Archive | March 2012

POWER prays for jobs

What would you say if you were hurrying to catch a plane and saw 36 people walking through the concourse and praying? 

A group of that size might not be intimidating if it weren’t for their activity. This scene occurred today at Philadelphia International Airport with Bishop Dwayne Royster leading his interfaith group, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER). Members of the clergy representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths directed their prayers to the need for jobs and in particular, at the Philadelphia airport. Their goal is that the Lord will direct Mayor Nutter to go forward with the proposed expansion of the airport. 

Not to detract from their mission, but it does make you wonder if they prayed with their eyes shut – I often pray when I’m driving, so I know that the Lord hears even though my eyes are open and my head is looking forward instead of bowed. Were they praying aloud? Were they taking turns or praying all at the same time? I guess it does not matter. God is all present, all knowing and all powerful, so it would not have bothered Him. Would their actions have bothered you?

Looking for a job?

In these days of economic uncertainty, more people are finding themselves out of work. In fact, in the US, there are now 12,806,000 former employees trying to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. Depending on your skill set and the number of others with similar capabilities, you may find it difficult to find a position in your field especially if the market is saturated. This situation may seem bleak, yet it could be a marvelous opportunity for you to reinvent yourself to find the job of your dreams. 

So where do you begin? Why not start with some self-probing questions? 

  • What do you REALLY want to do? What is preventing you from doing it?
  • What action could you take today to begin moving yourself in this direction?
  • What resources are available to you now?
  • Who do you know that is already doing this and who might be able to assist you? 

Many people who ask themselves these questions find that their previous position was really only a means to an end. They really would have preferred to do something totally different. If that’s true of you, you might want to pursue further education in order to acquire new skills. You might even decide to become an entrepreneur and develop something on your own. Kate Middleton’s mum started her own business when she couldn’t find party supplies for her children’s parties. 

What ideas do you have? Opportunity might be knocking on your door right now to pursue them. Will you go for it?

Help for Information Overload

Would you say you don’t have enough hours in the day to read all of the information that comes your way? And, do you ever find yourself in situations where you have to wait, like in an airline terminal, doctor’s office, or traffic and all you can think about are the things you could be doing were you not in this spot?  It appears to be a common problem, and I’d like to offer some tips to help in both areas.

Take interesting articles you’ve printed from the web and place them into a special colored folder. You want it to protect the articles and be easily located so you can grab it quickly when you go out the door. Keep it in your car or take it with you when you travel or go to appointments.  Then when you get one of those delays – I mean opportunities — pull out one of the articles to read.

Treat magazines in a similar fashion.  When they arrive, glance through the articles and cut out those that capture your attention, and yes, they go into that same file.

Keep a ziplock bag containing a pen and a highlighter in the folder.  Then, as you read the articles, get TUF with them … that’s T – U – F.

  • T – Reading through the article, you may glean all of the information you want.  If that is enough, then mark the upper right hand corner with a T.  When you get home just throw it out.  
  • U – If you find information that is useful, highlight it and mark the corner with a U.  This means you’ll take some action with the information to use it immediately, pass it on or … 
  • F – Mark it with an F to file it for the future.

Another way to catch up on books is via audio or downloaded to the iPad.  The audio books provide a hands-free way to catch up on your reading traveling travel back and forth to work.  Not only can you enjoy your favorite authors, but you can redeem your time as well.  Zig Ziglar suggests turning your car into Auto University using audio volumes to learn new strategies, languages or whatever you choose.   

I’ve used these tips and hope they’ll also help you.

What’s best for you?

In penmanship class in elementary school, the teacher had us write out sayings that she hoped would improve our character along with our handwriting. I guess there’s a lot to be said for repetition as a means of learning. I still remember this one. 

“Good, better, best.

Never let it rest.

Until your good is better,

And your better best.” 

This also pertains to the things we opt to do with our time. Each day, we make thousands of choices – what time to get up, what to eat, what to wear, what to do about situations that arise …. Each of these decisions impacts us differently. For example, if the alarm clock goes off at 6:00 AM and I hit the snooze alarm once or twice, I’m likely to be rushed or late for work. By not getting up when the alarm sounded, I actually elected the more hurried mode. At that hour of the morning, it may not have been a totally conscious choice; nevertheless, I can’t blame anyone else for the results. 

Now as an adult, I still struggle to keep moving from good to better to best with a measure of consistency, especially when it comes to organizing my day. My list is usually longer than is realistically feasible to accomplish, but all too often, it’s the little choices – like that of the snooze alarm or computer – throughout the day that throw me off track. 

