8/27/2015

Play at Work?

Work is hard, it is mean to be. That is why the majority of Americans don’t work outside their homes unless a paycheck is involved. And, these days, average length of time
anyone stays at a company is 4 years. Employees job hop over money more than anything but also work environment. So why don’t employers look closer at what goes on at work and what they can change?

I learned that 57 million people are involved in Fantasy Football in the world, the majority here in the States. It is estimated that the average employee spends one hour a week working on their picks, status, standings.  Most times this is done at work, on company time. Thus, some companies ban it during the work week as they see the time spent costing them money. Newer studies are showing employees participating in Fantasy Football during the season have a better overall morale at work and are more productive!  What an easy way to improve morale by looking the other way.

Too often companies see no value in allowing a stress reduction exercise unrelated to someone’s job duties. All work and no play is their motto for the day and every day. Time wasted is money lost.  Combine this with a working population that sacrifices more time away from families than ever before just to make a living, modest at that. Is allowing some interesting activity for employees at work really wasting man-hours on the job?

I worked years ago, while in college at a company in Cincinnati Ohio, F & W Publications.  It wasn’t very long after I started of the Ping Pong Battles.  Oh yes, in the basement of the building was a large ping pong table the company had choose to keep.

Everyone in the company was given an acronym similar to their name. The board was posted multiple places and in each department of the competition, complete with winner and loser brackets.  Each quarter anyone wanting in the competition had to put money in a pot, a nominal amount.  Then arbitrarily all the games were listed by dates and by times.  There were no more than usually 3 a day.  It was the players responsibility to check their time and date. No shows were automatic forfeits!

I was shocked, when attending a meeting, that someone vital was missing because it was his scheduled time to play ping pong! But, I learned, ping pong playing can be very serious.  The top three places won money out of the pot and with a lot of employees, it made for a nice chunk of change.

They alternated between championships for singles and one for doubles. When the players were on teams, they were not allowed to pick their team-mate! They were assigned someone outside their department.

What I observed in my time spent working there is camaraderie over a simple game that was complex.  Through this table top game, workers bonded. They laughed, yelled and walked out of the basement happy to be a part of something joyful that reminded them abit of their childhood, and the fact there is more to life than working.  What the employer netted were happy campers!  Many told me, during my tenure there, they would drastically underpaid but stayed there because of the climate, best exemplified by the ping pong tournaments. 

My quantity of jobs worked is too long.  However, it has provided me with a vast array of management styles and work environments.  Never, since that job, have I ever seen a more complex work set-up for employees to actually enjoy time together in a healthy competition that continued year round.

Employers need to see the value of fun at work. It’s a healthy way to bring tempers down and help workers find a common ground with co-workers. This alone will aid in team development.  This time is productive contrary to what many bosses would think.  It builds morale.

Another employee at one company maintained a candy stash.  Her job was to have her deep desk drawer filled with candy, all kinds.  The employees knew this and would come to her desk regularly to purchase candy. It was much lower in cost than the store or the vending machine. Also, she allowed for candy requests.  With the money she made, she put it in a fund. Then, every so often, the money would be used for a small party of some sort for the office employees adding to that fund simply by purchasing candy. 

This little ‘candy store’ created human interaction, much as a water cooler does.  Grown adults requesting she buy skittles, gummy worms or Reese’s Pieces may not have seemed productive to the bosses, when they got wind of this. But, the overall point was lost, allow employees time to chat about something minimal and it works towards bonding, friendship.  Who cares if it is over ping pong or candy, the point is morale is boosted, and less people quits.

It is pure and simple, there is a tremendous value to these activities that seem frivolous
to employers.   When the candy store was shut down, employees held their heads low, there was grumbling followed by more complaints about the company.  Many felt the company’s inability to let them purchase candy and an employee oversee it was representative of them seeing people as work machines.  I fail to see how management let something so small become a major hurdle in people’s minds about working there. No source for candy in the middle of the day made some folks irate.  Next, they are showing up for work for only one thing, a paycheck. Employers note, someone will always pay them more than you are!

Making employees happy increases the chances of them being loyal.  Companies need to get on board, in these financially challenging times and help employees be glad they employed with them.  Little moments of fun speak volumes.  It shows recognition of management that there is more to life than just showing up to work, putting in the time and repeating it 5 days a week.  Activities that take up a minimal amount of time and that create a positive vibe among employees is priceless.   Not having HR, bosses or upper management involved saves time.  Stifling fun is asking for unhappiness.  Give employees more reasons to stay by making it okay for them to play.

Recess time!



