Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Cat's In The Cradle: Make Time For Others While They Have Time

Harry Chapin released perhaps his biggest hit in the 1974 called "Cat's In The Cradle." It is a very deep ballad about a father and son, where the father always seems too busy to spend adequate time with the son. By the time the dad slows down and wants to spend time with his boy, he is grown with his own responsibilities and the tables have turned.

This sounds all too familiar for many of us.

Yesterday we paid tribute to veterans no longer with us and probably spent a lot of time with family and friends we hadn't seen in a while. It is unofficially summertime, which means more time with these such folks.  These are the days and seasons we need to take advantage of.

We may have been too busy or preoccupied during the winter months, but now is the time to set aside for those most important to us. This down/fun time is important, for no one lives forever and we want to be able to spend time with them while they are here.

Too often our daily lives dominate us and we unknowingly neglect and float people, activities and opportunities. The two most important groups to remember are the elderly and the youth. The older folks didn't always neglect us or may have been busy then also. Either way, they have slowed down and love the company of their loved ones. The youth are watching us, and we need to be that example. Just as in the song, they will "grow up just like me" and then forget you and perhaps their own children. It can be a dangerous cycle.

The point is time goes fast and we must use it wisely. We have the same 24 hours that everyone else has. How and whom we spend it with is up to us. Please don't let time pass you by.

Do you feel neglected by family and friends right now? What are you doing to change this?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mary Kale: A Celebration Of 80 Years In Life, Love and Christ

My great aunt Mary Elizabeth Kale Dover recently turned 80 years old, a milestone age for her as she is the first sibling out of her family to reach this age.

There are many great things I can say about this woman. She has been such an inspirational and stabilizing force throughout my entire life.

She was born as the third of twelve children, second oldest daughter to Bill and Orie Dover. Like many children during the Depression/WWII era, she had to assist in raising her youngest siblings, especially since both of her parents worked a lot.

She got married in the early 50s to Bill Kale. They had five children: Sandra, Tim, Vicki, and twin daughters Glenda and Belinda. They would eventually have thirteen grandchildren and seventeen great grandchildren, quite a legacy.

Now that Mary was a full time mother and wife, she still played mother figure to many others. Her beloved mother Orie passed away in 1958. Therefore her and her sister Myrtle (my grandmother) were the mothers to many of the younger siblings for life.

One of the most important lessons Mary learned and still practices and teaches to this day is about the Lord. She is one of the most devout Christians I know, and is never ashamed to express her faith. Being of the Pentacostal faith, she is very vocal about the Holy Ghost as well. Hearing her and my grandma pray always gave me cold chills.  She also is a wonderful singer, and her kids and many of her grandkids have inherited this spiritual gift.

Aunt Mary has been a tough woman throughout life's advertisies. She has witnessed both of her parents, her husband and several siblings pass on. She is one of only four remaining. She does not and cannot get around like she once could. You best believe she is still strong in heart and spirit. She is a person I have always enjoyed being around as she reminds me so much of my grandma and she is such a positive, spiritual person. They really don't make them like her anymore.

I firmly believe in giving folks the flowers while they can still smell them. Therefore, these piece is for you, Aunt Mary Kale. Thank you for all of your prayers and all you have did for the entire family. I love you as you have truly been a blessing and I am thankful everyday for people like you in my life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Don't Know The Whole Story

This is kind of one of my deep rant/soapbox pieces.

I have been feeling some type of way lately. Perhaps it's the weather and my allergies. But I am growing tired of people that believe they have me figured out and know my goals and plans and such.

Here's the deal folks first and foremost. I am not an open book on every facet of my life. Just because I don't say, express or talk about something in my life doesn't mean I'm not doing it. If and when I want folks to know what is going down with me, they will know. If I want a female to know I'm feeling her, the same principle applies. Don't assume anything about anyone, especially me. Shoot I even wrote my own instruction manual a while back to assist.

