Tag Archives: progress

What does your coach do?

My son-in-law is a track and cross-country coach. My daughter is a professor in health and recreation. One is a coach, and one is a teacher and they both work with people in sports. If you were an athlete, which would you work with? The coach or the professor?

When you think of a coach, you think of the guy on the sidelines of the football field or the basketball court yelling at the players, calling plays, directing traffic. This same daughter was on a swim team and made it to State all four years of high school. Remember, your face is in the water when you’re swimming. Unless you’re competing outdoors, the echo and reverb in the pool makes it impossible to discern voices and understand instructions. One of her coaches whistled every time her head broke water. I have no idea what that meant. Sitting on the sidelines, I could not tell if made her swim faster or if it was a secret code so that she didn’t crash into the wall or go out of her lane.

I DO, however, understand what a music coach or conductor/director of a music organization does. He tells us when to start and when to stop. If you’re lost, he tells you when to come in. He may do that even if you aren’t lost. He tells you when to play loudly and when to play softly. He may slow you down or speed you up. He may indicate what style he wants you to play–Mozart light or Wagner dark. And…That’s all you see at the concert.

But that’s not all he does. When we start a new piece, he may explain the origin or history of the music and the composer. This gives us an idea of the environment of the piece. Russian music sounds differently than French. 19th century music sounds different than 17th century music. Dance music is different than Program music. He may isolate the melody in each section of the music so we can hear where the melody is. He may review the complexities of the more difficult passages so we can play them in tune, together, and correctly interpreted. He rehearses us. He asks which part is most important here? He asks the trumpet players what the 2nd violins are doing to make sure everyone is listening and integrating their parts into the piece as a whole.

A teacher gives you information that you do not already know. A coach asks you questions to help you understand yourself and your performance. You may have already heard of the way Vince Lombardi started every season, “This is a football.” These guys have been playing football since they were 3 years old. They know that! But, by starting and reviewing the basics, Lombardi was coaching them instead of teaching them. How does it feel when the ball is snapped correctly? Can you make it more efficient? How does it feel when the ball is thrown correctly? How can you make it more accurate? What does a good block look like? How do you prepare for those hitters on the other team that outweigh you by 50 pounds and are taller than you by 5 inches? Look at all those questions!

What the football coach does is take advantage of his perspective, both on the field and in the box. He’s getting information from his players and the coaches with differing vantage points. He can tweak things on the field, calm the nerves of his players, help them focus on the game at hand rather than the mistake they made 3 minutes ago. He’s not teaching during the game just like the orchestral director isn’t teaching at the concert. He’s tweaking the balance; he’s adjusting for the room full of people and that annoying guy in the back that left his phone on.

What, then, do you think a life coach does?

Yeah… The most common answer to that is, “um.” They’re not supposed to tell you what to do. They’re not supposed to teach you. The person who controls the direction of the coaching session is you. What do you want to accomplish? What questions do you need to answer? Are you happy with your current situation? What would you like to change? How would you go about fixing it? Where can you go to get the information you need, the tools you need to use, the resources and people to get the goal done? That is coaching.

Do not assume that a life coach is just what you see in a psychiatrist’s office, or a lecture room, or a bar. A good football coach doesn’t do the exercises, the players do. A good orchestral conductor doesn’t play all the instruments, the musicians do. The life coach doesn’t fix you. The life coach’s prime weapon is the word, “Why?” Then You do the work and You get the results you’re working for.

If you have a “coach” that tells you what to do, answers all your questions, and pats you on the head before he or she takes your money, you have the wrong person.

What if you double the minimum wage?

This is exactly what Henry Ford did in 1914. He guaranteed the workers $5 per day for 8 hours of work. At a time, the standard work week was sixty hours, and Ford reduced it to forty. That put his minimum wage at 40 cents/hour. His production before the assembly line innovation was twelve cars in a month. The production time was about twelve hours per car. After the conversion to assembly line, the time per car was 93 minutes. There were 13,000 workers at the plant. (Gets out calculator). The cost to Ford for his labor went up $32,500 per DAY! But…Ford’s plant was making 260,000 cars in the year with his 13,000 workers, and the other manufacturers made 280,000 cars in the same year…but with 66,000 workers. Ford was making an average of 20 cars per worker. His competition was making 4.4 cars per worker.

