7.25.2017

Blues, Might Mo Rodgers

We are all traveling. We have all lost something -- an eye, money, mobility, youth. Has it brought us wisdom? That's something you have to decide for yourself. 
Wisdom comes at a cost.



Time, 

Not Things, Makes Us Happy 

BBC READ



Cool Summer Music 

Blues is My Wailin' Wall









7.16.2017

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. 

Marcel Proust






Two Good Book Recommendations for July

A Kinder Voice  For those that are self-critical, anxious, or worried
Make Your Bed For a new graduate, young adult, or someone beginning a new journey

7.09.2017

White Lies, Fudging, and Fibs


National Geographic Magazine did a large expose on lying this month, full of extensive research and study. Here is my psychological spin on what they didn't say:

1) We lie when we are afraid to hurt someone ("I can't go to the movies tonight even though I really want to. I forgot that my son needs a ride to work that evening.")

2) We lie when we are afraid that someone will be mad at us ("I don't really care for your new boyfriend so we won't be joining you.")

3) We lie when we are hiding something ("I'm sick and can't come in today.")

Ultimately, these lies are a way of controlling how someone will feel, think or behave. And, the less- attractive name for that is Co-dependency.

Research shows that children catch their parents in numerous white lies though out the week ("Tell the salesman at the door that we are not home") and they realize, regardless of their young age, that we are telling flat-out lies! 

The personal goal for may of us might become the willingness to be truthful, even if we'll look bad or let our loved one down; learning to tolerate someone else's displeasure.

("I'm sorry. I overbooked myself, I cannot make the movies tomorrow.")
("Your boyfriend stepped pon my toes last time we met. Can we give it some more time?")
("I need a mental wellness day but I'm not actually sick.")
("I was looking at pornography and I am ashamed of being caught.')

Good Liars








b
lessed are the cracked 


7.02.2017

Teach Your Kids to Read the Obits

I wasn't raised with many routine traditions growing up (young, single working mom), so most of my early recollections primarily revolve around my grandparents, both immigrants. 

My grandfather kept his am transistor radio on while he slept - AM, of course. He was always dressed in his best outfit (snazzy hat, vest), even while working in terrible heat. He would take lunch breaks and make us lunch. He created the first Italian newspaper in Arizona, La Italiana Tribuna, and put me on the cover one Fourth of July.

My grandmother dusted with Lemon Pledge every Saturday morning, while listening to Engelbert Humperdinck. She aired out all the pillows once a week on a clothesline, and she loved to chase a firetruck just to see what was happening nearby. She hated wearing shoes and could blend a wonderful green drink, a grasshopper.

My most lasting memory of my grandparents is an odd one: they read the obituaries in the newspaper every morning. And to this day, I read the obits on Sunday morning...every single one.

Sometimes I read them out loud to my kids, marveling at the length of someone's life, and the endeavors they filled it with, from the simple "surrounded by family and friends," or, "in lieu of flowers, please volunteer at your local food bank" to those more radical, "She was never like the other mothers," (my all-time personal favorite compliment!) and "First woman Veterinarian graduate in Washington." All hail the underappreciated pioneers!


The legacy of a life lived should be shared and celebrated for the wonder of it all: "Mr. Merchery loved sports, and collected orchids and stamps." The delightful: "Her backyard cork tree was enjoyed by all the children in the neighborhood." 
Those that persisted: "Devoted Step-Dad to William, Gabby, Colin, Marissa, and Frankie." 
"Lucille volunteered at the hospice thrift store for 23 years" and "Mrs. Amelia Hobbs knitted baby caps for preemie's in her spare time."
"The family wishes to thank his care giving angels, Toyin and Mindo."

Some obits are just down-right impressive; "Survived by his wife of 71 years" and "always completed the Sunday Times crossword puzzle in pen." Often sacrifices are recognized - "an all-star athlete with natural ability, he received an Ivy League football scholarship to college, yet, he knew that his widowed mother and younger siblings needed his income more so, and thus began his life-long career in insurance." 