This is a common mistake made by many people. You never know the story behind the story of most people. The same principle applies as with the media: when a big story breaks, look for the story that you're being distracted from. Oftentimes it's the untold stories that really tell the tale. Simply let folks live their lives and have their privacies. Personal space and invasion of privacy are becoming obsolete. Allow those that choose so to fly under the radar and be low key. They aren't bothering you so why bother them?

Ok rant over, for now.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Some Of The Tired Excuses Commonly Used To Get Out Of Socializing

Yep, gotta love the Spring and Summer seasons (or simply Summer if you're far enough South). It's when everything and everyone usually comes out and spends more time outdoors.

This being said, there will be people you can't wait to see and spend time with: friends, family, significant others, crushes. Then there are the rest: those that you are trying to avoid like the plague.

You've heard them, you've probably used them, but here are some of the common excuses used to blow off certain folk.

1. Sorry my phone died and I missed your call/text

In the era of smartphones, you would think it would be easier to reach someone. Wrong. It's actually doable to blame not seeing someone on your device, since basically you have everything on it.

2. I'm going out of town

Yeah you stay out of town more than a travel agent. Yet you post updates, location check-ins and pictures of you and other friends.

3.  I fell asleep early

4. I slept in

5. I had an old friend from out of town come in for a few days

6. I forgot my college homecoming/reunion is coming up.

7. I was in the gym or running.

Obviously one of my favorite ones

8. I'm going on vacation

9. I have an exam tomorrow and two papers this week

10. My relative graduates school this week

11.  It's a holiday weekend

OK I will stop here. The bottom line is miss us all with the excuses. If you don't want to make time for someone, tell them discreetly, honestly and clearly. Please constantly stop making yourself unavailable, unless you're the President of the United States.

Good grief indeed Charlie Brown.

What are some other excuses you have heard and/or used?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mothers: Navigating The Tough Times Together

The popular saying is "tough times don't last. Tough people do."  And in my mind, the real mothers of this world are the toughest people on the planet.

That being said, they are still human, emotional and prone to suffering. This is all a part of the journey of dealing with mothers full time.

Mother's Day is often the easiest part for the children and mothers alike. You spend the day with them, shower them with gifts, feed them, and make sure they don't have a care for that entire day.

Ironically, the day after Mother's Day is a Monday, arguably one of the toughest days of the week. It gets real again. Often the mothers realize what hasn't been done, what was floated or put off, and the fact that school is winding down and summer is beginning.

This can be a lot of stress in itself. But then you throw in the perils of life and you have some real challenges ahead.

Don't fret, there are coping mechanisms. One, do more listening than you ever have. Coming off the Mother's Day high is not always smooth. Oftentimes they may not mean what they say the way it comes out. Therefore, listen, be there, and don't feel like you have to be Mighty Mouse and save the day.

Also, proper planning will help. Before all of the Mother's Day or other festivities, make it your priority to diffuse any current and possible stress coming along the horizon. Are her bills good? Does her grass need cutting? How is her car running? Does she have a clean bill of health?  These are some of the issues to be addressed, especially once your mother is older and many of the roles have switched.

So just remember that being the child is not easy either. But you are definitely not alone. Practice lots of patience, stay within your character, take care of what you can and don't concern yourself with what you can't control. Most of all, don't stop showing unconditional love. Your mom didn't during your rough patches and phases and you can't either.

Also, tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start. Call your mother in a couple days, let her do the talking but be ready to help where necessary.

How do you and your mother get along? When the bad times come, what do you do to deal with it all?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Life and Social Skills: We All Need Them

What are life skills? They are a combination of different traits and qualities that help us to successfully interact with others in order to achieve a stated goal. 

Some of the most important life skills are people and social skills. Being able to properly communicate with folks is an important but also a dying art.

You can blame various types of technology advances. However, many people were never taught these important skills and nuggets. Nevertheless, these are the very people that are in education, law enforcement, customer service, and management. You have to be able to hold up well in crisis situations and be diplomatic. This is sorely lacking right now.

Being socialable all starts with making eye contact and talking to people in person, not at them or behind a phone or computer. Making that personal connection is crucial.

