Happy Father’s Day! 7 Life Lessons Learned from My Father

  1. Whatever you do, do it 100%. – My father taught me to water ski when I was 7 years old. I remember the little red skis with the white string to keep them together. It was not long before I was popping out of the water and criss-crossing back and forth across the wakes. My dad would sit me on the edge of the boat, put my skis on and pick up my little body and toss me in the water unceremoniously. I’d fly through the air, hit the water, the skis would threaten to drag me down and drown me, so I had no other recourse but to start doggy paddling like hell in a frenzy of fear and determination. Just matter of fact like that and then he’d walk away without looking back. It was always a sink or swim moment and I learned from an early age to keep my head above water, to hustle hard, and it is the most valuable skill I learned for adult life in the rat race. Fathers are good about that. Mothers will hover over you and helicopter you out of love. But Fathers will throw you in and feign to walk away, knowing that is the best thing for you and it is also an equal love, just a different kind, perhaps a better kind in the long run.
  2. Hold on no matter what. – Another water skiing lesson. After a few rounds about the lake going at an easy pace, we’d generally pick up speed or go over rougher waves or even go in tight circles. My forearms would get really sore but I got a reputation for hanging on. I wasn’t the kind of kid that could get thrown easily and I never went down without a stubborn fight or total wipe out with water going up my nose. I learned that life would be like a Tetris game or maybe Lucille Ball working in the Chocolate Factory with the conveyor belt speeding up and she’s stuffing chocolates in her bra to keep going with the supervisor yelling in the background to move faster. I learned from lesson #2 that you had to work hard and stubbornly maintain your work and speed because eventually, things are bound to get rougher and harder down the road. Show up to work most every day. Be present. Clear your desk as much as you can. Don’t get behind. Work earlier or later if needed so your “tetris pieces” or piles of paper don’t start stacking higher and higher. Whatever you do in life, do it with intensity. Even if things get faster and more out of hand just go with the flow and ride the waves as long as you can. If you succeed, succeed immensely. If you fail, fail brutally and embarassingly. The kind of wipeout that makes everyone laugh and ask if you’re ok and becomes a great story in hindsight. But just know, either way, there is no room for regret that you didn’t try hard enough. Avoid being lukewarm.
  3. Being strategic is far wiser than being charismatic. – Strategy will get you a long ways but it requires some important elements, listening and learning to move in silence. You must be willing to sacrifice ego to attain greater goods of security and persistence. “We spend our first 2 years learning to talk and all the rest of our lives, learning to be silent.” – Aristotle. My father was a vice president at a university for 30 some years. He managed the money. He was a strong, silent type that came in to work daily, did his accounting, and then went home to his wife and kids and his gardens. Many times, he would listen and give wise counsel but he never really stepped up to be the charismatic designated leader of the organization although he was the influence behind it. Presidents came and went and he stayed on through the years. Being the bureaucratic leader is a far more sustainable and advantageous position within government and where the real power lies, the power to raise up presidents and the power to undermine their authority if necessary to maintain the rule of law. If you don’t believe me, look at the Executive Branch.
  4. The best way to get along in the work place is to be quiet. – Adopt an attitude of calmness and others will feel that. “Aggressive people are a vexation of the spirit.” – The Desiderata. Think like a flight attendant and remain calm under most all circumstances. The more drama and gossip you involve in, the worse the work environment becomes for all members. Punch in. Do your work. Go home. When you get home, don’t discuss work. Keep home life and work life two separate spheres in order to maintain the peace, calm, and happiness of your home. I struggle very hard with this one personally as I often want to confide my work problems with my husband but as I get older, I learn that it really does him no good and instantly turns his attitude sour and pessimistic. If you love your family, do not burden them. If you gotta sit out in the car in the driveway a few more minutes and relax a bit or maybe hit the gym to release pent-up frustration, try to do so. My father used to go to work, come home and have dinner every night at the head of the table with us and then disappear for a few hours to watch television in his room. I get it now. Television has a way of mellowing a person out and instantly improving their mood. It is easy, effortless, and sometimes entertaining. As I get older, I realize that one must strike a careful balance between play and work every day. If you grind 8 hours and drive 2 hours and then cook dinner and clean dinner and do laundry until 8 or 9…….you are just burning yourself out internally. You need down time to maintain a positive mood which is the number one determinant of future success. Work smarter, not harder. You can get more done in the workplace with others with the right personality and attitude. What is that line, you can catch more with honey….something like that.
  5. Manage by walking around. – If you really want to know what is going on at the front line level in your organization, you must leave your office and be seen. Get out on the factory floor everyday and make yourself accessible to others. When I took classes at the university, I would often see my dad do this. He’d be examining the flower beds or talking to a custodian or I’d see him maybe talking to a faculty member here or there. He was observing what people needed help with and he’d go back to his office and work on those little things for them. The little things eventually become the big things if not attended to. During his tenure, the university campus was the most beautiful I had seen with carefully manicured and attended to lawns and the university was constantly in the process of building and acquiring donated funds from community contributors to expand in technology and engineering and the arts. “Pumping the flesh” as they call it, or shaking hands on all levels, is a very important part of managing. Like Zig Ziglar says in regards to sales, when you meet someone for the first time, learn what they are in need of and help them to fulfill that need and you will develop a life-long client.
  6. Leadership is not about you, it’s about being of service to others. – Go to work with the frame of mind that you are providing customer service to everyone that enters your office. What can you do to help them today? When you answer the phone, ask them how you can help them. Build networks through being of service to others and in turn, when you need help, they will be of service to you. Humble yourself and you will connect better with others.
  7. The best leaders are the ones who don’t want the job but take it because it needs to be done. – They see a vacuum and they fill it because they are responsible, not because they want the attention or the power.

