Short Course In Human Relations

In the process of looking for something for a client today, I happened to stumble across the following photo. It struck me as something important to share – at the very least, with our kids.

Short Course in Human Relations

Short Course in Human Relations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We may not all agree with the phrases used here, but numbers four through one to me, seem pretty spot on. And while I could be wrong, I don’t think some of these thoughts are shared or these qualities encouraged enough, anymore. We’ve all heard people talking terribly to one another. And, if you talk with just about any business owner, especially in the service industry, they’re hard pressed to come across employees that have great interpersonal skills let alone a strong worth ethic. The above to me, is a great reminder of some important phrases to have in our immediate vocabulary, if nothing else

Imagine if we all got back to genuinely caring about what others thought, asking please, saying thank you and thinking of others more than we thought of ourselves. What would that look like in our lives, our families, our work, even in divorce and matters of shared parenting.

Sure, it would still look very different to different people and situations would still be handled uniquely from person to person. I totally get that. I just can’t help but think perhaps a little more humility might be injected back into our everyday. And that would be a wonderful thing.

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Dish-To-Pass

What is your first thought – when you’re asked to bring a dish to pass?

We’ve got a potluck after church today. Our daughter is among those being confirmed. And everyone is getting together post-service to celebrate in one place versus everyone going off and doing their own things.

My co-workers will vouch for this: my potluck staple is salad. Fresh, leafy greens, strawberries often on top and perhaps some sliced almonds, salad. Usually, while others heavy, fat-laden, cheesy and fulfilling home-cooked dishes would get snarfed up, I’d go home with a good deal of lettuce left in the bowl.

But, I can’t do a ton of heavy dishes.  I just can’t. I feel awful for hours afterwards, even eating in moderation. Those spaghetti hot dishes, macaroni salads and meatballs that often grace potluck tables really are good, they really are and I enjoy them immensely. But I eat more like a rabbit. I graze. Mostly on fresh fruits and vegetables. And, well, cheese and bread. I just feel better. And the older I get the more I realize I’ve got to watch what I eat as much as I fit in any exercise. So salad it is.

lettuce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But as I get set for this mornings potluck, I’m thinking back on some of the more common dishes my mom and dad used to make and take – German Potato Salad, Goulash, Cheesy Broccoli and Rice, Mint Ice Cream Brownies.. to name a few. And I’m feeling like perhaps I’m missing out by bringing .. well, a nice leafy green salad.

So I’m wondering what others may say is their favorite, home-cooked, bring to the party, make ahead of time and stays delicious, potluck or one-pot dish? The ones you love to eat or make?

cookbook

As I flip through one of my mom’s old, well loved and used church cookbooks, I’m not certain any of the casseroles are ones I want to necessarily make, not today anyway. But they do bring back some wonderful memories of dishes made and shared with friends, and time in the kitchen and around the dinner table with family.

And if all I continue to make are salads, what sort of well used recipe cards or cookbooks will I be passing along to my kids?

Remodel

“Come here, let me show you what I’m thinking .. ” the Cowboy said to me moments before he walked out the door this morning.

I am still not sure he should’ve made the trip he’s making today. He’s got a day full of shoeing and trimming appointments hours away. School has been called off. Winds upwards of 60mph and blowing snow came through overnight and are expected throughout the day, creating treacherous conditions on the roads in our region.

“I’ll be fine,” he said to me right before leaving. “If it gets too bad, I promise I’ll turn around and come home.” Praying everyone gets safely through the day.

House

We’ve started a remodeling project this week, one that we’ve talked about since it seemed a reality our lives would merge. He and his ex had actually talked about building something new just a few feet away and bulldozing the century old home that stands on the acreage here. The house has needed some work. A lot of work, to be specific. Little insulation. Drafty old windows. Small rooms. Decades old carpeting. Layers of wallpaper covered by painted over paneling. Light fixtures that half work. A bathroom with a faucet that’s been leaky for quite some time. A new roof and siding…

Neither of us a big fan of taking on more debt, and me, a sucker for all things already in existence that can be fixed up, knowing the house has good bones plus just wanting a smaller home anyway vs needing an intercom to call the kids, we tore into our biggest challenge yet this week. Ourselves. Literally.

Wall teardown

It’s going to be cool when it’s done. We’re using what we can that’s recycled and rustic to finish out the spaces we’re tackling. And, we’re taking it right now room by room, tearing out walls, ceilings… deciding what we really want for each space as we go because we just haven’t been quite sure what we’ll find along the way.

What we have found, among other things, is that this entire process is incredibly dusty. A 100+ year old home on the Great Plains with a lot of nooks and crannies open to the elements has meant as many years of collecting dust. And, we haven’t hit as many snags as I would have imagined. No asbestos tiling under the old carpet and linoleum. No asbestos insulation. Just a lot of dust. And hard work ahead…. and ideas we have to rebuild our home and life together. Speaking of .. with most other work related obligations knocked out for the day, off to work on that idea he had before leaving this morning.