Perhaps the most moving sentiment that I often take away from these reads is the melting pot that surely is us: "Japanese American internment survivor," "Helped establish the Holocaust Education program," or "Lived the American Dream as Polish immigrants." 
"Born in Lima, Peru...MBA from USC."


"Mr. Watanabe, age 95, member of the 522nd Artillery Battalion of the 442nd regimental Combat Team, passed away peacefully." 
Mr. Cochran: "Born in 1927, he started the Afro-Arts theater...influential Chicago musician."

For my obit, please borrow Mrs. Vernon's: "She was an elegant example."

What Makes a Good Life? 








Kings eat first. Leaders eat last.




6.25.2017

A Story of Profound Forgiveness

by Keith B.

(as told to Christina Neumeyer)  


     At the age of 20, I was on my way to work at a local gas station at 5:30 in the morning when a driver pulled out in front of my motorcycle. With extensive life-threatening injuries, numerous broken arms, severe injuries to my neck, and my right leg hanging by a thread (disarticulated), I was life-flighted to a hospital in critical condition. The driver fled the scene.
          After several hours of surgery, my leg was reattached (skin graphs from my thighs) however, over the course of several weeks, with an unrelenting infection in my leg, multiple debridements were required (the removal of debris and necrotic or damaged tissue). There is only one word to describe this process: Horrific.
     On April 4, 1983, after many excruciating attempts to save my leg, it was determined that it would be best to amputate above the knee, on my 21st birthday.
     I was in the hospital for a total of six weeks and continued on with months of physical therapy, learning how to walk with a prosthetic leg and to use my arms and wrists again.
     I had, and still have, conflicting feelings about the accident. I was grateful to be alive but frequently wondering why God did not just completely take me, instead of leaving me such a disfigured freak.
     Even though I was physically recovering, I had rage and resentment at the woman who had hit me and taken off. I was told that I needed to let go of the resentment or it would cause even more pain. Why would I? If I let it go would I be saying it was OK for her to do that? How could I, anyway?
     A friend suggested that I pray for her for three weeks asking that she have all of the blessings that I would want for a family member. No way! No way!
     Eventually, I came to know that I could not go on carrying this resentment - so I began praying for her each day. The first week I prayed that she would suffer as much as I did, and more!
     As the days went on, my heart softened and I began to see that she must have been terrified and didn’t know what to do and panicked. I could see myself possibly doing the same if I was the one driving the car. I actually began to feel mercy for her (hadn't I acted badly from time to time, even terrible decisions along the way?). Yet, I had become so accustomed to owning that righteous anger: what would propel me in life without it?
     I continued to pray and the dark fog of depression ever so slowly lifted; the world looked a bit better. I had no idea how much energy I was wasting hating someone, which did me no good anyway. With a leap of faith, I finally let go of my “how would you feel if this happened to you?” card and traded in what should-have-been for what-is. I had been so laser-focused on what had been taken from me that I could not see what remained.
     The serenity prayer says that we are to accept the things we cannot change, and the courage to change the things that we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I learned to accept that the accident could not be undone. I wasn’t going to grow a new leg.
    My accident occurred in front of the best trauma unit in the area; I got lucky. Had my medical response taken longer, I would not have survived. Due to blood loss, I was resuscitated during my life-flight, thankfully. The driver that hit me was never located or held accountable. I experience phantom pain in my non-existent leg. These are facts that I can live with.
     Eventually, with time, support, and meaningful therapy, I was able to work through those ugly body-image issues. I have changed my mental attitude towards the accident and daily do what I can to have the most fulfilling and rich life possible. I live without bitterness or resentment.

          

6.16.2017

Divorced Dad Guilt


Over the years, I have spoken confidentially and intimately with hundreds of men, many of whom are divorced with young children.
Good and decent men wish their marriage had worked out and I have heard over and over again about the deep feelings of failure, both personally but also how they are viewed by the world at large.