Ford’s labor costs would have been in the general area of $16,900,000 per year…$5/day x 260 days/year x 13,000 workers. From what I understand, the standard wages for autoworkers was between $1 and $2 per day and 60 hour weeks. Ford’s competitors were spending about $41,000,000 per year to get 280,000 cars. Ford’s process cost was 20% of the cost of his competitors, so even doubling the wages didn’t bite into his bottom line. Further, think on this: The average price of the competition’s cars was over $1000 with some as high as $5000+. That would represent nearly 6 months to 2 years of the yearly wages average worker (outside of Ford’s shop). I got the prices from the 1914 Official Handbook of Automobiles. The Model T is not mentioned here. When the Model T was automated, Ford reduced the price to $440 in 1914, so that represented 88 DAYS of a worker’s wages. Wouldn’t it be cool to own something that you helped make? What affect do you think it would have on the profit margin?

Well, if the Model T was sold for $440 in that year and he sold all of them, 260K, He made $114,000,000 on the sales, and spent only $16,900,000 on the labor. The costs of the materials would be roughly the same for Ford and his competitors. The vast majority of the population at the time made between $1000 and $2000 per year. It is Twice the number of the people at the next level–between $2000 and $3000 per year. The idea of taking out a loan to buy a car was ludicrous.

Now we hear of Dan Price, a CEO that is reducing his own salary so his workers can get $70K per year. Dan Price made his own salary $70,000 and made his company’s minimum wage also $70,000. This is capitalism. In Dan Price’s words,  “Since then, our revenues have tripled, we are a Harvard Business School case study, and our employees experienced a 10-fold increase in home buying.”

True capitalism is collaborative and cooperative. It comes from a philosophy of plenty, not scarcity. The system we have in place is industrialism where those in want are told that it is lonely at the top–that everything in life reflects the triangle model. This is a myth. There is plenty of money, plenty of food, plenty of medicine, plenty of work. It is to the advantage of ruthless and unscrupulous moguls for those beneath them to believe that everything is scarce and they should be grateful for work without a decent wage, insane costs for medicine, and investments that are not available to anyone but the rich. We must abandon the industrialist view!

Boxes

I remember, decades ago, when my Dad was cleaning out my Aunt Ba’s apartment. I wasn’t there, but he came home and described her apartment in St. Joe. He said there was a path from the front door to her favorite chair, and another to the bathroom, and a little path to her bed. He was explaining how Auntie would pick up a little box of hairpins and move it to one side of the room, then she’d find another set and move them to another corner of the room. She had these tin boxes of hairpins spread all over the apartment, but she could never find them when she wanted them. So if she found herself trying to put up her hair and no hairpins, she’d go out and buy another box.

She had magazines and newspapers stacked up on every flat surface. She had books and pictures in files and on shelves and in boxes. She had rare photos of her family, unidentified with no dates or places. She had library books from the NYC library that had been removed to make room for new books and given away to the librarians. She had hankies everywhere, most in original wrapping.

I remember my Aunt Ba. She was my great aunt, my dad’s mother’s sister. Her name was Bernice, but she preferred Ba (Bay). We would take walks through the college campus and she could name every tree and could identify every bird by its song. She was one of the first people to hike in Yellowstone after it was made a park. She never married.

She always ate at the counter because she was afraid my mom was trying to poison her. She was kinda weird like that. Her clothes were always neat and clean, and her hats were perfectly placed on her head. The seams in her stockings were always straight. Her vocabulary would shame English professors. Every Christmas, for most of my childhood, she would send a suit or dress from Sacs Fifth Avenue, a stuffed animal, and several books. The clothes were always itchy, but the books were read and cherished. The stuffed animals were hugged until they fell apart. She had traveled and explored and read and studied and I could never get enough time to talk with her.

Last year at this time, I got the word that unless I renovated my house, I would not be eligible for a refi loan. My original got sold and these goofs were giving me bad terms. I needed to get out from under that. They took pictures, then gave a list of demands. I cried for a long time…it was an impossible task. We had to redo every single room in the house with the exception of the bathroom.

We filled FOUR 20-yd dumpsters of stuff. I have another dumpster out there now to get rid of all the stuff from my garage and my office and my bedroom and my living room that were artfully hidden when they came to reinspect it for the “after” pictures. I found myself standing in the garage with a water bottle, a Panera gift card with no idea how much is on it, a tiny glass jar, a couple of family pictures and I’m stuck. I don’t know where those things go. I’m standing there and decide to lose the jar, and of course, it misses the bag and breaks all over the floor. I am paralyzed. I don’t know whether to go inside or stay out. I don’t know what to do with the water bottle, where to put the pictures, and I see myself taking things out of one miscellaneous box and putting it into another miscellaneous box. Net difference? 0. The garage is closer to being organized and emptier, but we still would never get a car into it.

I dread having my kids dig through my stuff after I die.

“Why does she have 9 trumpets? and 4 trombones?”
“Who are these people in the pictures?”
“Who has 40 empty picture frames?”
“Why does she keep the notes from the August 2009 Toastmaster meeting?”
“500 skeins of yarn? No? You found another stash?!”
“Did you know Grandpa Rounds was a mason?”
“Oh Look! is that Jimmy Hoffa’s wallet?”

