Posts tagged golden rule

Not Alive and Well and Yet, Some Things are Still Surprising

I don’t get this one even more.

 

I mean, I get it – but I don’t see why it happens.

 

As a country, we are collectively mourning the loss of five Dallas Police Officers.  FIVE…  In a matter of minutes, FIVE lives gone, children without fathers, wives without husbands, mothers without sons.

 

Then we take sides…..

This is terrorism.  The gunman wanted to fulfill an agenda he had, radical or fanatical thinking behind it – take your pick.  And he was trained by the structure present in our country’s military.  Homegrown, by definition.

You hear all sides – it wasn’t justified, it wasn’t right, it was justified by not right, it was justified and right – all positions on the spectrum.  Liberals cite the gun laws, Conservatives cite gun laws.  Democrats differ from Republican thinking, Republicans differ from Democrats.

And in this wonderful age of social media, we can be scrutinized about our beliefs in a two word post on Facebook or in less than 140 characters on Twitter.  People hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see.  They believe who they choose to listen to and dismiss those who do not agree with them.

 

I have lived in New York all my life.  I take pride in the fact that if someone needs a ride or directions to get somewhere, I can provide assistance.  I can tell you the “ins and outs” of travelling in the five boroughs of our city because I have driven almost every section of every borough over the twenty-years that I ran a balloon delivery business.

Yesterday, I read a post from someone who is married to a newly hired police officer in another part of the country.  She wrote about the sacrifice her husband is making – “so willing to sacrifice so much for people who care so little”.

Want to know what’s wrong with police training? Their home lives? Their way of thinking?  Read that last part of the last sentence in the previous paragraph.  Thankfully, most police officers truly believe in the serve and protect and that belief being applied to everyone they come into contact with.  But those who are of the mentality that “people care so little” have no business putting the uniform on.  You are charged with serving those you look like, those you do not look like, those who dress, pray and eat like you or not. When we wake up to that reality, we will have to address the broader issue of eradicating racism from every police department’s employee – young and old, newly hired or near retirement.

Today I was challenged by someone I am friends with on Facebook, to “take a walk in Brownsville or Bed-Stuy after dark tonight” – the challenge concluded by telling me to let the person “know how it goes”.  This particular person and I have minimal contact with each other – a distant relative, the kind you may see at weddings and funerals, but not much more.  We were raised in the same neighborhood as children but we apparently see the world from two hugely different perspectives.

Truth is, I have gone through Brownsville and Bed-Stuy, East New York and Coney Island; I have made deliveries in these areas as well as Bensonhurst, Mill Basin, Bayside and Astoria.  I assume that the “challenger” (as we will refer to her) wanted me to agree with her that those neighborhoods that she cited were “dangerous”.  Well, maybe they are – as all the rest of the neighborhoods in any area could be – at night, in broad daylight, at dawn.

The insinuations that were prompted by a post are revolting.  People in a more privileged position can draw all the conclusions they want.  Walk the walk, as they say; put your money where your mouth is.

I have worked with the finest people in this gigantic city – and believe you me, they are not always found in the best of positions, circumstances, or neighborhoods.  I have decorated street fairs in Brownsville, grand openings in Bed-Stuy; I have brought my staff to places in every borough that may have made others look around nervously; we have been at all-day events in Corona.  Our shop was in Coney Island for 19 years and we opened and closed all hours of the day and night.  You may ask if we ever had problems.  The answer is yes some issues but not something that would have chased us from wherever we were.  The only think that ever scared us was Superstorm Sandy and even then, with every single property in Coney Island being affected, neighbors who walked passed our store in the days after the storm, asked if we were okay, if they could help and would we be back in operation.

Social media – where you can post something and it lives forever.  The internet? Put it up – take it down, the web has the last laugh.  If someone posts something you do not agree with, let them know; if a comment is biased, object.  Do not stand by and look the other way – your voice is as important as theirs.  Use your voice!

The word that will carry us forward is EMPATHY.  Know what its like to be someone else…..

The Angelou Effect

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  – Maya Angelou

 

I am in a very unique position.