What about your horses..

There are a lot of people throughout the country bracing for the bitter cold the next 24 hours is slated to bring. Grocery stores are packed with people stocking up. Schools are already ordered closed for the start of the week. Cars are plugged in. Animals and people we hope are snug in their beds. And where there is livestock, enough feed has been put out to get them through the next couple of days. They need it.

“What are you going to do with your horses,” a colleague of mine asked the other day.

Wilma 2

They’ll be fine, I told her. They’ve got a windbreak, some good winter fat on them and a pretty heavy coat of hair. I still worry about them, I tell her. But as long as they’ve got hay (in our case along with some grain) at the ready and shelter if they need, they’ll stay warm and weather these temperatures, just fine .. when they eat, they generate heat.

Moving a bale

“Horses are good if they have a windbreak – they can take a tremendous amount of cold,” the Cowboy’s dad says to me tonight as we’re talking about how they might be faring now that the actual temperature gauge in the house shows -18 at this hour in our little corner of southeastern South Dakota. 

We’re still checking on them routinely. Hoping everyone facing these temps, in some cases, record breaking lows, gets through the next 24-48 hours unscathed. Stay warm.

Just call

“Just call,” the Cowboy and I told a friend of ours the other day. She was sad, lonely and wasn’t sure what she could do about it.

“If you want company, if you want to go somewhere, if you want to go visit your kids,” I asked her, “Do they know? You’ve got to let them or us or someone know. And, if you need anything, you need to call us, we’re happy to come by and we want to help.”

That was one of the days we had gone by with a home cooked meal over the holidays. This morning, we were thinking we should go check on her, wish her a happy new year and had planned to make her cookies. Ironically, she called before we even got the cookies in the oven today to check on us and just talk.

photo-38

This friend of ours.. she is 94-years-old and still lives alone. It’s where she wants to be – still living in the house where she was born in, that has been in her family for generations. But she is limited as to who she sees and what she is able to do, without the help of family or a friend. And few apparently came to visit with her or take her anywhere around the holidays. She was absolutely depressed about it.

She reminds me of one of my neighbors back in Madison. And of my grandmother a bit. And I hate more than anything that anyone ever feel alone and helpless to do anything about it. I know I certainly don’t want to be if I reach a ripe old age and still have my health and wits about me.

I may be off here – but based on the experiences I’ve had being very close to my own grandmother, making sure she and I did something every week when she was still alive and seeing some of the same sadness in her over the years as well as in countless neighbors, friends and even in my own family, some advice for those feeling alone:

  • If you’re lonely, call someone and tell them.
  • If you want to go somewhere, make plans to go.
  • If you need something, ask.
  • Don’t feel like a burden doing any of these things. Most likely you never are. But if you ever sincerely feel that way after being clear having others around would mean  a lot to you, chances are someone else who might like your company more than the person you’re seeking it from.
  • Enjoy public transit. Make plans to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. What are you waiting for?
  • Get yourself a laptop. Have someone tutor you in a few basics of something like Facebook and link up with your kids and grandkids who are miles and states away. They may want to talk with you but you have to be willing to learn their lingo as much as they need to remember how to use yours – picking up a phone, dialing and actually talking ‘in person’ isn’t as common anymore as one might think. Have someone tutor you as well in what online scams look like so that you don’t fall prey to anything that’ll hurt you financially or otherwise while you’re at it.
  • Take an art class.
  • Learn a foreign language and travel.
  • Plan a gathering at your home and invite your neighbors, allow them into your life, don’t just assume no one cares because they don’t automatically stop by.
  • Try and remember what it was like to have a young family. Everyone is always going somewhere and has something to do, someone to take care of. They’re busy. And they usually think of you late at night after the hustle and bustle has died down in their homes when it’s too late to call. While they may email, you don’t have a computer. Communication fails. But not because they’re not thinking of you.

If I’m totally off track on any of the above, forgive me. I’m not an expert. I just have a heart and hate to see you sit home alone talking to no one but a tv all day when someone would love to get your call.

Call. Get out. Ask. Enjoy life while you can and invite others along for the ride.

For the rest of us, perhaps we might all do a better job to think more often about our family and neighbors. I know I need to. I’m as guilty as anyone of letting too many days go by without a call to my dad or other family. (Dad and I are way better now that he’s got a cell phone and has learned to text!) There’s a lot to learn from spending time with someone who’s lived a long, good life. We should consider ourselves the lucky ones.

Off to deliver cookies.

The Year of Making Mistakes

I’ve been seeing all sorts of great quotes for the New Year. I’ve enjoyed many of them, been entertained by a few and shared a few myself because they’re wonderful thoughts to share and ponder and internalize and perhaps act upon. But I wanted to officially share the following here because I’m hoping someday our kids realize that this -this being, making mistakes – is an incredibly important part of life. Of growing. Of being your best and living a good life.

Here’s to a year of making as many of my own mistakes as possible, learning from them, growing from them, being able to laugh at them – and a lifetime of the same.