Years ago, I heard musician, Sting, say in an interview that regardless of his current celebrity status and a very happy marriage that has lasted for decades, with grown children, he has never been able to shake the feelings of unimaginable failure related to his first marriage, calling it the worst and most depressing time of his life that has continued to leave a profound memory.

Divorced-dad guilt is real, so much so, that I am calling it Divorced Dad Syndrome. I know this goes against the common stereotypes we hear about Deadbeat Dads and "how men so easily walk out on their children." 
Reflect on how men and dads are relationally portrayed on evening sitcoms; either schlubbs and unaware dads like What About Raymond, zoned out and feeble-minded, e.g. Tim Allen. Or, they are sexual players, e.g. Two and Half Men (Scrutinize the commercials!).

I have also spoken to hundreds of women who end up dating these men. And, my warning to them is to stay away. 
Not because they are bad men, but because the guilt and shame over their broken home, with children that they are not able to love and care for daily, becomes a palpable problem in any ensuing relationship, rightfully so.

If you are a woman dating a nice man, who happens to have young kids, you would HOPE that he would pine for his children that he isn't waking up with on a daily basis, right? This is a respectable quality, until we start wanting more of their time, and begin to imagine sharing a real daily life, only to find that their kids come first. And the realization that a portion of his paycheck goes to another woman (who is often depicted as selfish and greedy; occasionally, she is).


Why am I not referring to Divorced Mom Syndrome? Well, I just don't hear it that way. Yes, women feel equally horrible about a failed marriage, (for years "Divorcee" was a judgmental label, akin to Scarlet letter on the forehead) along with the instability and hardship of being a single or divorced mom. In fact, the statistics indicate that women suffer financially and professionally much more severely than men post divorce, even when individual  income is equalized. There are lost of reasons for this that have been extensively studied so I won't go into that here.

So, why aren't women prone to "Divorced Mom Syndrome?" 

Here are some ideas:
  • Perhaps women have a deeper innate drive to pair up, seeking connection that outweighs their prior relationship failures, allowing for less guilt and shame.
  • Currently, women initiate 2/3rds of divorce in our country. Maybe they leave when they are really done, no stone unturned and confident in their decision.
  • Maybe a future partner for a woman is more understanding of their woman's desire to put her children first (more tolerance from her male counterpart than she might have for his loyalty to a prior set of off spring).
  • Maybe there are evolutionary reasons at play here that we cannot uncover with our conscious mind.
  • Women probably navigate and balance better than men. Let's face it, dating and finding a new mate involves a lot of time-management skills (work, kids, pets, family, friends, exercise).
  • I suspect that men do a better job of accepting an ex-husband, then women do of accepting an ex-wife. This is a visceral hunch on my part - and it could be as simple as women see other women with a sharp lens, often accurately.
  • Men are typically presented as sex-seeking and calloused - what a disservice. If we can embrace men as whole human beings, they may feel permission to express their thoughts and feelings about their world, in a full and healthy manner. Recent studies have begun to debunk "men as superficial and sex-crazed," in fact, they may be more tender-hearted than women!
  • Woman are typically wired with strong verbal articulation; maybe they can get their needs better because of this?

Take-aways from this, please:

Men almost want to be there for their children. They feel badly about the failed relationship with their kid's mom. Future relationships with new intimate partners will be dicey, as they struggle to meet the pressing and time-sensitive needs of young children, an ex-wife (yes, the ex-wife has needs and they matter!) and a new lover. Step and blended families can work. Never speak negatively about the ex. 
If you find a great new guy, and he brings along three kids, ask yourself if you can really be number four or five on his list of priorities. It will not change for a very long time. In my experience, divorced dads over-work, not under-work. It's hard to be thrown into the rotation, as a reasonable and healthy female, wanting time alone with your male partner, but it can begin to feel like another obligation for your man. He has a lot of marks to hit - the three words I hear most often are pressure, pressure, and pressure.
While my husband will never understand my experience as a woman, carrying our children inside of my belly, birthing them, nursing them, and being home alone with them for hours, days, years on end (the fatigue and loneliness!), I will likewise never understand what it is to be a man, and the moral imperative to provide for his family. 

