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This week was Administrative Professionals Week (formerly Secretaries Week). I’ve been an admin for over 30 years. It’s something I wanted to do even as a little girl. My momma was a secretary for the immigration department until she married my daddy when he returned home from World War II.

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Momma on her wedding day

Since she died when I was five years old, I had this image of this beautiful perfect auburn-haired woman who was the person I wanted to be when I grew up. So I studied hard in high school and received the award for being the top business student in my class. I practiced shorthand while watching the evening news. My plan was to work for the government just like momma did. I remember Mrs. Gardephe, my all-time favorite business teacher, telling me she wanted to see me be the assistant to the President of the United States one day. 🙂 She was a pretty awesome lady too. I stayed in contact with her long after graduation and would visit her when I went home each year until she passed away.

But dreams change … or at least take a detour … sometimes. I met the spawn of the devil and married him (that’s a blog for another day!), moved far away, worked in nursing homes, and started nursing school … all for the dreams of another … not what was in my heart.

They say all things happen for a reason. So perhaps it took those 2 years of pure hell to make it to Ohio, and to wake up one morning realizing I had choices (back to that blog for another day!).

With the help of my current husband, then fiancé, I decided to go back to my original dream and study for a job that I knew I loved and really wanted. So I switched my degree to Office Administration with a concentration in the medical field. I thought I wanted to work in a doctor’s office. I graduated 2 days before my son Jeremy was born. As I walked across the stage with horribly swollen feet and looking like a blimp in my cap and gown, the dean chuckled and said, “This doesn’t mean you get two diplomas!” I put a smile on my face and thought, “Really? You’d say that to an obviously miserable and swollen pregnant woman and think you can live to give out the next diploma???” LOL

But I once again digress … and take another slight detour! I worked in the manufacturing world for ten years, before going to work in our local hospital and actually using that medical concentration! But there I’ve been in the same position working for the chief nursing officer for the past 21+ years.

I love being a “secretary” even though that title has changed frequently over the years. I’m a true “geek” and Bruce and Jeremy know they can make me happy at Christmas with any techy gift. I love PowerPoint, I love Excel, I love learning new software programs, I love my iPad, and I love office supplies. 🙂 And I keep momma’s high school shorthand books on a shelf right near my computer at home.

My plan is to leave the traditional office scene in a few years to become a virtual assistant. I can be working for someone on the other side of the globe, from my home office anywhere in the world, working as little or as much as I want to.

Secretaries of War

Source: research.archives.gov

All this because I’ve always wanted to be just like my momma! 

I actually have a few, but here are the top 2:

 “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”

WantSomething

and

“The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”

WillofGod

 What are yours?

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Just wanted to cross-post here a posting on my other blog “A Year of 57 Kindnesses” … enjoy

You are more beautiful than you think!

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daily-postWordPress’ Daily prompt: “Why do you blog?”

Hmmm….might be easier to list what’s NOT the reasons I blog 🙂

I don’t blog to get followers. I don’t blog to make money. I don’t blog to see people make comments. One of my favorite sayings is “I am who I am … I never asked for your approval.” In fact, my blog even states that 🙂

So why DO I blog?

Since I was only five when my mom passed away (she was 37), I never had the opportunity to get to know her other than as my momma who was very sick. I’d love to have a conversation with her as an adult! To see what made her tick! Perhaps we’d be very alike in our thoughts, visions, hopes, and dreams. I’d like to think so anyway!

My past and my present experiences are what have molded me into the person I am today. So I decided I wanted to write my thoughts and feelings down so that one day my grandchildren (if I ever have any!) will know what makes me who I am. I pray that I am still around when they become young adults so we can have great conversations over some sweet tea, but just in case … I hope that my son shares this blog with them 🙂

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Back in the mid 80s, my sister-in-law told me I had to watch this movie…it was hilarious and would just crack me up. So I rented it and later that evening while Bruce was at work and Jeremy was in bed, I popped it in thinking I’d have a funny and heart-warming couple of hours.

I remember saying to her the next time I saw her … “Whatever made you think that movie was funny????”

The movie? Beaches

Beaches

What my sister-in-law saw: a quirky friendship between two women who meant the world to each other.

What I saw: a sad story about a young mother dying of cancer leaving a 5-year-old little girl behind.

