village? Well, not so much.  So, I stay on the bus for the mountainous, gear-grinding, bus ride south.  At least it’s not raining today.

IMAG0503

Monday’s wet and muddy drive south.

On Monday we worked on the stove bases.  Today we will continue with the chimneys and assembly. We are also set to build 15 Eco Biosand water filters.

Bicoand filter

Biosand Filter

These filters are made of simple materials that cost about $19. They are plastic buckets with a sieve at the top. The water is poured into the sieve and then filters down through sand.   The organic material present in the dirty water is trapped at the surface of the sand bed, forming a biological layer which actively removes pathogens and contaminants. (There is a scientific name for this layer but we know it as common slime.)  The filters are 95 – 99% effective in removing dangerous contaminants from the water, and 100% effective in removing parasites, rendering it clean and drinkable. Drinking waterWe completed 8 filters and have all the parts ready for assembly for the additional 7.  While working on the filters I learned 2 important lessons:

  1. The hardware store around the corner from my house in Denver is a pure luxury.
  2. Wastefulness comes in many forms – not all of them tangible.

Let me explain.  Lesson 1: Part of the process for assembling the filters involves a rubber washer.

Hose washer

The $0.17 washer that stopped us cold.

Just a simple one – the kind you use when attaching your garden hose to the spigot.  It costs around $0.17 each. You probably have a few of them scattered around the workbench or lying on the garden shed floor. Well, we ran out of them about half-way through.  And when you run out there is no Home Depot around the corner to just “go and grab what you need”. Honestly, I don’t even know where you get your building supplies. So when we had assembled all we could, we just continued with what was left- knowing that the final assembly would have to wait for another day.

Lesson 2: I got an insight on all the little wasteful habits I have. It came when I was changing the drill bit from a small one to the keyhole bit. Most of you know I use drills on a daily basis. I am very familiar with all the workings, chucks, keys, reverse, forward, strength, and speed. So I didn’t even pause when starting to change the bit.  I held on to the chuck

Drilling buckets

A lesson in wastefulness. (With Antonia & MK.)

(that’s the black section just below the drill bit), set the function to reverse, and squeezed the trigger to roll back the bit holder. It takes about 1 second to open up the bit holder enough to replace the bit.  As I was putting down the small bit to pick up the new one, Antonia took the drill from me and showed me that I should just unscrew the chuck manually rather than using the power to assist. In one flash I saw how important the littlest things are when you are not in a privileged area.  I realized that when the battery pack ran out of juice, we were done.  There was no plugging in, no switching out of battery packs, no running to the hardware store.  Power gone = project stopped.

 

I really can’t even begin to tell you what lessons, how many, all the insights, and (hackneyed as it sounds) soul changing experiences I had while in Nicaragua. Since I came home, I have been asked many times about the trip. Sometimes I don’t know where to start to tell about everything.  But in the end, this is what I think sums up the entire trip:

“It was amazing!  Absolutely incredible – but what was most important was that I learned that almost 100% money you donated ends up funding the charity. The staffers from RandomActs.org are 100% volunteer.  Not only do they each give their time, but they each paid for their own trips. On top of that, the money goes directly into the economy.  All of the construction workers are 100% local; the general contractor is an expat living in San Juan del Sur, so his money goes back into the community – you are funding salaries, jobs, families, people. You are bringing clean air and safe drinking water to children, adults, and villages. All of the building supplies are locally sourced, renewable, and unbelievably beautiful! The school is not supported or funded by the government.  With the exception of some teacher training and accreditation, all funding for the school comes from donations, foundations, and primarily through the sister city project.”

That’s it!  I confirmed what I already believed – this is a great charity, funding an independent, well-deserving project. Checks are written and people paid.  I couldn’t be happier with my choice and I believe that everyone who helped should rest assured that each donation went where it should. Period. Fini. The end….  well, not really, I have a lot more to tell you, so look for more posts in the future.


This is a really great video -a 360º walkthru of the new building.  Be sure to use the left and right controls in the upper left corner to swivel the view to see the entire room.

