nurturing thursdays: celebrating the goodness of people…

My husband’s 40+ years of dedicated service to the traveling public has come to an end.

What began as a summer job with Pan American World Airways in the mid-to-late 60s, followed by a stint with American Express as a travel agent in the early 70s, eventually flourished into a full-fledged career in the cruise industry.

I have never doubted my husband’s charisma and talent to do anything he wanted. Although his seeming shyness and humility had me wondering if he could ever climb the corporate ladder. I didn’t think he had the killer instinct required to get from one rung to the next. Last night’s retirement dinner confirmed the fact that he remained true to himself through all the twists and turns of a career that took him from airport ticket agent in Honolulu to Vice President of Human Resources in Seattle…via The Big Apple, New York City.

One of three executives who retired the beginning of this year, my husband listened as others spoke of their personal and professional experiences with him throughout the years.

The man who heads the entire brand has known my husband since their younger days working at another cruise line headquartered in NYC. That’s going back some 30+ years. My husband was then a reservations supervisor; the other, a purser on board one of the ships. I didn’t know him then. We only became acquainted about 6 years ago, when my husband moved out of Guest Programs into Human Resources and reported directly to his former colleague, now in charge of the whole operation here on the West Coast.

Small world. Even smaller when folks remain in one industry throughout their entire careers. Our daughter, the dancer, will confirm that.

It’s always deeply moving for me when others reiterate the same qualities I most admire in my husband…his compassion…his fairness…his trustworthiness…his calming influence. Once a prospect for the priesthood…before we met, obviously…he has never lost his Christianity. He continues to practice his faith in God and others…in all ways.

Last night some jokingly referred to him as a saint, including his boss.

During one of our first arguments as newlyweds 44 years ago, I asked if he knew how hard it was living with a saint. Genuinely hurt, he said that was the worst thing I could have said. Of course I never went there again. Nonetheless…it isn’t always easy trying to modify my behavior according to someone who is so uniquely wired.

I had worked for a number of corporations before opting out of the rat race for the best career ever handed me…motherhood. None has been more satisfying or rewarding. I got out what I put in. I couldn’t say that about the corporate jobs I’ve had. I always felt I put in more than I got out. It was always…”manana”…tomorrow. Do this today and you MIGHT see some payback tomorrow…or the next day…the next year… or the year after. I didn’t have that kind of patience. Still don’t. A little better, but not the same as my husband’s.

I’ve always felt, still do, that employees are a reflection of those for whom they work. They embody the corporation’s principles. The management style of the person at the top filters down throughout the entire workforce. Great employees are a credit to a great boss; on the flip side, a mediocre boss inevitably breeds mediocrity among his employees.

Having had access to the back story via what I saw for myself as well as what my husband confided in me, the corporation from which he recently retired was the best I’d seen in all my time in and around the business world. 

The man at the top, my husband’s boss, held to the same values as us…uncompromising integrity and family above all else. The leaders he chose to effect his agenda were men and women who demonstrated similar principles. I can attest to it because I met many of them, even getting to know some well. Talk of family, interest in our daughter’s dance career, was always part of the conversation. And, of course, we always asked after their children’s well-being and what they were doing.

My husband’s boss and his wife are the only executive couple with whom I have ever been able to speak freely and from the heart. So I guess it was no surprise to them, that when after all other speeches were made, including those by the retirees themselves…I asked if I could say a few words.

Speaking from the heart…as Hawaiians do so well…I explained the attachment I felt to my husband’s boss and his wife. Once, some time ago, at a social function I had said I would have loved being both their mothers. (They are good people. They would make any mother proud. Having met both sets of parents, I understand why they became who they are.)

I went on to explain to those gathered my own corporate career experience, and how I’d never witnessed the same familial environment apparent in my husband’s company. I credited that fact and my husband’s ability to thrive within such an atmosphere…to his boss’s management style. One that wasn’t only focused upon “the bottom line,” but also upon the coming together as…ohana…Hawaiian for “family.” 

In conclusion, I asked that those present…all in varying leadership positions within the company…”hang onto that feeling of ohana. That it is a rarity, as much now as in the past.

Hugging both the CEO of Holland America Group, Stein Cruse, and his wife Linda, I said I loved them. She and I shed tears as we hugged. Just like a daughter… And he stooped to embrace me in a bear hug, whispering that it was sweet of me. Just like a son…

Public speaking has never been my forte. My voice cracks. I ramble. I say things which might make most husbands and daughters cringe with embarrassment. Fortunately for me, mine “get” who I am. As my daughter explained…whatever I know might go public. She knows too that it’s only done out of love and compassion.

I have no filter when it comes to praising others. I say what I feel. Perhaps because I craved approval the better part of my life, and probably still do, I give it freely whenever I am afforded the opportunity.

Seeing others warmed by a few words of praise…blesses me.

