Thanks!

Great news! My dog Sushi is now doing well in the group phase of voting for Dogster Magazine: America’s Favorite Pet contest. Super happy and thank you so much if you placed a vote in the contest! He is currently holding 1st place!

Here’s the link to see all the cute and cuddly dogs in his group!

https://americasfavpet.com/browse/2022/dog-group-c8961b26

Here’s my Vocal Media page where I wrote about my dog. The story is titled “My guardian, my best friend.”

https://vocal.media/authors/janea-speer

Thanks again!

Phenomenal

I read that Maya Angelou will appear on the U.S. quarter. That’s pretty cool. This is my favorite poem by her. I think I read it first in my 20s. It is called Phenomenal Woman and talks about an alluring woman verses a physically beautiful woman. Here is the full poem at the Poetry Foundation. A good and introspective read for young women:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48985/phenomenal-woman

Another great one is the poem And Still I Rise. It has a universal quality, referencing the human condition and tenacity of spirit.

https://poets.org/poem/still-i-rise?gclid=Cj0KCQiA8vSOBhCkARIsAGdp6RQLUwmra2CFqmqFVp-VWGU8HX03J8QeF3VrissVOVTsr3pX1M-CdCQaAqo3EALw_wcB

Choose Faith or Choose Fear

It’s a cold, cold night. The winter storm is coming. Tomorrow is supposed to be -35 degrees. I am warm inside the house. I let my dogs out for 5 minutes and then bring them back inside. They whimper because the ice is frigid. It hurts their paws.

The storm is coming.

I could worry about everything. Will my car start? Will I make it through the snow and ice? What about the storms at work? What if someone else gets Covid? What will we do? What about this? What about that?

What if…What if…What if…

2022 is not starting out well. We are stuck in a bad, bad approaching storm. Think about the economy, think about Covid, think about the supply chain shortages, think about this, think about that…..think about all the bad stuff on the news…….get all filled up with anxiety and fear. Get all angry and frustrated and all worked up.

Or…..

choose to stay calm. Choose faith. Not the crazy blinding stupid faith that totally ignores the potential dangers. No the kind of faith that informs the serenity prayer.

Lord, help us to accept the things we cannot change and give us the courage to know the difference between what we can and what we cannot do.

I went to Galilee when I was 21. It was a study abroad for a summer. We took a rickety old metal bus up to the Golan Heights for the day and then on the way back, we stopped at an outside cafe. We got the wild notion to swim in the Sea with our clothes on. I still remember the joy of that moment swimming in the Sea with friends.

It really wasn’t that big, the Sea of Galilee. You could see the other side….much like a big Missouri lake. I wondered then what the disciples were so afraid of when the storms tossed their boat around and the waves threatened to come over the sides. Why did they panic? Jesus was asleep in the boat and they came to him and asked him to save them. Now, I realize that they probably didn’t know how to swim. That would be scary for sure.

Anyway, he got up and told them to have faith and then he calmed the waters to ease their minds.

We’re all kinda stuck in a Galilee boat and we don’t know what to do and we’re worried that this dang disease is gonna drown us. But remember what JFK said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Fear causes anxiety and procrastination and arguing and in-fighting and endless stupid drama which only serves to compound our problems. It causes the blame game and finger pointing. People stop fixing things and looking for solutions. Instead, they just throw shade and throw each other under the bus in an attempt to save their own hide. Every man for himself like we’re on the Titanic and there’s only one lifeboat left.

Admit it. You’ve done this. I’ve done it too. But this time…

Relax. Stay calm. Stay the course.

We’ll get out of this.

The man who wrote the song Amazing Grace was once in a storm too off the coast of England. He tied himself to the boat and he asked for mercy. He came through the storm and gave up his profession of slave trading. He went on to become a prolific preacher and hymn writer and we still sing his songs to this day.

It’s getting colder and colder outside. I could sit here and worry myself to death about the endless possibilities of what could go wrong. Or I could sit here and write something encouraging.

I choose to write.