My husband watched his father never miss a day of work in 40 years. For him, to be a husband and father, a man, is to never miss work, bring home all of your paycheck, and protect the home. Anything other than that means failure.
This is not everyone's position - just his. For us to make it work, we continue to reformulate the perfect algorithm, but it changes, right? I was raised by a true feminist (one of the first females to work for IBM, with no education and a young child too early) so I had to stretch to grasp his definition of parenting, husbandry and loving. 

REMEMBER: Men really want to please their woman.

(This writing is not referring to men that are mentally unstable: addictions, narcissism, sociopathy)

Examples: 

1) Adult daughter, age 21, gets a flat tire on the freeway, so she calls dad. He can help, but, it's his new girlfriend's 45th birthday party in an hour. How does that feel to everyone? Depending on your perspective....

2) Your new man (with two kids, age 10 and 13, from a prior marriage) has planned a first weekend away. It's not fancy because money is tight (he pays $2,000 in alimony and child support) but you are excited. The day before you are scheduled to take off, his ex-wife has asked that he take the kids that weekend because she has been offered a great catering job that could make her (and the kids) some much-needed money. How would this be received?
3) Both parties have kids, yet, there are clearly different rules operating in each household. Divorced dad allows his teenager to drive at night, boys in her room, and even some occasional smoking or drinking in the back yard. Divorced mom has strong opinions and rules about these three behaviors. They are not tolerated, whatsoever, and she feels that his parenting is harmful to her kids as well as his own daughter. How can a compromise be reached? I would argue, it cannot. This is not a compatible mate.

What Men Can Do:

Be honest about what you can offer. 
Refrain from physical intimacy unless you can back it up with emotional commitment (We spell that T.I.M.E and E.N.E.R.G.Y).
Check yourself for overcompensating behaviors. Children do not benefit from guilty parenting. At some point, it's reasonable to be an adult and let your kids know that "adults need adult time and activities; the nest is secure and you are loved."
Do not introduce your kids to a new female for the first three months.
Do not rescue your new love interest.

If more than one person has suggested that you are too involved with your adult child (enmeshment/codependency), or that you enable/indulge your little ones, take a good hard look at that. Any future partner will be turned off by that...and it's not healthy for your kid.

Never speak negatively about your ex. Or hers...no matter how crazy either may be.
Examine your head (not your heart) for compatibility. Some differences cannot be worked out. 
Love, attraction and affection are not enough to sustain a long-term relationship.
Children need you. You are important. 

Find a male role model. If you don't have one, earnestly set it as a goal for yourself to find one.
If you don't have anything (emotionally, spiritually) to bring to the table, don't date. Only unhealthy women will tolerate the leftovers. Better to tolerate being alone (or lonely)
Women are not naturally equipped to mother any more than men are naturally equipped to father. They are both arts...practice makes perfect.

Deadbeat or Dead Broke?




6.11.2017

Insights on this Sunday

An enjoyable listen from Esther Perel on the state of many relationships in the U.S.

Great TED Talk from Anne Lamott - "It's an inside job. You can't buy, achieve, or date serenity. Help is the sunny side of control."


A sad commentary on our current cultural malaise. Anxiety is the new depression.




6.03.2017

How To Successfully Create a Non-Profit



Starting a Charitable Non-Profit Organization? 


Some Considerations

By Tim Lucey



First, we are talking about a non-profit organization under IRS code 501(c) 3. For a basic understanding of what that means see irs.gov.

Do you have a driving passion for your cause and a love for those who will benefit from your good work? If so, I welcome you to the joyous and rewarding world of philanthropic work and wish you well as you pursue your dreams. Let’s get started!

Here are some topics you will need to consider as you embark on your mission. You will want to have a solid understanding of these, hire specialists or have committed people on your team who can fill the gaps in your knowledge.