Well, that sounded cool to say but it’s not really true.  I am in the same position that many of us find ourselves at different points in our lives, within different circumstances and locations.  People say things like they are sorry when someone passes away, happy for your when you win the lottery (I know that one most would consider to be a stretch) and more things like that.  Someone can offer you a ride, pick-up a quart of milk for you at the store or just ask you how you’re doing on any particular day.

I bumped into my neighbor the other day and she looked tired.  We stopped and had some conversation; she told me her mom who had been very ill had finally passed earlier in the week.  She has been through a lot, my neighbor – she broke her shoulder in an accident at work; her husband died suddenly two years ago; her mother has been ill and in and out of hospitals for the last year.  And in the midst of all things with getting her mom’s affairs in order, she had to run home and walk the dogs.  When I saw how tired she was, I told her that if she wanted to leave me the keys, I would walk the dogs so she wouldn’t have another thing to worry about.  I know how independent my neighbor is and I knew my offer would most likely be refused, but I did it anyway.  I didn’t ask because it was “the thing that neighbors do” – I did it because I really hoped she would let someone help her for once!  But even more, if she didn’t take me up on the offer, I thought maybe she would feel better, knowing that if she truly wanted to, I would be there to help her.  I know she appreciated it as she smiled as she went into her door and thanked me.

That being said, I stumbled upon this quote from Maya Angelou and it made me think: Do we truly think about our words and actions and their effects?

Quantifying a feeling is almost impossible.  One can say that they are feeling things at a certain level but that level would be relative to the rest of the things going on in their lives.  Often, two people in a situation can’t understand why the other doesn’t “get it” – perhaps it’s because the first party doesn’t consider how the other person is made to feel.

I am surrounded by a lot of people every day – through business, family, friends and others.  Communication has always been important in my life whether it has involved talking around the dinner table, writing letters to cousins who lived far away; talking daily on the phone to a grandparent who did not live with us, writing in a diary.  You can communicate all you want to whatever entity you choose but a true communicator watches for the signals, takes the cues remembering that words “listen” and “silent” have the same letters in them.  Being present in a conversation means you have to hear what’s being said and then pause…

Then think about your retort, your side, the words you wish to say.

No one realizes how damaging words like “just” and “kind of” can be when you speak to someone.  I’ve heard one phrase over and over again throughout my life – “not really”, as in “that child was adopted so he (she) is ‘not really’ their child” or “Well, he’s not really her father – its a second marriage”.  All are limiting words – they minimize situations, people and things.  And for what point?  If you use phrases like this, do you live the life of the person you are speaking about?

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

Guess that can translate to “Think before you speak – the tongue is a very sharp instrument.”

 

 

What a Year It’s Been

I’m baaaaacckkkk!!!

Okay – I know the difference between a bad blogger, a good blogger and a great blogger is the frequency with which they post.

I am admitting – I have been a bad blogger.

I have not concentrated on writing – I have let ever single thing in my life distract me from the purpose of this blog. The very focus of this blog was to acknowledge the ironic twist one’s imagination can lead their thought process and life to. 2015 has been one of those years that has proven to expand my imagination; make me question the past, enjoy the present and be excited about the future, even as I hit the milestone 50th birthday!

The last post I made was about “The Meatball Experience”. We had a fun day with food, great company and wine!! My mom imparting her skewed side of the world and her meatballs, my cousins easing nicely into our old comfort zone (or maybe new comfort zone as we have rarely been able to spend time together as adults). That day was shortly after one of my posts “Oy Vey! Only Two Years Away”.

Well, the blink of an eye has happened and here we are two years later. I am on a flight to Miami marking my three trip down to the Sunshine State this year. I have been working with a business coach,one who is helping me figure out what I want to be when I grow up (ha-ha!) – someone who has made me look at the things that I have done throughout my fifty years on this earth and realize that I can work with others to bring about change in their businesses and help them create events, strengthening their personal brands.

I have tried to leave my pessimistic self at the door. My mantra hasn’t changed much but I don’t think it’s “I hate people” it’s more “I hate stupidity”!