The Opportunity to Help Heroes

I just work HR. It’s not very glamorous. All day long I help the company process paperwork. Today, I did 3 leave forms, payroll, helped with tuition reimbursement for 2 nurses, put in schedules for traveler nurses, and filled out lots of forms for helping medical staff with work comp in case of Covid quarantining. I help to ensure they get paid and get their benefits to support their families. Sometimes I screw up. But sometimes I am glad I am there to help.

All across America and the world, the medical staff are getting hit hard by the pandemic. It is not just the disease. It is the long hours, the double shifts, the struggles between work and family. It’s working extra to make sure the patients are okay. It’s holding hands. It’s not just meeting medical needs but psychological needs and basic needs like feeding and hygiene for the people they care for. It is wearisome to say the least.

I see it everyday. I see the exhaustion. I see the burnout and frustration. But I also see how hard they are working. I see how much extra they do with no thanks. I see the risks they take every day. I see them gowning up and getting N95 masks on that are really uncomfortable to wear. I see them working together to keep patients safe and bringing food trays to rooms and locking down facilities and screening visitors endlessly to try to keep the covid out. I see them getting through the winter snow to work. I see them playing music for the patients to cheer them up or doing all sorts of activities to keep the patients happy.

It’s not the big things. It’s the little things. It’s the little choices they make every day that make the medical personnel and medical admin heroes. It is getting up in the dark in the morning and getting scrubs on even though you want to call in. It’s showing up and clocking in and going through all the testing requirements from upper management. It’s showing care and compassion when they could easily turn a blind eye because they are overwhelmed. It’s a thousand little decisions made over and over day after day after day after endless day to stick it out for better or in this case, worse and worse and far worse.

It is an endless battle with an invisible enemy that keeps morphing over and over again and again. It would be easy to give up hope….and so many have. But I see in my own workplace, folks that just keep going and keep hoping and keep scheduling and keep administering and keep nursing and keep feeding patients and keep watching over them at night.

In Batman, the Dawn of Justice, there is a scene when Batman runs towards trouble while everyone around him is fleeing. You can watch it here if you want. I think medical people are like that but on a grander scale, a longer time scale. There is no fantastic explosion. Instead, it is decision after decision after decision to treat and maintain and prevent.

The choice to be a medical hero is not that simple. Watching it from the sidelines, it’s way harder than I had any idea of.

It’s countless endless decisions to not give up even through Delta, even through Omicron, even through this new Florina. It’s the internal decision to soldier on. It’s the decision to stay positive amidst adversity, as one of my colleagues said to simply, “Take one day at a time.” He said the key is to not look at the big picture but just focus on the day, getting through the day. That is the best advice I’ve gotten since working this job.

I’m honored to help them. I know I make mistakes sometimes with the paperwork and sometimes the procedures and processes can frustrate or seeing the medical staff burdened can make you feel god awful. But overall, I am glad I took this job.

I work with heroes. Real heroes. Not the kind that wear spandex and capes. And that’s not just rhetoric. It’s true. These are the real kind. I wonder what stories we will tell of them many years from now if we all make it through this pandemic.

Tonight, if you just google hospitals, you will read countless articles about the hospitals and other nursing facilities under siege. My own cousin came down with Covid in Kansas. All the hospitals were full up and they were considering life-flighting him all the way to New Mexico to a hospital there. That is how bad it is for the medical facilities right now.

If there was any time the medical staff in America could use your thoughts and prayers, it’s now.

Heroes run towards trouble even when others run the opposite direction. It’s a gut decision, a split second decision. They just do it. That’s how you know someone is a hero.

As they say in the St. Jude’s hospital commercial, “Hope is when you never give up.”

Remember, the stars shine brightest only on the darkest of nights.

Events of 2021

Here is a quick rundown of major events that happened in 2021:

* January 6th mob in Washington DC.

* Biden inauguration on January 20th.

* Vaccines approved for use in January/February.

* 1.9 trillion dollar economic plan started in March 2021.

* US rejoined the Paris Climate Accord and WHO.

* US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

* Juneteenth became a federal holiday.

* 20th anniversary of 9-11.

* Summer Olympics held in Tokyo.

* Meghan and Harry left royal life.

* Broadway theaters in NYC opened back up.

* The Buccaneers beat the Chiefs in Super Bowl. 7th Super Bowl ring for Tom Brady.

* There were mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder.