And so I count my blessings…

…as often as i can.

………hugmamma.

Enjoy other inspirational words at
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/nurt-thurs-you-are/

 

 

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there’s no quitting this job…

…full-time parent.

For those of you on the verge of diving into parenthood, be prepared to go the long haul. Once that little bundle of joy enters your life, there’s no chance for a do-over.

If all the stars in the universe are aligned in your favor then I say…go for it! However if you’re not in a secure frame of mind where you think you can do this job, then I’d say wait until you are. Another year or two can make a dramatic difference in how well you perform this lifelong task.

No joke! As a parent, you’re employment is guaranteed for life. There’s no retirement when you’re 65. There’s no “golden parachute” of benefits and monetary compensation for decades of stellar performance.

When I signed on as a parent, I was 36. In 1986, I was probably teetering on the brink of acceptance as an older mom. No one wagged a finger in my face as if to say “Well! It’s about time!” Although my younger sisters-in-law had broods of little ones long before me.

Married for 16 years, my husband and I had come to accept that we might never conceive. While I never discussed the possibility of adoption with him, it had entered my mind. I wasn’t prepared to jump through hoops to get pregnant. I would have been stressed, and my unborn child would have felt the impact of my being on an emotional roller coaster.

Jubilant when we got the news that I was finally “with child,” my mood eventually disintegrated into worry over my sanity at being home alone with a newborn. After all, I’d been on a career track for most of my adult life. I’d even contemplated entering law school since I enjoyed my job as a paralegal for a major airline in New York City.

Women are in a unique position when we find ourselves pregnant. We must decide the rest of OUR lives when a child enters the picture. We must incorporate a totally dependent creature into whatever it is we’ve been doing until that point.

It’s like trying to fit 500 extra pieces into a thousand-piece puzzle!

Somehow we manage to stretch ourselves to include more time, more energy, more mental capacity for juggling, more emotional stamina, more backbone for confrontation.

All this while bulking up our softer, gentler side.

We must strive for more patience, become skilled listeners, refrain from nagging, dispense appropriate portions of praise and criticism, appease the disgruntled, soothe the weary, uplift the downtrodden, heal the wounded.

Our call now and then to be the “hostess-with-the mostest” is super-sized to that of Social Coordinator-In-Charge-Of-Everything. Overnight we morph into taxi-drivers, sleep-over monitors, committee chairmen, teaching assistants, Brownie leaders, cheerleaders, snack-time volunteers, costume designers, seamstresses, referees, nurses. The list goes on.

If desired, you could be on-call 24 hours a day. Just don’t expect to be paid like a doctor.

Why in the heck, then, would any, fun-loving, devil-may-care, free-wheeling couple want to tie themselves down with kids?

Because the rewards are as overwhelming as the myriad of duties that go along with being a parent. That’s why!

Yes, there are the acclaims and congratulations when my daughter achieves what might seem impossible to others. And there are the compliments of a job well done from friends and strangers alike. However nothing compares with the love and admiration of the child you’ve nurtured from womb to adulthood.

When my daughter says “I love you,” there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s heartfelt. When we laugh until our sides ache and tears stream down our cheeks, we are bff’s…best friends forever. In that moment, the reward of being a mom is the greatest.

Who knew I would give birth to my very own best girlfriend?

The journey’s not easy. It’s laden with pitfalls, like broken hearts and car accidents. Worrying becomes second-nature. Sacrificing goes without saying. Relaxing is a thing of the past. Considered last is normal.

One day though our children become adults, and they turn to us for help in navigating the challenges of everyday life. It’s then that our validation as parents is complete, even though…

…our job isn’t.

………hugmamma.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/editing-challenge/

 

 

 

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: get ready, get set…get moving

I’ve done my fair share of packing up households because of a new job. Never my own. Always my husband’s…and now my daughter’s.

Let’s see, a change in jobs in 1976 landed my husband and me in The Big Apple. We were in our mid-20s then. That was fun, especially since we’d left one island, Oahu, for another, Manhattan. Worlds apart, though, if you’ve had the good fortune to visit both. Lucky us, having resided where tourists love to vacation.

Four years later, we moved again. This time, Redding, Connecticut, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. As different from NYC as one can get. Only 11,000 inhabitants at the time. Probably not many more now. Great place to raise our newborn. Lots of wide open spaces. Exploding fall foliage colors that knocked our socks off! Small town parades. Country fairs. An idyllic setting where everybody knew everybody.

When our daughter was 11, we moved again, much to her chagrin. We trekked cross country to Seattle where hubby got a promotion. And here we’ll probably remain, unless Hawaii, land of our birth, beckons us home.IMG_0809

Just because hubby and I were settled, however, didn’t mean our daughter was. At age 16, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she trained for 5 years, hoping to become a professional ballet dancer. Because she was young and didn’t yet drive, I moved with her. For 2 1/2 years we managed on our own, while my husband remained in Seattle earning a living.