Talk about hitting home! When the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” sung by Bette Midler was playing, I sobbed … and sobbed … and sobbed! At the time, we were trying desperately to have a second baby – infertility clinic – in vitro – the whole works! This was a time when I would have given anything to not have lost my momma to cancer when I was 5 and to have her around to hug me and tell me everything would be okay.

To this day, whenever I hear that song it affects me. Sometimes I smile because it just reminds me of momma; sometimes it makes me sad because even after 51 years, I just miss her so much some days; and sometimes it will bring tears to my eyes for all the lost years we didn’t get to have together. It’s the only song that really affects me so strongly.

We all react differently to experiences for different reasons. Some smile, some laugh, and some cry!

What’s that song that has made you cry? Why?

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“Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.”

—Kevin Heath, CEO More4kids

Portland, Oregon is a beautiful city and college town with an awesome trolley system, a fantastic green initiative, and a wonderful atmosphere with friendly people. I was there for an education conference for IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) I believe in 2009. We had a super time for 3 days, and when we weren’t in class, we were exploring the city, eating in unique restaurants, and riding around on the trolley. We were told, however, that the poverty rate was super high in Portland.

One night we got just a little lost when walking back to our hotel (we actually could SEE the hotel) and just took the wrong street to get there. We had been walking A LOT that afternoon. We had 2 choices when we came to an overpass street…we could climb what looked like thousands of steps up and then down the other side, or we could walk under the overpass. Our feet chose the path of least resistance. It didn’t take toe many steps to realize we had invaded a homeless community. Some were covered with cardboard, some just lay on the sidewalk, and others were sitting up leaning against the concrete. No one said a word and just kept walking. I’ve seen homeless people, but just not that close up. It shook me … to the core!

Be patient … I’m getting there …

The next day, we made note of the CORRECT street because in our hearts, I think we just didn’t want to face these poor souls again. On our way to dinner we were sitting in one of the trolleys. A young man with a backpack, who I guess was 18-22, hopped on. His face is what struck me first. He looked so down-trodden and defeated. The ladies I was with didn’t seem to want to look at him … or anyone else on the trolley, it seemed! But I made eye contact with this young man … and smiled. I remember wondering if I was the first person to smile at him that day. He looked at me with those sad eyes and asked me if I had any change so he could get something to eat. I reached in my purse and grabbed a few dollars to give him. “Thank you and God bless you!” was my response. I just gave him another smile and he returned it. We got off at the next stop and the ladies I was with told me I shouldn’t have done that because he probably is just scamming me. I told them that perhaps he wasn’t scamming me and really did need something to eat. What if everyone else felt the same way they did? We didn’t know his story and I wouldn’t judge. Not having those few dollars didn’t hurt me a bit, but it may have helped him a lot!

So we moved on, had dinner, did some shopping, and hopped the trolley to head back to the hotel. When we got off at our stop, we still had 2-3 block walk to our hotel. We came up to a street crossing and that same young man was there. The other ladies just kept walking across the street. I stopped and he asked me if I had any change so he could get a room at the Y that night. I asked him how much that cost and he told me $10. I could see that he had a couple dollar bills and some change in his hand. I didn’t know how much cash I had since we’d already been to dinner and done some shopping. When I reached into my wallet, the first thing that came out was a $10 bill. I didn’t remember having a $10 in wallet, so this was definitely a sign to me! I handed him the bill and told him to take it. He looked at it, looked at me, hesitated, and put his hand forward with the little bit of cash he had and said I could have that. I told him no, to take that and get something to eat for breakfast the next day. He hugged me and thanked me again and again, and again said “God bless you.”

The girls were now standing on the other side of the street waiting for me and I could tell they thought I was crazy. They said the Y probably doesn’t even charge for a room (I researched it…yes, some do!) So this is what I told them…

That young man could easily have been MY son who was also in his 20s. I would like to think that if he was in this young man’s place, someone with a heart would help him out. And I would hope someone would do the same for THEIR children if the situation was reversed. They kept insisting I was being scammed. Well, perhaps I was. But perhaps I wasn’t. Perhaps he was Jesus here on earth testing me! I know in my heart I did the right thing.

Later I did some research on the subject and I found this: “The University of Portland area has a high poverty rate compared to other parts of the metropolitan area. Nearly 34 percent of individuals lived at or below the federal poverty level. The area has slightly higher shares of white residents and homeowners than the metro area overall, but about 41 percent of its residents are college students.” This information comes from the Portland State University’s website http://mkn.research.pdx.edu/. They also state that poverty is ON THE RISE! This young man was probably one of those college students living in poverty!

