Hang in there, baby!!

We are definitely feeling summer! Hot days, afternoon thunderstorms, sitting on the back porch swing watching fireflies in the evening, visits and sweet conversations with friends on the lake. Seems it took a long time to get here, so you won’t hear me complaining about the heat. Life truly is good! This all brings to mind a good “summer” story…

Most of my friends and family know that as much as I love the water, I have a healthy respect for it, and would not really be considered a “strong” swimmer. It is well known that I cannot properly hold my breath under water without the use of “nose clips.” I don’t know what the problem is, but ever since I had my adenoids removed, water just pours up my nose when I swim underwater. I will do almost anything though, if I have those trusty nose clips…

As I have gotten older, my selection of appropriate swimwear has become a major production each summer…no more bikinis, no two-pieces, and I have developed a fondness for those “body-enhancing” swimsuits. They claim to take 10 pounds off of you, and even have the ability to transform or camouflage “problematic” body parts. A true, modern day miracle!

On this particular occasion, we had just gotten a new tube to pull behind the boat…a “Hydra-Maniac.” We were out in the middle of the lake, and it was my turn to experience the “maniac.” I stepped toward the back of the boat, slung my legs over the side, and was about to get into the tube. Now, someone with half a brain would have known to slowly lower their body into the tube…But, me, in my infinite wisdom, determined that the best way to get in, was to simply step into the middle of the tube. Of course, as I did this, the middle of the tube collapsed with my weight, and I began pitching forward, arms flailing wildly about, as I tried to correct my fall. The last words I heard my friends screaming, just before I stepped off the boat were, “Cat! Nooooooo!!” So as I am wildly sliding upside down into the water, the bottom of my one-piece swimsuit caught on one of the boat cleats. This stopped my fall, however, now I was hanging upside down, on the side of the boat…laughing hysterically at my stupidity and predicament. Hanging there, by the bottom of my swimsuit, I was thinking…”Wow! This fabric really IS phenomenal!” Everyone was trying to figure out how to help me. They really could not get to me, to pull me back into the boat, and the prevailing thought was that eventually the swimsuit fabric would tear….no such luck! I’m telling you, this was some kind of space age, supersonic material!! The decision was finally made to try and ease the fabric off the cleat, and simply let me drop into the water. Of course, by this time (and you should already be picking up on this lifetime pattern of mine…) a crowd of observers had gathered…I plopped into the water with as much dignity as I could muster, and came up sputtering like a drowned rat. Everything turned out OK, but it did give new meaning to the words, “Hang in there!”

Have you noticed that people say those words a lot when you are going through “tough” times? “Hang in there!” What does that actually mean? And how does it help? I have figured out that the words are meaningless. What they really mean to me is, “I’m not going to take any of my own time to offer you true assistance, support, comfort, or help. However, I have done my part by offering those consoling words, hang in there.”

I no longer use that phrase! If my path runs across someone who is going through a difficult time, I offer whatever I can do to help…whatever they will accept, whatever they need that I can provide. People need more than words…they need action! Won’t you join me? Just for this week….

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Dear Lord, save me from Facebook and politics!!

Friday was the first day of summer! If you are like us, we have had to wait quite a while for the warm weather. I don’t think I can ever remember wearing a jacket at the end of June.  There is something just not right with that picture…Anyway, I am so glad that the days are warmer and we can actually begin doing some of those wonderful summer activities. Hope you are enjoying this time of the year…

This past week, I had a friend post on Facebook, “I will no longer ever post any thing political…” Apparently, she had posted something very innocent on her page, and someone disagreed with her statement, and took her to task for it. Numerous supporters shared stories of how they had been “unfriended” by “friends” during the elections, because (very obviously) they were not voting for the “right” person. Still others told stories of being “viciously attacked” through words, simply because there was a difference of opinion. It is amazing to me that the ones who are so quick to pounce on someone for their views, will be the first to decry that their own rights are being violated if someone happens to disagree with them. Wow! The way I see it is that if you have the right (and feel compelled to do so) to voice your opinions in whatever way you want (interpret rant and rave) via Facebook, and I am forced to see it, look at it, think about it, be bothered by it, etc., etc., etc., then you should certainly give me the respect to hear my views and opinions. It should go both ways. 