What are the best lessons you learned from your father? You can share them here if you want to. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!

Dogster Competition: America’s Favorite Pet!

I entered my doggo in Dogster’s online competition for America’s favorite pets!

Little did I expect him to do as well as he has so far! He is 23rd in his category. But I do gotta admit he’s loveable ❤️

If he reaches one of the top 15, he’ll be featured by the site. Come check out his profile at the following link and look at all the cuddly doggo photos submitted around America. Cast your vote for your favorites. It’s fun!

Here is the link:

https://americasfavpet.com/2022/sushi-97bd

Return from Duty

by J. Speer

SSgt Miller took the overnight flight home.

It was a grueling flight much like the desert sands and blazing heat of the Middle East.

It had been a long year since he’d seen his children, now 14 and 8 years old.

The gym was a packed house.

He stood in the hallway in uniform near the school trophy cases.

Filled with deep emotion inside, he appeared calm and collected on the surface.

The school announced a special guest of honor over the intercom.

His daughter was on the Varsity team playing basketball.

She was a guard on the court.

The team was 7 and 2 this season.

It was something that together they discussed frequently over the long-distance phone calls at night.

He had taught her how to play ball.

Years ago in the driveway of their family home, they shot hoops together and played horse.

Countless hours.

He told her how to hold the ball just right for free throw shots and how to release it into the air.

When the school principal motioned him to enter the gym, his heart skipped a beat…

As did hers when she saw her father across the court.

She ran to him.

He held his arms out open wide.

His hat was in his left hand.

Her little brother and the soldier’s wife were already moving towards them from the stands.

Tears welled up in the faces of many nearby in the crowd as father and daughter embraced.

He kissed her forehead and smoothed her hair.

He held her tight.

She looked up at him smiling.

“I love you, Dad,” she said softly and shyly so only he could hear.

“I missed you.”

“I’m home,” he said with heartfelt gladness.

His son hugged them both.

The boy was grinning happily as he pressed his head against his father’s side.

His wife stood close by allowing her children this moment with their father.

She was crying tears of joy as well.

The crowd smiled and clapped loudly.

Home.

He was finally home.

Baby Chicks

My daughter brought home some baby chicks from science class. We went to Tractor Supply Store and put together a makeshift brooder.