For the rest of our visit to Portland, I was always on the lookout for this young man. I never did see him again. But I have to say … I think about this young man A LOT! Experiencing this with him has convinced me to be a kinder and more caring person and I’m surrounding myself with kinder more caring people, letting the toxic people out of my life. So, yes, this young man most definitely made an impact on my life. I will continue to pray for him. I hope that 4 years later he is in a much better place and paying my small kindness forward.

So I challenge everyone to be kinder and more caring each and every day…you never know how it might impact someone’s life … or yours!

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Where has all the customer service gone?

I typically hate to see people vent on Facebook, whether it’s a daily rundown on how miserable their life is, their horrible jobs, the jerk ex (when their relationship status changes more often than their underwear!), our horrible government, etc. etc. Come on…can life really be THAT bad? I find that most people with constant drama in their life actually bring the majority on themselves. But I digress …

Even though I try to be pretty positive most of the time, I find I just have to spend the next 5 minutes venting! LOL

I don’t know how many times in the last couple of weeks that friends have lamented about the poor customer service they have received lately. I ask, where HAS all the customer service and common decency gone?

Now I must say, I rarely eat at fast food restaurants any more. But once in a while, there just isn’t time to do anything else. Today was one of those days. I had a very short window to grab some lunch and eat it at my desk before heading into the next meeting. The plan was that I would run through the McDonald’s drive thru and bring my lunch back … shouldn’t be gone more than 2o minutes! Right … in my dreams!

And I don’t mind saying … this is the McDonald’s on Delaware Avenue in Marion, Ohio. And I don’t mind saying … I don’t plan on returning there anytime soon. If I want a sweet tea, there’s 2 other McDonald’s in town I can choose from :0)

First of all, the double-lane drive-thru was backed up to the street. So do I wait in drive-thru hell or do I park and go inside? It seemed as though going inside was the thing to do. I should have just turned around as soon as I saw about 6 or 7 people waiting for the food they already ordered. I placed my order … nothing big … just a McWrap and a tea. How screwed up could that get?

After waiting a good 10 minutes I hear my order being called out. As I walk up to the counter, a guy (who I KNOW gave his order after me) says, “That’s mine” and grabs it and out the door he goes. I looked at the girl behind the counter and said, “I think that guy just took my food.” I got a blank look in return. By now there are several people who ordered after me also waiting on their food.

Let me interject here … wouldn’t you think that when a customer says, “I think that guy just took my order” a light bulb would go off in someone’s head (there were at least 6 people working behind the counter) and think to check the orders at this point? I guess that would be common sense … and obviously there was a lack of that today.

Now several of the people who ordered after me are now starting to get their food. I once again say, “I think someone took my order.” Still the blank looks. After about the 4th person getting their food, when being handed his food, a nice gentleman  said, “This lady here has been waiting a lot longer than I have for her food!” So for a 3rd time I said, “I think some guy took my order.” And still more blank looks …

At this point I’ve been there at least 15 minutes. I asked the girl closest to me if I could get an 800 number or website where I could make a complaint. (Insert note here … NO manager was in site!) The girl actually looked at me and said, “I don’t know … you can look that up.” That warranted a raised eyebrow from me and I replied, “No … YOU need to give me the number!”

About this time, someone behind the counter said, “Whose chicken bacon wrap is this?” It was determined that it didn’t belong to anyone waiting on their food. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the guy who took MY chicken ranch wrap actually ordered a chicken bacon wrap. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that he was tired of waiting on HIS food so claimed the first wrap that was announced … mine!

Finally the girl who originally took my order asked me what I ordered. Oh my God! I told her what I ordered and for the 4th time stated that I was pretty sure someone else took my order.  She looks at the order slips, walks to the back, comes back to the counter, and punches something into the computer.

Somewhere during all this, she finds the 800 number, writes it down on a piece of blank receipt paper, and hands it to me. She said NOTHING … just hands it to me. I did say to no one in particular (since no one was really paying any attention to me), “I will NEVER be back to this particular McDonald’s again.” That is when this girl looks at me and says, “I had to put the order in again since someone else got your wrap.” My reply: “Seriously??? That was YOUR determination? After that is exactly what I said at least 4 times???”

