Saturday, December 31, 2016

50% or Less - the political standard

How would you handle learning that a friend told you the truth less than 50% of the time?
What if you placed an order with a company and they provided 50% of what you paid for?
What if your child got 50% on their next test at school?
During this last election cycle, fact checking revealed that the best of those running for office provided accurate information and made accurate statement 50% of the time. The BEST was a mere 50% truthful and accurate. Our next president was well below even that low.
When did we lower our standards so low? At what point in our history did we decide that politicians lie and that's ok? Or is it that our population has simply gotten lazy and we don't even look for truth any longer?
It's really important that we seriously discuss and debate approaches to problems. If we don't even know what the truth is regarding the problems in the first place, we have no hope of achieving rational and reasonable solutions.
If there is one thing we should all agree on, it's that 50% is a terrible standard. No one would accept getting just 50% of the pay they should. No one would accept an employee showing up 50% of the time or doing 50% of the work assigned to them. You can't drive a car with 50% of the parts needed to make it run. A book with 50% of the pages ripped out is not going to make much sense.
Why are we accepting a leadership standard that's 50% accurate or less
If we want a greater nation, we have to set greater standards. We had better start with ourselves and our own ability to get to the facts of matter. We seem to be straying further and further from that. Worse is the indication that a large percentage of our population seems to actually hate truth because it fails to fit the inaccuracies they have embraced. We have to break this cycle fast. It's truth that sets us free. Anything other enslaves and destroys us.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016? Preparing to be MORE amazed....

Do you love New Year's celebration?
It's a bitter time. We look back over the past year. Something is lost. We have lost someone or something. The human experience can be filled with pain.
It's a sweet time. We look back over the past year. Always we have much to be thankful about that we can carry with us into the new year. The human experience can be filled with joy.
As we greet the new year we measure the before and the after. What were the markers of your 2016 life? What is the promise of your 2017 life? What is the bitter of the past year and the sweet to carry forward?
I celebrate each new year with anticipation of this time of personal reflection. Beyond our control, there will always be loss. But what did I desire to achieve at this time last year? What did I believe could happen? What did I create as my 2016 focus and what did I actually do? Am I in a better place due to my choices and my efforts? Have I created a path that will lead in the direction I want for 2017?
I love to enter a new year prepared to be amazed next year at this time. If, indeed, I am amazed, the year goes on my list as a very good year. If I can describe a year as "before" and "after", it's a big year. This has been a BIG year in joyful ways.
A year ago I had a different job - one I had known for some 20 years. It's a job I loved. But the culture above me had changed drastically in recent years and that culture did not align with my values any longer. At this time last year, I wanted something that better aligned with my vision but lacked the confidence to cut the ties of "certainty" and simply go for it. At this time last year, it was just a seed of desire. I see now that seed was just one among many seeds planted in previous years. In 2016, the garden suddenly bloomed. Looking back, it seems like magic but it wasn't just magic. It was five years in the making with focused effort.
Five years ago, music started on Holly's front porch. Five years ago, I started making funny, funky, simple instruments in the basement. Being the sales/marketing guru she is, Holly started marketing what we were doing. While I planted a handful of seeds, she planted more. Those seeds grew. Websites, social media, photos, video.... Our little musical endeavor grew.
And then she grew another vision. "If I can do this for us, I can do this for others." And she did.  At the time, she had a different job - one she had loved for nearly 20 years. But she had a new vision - one she could drive and grow. That was 2 1/5 years ago. Her huge "before" year was a little while ago. That's when her years of working for someone else ended and she started Gibbons Business Solutions (GBS). This time last year she was saying we needed to be collaborating full time. This time last year, there was a tiny whisper of a seed that we could pursue our musical passions while growing the GBS marketing company - full time - together.
Seeds grow in the most magical way imaginable. This time last year I would not have believed that I would be working full time with a music store and my own editing suite in a loft above in my own home town! I could not have imagined last year that I would be meeting with and collaborating with such talented people - visionary people - and feeling so valued. Seeds grow in the most magical ways.
I am loving celebration of this new year. 2016 will always be a marker year. I am thankful and so very much looking forward to the 2017 celebration expecting that it will be every bit as awesome! I am prepared to be amazed - Again and again.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Honorable Christmas Message

