Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Prompts Gratitude?

In my new (about 2 months now) job I meet and transport handicapped people all day long. Some have physical disorders, some have mental issues; many are invisible problems. I'm sure some have been handicapped all their lives and for others it's a recent struggle. For the most part my clients are nice. Some are friendly and talkative, others may not be able to talk. I'd say 97% of them are amiable and like getting a ride and an escort to the door; some are even becoming friends.

What struck me yesterday as I arrived to board a client with a walker who had booked to use the lift to get onboard, was that some people just have poor attitudes in general. I had just come from getting a fully immobile client at his apartment building – he was on his way to Rosedale Mall. The woman with the walker was at a grocery store between his house and the mall. The man onboard was talkative; he'd commented on the sunshine and beautiful day. I don't know why he was disabled, but he seemed to have no use of his legs and strained use of his arms – enough to operate his electric chair.

After complaining that she didn't know how she would get past the man in the wheelchair, the walker client was short with me telling me that I didn't need to tell her how to do this – she'd been riding these buses for years. In an effort to agree with her and perhaps lighten the situation I remarked, “Oh, I often tell people that you are the professional, and I am the rookie.” I glanced at the other guy with a rye smile for confirmation. Before he could say anything my walker woman retorted, “I don't think that's funny.”

I realize that she may have many other things in her life adding to the way she was treating me. Our culture values civility even from strangers in pretty much any circumstance. I finished my bit of paperwork, get behind the wheel and started out to the mall in silence. Then it hit me – I have a few physically handicapped people in my family and they never have had a bad attitude about their disabilities. I am quite sure they have been in pain and remained civil to those around them. The revelation of this brought tears to my eyes and I was thankful for this grace to me. I silently prayed a little prayer for the woman on my bus as I dabbed the tears from my eyes.

When I unloaded the guy at the mall and walked him through the doors he told me he liked my comment about them being professionals, and me the rookie. I think he felt a little sorry for me.

This story has a happy ending, the walker woman lightened and started asking questions about going to the mall. I was boarding another passenger there who was just as kind as the man I had unloaded. Those two talked a bit as we carried on. It came out that tomorrow was her birthday. I wished her a happy one as I said goodbye.

I'm grateful for work. And grateful for all God has given me, including disabled family members with good attitudes.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More for Sale

I have a few more things to post tonight. Just remember it will be better weather for baking before you know it. Fall entertaining is just around the corner

Entertaining Simple Additions Set
Autumn Colors
7 piece set
Sunflower Gold, Eggplant Purple, Cranberry Red with long platter in Olive Green
3 square bowls, 3 squares small plates, one long platter


Pampered Chef Stoneware Deep Dish Baker in Hunter Green
NEW! Never used $28

Pampered Chef Stoneware Pie Plate in Cranberry
Gently Used - which just means you have a little less seasoning to do on this one.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quick Sale

Local Readers:

I have a few household items for sale  -  Please take a look over the list. Send your friends!

Beaded Pate Knife and Olive Fork
New! Set of 2, Colors: Blue, Green, Red, Turquoise, with Silver swirls

African Wrought Iron Dancer Candle Holder Pair
Gently Used. Came from South Africa with me.

Some would call them tan, beige or ecru, but I say it's off-white or warm white. This couch is 80” W, 40”D and 32”H. The cozy, comfy, oversized chair measures about 50”W, 40”D and 32”H. The matching ottoman is about 40”W and 30”D. It's in very sturdy condition, no wear, just needs cleaning. My home is smoke-free and child-free home, and pet free.
$300 for both or $165 for couch and $165 for chair and ottoman.

Keurig K-Cups Caribou Daybreak 24 pack
$10 each or best offer (I have two of these)
Keurig K-Cups Green Mountain Breakfast Blend 24 pack
$10 or best offer

Keurig Carousel 27 K-Cup Holder
Gently Used

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An African Kind of Day

Yesterday I stopped by the church office to drop off a note for my friend Alemnesh who is trying to start an orphan home in Ethiopia – one of the pastors is heading over to see her at the end of the week. I wasn't expecting to get into a conversation with the pastor, but I did. It included a big hint that I should join Alemnesh as the admin person for this project. My heartstrings felt the tug.

From there I went to a bank to deposit a check for friends that live in East Africa. I had never been in this branch, on Franklin and 26th. As soon as I was in line for a teller I was immediately transported to the Barclays Bank I went to each month to pay my rent in Nairobi! I searched the room, I was the only white person in there: customers, tellers, security – absolutely everyone was black. I suppose that would scare some people, for me it feels like home.

I could hear conversations in other languages and ones in accented English. Some were African America, others Somali and some were from other African countries. I overheard the two large dark men at the next window asking their teller where he was from. “Liberia? Do you speak French?” one man asked. “Because we speak French.”

My teller had another guy walk up while he was helping me. That teller asked where he was from. He replied, “Ethiopia” before the other guy corrected, “which branch are you from?”

When I commented that it felt like Africa in here to the two tellers at my window, the customer on the other side of my laughed knowingly. He must have been East African too. As I left, I said the my teller, “Amesegenallo, ” one of the only Amharic words I know (thank you). I heard him comment that was perfect pronunciation.