Dancers go where the jobs are. And so our daughter moved once again, to Nashville. I flew back to Atlanta to help with the packing while she was at work. She lived and worked in The Music City for 6 years. Midway through, she downsized to a smaller, cheaper rental which meant another move. Of course, I was there to help our daughter whose broken hand was in a cast. Discovering a bed bug larvae didn’t help the situation any. Neither did the reappearance of the cicadas who rose from where they’d been sleeping for 13 years, in the ground beneath the trees in and around Tennessee. 

A year ago our daughter decided to pursue a different dance path. She moved home with my husband and me while she auditioned hither and yon, and danced a couple of gigs in Houston, Texas. Storing her belongings meant moving stuff around in our house. Throw in a couple of remodels, and we had to move things around again.

One year later, we’re packing up our daughter’s furnishings once again to move her back to Nashville. She’ll be dancing with a newly formed, contemporary dance company this time.

At this stage, I could probably get a job with a professional mover. I’ve packed enough boxes in 43 years of marriage, I could probably do it in my sleep. Which reminds me, preparing to move leaves little time for rest. A couple of catnaps here and there suffices.

Because moving also involves selling and buying houses, or renting apartments, I’ve become a pro at that too. Because both my husband and my daughter have had to get on with their jobs, I’ve been the one to handle the transitions.

Then, of course, there’s the decorating. Imported Photos 00176

Everyone who knows me, especially those who have visited any of our homes or rentals will attest to my being able to whip a place into shape in no time. In fact, I can do it as often as the spirit moves me, which of late hasn’t been as often as it use to be. The spirit’s a little more settled these days, owing to wisdom…and because my “get-up-and-go”…got up and left.

Something my daughter said yesterday in the midst of packing up several boxes, ensuring they wouldn’t break the mover’s back when he lifted them, made all my years of moving worthwhile. Stopping dead in her tracks as she was heading down the hallway, my daughter returned to where I was bent over fitting wrapped items strategically into a box. As I stood up and faced her, she placed her hand firmly on my shoulder and with eyes wide and grinning from ear to ear, she said…“You’re amazing!”

………hugmamma.

 Please check out other inspirational posts at…
http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/nurturing-thurs-rebuilding/

 

 

summertime…and the pickings are slim

Remember the first job you ever had? A paying job, I mean. Not some volunteer stint  in exchange for a pat on the back and a stellar recommendation to go along with it. Or as in my case, a couple of summers helping the nun in charge of the bookstore set up shop for students returning to school in the Fall. That got me a break in tuition and a discount on my books. My mom was forever indebted to the Marianist Sisters; I was grateful too…in a less religious way. I got to play “big shot” in front of my fellow school mates.

No. I’m talking about 8 hours work for 8 hours pay, and overtime when warranted.

On the Hawaiian Island of Maui where I grew up, the best most of us graduating from high school could get was a job at the Maui Pineapple Cannery. It had openings for hundreds on their assembly lines. We were literally…hired hands.

I was a pineapple packer making $1.25 an hour. That was a heap of money in 1966 for the youngest in a family of 9 who never got an allowance. Good luck trying to hire a teenager for that kind of money these days, unless you outsource to the Philippines or India.

Swelling like a proud peacock as I walked through the warehouse entrance those first several days, I embraced the scent of ripening fruit that surrounded me. How fortunate I felt to be part of the pineapple family. I was motivated to be the best employee ever hired to pack pineapple into cans.

There were female foremen who walked among us, correcting or praising as the situation warranted. Once-in-awhile they moved into position, demonstrating the proper way to do the job. 

I’m positive I got a little of both…complimented for doing good work, and lectured for wasting perfectly good fruit. When packing a pineapple, I had to decide whether or not all the slices were worthy of being sent along to the consumer. At 16, I had the power!!! Yeah, right.

Sometimes I substituted for a person cutting pineapples. I’m pretty sure I was petrified at the thought of slicing off a finger, or at the very least the tip of one. Developing lightning speed took time. I never occupied the position long enough to acquire that skill. I was always relieved when the regular cutter returned to her position. Phew! Talk about my relief…at being relieved.

It didn’t take long before I landed in the cannery’s infirmary. Nausea and the heat generated from the machinery made many of us sick to our stomachs. It didn’t help that the humidity outdoors made its way indoors. Thankfully, I eventually developed an armor-like constitution…along with an aversion…to pineapple.

To this day I welcome the occasional piece of pineapple-upside-down cake…or a piece of pineapple in my favorite recipe of island-style meatballs, or sweet-sour spareribs. But a bowlful of pineapple all by itself? I don’t think so. I’d sooner eat a serving of broccoli steamed with a sprinkling of lemon juice and parmesan cheese.