Marie Kwon says to toss the stuff that doesn’t spark joy.  All of it sparks joy!

I have 78 rpm records of Toscanini directing the NY Phil playing all 9 Beethoven Symphonies. I have baby pictures of my brothers and me. I have plaques and plaques and plaques of my unimportant accomplishments. I have over 1000 books. Getting rid of things petrifies me.

Whippersnappers…

When I was young…

You saw Forrest Gump, didn’t you? You remember when he was confronting the Black Panthers? It was pretty much like that.

We were all mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. How could you relegate someone to the back of the bus because they weren’t the right color? What difference did it make what color they were when it came to school? I was a teenager, so I knew the answers to everything. The only blacks I ever saw were on the campus of the university, and they kept to themselves. You hardly ever saw them downtown. Why? Because our town had a very unfortunate reputation.

There was a lynching in the 30s. Apparently, a black man raped a white school teacher. He was being held in the jail and the Sherriff didn’t want to release him to the mob, but they beat him up and dragged the prisoner out of the jail and tied him to the back end of a truck or car or something, and dragged him down the cobblestone streets. It was killing him too quickly, so instead, they tied him to the top of the schoolhouse and burned the schoolhouse down.

All the news on TV was just plain scary. There were these guys with the big afros yelling and threatening people, and then there were the riots at the Chicago Democratic convention in 1968. All whites were “the man” and wanted to put down and destroy the black communities. All the blacks were lawless animals with no more common sense than a gorilla. Neither side trusted the other. Look up the Chicago 7. Bobby Seale was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party. He and 6 others (all white) were part of the anti-war, civil rights protests. Mayor Daley imposed a curfew for people UNDER age 21, cut off traffic, and stopped the sale of weapons and ammunition.

The next day, they had deployed 10,500 police, 6700 National Guard, and over 5000 soldiers from the 1st armored and 5th infantry divisions were ordered into the city by President Johnson.  “The general in charge declared that no one was allowed to have gatherings in the riot areas and authorized the use of tear gas. Mayor Richard J. Daley gave police the authority “to shoot to kill any arsonist or anyone with a Molotov cocktail in his hand … and … to shoot to maim or cripple anyone looting any stores in our city,” quoted the Chicago Tribune.  Do you see the similarities between the reactions online and the ones they employed in Chicago? And because it was in the middle of the Viet Nam war, the press had discovered it had enormous power over the policies and protocols of the government. Had the press not been present at the riots, we might not have known much about them. But they were there and we saw the police beating on people with batons, and tear gas, and wounded civilians, and looting and arson. The truth was out on display. There was no way to deny what was going on.

We were scared of those angry black people, and we were shocked and embarrassed and furious at the police, and distrustful of the government, and helpless. The Chicago riots happened the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King. The unrest and protests were centered mainly on college campuses around the nation. Since my folks worked at the University, they were on the front lines. But in 1968, my dad was studying for his doctorate at Columbia University in New York City. He got a street-level view of what was happening. The press in NY was out to get the best stories, even if they had to create them. When there was a protest outside of Columbia, the press showed up and people were just standing around. One of the members of the press suggested that someone throw a brick or a bottle and push each other around so they could get pictures. So they did. Then the press packed up and left and the protesters went back to just standing around. This was not what happened in Chicago, or Watts or Harlem.

When my dad got back in 1969, in addition to Viet Nam protests and Civil Rights protests, there was a huge spike in drugs on campuses as well. Heroin, Cocaine, LSD, Pot, and various uppers and downers were widespread and in heavy use. During the riots, you could hear explosions followed by giggling. Some of the rioters would experience bad trips and set off another series of violent acts and panic. Most white people in my home town basically stayed home, and the black students hid. When I started college in 1973, the race relations were very much improved among students on the campus, but not in the communities. When “Roots” came out, since I didn’t have my own TV, I went to the student lounge to watch. 30 people in the room, and I was the only white person. I couldn’t miss any of it and I became less and less noticed. I was like furniture. But who talks to furniture? I made no friends in those gatherings.

The comics, Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Red Fox, and Bill Cosby were becoming mainstream, and newer black comics were starting to become more commonplace. My dad even had a few records by Bill Cosby. Bill never did the race jokes, but the others did, especially Richard Pryor. He made the white people in the clubs where he did stand-up very nervous, but when he was on television, the white people at home felt safe and could let a part of his message sink in. But blacks were still fighting for the same considerations that we took for granted. Many of the whites were saying that the laws were passed, so now discrimination was over. It wasn’t.