As I drove off to my next errand I wondered if I should be considering Ethiopia more seriously. I just feel I need to finish school and get a good job. I feel torn.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Looking for just the right renter...

Room for rent in no ordinary house. I'm looking for one more person to share my home. It's cozy and warm on the inside, situated in the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the entire US. (We don't live in the 'burbs.) Your own room. Shared space with two other mature women. Garage parking, shared. Laundry on-site. Shared utilities. Big yard. Wonderful neighbors. A sense of community.

$550 + utilities + deposit. We're looking for the right fit to continue having a comfortable home. Sorry, no pets or smokers. Available June 1. Comment or send an email if you are looking or know someone.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What does my Public Relations Writing Class have to do with Orphans?

My current class is called PR Writing. I love it. So it may be no surprise that I am also doing well and getting positive feedback in the class. At the start of the class we were asked to choose an imaginary small business or non-profit to write all our pieces about.

I had my friend Alemnesh's orphan home in mind. It seemed the perfect thing. She left in April to begin laying the ground work for her home in Addis Ababa. Hopefully when she does get closer to getting the whole thing off the ground I will be able to tweak the items I've written to use in a number of ways.

Since I have been steeped in Ethiopian orphan facts, media coverage of orphan issues and general orphan statistics, I am far more aware of the pitfalls of adoption. One article I read highlighted a particular family that first promoted adoption from Liberia, then adopted several children from Liberia, and finally had failures with some of their adopted kids. It was definitely written to paint Christians in an unfavorable light. The story was bad and sad. The article's author was also on a NPR show recently. She told other horrific stories of failed adoptions and heavily insinuates that Christians are driving the market for adoption needs. In other words, if Christians didn't have the “fever” to adopt, there wouldn't be so many orphans in the world.

When I lived in Kenya in the 90s I learned that Kenyans call children orphaned if even one parent is lost. They will refer to a child who has lost both parents as a double orphan. I have since noticed that this may actually be the prevailing way developing countries all talk about children missing one or both parents. Certainly this gap in understanding skews the numbers we find on the Internet about how many orphans there are in the world. However, I don't think there is a need to say any group is bad if they are trying to promote care for vulnerable children. I do not think that we are driving a market for orphans.

My heart is wrenched thinking about hundreds, even millions of children without a mama to care for and love on them. During my adolescent years I often said out loud to my mom, “I would not have survived today without you!” I meant it. My mom was strong for me in ways I knew I couldn't be as a child. It all comes to mind with Mother's Day around the corner and so many stories swirling around in my head.

I hope that you have good memories of your mother this weekend. But I also hope that you will think about those without a mother. The amount of “double orphans” in the world today is about 3,500,000 – the size of the entire Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.

Think of them, pray for them, be grateful for what you had or have. If you want to know more about my friend, Alemnesh's ministry, leave a comment or drop me an email.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Impact of a Positive Word

Probably more than I realize, I have been in a kind of person slump. Maybe it's the kind of thing people going through other kinds of transition face. As much as I don't buy into all the usual self-esteem jargon, and I do believe we need God-esteem, there is something to being downtrodden.

Twice in this class I'm taking, the teacher has genuinely complimented me with a specific word of encouragement. Last night's word was so powerful that three hours later when I got in my car to go home the thought of the words had me crying so hard I couldn't safely pull out of the parking lot.

This is a PR writing class. In some ways you could call it “Journalism 101” because it's basically the same kind of writing. She said to me when we sat down for a one-on-one evaluation of my last three pieces, “I really see you doing this kind of work!” She looked again at her comments written on the page. Before she said anything more she looked up again, “And you have never worked in this field?” My defense: high school journalism class. I was on the staff paper for all three years. It was taught me well back then, so I've retained it.

Today I can hardly think about her words without tearing up again. It is so significant to told by an unbiased person that you are really, really good. When your friends tell you that, it feels like they say it out of bias. I still struggle with how to put all my talents together in a way that makes me money and doesn't stress me out at the same time. But today I'm living on a little encouragement. After all, I did say I was going to school to get a piece of paper that says I know how to do what I already know how to do.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Little Ironic

I finally came back to my blog only to declare that “Winter is Over” and then what happens? We get socked in again. Last week had me out shoveling a few times. (Tonight's forecast is for another 6-8 inches!) So far I have remained undaunted. I do not like the snow in April and I will comment about it like the rest of us. However, “winter is over” was a declaration of the end of my dark sadness of winter this year. That, I am thankful to say, has not returned. I do feel a little overwhelmed at my challenging circumstances right now, but I do not feel despair – I am grateful for that, as well.

I'm grateful for prayers to get through this job hunt and be working in something that is both fulfilling and lucrative. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Winter is Over

It's on odd day to write that headline since last night put a thin blanket of white on my yard again and it hasn't melted as of mid afternoon. It was a dark season for me. It's just as well I wasn't writing much. I have been keeping busy with school and that keeps my writing skills active. I don't think I have ever before experienced a sort of seasonal disorder. Things looked bleak this past winter like they haven't looked for me in a long time, maybe ever. Winter is over, though.

