Positive? Not Really?

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Today we have another wonderful guest-post from Arlene! Make sure to show her some support.

Scrolling through Twitter the other day, I had just responded to the announcement of someone’s positive news (may as well amplify it, correct?) and noticed a new notification. Most of the time, I will stop and read notifications — the habit has saved me from chasing more than a few messages down later. It was Mark Thompson responding to someone who was looking for a positive person on Twitter.

Being my usual self, I listed a group of people that I look up to, and that almost always have something good to say to those they choose to interact with. And thought nothing more about it.

It turns out, I was the one he was suggesting! ME! I’ve never looked at myself in this manner, and it was a shock. I almost responded “Not positive / not sure if this applies to me” with all seriousness.

My brain has been all over the place; job hunting will do that to you. Your emotional state varies depending directly on what other people say about you, because they are in control of your future. Also, I’d been getting ready to speak, recovering from that event, and making plans to do so again when circumstances shifted in the household and made me grumpy. But, I know I will enjoy these activities/engagements once I start them.

Is that it? Is it my awareness that I will enjoy something difficult, once I am going on it? And can and will express this openly, because I know sometimes it encourages people to hear that — after the anticipation of something, and the worry of all of what might happen — once it is time, the nerves vanish, and you (and I) can proceed with confidence.

Or is it a celebration of the accomplishments of those I don’t really know? If you’ve just gotten a new job, made a major life change, or even (and these are most important) figured out how to accomplish a task — these deserve to be shared! And I’m more than willing to do so.

Maybe I live by this Robin Williams quote a bit too much:

Putting a positive spin on things is a skill I’ve had to develop — and I’m glad it makes people feel better.

I heartily agree! Amplify the successes and triumphs of people in your life. Spread positivity and joy, even when you can’t seem to find it yourself. Sometimes that’s the hardest part, but it can also be the most rewarding.

N.

Decisions Made

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Today we have another post from A. Show her some love & support. =)

Now look what happens.

I have been out of work for nearly three years, so I need to look at moving. I really don’t want to move too far, so I started shopping around in a nearby large city for positions. There have been a few that have shown interest, but nothing really has come of it.

So, I shall have to move on. But where?

I have a couple of offers of “a couch and a ride” into the nearest city, but that isn’t always the best idea. One, I know, has a lot of issues on their hands, and I’m uncomfortable adding to the burden, even for a short time. Guess I’m a softy.

There are jobs out there, and lots of them. Right now, the fact that I can’t get hired on at a fast-food place that was seriously understaffed has me doubting a bunch if it’s worth the risk. Then again, I’m a bit older than some of the folks there. The more-local place is just out of range of an easy trip for interviews, and that makes it difficult, even with video, to make sure I’m a good fit without some in-person feedback. This is what comes of both companies and candidates not being accurate with their descriptions and abilities.

I have gotten a listing of jobs, both remote/contract, and in the local area. I need to do something with them, other than stare at the link blankly. But there has been so much on my mind that coming up with a focus is near impossible. This is what it’s like — it is nearly a grief moving this far from home; I never have moved outside of the area I grew up in.

And having support for the time I would need to get established, and in a situation not worse than the one I’m in, is a help.

I guess I’m going for it. But still applying for closer positions, just for my mental comfort. And one of those positions is a possibility. So back onto the merry-go-round we go.

Wish me luck! ❤

red and yellow merry-go-round
Apparently these things cost thousands of dollars! Who knew? ;o)

Privacy: An Abuse of Trust

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Recently, the news has been full of stories showing us that the information we have shared is no longer secure. Everything from user names, to full financial details of purchases, has become open to public scrutiny. We have lost trust in established social platforms, and are asked to confront the idea that, every day, whatever we do, wherever we are, our information, movements, and activities may be available to whomever wished to find them.

There are a few areas where a bit more oversight — in a world where nearly anything can be found — that would serve the citizens of the US better. There are still avenues that, due to regulations, can be used to harass, annoy, and cause future legal problems for those that the original intention was to help.

