Outside my window

Outside the window in my third floor office is a tree. I just moved to this office this winter, so it has always been naked and bare in my experience.

There is a ragged old bird’s nest in the crook of two branches. One day I noticed a pair of mourning doves checking it out. Before long they were crooning and courting, and Mama Dove began settling in. Papa sat on a branch keeping watch, occasionally flying in to check on things.

Suddenly, the doves scattered as a hawk landed in the tree. I was so excited, thinking I might see a bit of natural selection right outside my window. But the hawk left and eventually the doves returned to their routine. It was a bit distracting, waiting for the hawk to swoop in. More than once I lost concentration during a meeting when I saw fluttering at the nest. I expected – hoped, actually – to see the hawk devouring a dove.

Then the weekend came and went. On Monday, the doves were gone. I found myself sad, thinking that the hawk had had one, or both, for dinner. Just a few days before, I was watching for that very outcome. Now it made me sad.

By Wednesday, Papa Dove returned, then Mama. Or was it a replacement dove? That two-timing avian! He sure didn’t mourn long for a mourning dove, did he! The new pair is nesting, and I’ve forgiven Papa Dove already.

But Friday is coming, and I bet the hawk is getting hungry.


We got rid of our land line a few months ago. It was a decision we delayed for too long, but it just seemed too weird not to have a phone. We rarely got personal calls. More likely, they were from political pollsters, or someone trying to sell us something or get us to donate to something.

Now we are (almost) ready to cancel our daily paper delivery. This is another tradition that will be hard to leave behind. For as long as I can remember, my family has been getting the daily paper – twice a day when there was still an afternoon paper. I remember both my Uncle and my Dad reading the paper each afternoon before dinner, and my Aunt working all the puzzles after the dishes were washed and put away. Fond memories, for sure, but time move on. The daily newspaper ritual will soon end.

When I was growing up, my Aunt and Uncle owned a small motel, frequented primarily by traveling salesmen. There was an ice box from which the guests got their ice. Every few days, the iceman delivered a huge block of ice, placing it in the box. One had to use an ice pick to chip away at the block of ice. I cannot imagine having such a dangerous implement as an ice pick for all to share today. As a child, there was nothing better than chipping off a big piece of ice on a hot summer day. Then one day, the icebox was replaced by an ice maker. My Uncle must have experienced a bit of sadness as the icebox was carted away.

But I sure was fascinated by that new ice maker!

That feeling is not unlike how I felt when we got our first cell phone. My husband and I shared it for the first couple of years, with the person who was traveling the greatest distance, or having the most compelling need, getting possession of the phone for the day. Now I cannot imagine going anywhere without my phone, or sending any of my family members out in the world without theirs.

I cannot help but get a little sad and nostalgic as these rituals and traditions go by the wayside. I imagine that our ancestors had the same feelings as the milk man lost out to the supermarket or the streetcar gave way to the automobile. (Less nostalgia is presumed from electrification or the advent of indoor plumbing from early in the 20th century.)

I love technology and all that means for our society, but my heart goes out for that old icebox.

What do you miss from times gone by?


I have a friend – a professional acquaintance, actually – who I have known for probably 15 years. We’ve always been friendly but not particularly close. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to use his services for my organization. It helped my organization, he made some money, and he even provided a discount, as I recall. During the engagement, I introduced him to another colleague, who arranges the kind of business he provides for a statewide group. They hit it off, and he got a lot of business from that one introduction.  It was a good introduction for him.

And good for me, too, it turns out.

He has never forgotten that kindness. He will call every few months with the offer of his UK Football or Basketball season tickets to a game he can’t attend.  Tickets that are in high demand. My favorite team. And he never fails to mention how much he appreciates my introduction several years before. I did so little, what anyone would have done, but he continues to show me how important it was for him.

It’s not really the ‘pay it forward’ concept, but just a nice gesture for someone results in a nice outcome for me. It sure is great reinforcement of my concept that one should try to open doors for others when you can. It doesn’t always result in UK tickets, certainly, but sometimes it does, and that makes it worth doing. The other thing that makes it worth doing is how good it makes me feel when a successful connection has been made.

What connections are you making? And are you showing gratitude for others who make good connections that help you?

Decisions 101

Even though I have been in management for most of my professional career, I rarely write about such topics. Perhaps it is too close to home, or simply too much like work for me to enjoy writing about it on my blog. Today is different. I have been thinking of things that help organizations make better decisions and want to share them.

1. When you bring problems to you’re supervisor/manager/director be sure that you have also thought about potential solutions. Bursting in to the boss’s office with an urgent “the sky is falling” message is much better received if you have considered the problem from different angles and have some solutions or responses ready to suggest.