I am so thankful that not everyone sees things the way I do. How boring life would be, and how limited my growth as a person would be. I love it when individuals in my conference sessions will raise their hand, and say, “I’m sorry, Ms. Selman, but I disagree with what you just said.” I always smile and say,”Wonderful! Tell me why you disagree!” For some, they cannot tell me WHY they disagree, just that they disagree. I toss those comments in the “do not be concerned about” file. However, for those who can share with me their opinions, thoughts, and views in an articulate, heartfelt, passionate manner, I LISTEN!! And beyond that, I learn from it. Some times those remarks actually give me new insight and I will change my opinion or perspective. Speaking of perspective, I discovered something interesting in the bathroom the other day. (No, don’t be alarmed, we are not discussing any body parts here…) It just so happens that I have a free-standing toilet tissue holder in my bathroom. I am one of those people who turns my toilet tissue so that it rolls “over” the top. As I was looking at it, I realized that someone had turned the toilet tissue to roll “under” – not the way I like it. As I was pondering that, I saw that no one had actually turned the toilet tissue ANY way. The stand had simply gotten turned around. So, if someone were looking at the stand from the left, the toilet tissue would be going over the top. If someone were looking at the stand from the right, the toilet tissue would be going under the bottom. I thought to myself, if you asked someone to tell you which way the toilet tissue was turned, you would get two different answers (depending on where the respondents were standing), and both answers would be absolutely correct!!

I have friends from almost every realm of the human species. Some are so conservative, with narrow thinking, and view the world one way, and one way only. Then we go across the spectrum, all the way to the other side, and I have friends that are so liberal, free-spirited, and free-thinking that it can almost take your breath away. And you know what? I would not trade any of them for any amount of money in the world. I love all of them, especially for their uniqueness and individuality. Each person that I come in contact with, who becomes a part of my world, I learn from. They either reaffirm what I know to be true and right within my own beliefs, or they open my mind to consider other perspectives, and it broadens my knowledge and my “personhood.” But I would only discover that if I am open-minded, willing to listen and share.

So, to my friend, I would say this: Do not give the control of what you say, write, or think to someone else, simply because they disagree with you. After all, we DO live in America, where you are supposed to be able to say exactly what you think…In fact, it is actually written into the Bill of Rights, and guaranteed by our Constitution! I, as well as countless others, are extremely interested in what you have to say, think, and do. And even if we disagree on some issues, I will show you the respect of listening, as this is a way that I can also grow and learn as a person. We should listen with an open mind to others’ thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and YES, even politics. It is called dialogue; it is called respect; it is called friendship. Those friends who “unfriend” you because you do not share their views, are probably not the people you want as friends to begin with, and how sophomoric is that? I intend to be the kind of friend that people are comfortable and safe with sharing their innermost thoughts and beliefs. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

How About a Little Coke Up Your Nose???

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Today is Father’s Day! Due to my schedule, I was unable to be with my father this Sunday; however, I went and spent five days with him a little over a week ago. So, I got my “Daddy fix” in, and got some good “sugar” during the process…We celebrated “Father’s Day” at that time. I did get to talk with him today, and told him how much I loved him, and that I was so glad that he was my father. I think that is a pretty good lead-in for this week’s story…

When I was a child, I absolutely idolized my Daddy. Whenever he was at home, not working, I was his shadow. He worked so hard in construction every day, out in the hot, hot temperatures. When he would come home, he had sweat so much during the day, and was so exhausted from the heat, that his voice would almost be gone, and his eyes were just sunken back into his head. As a child, I did not realize how hard he worked to take care of, and provide for, us. He was simply my Daddy, and I wanted to be just like him.

When he would come home, the first thing he would do, of course, was to take a nice cool bath. Once he had done that, he would get a tall glass bottle of Coca Cola, lay down on the floor in front of the couch, and prop his legs up on the couch, with one arm behind his head. I would lay down beside him, prop my legs up as best I could (I was really, really small), and put one tiny arm behind my head…just like him. On this particular night, I was probably about 4 years old, and he had shared his coca cola with me in a small glass. Lying there, he tipped that bottle to his mouth, and swigged a good part of his Coke. I wanted to do everything just like him, so I tipped up my little glass of Coke, and of course, as you can imagine, it went up my nose and all over my face! It scared and startled me, and I started crying, because I could not understand why I had made a mess, while Daddy was able to get all of his Coke into his mouth. Not to mention, that I was choking because I had Coca Cola up my nose…Now, I know that Daddy was tired, and the last thing he wanted to deal with was a child’s mishap and tears. However, my father picked me up so sweetly, held me close to his chest, and told me that everything would be OK. He then gave me a swig of Coke from his bottle, and explained to me why I could not do the same with a glass. It was one of many lessons that he taught me throughout my life.

He taught me how to build, roof, paint, repair. Any time I build a “project,” there is a little voice in my head that ALWAYS says…”just like Daddy.” He taught me how to drive a car AND a truck (stick shift on the column), and whenever I would start driving a little too fast, he would say, “gettin’ a little too pure…” and I knew to slow down. He taught me how to love by loving my sweet Mother, and his family. He taught me how to love God, because he lived that life every single day of his life. And now he is teaching me how to deal with loss, as he lives a life without my Mother. He is a quiet man, but when he is not at home, the house is so silent and lonesome. I am so glad that I still have him in my life! He is a sweet, tender man, and no matter how old I get, he will always be my “Daddy.” 