And I’m not talking the person in your HOA that thinks your grass is the wrong color. Those are an issue, to be sure. Having a regulated set of standards, in a time when it is quite possible that, say, newcomers to an area might lose their jobs (due to a shifting economy), without a way to appeal or range of options to remedy, is a sure way to not only cause resentment, but actually damage a person’s options for the future. I’ve seen some vindictive people that will gossip without foundation just because someone doesn’t ‘fit in’ with what they think the group should be like.

But that is a discussion for another time.

The example I’m thinking of is the reporting of suspected abuse of either children or the elderly. Those that are the subject of these reports, and the consequences of the action — or inaction — have affected multiple generations. Some of the reports have been actual issues, some are out of a sense of vengeance, and a few are based on legal or medical requirements. But all are treated with the same care, and are still dependent on the personal outlook of the investigator, and the ‘accepted’ but unstated standards of care that exist.

The departments receiving said reports, under whatever name, are not transparent in the least, nor do they seem to do verification. I know of a case where there were upwards of 20 reports within 24 hours — all done by three people. This lasted until legal action was proposed, because after multiple months of this, it had become harassment. I know that stopped it for this specific targeted person, but I know for a fact that the calls continued, and then the focus was shifted to another target.

One would think that after having the calls from a specific person — since the name of the reporting party had to be collected for potential future litigation, in this quantity — said agency would flag them as a possible vengeance caller. I know for a fact that that person continues to report to this day; so apparently multiple years of calls from this person is still not enough to set a filter/flag for possible bias. And we wonder why our courts and agencies are overloaded!

you are being watched warning-sign
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Um, no, not if you’re a dick.

The consequences of a proven abuse, even a minor one, are far-reaching. A lot of the complaints could be cured by access to a better job; which would give them the money to avoid working more than one job, and not having the energy to spend on fixing the problems. However, once that report is verified — even for something as minor as “the kids have dirty clothes’ — the parent is thereafter forbidden to work with any children, or elderly, and the parent(s) could be fired from their job instantly. Look at the options left — they are ones that require training, or are minimum wage. Which does not help.

Nor, at least here, can this ever be removed from someone’s record — so it has consequences even decades into the future. Even if the agency is satisfied, there is no provision to remove it, other than a short paragraph that can be added to explain extenuating circumstances. As far as I can tell, this is not provided routinely; it has to be specially requested.

This is not to say all such reports are false — far from it. But the theory that a 10 minute visit is enough to determine “this is safe” or not, on the level of care that is being offered, is a fallacy. In contrast to the above issue, there was one one young person being abused, by multiple people, and none of those sent to verify the situation saw anything wrong — and it was only when the child was old enough to not be of interest (to the abusers) did this cease. The parents have their actions vindicated, the child is damaged, and the future grandchildren, if any, will be not allowed to visit grandparents on that side — with good reason. I have little if any idea of what the parenting style would be for them.

These unspoken expectations are one of the areas that need to be spelled out, and provided, to those who have had reports made against them. For example, here where I live, I know it is ‘expected’ that you attend church regularly. There is no provision for those who work Sundays, or don’t have one of their faith available. Nor is this an ‘official’ requirement of the report-taking agencies. But I have seen that — even if all the things they state they want are done — if you don’t attend church, there is no chance that a (reportedly abused) child will be returned (from state custody), or the focus will be removed from your home, even if/when those reports were completely unfounded and false.

What’s the solution? I don’t have all the answers. But some sort of filter/flagging system on those that file reports needs to be made — especially if it is a person who is constantly doing so. Also, more training, and an awareness that your standards and biases may affect how you see things. Perhaps a note to all who call in that they will be summoned to court to account for their report, or charged with false reporting, might save many person-hours of both the agencies and the court system.

Honestly, the flat-out refusal to reveal who is doing the reporting, after many false reports, strips away one’s trust in both friends and neighbors, as well as the agencies themselves. At which point, they (the purveyors of constant false reports) have won. They can now directly influence how you act, like an invisible hand-of-God, an ever-present threat to your social standing should you fail to live up to their unspoken standards.

Not to mention the possible removal of children, who then find themselves expected to fit into a different family — and may not get to see their own for months — which, again, adds stress to all parties, and decreases the trust and bonds that may have been hard work to establish.

