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.

O-Mok-See

Our computers most often anymore, get set aside over any and all weekends. Especially weekends we are blessed to have all the kids around.

So the email… the email that came in just as the workday ended last Friday that stunned us both… we agreed to forget about the best we could for the weekend and enjoy our time together. And we’re glad that we did because it may have been the last warm, beautiful weekend we’ll see for quite some time.

There was little that could be done to change the situation anyway. At that point. And, we should have expected nothing less than the news we received, given our previous experience with the South Dakota family court system.

So before I get to discussing what was in the email .. this was from Sunday night. I started journaling again right before the power went out.

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Sunday has been a long day but a wonderful one at that – it was the first Sunday School session of fall, the whole family took part in our first O-Mok-See which lasted all afternoon… honestly, the first time I even heard the word was that afternoon when we were there. It’s different than what the kids are used to doing as well as the horses. So it was good for us.

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The Cowboy and the boys left early to get to their first fall flag-football practice (which they are totally stoked about), we all got home later than we would have liked on a school night and still had to put the horses and tack away, grab a shower, a bite to eat and get to work.

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The girls picked up their homework and went out to my office – the newness and privacy of it all has them excited and wanting to work out there. Needing somewhere quiet and with the Cowboy and the boys still not home, I stayed inside, sat down at the table, and started to catch up on emails, interviews yet to be logged and think through the articles due Monday morning at the paper.

The email, I still haven’t looked at it. But I already know what it says. We’re pondering the various ways we might folo-up this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Just Trust”

Love all, trust a few.

The word, trust, has come up quite a bit for us today. The Cowboy and I had a conversation about trust first thing this morning in regard to a project we’re working on together with someone – and that what we’re counting on from this other party, will happen. Trust came up again later today in regard to an article I’m working on, that I’ll do right by the people involved in it because it’s a genuinely sensitive issue.

In the midst of another interesting discussion tonight. The words, “you just need to trust .. ” were part of a lengthier text we received a few moments ago.

There are reasons, that after years .. heck even days of working with someone, living with someone, knowing someone, you just know that you can trust that person. Wholeheartedly.

Or, that you can’t. Sometimes trust goes away with one incident. Other times, no matter how many chances you give a person, no matter how much you love them or want to believe things will be different this time around, trust is just hard to come by. Why? Because they’ve shown you time and again they can’t take responsibility for their own actions or tell the truth, they’ll screw you over for fun, for spite, to get ahead or .. for really no good reason at all other than a lack of empathy, if given the chance.

Trust – and respect – need to be earned. Not demanded. And I’m amazed anymore at how often people feel these two things are a God given right. Mistrust, more often than not, doesn’t just happen. For no good reason. Heads up.

Can it be earned back? Absolutely. Do people change? Of course. But trust is a biggie. And re-gaining it doesn’t happen overnight. Or, just because someone tells you you should.

There isn’t a morning that goes by I don’t wake and put every ounce of trust I have in the Lord that people all over the world, and in our own circles, will do right by each other. When that doesn’t happen, which is often the case, I trust there is a reason we have yet to learn. And we try again tomorrow.

Damned if you do ..

The Cowboy is standing at the sink, cleaning up after having just made us both some breakfast. We’ve both got busy days ahead. And we’re both already somewhat exhausted. Neither of us slept much last night, the dogs were out and barking incessantly for some reason until about sun-up this morning.

Further exhausting us, is a situation we both feel passionately about. One that we are confronted with on a daily basis through the eyes of so many others as well as our own situations; the healing of families after divorce and doing what is in the best interest of the children stuck in the middle of what can often be a tough situation.

The Cowboy is heading to a South Dakota Shared Parenting Rally here in just a bit, a group he’s quietly helped lead behind the scenes for a couple of years now. It’s a group he joined and quite honestly, helped to restart out of the pain of his own family’s situation. The mission since, has become far greater. I’m not overstating this – there isn’t a day when at least one person isn’t calling the Cowboy asking for advice, needing someone to understand where they’re at and asking why no one seems to care that their children have been ripped out of their lives other than four days a month for no apparent reason – a standard custody judgement in South Dakota no matter how good or fit both parents may be, no matter how close they may live, no matter that a growing amount of evidence shows it is best for children whenever possible to have as much time with both parents assuming they are both fit, willing, loving and able parents. 

“It’s a no win situation,” the Cowboy says to me, still standing at the sink, looking not at me but thoughtfully out the window. “All I want, all most people want that are in my situation, is more time with their kids. If you don’t fight for it, people say you don’t care. If you do fight for more time, you’re told you’re bitter and angry. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

It’s not always about time, either. The concerns. There are so many other issues that surround children of divorce. And the parents, quite honestly. One parent badmouthing the other in front of the kids, phone calls or even standard visitation denied with no recourse for the offending parent, never any extra time given, important information about child development withheld, medical issues, the list goes on.