When life gives you lemons….pucker up.

So it’s been awhile since I’ve been here.  (It seems I have a firm grasp on the obvious – that’s a good sign.) However, it’s the why it’s been awhile that needs some explaining. You see – life threw lemons at us.  And while it is an old, hackneyed, tired expression to say you should make lemonade – I’m going to say it.   Nothing is ever just handed to you – it’s up to you to make that happen.  So we found the sugar, added the water, and created a new lemonade recipe.

Nevin’s Loving Life-Let’s move on-Lemonade:

Lemon ingredients:

  • 2 lost jobs
  • 1 broken furnace
  • 1 roof leak
  • 0 money
  • 2 broken pipes
  • 9 wicked cold snow storms
  • 4 water damaged floors
  • 3 exposed rafters where the ceilings collapsed
  • 1 flooded basement (contains drums, buckets, cases, boxes, electronics, and other items that can be used to hold water)
  • 1 deed-in-lieu to the mortgage company

Sugar ingredients:

  • 2 parents that stand by you even though you are over the age of 45
  • 1 couple/best friends who never give up on you
  • 2 landlords willing to take a chance
  • 1 move: home to Colorado
  • 4 – 6 kids to help load the moving truck
  • 5 golden rings – I wish
  • 1 new puppy
  • 2 new jobs
  • 3 great friends to help unload the moving van
  • Unlimited amazing adventures
  • 2 people returning to their roots
  • 0 regrets

Throw in a few things just for extra flavor:

  • 56 hours of driving time PA to CO
  • 1 funeral combined with a house being moved down the street plus our moving van blocking the road
  • 1 minor car accident straight out of a Coen brothers movie
  • 1 midnight on New Year’s Eve crossing the Pennsylvania border
  • 2 missed flights back to PA
  • 1 weather exchange of 33°F and sleeting in PA for 60°F and sunny in CO – on the same day
  • Substitute 1 new and better job for the Colorado job
  • 1 missed left turn at Albuquerque (watch some Bugs Bunny if this comment doesn’t make sense)
  • 2 weeks without my anxiety meds (just to add some agitation to the final product)

 

 

Mix with excessive amounts of wonderful water from the Colorado sky.

Shake vigorously with all the friends that have loved, helped, carried, laughed, cried, and just sat with us when we needed.

 

Yield: Unlimited servings

My subconscious wants to tell me something – but I’m not sure I want to hear what it has to say.

What does it mean that even my dreams involve a do-it-yourself touch?

I dream in full Technicolor, surround sound, 3D, sometimes animated, with full sensory input.  I don’t know why (although maybe being a narcoleptic has something to do with it,) but over the years I have had some pretty wacky and memorable dreams. I have often wondered what my subconscious was trying to tell me – other times I’m afraid to go there.  (The dream guides are vague on what the really large snake means…only because it is covered in polka dots and speaks Italian.) A few of those dreams have stuck with me, and a few of them come back again and again.

I don’t know how many people remember their dreams from the past, but I have a few that are still as vivid as the moment I woke from them.  The one I remember from the farthest back, I dreamed when I was 7.  (For those of you not close to me, that was 40 years ago – go ahead – do the math… I’m 47.)  I remember trying to ride my brother’s bicycle up a staircase.  And not just any stairs – these went straight up, made of cement, with a railing in the middle (kinda like the stairs you find in a stadium). The bike had a banana seat and was a rusty sort of blue.  The weird thing about the stairs was they were totally isolated from anything else – just blackness and empty space to each side.  I remember thinking that this was totally normal.  I mean – who hasn’t seen stairs hanging out all by themselves.  (Think Zeppelinesk Stairway to Heaven – it was the 70s after all.)  And I kept riding up the stairs, the wind pushing at me from one side or the other, the railing cold and smooth when I would reach out to grab it.  I would end up going slower and slower, until I finally toppled over the side and fell – waking up on the floor of my bedroom.  This particular dream (always exactly the same) continued to haunt me for years – at least until I stopped falling out of bed.  Thank goodness my brother Ben always insisted on the top bunk.