That’s saying a lot for someone who grew up eating canned veggies.

Without a doubt, working in the Maui Pineapple Cannery “grew hair on my chest.” I was ready to face the big, bad world as a college freshman in the big city, Honolulu, on the island of Oahu.

…no one dared mess with me!

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

my “black” brother

You think I jest? I wish I were.

My brother Ed was mistaken for a black man as he earned his keep with JOB CORPS, a federally funded government program for underprivileged youth. It didn’t help that his skin had turned its deepest shade of brown while digging ditches on the island of Kauai.

Entrance sign to the Red Rock Jobs Corps Cente...

Entrance sign to the Red Rock Jobs Corps Center in Colley Township, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As he traveled on the mainland working temporary jobs during the 1960s, Ed was forced to sit in the back of the bus and use public restrooms designated…”blacks.”

Small wonder then, that my brother came to feel a strong kinship with African Americans. I don’t think he ever anticipated having to choose between the races, but since the choice was made for him, he embraced the black culture. And it embraced him right back.

Ed married into a black family, eventually fathering a daughter and a son. My husband and I witnessed first hand the loving warmth so readily offered by my brother’s extended family. They accepted us too as though we were…their own. I vividly recall…the laughter…the light-hearted teasing…the delicious aromas…the shared conversations of a family…not unlike the one in which I grew up. 

Some 40+ years after moving to the mainland, Ed remains loyal to folks who welcomed him with open arms, loving him as a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle and father.

People, no matter the color of their skin, want the same thing…a job, a home, a family, and a life free of suppression. And with each new dawn…hope is rekindled that all these are possible.

Ed served in Vietnam, an experience which more than likely compounded his distrust of the status quo. Can you blame him?

You can rest assured my brother is no shrinking violet. Having earned a black belt in karate, he is as steely on the inside as he is on the outside. Like fathers everywhere however, Ed’s soft spot is his children.

Growing up black in America remains a hurdle which must be navigated with adroitness. Knowing my brother as I do, Leilani and Chris have had a determined master lead them through the thickets of racial prejudice with stealth and imagination. 

My heart swells with pride when I recall all that Ed has had to overcome to own a small piece of the American dream. He may have gone the route less traveled, but he…

…let his heart lead the way…

………hugmamma. 

 

reality check…for college grads

Eleven years ago when my daughter decided not to pursue a college degree, opting instead to train for a career in ballet, I had to do some mighty fancy footwork of my own in order to convince my husband that she had the talent and passion to succeed. It helped…a little…that her conservatory high school instructors supported her decision. After all, ballet is for the young at heart…and bodyIMG_0442

The fact that our daughter was lauded for her potential in all the summer dance programs in which she participated was also very encouraging. Her first summer away from us…ever…at the age of 14 was to Banff, CanadaBeing awarded a scholarship to return  the following summer probably clinched the deal in my husband’s eyes. Wow! Even the Canadians recognized a rising star, or so we doting parents liked to think.

Instead of returning to dance in the Canadian Rockies, however, our budding ballerina decided to accept American Ballet Theatre‘s invitation to their summer intensive in The Big Apple. I mean what kid isn’t going to prefer…candy to rocks?…the rat race to mating elks?… Times Square to isolation?

Truth be told…my daughter wishes she’d gone back to Banff. The training was better…the ratio of dancers to teachers was better…and the cost was way less. But hey! You win some…you lose some. But you always…move forward.

In the grand scheme of things, however, our daughter’s won…big time!

An 11-year dance career (and counting) is no small feat!

As long as our daughter’s passion and body hold out…she’ll be dancing…until “the fat lady sings.”March 2011A 00095

Meanwhile, it’s ironic…and devastating…to learn that college grads are having difficulty finding jobs these days. The following Wall Street Journal editorial reminded me of their plight.

Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You

by Kirk McDonald

Dear College graduates:

     The next month is going to be thrilling as you cross this major milestone in your education. Enjoy the pomp and circumstance, the congratulations, and the parties. But when it’s all over and you’re ready to go out into the world, you’d probably like to meet me, or others like me–I’m your next potential dream boss. I run a cool, rapidly growing company in the digital field, where the work is interesting and rewarding. But I’ve got to be honest about some unfortunate news: I’m probably not going to hire you.

     This isn’t because I don’t have positions that need filling. On the contrary, I’m constantly searching for talented new employees, and if someone with the right skills walked into my office, he or she would likely leave it with a very compelling offer. The problem is that the right skills are very hard to find. And I’m sorry to say it, dear graduates, but you probably don’t have them.

