Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Merry Christmas?

Once upon a time I really loved Christmas, alas that time has come and gone. Rather than a time of peace on earth and joy, Christmas has become a time of higher crime rates, depression, major stress and general nastiness. Gifts are no longer given out of joy but out of a forced sense of obligation, so we get things we don't want and buy things we cannot afford and then we regift. Children are overindulged (yeah, I said it, go ahead throw tomatoes at your pc), and stressed out parents strive every year for the bigger better toy, decoration and celebration. Does anyone out there actually still enjoy this holiday?

We have even gone over the top in our "all inclusive" policy. We no longer want to call it Christmas but simply a "holiday." Hey, why not desecrate Hannukah while we're at it. Christmas is what it is - a time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. Don't like it, don't believe it, don't celebrate it!

Now, while I may sound like a sour sport, I'm really not. I long for the Christmas of past, simple celebrations that honored the Christ child. A celebration of the victory and triumph that Christmas represents. A time when families came together in remembrance. A time when gifts were simply given from the heart. A time when we remembered to reach out to those that are in need.

Perhaps we would all benefit by even taking it down a notch or two, spending less and loving more, receiving less and giving more. I have personally found no greater joy than giving to others, and that joy is expanded when the recipient is someone in need.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Richest Nation

In viewing a Nightline report last night, I was once again reminded how blessed I am to live in this nation. The Nightline report dealt with the crisis situation in Niger. I watched in horror as the BBC reporter spoke with families that are literally starving to death. I wanted to turn away, yet could not, as images of starving children filled my TV screen. People lay dying because there is no food and no water. Some of the villagers found rats to eat, and so were able to have a meal. When a bit of help did arrive, starving people had to hike 6 miles to get food, and there was not enough for everyone, only the most critical were allowed food. My eyes flooded with tears as I watched.

I too have had days of need but I have never known starvation. Yes, I have been hungry and without food, but I live in a country where at the very least I can get a meal. In America we make provision for the needy. We have shelters, and food banks so that no one has to starve to death. I was humbled as I watched people in far dire circumstances than I shall ever experience. This is a tough time for me, and my refrigerator is empty but my situation is 1000 times better than the people of Niger. I do not take joy in their misery. My heart aches for them and I pray that the richer nations of the world will not only help in this crisis but make provision for ongoing help for those that are less fortunate. If you are reading this today, I urge you to make it your personal mission to not only count your blessings, but share them. Whatever you lack, there is someone who has even less.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Business of Basketball

For sports fans following "As the Pistons Turn" the news of Larry Brown's departure came as not shock. Unlike many loyal Michigan fans, I say "Good Riddance!" Don't get me wrong, Larry did a great job when committed to the team but following "the brawl," his health difficulties and the negative diversions during the playoffs, well...Perhaps change is good. What is disturbing is that so often in sports things turn ugly. Sports used to be a way for us to teach our children discipline, commitment, loyalty. Players were drug free, team oriented and stood out as good role models for us. Today's environment is all about me, me, me and the almighty dollar. Loyalty, shmoalty! Agents, contracts and cold hard cash are what drive the game. Frankly, the Pistons deserve better. They have remained a team of level headed guys who truly seem to enjoy what they do. They give back to the community and show a genuine appreciation for the fans. Detroiters and the Pistons have a mutual love affair. Although the players come from various places, they seem to be more representative of Detroit - hard working, no frills, down to earth like so many of the people that live in the city. I'd say the Bad Boys deserve a coach that will be committed, hard working and not looking for his next job while his team is fighting to win a championship.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Grief and Anniversaries

Today would have been my 12th anniversary. It is a really tough day and one that I must endure alone. This is the second anniversary since my husband's death. There are times when it still seems unreal - is he really gone forever? People seem to think that becoming a widow at a young age offers some kind of advantage. They think it hurts less because you were not married that long. They forget that I have not been widowed after being married 50 years so I cannot compare my pain and somehow minimize it to "not being as bad." No one talks to me about my husband anymore. I suppose people either feel that I've moved on or they do not want to bring up the pain. Yes, I have continued to live and have written new chapters in my life but my husband will always be a part of me. You don't just move on from those that you have loved. Many of my tearful remembrances have now become happy ones. I think of my husband and smile or laugh. Sadly, there is no one with whom I can share these moments. No one remembers that today is the day that I pledged "till death do us part." I don't really have the energy or the inclination to bring it to anyone's attention - so I will deal with this day as I have all the others- alone. I will mourn, laugh, cry and try not to feel self pity. I will remind myself that life does indeed continue to be an adventure filled with change, wonder, and challenges. I will thank God for the time that I had with my dearly beloved. I will embrace the lessons that I learned and continue to grow as a person. I will work through this difficult day, with faith and an undeniable truth that this too shall pass.