8/23/2015

Change



Change is needed,
Change is good.
Why are we resistant
When we know we should.

There are so many mistakes we make
Because old habits are hard to break,
Thinking you get a new solution
And being surprised with the same resolution.

Don’t stay put in your nest
And start making folks guess,
You can’t react the same,
If there is nothing to gain.

Considering reflecting  hard,
And don’t settle for your cards,
Get a new deck out to play,
And brighten your own day.

Noone deserves to be sad,
When others act bad,
Take control of your life,
And live with less strive.

Change is needed,
Change Is good.
Why are we resistant
When we know we should.

Be the exception,
And change your direction,
Find peace within,

And a new life will begin! 


8/22/2015

Breast Cancer Fighter

When you do work for a non-profit, many people wonder why anyone gives up so much time for
free.  I believe it is because of the intrinsic rewards.   We all are called to give something back when given a chance to life.  There are many worthy organizations that do so much good. I select the ones that affects those I care about the most, friends and family. Thus, my choice is breast cancer.

Being a breast cancer survivor myself, I know it increases the odds of my children and grandchildren getting diagnosed one day. I don’t want any of them to have to go through it.  Being diagnosed and going through the rigors of chemotherapy, radiation and/or radical surgery is hard.  Life is forever changed, and other health issues develop, as a result of the treatment. My granddaughter is too cute to ever deserve cancer are the faces of little children I encounter in my life.

I have held a few hands of women that were dying of breast cancer. Their memories are permanently etched in my head. I want their legacy to live on.  I pray for them and their peace but the fight can’t end with their deaths.  The fight for finding a cure is as much about them as those still here.   Others that follow their story with a diagnosis and treatment need and desire a much happier ending.  Better treatments and earlier diagnoses will help that occur.

Several women I know have Stage 4 cancer. They go from one clinical trial to another. Metastatic cancer is real and it is not a pleasant experience, not physically or mentally.  You are living on borrowed time and spending far too much time either in bed or at a doctor’s office. And no one wants to ask how you are because they are afraid of the answer.  These women and their families deserve continued research, without end, till the day they can wake up and not having death hanging over their head.

The survivors of breast cancer frequently have secondary complications from treatment. Long after everyone has said congratulations, those effects set in. No longer is anyone asking how they are but yet they are dealing with challenges. 

Medication for breast cancer chemotherapy has a strong hormonal component to it. The drugs and the experience does play havoc with your emotions. It is common to have extreme depression, flashbacks from earlier times in your life and feeling downright moody and on edge.  It also causes, in many women, lymphedema. This is a painful condition that does not go away. Perhaps you have seen women out and about with flesh colored sleeves on their arms. This is to help them with it, but note, it does not cure the condition and behind the smile they wear is discomfort and pain living with this condition for the rest of their lives.  

There are far too many other long-term health conditions that can and do develop to mention. The effects it can have, long-term, are as varied as we are as people.  It is important to know and educate others that cancer treatment and being labeled a survivor is not the end of changes in a survivor’s live.


 I have spent far too much time working for breast cancer, to be honest. But I am clear about why I do it, for solutions and to increase awareness.  Foremost in my thoughts, when donating time, are those I know affected by breast cancer. It has a far-reaching arm of effect that includes caretakers and loved ones as well as the diagnosed.  I try to get others involved so they will develop a passion for donating their time and efforts, at least once a year, for the same cause, saving lives.

  

It is a lot to ask with everyone’s busy lives to get involved in breast cancer, any cancer or any cause. But if it were almost gone tomorrow, looking at the last few days here on earch and the diagnosis was staring you in the face, how would you feel?  Would you feel differently about donating, volunteering or walking for breast cancer? Think about it; take as much time as you need. Eventually the inevitable answer will come out, yes; you would feel compelled to help create change.   Then why wait?
 Images used in the making of this video link are all of Breast Cancer  survivors, those who passed on and those directly affected by someone very dear to them being diagnosed.  Most are survivors! 

8/18/2015

Yep, You Are Getting Old!



One of the hardest things to accept is you are aging. Right while you are sitting here, now, reading this, moments are going by and you are getting older. It is not something you can deny, fight or resist. So the end goal is to do it with grace.

According to the White House Conference on Aging in 2015, over the next 50 years, our aging population in the United States will more than double. The numbers are astounding, to the tune of 92 million Americans being over the age of 65.  So the good news is you are not alone!

The bad news is this it is not an easy transition for any of us. No longer do most have that firm toned body, that endless energy where you can literally jump out of bed. If we did that now, we just might break or sprain something. And, as we age, everything takes longer to heal.