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“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

Neil Gaiman

 

Embracing Change

“If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.” – Hazel Henderson

I love this quote.

Down the road

A lot of people reflect on their lives this time of year. We go back and ponder what it was we had hoped to accomplish over the past twelve months and what our dreams might be for the year ahead.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel we’ve had time to think about much of anything other than where we need to be next and what needs to get done for the holidays – not until this past weekend, anyway.

The house was completely quiet for about 24 hours as my daughter had taken off for the last half of Christmas break on a trip with her dad. The Cowboy’s three came back to the house last night. This past weekend was the first we’d been home, had down time and pure calm to just think and be still in months. And in the quiet of the morning yesterday, I began to reflect, on all has transpired over the past year.

I did my best in that moment to keep my mind from wandering into what my hopes and dreams are for 2014 because I wanted to contemplate what, if anything, we had actually accomplished this past year. Was it all I was hoping for? Could I have done more? How have we adjusted? Where exactly are we now? What does any of it mean? I don’t know but I’ve done my best to live by the above quote and remain only optimistic about whatever lies ahead.

We have, I believe, accomplished a lot. As a family. Blending homes is not an easy task. Given what others have told us, what I’ve observed with the advice we’ve given, I think we’ve tackled it with about as much grace, patience, enthusiasm and understanding as any family I know.

Career is a different issue. And, I’m thinking a lot about it right now because in the quiet of this past weekend, I came to realize it truly has been a year that I’ve been away from my previous job. One that I love(d) despite all it’s flaws and crazy schedules and demands.

Studio

I signed off the news desk a year ago this week. There are so many reasons I have not looked for a similar job here in South Dakota, all have had to do with family and wanting, needing more flexibility at this point in our lives. But, “Do you miss it,” is a question I am asked often. I do. And here’s why:

1. The people – the news business is home to some pretty interesting people who get into doing news for very different reasons. Whatever the reason, it’s this crazy pool of a) young, hungry, at times misguided and naive but driven, interesting young professionals who often have a vision of what the world is or who are at their core curious about everything. If you get the chance to watch them over the years, it’s interesting to see how life experience changes their perspective on storytelling. b) Those that have been in the newsroom for a lifetime who get fired up by few things anymore, but their knowledge of the market can’t be replaced. It all makes for a wonderful, quirky, fun loving yet dysfunctional team that everyday, many times a day, meets deadlines and gets the job done. You can count on them. You have grown many times to count on these folks to be there for you and let you know what’s happening in the world. Even if you don’t feel it’s relevant to your life and you’d rather complain about them than change the channel.

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2. The people – not just those you work with but those you have the absolute pleasure of being able to go and interview each day. It can be anyone from the President to a transient, community leaders to criminals. And they all have a story worth sharing, something we can all learn from if we’re only willing to listen and spend time with them.

3. Piggybacking off of that, no day is the same – anchoring was about as predictable a day as anything in television news and while I never thought I’d want to be on the anchor desk as a young, hungry reporter who had dreams of being a foreign correspondent, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. It allowed me to best help raise my family on so many levels. A sincere thank you to Tom Bier, Larry Frost and Jim Harmon who saw enough potential in me to first put my mug on the air.

4. Gifts of food. Into to the newsroom. It was like no one had eaten in weeks. Devoured. Gone.

5. Having a beat – not everyone loves having a beat, but man it allows you to really dig into something and become knowledgeable enough you can hang with the best of them on it. You can talk extemporaneously about it and not rely on a notebook when you really know what you’re talking about. Beats seem to be going by the wayside with the downsizing of newsrooms – everyone has to be a bit of an expert in everything. Also fun in its own way. But if you have the chance to pick up a beat, I encourage it.

6. Tight deadlines and being able to walk away at the end of each day, knowing your job was DONE.

7. Free hair styling, makeup and facials. Wow, do I miss that. And boy could I use at least the latter again. I had never had a facial until it was part of the contract with the last newsroom I worked for. Wow. Facials. If you’ve never had one, they are awesome. Go get one.

8. Somewhere to wear all the suits I’ve built up over 20 years of reporting/anchoring. Rural South Dakota’s not really a mecca for professional attire. I’m still not 100% sure where my work life may lead me so I’m hesitant to give them away just yet (says the girl more inclined at the moment to throw on insulated coveralls before heading out the door than a 2-piece from Ann Taylor).

Story Board

9. Editorial meetings and the debates every day about what people would most want to know if given the choice between stories. These were always interesting, small brawls.

10. Taking sometimes hours of meaningful conversations and turning them into a relevant, informative 1:30 minute story others will find interesting enough to stay tuned to your channel. It’s not easy. It’s not perfect. But it does fill an important niche in our daily lives and can have a tremendous impact on community – when it’s done right and with the right intention.

What is wonderful is there are many ways one with a passion for people, storytelling and community building can find or create unique career opportunities. It’s been fun exploring what those might be, embracing all of the change and uncertainty of a new life and career.

Wishing everyone the best in 2014.