I felt a change in the week of Easter. I'm sure the significance of this holiday had something to do with it. But also the lighter days and eventually the warmer weather. Weather that tells me this is a light and momentary snow. Even with it, I am happy to know my taxes are done, thanks to BIG help from a long-suffering friend. I'm over the half-way mark to finish school.

What I am most excited about right now is helping a friend who is leaving for Addis Ababa next week to begin the ground work to set up a children's home. My friend Alemnesh is from Ethiopia, so in a way, she is going home – even though Minnesota has been her home for about 18 years. I am helping her with the communications side of things and in the process I hope to become more informed about the plight of orphans in Ethiopia and learn how to effectively share Alemnesh's vision with those interested.

These are exciting days. I'm making no promises, but I hope to be writing much more in the coming months.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Conflicts in Theory

As usual, I'm starting to write more – just because it's the beginning of the year and I wish I had written more last year. It's like an informal new year's resolution. But it's not. No promises, but I bet that thinking about theory and analyzing how people communicate is going to make me more introspective, which, in turn, will make me want to write more. Let's see if it makes the blog.

One of the interesting things I learned about the two schools of communication theory is that they can be likened to one of scales on the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory. This was helpful since I am well read in the Myers Briggs. The scientific approach is like the sensing (S) component of the Myers Briggs; the interpretive is like the intuitive (N). There you go – no wonder I'm so torn. I have a preference in both of these areas very strongly. As in, I'm not in the middle on the S/N of the Myers Briggs, I usually test into intuitive but I have strong sensing factors built in as well. I am both a detail person (sensing) and a possibilities person (intuitive). In fact, I am so much in each of these camps that I sometimes fail to see (feel) how they are opposite sides of a spectrum. But I have read enough to know they are opposites in the Myers Briggs and commonly held that way on other scales.

I guess this further explains why I am weird. I will see how being an anomaly shakes out in the world of communication theory. By the way, my teacher doesn't believe that I am in both areas and simply dubbed that I didn't understand the continuum. Once I figure it out, I'll know where I stand.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

World of Theory

This week I am starting a new class called Communication Theory and Practice. (It's all theory, as far as I can tell.) I have been dreading the class that sounds so dull and dry. I finally started my reading the other day and found it kind of interesting. I think the author of the textbook is a very personable writer – I'm sure that helps. I had forgotten that I do enjoy analyzing things sometimes. Above all, it had slipped my mind that I am studying what has proved to be a very palatable area for me. I like communication studies!

The introductory chapters have proven to be a little disconcerting, though. There are two main schools of thought in the area of communication theory: a scientific one, and an interpretive theory. Fine. As I read through a brief description of each I found that both appealed to me. But the text was clear that you probably fall into one camp or the other. In fact, scholars from the two areas are so at odds with one another they often argue and disagree. So why are both equally appealing to me?

Eventually it came out that these two can areas compliment each other and also could be seen as a continuum. That helps – a little. The problem now is that I really don't feel I'm in the middle. I truly like both sides. I want both to be the proper way to view communication theory. This remains an unsolved dilemma. I may or may not come to some conclusion. But this is for sure, it's going to be a very intense 6 weeks of communication theory. This may be the class that helps me decide how far I'm going to take this whole going back to school thing.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oh, for cryin' out loud! - literally.

It's a new year again. I make no promises about blogging more. I had every good intention this past year and had a last minute push to beat the year before. I want to write but I don't always have something to say. That might be obvious to you from reading what does get posted. It's not always fresh on my mind to post – even if I do have something to say. But I got 2 journal and two fancy writing pads for Christmas this year, so I better do some writing if only because that was perhaps a sign.

I'm the only one in the school library this afternoon – besides the staff – I am researching how pop music, rock and roll namely, and the deejays that promoted it in the 1950s and 60s helped with the integration of blacks and white in the US. I have at least 8 books on the topic of radio or black music piled on this desk trying to find fodder for this paper. As I read there is a nostalgia that has overcome me. I'm reduced to tears for no good reason but the wonder of how our nation was built and hard-working value system we once had in America. I remember my dad once crying telling me a story of a Swedish business man trying to communicate an idea to an American business man over the phone. When he couldn't make himself understood he asked for a fax number to fax the information. My dad was in tears before he could finish the story about how it all come together because of this technology. We thought Dad was ridiculous. But I think that is how I feel today about radio. It's a little bigger picture though, because what happened in the 1950s when radio needed to find a way to compete with TV the perfect storm resulted in a boon for integration!

I don't know why it makes me feel sentimental, but it's BIG. Radio turned to pop music which eventually got called rock and roll, there were a few cutting edge deejays that took the music format to the next level by playing jazz or other black music on their radio programs of pop music. Before you know it – literally, you have dance parties with blacks and whites enjoying the same music.

Amazing. Now I need to get back to the paper writing. But it truly is an awesome convergence of media and economic developments to push us into crossing musical lines that include whites coming to love black music and vice versa.