     In part, it’s not your fault. If you grew up and went to school in the United States, you were educated in a system that has eight times as many high-school football teams as high schools that teach advanced placement computer-science classes. Things are hardly better in the universities. According to one recent report, in the next decade American colleges will mint 40,000 graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, though the U.S. economy is slated to create 120,000 computing jobs that require such degrees. You don’t have to be a math major to do the math: That’s three times as many jobs as we have people qualified to fill them.

     It’s time to start addressing this crisis. States should provide additional resources to train and employ teachers of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as increase access to the latest hardware and software for elementary and high-school students. Companies–particularly those like mine that depend heavily on information technology–need to join the effort by sponsoring programs that help schools better train graduates to work in a demanding industry. But there’s one more piece of the puzzle that’s missing, and it’s the one over which you have the most control: you.

     I realize that you’ve a lot going on, and that the pressures of finding gainful employment are immense.  But understand this, because your future might very well depend on it: If you want to survive in this economy, you’d be well-advised to learn how to speak computer code.

     I don’t mean that you need to become genius programmers, the kind who hack into NASA’s computers for fun. Coding at such a level is a very particular and rare skill, one that most of us–myself included–don’t possess, just as we don’t possess the athletic ability to play for the New York Knicks.

     What we nonexperts do possess is the ability to know enough about how these information systems work that we can be useful discussing them with others. Consider this example: Suppose you’re sitting in a meeting with clients, and someone asks you how long a certain digital project is slated to take.

     Unless you understand the fundamentals of what engineers and programmers do, unless you’re familiar enough with the principles and machinations of coding to know how the back end of the business works, any answer you give is a guess and therefore probably wrong. Even if your dream job is in marketing or sales or another department seemingly unregulated to programming, I’m not going to hire you unless you can at least understand the basic way my company works. And I’m not alone.

     If you want a job in media, technology or a related field, make learning basic computer language your goal this summer. There are plenty of services–some free and others affordable–that will set you on your way.

     Teach yourself just enough of the grammar and the logic of computer languages to be able to see the big picture. Get acquainted with APIs. Dabble in a bit of Python. For most employers, that would be more than enough. Once you can claim familiarity with at least two programming languages, start sending out those resumes.

     So congratulations again on your achievement–and good luck getting your real-world education.

Mr. McDonald is president of PubMatic, an ad tech company in Manhattan. Previously, he was president of digital for Time Inc.

Just the other night hubby and I were talking about his having to replace his administrative assistant who decided to leave to pursue other interests. The foremost requirement he cited in her replacement was…computer proficiency. Everything else is secondary.

Looks like I won’t be applying. Now if communicating were the priority…yeah, right!

My daughter’s love of dance motivates her to continue training during the summer months when her ballet company is on hiatus. (Most companies are off at this time.) Her feeling is…and I agree…that she needs to keep honing her skills…to keep challenging herself to be better.

How do you remain relevant in your career? Keep learning. Learn everything within one’s power so that you can do what you want…for as long as you want…and hopefully…

Four Financial Tips for College Grads

…get paid what you want…(oh well, two out of three ain’t bad)…

………hugmamma.

on-air tantrum?

Cropped photo of Ann Curry

Cropped photo of Ann Curry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wasn’t sure how I felt about Ann Curry‘s meltdown on national TV as she exited from the Today show this week. I’ve admired her reporting and interview skills for a long time. I also thought she was a wonderful role model for Asian-Americans like myself. She’d climbed the corporate ladder with seeming class and elegance. With quiet humility Ann Curry was able to have it all. No hyper, in-your-face, beauty queen, she was one of us who happened to have a job hosting a morning TV show.

Being front man for the big boys means megabucks are at stake. The catchy ad that flashes across the screens at theaters says it all “GO BIG OR GO HOME.” Looks like Ann Curry wasn’t projecting big enough for the small screen. 

When I heard of her ouster from the Today Show, I felt sorry for Curry. However with bigger concerns occurring daily…people out of jobs, homes lost in wildfires, children dying from heat exhaustion, the tremendous growth in petty theft, pedophiles on trial…Curry’s situation paled in comparison. 

Hearing that she was receiving millions in a contract buyout didn’t make me overly sympathetic toward Curry either. Just enough since she was a woman, an ethnic sister, who slid from the summit of her career. Lucky for her she’s still working for NBC as a roving journalist. A job she’d had prior to her ascension. 

A smack to her ego for sure, but Curry’s lifestyle remains intact. The same can’t be said for millions who are unemployed through no choice of their own.