Hug someone you love today, you may not get another opportunity.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Is it really Spring?

Soon after I wrote my last post, the weather once again returned to Winter conditions. What a dirty trick! It seems that this has been the "Year of Weird" for weather everywhere. I'm not sure if its due to global warming or not, but I do know that the weather has an effect on your mood. As I look out the window today, I see trees blowing and rain gently falling. That normally would lull me into a sense of peace, but yesterday it waas blue skies and sunshine, and people were driving around with the top down! Going from wonderful to dreary overnight makes it very difficult to spring into action (pardon the pun). I am expending a great deal of energy today, motivating myself to work. This poses a real problem because I'm self-employed, and if I don't work, I don't eat! Yesterday, people were smiling and willing to chat. Today, everyone is gloomy and in a hurry to just get through the day. Still others look up at the sky and will the sun to shine. They refuse to carry an umbrella or dress in warmer clothing, by golly its Spring, even if the weather will not cooperate! Well, I'm going to put on my sunglasses, pick up my umbrella and head out to drum up business. It may be cold outside, but in my heart it's Springtime baby!

Make it a great day! Karen

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Hurray It's Spring!

After what seemed like an unending winter, Spring has finally arrived - hurray! I must admit that even I, lover of all seasons, grew weary of boots, heavy coats, gloves, and that doggone salt everywhere! It is a lovely 59 degrees here in the Midwest, birds are singing, children are playing outside, mothers are pushing baby strollers. Oh glorious day! I think that what I truly love about Spring, is not just the warmer temperature but the rebirth that it signals. Winter tends to be dark and cold, and sometimes lonely. Spring reminds us that the light does shine again. Spring is a time to throw open the windows and clear out the clutter in our homes and within our selves. Spring is a time when dreams really do seem possible, and hope is renewed. We watch birds returning from their winter retreat, plants and flowers begin to bloom, and the dark winter skies become a distant memory. The days are longer and the nights are shorter. We survived another winter, and this is our reward, our time of celebration. For some, winter truly may have been a dark time. There are those that may have lost a job, or a loved one. Perhaps a cherished relationship came to an end, or you faced a medical crisis. I've lived through many dark times as well, but today, be encouraged that winter does not last. Spring always comes, it never fails. Your rebirth shall come too.

Love and sunshine,


Friday, March 25, 2005

The New American Work Force

No one can argue that being an employee in today's marketplace is vastly different than what our grandparents and great grandparents experienced. Most of us have accepted that at some point in our work history, we may be downsized, right sized or outsized out of our job. Yet, amazingly, many American workers are not prepared for this stark reality - financially or emotionally. Some choose to believe that it can't or won't happen to them. This is, in my opinion, as frightening as the person who has chest pains and doesn't take time to see a doctor. Neither scenario has a happy ending.

For those that continue to earn a living by being employed must realize that showing up every day and hoping for the best is no longer good enough. The new American worker must be savvy enough to have a Plan B, and a Plan C. They must always be thinking one step ahead and never allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. What does this really mean? Start cutting expenses before you're faced with a job loss. It is easier to cut back and make different choices when things are going well. You think you've earned the life you're living, that you deserve a little luxury after all your hard work? If you lost your job today and could not find work for 12 months, would you still feel the same way? The harsh reality is in today's economy, there are many talented, well educated people who are out of work for extended periods of time. Are you prepared for a sudden job loss, a sudden illness? Getting your finances in order is only one piece of the puzzle.

In this new world, it's imperative to have a backup plan and a backup to the backup. While employed take advantage of every opportunity to broaden your skill base. Take classes, volunteer to learn new skills. Think ahead and begin working on that second career while still employed. It's far easier to sacrifice a little time when you have a steady paycheck than when you are out of a job and desperate.

Finally, there is an emotional component. We spend a great deal of time at our jobs. We are sadly, more connected at work than we are to our families and communities. Losing your job can also mean the loss of a social outlet, the loss of a community. Again, in this case a little pre-planning can go a long way. Companies are impersonal machines that are focused on the bottom line. Begin to see your workplace for what it really is, a job. Enjoy the work, enjoy the people but do not expect that big, impersonal machine to take care of you. Form a support network outside of work. It's amazing how many of us neglect to nurture friendships and family relationships because we're too busy working. Spending time with people who have nothing to do with work will give you balance and help you to be more relaxed and dare I say it, productive at your job. However, if you do lose your job, you will have a network of people to help you through the rough times.

At the end of the day, spending less, sharpening your skills and nurturing relationships will improve your life, even if you do keep your day job.

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