I’ve been cautious to post much of anything over the past year around the topic of our families for a number of reasons. These tough discussions permeate our everyday and are often the conversations the Cowboy and I have when we are alone. But I think there is an incredible amount we’ve learned and that we’ve learned through others that is worth sharing ..  discussions worth taking part in.

Information as simple as – does your state offer/promote collaborative divorce? There are so many I know of who look at me like, what are you talking about, when I ask if this is something they’ve considered.

Important questions to ask an attorney before you retain their services.

Important details to work through before you sign off on finalizing your divorce or custody arrangement.

Working out a communication plan in regard to the kids – if you have a tough time communicating in any way with your ex. What is a communication plan and what resources are available? And, do they work?

Divorce impacts over 50% of our society anymore, most often these couples have children. What states do divorce well? What can we learn from them? Where are there helpful resources for these families? How do you work with someone who doesn’t want to work with you but rather hurt you in a divorce/post divorce/through the kids? Is it possible?

What is happening legislatively across the nation when it comes to child custody arrangements, decisions and laws? Shared Parenting conversations and legislation are growing. But what does this mean?

The media, the family court system and our government like to talk about how big a problem fatherlessness is in our society, yet the system often seems stacked against men, especially. Why is this?

The less a non-custodial parent sees their kids, the more they’re required to pay in child support. May seem logical on some fronts and there are parents, countless parents tragically, who want nothing to do with their kids lives and be free of the financial burden. But I’m not sure that’s the norm. SO .. when you have a fit, loving, caring and genuine non-custodial parent asking for more time, not to get out of paying, but to genuinely have more time with their kids because it is what most likely best all around .. what incentive is there for a custodial parent to agree to any change the arrangement?

Deadbeat dads is another topic the media likes to latch on to and promote the heck out of, I know, I’ve worked in newsrooms that have done this. Let’s follow around the cop walking door to door with arrest warrants for those who haven’t paid up. That’s sexy ‘journalism’ to use the term loosely and is easy to promote, I can just hear the male announcer voice now booming 10 seconds of copy over how we have a society of deadbeat dads and how we can’t let them get away with it. While I will never think it is okay to walk away from your kids or the financial responsibility of them – I have now also seen firsthand why it would be easier for some dads, especially, (some moms too for the record) to walk away versus be put in the situation their ex spouses continually put them and their children in. I am amazed to even think I can now understand this. Not as easy a story to tell, but one equally worth sharing. Who’s got the guts (or quite honestly the time in a churn and burn world of media) to do it? Running stories that are deep and meaningful and true to both sides often bring out the Jerry Springer in many families. It’s a risky deal for news outlets and which side do you believe? Why perhaps the flip-side or even the front side often don’t get told. Stick to the facts of who hasn’t paid up and there’s your story.

What happens when two parents, both hurt by a marriage that didn’t work out for some reason, let go of the past and come together sincerely to move forward, work together, get along and operate in all honesty and do what is in the best interest of the child? What happens then? How does the child benefit/react/grow? What does this look like?

Where are there resources to help you learn to let go, get along? What are the warning signs your kids really aren’t handling the mess you’ve created well?

 

The system is broke in so many ways. How do you fix something so intimate as family and interpersonal relations? Can it be fixed? Who can help, if anyone? Who’s doing it well? I am not claiming to have any answers. But there are always others we can learn from.

I’m not saying I’m going to write about this everyday, but in light of some recent issues in our own family (positive and negative) and in a few conversations we’ve had with others in just the past week, I’m done being frustrated over saying nothing and the fear of saying anything. 

These conversations are happening, but they need to be happening on a broader scale than inside our own homes, or in isolated silos to friends who will listen and can empathize because they are in the same situation.

I’ve taken long enough to write this that the Cowboy has since left his perch at the sink where this whole conversation started, and has left for today’s Shared Parenting rally. Unsure if two people or two hundred people will turn out, he plans to be among them…

While others have told the Cowboy he’s an embarrassment for doing what he’s doing, I hope he knows how incredibly proud I am of what a good dad he is, of how much he cares about and for his kids, and that even if he can’t change his own situation, he’s doing what he can to create as positive a situation for other parents and children should they have to go down the same treacherous path.

Sunset

The view from my in-laws house to the west each night is truly amazing.

Sunset from Randy and DarlasThere is little to get in the way of soaking up an entire sky of sunset. A much needed grounding for us this evening ..