Cheep cheep

To take care of baby chicks, you need to keep them inside until their feathers get fluffier. You need a plastic tub filled with pinewood shavings at the bottom. You will need to replace the shavings every 4 days to keep them from getting damp. Use a waterer that is shallow so the baby chicks do not drown. Put little pebbles at the bottom if you have to. Use a feeder and fill it with medicated starter feed. Also, buy a heat lamp and bulb. Make sure the heat lamp is not too close to burn the chicks but also not too far away that they freeze. Then, just wait for them to grow. Check them throughout the days. Make sure they are okay.

We have 2 black chicks and 2 yellow chicks. They are adorable and soft. We named them Ace, Sabo, Lucy, and Luffy from an Anime show. We will transfer them to a chicken coop in the yard when they are ready this summer!

New Music Suggestions from Facebook Friends

This morning, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me their new favorite songs/albums/or singers. I told them I like a diverse mix of music. Kindly, about ten friends replied with these great suggestions. I’ve been spending this evening going through each suggestion as a mini concert at home. I’m delighted by the songs they shared. Quite a few are Christian songs, probably because it is Sunday. Here are some from the list:

  1. “Here with Me” (sung by Jason Upton).
  2. “Stones” (sung by Kim Walker Smith).
  3. The “We Like it Here” album by Snarky Puppy.
  4. “You Can’t Stop Me” (sung by Andy Mineo).
  5. Any songs by MercyMe.
  6. Any songs by Skillet.
  7. Songs by Hillsong United.
  8. “There was Jesus” (sung by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton).

They were all great. I liked the mix. This one was my personal favorite:

Noel a Paris

They decided on the trip together. Usually they always spent Christmas with family but this year they wanted to try something different. Christmas was usually spent listening to Aunt Gabby’s cat stories or watching the family open presents one by one slowly. Mom usually made a big buffet and Dad usually always got a hunting gift. The grandkids would run around the house and someone would setup Christmas music on the TV. There would be hugs and family photos with ugly Christmas sweaters or Grinch pajamas sets. Generally, there would be some games…board games, card games, gingerbread house competitions and such. It was always great fun but also a little awkward at times with the big family reunion. There were lulls in conversation or points where one had to be tactful and polite, particularly in regards to political topics. And, hectic…it could be hectic too as the family packed up all the presents in the car. She’d fuss over everything especially the smashed bows on the presents or whether the tree lights should be left on while they were away. She’d always be the last to the car. The kids would be crowded together and arguing, nit-picking each other. He’d get frustrated and beep the horn.

Yeah.

Christmas with family…..

This year would be different. They talked about this months ago when she had received a great price deal on roundtrip tickets. She had stared at her monitor at her sales cubicle. She studied the advertisement photo of a beautiful lit-up Eiffel Tower on a starry night. Come spend Noel a Paris, the breath-taking City of Lights…that’s what the picture caption read. Usually she skipped these promo ads but this one for some reason had caught her eye.

It had taken some convincing for him. A couple of dinners together at night. She approached the subject each time after their kids had excused themselves from dinner. She talked to him while cleaning up dinner plates and putting food back in the fridge. Eventually, with some reluctance, he was on board too. It was probably the cheap airfare price that did it as he was an accountant by profession and nature, preferring to limit extravagant spending.

The day they left the kids at Grandma’s, it snowed a heck of a lot. The kids wished them a great trip. They hugged each one and told them to be good. He struggled to get the car through the growing snowdrifts and she watched the kids with her parents through her rear view side mirror on the passenger side until they were too far away in the distance.

The ride to the airport was blustery and cold. He had to keep the wipers and heat going on high mode. In comparison, the climate in Paris outside the terminal after their excruciatingly long flight was sunny and much less calamitous.

They managed to get to the hotel through the kindness of Parisian pedestrians and a taxi driver that pointed the way in English. Their understanding of the local language was beginner level at best but they did manage “merci” and “bonjour” from time to time.