2. Do not hesitate to give your opinion about issues that arise in your work. Nothing riles me more than when I am trying to have a discussion with an employee and I get the silent, blank stare. What I want is opinions, ideas, information, even arguments. Ken Blanchard is famous for saying, and I am known for repeating, “All of us are smarter than some of us.” We almost always make better decisions when we make them together and employees often have the most important perspectives.

3. When faced with a crisis, problem, or tough decision, put on you asbestos britches and just get to work. No whining, no blaming, no procrastinating. Just do it. And never, ever try to hide it, whatever the ‘it’ is for you. If I know what I am dealing with I am much more inclined to be forgiving than when I have been blindsided because someone was afraid to speak up.

4. Nothing can be declared finished until the paperwork is done. The documentation, reports, publicity, thank you letters, financial accounting, etc. cannot be ignored. If you do, it always comes to haunt you – and it is always worse the second time around.

That’s my list. Call it accountability, call it follow through, call it common sense, or something else, but a person who heeds this advice will have great success.

What would you add to the list?

Solving problems

I have several groups of friends that I have little in common with, philosophy-wise. Yet, we always have fun, enjoy each others’ company, and have interesting conversations. I may not agree with all (or even a few) of their political or religious views, but I like them anyway. And I think they like me. I truly believe that if we were all in Congress together, we could come to some sort of agreement about what is best for the country. It may not be exactly as I would want it to be, or exactly what they would want it to be, but it would be reasonable, fair, and future oriented. Probably it would make things better.

In my opinion, members of Congress have been hanging out with their own kind at the exclusion of all the other kinds for so long that they can no longer imagine what others think or feel or need. Maybe they don’t care, but I do not believe that is true. We all want what is best for this country.  Now we just need to get the members of Congress talking with one another honestly, without hidden agendas and gamesmanship, and with the future of our country in mind. Much like my friends and I do. You don’t have to have anything in common with one another to have an impact on the world.

You just need to decide that the impact will be a positive one and that nothing will get in the way.

Twitter: Information Portal or Time Suck?

I’ve been thinking about Twitter.

In case you’ve been under a rock for the last couple of years, Twitter is a social media tool that, according to the company’s website, “connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting.” Because anybody and everybody can be on Twitter, and follow the famous, not so famous, and even the fakes, it has become a social media phenom.  It is at once the greatest information portal of all times and the biggest time suck in history.

The recent presidential election set all sorts of Twitter records, including 31 million election-related posts on election day alone.

After the election was called in favor of Barack Obama, Obama’s Tweet,

@BarackObama Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom

generated more than 717,000 retweets, the most ever. The state by state results were tweeted, retweeted, and commented upon throughout the evening. I can imagine that Romney’s social media team must have been watching the tweets trending for Obama with disbelief and growing sadness as the evening progressed.

We are increasingly getting our news via Twitter. Quite often, when I am reading the paper or watching the evening news (Yes, I still subscribe to a daily newspaper.) I already know some of the details of the news being reported because I have read it on Twitter hours earlier. Through Twitter, I can keep up on the news happening where my two adult children live, where I used to live, and where I live now. I stay informed about the nonprofit world that is so important to my work, about technology, leadership, current events, and my favorite sports teams (GO BIG BLUE!). Where Facebook is a way to share gossipy things, Twitter is less about gossip, and more about news, though the gossip is certainly available for those interested in such things. It’s just that on Facebook, you get  it whether you want it or not. On Twitter you can filter a lot of that out.

Twitter makes us smarter and dumber all at the same time.

There is a LOT of junk on Twitter. I don’t care what Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, or especially some goofy NLF player is doing or thinking. I don’t want to know about people’s mundane everyday activities, and will quickly unfollow a person if the chatter becomes too trite, too frequent, or of little value.  Full disclosure, I am often compelled to click on pictures from perfect strangers, a voyeuristic trait that I hate about myself. Of course, MY Tweets and photos are all insightful, with never a dull or mundane one in the lot. (Oh, but I wish that last statement were true.)

What is good about Twitter – and dangerous,too – is the familiarity of it all. The common, regular person can easily send a express an opinion, and even have influence on a news outlet, politician, or advocacy group.  We become familiar with the so-called celebrities, and they us And of course, being human, many have posted unwise tweets and paid the price. Twitter should have a button labeled, YOU IDIOT, that warns us before we send an unwise or ill-advised tweet.  I fear, though, that most of us would just ignore the warning and send it anyway.

Have you made the Twitter leap yet?

An idle mind

I have spent the last 36 hours or so being subjected to our health care system. To make a long story short, I went to the ER with some scary symptoms. They checked me out, all came back fine, but they insisted I stay overnight so they could do some more tests to make double-dog sure.