But my most memorable reoccurring dream is one that I’m not sure qualifies as a reoccurring one – it is more of a dream that continues to unfold each time it comes back to me.  I have this particular dream when I am faced with a life changing decision.  I dreamed it for the first time just before my wedding in 1988. And it goes something like this:

I am walking up to a really old house – one that resembles either the Adam’s Family manse or Norman Bates mother’s home.  But it doesn’t seem scary.  In fact, I think it is beautiful.  I have always loved old and decrepit things (insert your own joke here…).  In the dream, I understand that we are being given this house as a wedding present and I can hardly believe it.  It seems… wait for it… like a dream. (Cue the insane laughter!)  I don’t know who is giving it to us, I just know that I have been handed the keys and am allowed to unlock the door.  I reach out, insert the key (hmmm, maybe I am starting to understand this dream – only took me 26 years) and… I wake up.

The next time I have this dream is a few years later when I am ready to graduate from college.  This time I am allowed to go inside, but only as far as the butler’s pantry.  The fact that I know it is a butler’s pantry is weird to me, since I don’t know what one is – but I now have one in my dream house.  It is dusty, old, full of cobwebs and the butler (if there ever was one) did a lousy job at keeping the silver polished.  Of course, this also describes my style of housekeeping, or lack thereof.  I reach out for a plate, sneeze… and wake up.

Over the years, this dream continues to unfold each time I am faced with a major life changing decision.  I have seen the drawing room, the billiards room (because I would never be so common as to dream of just a game room), and the weirdest pool I have ever seen.  It was in the basement – a brick-lined Olympic sized pool fed from the perfect hot springs.  Creepier than sh*t, but fascinating and really cool at the same time.  Probably my favorite room in the whole house so far.  You could smell the faint sulpher from the hot springs, and the temperature was that of a perfect bath water. I was even allowed to swim in it before I woke.  I was on the edge, made a perfect dive into the water – an voila! I am awake.

Where I haven’t been (until last night) was anywhere on the second level.  Being recently released from my job, I find myself once again faced with a major life decision – so I have been eagerly waiting for the night this dream would show up.  It has been years since I have been back in my house and it hasn’t changed.  Each of the rooms that I have been shown are still there – the pool quiet and empty, waiting for someone to jump in (or a creepy monster to jump out), the silver still in need of a good polish (what is wrong with that butler), and the billiard table waiting for the next round.

Finally, after 26 years, I am allowed up to the second floor.  The carpeted stairs curve grandly to the balcony overlooking the main hall – the railing polished to a high wood shine by years of hands rubbing over it – the dust puffing up from each tread as I place my foot on it – the silence heavy over the house, so not even the floorboards creak.   I move every more slowly up the stairs… until… I wake up.  I just wake up.  Apparently, I still don’t get to see the 2nd floor.  (But at least I didn’t fall out of bed.)

I know that dream interpreters say that houses represent your mind.  Okay – that makes sense, this dream shows up when I need to make a new life choice.  But what about the style, smells, dust, uniqueness, and slightly creepy place that I dream about.  What about the fact that I can smell, feel, and almost taste the atmosphere?  Why do I keep falling out of bed? (Never mind that last one.)  Whatever, the reason, I have always eagerly awaited the next installment of this dream.  It will be interesting to see what opens up when I finally decide on a new job.  And what would it mean if that next room I get to explore is the bathroom?

Hmmm.  We will just have to wait and see.

Puppies for World Peace!

"Stella" courtesy of The Animal Orphanage of Voorhees in Voorhees, NJ

Recently, my husband and I took the step of ditching our regular TV provider.  We now get our boob tube entertainment via the internet – and quite frankly, this has been working out great for us.  However, it means that if I want to keep up on news and headlines, I have to search them out.  My daily foray onto the news sites returned the following:

  • ISIS: Why we enslave women
  • Vietnam vet’s leg stolen at NFL game
  • Ranger disrespected by flight crew
  • Brawl erupts after NASCAR race
  • And on…and on… and on…

It’s enough to make you want to jump out the window (which given that I am on the first floor probably won’t solve anything.) But yesterday, I think I may have discovered the solution to all the world’s problems.  Okay – that’s a gross exaggeration, but I may have hit on a thought that could help a little… Puppies!  Yes, I said puppies!