Fathers, please realize the path you chose when you had a child. Understand that children want to be just like their fathers…whatever you do…they will also end up doing. Set the example, have patience, and teach your children well. Love them with all of your heart! I will be extra thankful that I had, and have a Father who cared. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

Did that little bird peck you??!!

It is FINALLY Spring! Flowers are blooming everywhere, the scents are intoxicating, and little baby birds are hatching all over. Reminds me of a story…
Years ago I lived in Shreveport, LA. The house that I lived in had a nice, fenced-in backyard, with beautiful landscaping, flowerbeds and trees. At the time, two little toy poodles were very much a part of our family. It was Spring, and new “birth” and growth was evident everywhere! As was part of our daily routine each morning, we let the pups out to take care of “business.” Just as they stepped off the back patio onto the yard, a mama bluejay dove down from a nearby tree, and dive-bombed both of them, scaring them half to death, and startling us! We gathered both pups up and rushed back into the house. We went back out, leaving the pups inside, to investigate the situation. (Of course, we dared not step off of the patio, for fear that Mama Bluejay would dive-bomb us also!) We discovered that there were FOUR baby bluejays in various locations throughout the yard, attempting to learn to fly, and Mom and Dad were protecting them.
By now, the pups were desperate to get out in the yard, and we were trying to figure out what to do. We had plans for the day in the backyard, and knew that we needed to move the babies to a safer location. I got the bright idea that if we held an umbrella over our heads for protection, we could safely relocate each baby (using gloves, of course). Very quickly we put gloves on, got the umbrella, and went into enemy territory! As soon as we stepped off the patio, those bluejays came after us, pecking holes in the umbrella, and actually flying under the umbrella to get to us. We raced back into the house for safety, with images from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, flashing through our heads.
Safely back inside the house, we realized that this situation was more than what we wanted to deal with, and determined that we might need to solicit some outside help…but, who? Humane Societies were not common back then, so that was not an option. Calling the police for rescue also seemed a bit of a reach…
At this point my brain began kicking in…I thought, well if fire departments can send firemen out to climb trees to save little kitties, surely, it would fall under their responsibilities to relocate baby bluejays…So…I made the call and explained our situation. I also explained that they would not need a firetruck for this mission… Ten minutes later a huge firetruck, with sirens screaming, pulled up in front of our house, and four huge, burly fireman rushed up to our door. (So much for requesting discretion…) We all went out to the patio where I explained the morning’s “activity. ” I gave full disclosure by warning the fireman that the bluejay parents were highly agitated and would aggressively defend their babies. Being good ole’ southern boys, those firemen sorta smirked at us, a little condescendingly to my mind, and swaggered out into the yard, as we retreated into the house to watch. They had not gone two steps before Mama Bluejay chose her target well, initiated the approach, and made contact with the first fireman’s forehead. He screamed as blood rushed down his face, stating the obvious, “That bird pecked me!” The second fireman was running for his life, arms flailing about, trying to get away from Papa Bluejay. The other two fireman had played it safe and remained on the patio, trying to hide their laughter. All the while, we were standing inside the house, behind the curtains, killing ourselves laughing! And I am thinking to myself, “We DID warn you…hey, big guy, not as easy as you thought, huh?”
We got out the first aid kit, and gave the injured fireman a bandaid, while they determined their strategy. They came to the conclusion that a little more “appropriate” gear might be called for. So, they went back out to the truck (where a curious crowd of neighbors had gathered), and donned jackets and fire hats. They went back out into the backyard, and very gently and safely relocated the babies outside of the fence. Success!! We thanked them for their “heroic” actions, and expressed our sorrow that one of them had been injured during the process. Then we went out and gave explanation to the neighbors. Everyone had a good laugh!
How many times do we ignore the advice of individuals? How often do we think that we know what is best, that our way is the ONLY way? And that the other person could not possibly be right? I am going to listen, and heed, the advice that knowledgeable and experienced people give me. After all, they just might know what they’re talking about! Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

We’re Just Going To Have To Jump Over Her!!

Last week’s post got me to thinking of other travel “experiences,” so here’s another story that you might find amusing…

A number of years ago, I worked with a national nursing home company. I was a part of the corporate team, and when we traveled, we usually traveled with the Vice President over a particular region of the country. On this particular trip, I was traveling with two Vice Presidents (they were male…which will be important to know later on in the story). We were working at a facility in Chattanooga, TN, and were staying each night at a high-rise hotel in the downtown area. My room was on the 14th floor of the hotel. As is the case many times for me in hotels, I was having a little difficulty sleeping. There happened to be a huge thunderstorm going on, and I had my curtains open, enjoying the natural “light show.” It was actually very beautiful. It was about 1:00 a.m. in the morning, and I was laying on my bed, just enjoying the show.