Sitting back and reflecting on your life can be helpful. Think of all the people’s lives you have touched and whom have touched yours.  This is called creating a legacy.

If you were fortunate enough to have children, take a hard look at where they are at. Are they paving the way for a good future, the life that you started and nurtured?  If so, you have done well, all that was asked of you when God placed them in your care.

If you don’t like your changing looks, don’t spend so much time infront of the mirror. Take them out of your home if that is an issue. Staring at those wrinkles won’t make them go away. Having botox helps but honestly, you are our aging,  there is no denying it no matter what you look like. Celebrate your life!

Much as adults untie the apron strings and let their children go off to make it in the adult world, as you age, do the same. Remove the labels that confine you and embrace your freedom, your retirement to do the things you always sought to do and didn’t have the time. If you don’t have the money, improvise.

Will your children miss you when you are gone? Yes, and if not, it is their loss. You have been there and done the best job you knew how to give them a life. Cheers to you that they have established one. Now go live the last part of yours. 

Opray is quoted as saying  “I think the hardest part of aging really is recognizing the time that you wasted and the things that you worried about that really didn’t matter,” she said. 

But aging with grace is letting go of regrets, forgiving yourself for your mistakes and letting go. Why not be free of any restrictions put on you by others?  You have a perfect reason now for acting out on your fantasies, you are getting senile, it is on your bucket list, and any other reason you feel like giving.

The reality is you don’t need a reason beyond you. You are worth it. Invest what time is left on you!  If you don’t do it now, you will never get the chance.




8/11/2015

The Fair is Coming to Town!

The fair is coming to town, the fair is coming to town!  Oh, the excitement, when I was little over roadside fairs, county ones and church festivals! It was a place where being a kid was heaven!  Food was not good for you and it was the one time your folks didn’t care if you ate it. Games were plentiful and affordable back then.  And the rides, hair in your face and not a worry in the world!  The one thing that was constant among all was the love of the fair!

Flash forward to this year when I took my grandkids to a local fair. It has been a sort-of ritual now, every year, to take them to the county one close to where I live. I enjoy seeing their faces light up, the yelling for cotton candy, more rides and wanting to win a prize.  And their cries are mirrored by kids everywhere in sight, of all ages infact!  It seems to be the one thing constant of all ages, love of the fair.

When they were babies and toddlers I would dream of the day I could take them to the fair.  I knew, in my life, it was one of the highlights of the year, that and the Circus coming to town.  It seems like just yesterday I had that dream and now, here it is 2015 and I have taken my granddaughter for years now and my youngest grandson twice.  Where did it go, the time?

Every time I drive past the exit where the fair is, my granddaughter yells at me “Is the fair back yet?”  I don’t know who is more anxious really, her or me.  We both know that time is very special, sharing rides, laughter and creating special moments that just don’t happen anywhere else.

It is amazing that, even at my age, once I step past the front gate, I am caught up in the grandkids mood, elation at being there.  Some things never change, the look of the carousel, the scream of kids on thriller rides and the smell of everything sicky sweet in the air!  It is hard to know what to do first!  But I am holding little hands grateful I have an excuse to be there, celebrating a fair again.

My granddaughter will no longer go on the kiddie rides because she is just beyond that, telling me they are for babies. She is the ripe old age of 7!  Seven years old where did that come from?  All the sudden so many rides she doesn’t even have to stand up to the line to see if she is tall enough. Her long legs are a dead-giveaway she is not a baby anymore and can ride most all rides now.

Looking back it seems like just yesterday her idea of a playground was sitting in a walker twirling around playing with all the gizmos hanging around her little body. Now she is riding a big Ferris wheel with no fear in her eyes.   My grandson still have some reservations but goes on the small kids rides with relative ease and yelling at the folks unloading him which ride he wants to go on next.  He is not shy and makes everyone’s faces light up as they see the sheer joy on his face.


Ah, many things change over time, over the years and as we age.  Our world has so many new options for kids, techy toys, the internet and such.  But watching them play, hearing the giggles made me realize some things never really do change. So I have to join in when my granddaughter asks how soon can we come back and say the same darn thing!

Here is a fun little video that shows how much my grandkids love the fair and just how fast they grow!  Click Here to Watch

8/04/2015

Band of Pink for Breast Cancer - Get Pumped n' Pink!


This year Making Strides for Breast Cancer has me pumped! I am heavily involved in social media promoting the event and charged about how well the registration is going.