They stayed at a four story hotel off the Champs Elysee and close to the St. Antoine de Exupery street where she’d read the couture shops were located. They ate French croissants for breakfast and wandered the streets of Paris for a day or two. They visited art museums and strolled past trendy boutiques for fashion. They went up the Eiffel Tower together and took many beautiful pictures of all of gorgeous Paris, the statues, the buildings, the homes, and the people.

It was super fantastic until Christmas eve around five o’clock. Suddenly the bustling streets and walkways of Paris were very quiet and empty. Everything had shut down…the shops, the restaurants, and all the other businesses. They walked together in the growing darkness on the still streets. They passed many brightly lit homes. There were people greeting each other happily on front steps with packages. Inside some cheery and warm homes, they could see people happily gathered in comraderie. They began to feel homesick and that feeling grew as they ate cheeseburgers at Planet Hollywood, the only place in Paris still open. They wandered back thoughtfully to their hotel room. They each got their small gift for one another. They sat on the bed and exchanged them. It was nice but the moment ended quickly and they looked around the room wandering what to do next. They ended up watching TV together and went to bed early. As they changed into pajamas, he looked at her and said, “ I kinda miss Aunt Gabby’s cat stories..”.

She smiled, relieved he felt the same way she did in that moment. She laughed, “Yeah, I miss them all too…especially the kids. I miss them so much tonight. Christmas isn’t the same without them….without family.”

They smiled and sat on the bed together. They called back home to Grandma’s and were happy when one of the cousin’s picked up the line. They spent a good while wishing the bustling and noisy household at Grandma’s a very Merry Christmas.

And that was the last time they skipped out on family time at Christmas.

Getting Through the Covid Positive Experience

I’ve been reading some online articles about the experiences of many people that have gone through the physical and emotional symptoms of testing positive for Covid. There is much written about how to avoid exposure. However, I could not find a lot of material written about enduring the experience itself of finding out you or a loved one or your whole family are affected by this disease. I wanted to help out any reader that is looking for some advice on how to deal with it. This is what our family did to get by. Maybe some of these suggestions will work for you. Maybe some won’t. Take what you want and leave anything that doesn’t apply behind.

My husband and I tested positive for Covid with rapid Covid tests about one day after the other. He was showing many symptoms and is older and diabetic. I, on the other hand, was mostly asymptomatic. I waited in my car outside the urgent care clinic after my swab and was surprised when the nurse called me in and said quietly, “Yes, you also are positive. It is a good thing you came in to test yourself, Mrs. Speer.”

Our kids were subsequently tested the next day and were both negative to our happy surprise. However, we were all going to be in quarantine together. We live in a long ranch home. So, the kids stayed on the south side of the ranch house in the bedroom areas and had their own bathroom. My husband and I chose not to sleep in our bed, due to the cough and the phlegm in our respiratory systems. So, we holed up in the living room and kitchen area on the other side of the house for most of the quarantine. The kids put together a makeshift kitchen in their area with plenty of microwaveable food and snacks and bottles of water. They had their video games and books and remote learning school activities set up in their rooms. They could also watch TV or Netflix. We bought them a few Play Station gift cards at the beginning, so they would be happier.

Ok, so here are some things we did that might help if you are in a similar circumstance:

  1. We opened the windows to the house to let in fresh air and circulate the air better. It was November and a little chilly but my husband and I found as we started to get winded from the disease that the fresh outdoor air helped us breathe a whole lot better.
  2. We kept a vaporizer going at all times in the living room to help us breathe better. I added some Clove essential oil to the water.
  3. We rubbed down our upper lips and chests with mentholateum.
  4. We drank lots of water throughout the day and for some reason, neither my husband nor I could stomach acidic drinks much like coffee or soda. We just stuck to water primarily.
  5. You might lose your sense of smell or some of your ability to taste food for a while. Don’t be alarmed. Just the illness running its course.
  6. We ordered groceries using a phone app and had them delivered to the bench outside the front door. It was pretty simple.
  7. We tried ordering via Door Dash some restaurant food but found that it upset our stomachs. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t really recommend it.
  8. We seemed to prefer more alkaline food.
  9. We ate pineapple too because it is supposed to help with respiratory infections.
  10. We slept on the couches at incline positions and NOT on the beds flat on our backs. I highly recommend doing this so you don’t get the phlegm in your lungs because that stuff is like glue and extremely hard to clear out of your system for some reason.
  11. We took Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Baby Aspirin, and Zinc Tablets every morning along with the medicine the doctors prescribed.
  12. The whole family upped their personal hygiene levels taking showers every morning with lots of soap and washed our hair every day and brushed our teeth.
  13. My husband was dealing with fluctuating blood sugar levels for about a week. When his blood sugar got high, he would drink more water and restrict food intake. When it got low, we kept honey by his Lazy Boy chair to feed him if needed and we purchased glucose tablets. We bought a portable urinal as well because of the dizzy spells. That helped out immensely.
  14. Keep fans close by and cold towels and ice packs ready in case a family member has a bad fever. If the fever goes to 103 degrees, it is recommended to go to the hospital. A little bit of Tylenol also helps with the fever and headaches.
  15. Have a trusty thermometer at hand and for diabetes, the Freestyle Continuous Monitor is definitely helpful.
  16. Coordinate with your workplace and supervisors early on. Make sure they know what your quarantine dates are from the health department. Learn about the CARE Act and how to continue getting paid. Make sure your check is direct deposited.
  17. If you gotta make meals for other family members that are negative for Covid, purchase plastic gloves for meal preparation and wear a mask when cooking. Leave the food trays outside their area of the house. Always keep at least 6 feet distance from the others.
  18. You can communicate a lot with family via texting.
  19. Get some sunshine outside every day. It will make you feel better and calmer.
  20. Try not to worry too much. Just keep taking one day at a time. Rest and relax your body by watching TV or taking naps.
  21. Find positive things to lift your spirits. Find a happy book or funny show to watch. I got through four seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and it helped a whole lot.
  22. If you find yourself experiencing some sadness or feeling a little alone with this experience, hey……it is SO NORMAL! Don’t be hard on yourself or your family members. You will get through this. We had a lot of neighbors, family, relatives, etc. that sent prayers and asked how we were doing or sent care packages, etc. However, there were still moments when I felt scared about the future. It’s ok. It’s normal to feel that way. Just don’t dwell too much on the negative.

Ok, that’s probably enough advice. Hope some of these ideas will work for you. Just remember, to take it easy on yourself and your family and trust that good things will happen for your family. Keep the faith.

Lots of love,

Janea

Family Vacation

Due to social distancing, we had to skip our family vacation to Maine. The kids started back to school online yesterday and along with that, I found some travel videos for them to watch.

We make a game out of this.

Ella and Drew pick one travel destination in the entire world and I find the videos beforehand. Each school day, I pick 6-8 really short YouTube videos that I pre-screen for entertainment and value. I filter them to make sure they are about 4 minutes or less long. I hand the kids a list of 6-8 videos and tell them that they only need to pick 3 of their own choice. Then, Ella and Drew sit down for 10-15 minutes a day and just watch 3 of the videos together to learn about that place.

Yesterday, they had chosen Orlando, Florida. Listed below are the 6 videos I found and the kids picked three of these videos to watch. They picked the Disney and Universal Studios ride videos, of course.

I have found with teenagers that it is much better to give them choices so that’s why I pick 6 and let them choose 3 only. And I limit this whole thing to about 10-15 minutes tops. I learned from the military a long time ago the acronym “KISS.” This means keep it short and sweet or as they say in the military with PowerPoint presentations, “Keep it Short, Stupid.” No one likes to sit through more than 15-20 minutes of video.

I’ll admit, my kids grumbled quite a bit at first but seemed to actually like the videos once they saw them. This was our “family vacation” experience Monday. Drew picked the Pyramids of Egypt for Tuesday.