My friend and I meet at a local coffee shop on Sundays whenever we can.  We sit, eat really good quiche, and catch up on whatever comes to mind.   At yesterday’s java joint, I had the opportunity to watch a very interesting thing happen.  Outside of the coffee shop was a woman with a very young puppy, and as we sat and drank our coffee, the most interesting phenomena began to occur.  Each person that walked by stopped to play with that puppy.  They stopped in groups, singles, and couples; they were young and old; black and white; tall and short; high-heeled and sneakered.

They were all unknown to each other, drawn by this little black and white fur ball of bouncing energy.  At one point, there were at least 3 different groups of strangers, all playing together on the sidewalk in front of the café.  And as they played, they began to interact with each other.  One woman bought a cup of coffee for an older gentleman; someone else took the time to pledge money for an aids walk; a young couple, when they were done, helped an elderly lady cross the road – and the catalyst to all of these kind actions was a silly little puppy.

So, is my answer to world peace a puppy?  Well, sort of.  Okay, not really.  But if you stop and think about it for a minute, you might start to see some sense in what I am saying.  After all, I’m positive that the diversity between the individuals playing together on that sidewalk also represented a huge diversity in belief systems.  Yet, none of that mattered for the few precious minutes of happy puppy playtime.  People that might never otherwise interact, smiled, talked, and enjoyed a few moments together.  And their actions reflected the small transformation a puppy had on their worlds.

Can we change the world with puppies?  Well, no.  But we can take that small lesson and realize that, for a few minutes, the world became just a little bit better – that adversity and differences among individuals can, in fact, be set aside for a brief moment.  And, if you can set your differences aside for one moment, who’s to say you can’t do it for two, or three, or four or…  Moreover, just maybe, those who stopped to play with that puppy, took the feeling with them and made someone else’s day a little bit better as well.

So to the world leaders out there reading this blog (because I’m sure some of them do,) at your next meeting, take a puppy with you.  It just might make a difference.

I am a Rube Goldberg device.

Quote from A. A. Milne (Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh) Part of my book Just Be.

In my search for a new way to pay the bills, I have found myself applying for some very interesting positions and in some very interesting ways.  The most recent application asked “In 150 characters or fewer, tell us what makes you unique. Try to be creative and say something that will catch our eye!”  Here is what I wrote:

“Info enters my brain in the usual way. I then I twist, knot, bend, cut, spindle, fold, & even mutilate it to create art, education, magic, & beauty.”

Boom! 149 characters.

But this got me to thinking about all the things I am and even some that I am not.  In society, all of us are so often defined by aspects of our life that are really meaningless in the grander scheme, yet we think are so incredibly important to our individual identity.  For example, think about being a new kid at school.  One of the first questions I was always asked was “What’s your nationality?” Maybe this was a function of the time or maybe where I lived, but this particular question was a real kicker for me as I was adopted as an infant.  Back in 1967, most adoptions were closed, meaning there was little to no information given about the birth parents.  However, the one piece of information that my folks were given was my nationality.  So when asked, I had an answer. Interestingly, I would blend this information with that of my family so it would come out something like, “I am Pennsylvania Dutch and Swedish, but my family is Swedish and Norwegian.”  Now I just say, “I am lily-white northern European.”  Adds a real touch of class, don’t you think?

I have to admit to being out of touch with what kids ask now, but if nationality is not the question, then I’m sure  another has taken its place.  Why?  Because when I was asked about my nationality, I was really being asked, “Who are you?”  In some ways it’s the equivalent of asking another adult, “So, what do you do?”   But what are we really? Who are we at heart?  I am not from Sweden, I am not Pennsylvania Dutch.   I am not really lily-white northern European.  I am a great American mutt.