This event is not till Oct. 10th but we already have 140 teams registered. All of the sponsors for this year’s event were secured early and companies are still continuing to ask what they can do. For a breast cancer survivor who regularly sees more friends being diagnosed or re-occurrences, this is like a winning lotto ticket to me. When someone beats cancer, we all win. As the survivor numbers go up, so must our drive to find a cure so that everyone is in this category.

Early diagnosis is critical but so many people don’t realize it is their responsibility to be proactive in screening. Even males get breast cancer and must pay attention to their bodies. If you feel anything suspicious, please check it out. Not all cancers are slow growing.

If you are wondering what I can do to help Strides, easy answer! Go to the website and find the event in your area. I have done everything from lead a team, work for the organization acquiring major donors, helping teams come up with fund raising ideas to increase donations and volunteer. It is immaterial what you do, just so you do something. 

Our city is riding on the theme of getting pinked, as opposed to "Getting punked" by cancer. Getting pink is about raising funds for research and the tens of other things ACS does and the services they provide. We even have Montgomery Gentry being a part of this special promotion. Troy Gentry is the leader in the Band of Pink. Angie, his wife is currently fighting the disease. We can show them they are not alone by having the most successful event this year in the Music City, country music capital of the world.

Band of Pink is a special group comprised of two demographics. The person that does not want to walk but help can do so by joining the Band. It is a
commitment to try to raise $1,000. The other group comprising our Band is individuals that simply want to contribute $1,000. There are accolades listed on the site you receive by doing so just be clicking on the Band of Pink icon. The more Band members we have, our fight becomes stronger to find cures, better drugs and increase awareness for everyone.

Please take the time to look and consider this event. I ask on behalf of all survivors and not simply myself. If you can’t walk, sign up to be one of our Band of Pink members. If you can’t do it as an individual certainly you can do it as a team goal. 


My mission is to see an increase on the activity level on the Twitter site IAmMakingStridesNash. If you could consider helping me with this mission and make any tweets on #breastcancer tagged with #Nashville and #IGotPinked, bless you. Stories, pictures and more followers from the local city would be a major plus also.  And know that you don’t have to be a star to be in our show! 

Link to Band of Pink for Nashville  http://bit.ly/1DVTcql

Link to Making Strides http://makingstrides.acsevents.org/site/PageServer/?pagename=MSABC_CY15_AboutMakingStrides

8/02/2015

Summer Almost Gone, Again

Why it is summer goes by so quickly when we’re adults?  I have never been able to figure it out. It is like that question a four year-old asks that you can’t really explain because you are not sure.  Why is it okay to kill bugs when we aren’t supposed to kill or why is the sky blue? And yet, the days on the calendar clearly show the passage of time, day after day, from summer to fall.  And yet, we are shocked when the end of summer is coming and school is starting. Why that is a downer for many of us and our perception is as if days got skipped?

Reasons:
1.      We are so busy with our lives that we don’t pay attention to the days going by, always running.
2.      As adults, there is much more responsibility and not as much time to focus on summer.
3.      As we age, our tolerance of the heat goes down, thus we complain and then wonder what the problem was when winter arrives!
4.      Produce is best in the summertime, ripe and cheaper! All the abundance of fruit dwindles away at the end of summer. When it hits our pocketbook or diet, we notice!
5.      End of summer, peak vacation time ends. And most of us live for vacation, legal running away from home!
6.      Outdoor activities start diminishing and we all know that the four walls in our homes and offices become old. Thus we yearn to be outside in shorts!
7.      Summer allows for more family visiting trips. This centers in the summer when school is out. End of the summer signals our relatives won’t be seen nearly as much till the holiday season approaches if they live a distance. Nowadays families are spread all over the globe.
8.      We have to put back on jeans and are not happy with how they fit and wonder how did I manage to put on weight when I was outside so much?  Bummer!
9.      Flowers are in bloom; the grass is green and just looking anywhere outside everywhere is color!
10.   We realize we are aging and will have less summers to celebrate and enjoy.



There are many other reasons adults can come up with why the passage of
summer is quicker as adults than children. But I think the take-away is summer is only 3 months out of the year. Make sure you find time, each and every day, to enjoy it. Kids get bored in summer because they’re not constantly busy. But yet, they are happy. If you aren’t and you think your summer goes by too quickly, get bored!  Do more quiet things and don’t get so caught in the rut of life that you forget to admire a butterfly, go to a park and swing or just sit in the sunshine! Summer sunshine! 


My video link is a quick video I made of summer pictures of family and friends.
The song is one of the hits this summer by Nate Ruess. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/U5m6-2-XFRU