Saturday, October 29, 2011

Downsize to upscale

A young musician friend told me to never leave the audience on a sad song.
My last post may have sounded like a sad song. It was a message and the message is this - if you want good things in your life, shed the bad.
There will never be room for positive things in our lives if we hang on to negative things. Walk to the light! Walk in the light!
Friends tonight were talking about helping people downsize. Interesting that we get to a "certain age" and realize we have filled our lives with clutter. Now I am wondering why we can't figure out earlier and on our own what is clutter and what is not?
In recent years I have been most impressed by people who don't let "clutter" fill their lives. They can focus on what is important and what matters. Over the course of years, they have developed filters. "In with the good and out with the bad." They hurt sometimes. They care deeply. But they have clear visions of what they want their lives to be and what they want for the community around them. They CARE! They carefully filter out those people and things that are non-productive. They don't put energy where it will not grow into something positive.
Downsizing is about scaling up - focusing - seeing what is really important. It's about NOT wasting time and energy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Danger from no stranger

It can be terribly embarrassing and personally devastating to realize you have been taken in by a con artist. It happens every day to very smart people and often goes un-reported. If it is reported, law enforcement and the justice system are ill equipped to deal with it in small communities. Especially if it is someone you know who is scamming you - a sociopath who will lie to you and everyone around them to get what they want.
I like people. I trust people and I nearly always root for an underdog. If you are too, then please read on. You could, like me, be an easy target for a con artist. You need to know how to spot a sociopath. I've learned a lot about it in recent years. It's not a pleasant topic and I have followed the ultimate recommendation of what to do - Get as far away as possible from this person!!!! I will say proximity makes you a potential target or useful in gaining access to a new target. A sociopath uses whatever means, whomever possible, to get what they want. Proximity makes you complicit - that simple.
What are the characteristics of the type of sociopath I'm talking about?

1) Aggressive and Antagonistic in dealing with people
2) Manipulative and deceitful - lies about even simple things
3) Never feels guilty about anything
4) When confronted with a lie, creates confusion and distraction
5) Takes from you and gives back little
6) Often appeals to pity, pretending to be the victim
7) Does not take responsibility for harming others - blames everyone and everything else
8) Does not acknowledge others contributions - even taking credit for what others have done
9) Needs to dominate - to WIN
10) Takes advantage of others kindness

The con artist has had no verifiable income for many, many years. For some reason those things they claim to have had as income, don't bring them income now. Peter doesn't know what Paul just did to help to this person. The con artist will use many methods to ensure that Peter and Paul don't talk with each other.

You read all this because you suspect you are being taken. TRUST your instincts. Walk away and don't look back.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Make a Difference!

Today something reminded me of work I did long, long ago on the other side of PA working with Volunteerism. There, the County Commissioners had a vision to promote volunteerism. Under a Human Services Development grant, they hired me as a consultant to promote volunteer involvement in two counties. Along with some dedicated volunteers, I had the privilege of working with amazing people - paid and unpaid - providing many services in the community. My job was connecting people and telling their stories. How very cool!!!
We became a center for recruiting, training, and advocating for volunteer programs. Well organized, long term volunteer driven programs quickly began helping smaller and newer programs. Our center provided a volunteer bank for one time, unusual or short term needs.
Tonight I am reminded of some of the more touching stories that linger these 25 or so years later. I got a call from a man one day saying he had heard the radio ad calling for volunteers. Would I meet him in the parking lot of my office in 15 minutes? He would be in a red pick up truck. In 15 minutes a pick up truck arrived and I walked up to his door. He said, 'I can pick up and deliver anything you need done, but someone needs to be waiting to load and unload the truck." He opened the door to reveal that he had no legs. He was on disability. But he wanted to serve the community that had served him.
Another day a woman called to say she was house bound but she loved to make personalized cards to send to people. She didn't know how that might help and she might need postage but she would like to do cards for people. I was working with all of the nursing homes in the area and asked if they had people who didn't get visitors or mail. (This might not be possible today but...) I got lists of names of people who started receiving personal greeting cards to brighten their day. And I found donors for postage.
Another day a middle aged women entered my office in tears. She was blindsided by a divorce and had not worked in 25 years. She needed to get back to work but had nothing on her resume. Could I help? She believed she had the skills to be an office manager, but had nothing to show she could. There was a well known and respected organization looking for a part time volunteer office manager. We let them know that she was trying to get experience for her resume and might not be there long term. They understood, loved her service, and within a year she had a full time job as an office manager. When I saw her the second time, she was a new woman.
What I learned in those short years is that volunteerism is as much about serving personal needs for dignity and respect as it is about serving the community. As we ask people to serve, we need to do all we can to serve their needs as well. It's a two way street. When we recognize that and serve that need, everyone gets a chance to make a difference - Those who ask and those who answer the call!