* A condominium collapsed in Florida.

* There was a massive winter storm and power failures in Texas.

* Scorching heat and wildfires continued in the Pacific West.

* Hurricane Ida hit the coast.

* Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

* Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted.

* 3 men charged in murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

* R Kelly was convicted.

* Bill Cosby was released from prison.

* Britney Spears gained her freedom back.

* NASA Rover Perseverance landed on Mars.

* Space X sent civilians to space.

* Blue Origin sent William Shatner to space.

* Facebook rebranded as Meta.

* We faced supply chain shortages and critical staffing needs.

* We experienced the Delta and Omicron variants.

* 7.4 billion people worldwide were vaccinated.

* 5.4 million people worldwide have passed from Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.

* We also lost these notables: Prince Philip, Hank Aaron, Colin Powell, Beverly Cleary, Anne Rice, Donald Rumsfield, Bob Dole, Larry King, Rush Limbaugh, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Sondheim.

A Frosty Christmas

We drove to Manchester airport to pick up Mom and Dad for Christmas. We drove northwest through the White Mountains in the thick snow and ice. 2 interstates were closed nearby but we continued slowly onward. Nonetheless, we took the road less traveled to Franconia and the snowy path led uphill to Robert Frost’s home.

Robert Frost is considered the quintessential American bard or poet. He lived from 1874 to 1963. Right before his passing in Boston, he delivered the inaugural poem for JFK.

Robert Frost won 4 Pulitizer Prizes and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was born in San Francisco but moved alot. He lived primarily in New Hampshire and England where he was influenced by Ezra Pound, Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. Frost went to Dartmouth and Harvard. He first published in 1915. He published 2 books called North of Boston and A Boy’s Will. His poetry quickly amassed a great following and by 1920, he was known all over America and beyond.

A Motivational Group

Since June 2021, a new online business has been helping men and women to excel. It is a regular weekly Zoom meeting with folks from all over the country. It is Wednesday nights at 8:00 pm Central Time. It is $20 a month through this link here:

https://possibilityjunction.org/ampy

Every week, the group members encourage each other in our various projects or life issues to tackle. The instructor is a psychologist as well and teaches things like how to identify and replace negative thoughts, how to focus on contentment and gratitude, and how to build confidence in yourself. It is the best and most affordable group therapy as well as group encouragement you will find out there.

There are members from Washington and Alaska and Kansas and Vermont so far. It is beginning to grow as well as there are plans for a retreat focused on meditation, yoga, and writing. This is a fairly new group focused on progress, self-love, self-motivation.

I encourage you to join. It is worth 20 bucks a month in the friendships you make and the communal advice you receive. It also comes with a daily Facebook Messenger group with daily aspirations and positive duscussion. The class welcomes people from around the world too through the use of Zoom. If you are from Germany or India or Israel or Nigeria, you are welcome. The instruction language is in English, however, but the group is very welcoming.

Give it a try. I am glad I did.

After my class last Wednesday, I felt better so I wrote a story on climate change and a little boy. I submitted it to a publishing group and they agreed to publish it. Sometimes the little push of group encouragement is all you need for personal growth and to keep an optimistic perspective. As Mel Robbins says, we have a prehistoric conditioning in our brains to be seen, heard, and celebrated by the herd or group. This is a group that makes you feel visible and part of a team.

The Sleeping Giant

In politics, they call her the sleeping giant. China has existed as a political state, although through many evolutions, for far greater a time than many western countries particularly the United States. As a political and socioeconomic entity as a whole, China is clever and very diplomatic and slow to aggressive action. China uses trade to exert influence. That is how China has lasted through dynasties.

Many people are starting to worry about China and Taiwan. There is talk of Russia and the Ukraine lately too. I moved my children to Guam to live with their Dad for a year or two. I hope this wasn’t a mistake. If some military move was made by China, Guam would surely be in the way. Not much is said about the invasion of Guam in WW2 but it was very bad. Everyone talks about what happened at Pearl Harbor. Guam was invaded and the local people…some were beheaded and others severely tortured.