One of the things I believe most Americans actually have agreement on is the sense of honor. We can see ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with like minded people working to achieve a common goal. I believe a vast majority of Americans have a strong desire to be honorable and to achieve honorable things for their community and for the nation.
Look around you. Consider all the people you know. What are they trying to achieve in their lives? Most love their family, their community and their nation. Look around you. It does not matter what ethnicity, what age, what income, or what political party they belong to. They are all trying to achieve something more. They want something better. If they are struggling, they are more focused on their family and immediate needs. If they are doing a little better, they are more community focused. If they are doing a little better, they are more nationally focused. They are all trying to achieve something more. They want something better. We all want something a little better.
I believe in a gospel truth and believe very strongly that it is the core of the message of Jesus. It's best described in this song that is, in my humble opinion, the essence of honor.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Am I a "Liberal"?

Liberal! It's a word that's tossed around a lot these days. And it's a label assigned to me by many.
Should I embrace it or define myself?
As one of my sisters said long ago, I'll only wear sensible shoes. No heels for me. I will dress conservatively. Nothing provocative for me. I'm frugal with money. Nothing extravagant for me. I have no need for fancy cars, fancy hair do's, or fancy clothes. Mink coats and BMW's are not my style. I don't need a big title or a big bank account. I don't need a big house. I'm not impressed by riches and material things. It seems to me, conservatives are impressed by these things.
Am I liberal? I guess I'm liberal about taking risks about people. I'm liberal about inclusivity. I'm liberal about service to others. I'm liberal in believing if I have enough, I then have plenty to share. I'm liberal in believing that what I share will return to me in dividends, not in material things but in something that matters more. I'm liberal in trust and belief.
I've been wrong. I've trusted and believed and been treated badly in return. I've been "taken" from and I've had kindness met with rebuff. I've offered empathy and had something other returned.
Ahh but those many, many times I've been right were so much sweeter! And they so outnumber those other times that it's those dividends that matter to me. I have also offered gifts without expectation to know the outcome. Those dividends don't show up in a bank account or in any material way but I know them. My spirit knows them. Those dividends count where it matters most.
I am liberal in my risk of trust and belief in better outcomes for people. I am liberal in spirit. I will continue to believe. I will continue to seek a path of better outcomes for all - even the least of these. I don't need much for myself. In that way, I am conservative. In being conservative, I find I have plenty. As I have plenty, I have much to liberally share. That's how I plan to be. So, liberal it is. No, I'm conservative so I can be liberal in spirit. It is in spirit, I give.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Russian Hackers?

Did the Russians hack the DNC and/or Republicans with a motive to influence our election?
We know someone was doing some hacking and provided some of their collection to wikileaks. And it appears the CIA has additional information leading them to believe they have, at least some, evidence as to the culprits. Should we take this seriously? Should it be further investigated?
If we focus purely on the implications of this election, it's serious enough to cause concern but there is a much greater concern. How vulnerable is our entire cyber infrastructure to hacking? No matter who the hacker is, Wikileaks, the Russians, or a 400 pound guy in his bed in New Jersey, how vulnerable is our entire cyber infrastructure? What danger does that pose in every realm of our society - corporate, banking, the stock market, health care, small business websites, your personal "smart" devices, etc?
The next round of terrorism may not be using the traditional weapons. In fact, they are probably already developing their hacking skills. We need to get really smart about protecting ourselves from cyber attacks.
Should we be taking hacking of every kind seriously? You Bet! And we had better get to know who and how.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Lay back and enjoy it"