So I FINALLY get my food. I could have gone to a sit-down restaurant and been waited on and gotten my food quicker than at this McDonald’s! I take my bag and say, “Thank you for the awesome customer service experience. Have a great day!” Her reply? “Thank YOU…and YOU have a great day!” I thought the gentleman behind me was going to pee his pants from letting out such a laugh! :0)

How could this situation gone better? 1) As soon as I said the FIRST time, “I think that guy just took my order,” someone … anyone … should have checked the orders. That right there would have put the remaking of my wrap a priority, not after I said it the 4th time. 2) A manager should have either stepped forward or been found. 3) I should have been offered a comp on my FAST FOOD meal. And most importantly, I should have at least gotten an apology!

I work in a hospital where the customer (patient) experience is top priority. Did I have a good experience at this McDonald’s? Absolutely not. Am I going to call the 800 number? You bet I am! Will I tell lots of people about this experience? As Sarah Palin would say, YOU BETCHA! Will I return to this McDonald’s? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

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Since yesterday’s post was sort of dark, I decidedly that tonight I would write about something more lighthearted … My favorite childhood memory. I actually have a few.

The first would be my annual trips to Maine with Uncle Les (my Pop). He was my first protector and savior before Bruce … but that’s an entirely other blog post that I might have the courage to actually put into print one day.

My aunt didn’t like to go to Maine … probably because her mother-in-law was there! LOL I have to admit that I didn’t like Pop’s mother either … but I LOVED our 9-hour drives to get to Portland! And that was worth all the sarcastic remarks from her about how I shouldn’t call him my daddy because he wasn’t my daddy! One the ride, somewhere in either Vermont or New Hampshire, we would have to cross a covered bridge. If I was sleeping, he would always wake me up before we got to it so I could experience it.

NH covered bridge

I remember one time asking him why the bridges were covered. I knew he wouldn’t lie to me … he was my Pop! And he knew EVERYTHING! He was the smartest man I knew 🙂 He told me the reason for the bridges being covered was that back in the “olden days” when people rode in buggies with horses, the horses would stop inside the covered bridge so they could kiss without anyone seeing them. And, of course, I believed him!

Portland-Head-Lighthouse

The other thing I remember most about our trips to Maine was often visiting the Portland Head Lighthouse. If I see a picture of that lighthouse today, it takes me right back to standing on the rocks holding Pop’s hand. Just like bluebirds represent my Momma (again, another post for some day), that lighthouse represents my Pop. He is a beacon for me, just like it is a beacon to protect the ships at sea.

My Pop worked road construction during the summers and was often on the road during the week and would only be home on the weekend. One summer when the New York was building what is now Interstate 87, we spent 2 weeks in a cabin at Lincoln Pond Campsite which was close to where he was working, but the best memory of all was that 2 of my sisters, Paula and Denise, came with us. That was probably the 2 best weeks EVER for spending time with Paula. We spent hours upon hours together playing near the water, walking around the campground. I wish I had a picture of that time, but I can remember details as if it were just yesterday. And in looking for pictures of Lincoln Pond, I found them on Facebook! Of course … everyone is on Facebook now 🙂

Lincoln Pond 2

Lincoln Pond 1

Lincoln Pond 3

And my last childhood memory that I’m going to share with you is once again with my Pop. We lived about an hour from Lake PlacidWhiteface Mtn Chairlift and Whiteface Mountain, and often went there for a scenic weekend drive. They have these 2-seater open chair lifts to the top of the mountain for skiers, and in the summer you can still take the ride up the mountain. When he asked me if I wanted to take a ride up, I remember being horribly afraid … but I knew he wouldn’t let anything happen to me, so I agreed. I remember being so high up from the ground and clutching his arm with both my hands. I don’t think I said a word on that ride … I’m not sure I even breathed … but just like always, he didn’t let anything happen to me, I didn’t fall out, and we made it safely to the top. Phew! And then we had to do it all over again for the ride back down. I guess maybe he realized how afraid I was, because we never did that again. But … I would do anything for him even back then, and if he’d asked me if I wanted a ride up the next time we were there, I would have said yes in a heartbeat!