I estimate that I spent, maybe, three hours total getting one of the many tests, vital sign checks, medical history interviews, etc. necessary for my care and diagnosis. The rest of the time? I waited for things And waited, and waited. Bored does not begin to describe my state of mind. I even turned on that devil’s workshop, daytime television, for a bit before I came to my senses.

I normally spend my days with too much to do – never enough hours in the day. But when I found myself in this medical holding pattern, I was unable to remember anything that I needed to do (or at least anything that I could do from a hospital bed).

It seems like I should have been able to figure out how to spend the time productively. But not so much. I checked Facebook several times, and Twitter several more. I cleaned out all my unread email messages, and sent a few emails. I looked up a couple of things on the Internet. Read a few blogs. And way too much navel-gazing.

But I would not call any of that particularly productive. My typically too-full mind was totally blank. Tomorrow when I return to work, I will think of a dozen or more things I should’ve, could’ve done. And I will probably kick myself for not thinking of them today.

In praise of Autumn

Those who know me also know that I don’t like Fall much, mainly because it leads to winter, which I really, really don’t like. But there are some things about Autumn that I do love. So, as the last of the leaves are falling to the ground, it is time to celebrate Autumn.

  1. The temperatures:  Summer’s humidity and high temperatures tend to get a bit tiresome by September, so I welcome the lower temperatures of the season. I love “sweater weather” and sitting in the stands watching a soccer (football, too, on occasion) game when the weather is cooler. There’s nothing better than a watching my favorite team (win of course) with a blanket over my lap, and a mug of hot chocolate in my hands. Go, Quakers!
  2. Nature’s beauty:  Autumn in Kentucky is so beautiful! Every year we hear from the media that this year we will not experience the pretty colors of Fall like in years past. There numerous excuses — drought,  rain,  wind, heat, whatever. Yet, year after year, the colors of Autumn amaze me.  This year is no exception. I love the oranges, the yellows, the reds of Autumn, and marvel at the divine plan of it all. I know that there is a great scientific explanation about why the colors change, and why they change to red or yellow or orange.  But I like to think that God made it thus so we would experience the enjoyment of the change of seasons.  I believe the same thing about flowers. They could all be one color and be pollinated just the same, but they aren’t. Why? For our enjoyment, that’s why.
  3. Apple Season: When October arrives, I must go to an Apple Orchard to get some apples. It is a ritual that I cannot miss! A fresh apple straight from the orchard just tastes better than any other apple, whether eaten raw or cooked. I love to bite into my first Orchard Apple of the season. Then I make stewed apples, apple crisp, apples with brie, and any number of other scrumptious dishes as the mood strikes and the apples hold out. Yum!
  4. Thanksgiving: I just love Thanksgiving. I love cooking my family’s favorite dishes (and mine). I love the time we spend together doing nothing in particular. I love that once the eating is done, there is no pressure.  No presents to buy, no religious sensitivities to tread, no rushing to this party or that. Just time to spend together, and maybe taking in a football game or two on television.  And I like the leftovers, too!

I may hate winter, but for now I will relish these last few weeks of Autumn. Anyone care for an apple?

A surprising thing

I am not a very good blogger. I am a decent writer. But as for blogging, I don’t do it often enough, never publicize it, rarely even mention it to my friends. I’m even a little shy about it. And virtually nobody reads it. (Which is okay. Maybe someday I’ll become a real blogger.) So imagine my surprise when I got an email a few months ago asking for permission to use one of my blog posts in a text book they were working on. It was this one: What Gall!  I said ‘sure,’ thinking to myself that they must be desperate for material. I did ask for a copy of the book when published to stroke my ego just a bit. I never really thought anything would come of it, and forgot all about it.

Then, again out of the blue, a package arrived from Pearson Publishers.  I opened it up, and low, and behold, the book!  Biology: Science for Life by Colleen Belk and Virginia Borden Maier (Fourth Edition). And sure enough in a call out box on page 270 was the post. Every bit of it, and it didn’t sound too bad, either. There were even discussion questions at the back of the book.

So now I’m published. Maybe a few students in some biology class will actually read and discuss my post.  Way cool.


I bought a pair of high heel shoes this weekend. My first pair since, well, since nearly forever. I had a pretty important meeting today, and thought my suit would look better, and therefore I would be smarter, with these shoes. I was right about the suit and the shoes being perfect together. And the meeting went pretty well, too.

But those shoes. Now I remember why I quit wearing heels. I had a heck of a time walking in them and I could not wait to change into flats when my big meeting was over.

Why do women do this to ourselves? Heels look hot, sure. But they hurt your feet and, as I realized today, throw your back and balance out of alignment. But still we wear them. And we wear girdles and panty hose. I think it has something to do with pride, ego, self-concept. It’s so stupid.

But my legs look awesome In those shoes. Maybe before my next gray suit day, I’ll practice walking around the house. Comfort is one things. Sexy legs are another, after all.