I am continually happy that God gives me another day. Another day to appreciate things, people, circumstances, whatever. I can no longer pat my puppy on the top of his head; my Bailey plays with his Grandpa again since he crossed over that Rainbow Bridge in May. The news still stinks everyday – watching it becomes a trial in keeping panic attacks in check.
Then the day happens. Thankfully, the day happens.

My mom is now being well taken care of after she broke bones in her back in June of 2014; she made a decision to permanently reside in a facility in her Astoria neighborhood. We packed up, cleaned out and sold a home that had been in my family for 64 years. The uncle who had meant the world to me as a child passed away and letting go of angst that had come between us seemed the right thing to do. After a twenty-two year run, my partner and I have decided to close our businesses down – as I have always said, it’s fun when things are going right but when things go wrong, boy do they ever! Superstorm/Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy knocked the wind out of our sails and we never really recuperated fully. One of my childhood heroes, my cousin, Theresa, suffered from the ravages of ovarian cancer and succumbed to this terrible disease within months.

Amazing things have happened also.

I applied and was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program in July of 2014. I met the best group of “Cohortians” (as I called them) and benefitted from many of their experiences, our instructors and our business advisors. Graduation in December 2014 gave me a new perspective on business, my direction and what I needed to do moving forward. I received a Certificate of Entrepreneurship from LaGuardia Community College and Goldman Sachs and also completed a business college course of study giving me a Certificate in Management Consulting. Opportunities presenting themselves in the strangest places (or right in front of you); I am a “Lord-Mechanic-Accumulator” and am embracing my strengths and running with them.

I am creating a new business opportunity for myself and will be helping other small business owners steady their foundations and move forward to build their businesses and brands.

My partner and I bought a beautiful home in a wonderful neighborhood and are looking forward to welcoming family and friends for wonderful dinners and backyard pool parties for years to come. We can finally have our moms come to a house that is more easily accessible for them and we can’t wait to see what the next fifty years have in store. I have closer friends, more relaxed days, more ever expanding experiences. I’ve become a “Networker” (VP now President of our BNI Chapter), I’ve become a consultant and, not to be forgotten, “The Third Twin” (blog post with an explanation to follow later).

But taking stock of things, as my birthday gets closer, I have to be grateful for many things. Although I make many a joke about being placed in a reed basket and floated down the Nile (or East River), I am the person I am today – slightly cracked, a wealth of useless information, a business owner, someone you can ask for anything, supporter of many (whether they realize it or not), critical of some but one who knows when they are out of their league. I believe in open-mindedness. I believe in education. Flowers winning over guns; candles to remember those lost; feeling safe again when everyone in the world remembers we are all the same. Love can and does conquer all.

This year, I am thinking definitely and positively. And instead of “Let’s see where this will take me”, how about this…

“Don’t believe me? Just watch!!!”

I Sound Like My Mother…

mom

Actually, I think I sound more like any of my grandparents!

I was raised in a three-generation home – the kind that the Amish are known for, but the rest of the immigrant population that settled in the Northeast at the turn of the last century chose, not because it was the best thing to do, but because necessity is the mother of invention (or at least, giving everyone a home).

My mother’s parents lived in the first floor apartment of the home my grandfather bought.  He immigrated from Bari, Italy and my grandmother from Naples.  They were set-in-their-ways Italian: family, work and food.  My father’s father died before I was born but I knew who he was from the stories everyone told.  He and my father’s mother emigrated from Gibraltar (yes, the Rock; “Gib” as we descendents call it).  They were set-in-their-ways Spanish/British/Gibraltarians: family, work and food.