There is an old saying "good or bad, people will never forget how you made them feel.". This couldn't be more true. We all need to properly choose our battles and words. Often they are impossible to take back once they are out there, especially if the behavior is consistent.

You have those that put up walls and close off others. That is also not good. You need to be inviting and open, instead of alienating and intimidating. Be the person that everyone runs to, instead of runs away from or avoids.

Keeping peace high and hostility low is also key. It takes work to build a trusting, strong line of communication and it must be properly maintained.

In short, be likeable and humble. We have too much negativity in the world. Let's work little by little on breaking this cycle.

How important of a life skill are people skills? Do you think not being a people person puts someone at a disadvantage?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Seven Different Types Of Mothers (All Are Special)

I have another series coming up and since it's almost Mother's Day, I thought there was no better time to start this about mothers and some of the different types. I will focus on some of the positive and comical types to keep this post lighthearted and loving. 

1. The Smother

You know her, you've seen her, you may be her. You're overprotective, at the school or wherever in a New York minute to come to your child's rescue. Some may critique you because you won't allow your child to be involved in much and it appears you are sheltering them. However, this is simply your way of showing love and that is not always wrong.

2. The Super-Competitive

This is the mom that not only wants to keep up with the Joneses or be the average sports moms, they encourage and drive their children to be the best at everything they do: school, music, and sports. They may even take this as a reflection of them. They have a competitive, winning power, and they want their kids to have it as well. That being said,...

3. The Soccer Mom

You cannot forget this mom , even minus the minivan or SUV. They are super involved in any and every activity that the child is in. You often think they either work at the school or coach the team because you see them so often. However, they are simply that involved. They also lead every major committee and fundraiser, and often serve as surrogates to the other children.

4. The Neighborhood Mom/Surrogate.

Who remembers back in the 80s and early 90s the mom on the block that always fed you snacks and perhaps even served other parental roles and responsibilities? This type of mom still exists, but is more rare. They took care of their children and kept an eye out for the other kids as well. It was the village mentality, not leaving any child behind.

5.  The Modern Mom

This can be broad but to define "modern" means more innovative, hip, and into the modern times. They have full time careers and activities and balance these and motherhood well. These moms may be the most common as many households are now two income. They may lack flash and flare, but they are still good mothers and get the job done.

6. The Single Mom

I would be remissed (and perhaps disowned by my own mother and several friends and relatives) if I left this one out. It needs very little explanation but it takes independence and modern to another level. They have to play both parental roles, and they may be run down because they have very little help. You better believe this is the toughest job in the world, with seemingly no end in sight. I'm willing to bet the President of the United States has more time on his hands than a single mother.

7. The Best Friend

This is almost impossible and takes lot of work. However, with the proper children and parents, it came become reality, especially as the kids become older. You realize how important your mother is, how much she does care, and that she won't leave you when others have.

I will leave this list at seven and may add more in future series. But as we celebrate Mother's Day, let's celebrate all of their sacrifices. Nine months (give or take a few weeks) in labor, sleepless nights, no break, little to no pay, and still doing it with lots of love and care. Happy Mother's Day to all of the true mother figures!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Act II: The Rest of Your Life

This may have a commencement speech vibe to it, but hopefully a little different. However we are entering the summer and graduation season for schools of all levels.

That being said, it is often the beginning of something new in your life.

Many folks have to start over in their careers, love lives, and most anything other than a video game. It's commonly called a second act.

It can be scary and out of your comfort zone but often necessary. You feel a need for greater fulfillment and less burnout. Therefore, it can be quite exciting.

Every end is truly a new beginning. Those getting married are leaving their single lives to become one with that special love. Graduates everywhere are taking that next step in life. Many are even doing second acts on other levels. New homes, showing off their new summer bodies they worked hard for during the winter, and other life improvements and renovations.

Just simply call it a renewal. You took a brief intermission to get your life back on track and now Act II is ready to begin! Lights, camera and action!

How do you feel about second acts? Have you had a lot of personal changes in your life recently?