I think the race situation seemed strange to me because we were musicians. Which musicians did you think of when you played jazz? Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Oscar Pederson, Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Sammy Davis, Jr. This is what we listened to at home. Dizzy Gillispie and that wild trumpet of his was not a black man playing trumpet, he was a man playing a wild trumpet. Why? Because we never WATCHED them perform, we just heard them. I knew Dizzy played a weird trumpet because my dad described the trumpet to me. In fact, until I saw Al Hirt’s picture, I thought he was probably black because he played Dixieland jazz, and that was in New Orleans. It wasn’t until I saw Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald on TV that I knew they were black, and it didn’t seem weird at all that they were a different color. My mom described race to me with apples. She said, “Here taste this. What is it?” “It’s an apple.” “But what color apple?” “I can’t tell, it’s peeled.” “So it doesn’t matter what color it is?” “Nah, it’s still an apple.” “Well, there ya go.”

Here’s the thing: after the assassination of MLK in 1968 and the riots and protests, 9 years later, the blacks still had to fight for equal treatment. And here we are, over 50 years later and WE’RE STILL FACING THE SAME PROBLEMS! The riots don’t change the right things, the legislation doesn’t change the right things, the protests and the social media and the news don’t change the right things. What does? Only if the hearts change do people change. Only when we open our minds with our hearts will people be treated alike, because the heart is blind.

BLM

How many of you have black friends? How many of you are black? This is why I love blogs. You have no idea what color the person is by their writing. Unless they include a picture on their profile page it doesn’t really matter does it! Here, we’re all equal. All of our thoughts and words matter.

I have black friends, so I’m not a racist. I meet every one of my friends, regardless of color with smiles and hugs or a hardy handshake. I’m happy to see them and interact with them. I don’t care what color they are.

We’ve all felt like this. We’ve all heard people say this.

Here’s the thing: my friends that are black I have met in a controlled environment. I was in school with them. I go to church with them. I work with them. They’re clients of mine or students of mine. I control the environment. I get to know them on a personal one-on-one basis. I don’t see my black friends as representatives of a whole race. I see them as individuals that I know and like. They do everything they can to keep things easy between us. I never thought they were having to compromise to keep our friendship. I assumed they acted the same way with their other friends. I had an occasion to see them with their friends at church. They act completely differently! I was surprised.

What compromises do they make? What kind of adjustments do they have to employ to make me feel comfortable? They make an effort to speak in a way that I don’t have to translate. Let me give you an example.

My friend Jon was a Math major taking Music Appreciation classes. I was a music major taking Calculus and we were in the same class. When the teacher got carried away and I couldn’t keep up, I’d raise my hand and say, “Music Major!  Translate please!” Jon thought it was funny and approached me and asked for my help in his Music Appreciation class. We would meet in the music library and listen to and analyze the music for his assignment. While we were talking, we had no problem communicating. One day, his friends saw us in the library and came in to visit. He switched his language to something that sounded like it came from an alien planet! He slurred his words and used terms and some vocabulary I had never heard before. He changed pitch, he changed the rate of speed, he changed his references and his gestures. When his friends left, he switched back to my language. I was flabbergasted! He was, in a sense, bilingual.

I grew up in a college town. Kids came up from Kansas City to this school, and though they were in the minority, they were music majors they were in the band my dad directed. I got to know them when I hung out after concerts and football games. So when I found myself on a floor at Illinois State where the black women’s sorority met, it felt weird that they were using some of the same words my Kansas City acquaintances used, and sounded like white people using them. I had to open my door to check to see if they really were black. Picture Maggie Smith saying, “You go girl.” Picture Helen Mirren, her hands on her hips and head tilted, yelling, “Say What?” It was comical. They were from Chicago! Now I think, after talking to a couple of them that if any of the slang they used was spoken by the Kansas City kids I knew, they’d sound equally bizarre.

Why do we have to have separate languages? Every culture has its “tells.”

In no other culture did people refer to their slaves as anything other than servants. They were still people. In the US, they were considered machinery. They weren’t even endowed with sentience. If they developed sentience and asked to be treated well, or tried to escape, they were captured and “fixed!” If a person wanted to survive this situation, they had to stay subservient and “insentient.” They were to remain uneducated to protect themselves from abuse. No one would treat an animal like these people were treated.

Then they were given freedom! and the VOTE!!! Why would you give rights to machinery? By now this approach to these former slaves was ingrained. This whole race was considered living machinery. They weren’t real people! To survive, they had to adopt unthreatening language and behaviors. Don’t speak intelligent English because that makes white people nervous. The machines might get angry and retaliate for abuses.