Forget That ‘Today’ Star–Weep for Today
by Joe Queenan

EVERY YEAR or so Americans get really upset because somebody insanely famous loses their job.
     First it was “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, who whined and whined about getting purged from a job he was unqualified to fill in the first place. People were outraged. People were exorcised. People thought he got a raw deal. In fact, he got a payout of at least $30 million for taking a hike. And then he landed another show on TBS that also paid him millions. A show , like his stint at “Tonight,” that has mostly had crummy ratings. If he loses that one, we’ll never hear the end of it.
     But that will have to wait. This week, the nation’s lonely eyes turned toward embattled “Today” talk-show host Ann Curry. Stiff, distant, short on pep and nobody’s idea of fun, Ms. Curry was reportedly being offered $10 million to leave the venerable morning talk show and go back to being a real journalist. Ten million dollars. All in 20s.
     On thursday, Ms. Curry stepped down from “Today” (but she will stay on at NBC). Whatever the final financial deal, many people thought it was horribly unfair for her to get the ax. Was it her age (55)? Her gender? Or her performance?
     Just try watching her . Forget about paling in comparison to Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira. Based on what I’ve seen, Hillary Clinton has more pizazz than Ann Curry. And a better sense of humor. 
     Anyway, who cares? The number of unemployed young African-Americans in this country is staggering. The number of unemployed young people in America in general is staggering. In Spain, almost a quarter of the people are out of work, a Depression-era level. And, yes, when last I looked, lots and lots of people in developing countries were still hungry and poor and miserable.
     So explain to me why Ann Curry getting the bum’s rush was important news?
     Earlier this week, I found out that one of my wife’s young relatives had just lost his job. He has a house. He has a 3-year-old. He has a problem. One of my closest friends was recently forced to retire from his job due to kidney failure. And a weird blood disease. And, oh yes, cancer. The 60-something clerk at the convenience store I frequent, a guy who used to work in finance, is now happy to have a part-time job manning the checkout counter. The 70-something cashier at a local drugstore, a woman who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1959, recently got tossed out into the street.
     In April, in the space of 10 days, four people I know were forced into early retirement. They worked in the fields of education, air travel, publishing and journalism. They weren’t needed anymore. 
     Join the club. A few weeks ago I heard some noise outside my office and found a man in the hallway who used to work for a brokerage firm banging on every single door looking for a job. Any job. Nobody answered; I am the only person in this building whose office is still open for business. The other suites have been vacant for years.
     So explain again to me why we’re supposed to care about Ann Curry? Or Conan O’Briend? Or Indiana’s Sen. Richard Lugar, finally given his walking papers after 40 years? Or anybody else in the fields of sports, politics or entertainment?
     Maybe it’s time we redirected our concern and started showing some compassion for the truly unfortunate. Most of the people I know who lost their jobs recently lost them because of the economic downturn. They didn’t lose them because they were stiff or wooden or incapable of pretending that Al Roker is actually funny. None of them is self-pitying. None of them is overpaid. And none of them ever got $10 million to go away.
     So we can all hold the tears when Ann Curry’s name comes up. My advice to her is simple: Get yourself a real job. Not a job where you sit on a couch for two hours and gasbag with the planet’s most fiendish self-promoters. No, a real job.
     The kind of thing millions of Americans can now only dream of.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 15, 2010) Lt. Gen....

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 15, 2010) Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen, deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command, talks about humanitarian aid distribution with Ann Curry of NBC News at the Port-au-Prince National Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. United States military personnel are conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Haiti in the aftermath of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sorry, Ann. You’re a big girl now. Dry your eyes. Dust off your bruised ego and get back to doing the job you’ve a real talent for…directing the world’s attention to the plight of the downtrodden. It may not be glamorous. It may not pay as much. But it contributes so much more to society than a job that elevates gossip to the level of substantive, thought-provoking conversation.

Civilization has made great strides in advancing the way our needs are met. On the other hand, we’ve made very little progress in what we find entertaining. Watching others writhe and squirm under the media’s spotlight continues to captivate, just as the slaughter of Christians for sport captivated the Romans of old.

today’s message…avoid the spotlight…

hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: easiest

Parenting isn’t the easiest job for sure…but it’s by far the most rewarding…and long term. Of the careers I’ve had, and there’ve been a few, being a stay-at-home mom has taught me the most about life…and about myself.

Caring for the well-being of another, a daughter who looked to me for comfort, guidance, and love, I had to venture outside my own comfort zone and do whatever needed doing. I wore many “hats” to suit the need. I grew in self-assurance and self-esteem. I found my voice and spoke up, and I learned to growl if my cub was threatened.

When I became a mom, I met the real me. Before then I was buried beneath others’ expectations, and my own insecurities. My daughter freed me…to be myself. To parent I needed to bring my talents and strengths to the task. To do so I had to gradually extricate myself from all the stuff with which I’d been saddled, whether of my own doing, or others.

And yet, parenting is still not the easiest of careers. But it’s the only one to which I’d dedicate my life…

…all over again………hugmamma.

“this time’s for me,” blogging

A couple of days ago, views of HUGMAMMA’S MIND, BODY AND SOUL passed 6,000! In five months time, I’ve written and published more than 200 posts. I guess that might be the equivalent of a very small book. The benefit of writing a blog, as I’ve acknowledged before, is being read “in the moment.” Middleman, wordpress.com, has been highly instrumental in taking my words from “draft” to “published.” I’m very grateful for the ease with which they make it happen, and appreciative of you, who continue to read my blog.