But I am more than that. We are more than that. We are so many things that when you put them all in a blender and hit the frappe button, you create something amazing, something truly delicious.  Here is my recipe for me:

  • I am a woman. One that loves to work on the plumbing, doesn’t wear make-up, has really short hair, thinks high heels are not for me, could exist if I never wear a dress again, sweats easily, blushes even easier, and cries when passionate, but not when really angry.
  • I am a daughter, friend, wife, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, niece, granddaughter, cousin, former co-worker, and casual acquaintance.
  • I am a writer, artist, crafter, designer, do-it-yourselfer, seamstress, teacher, blogger, creator of weird things, collector or weirder things, and admitted fan-girl. (Although, I have to say that the fan-girl status is a new one.  Is 47 too old to start? Let’s talk Supernatural another day.)
  • I am a narcoleptic – although this might be more of something I have than who I am. But when you can fall asleep in front of a drum line during full practice, it might be who you are.
  • I am weird, eccentric, bizarre, unique, unusual, strange, odd, quirky, one-of-a-kind, and peculiar – and proud to be each one.
  • I am a risk -taker, a devisor of cunning plans and harebrained schemes. (I am also a frequent visitor to the emergency room – that often being the outcome of a harebrained scheme.)
  • I am not quite right in the head.  But someone needs to be that for others – why not me.
  • I am afraid, anxious, fearful, panicky, slightly depressed, and strong enough to overcome each – with a little help from my friends.
  • I am usually late (but very rarely for dinner – ba dum bum.)
  • I am a care-taker of furry animals.  One of them is currently curled up asleep in the sleeve of my sweatshirt, and I happen to be wearing it at the same time (the sweatshirt, not the animal – shame on you for thinking that.)  I am also a keeper of plants and fish.
  • I am occasionally stupid, too talkative, insensitive, self-centered, egocentric, short-sighted, and idiotic. But come on, who among us isn’t at some time or another?
  • I am organized and disorganized, clean and messy, cluttered and… hmm… well… extremely cluttered – all at the same time.
  • I am beautiful, happy, smiley, genuine, friendly, caring, kind, thoughtful, loving, remarkable, amazing, and incredibly imperfect.

Just a quick side note here, I have multiple tattoos, each one with great meaning to me.  However, the most important, (and by far the most painful to get) are the ones on my feet.  On the inside of my left foot, below the ankle bone, is the word “Beautiful”. This is to remind me that yes, I am, in fact, beautiful. On the right foot is “Imperfect”.  This is to remind me that it is okay to be imperfect and to stop beating myself up over my total inability to be perfect.  I’ll let you know when that one works.

  • I am a dreamer of big and small dreams alike.
  • I am me.

I has taken me a long time to find the “me” in all of the chaos that resides in one person.  I certainly don’t think I have found the final me.  I don’t think you can ever find the true “me” because it is always a work in progress.  But I am slowly beginning to accept that the current me is an unique person. But then we all are unique.  Each and every one of us is a single original work of art –  not to be repeated – not to be underestimated.  You are as unique as I.   And while we all need to feel that we belong – that we fit, match, blend, mesh, or meld – we also need to know that there is something about us that makes each stand out, that we are different, and that our characteristics are those others will admire.

I thank my birth parents all those years ago, for having the foresight to tell me my parents about my biological heritage.  Once, it might have been what defined me, maybe not.  But on the path to finding our own unique “me”, we have to start somewhere.  Just so long as you remember that the search never ends.

Tomorrow, I will find a new me.  Right now I feel like a Rube Goldberg device – an extremely complicated machine with many moving parts, a lot of them goofy and probably silly, and over-designed to do one simple thing  – take the next step – whatever it may be.

“Info enters my brain in the usual way. I then I twist, knot, bend, cut, spindle, fold, & even mutilate it to create art, education, magic, & beauty.”

I think I captured what makes me unique pretty well in 150 characters or less.  It’s kind of a cool exercise.  I recommend you try it and can’t wait to see what you come up with.  Post your unique description in the comments.  Celebrate what makes you… well, you.