See? This is mental abuse. There’s this woman in this crime show who is continually belittled because her house isn’t clean, the food she cooks is awful, and she’s clearly stupid. Her children even say that. They’re mad that she doesn’t attend their events. When asked, the woman says she couldn’t come because she might inadvertently embarrass them. She kills her husband. Admits to it. Cleans up the blood on the floor so that there wouldn’t be a mess when the police came to arrest her. She knows her house is a mess. One of the hangars in her husband’s closet is 1/4″ too close to the next hangar and it throws the rest of the closet off. There’s too much pepper on the macaroni and cheese. It’s a wonder her family doesn’t starve. She knows she’s stupid. She knows that she’s ugly, and wears old, patched clothes because you don’t dress up a pig. And yet, she kills her husband.

Now imagine that on a large scale. You’re treated like a machine. You aren’t allowed a good education. You aren’t allowed to socialize with anyone who’s not on the property. You develop survival behaviors to avoid the abuse and the compensating behaviors that keep you sane and ward off punishment. It becomes ingrained in your behavior.

On the other side, you know these black people ARE people. You’ve never had slaves. They speak like uneducated poor people. You Know you are superior to them because you don’t have a poor-person culture like they do. (All of them.) They tend to act out against getting treated like poor uneducated people, which makes no sense since they are poor uneducated people. Except for Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll, no black people can think or act in a civilized manner. You don’t socialize with them, you don’t want them in your business, and you couldn’t imagine them in your church or neighborhood. Smart, well-educated black people tend to make you nervous. Everyone fears sentient machinery. That’s one reason why when Azimov created robots in his stories, he had the 3 laws:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

He was allowing people to be comfortable with the machinery that served them. It gave them the inability to harm their masters. You could be as abusive as you wanted–mentally or physically. It would allow you to do this as long as the abuse didn’t threaten its existence. But it is still the attitude of white people that black people are essentially sentient machinery–flesh and blood robots. In other words, they are Robots without The 3 laws.

You see this in the comments on some of the events. “Do what the cops tell you! Don’t resist! Don’t reach for your cell or your wallet. Don’t talk back if you don’t want to get dropped!” See? “It’s YOUR fault that if you are black they will shoot you if you do the wrong thing. Don’t you dare protest your treatment! You’re probably guilty of something so be compliant!” They don’t shoot white punks that insult police and fight them and struggle and resist arrest. But if you’re black, they will restrain you with a knee to the neck because you’re inherently an evil machine that has broken the first and second laws. And if you defend yourself they won’t recognize the third law–you do NOT have the right to protect yourself.

So see? If you’re white, you can have black friends and still be racist. Your black friends are the exception rather than the rule. If you’re black, you can have white friends and still be racist. If you have to change your language and behavior so drastically to maintain the relationship, you are making your white friends the exception.

Differences Exist! You cannot look at a person who’s a different color than you and not see the color. But here’s the most important thing: You must not assume certain characteristics based on the color of a person’s skin. Skin color doesn’t give you any information other than the place of origin for ancestors long past memory. It tells you nothing of the character or the education level or the ambitions or the dreams of anyone.

We CANNOT get to the point of saying “All Lives Matter” until we stop associating skin color with a whole set of behaviors. You have to see people as people before you can treat them equally. No adjectives. No white people, black people, brown people, yellow people, red people, tall people, short people, slim people, fat people. Just PEOPLE. So we start with Black Lives Matter until they do.

ADHD or Autistic

Isn’t it strange that every little kid in elementary school is on drugs to BECOME autistic? No, the teachers don’t want to teach autistic kids. That would be really hard! But if the 5-year-old can’t sit at his desk and quietly do his school work for 6 hours a day, he needs drugs. If your kid is daydreaming, we need to get him on drugs. If he’s laser-focused and suddenly starts rocking back and forth and jumps when someone touches him, he needs drugs.

All the genius detectives out there are slightly autistic or OCD or Sociopaths. If there are as many genius villains out there, YOU WILL NEVER CATCH THEM! They’re all smarter than you are! And yet…since we don’t want ADHD kids or Autistic kids in school, we try to drug the ADHD kids to focus more and the Autistic kids to focus less. They’re the anomalies. But remember how I once said that there is no normal? Where do you draw the line? Well, in the Normal Curve, 68.27% of people should be considered normal, about 14% are above normal and below normal, and the tiniest sliver (2%) are genius-level and way below normal. Kids are expected to act autistic and not be autistic, and Autistic kids have to learn to act ADHD to keep from being ostracized by “normal” people.

According to APA (American Psychiatric Association) the number of kids who are ADHD is in the 5% range, but the CDC puts it at 11%. The number of geniuses is about 1-2%, but they don’t know for sure because geniuses are ostracized and bullied and ignored by teachers because nobody knows what to do with them. There should be about 6 million geniuses in the US. How many do we know about?