Writing for me is like a job. I awake, ideas percolating in my brain, before I’ve even washed my face and brushed my teeth. But I get myself ready, hair coiffed and makeup on, oatmeal, green tea and fruit downed, before I plop myself in front of the computer. This is one job for which I need no motivation other than my own. I don’t get paid. I don’t have to answer to a boss, other than myself. But even this boss doesn’t need to kick me in the butt to get going. I’m off and running at the speed of lightning, each and every day. Topics??? They’re in my brain all the time; they’re at my fingertips, in stacks of unread Wall Street Journal papers, in stacks of recipes in a huge drawer. Topics also present themselves on TV, in exercise class, in church, at functions. And of course, mothering is a lifetime of blog posts in itself.

A friend recommended I look into blogging for compensation, in a variety of forms. Looking into it, I was caught up in the whirlwind of gains that could be made from connecting with companies that use bloggers to market their products. Flying hither and yon to attend conferences, visit corporate headquarters, be recognized beyond my own little hovel is exciting stuff. But then I remembered, “Been there, done that.”

I’ve worked for corporations, traveling to headquarters in other states, schmoozing with management, basked in the limelight for programs I’d overseen to fruition. And I got paid to do all this, not enough to be sure, never enough. But while my body went through all the motions, doing all the necessary things to stay in the “rat race,” my brain was lying somewhere in a hammock, bathing in the warmth of tropical sunshine of my own imagination’s creation. Sunday afternoons and Mondays were always the worst for me, knowing I had to get up out of my “hammock,” and get back in the “rat race.”

So for now, I prefer to be the Hobbit, snug and warm in my “hole in the ground,” writing whatever I want, whenever I want, for readers who like reading what I write. It’s like hitting “pay dirt,” every time someone views my blog. So in a way, you’re my boss, but ultimately I’m still my own boss. I can always “pull the plug” on this job. But for now I’ll keep my day job and, of course, the ones I’ve enjoyed for 40 years, housewife, and 24 years, mom.

this time’s for me…hugmamma.

McGarrett, no replacement

As I sit typing away at the keyboard, Steve McGarrett’s face lights up the TV screen behind me. The low, husky voice is enough to conjure up the handsome Jack Lord. I’m reminded that in “Hawaii Five-O’s” heyday, I had a crush on the actor. So while I was disappointed in his marriage to someone other than me, I took comfort in his wife’s dark-haired good-looks as indicative of Lord’s preference for exotic types.

Beyond Lord’s presence in the series, “Hawaii Five-O” was a favorite of locals because it was filmed in the islands. The production company’s home base was located a few miles from my mother-in-law’s house. Filming on location meant natives would be used not only as extras, but possibly in featured roles as well. I think one or more of McGarrett’s  detectives were island men. Not only did the series provide jobs for locals but they, along with the islands as a backdrop, gave the show authenticity. Viewing the show I could identify every place they filmed, streets, buildings, restaurants, night clubs, malls, parks, beaches, hotels, churches, temples, airports and more. It was thrilling to see local celebrities like Danny Kaleikini and Genoa Keawe perform. Don Ho also guested but wasn’t a favorite of locals, who viewed him as a cheesy rendition of the true Hawaiian artist. Besides, Ho was always seen with a drink in his hand. Islanders did not relish being dubbed as slap-happy alcoholics to an audience of television watchers.

While not knocking the socks off of critics, the dramatic series entertained “Hawaii Five-O” fans for years. I know my family watched it with regularity. We probably set our dinner schedule around its time slot. After all, watching the show was like witnessing real life as it unfolded on our streets, in our homes, in our work places, among our people. We weren’t watching look-a-likes, so imagining that “Hawaii Five-O” was about us wasn’t far-fetched. And Jack Lord imbued the Hawaiian spirit, if not in looks then in his love of the islands and its people. During the series and through his retirement, he and his wife lived in Honolulu, calling it home. We were as enamored of the man, as he was of Hawaii, its culture and the natives. So while another reprise of the TV series is in the offing, there’ll never be a replacement for Jack Lord, the one and only Steve McGarrett. I wonder if the theme song will be updated as well; the old one is like “comfort food.” Right now, watching the original “Hawaii Five-O”, I’m remembering the “good old days” of my youth.

they can try, but…hugmamma.

caring friends

The company of dancers to which my daughter belongs, are an especially caring group of young folk. People unfamiliar with their world might conclude that its competitive environment would prohibit close friendships. As with any career, there are individuals who refuse to look beyond their wants and needs. But having witnessed my daughter’s experiences first hand, I know that most dancers reach out to one another, offering a shoulder or a pat on the back, as the situation warrants.