As you can see, most of my good childhood memories involve my Pop (Uncle Les). He took me in when I was 5 years old after Momma died … as his own … and treated and loved me as if I WAS his own. I come across many things in my life that bring him to my mind … lighthouses, chipmunks, covered bridges … I know he’s up there with my Momma watching over me. And what better feeling could there be than that?

Uncle Les

What are your favorite childhood memories?

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The answer to that question is something I didn’t have to think more than a second about! It was the summer of 1977 and I lived in a very small apartment (that was actually a converted garage). I had never been or lived alone before. I had just left a very abusive marriage and I was 20 years old. I really just didn’t know what to do. I certainly didn’t want to go back to New York and here the “I told you so” speech. I wanted to make it on my own. But I was so very scared! But the life I left was scary too. What to do? What to do?

Phone booth at nightI remember one night sitting by myself contemplating that very question. I knew I would be welcomed home, but did I really want to go from one bad situation into another? It was a very “dark and turbulent” moment for sure. This was back in the day before cell phones and texting. So I walked down the street … in the dark … by myself … to the payphone. I can remember standing there with my change and my hand hovering over the coin slot … for a long time.

Wherever the strength came from, I have no idea. But I put my hand down and the change in my pocket. I walked slowly back to my tiny little apartment, sat in the dark, and cried. I didn’t know how I would make it on my own … but I knew I had to do it. Things would have to get better.

And they did! A few months later I met my soul mate, my best friend, and my savior. I thank God each and every day for putting him in my life to rescue me from a very dark and turbulent time.

What was the most dark/turbulent moment in your life? How did you handle it? How did it turn out?

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 My dream job is in the works already! I see light at the end of the tunnel …

I have wanted to be a secretary as long as I could remember. My momma was a secretary for the government until she married my dad after he came home from WWII. I wanted to be just like her. I can remember “playing” secretary and the desk in my bedroom was my “office.” I loved to get pencils, pens, markers, notebooks, etc. And my oh my, going school supply shopping was a most AMAZING day :0) I’m still a “geek” and love to get new office supplies. LOL

Playing office

I studied all the business classes when I was in high school and received an award (a small silver plate) engraved with my name when I graduated for being the top business student.

While I took a detour on the bad advice of someone in my life and started nursing school, I ended up changing my major in college to office administration, with a medical secretary concentration. My dream at that time was to work in a doctor’s office. As things go, I took another detour and worked in the manufacturing world at two companies and slowly worked my way up the “secretarial ranks.” An opportunity came up almost 22 years ago to work at our local hospital as an executive assistant…and here I’ve been ever since.

secretary1

So why isn’t this my dream job? Well it was … for quite a long time (obviously!). But I’m at the age now that I’m looking at the down slope and I’m not enjoying the cold winter weather any longer. The hubby and I are dreaming of warm sun and blue skies, and no shoveling snow … and we’re not going to find that in Ohio. March 2016 will bring him to his 30th anniversary at Honda Manufacturing … more than long enough to start wearing down his body. He wants to be able to still golf when he retires and not just watch it on TV. We haven’t quite figured out what his plan will be “post-Honda” … after all, he will be only 59 and not able to “truly” retire! But it’s going to be something that he enjoys and enables him golf course time :0) I quite emphatically told him it didn’t involve me working to support him and his golfing membership! LOL

Now me … I’m more of a planner (which might be one reason I so enjoy being an executive assistant!). I need a plan. November 2016 will bring me to 25 years here at the hospital. I’ve told them they can start planning the retirement party now :0) We will be 60 by then … still too young to “truly” retire … sigh! I don’t want to work in a restaurant (been there, done that!) or a retail store. I truly do love what I do! So the plan for my dream job is to keep doing that … just from my home as a virtual assistant. I can live anywhere … where it doesn’t snow! … and work as little or as much as like … for clients who could be down the street or across the globe. I will be taking an on-line course beginning in the spring of 2014 on how to set up and run my business that will take about a year to complete. After that I will take on 1 or 2 small clients as I continue to finish up on my current job to get my feet wet.

There would be nothing better than doing what I love to do, with the window open, a breeze flowing in, birds chirping in the tree, with a nice cup of chai sitting on my desk! Perfect, perfect, perfect!

I think this picture by Matisse shows it perfectly.

seated-woman-back-turned-to-the-open-window-1922

 So what is YOUR dream job? Don’t put yourself in a box! Let your imagination run wild!

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