1. What is your mission? What are your purpose and objectives? Are you meeting a need in a unique way? How is this different or better than what someone else is doing now? 
2. Your commitment: Are you ready to work day and night in the face of failure, rejection, roadblocks and disappointment to fulfill your mission? 
3. Time horizon and your role: Do you want this effort to continue after you are gone? Are you prepared to turn control over to the board? They, not you, will have legal control of the organization.
4. Is someone else doing the same thing? Before you embark on starting your own non-profit organization or corporation consider alternatives such as collaborating, teaming with or operating under the umbrella of another non-profit organization with a similar or compatible mission. Find a local non-profit support agency such as Non-Profit Management Solutions (NMS) or San Diego Non-profit Association (SDNA). Both offer workshops and resources that are affordable and informative. And they are the perfect place to meet great people like you.  
5. Do you have a business plan? A strategic plan? Your prospective board members and funders will want to see one.
6. What is your story? You will need a good one and you must become good at telling it. For most of us this is an acquired skill so start telling it. “My dream is…”
7. Budget: Create one and follow it frugally.


8. Cash requirements: Know your costs and the cash flow required for sustained operations. Plan for a reserve to deal with emergent requirements and hard times.
9. Funding: Are you good at asking for help? Do you understand how to identify funders? Do you know the information required and have the skills needed to write a winning grant request? Did you know that many funders will not consider your funding request unless you have been operating for 3 or more years? 
10. Web presence: Who will design, build and maintain your web site?
11. Social media: Who will manage, monitor and maintain your social media campaigns and engagements? 
12. Communications: How will you plan, write and distribute your annual appeal letters, newsletter, announcements and press releases?
13. Cyber security? How will you protect your organization, your stakeholders and your supporters from hackers and thieves?
14. Donor management: How will you document, track, acknowledge and report your cash and in-kind donations?
15. Event management: How will you plan, fund and staff your events? 
16. Meeting management: Where will you conduct your meetings? How will you control and document them? Nothing kills the spirit of volunteers like a poorly run meeting.
17. Board development: Do you know the skills and experience needed to fulfill the board duties of governance, oversight and fiduciary? Have you served on a non-profit or have people willing to serve on your board who have? You will want at least one person on your board who has been involved in a non-profit start-up or a successful turn-around of a failing non-profit organization. 

18. Volunteers: How will you attract, engage, recruit and train your volunteers? Consider different levels and types of volunteers. Some volunteers may be needed to support your mission while others may support/advise on board related matters such as events, legal matters, IT , newsletter etc. How will you screen and vet them? How will you communicate with them and keep them informed and interested after they say yes?
19. Staff: Will you need employees? If so, you will find good use for that MBA.
20. Legal: Is your brother-in-law an attorney with a heart of gold? If not, be prepared to pay for good legal advice on a wide variety of matters.
21. Insurance: You will need insurance to protect yourself, your stakeholders and your volunteers.
22. Forming a corporation: Do you understand the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation? 
23. Non-profit status: Do you know how to acquire and maintain your non-profit status? Do you know how to fill out form 990? Are you familiar with the IRS policy guidelines and which ones are required for your organization? For instance you may need to have a conflict of interest policy but a whistle blower policy might be overkill.
24. Bookkeeping: Do you need an accountant? Are you prepared to keep accurate records for timely and accurate reporting? Did you know that some funders as well as some government programs require audited financials before they will consider your funding request? 
25. Plant, facilities, offices and equipment: Where will you operate? There are many non-profits that have operated for years out of a spare bedroom or garage. Most of them are dying or already dead. 
However, a virtual office could be a great solution for you if you are willing to invest in and learn how to use some of the low-cost sharing and collaboration tools out there like Drop Box, Basecamp, Skype and others. Salesforce.com for instance is offered free to non-profits. It is a great and powerful tool but it is free like a puppy is free.


If after reading this list I formulated off the top of my head you still want to pursue your dream, I say, "Do your homework, roll up your sleeves and jump in with both feet. The water is fine! Good luck."