I have had to work with a variety of students…from painfully shy and withdrawn to bouncing off the walls, from IQs of 60 to IQs of 140, from painfully dull to technicolor imaginations. Everyone learns differently, and yet, I haven’t run into a single person that couldn’t be taught.

I’m teaching 2 brothers. One is 8 and has been taking lessons for 4 years, and his little brother is almost 5 and just starting. The older one has a laser focus but only for a short time. But he didn’t use to be able to finish a song during his lessons. He would stop in the middle and ask me if all the planets were round. He’d stop on the next to the last note of the song and have to tell me what he learned in his history lesson. He plays Beethoven now. The younger one believes that any note that he plays with his thumb is a C. Each note in his book has a weird-looking alien that represents it. The green alien is C, the Blue is B, the Red is F. He remembers all their names but not the names of the notes on the page. He doesn’t focus on position, he focuses on color and facial expressions. Do I teach him using the alien method? No, but he will remember the aliens long after I’ve finished teaching him in 20 years. He will learn auditorially faster than visually. His ability to focus will get better and he will be able to focus for longer periods of time.

I have another student that will sit down to practice 15 min every day, and find that 2 hours have gone by. He’s always surprised that he’s lost time. See? I am glad I have these students on a one on one basis rather than sitting like little dolls on boxes. We don’t want to teach them to be JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER LITTLE KID. Because there is no “normal” type of behavior. We don’t want them medicated to act like “normal” kids because that is impossible. Enjoy them just the way they are. Why? Because that kid you bully may be the next serial killer, and he’s coming after you first.

Water you up to?

May 20, 2020

20 days into my water-only beverage challenge.

I got to May 15 and broke down because we had pizza. I order from Pizza Hut because I like their crusts and the fact that the toppings are well distributed and plenteous. SO, I’m in the rewards club and can get 1 pizza free with every single pizza I order until my points run out. Why do I mention this? Because Pizza hut will not deliver an order that is less than $12. In order to get them to deliver, I cannot order just pizza. Which means…dat dat Daaaaaaah…I have to order soda pop. And THAT means that I have to drink some because I’m not going to order a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew and not get some of it! 2 pizzas without the reward points is $40+ (that’s $11 per pizza and a delivery fee and a tip) and 2 pizzas with the reward points AND 2 2-liter bottles of soda pop is $21. Doing my math…that means that the soda pop costs about $6. But then I confuse myself and think I’m still saving money and do it anyway.

But! (And this is an important but.) I do not have pizza for every meal, so I have water with those non-pizza meals and sip on water throughout the day. Therefore, when I have my left-over pizza, I drink whatever soda pop is available.

NO, I am NOT making my own pizza. I make rolls and bread. My homemade chicken salad tastes amazing on homemade bread. I made kolaches last week, and this week, my son made banana chocolate chip bread. And his GF made CHOCOLATE BREAD. It feels weird to have chocolate for breakfast, but adjustments must be made in the spirit of self-quarantine. But if I want pizza, I’m going to order it. So there.

I’m not craving sugar like I was before, but my dark chocolate urges are higher. 11 more days of water-only beverage (except on pizza days) should not be a problem.

I fully understand that in my quest for healthy eating, having 1 slice of pizza and a soda pop completely nullifies all the good eating I have been doing for a month. So 2 slices will take me back 2 months and 3 slices will put me back 3 months. If I’ve done my calculations correctly, I have regressed to 1873. If my scale is right, and I’m afraid it’s low, I have gained about 10 pounds.

 

What do we do now?

How do we go back to being civil with people?

How can we bounce back after such a crisis?

Down the road, will anything we accomplish during this quarantine be significant?

How do you handle the fear?

How do you face this new tomorrow? Where will your energy come from?

Spotlight books

Funny you should ask.

The books we’ve written are rather diverse and so are our authors. There are between nine and 13 of us at any one time. The youngest is 28, the oldest in the 70s. We are housewives, social workers, grandmas, grandpas, single, married, PHDs, Bachelor’s degrees, Black, White, Brown…You get the idea? We shouldn’t even be friends, but here we are writing books together.  Why? Because we all have these same challenges but a huge number of perspectives. Am I fearful because of uncertainty in the leadership and unforeseen circumstances over which I have no control? No, but one of the other authors is. Am I finding it hard to get off my couch after all this turmoil? Yes. But not everyone has that perspective.

  • What will it take for you to get to a point where you don’t feel stressed?
  • What would you read to get your head straight on your circumstances?
  • Where would you look for direction?

Can you identify with at least one of the authors of the books? Probably. If you could figure out how someone like you not only survived but thrived during these interesting times, wouldn’t you at least be curious?

