Saturday, May 30, 2009

Actions speak loudest

It's sometimes difficult to determine the truth in others.  It's sometimes difficult to find the truth within ourselves.  When our words and our actions conflict, there's something wrong.  It's the simplest measure, but we often ignore it.  Actions speak louder than words and we need to focus on the actions.  It is the truest measure of truth in others and within ourselves.
I keep thinking about a woman who claims to have had a lifelong dream and expresses deep passion for a certain place.  But her actions display the complete opposite.  Saying something is true does not make it so.  
I know when my actions don't match my words I have all kinds of reasons.  Someone or something is preventing me from putting my words into action.  Usually, somewhere in the middle I'll say it just isn't that easy.  In place of action, the woman above will say "I'm working on it."  The action is no more than our lips moving.
And then there's what the lips are saying.  Here are some good ones.  "And I can prove it."  But no proof comes.  "He/she won't let me."  Huh?  "I'm afraid of what he/she might do."  So?
For me, in addition to being thankful and happy, I know I need to keep striving for my words and actions to match.  And I want the balance to be more action and less talk.

Opportunity perhaps?

I received a letter today from a distant relative who is "praying for me" and included a tract about the dreaded homosexual lifestyle.  How do I turn this into a thankful thing?  These are the challenges - opportunities - that will surely help me grow.
I decided to look up lifestyle - "habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group."
Do hetersexuals have the same habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards and economic levels?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thankful every day!

I wake up every morning thankful.  I go to sleep every night thankful.  There are plenty of things that could occupy my mind for which I am not thankful but I've made a conscious effort these past months to find and live out my own joy.  Now that I'm getting the hang of it, it's great fun.  And it is the one thing no one can steal from me.  
The more thankful I am each moment, the more things there seem to be to be thankful about.  Now how does that happen?  I have the same job.  I have the same boss.  I live in the same place.  I have pretty much the same looming issues - some of them quite daunting with no real solution in sight.  The simple answer I can give is that I decided to be happy and be happy doing the things I love.
So I focus on all the great things in my life - all the great people in my life - all the interesting projects at work - all the places I get to see.  I'm not ignoring or forgetting about the issues - just focusing on what can be done and being patient knowing things will get done and will be solved with the right attitude.
As a result, I'm finding everything more enjoyable.  Today, I made two new friends in our HR department as we worked on a project.  We had a great time as we got the work done.  At lunch we chatted away about cool things we find in common.
Frustrations that would have weighed me down on another project, were easily overcome in another meeting.  And I enjoyed the process.
Over the weekend with people from all walks of life, I talked with people and learned wonderful things about their philosophies.  We exchanged phone numbers and emails.  And unlike my normal previous self, I will follow up with them.
I'm sure I will have down days and still have moments of feeling overwhelmed.  But I am determined to wake up each day thankful.  I am determined to end each day thankful.  I give you permission to remind me to be so.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Linda goes to camp

Last month while flying here and there, I read an article about the growing number of adult camping excursions.  Those of us who went to camp as youngsters, are loving the idea of going to camp again.  Meanwhile, my brother told me about the Butler Outdoor Club's annual Extravaganza at Breakneck campground near McConnell's Mill.  I didn't realize it then, but I signed up for camp.
This is the Outdoor club's 13th year of holding this event and it is amazing.  Go to to see the list of events from which to choose.  There's mountain biking at various levels, hiking in strenuous and not strenuous settings, rock climbing, history excursions, bird watching, kayaking, sailing and so much more.  In addition to all the activities, there are the "camp" experiences of joint meals, group campfires, and nightly programs.  It's all family oriented and family friendly - even dogs are welcome at many of the activities.  I didn't take my Molly mutt this time because I chose several events that were not dog friendly.  Next year, I will choose dog friendly events because she would have loved it and I missed her.
Breakneck campground is a perfect spot for this type of event.  They have a beautiful location with a nice big "dining hall", shower building, cabins, shelters, and plenty of campsites.  It's a campground geared to outdoor people - no pool hall or game room - a safe space, ready firewood, and great proximity to lots of outdoor recreation.
Attendees of all ages - little ones to 80 somethings - were happily involved - all gathered to experience the outdoors in their own way.  And the Butler Outdoor group worked diligently to provide the best atmosphere possible for all.  I can only imagine the work that goes into organizing an event like this.  Try gathering 30 family members for a picnic and you may get an idea.  Take those 30 people on an excursion together - multiply that times 10 excursions going on at once in opposite directions and....  These folks, I'm certain, could actually herd cats.
My hat is off!  I had a wonderful time and I would encourage everyone to check out the Butler Outdoor Club.  Even bigger than that - I encourage you to get outdoors in Western PA.  Perhaps in my next blog, I can share some of the fun places I saw this past weekend.  Right now, I need a shower and a bed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Relationships have honeymoons