In recent weeks, the Iron Dome used in Israel has been setup in Guam. This is good but I am not sure it can counter a missile attack if needed. There’s been a lot of military defense talk in the news between Australia, the US in Guam and Hawaii, and Taiwan. I worry about my kids and I worry about the Chamarro people there. Christmas is coming. I’m torn between wanting them to be with their Dad and worrying about their safety on the island.

Perhaps it’s nothing, just needless anxiety. Perhaps the sleeping giant will remain in slumber. I hope so.

Someone I Admire

She was my General Science teacher in High School. I remember her as sorta quirky and fun. She was brilliant in Science and really knew her stuff. She wore a long braid of hair and everyday she dressed comfortably but not too fashionably.

Her name is Suzanne Arruda.

I went on through High School and graduated. I went to college and continued life. Decades later, I found out she had started writing after teaching for years.

You can find her books on Amazon and sold in libraries and bookstores all over the world. She published with Penguin. She wrote a whole series of books about a female heroine who solves mysteries involving ancient artifacts and exotic animals in Africa. Her books are like an Indiana Jones action adventure series but with a female protagonist and involving a lot of Science.

I wanted to introduce you to her. Here is a link about her work:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzanne_Arruda

I think it’s great to write one book but it is a whole other level of amazing if you can continue into a long series involving the same character. It takes a whole other level of creativity and imagination to keep the original story going and going.

When I wrote a book, I reached out to her to see if she would go to the book launch. She said she’s retired from writing but she wished me the best of luck. She’s a pretty cool person like that.

These are the books:

https://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Arruda/e/B001IOBL6O?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1631762632&sr=8-1

Remembering 9/11

What I remember most about 9/11 was seeing my coworker cry.

We were in Germany at the US Army Transportation Management Center Europe. We were working on accounting bills for soldier travel throughout the theater. My coworker from downstairs came to our office and told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. We didn’t believe him at first. But we followed him down the stairs to a little radio at someone’s desk and we gathered around the radio listening to the broadcast in shock….especially when the towers fell. I remember bringing my hands cupped to my face and I remember that my coworker began crying very hard.

We left work early and I caught a ride to Vilseck. Everywhere all over the military bases, the soldiers were in formation. It was an eerie sight to behold. The woman I caught a ride with also was upset. Her husband was Infantry and she was certain we would be going to war and the soldiers in Germany would be sent first. Turns out, I think it was the Big Red One soldiers from my home state of Kansas at Ft. Riley that got activated first.

The day of the attack, she dropped me off at my husband’s unit where the soldiers there were also gathered in formation. My husband was a 1st Lieutenant at the time. He began pulling double duty shifts for three or four weeks after that. He and his soldiers would work during the day and help guard the gates of Vilseck at night. I remember that we went to Threatcon Delta immediately. I also remember that the German government sent German soldiers to guard our families too and protect us.

The next day after 9/11, I left for work at 2 am in the morning and it took many, many hours to get through security. If I close my eyes now, I can picture the long line of cars in the darkness and the soldiers at the gates checking and carefully inspecting each and every vehicle. We lived off base in a small community called Auerbach. The military commanders at Vilseck sent 2 humvees filled with 4 or 5 armed soldiers with helmets and kevlar equipment and big guns to guard our small community at night. The soldiers protected our families every night for weeks and we would go out there to give them coffee and hot chocolate at times.

I remember sitting in my German duplex in the nights that followed the attack and watching the news endlessly. I remember the conversations with the other wives….all our husbands were working overtime…..and so we gathered around at patio tables to discuss things. We were all kinda worried about the potential of war.

The hardest part about 9/11 was seeing the jumpers out of the World Trade Center buildings. It brought tears to my eyes then. 20 years later, the images still bring tears to my eyes.

The attacks were horrible but GW Bush was right in his latest speech at Shanksville today. 9/11 unified the American people unlike anything I have seen since. It didn’t matter what you looked like, what you prayed, what your background……you were an American. We were Americans together and we felt the pain and suffering on 9/11 together. In some respects, I miss that collective unity……..how in the face of adversity, devastation, and malevolence, the best and brightest of human connection rises to the surface to counter it.

Remember 9/11 but most of all, remember that unity when the American people came together and the many nations of the world such as Germany also stood by our side to offer support, respect, and condolences. God bless America.