Dancers work under demanding physical conditions. Their minds are also constantly challenged with learning choreography for several pieces simultaneously. Add to the mix, their ongoing concern for keeping healthy and fit. Their jobs depend upon their doing so. And yes, there is some anxiety about what roles they will get to dance. While they can hone their skills to achieve their personal best, the artistic staff, and sometimes the choreographer, have their own selection criteria. The dancers must abide by their decisions.

Unlike many professions, dancers must be passionate about their choice of a career. Given the unique demands and stresses, someone doing it half-heartedly could not withstand the physical pain nor the extraordinary mental stimulation. (Although some have tried, and still try.) Dancers rarely take sick leave, that’s how “crazy” they are about what they do. (I have to admit to taking mental health days once in a while during my stint at a career outside the home. Actually, I still do.) Working as a team to bring a ballet or contemporary piece to the stage, the dancers support each other’s efforts. For the good of all, they forge close relationships based upon respect. They celebrate together, and they share disappointment together.

Making big bucks is never a consideration for dancers. Unless they are with major metropolitan companies with $15 million budgets, dancers barely make a living wage. Many work 2 jobs to support themselves. Again, that’s how “crazy” they are about what they’re doing. Occasionally they may dine out on shared appetizers and desserts. Or they may splurge at a sushi joint or a local, college hangout. Most times they relax at one another’s apartments, having already eaten their meals at home. There are group celebrations for birthdays or Christmas, where everyone brings pot luck. They are as generous as they are frugal. That is to say, they spend within their means.

I admire my daughter and her dance friends. They are passionate about their careers, while showing compassion towards each other. They have showmanship, but are not flashy. Each believes he or she is the best, but realize there’s better, when they see it in another dancer. They congratulate each other when great roles are garnered, and they cry together when they are not. Their hearts are big; they pet-sit for free when friends are away for a few days or a few weeks. They transport each other to and from the airport, even during  rush hour traffic.

My daughter has a family of caring friends, and we, her family, cannot express enough appreciation for those young men and women. They are the siblings she did not have growing up.

those who care for our children as we do, deserve our thanks…hugmamma.

“vino, anyone?”

Have you noticed how airports around the country, and the world, have been transformed into “destinations?” Passengers who once shopped for last-minute trinkets, can now purchase Burberry coats, TUMI luggage, and Disney memorabilia for themselves. Grabbing a cold, dry ham and cheese sandwich, has been replaced by gastronomical delights like Wolfgang Puck’s 3-cheese-pizza, Sabarro’s spaghetti and meatballs, and Chinese delicacies. Bars have always been available for the business traveler in need of a “pick-me-up,” after a day of endless meetings. But according to a Journal article “Airports Blend More Spirits Into the Mix,”  “Alcohol has rarely been in short supply at airports, but some cash-strapped local governments are taking steps to open the taps further.”

Bars at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports are open 24 hours, as are the 17 pushcart vendors selling beer and wine. A plan is in place to open a bar in the baggage claim of Las Vegas’ airport, while wine bars are expanding. “Vino Volo, a San Fransisco airport wine-bar chain that opened its first shop in 2005, plans to add its 14th location this month and hopes to have 50 in three to five years. Vino Volo, which means ‘wine flight’ in Italian, offers meals and wine-tastings and sells bottles to go from most of its locations.” HMSHost, part of Italy’s Autogrill SpA, sells bottled local wines at two California airports. The company also sells bottled wines at wine bars in several airports, and is planning to open more.

“Critics say the last thing needed in the skies is more tipsy passengers.” This week a flight, prepared to take off from Florida’s St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, returned to the gate because of a drunken passenger. While such incidents have occurred before, Joe Tiberi, the International Association of Machinists union spokesman feels that ” ‘Making liquor more easily accessible in airports will only exacerbate the problem,’…” Rebecca Rolfes, a Chicago publishing exec, who travels from O’Hare several times a month feels pushcarts would allow tipsy drinkers to roam concourses, bringing them into contact with families and non-drinking passengers. “That could create ‘some pretty sloppy situations,’…”

The obvious benefits to increasing the availability of alcohol are providing respite for passengers other than food courts, more revenue for airports and cities, and creation of jobs. Making a plea for those like himself who may find themselves stranded overnight at the airport, electrician Ray Mazzoni feels that with bars open 24 hours “you could have a drink and a snack and watch TV.”

It’s likely that if “you build it, they will come.” The question is do we really need IT? Just because we think it, does it mean we must give it life? There might be short, and long-term, consequences which we aren’t taking into account. Dispensing more alcohol in airports doesn’t seem like a proposition worthy of our support. It’s not of medical or scientific or even human necessity. It’s a luxury most can’t afford.

in my opinion…hugmamma