As we gathered up the kids after a long day, a long week, family coming to town for the Cowboy’s grandmother’s funeral and an unfortunate situation we all had the opportunity to discuss before heading for home, the above scene was a reminder of how small some things are .. and that the God given big picture is almost always, incredibly beautiful.

South Dakota Sunset

I’m back. I think. To journal, which has always been the simple intent of this blog. This time around, it may also be to somehow learn to write AP Style.

Why is that? Because television journalists are told to forget the rules and write like people talk. Forgetting the rules has served me well the better part of the past 15 years. But it’s meant a few public relations/marketing jobs I’ve considered since moving to South Dakota have gone to others. Apparently, I’m told, these positions require someone fluent in AP style because sentences need to be full sentences and dot-dot-dot isn’t considered a formal sort of punctuation mark. (I sure hope someone is mentioning this to our texting generation kids!)

I’ve decided, even if I am no longer officially job hunting (it’s always good to know what else might be out there, aren’t we supposed to always be looking?) it’s still a good thing for me to re-learn how to write. AP Style. For the record, I am keenly aware this post isn’t a great first effort.

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A lot has happened the past few months. Heck, the past year. Life has changed and changed me. I hope and believe, in only good ways. Things are happening worth jotting down – to have for family history’s sake, that perhaps our kids can someday learn from if not simply gain some insights into who the Cowboy and I are, why we do what we do, what our hopes are for them and the kind of people we are in our own words, versus the words some others may ever choose. A lot of fun conversations have been had, I can’t wait to share them. Others have been very serious and not fun at all. They’re all part of the journey of this blessed new life.

I’ve been perplexed about where to start again. How to jump back in. After witnessing another stunning South Dakota sunset tonight, I thought, why the heck not here …

South Dakota sunset.

South Dakota sunset.

Instagram Pic and caption I posted tonight with it on FB in response to a few comments on the shot:

The sunset tonight only seemed to get more beautiful and bright with each passing minute – that was until at about 10:30pm when the last little bit of light faded off into the horizon. We were sitting out back of my in-laws home with the most wonderful group of friends. Light breeze. Smell of corn growing in the nearby fields under high humidity. Horses in the pasture. Kids running around. We just sat, enjoyed each other’s company and soaked it all up. What a beautiful summer night.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve even logged into WordPress. Thanks to those of you who keep checking in on this blog, for whatever reason. I hope in some small way the words I write or the photos I’ve taken resonate with you in a meaningful way. We all have so much we can learn from each other in this life ..

The Dogs: Indoor vs Outdoor

I might have sat down to write last night ..

Pasture Run

But the mess we came home to after a couple of birthday parties for family and friends kept me busy for far too long.  There will be no photos of it.

“I’ve said this before.  The dogs need to be outside,” says the Cowboy.  “Dogs belong outside.”

He went to bed.  I, for over an hour, cleaned up a trail of foul smelling excrement throughout the house.  Our four kids all huddled in the one bedroom upstairs that didn’t need cleaning and fell asleep.

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“If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.”
― Roger Caras

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How many ranches have indoor dogs?  Not many, I believe.

Yellow on the Bench

The Cowboy has never had an indoor dog, hates the hair in the house, can’t stand that one of my dog sneaks as often as it can onto the bed to nap and hates coming home to a mess (one of our pups can not leave anything alone that might be left on the kitchen counter, including butter, which in turn makes her sick.  Have you ever smelled dog vomit after they’ve downed a stick of butter?  Not cool.  I still don’t know what caused last nights unbelievable mess.)

I can’t say that I blame him.  I’m not a fan of it either.

But I’m used to it, I guess.  I have had indoor dogs all my life and don’t see where there are issues that can’t easily be overlooked or overcome.  I’ve cleaned up accidents and illnesses since I was old enough to take on the responsibility and .. I have until now, always lived within city limits and not wanted a dog to bug the neighbors with its barking.  Plus people that live in towns/cities tend to think if you leave your dog out for any length of time or take your dog anywhere in the car with you it’s their job to call Animal Control.  Somehow that dog is being abused or abandoned, I’m thinking is their typical most educated guess on the subject.  I have to say, my dogs would any day, rather go with me and sit in the car for hours on end than stay home if I give her the choice.  They otherwise just appreciate being around people.  To a fault, I guess.

Our Old Gal

I’m getting off topic.

Indoors or send them outside?  I feel the need at this point, mid-winter, to wean.  Which isn’t fast enough it appears, for the Cowboy.  Especially after last nights mess.  I don’t think they’re ready for it, my very small opinion as the smaller of our two labs comes in shaking from 15 minutes in the cold on days like we’ve had recently.

But girls, know it is coming.  Faster than you or I might like if we continue to have any more nights like this last ..