The books are available at the Book Worm in Omaha (the same place Warren Buffett shops) and Amazon.

Spotlight on the Art of:

  • Grace
  • Resilience
  • Significance
  • Fear
  • Generating Energy

I confess: I looked into my crystal ball and KNEW 2 years ago that we’d be in a situation like we now face. Every one of those books has a nugget or 12 of insight that will help you cope.

You can see us at Alternative Book Club

Just how Tough are you?

I was reminded that I’m a tough old bird. Toughness is not easily achieved. Your hands callous when they’re used daily on hard physical labor. Picture the hands of a farmer, or a gymnast, or bricklayer. The skin gets tough to the point of nerve damage. The toughness protects the rest of the hand from damage–the muscles, the nerves that provide the ability to open and close the hand, the bones. It is constant or nearly constant friction that callouses up a hand.

The toughness when it comes to pain tolerance is gained the same way. I had congenital hip dysplasia. That’s when you have shallow or missing hip sockets. When I was about 2, I had a manipulation where the top of my femur was put into position in order to carve out a hip socket. I spent months in a cast and moved on to braces. Then for my elementary school years, I had to wear orthopedic shoes. Oh, LORD were they ugly. I didn’t get my first pair of tennis shoes (that’s what we called them) until I was 6th grade. I took ballet so that my feet and legs would get stronger. My hips didn’t work like the other kids’.  I could never sit cross-legged. It was most uncomfortable and I had a devil of a time trying to maintain an upright position. About the time I was 12, my hips started to hurt. By the time I was 39, it felt like ground glass…every step.

In 1989, I opened a dance studio and was dancing about 3-5 hours a day on this ground glass. But with the range of motion exercises, the lubrication of the joint allowed me to still use it. I swear, I would have been in a wheelchair if I hadn’t had the ballet. I had my hip replaced in 1993 and that operation reduced the range of motion for my hip. I was restricted to 90-degree bend in the hip, and the rotation was minimal. This kept me from teaching dance. So I closed my studio. I needed work, so I started in fast food. The pain I felt from changing weather now changed its locus to mid-thigh where the spike ended. But it no longer felt like broken glass!!!  YAY!

I have now had 3 operations on my hip. The pain will be with me forever, and I will always limp. It acts as a barometer, so if the sky is green, and the wind is from the south, and the back door buzzes on a G, no problem. But if in addition, my leg feels like someone has taken a ball-peen hammer to my thigh, head to the basement! I now have a high tolerance for pain. It means that I’ve developed a callous on my pain threshold. I have taught myself to ignore the pain. Just like I’ve taught myself to ignore the ringing in my ears. 7 years on a headset. I went from “Hi! Welcome to Wendy’s! What combo can I get for you today?” to “Hello, Ameritrade, This is Rebecca. What trades can I place for you today?” It took every ounce of self-control (and I don’t have a lot of it) not to add, “You want fries with your 50 shares of McDonald’s?”

We’ve covered pain and annoyances. But what does it take to become mentally tough? Friction. It’s when you try and fail, and learn something, then you try again, and again, and again, until you have things just like you want them. There are books about mental toughness. Business Icons, Coaches, Philosophers, Psychologists. They all have their 33 steps and 77 characteristics and whatever. It’s just the one thing: Don’t quit when you fail. Notice the word “When” because if you don’t fail, you don’t learn anything. You will fail. You’re supposed to. It’s a first draft; it’s an experiment; it’s something new you’ve never even dreamt about. Each time you try, you add more information to the picture you have in your head. The picture gets clearer with every act. But each time, there’s that friction. You have to push against something and you get tough in your brain. You change your perspective because you can see progress. You change your approach because now you see multiple paths. You seek out help in areas you wouldn’t have considered before because each try brings more information you have to gather and new skills you must master in order to succeed. The nice thing is this: because you’re tough, you continue to make progress and because you don’t back down, you don’t have to start from 0 every time.

When was the last time you had to be mentally tough? I think the most challenging was when I lived in a small town. I owned a dance/music/art studio so I taught from 3:30 pm to about 6:30 pm every day for dance and music lessons. I worked the 5-2 shift at Hardee’s 5 days a week. I was the church choir director and did that on Wednesdays from 7-9 and directed every Sunday. And I worked at a truck stop from 3:00 to close  Saturdays and Sundays. I had 5 kids at the time. Did I get what I wanted? Yes.

The most important thing you have to confront is how much Friction you want to take on. No toughness comes without friction, you have to determine how tough you want to be.

 

Lessons Learned

What can we learn from this crisis? Now, I want you to think really hard about this!