Now, if you see yourself in this story, and think “But I’m trying to help!”, please consider what your reaction would be if, out of the blue, you had someone show up on your doorstep, wanting to look around your house, asking invasive questions — and refusing to explain, other than “someone reported you”, why they are there.

man with clipboard at front door of woman's house
Hi, I’m here because someone reported you.. for BEING AWESOME!
-Said nobody ever. But wouldn’t that be nice?

Reaching Life Goals – One at a Time

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Recently, I found the list of goals I had made in high school, and despaired at the time. I took a look at some continuing education classes offered, both locally, and nationally. With overlapping requirements, as well as those things I didn’t have to have a degree in (like some of the gardening and basic education areas), I came to the conclusion that I would finish school sometime in my 80’s. And for one that is looking forward to a life full of excitement and learning, that was a bit much. So I tossed the list aside, and started studying only a few of the things there.

However, I’ve found a reason to start on one of those goals: I need to understand multiple languages. I had German, French, Italian and Spanish listed, because that was what was referenced in a book I was reading.

And yes, at that point, Esperanto would be simple. 🙂

Deciding on this, plus the potential of shifting location to near the Canadian border — and the probability that there would be those around me that spoke French — I started looking around for resources to learn. Having tried both Spanish and German in school, I knew that was no the way for me to learn language.

I found several resources, and a delightful assistant (not specifically in this area — he was trying to get me to express opinions, even if incorrect, so I could be taught) in Roman Podolyan, who was generous enough to share a video that encouraged me to start back on this list. And, I’m slowly applying it to other areas in my life.

There have been many other helps along the way — likely present all along, but since I wasn’t paying attention to them, they slipped by without making an impression. Now that I am looking for them, they are common. And welcomed!

So, I am working on getting at least one of those goals finished — and well before I’m 80! Also, there are many other areas that I have been able to say “Yes, I can do this” with the explosion of internet resources.

What have you always wanted to do, that you now notice that you are doing or working toward?

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Stumbles I’ve Learned From

Today we have another guest post from Arlene! Show her lots of love. =)

I belong to several professional groups just for members with a certain outlook, either contained within a larger group, or a separate one. These allow a bit of social interaction where certain words, terms and expectations are common to the group. I still belong to some wider ones – and sometimes I forget that not everyone knows how software works; other than what they hear on the news or have read about.

In looking over the groups recently, there seems to be an emerging awareness of identity and what we do with it – outside of creating, in some spaces, a personal brand around some aspects of that identity.

One of the people shared a link to Identity Stories, and I thought I might share a couple of my related experiences, in hopes that my awkward blunders would bring awareness to others. Or in some situations, at least a smile of empathy. And I’ve made many blunders over the years – along with a few things I did correctly.

One of the ones I handled badly enough to make me blush years later was at a local shop that I frequented. I had brought someone in there, and saw the new hire, with lovely long hair that I instantly envied (both thicker and longer than mine, which was only mid-back at the time) and made the assumption that this was a female. I admit it was bolstered by the fact that the owner had mentioned that he had received only two applicants, both female. I guess I missed this one – the greeting of “Hello, ma’am – It’s good to have you here!” shocked the young man, and it showed on his face when he turned around.

Recovery was slow – looking back, very much too slow. I spent a good five minutes mentally kicking myself for my presumption. Okay, to anyone else, it looked like I was hiding in a corner – and that would have a ring of truth, too. The truth that I had likely hurt his feelings finally came to the forefront of my mind, and I made my way to the front, trying desperately to rehearse what I could say to apologize. What actually came out was parts of three potential things: “I’m an idiot. I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you can forgive me.” None of which was put together, mentally, so I figured I’d failed.

And looking back, the only thing that would have been better was to have said something – anything – then, rather than wander off with my mouth open like an out-of-water fish.

I’ve done this since. I’m looking at a reflection of vested, hard-hatted, and dressed nearly the same construction workers – and one has a full beard – I still sometimes hold the door for “the gentlemen”, even if one is female. The last one that this happened with giggled at me – I had noticed this wasn’t a gentleman, looked horrified, and blushed. Which helped. I need to watch this: the season where workers are out and mud-covered has started, and I am trying to improve.

