Sunday, August 22, 2010

Noticing Things

I am a people watcher ... I love to figure them out, try to figure out what they are thinking, who they are with, what is their story. I love to 'notice' things about people. I don't think it's a gift - just something I enjoy doing.

I have fallen in love with the author Andy Andrews. He can’t write fast enough for me. Such a wonderful storyteller; which is why I prefer to buy his books on CD and listen to him read the books to me. Recently I had a friend return “The Noticer”, in my opinion one of his better stories. I thought ‘I am going to ‘re-read’ or ‘re-listened’ to it as soon as I can. The book is about a mysterious old man named Jones—just Jones, no mister—who shows up in the lives of people in crisis. Jones brings the gift of perspective—he notices alternative ways to think about things. Some of what he says is common sense: like “yes sir” works better than “I guess”. Some of what he says counters received wisdom: like “do sweat the small stuff, because little things can make a big difference as surely as brushstrokes make up a masterpiece”. Oh – the book is so full of these little bits of wisdom.

I just returned home from “Women of Faith” in Indianapolis yesterday evening. Andy Andrews was one of the speakers! I fell in love all over again with this man. I couldn’t lean close enough. There I was on the edge of my seat listening to this author I have found to be such an incredible storyteller. He spoke of the butterfly effect and how our purpose begins when we realize everything matters. That when we live a life of permanent purpose … team chemistry will thrive. Life decisions become wiser and more cautious. As leaders, managers, co-workers – as a parent, grandparent, friend – when we actually realize that every action matters - then every result of our actions immediately improves. And deciding to do something will make all the difference. There are generations yet to be born whose lives will be shaped by the actions we make today – and tomorrow. We have been created to make a difference in not only our own lives, but in the lives of those we come in contact with. Our lives, our decisions, our actions of today will matter forever. I understand more fully the impact of this as we are on the verge of celebrating Collin’s first birthday. What I do here and now will affect his future. I hope I am more conscious of this in my actions from this point on.

I mentioned that a friend recently returned “The Noticer” CD to me. Last evening I went outside and put the headphones on and ‘re-listened’ to it. Yes – the whole four hours …. It was after 2:00 when I got to sleep! But I was enthralled with what Andy Andrews was telling me (for I felt he was speaking to me alone). When things look the darkest to people in this book - a mysterious man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. An elderly man with white hair, of indiscriminate age and race, wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt and leather flip flops carrying a battered old suitcase, Jones is a unique soul. Communicating what he calls "a little perspective," Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss. "Your time on this earth is a gift to be used wisely," he says. "Don't squander your words or your thoughts. Consider even the simplest action you take, for your lives matter beyond measure…and they matter forever." Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what we can do about it.
One of my favorite Jones “wisdom” is when he is speaking with a young gentleman “four seagulls sitting on a pier, one of them decides to fly away. How many are left?” The gentleman gives the same answer we would “three”. Jones says “no – four. The one only made the decision to fly away, he didn’t actually fly away,” His point is that we have to do more than make the decision, we must act on our decisions.

There is no doubt I am going to matter in someone’s life, that my actions will shape the lives of my children’s and my grandchildren’s. I know this because I have been shaped by my grandmother Rose and by my parents. This book has become a valuable reminder of that fact. So - it is my decision to act now to make sure that my legacy to those that I meet is that I acted on my decisions – if I said I would do it – I did it. I want it to be said I was a positive influence on their lives, and I made a difference. It will be my goal.
Thanks for letting me ramble …

FYI … interested in borrowing my CD “The Noticer”? Make the decision to ask then take to action to listen. What a great perspective Jones will bring to you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Pleasant Reminder

Last evening I was reminded why I chose to return to the field of work I had been doing for so many years. It was a year ago that I made the conscience decision that the time was right. When I left in November of 2006 from my previous job I was dejected. I was in a position where many hours was the norm/expectation. I don’t mind long hours – I enjoy what I do, my children are older so I have the time to commit, and I appreciate a challenge. But when your hard work, your dedication isn’t appreciated and you are feeling that no matter what you did it wasn’t good enough … well then it’s time to leave. So, I did. I admit how I left wasn’t the best decision I’ve made – but leaving was.

Fast forward three years: November 2009. I saw an opportunity to be a part of a company that I had come to respect when working with my former employer. In fact, part of problem I had with my supervisor back then was because of a stance I took in supporting Stonebelt. It wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back … but it did put a mighty strain on it. I was thrilled to be a part of the Stonebelt team. I saw an opportunity to do what I love doing: inspiring confidence in individuals that they can work, live and be active participates in their community.

Recently I have had more of an active presence in the home of two women. These women have been taught all about their rights as people with a disability, but they lack the confidence and as I have figured out lately, the knowledge to participate actively in their community of Columbus, Indiana. I admit, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the placement of being in the home. But I will not bow to a challenge and who knows – maybe this is one of the reasons God saw fit to place me there – to bring these ladies to a more acceptable position within their community. Like I said, these women know their rights – and they will tell you what they are! But they haven’t had someone show and explain other people’s rights. The right to privacy, to respect, to tolerance – the same rights they demand. It’s a long road, nothing will change overnight. But there are signs already popping up, and I a proud to be a part of the team that is gearing these women in the right direction.

Last evening was an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments made by individuals that are associated with Stonebelt. It was a pleasure to sit there and see the excitement, the energy, the pride on the faces of those not only being honored, but also those there to celebrate just being a part of Stonebelt. I enjoyed the ride home with the girls, discussing some of the accomplishments they have made over the past few months. I enjoyed leaving them at their home after a long, long day that suddenly didn’t seem all that long after all. It's good to be reminded and last night I was.

I enjoyed going out despite the hour, and having a cold drink on an extremely hot evening with a co-worker. We have only known each other a few short months, however it was an instant friendship. Thanks Cricket for being a person of ‘like mind’, for being someone that finds her work to be much more than job. Everyone needs someone you can laugh with, someone you can trust, someone you can lean on and someone that simply understands why we do what we do. Cricket gives me that, and I place great value on this friendship.

Last evening I was honored to be able to participate in a true celebration. It allowed me to wake this morning appreciating the opportunity I have to make a difference in someone's life ... and in mine. I really do love what I do. In the words of one of the women in the home "How awesome is that".