Every one of them worked hard.  Mostly laborer-type jobs, nothing glamorous, just hard work.  Pop in a paper mill, Mom in household job like sewing and such; Poppa was a laborer at many different places and my Grams, she had one of the best jobs ever – she worked for Loft’s Candies, as a packager – I think of the “I Love Lucy” episode with the candy conveyor belt and the shouts of “Speed it up, Harry!” every time I think of her!  They all worked hard, rested when they could, enjoyed family and good food and were happy.  I don’t believe one of them ever set foot on a college campus, never mind take classes; some may have even gotten a high school diploma (or its equivalent).  But they knew so many, many things!  And it all seemed to just be knowledge they had – how to cook, how to take care of the house (inside for the women, outside for the men), how to build things, how to take them apart; painting, singing, joke telling and more.  No one ever wondered how he or she was going to make it in this world.

They all raised children who “enjoyed a better life than they did” as the saying goes.  Whether it was working for a big supermarket as a butcher (a job with great benefits and a steady paycheck), working as a “Bill of Lading” clerk in the garment district, a business manager for a township in New Jersey, a service manager for a refrigeration company or an employee of UNESCO – all of their children worked, knew what needed to be done and got the job done – providing for their families, acquiring homes and sending every one of their children to college – they knew what to do and got it done.

My first cousins and I all had the benefit of graduating from colleges and universities on the East Coast.  A CPA, three teachers, corporate middle management and two business owners in the lot.  We were taught from our grandparents and parents to be responsible, to pay attention, to learn, to work hard and make them proud.  We succeed, albeit with setbacks along the way, but our history taught us how to deal with those setbacks and push on.

Today, I spoke to one of the many “young-ens” that I have had the pleasure of employing over the last twenty years.  When I heard him say, “Basically, my generation is screwed”, I felt compelled to write this little post but felt a stronger urge to ask the readers out there a question or two.  I hope you will take the time to answer and give me some feedback – yes, I need to know your age but only for perspective and what you think.

So in a few words in the comments, let me know your “around-about” age, and answer these three questions:

1.  How does a person get one’s “character”?

2.  Do you think your generation has learned from the past?

3.  Do you agree with twenty-somethings today being on the short end of the stick?  And in what areas, exactly?

4.  Any suggestions on a possible “fix”?

I appreciate the time you may decide to take – I’ll let you know in follow up posts where everyone stands!!

Oy vey – Only Two Years Away!

It's that time of the year!!

It’s that time of the year!!

 

Today is my 48th birthday. So far, it’s a good day!

And being my usual pessimistic self, I’m sure it won’t stay that way.

You know those e-cards everyone posts on Facebook? There’s one I find particularly funny and way too true – “I try to like people, but then idiots happen!”.

Why is that??

I wake up everyday but especially on a day like my birthday and really am happy that God gave me another day. I know the big 5-0 is right around the corner.  Another day to appreciate things, people, circumstances, whatever. I pat my puppy on the top of his head, I think about breakfast and what there is in the house and I stop to think about my schedule for the day. Nothing ever stays on schedule but it’s worth the ol’ college try.

Then the day happens.

The news always provides something you have to shake your head at. Sometimes it’s an unexpected phone call. Being a small business owner, a text from a staff member can do it. Being responsible for my mother at this point in her life is always a challenge.

But taking stock of things, today, on my birthday, I have to be grateful for many things. Although I make many a joke about being placed in a reed basket and floated down the Nile, I am grateful my birth mother saw it in her heart to give me a chance for a better life. I am grateful for my parents – the only one’s I have ever known. I am grateful for my cousins who have always made things interesting. I am thankful for my friends, old and new, not so new and those who are no longer part of my life. I am even thankful for the people who have made my life challenging. All these people along with the experiences I have had, have come together to make me the person I am today – slightly cracked, a wealth of useless information, a business owner, someone you can ask for anything, supporter of many (whether they realize it or not), critical of some but one who knows when they are out of their league.

Just for the record, I had one of the best birthday days I have ever had. I spent the day enjoying everything as opposed to waiting for the next shoe to drop. The day was capped off with a wonderful martini, a perfectly cooked steak and wonderful company at a great Manhattan restaurant. Enjoyed the day thoroughly, however, I am sure realty will return tomorrow as always.

But maybe, just maybe, I can take the lesson of my birthday day through to the rest of the year – this year, I’ll be thinking positively. Let’s see where it takes me!

 

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