Monday, June 29, 2015

I Do Not Have a Clue What That Means!

How often do you read words you don’t know the meaning of? (if you’re a grammar stickler you’ll say I should have written, “Of which you don’t know the meaning…but, popular usage says we can now end sentences in prepositions, so….mmm…wait…I’m on a tangent)

Anyway, this morning I was reading a great, local columnist, Barry Saunders and he used the words, interposition and nullification. I thought I knew what interposition meant and I was sure I knew what nullification meant…well, in this case, I was wrong (cue the choir and church bells and mark the date…Mike Collins admitted being wrong!).

I looked up interposition and got this from Wikipedia for both words: “Interposition is an asserted right of a U.S. state to oppose actions of the federal government that the state deems unconstitutional. Under the theory of interposition, a state may ‘interpose' itself between the federal government and the people of the state by taking action to prevent the federal government from enforcing laws that the state considers unconstitutional. Interposition has not been upheld by the courts. Rather, the courts have held that the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional lies with the federal judiciary, not with the states. The courts have held that interposition is not a valid constitutional doctrine when invoked to block enforcement of federal law

Interposition is closely related to the theory of nullification, which holds that the states have the right to nullify federal laws that are deemed unconstitutional and to prevent enforcement of such laws within their borders.”
Today’s blog isn’t a legal terminology lesson, it’s asking the question: How often do you look up words you read and don’t understand? Too often we just blow by words and phrases and either assume we know what they mean or don’t care. Words have POWER! The definitions of the terms above can have a lot to do with what happens in this country on a daily basis. Misunderstanding words and phrases can be expensive in more ways than we realize.

Here’s the other reason we should look things up…the practice creates new neural pathways in our brains and fights off the onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Look it up….

Monday, June 15, 2015


One of the reasons I love this time of year is commencement speeches. They are opportunities to get a reboot in life. They help us hear and understand points we often forget in the gettin’-it-done world of everyday life. In the last few days, I've had the chance to see clips from a variety of speeches, saw one whole address on DVD, and attended a high school graduation.

One of my young cousins, Conner Makitka, is the valedictorian of North Duplin High School’s Class of 2015. As such, she gave the valedictorian address at their ceremony last Saturday.

Conner had a DVD of her speech and we watched it at a family celebration on Sunday. She was wonderful! 

She said, “Up until this point in our lives there has been a plan.”…and she inferred that the plan was created by someone else, parents. Then she said, “But, now there’s no plan” and she talked about the fact that from this day forward most of the plans for life are made by the graduates. Point being: If you don’t already have a plan, you better start making one. I loved that!

But, the idea I liked the most was when she said, “Life isn’t an elevator, you have to take the stairs.” Is that great, or what?!!

To show how smart she is, as she was explaining her speech to me afterward, she talked about her use of metaphors and analogies. I’ll bet $1,000 that only about 5 people in her graduating class know what metaphors and analogies are.

I loved her use of stairs as an metaphor. You have to work at climbing, but if you understand there’ll be landings, plateaus, where you can rest and collect yourself, you can keep moving.

Conner tore a knee up in the last couple of years and the physical therapists and sports medicine specialists who helped her rehab and recover had a big influence on her. She’s headed into sports medicine. She’s a smart young woman with a lot of drive, it’ll be fun to watch her journey up the stairs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What Were They Thinking?

Today’s Caregiver Magazine is sponsoring Fearless Caregiver conferences in Winston-Salem and Yanceyville, NC, this week. Gary Barg, the creator and publisher of Today’s Caregiver, is a great guy and did a wonderful job in Winston-Salem yesterday of helping 100+ caregivers and professionals get tips, tactics and strategies for, hopefully, keeping caregiving from making them CRAZY.

As a professional who spends most of his time at conferences presenting programs, it was interesting for me to simply sit back and be an attendee; to  listen, talk to others and to learn.