Ready, set, go!

I believe that auto-flush toilets will be the downfall of civilization.

You would really have to be living in a cave to not be aware of the current ongoing apocalyptic trends.  I cancelled our cable subscription and still am inundated with every type of apocalypse scenario man (or woman) can imagine.  To be fair, this is not a new trend. Each religion offers its own version of the end of times. The Mayans predicted an end of the world in 2012. Some say particle physics has the potential to cause a catastrophic event.  Computers were set to destroy society on New Year’s Eve 2000 or was it 2001, or 1999? (I never did get that one straight.)  If you include the three or four end-of-the-world predictions from CUT (Church Universal and Triumphant) out of Gardner, Montana, then I have survived at least seven episodes of the Sky is Falling.  (I really need to get a new t-shirt with that on it…)  Then there are the multiple theories from TV, Movies, Literature, Comic books, etc. of zombie-vampire-sharknado-volcanic-urban legend-alien-virus-gigantic bugs-radiation fallout-witches-weather-time traveling harbingers of doom and gloom.  Even Oakland university is offering a  Post-Apocalyptic Survival Studies (PASS) program that “will provide the necessary skills to not only survive as an individual in an apocalyptic aftermath, but to contribute in a meaningful way.”*  However, I think the end of civilization will be due to auto-flush toilets. Yep – you heard me right – toilets that flush themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for advancements in convenience and technology.  As one who has sat on an outdoor vault toilet while camping in the late fall, I can appreciate that modern plumbing has eliminated the cold-wind-up-the-hoochi-coochi  that is standard when living out of doors for a week. However, you can’t debate the fact that auto-flush toilets are taking away the need to teach our children how to be responsible for their own sh*t.  I have listened to my sister teaching her little ones (and she has four of them!) what to do when they are done doing.  The parents out there reading this know that when you are potty training your little cutie pie, you don’t just teach her where to go but also to flush when done and then wash her hands. (And the world thanks you for that!)

“Wait!”  You say. ” Auto-flush toilets aren’t in people’s homes.  They are only in public areas. You still have to teach the little ones what to do at home.”  Ah ha!  But there you are wrong.  They are now available for installation in your own inside outhouse.  Should you wish, you too can install a new Rubbermaid Automatic Toilet Flusher designed specifically for home toilets.  In less than 15 minutes you can have a patented flusher with 4 easy to set flushing functions and batteries that last 100,000 cycles or 3 years. Run to Home Depot and you will never have to teach flushing to your youngster again. But ask yourself – should you?  Isn’t society built on each of us owning our individual responsibilities and contributing to the greater good for all? That is the very foundation of a civilization. But if we remove the very core of individual responsibility (caring for your own sh*t), then what foundation is left on which to build the first level of social interaction?

Generally we share ownership – not of our lives – but in them.  From dinner, to work, to caring for others, we interact, interfere, navigate, and negotiate our way through life with those around us.  We share the road with motorcycles.  We are part of a team at work.  We have friends on social networks.  We stand in line to buy groceries.  We walk on green, run on yellow, and stop on red.  But more and more I look around and see people who are unaware of their surroundings.  (And I am the first to say I suffer from being inside my head too much.) I sometimes stop in the middle of the aisle in the grocery store and block the path, or I step back without first seeing how close I am to the person in line behind me.  But I was taught to be aware of my surroundings – to care if I interrupt someone carelessly – to listen rather than talk – to make my own bed.  I don’t get it right all the time. (I certainly know of people around me who would love for me to get it right more often!)  But I was taught to be responsible for myself – all of me – even my sh*t.

What happens when little by little we erode that personal obligation.  If we struggle with it now when we have actually been taught the lessons that build our individual responsibility, what happens when civilization is run by adults who as children were raised with auto-flush toilets?  Heck with the zombies, we will be up to our collective necks in our individual sh*t.

*From <http://www.oakland.edu/post-apocalyptic-studies>