One of my goals for this year is to live intentionally in order to make a difference in my world. This requires effective time management and wise choices. One of the things that helps me be more realistic is to use a timeline like those in an appointment book or on the Outlook calendar. With each activity planned for a designated block of time, not only can I visualize what can be accomplished, but I also see where it is critical not to get off task and how I can choose appropriately. My decisions for how I spend my time are progressing from good to better, and every once in a while, I even get one that’s best.   

How about you?

Are we ordinary or unique?

My answer is, “Yes.” 

Not long ago, I heard a radio speaker proclaim that everyone is ordinary. His main premise stood on the many Biblical accounts where God used ordinary people to do great things, asserting that the results came from God’s power rather than any special qualities of the individual.  

While I wholeheartedly agree that the Lord only needs willing vessels to do His will and that it is His power not ours at work, I think there are too many other accounts that indicate that God has created us uniquely for His purposes. Scripture reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He does have a plan for our lives although it requires the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to accomplish it.  

I wonder if the greater lesson I can learn here is rather than malign speakers who make statements I deem faulty, be proactive and check them out for myself. I should be wary of taking what any speaker, politician or others say at face value.  Instead, it would be so much better if I measured these statements against the principles of Scripture.  If they stand up there, I can make them mine. 

So, what do you do when you hear something that does not sit right with you?  Do you go to Google or the Bible?

Can you get out of your comfort zone using Google maps?

When you start your own business or a new job, it is important to get yourself or your name out in public in order to obtain new clients or business. Networking is a wonderful means to accomplish this. For some, the process is easier than for others.  In my case, I chose to begin with a local Chamber of Commerce business card exchange. I thought this would be an excellent way to bolster my courage and start my journey to success. I even coerced a friend to attend as well. 

Dressed professionally and armed with business cards and prepared elevator speeches, we grabbed our Google directions and were on our way. Admittedly we experienced some nervousness as we set out on this great adventure outside the “Comfort Zone.”     

We were unconcerned about the directions as we had cut and pasted the address from the online invitation into Google maps. We followed our prescribed path and recognized the names of streets just as the instructions indicated. However, the bank hosting the event did not appear. I called my husband, who patiently re-Googled (is there such a term?) the address and came up with the same plan.  We retraced our route, but did not see the bank. In fact, we did not see any banks. 

After getting turned around on some back roads and trying to second guess what Google may have done, we ended up in the next town that happened to begin with the same letter. Still the correct bank did not emerge. Finally, we resigned ourselves to head for home. We traveled several more miles before stopping at a traffic light. Lo and behold, we looked up and before our eyes was “the” bank. Can you believe the name of the street matched not only the invitation, but also the street we had been traveling on for the past hour? 

After traveling about 50 miles (It should have been 6.1 and taken 15 minutes), we finally reached our destination. We hurried in to exchange cards with the few people remaining. Funny thing. The nervousness had disappeared as we had replaced that emotion with relief and thankfulness for finding our location. 

So to answer my title question, can you find your way out of your comfort zone using Google maps? The answer is yes, but the route you travel may deviate from the map.

Who thinks up this stuff?

Do you ever wonder who thinks up some of the more bizarre holidays? 

If you need a reason to celebrate, you can always find an occasion here. In fact, already this month you have missed: 

  • National Pig Day (3/1)
  • If Pets had Thumbs Day (3/3)
  • Be Nasty Day (3/8) – This may explain a lot
  • National Pi Day (3/14) – 3.14 is the value of pi 

Although these are national holidays in the US, there is a global celebration on March 21 that you may be missing. My good friend blogged about it today in Ode to World Poetry Day

As holidays tend to do, it brought back thoughts of the past and school requirements to memorize some of the more highly acclaimed poems. Though I saw no reason for it then, I have come to appreciate the talent and effort necessary to accomplish a renowned piece. Interestingly, I still recall these lines from Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

“And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” 

I think the reason these words have stuck with me over the years may stem from my To-Do list always seeming longer than my 24-hour allotment for completing it. Too often I feel guilty about taking time to enjoy the moment. Yet Frost does take a little respite until his self-talk motivates him to get back on track to more pressing activities. Generally, his thoughts echo in my mind and get me moving too. 

Although I enjoy writing poetry on rare but special occasions, it’s not my forte. I do, however, appreciate the skill and economy required to capture thoughts or paint vivid pictures with concise clarity. So Happy World Poetry Day to all poets, both aspiring and published. 