In 1981 I was living in Spokane, Washington where a series of rapes had remained unsolved for several years. A journalist asked the Police Captain what a woman should do if she was attacked by a rapist. His answer was "lay back and enjoy it."
When someone says "suck it up" shut up and sit back as this new president rapes the county, I feel the same outrage I felt in 1981. This cannot be remotely compared to the election of Barack Obama or anything his administration attempted or actually did.
This next president is setting up a totalitarian regime. And while his followers are lapping up deranged false news stories with full belief they are true, he is expressing desire to control actual journalism. His staffing choices are beyond bizarre and promise to undermine the very departments they are charged to head.
His motives are clearly power and greed. He's quickly lining his pockets and aligning his global business dealings to build an empire for himself. He will undermine democracy and defy the constitution to achieve his goals.
No, we should not "suck it up", shut up and sit back quietly as this new president rapes the country. We need to call it what it is and tell it how it is. This is not a normal and decent person. This is not a normal transfer of power. This is a power grab that is not going to benefit 90% of this country. In fact, it's not even our country any more. Russia just got their puppet and he'll soon be living in what was our White House.

Friday, December 9, 2016

How to "fight" a con artist....

In my lifetime, I've been conned more times than I'd like to admit. Looking back I can see that the person found something that could hook me and I quickly overlooked any warning signs that should have told me that things weren't actually what I wanted to believe they were or would become. As much I would like to blame the other person, there were signs that I chose to overlook. Often, others tried to warn me but I wanted to believe what I wanted to believe. Once I realized I was conned, I walked away. And, yes, each time I lost a little something of the investment I made.
Wishfully, I believe I won't be as quick to get hooked again. But, like many, I want to believe what I want to believe. I'm still a dreamer. I'll likely always take risks. I'll likely always place faith in others with whom I feel shared vision.
One lesson I learned is that fighting the con artist in search of justice is wasted energy. Remember, they conned you. They can con just as many people to help them fight against you. Seek a path to walk away with as much intact and as much protection as you can find. Let them have no power over you. Disengage and walk away. Run, don't walk, to the light that is truly yours. Let them believe they have won. Just leave them alone.
If you are right, and likely you are, time has a way of showing that. The con artist always reveals themselves for what and who they really are. Sadly, others will fall victim. Sadly, many may suffer. But know that simply walking the other way, and remaining positive, remaining true to your light, will ultimately speak volumes. Disengage from negativity!
Time has a way of righting wrongs. It's our job to walk in the path that is true and creates the most positive lasting outcome. Actions will always speak much more than words. Do the right things for the right reasons. Follow the light and don't waver from it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Music Matters!

About 30 years ago, while living in Franklin County, PA, I discovered the joy of singing my favorite old songs at Senior Centers and Nursing homes. It came as a result of people my age poking fun at me for loving the old gospel, folk and traditional American songs. By accident, or by grand design, I found a small but very appreciative audience. In return, they prompted me to learn more old songs that they knew and loved. And I am still singing those songs today.
After moving from Franklin County, there were years I didn't play so much. Sometimes for family and friends, and more often for my Aunt and her friends in the group home where she lived but when she died, I didn't play so much. There were some attempts at jams and fun moments sharing music with new friends. Then suddenly and quite magically, music came alive again in my life with the same spark I felt singing with my Senior Center friends long ago.
Even in the times of my early life when those around me discouraged it, I knew music was intended to be an important part of my life. It's not because I'm gifted musically or have a deep understanding of music, because I don't. It's simply because I feel it and love it and maybe actually because I think it's universal - and is not dependent upon having a great gift. It's something I believe we can share and be part of no matter what level of gift or understanding we have of it.
If you have a heart beat, you have rhythm. If you breath, you have a rhythm. It just is. Maybe you can't repeat the note, or the exact tone, but your soul hears it. And I know, my soul withers without it. Music transcends all divides. It lifts us to a better place. Sharing music is the most important thing any of us can do.
Looking back over these last 6 years and now expanding musical horizons, I am so very thankful. If you want to improve your life, the sure method is to include more music in any way you can and share that experience with others. It's the most important thing any of us can do in this crazy world.