Recently a story ran on NPR about friendships having honeymoons.  It was focused on strong "same sex" relationships - non-sexual - and how exciting it can be to find a new friend with whom you share much commonalities.  I was reminded of that story as a friend and I were talking about all kinds of dynamics in a broad spectrum of relationships.  
Maybe all relationships have a sort of honeymoon time - a new puppy, new house, new job, new community project.  We enter with the purest intentions and expectations.  It's perfect - the best thing since sliced bread.  And then little realities slip in.  The puppy becomes the chewing menace that pees where it shouldn't.  The house needs more attention than we expected.  The new job comes with some difficult challenges.  The new community project requires working through a murky mire of strong personalities and politics.
So, what do we do when the honeymoon is over?  We are smacked in the face with those annoying things that we could overlook during the honeymoon time.  Now we have a very real investment.  And we have to decide what that investment is worth.  In the beginning the return on that investment is all good.  Once the honeymoon is over, we learn that both good and bad come with it.  I believe, we have to rationally measure the actual return on investment.  The moment we hit that wall of reality is where the "rubber meets the road".  Know "when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em".  See into that mystical crystal ball into the other side.
My incorrigible puppy - that chewed everything in site is now my little buddy at 4 years old.  To get to the other side, I needed a dog trainer to tell me where I was going wrong and what she needed.   And our relationship demands continued growth.  We live and learn together.
My house, I realize, will be in continuous need of attention - that's just reality - but I will love it for the same things I loved if for in the beginning.  It's up to me to make it my home.
My job - I get back exactly what I put in - and that is special.  There's no explaining it.  I am where I need to be and I treasure it.  I do think my relationship there is unique.
My community involvement - it grows and evolves.  I need to give credit to those who are involved.  Learn to trust that they have motives which are not necessarily in opposition to mine.  Involvement needs to be respected for it's own sake.  Not being involved is a lot worse.
Ultimately - honeymoons come and go.  That's not a bad thing.  That's just what keeps life interesting.  Is the investment going to result in mutual benefit?  If the answer is yes, it's ok that the honeymoon is over.  Now we enter a new phase.  And then, I believe relationships develop into new phases of honeymoons.  But that is a topic for another time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summoned for Jury Duty

I have been summoned.  A surprise little packet with a survey and date to show up.  Believe it or not - at my age (which I won't tell you), I have never been called.
A few friends reacted with groans when I told them.  Most of them didn't actually get selected when they were summoned.   My brother said to take a book because you'll likely sit around waiting a lot.
I recall a neighbor long ago who served on the jury of a murder case.  He said it wasn't too fun, especially some of the graphic photos that still haunted him.  I don't suppose the court would let me close my eyes for something like that.  I tend to look away or leave the room when there's violence on TV.
One young friend surprised me when I mentioned it.  "That's a badge of honor," He said.  "It means you've never been in serious trouble."
I guess I'll hang onto that thought as the day approaches.
This seems to be my time to learn about our justice system.   Up until recently I had never even entered a court room.  So far I haven't met anyone like the lawyers on Boston Legal or Law and Order.  The system appears to be much more complicated and strange than it is in those 60 minutes.  With this brief introduction, I cannot imagine how the attorney's, judges, and police keep all the rules of it straight.  Making odd associations as I do, it reminds me of our financial system.   So complicated that the actual substance of things can easily get lost.  But then, this is all new to me.     

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How Big is Your World?

As the days spin and we focus on the tedious issues - paying bills - tending to survival issues - the things right in front of our faces - our world's can become very small.  My beliefs - my issues - my missions - my, my, my.....
There's a whole world out there.  
I find myself drawn to people who trek outside of their "safe zone" to learn what is happening around them.  Are you seeking that unknown?  
It's not easy.  But it is very rewarding.  Walk out of you house and across the street.   Walk out of your business and visit next door.  Get in your car and talk - really talk - to someone new.  Don't do it expecting something.  Do it with an open heart and mind.  Just be in the moment.   
I wound up seeing new plants today.  I saw and held baby ducks today.  Sadly, I must admit, I was fussing in my mind about worries at home.  But I held the baby duck.  I learned about new plants without expecting to learn.  All because I actually wandered a bit from my normal behavior.   
The night before last, I got to know several artists.  They shared a fun solution to a problem I have wondered about.  They shared good energy about projects at hand for them.  
None of these things would have happened if I had stayed in my comfort zone.  I am shy, quiet, and reserved by nature.  It's taken me a long time to learn to GO and to learn to BE in the moment at hand.  And I am still learning.  But I know - above all - I LOVE a bigger world.  It is beautiful and holds wonderful surprises when we are open to it.