All of a sudden, a strobe light near the ceiling of my room, starting going off and on, sirens and alarms began to sound, and an automated voice came over the intercom in my room saying, “Proceed to the nearest stairs and exit the building.” The voice kept saying this statement continuously, and seemed to get louder with each proclamation. Now, as a traveler, I have always prided myself in being safe. When I am assigned a hotel room, I always check to see where the nearest stairs are, and note which direction I should go if there were an emergency. In my mind, I have also gone over and over how I would make such an exit. I would get dressed comfortably (and quickly)…I would get my wallet…I would put comfortable shoes on my feet…I would check the door to make certain that it was not hot…and then I would exit to those stairs. I had rehearsed this time and time again in my head. So…the alarm was going off…and I panicked. I tried to call the desk to see if it was a false alarm, and there was no answer. I looked out my window, fourteen stories down to the street, and I saw fire engines pulling up to the hotel, and I heard peoples’ footsteps rapidly going down those stairs, and I saw people racing out of the hotel. I realized that this was real, that there was a fire, and that I. WAS. ON. THE. FOURTEENTH. FLOOR!!!

I used to sleep in a tee-shirt, so in my panic, I did not think to put anything else on…at least the most of me was covered…but I did need shoes…I could not find any “comfortable” shoes, but my high heels were laying there on the floor, so I thought, “well, that will be better than nothing.” I forgot the wallet…I checked my door to make certain that it was not hot (it wasn’t), and I opened it. Just as I opened my door, a man from across the hall opened his door. He was as prepared as I was…He had on a tee-shirt, boxer shorts, a suit coat, black socks and wingtip shoes. I was in my tee-shirt and high heels. We made quite the couple…I looked at him…he looked at me…and I said, “Let’s go!!” We joined arms and headed for the stairs. (And let’s remember that I had never laid eyes on this man ever before…) As we opened the stairwell door, we joined hundreds of people going down the stairs, trying to get out of the building before we were all burnt to a crisp! We happened to get behind a lady who was wearing a baby blue, chiffon negligee with matching slippers (with little pom-pom puffs on top of them), AND she had remembered her purse. She looked like a big ole’ ball of cotton candy floating down those stairs. We were so close behind her that her chiffon kept getting caught in our faces, and we kept having to bat it away. The other problem was that she was going too slow!! As we rounded another turn in the stairwell, I happened to look at the number on the door that we were passing. I looked at Mr. Boxer Shorts, and said, “We’re ONLY on the 7th floor!” He said, “I know! What should we do?” I looked at him with great determination, and said, “We’re just going to have to jump over her!!” She must have heard what I said, because, at that very moment, she got faster!!

We finally made it down to the bottom floor, and was about to exit, when I realized that it was pouring down raining outside, and all I had on was that little tee-shirt. The fear of actually burning motivated me to move on out into the rain no matter what!! I should not have worried, because everyone standing out in the rain was in the same situation as me…either little clothing at all, or all in disarray. We were just lucky to get out alive! I hugged Mr. Boxer Shorts, thanked him for accompanying me, and I went to find my two Vice Presidents. I was so glad to see them, and find that they made it out safely too, that I hardly minded that they continued to try and “read” my tee-shirt…We looked up, and saw hundreds of people up in their rooms looking down at us. Now, I have to ask you, what kind of person would be up on the higher floors of a hotel, look out their window, and see fire trucks, people in various stages of dress (and undress)…all standing out in the rain…and not move heaven and earth to get out of that hotel??? I found out later that when a fire is “discovered” in a hotel, the alarms only sound on the floor of discovery, the floor above, and the floor below. So, those people did not know why we were all outside!

They were able to contain the fire and we were allowed to return to our rooms for what was left of the night. The next morning I called my secretary and explained to her that we needed to make a change in my travel profile…to NEVER book me in a hotel room higher than the second floor. She said, “Oh, did something happen???”

Throughout our lives, people are placed in our paths. Some can help, support, motivate, love and make your life better. Others can slow you down, make you wait, keep you from attaining the goals that you have established for yourself. Still, there are others that can hurt and destroy you…suck the very life from you, and make you miserable. There is one key factor in this equation, and that would be you. You have the choice to allow those people to harm you, slow you down, help you, or love you…it is all within your power. I am going to either lead, follow, or simply get out of the way, but I do not intend to slow anyone down…or let them slow me down…I am going to love, support, inspire and motivate! Won’t you join me? Just for this week…