One thing, though, struck me as odd; too few people had anything to take notes with and on. Only about 25 percent of the group had a notebook or pad or anything on which to remember important information. Some folks obviously didn’t even bring a pen or pencil. 

What were they thinking?

Did they not think they’d hear anything worth remembering? Did they believe they’d remember everything? 

Or, did they just not think? Did they believe the information was like Velcro and all they had to do was be exposed to it and it would stick to them. Then, when they needed an answer, all they had to do would be to peel the answer off their bodies and read it?

I tell people all the tim, the INSTANT you realize you’re a caregiver is the moment you should start keeping something to write with and something to write on close at hand. 

I try to get them to understand that they should NEVER go into any type of meeting (doctors, care centers, in-home care staff, pharmacists) without something to write with and something to write on.

As humans, forget half of what the doctor tells us before we ever leave their office. When we are under stress we forget all kinds of everyday things. 

Whether you are a caregiver or not, you have go to do a To-Do List! You say you don’t have time? You don’t have time NOT to!

By the time the conference was only an hour old, Gary had already offered a wide range of great suggestions. I looked around at the staring faces and I wanted to jump up and shout, “Wake UP! You don’t understand the quality and importance of what you’re hearing!!”

But, I didn’t. I was too busy taking notes.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Branch or Wings?

Let’s talk for a second about differences in people. 

NOW, DON’T STOP READING YET! I’m not going off on some race/LBGTQ-ABCD…/agism/ChristIslamBudhaConfucHindu/haves vs have nots rant.

Here’s the reality: The fact that, as humans, we’ve spent tens of thousands of years looking for ways in which we differ from others shouldn’t be surprising. Let’s be honest; in caveman (or, is it now, caveperson?) days, our ability to see and understand that tigers were different from Ug, our cave-kin, kept us alive. As we evolved, our ability to see that someone was from a different tribe may have kept us safe.

At the same time, I’ve long wondered how often one of our skin-clad ancestors saw a smiling stranger offering a flame and bopped the stranger on the head with a club. Later, when Ug and his cavepeeps were examining the body, Ug said, “Dang, what that hot stuff? How he do that?” 

A missed opportunity due to making an assumption?

Let me stumble to my point; we are much more alike than we are different. This morning that thought jumped off the page I was reading, bopping me in the head like Ug’s club. 

Here it is: “A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because it’s trust is not in the branch, but in its own wings. Always believe in yourself.”

The differences among us are all surface issues; the similarities go heart-deep. We all have the power to make choices. Too often, the choices—based on perceived differences—force us apart. Don’t worry about the branch breaking, think more about the power of your wings.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Beware What You Think!

Serendipity is about to wear me out. I can’t tell you how many times, during the last few weeks, I’ve had a thought/feeling/need and within a short period of time the solution/answer/item has popped up. 

The definition of serendipity is, “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”

Aristotle, Thoreau, Emerson and range of philosophers and religious leaders have tried to teach us that if we’ll envision what we want it will come to us. It might not come in the way we’d imagine, but it’ll come.

Here’s an example: You’re riding around on a busy day and it seems that every parking place is filled. Then, you pull around a corner and there’s a space, on the corner, and all you have to do is pull right in. 

Yes, I understand you can call it a coincidence. But, if this sort of thing frequently happens to you you need to start paying attention to it.

In every religious tradition throughout the history of man; Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism and Hindu, there are points that say what the Buddhists believe; when the student is ready, the teacher shall appear.

Today is Monday…give it a week. Start thinking about what you want and see if it starts popping up. Start small…the parking space idea is a good place to begin. Then look for bigger things. 

Here’s the reality check: If you ask for a million dollars it’s unlikely you’ll find a bag of money on your porch. The real world connection is that you have to work for it…you have to be willing to drive around and look for the parking space. You can’t stay in one place and the space comes to you. 

However, what you may find is that you wake up one morning with an idea that could be worth…a million dollars.