Pulling Weeds

Spring time is garden time.  Lots of little spouts coming up.   Time to thin them out and give them space.  I'm determined to find a spot for the extra plants - those cases where two seeds spouted together.    Give them space.  And then there are the weeds...
 We all know how important it is to get the weeds out so the good plants can grow.  
Gardening is a life lesson.
Having been involved in disseminating our corporate message for a long time, I can see that the present culture of energy and enthusiasm didn't simply happen.  Good people were given the space and nurturing to grow and the weeds had to go.  Those who are choking the work place are eventually asked to leave the company.  Sometimes those asked to leave have been with the company many years.  In those instances, if simply due to management or personality shortcomings, they were first given many opportunities to grow into the new corporate culture.   The ones who were finally weeded out were ones who seemed focused on power and control - who could not quite get in sync with a de-centralized, team building approach to business.  They were more focused on lifting themselves up than lifting up the team and ultimately the business.
Once that weed is gone, it's amazing to see what happens.  We have no idea how stifling one bad weed can be until it's gone.  The higher up the company that "weed" is, the greater the impact.  
  This company went from bankruptcy to excellence in less than a decade.  They planted a lot of good seeds - gave them room to grow - and did a lot of weeding.
We need to keep weeds out of all our gardens.  I'm going to be thinking a lot about that life lesson as I focus on the many gardens in my life.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A great company - a great community

What makes a great work environment?  It's the same things that make a great community.  
I'm so very fortunate to work for a corporation that has a positive culture and that culture starts at the top.  This morning I videotaped the employee message with the corporate president.  I wish every employee had the opportunity to meet our top executives.  They are real people who make tough decisions.  Some of them I have known many years and feel strongly that they sincerely care about the individuals affected by their decisions.
What makes a great work environment?  What makes a great community?
1)  Accountability and responsibility.  Our decision makers at all levels truly care about the effects of their decisions.   Seeing that, drives us to be more accountable and responsible.
2)  Empowerment - People count.  Believe in their skills and ability to contribute.  When they get it right, tell them!  
3)  Set the bar high by example and create realistic goals.  We all love a challenge.  Especially if we know that meeting those goals will be recognized.
4)  Keep lines of communication open at all levels.
I've been with this company 14 years now and have seen a lot of changes.  It's more fun than ever.  The last two days were especially energizing as I had the opportunity to visit with co-workers in Milwaukee that I don't see nearly enough.  The ones I have known for years seem to share my feeling of renewed energy and enthusiasm.  And I had time to get to know new people who are very excited about their jobs and the company culture.  It's uplifting to share good energy.  That's what makes a great company.  That's what makes a great community.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thankful for nice neighbors

We can sometimes become focused on the changes we'd like to see in the world.  And, while that's important, it may be even more important to seek those things to be thankful about.  I am thankful for nice neighbors.  
Living in town was an adjustment for me when I bought this house 9 years ago.  I had spent the previous 12 years living in a farmhouse with 200 acres behind it.  But the house sat close enough to a busy road that the windows sometimes rattled when semi's passed.  
The first month or so in town I would sit up late at night amazed at how quiet it is here.   
I was nervous about having just the width of a driveway between the houses.  And I suppose if you had the wrong neighbor, that would be a problem.  But not here.  I am thankful for nice neighbors.  They are respectful but friendly.  
I've been largely gone from the neighborhood for several years.  They have verbally welcomed me back.  Spring has us all talking plants and gardens. 
Last week I came home to find my front lawn mowed.  When I discovered the kind soul to say thanks, they said "Thank you, we used the clippings as compost for the garden."  
They inspire me to be a better neighbor.  They inspire me to stop and chat a bit and not succumb to my tendency to be too reserved and standoffish.   And I'm inspired to see the work they are doing to make their yards a little prettier.   This summer, take the time to wave and chat with your nice neighbors.  I'll be reminding myself to do the same.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Be heard - be ready to listen!

I watched "For the Bible Tells Me So" this weekend.   I cried for the pain and shame I felt growing up in a "literalist" environment in Venango County.  My church was East Grove United Methodist, the home of those who now run WAWN radio and hugely support the anti-gay message here.
I wanted to rescind my membership in that church when the United Methodists rejected a Lesbian minister in the late 70's.  I was gone by then and I did not speak out.  I should have.  And I am prompted now to see if my name is still on the membership role.  
It's difficult.  I know there are good people who go to that church.  I see some of them from time to time.  They seem polite, even pleased to see me.  I wonder if they see - recognize the huge elephant in the room that I see.  
Tonight my sister reminded me that I have never been a particularly aggressive woman with respect to feminism or lesbianism.  But I have always been firm and always fought my own small battles.  I have not been one to wave a flag or create huge waves.  But I will stand firm.  Maybe I should have been waving a flag.  Maybe I should have created waves.  And maybe the place to start is with those who have known me longest.  
I want to talk with those "brothers and sisters" at East Grove United Methodist church.  I want to tell them what has happened to me.  I want to talk to my family and friends who have known me longest.  They need to know.  They need to know that the Bible told me something very different than it told most of them.  They need to know there is a much bigger world and a much bigger God.  I want them to know the Bible told me so.