We’re all fairly intelligent human beings. We have the ability to sift through information to uncover facts. Or do we? Let’s look at these crises:

911 What did we learn? Attacking the economy physically doesn’t weaken the US, it brings us together! We learned that access to a cockpit should be restricted–to keep the bad guys from taking over the plane. Right? Um, nope. We learned that Nobody can be trusted because granny might have explosive material in her shoes. We learned that everyone from the Middle East is a terrorist. We learned that the best response to a bad situation is to fix blame and yell at each other.

Hurricanes What essential things did we learn? The barrier islands are necessary to mitigate the effects of a hurricane. That building and developing businesses on land below sea level in an area plagued by hurricanes is not a good idea. Nope. We learned that FEMA is useless and should be defunded. That as long as you have money and means, hurricanes are not devastating and if you don’t have money and means, it’s your own fault.

CoViD-19 We learned that we are resilient and resourceful people who can show remarkable innovation. We learned that we need procedures and protocols in place to deal with infectious diseases at a moment’s notice. We learned that the factual information will come from a central source. NO? We learned that when attacked, we have to stock up on toilet paper and ammunition. We learned that our total economic salvation is dependent on a $1200 check that not everyone deserves, and if we’re getting $1200, rich people are getting $1.7 million. We’ve learned creative uses for toilet brushes and hair dryers. (EW!)

See? Dumb! Panicky! and Dangerous! Our first instinct is not to solve the problem but to find someone to blame and get revenge. Our first instinct is to think that someone we trust with our best interests at heart is most likely going to lie to us. We learned that the infringement of our rights to freedom to pursue happiness means that it is our RIGHT to go and infect everyone around us and be infected because it’s ok to thin the herd.

I do not believe that the fatalities will make that much of a difference in the general health of our society.  I also think that as long as you have to work in close quarters, your chances of infection are significantly higher than those people sitting on their couches watching NETFLIX. Thinning the herd is basically leaving the strong and healthy and eliminating the old, sick, or weak. This disease doesn’t seem to work like that. It is just as deadly on healthy young people.

I also believe that we have been surprised at how much money we spend on convenience such as eating out, and social activities like pub crawling, movies, concerts, rallies, races… I know that normally we spend upwards of $1000/month on things we do not do now. The $600 my husband withdrew from his paycheck nearly 2 months ago has dwindled down to $400. And last December, that same $600 would have been gone after 2 weeks!

We have had over 200 years to develop our culture’s responses to a crisis. Things we’ve grown to expect–

  1. Those in charge will “protect” us by giving us incomplete or false information.
  2. There will be no central repository of clear, factual information.
  3. The communication will be skewed and sensationalized based on whatever bias is going to attract the most advertising.
  4. Our government will spend most of its time trying to fix blame because it’s politics, and the main focus in politics is not to serve the people the political body represents but to ensure no loss of power.
  5. We can expect large corporations to take advantage of shortages by seeing to the bottom line, not by responding to a crisis to reduce the effects on the health and well-being of their customers.
  6. We would be surprised if confidence men and women DIDN’T take advantage of the panic and separate people from their money.
  7. We would be shocked to find we DIDN’T need extra security on our internet communications due to photo/meeting bombing.

And, true to form, we will learn the wrong lessons and make the wrong adjustments and jump to the wrong conclusions.

Because people are dumb, panicky, and dangerous animals.

What each of us should do is this:

  • Come up with a list of things you like about how we’re now living, and things you don’t like.
  • Think about how you could integrate the things you like into your new world after quarantine. (Pants would probably still be required for any activity outside the house, but other than that…) Do you prefer working at home? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Do you like the money you save by self-entertaining?
  • Think about how you could improve the things you don’t like in your current circumstances so that you would not have to deal with them post quarantine. If you hate masks but you want to keep yourself isolated from airborne diseases, could you find a fashion alternative like a niqab? The banks might make you remove it when you went into their lobbies…
  • Talk about this with the people in your household. WRITE IT DOWN and look at it daily. Now is the time to start establishing these patterns of behavior so when the quarantine is lifted, it would seem like second nature.
  • Remember that our old habits led us into this situation where COVID-19 could take hold and spread so quickly. We need new habits.

After the walls come down, we need to act on our plans and not just fall back into the same behavior patterns that got us into this mess. We need to learn the right lessons! Whom do you want to idolize now? Which people really are essential in our lives? Do we need all that we want? Have our priorities shifted? What kinds of activities do you now consider essential? Have you now been exposed to something that makes life more awesome? I would not be averse now to join a Toastmasters online club several thousand miles away rather than limiting myself to the clubs in my immediate area. I know how to do mass meetings and can now get all of our family together. I will hug the stuffing out of them when I meet them personally, and up until lately, I didn’t like hugging much.

Let us learn the RIGHT lessons, and then apply them!