For those of you who are not into poetry, stay tuned for March 26, which is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. (What do you think? Do we need another reason to celebrate?)

What’s the classic response?

It’s amazing how you change as you mature. (Mature is a more politically correct, less offensive way to say age or get older.) 

When I was in high school, I loathed English class where we were required to read books like Don Quixote, Moby Dick, and other really long books fondly referred to as classics. (Would you believe some people in the class did not read or finish these selections?) The teacher would attempt to engage his pupils in discussion about the book’s virtues and insisted the author had a deeper meaning that should be relatively plain to us. Nine times out of ten, we missed it. 

I really struggled with those classes and could rarely see another story coursing through the pages. Melville’s use of the great white whale as a metaphor went right over my head. Now that I’ve matured and have more life experience under my belt, I can better see the story within a story.  I can appreciate the role character development and placement plays to deliver a message while providing a pleasurable experience to the reader. 

Although I have recently increased the number of books I am reading on a monthly basis, I think I’d like to change it up a bit to add some of the classics to my reading list, and this time I might even finish them.  I think I’ll start with a goal to read 3 this year. Any suggestions on which ones I should choose? What would be your classic response?

Does grammar matter anymore?

English teachers would say, “Yes.” After all, they’d be out of work if the powers that be felt instructing students on the fine points of understanding the parts of speech or appropriate sentence structure held no relevance today.  Those in the marketing realm, however, will tell you to disregard what you’ve been taught and write like you talk. They argue a more conversational style sells products, and in that respect, I’d have to agree. Yet a well-written sentence is to the reader what a Da Vinci masterpiece is to the art connoisseur. An artist could get his message across using stick figures or rudimentary drawings, but there’s certainly no comparison to Da Vinci’s renowned Last Supper. The same is true in writing. 

A friend sent me an interesting article by Jhumpa Lahiri entitled, My Life’s Sentences where the author describes her passion with words.  In the article, she seems to accomplish the best of both worlds described above.  The article is both grammatically correct and conversational. It’s interesting and engaging, yet she does not resort to slang or jargon to express herself. Her words paint a vivid picture that draws you in. Lahiri almost gives life to her words and hence develops a relationship with her ideas and the reader.  You can readily understand why she’s won the Pulitzer Prize. 

Coming from the business world where you almost need an interpreter to decipher an email message and glancing over essays of local teens, you wonder if that caliber of writing is a thing of the past. Do teachers continue to labor over diagramming sentences and reading fine literature so that they comprehend the value of excellence in writing? I, for one, hope they do and that they not only continue, but also step it up a notch.

Who Cares if You’re Irish?

Are you planning to be celebratin’ St. Patty’s Day? If so, you’ll likely be wearin’ the green and partakin’ of a few Irish delicacies. Maybe these are some of your favorites. 

Our family was not Irish, so by rights we were disqualified from observing St. Patrick’s Day. Nevertheless, it never kept us from making sure we wore green on March 17.  Since Green was my mother’s maiden name, she said it would be ok. Mom was always partial to Irish potatoes, so she capitalized on the holiday theme to create a batch for us and one to share. Using her recipe for butter cream Easter eggs, she made a slight modification, coating the taters in cinnamon instead of chocolate.  Not a lo-cal snack but yummy just the same. 

I married into a family with Irish roots, so now I can celebrate legally. My husband’s family all remember growing up with green pancakes and green milk for breakfast followed by green mashed potatoes for dinner.  My mother-in-law was a lot more energetic than I, and she had five kids. 

My sister-in-law still gets into the celebration by making her famous Irish soda bread.  She too makes some for family and always has some extra to share. That’s just the type of person she is. Not only is it festive, it’s also delicious. (You can see I married well.) 

The area elementary school teachers really get into the holiday mood by starting out a day or so before the 17th.  Turning pencil cups on their sides, rearranging desks, overturning trash cans and other simple pranks leave young children thinking the leprechauns have paid them a visit. It’s all in good fun, and I suppose makes for a memorable lesson on the country of Ireland. (Likely they leave out the part about St. Patrick being a Christian missionary telling the people of Ireland about Jesus.  That might get them in trouble with the principal.) 

Me? Who cares that I’m not really Irish. I’m going to be sportin’ the green and partakin’ of whatever Irish food comes my way. I figure St. Patrick’s Day gives us another opportunity to celebrate what’s good, and we can always use more of that. 

Shamrock shake anyone?