The one that still baffles me was a blind person with a cane. We were on a narrow temporary walkway while the sidewalk was being refurbished, and I scrunched up on the railing to avoid the cane. (That thing looked like it would hurt! And I didn’t want them to need to apologize for tapping me with it.) I still haven’t figured out a better response – if you know, teach me!

Located where I am, there are not always a lot of different people, nor languages, nor cultures that are obvious (which saddens me). Unlike some here, that try and force a conformity on everyone they meet, I do make an attempt to listen, and empathize as much as possible with people that are unlike me – which, if you think about it, is everyone. If you hear someone making a statement, presume that they do know what they are talking about – context is everything. And empathize. And don’t try and solve the issue, unless asked; they may trust you to simply listen, and let them work it out in their own mind. And now the hard part: be aware of this for a while – you may see it unspoken in other people.

I guess what I’ve learned over the many years is “Mistakes happen. Own up to them quickly, and try and do better. And don’t kick yourself for mistakes, once you’ve acknowledged them.” This applies to so many areas of life; I still have a hard time with this.

Recognizing differences can be a tough thing. Even something as obvious-to-me as the examples I’ve given here, might get overlooked by another, and be deeply effecting for someone else. This is a good place to apply the golden rule of “treat others as you want to be treated,” and take the time to learn from your stumbles.

Excellent and poignant reminders. Always treat others with respect and dignity, and if you aren’t sure how to handle a situation, or you stumble, don’t be afraid to admit it and ask for help! Love & light.

N.

LlamaLimo Log: Ever have a Bad Day?

Featuredwoman driving for uber

For a driver, most days aren’t bad — you get the person in that car, and they do their own thing. A few try and talk your ear off, or sit silent, staring out the window. Those type average out. But then you get those that are Having A Bad Day. That phrase will soon make you want to hide — ask any driver. The horrid part is, it may not be anything that actually happens to them; they could get a text or call and it would start. You learn to keep a close eye out for the signs.

Since Alice moved out, much to the relief of our night drivers — the parties going on after she was sound asleep not only made you wonder exactly how hard she slept, but also made walking outside an adventure, not to mention trying to squeeze the car into or out of the driveway — these situations seemed to have slowed. No more Josh “walking his dog” and then coming to chat; the drama of young people and their relationships had moved to another area. And Bob, coming over to pee on tires just as you were ready to back up, was starting to become a distant memory. I should have guessed it was too good to last.

One of the longer-term residents of the neighborhood, Adam, had his ups and downs recently. We were aware of it, as he was of the temperament to either be sullen and walk off his thoughts, or to create ideas and things, and to experiment with solutions to issues that were tough to solve, even for experts. With him in the area, there was never a lack of conversation on widely divergent topics to listen in on, when he and his friends got together — those varied depending on how welcoming he was, and frankly, how dangerous the experiments were.

After a bout with his now-ex girlfriend, Adam had gone into a cycle of Bad Days, and then found something to reignite his passion. He now would wave, and the group of people around got smaller, which normally was a good sign that he was working on something that wouldn’t burn, let off weird noises, or need to be transported someplace “to test it out”. The music they played usually suited our tastes, and even the winter season didn’t seem to slow things much.

However, something happened, and Adam Had A Bad Day. The music stopped, the people vanished, and the hours-long walks after dark started. There were no requests for rides, or only for short ones — a mile or so and back to pick up cheese-flavored puffed corn (his snack of choice). The silence bothered me, but not enough to really be too worried about it. The rides Adam asked for were quick enough that even A Bad Day shouldn’t affect me much.

The weather has been cyclic — snow, then cold, then nearly spring temperatures, and repeat. We actually had snow on the ground for a few days (and the local police force frantic with accidents, caused by those who forget that even if snow looks pretty, it isn’t nice to drive through once it melts and refreezes). We were being cautious, and telling folks that the ride would likely take twice as long as usual.

Adam called, and seemed up and cheerful — and wanted more than puffed corn. I personally was thankful for this; it was my turn to grab lunch for the office, and I wanted a particular sandwich that was a bit out of the way. So when Adam called, and wanted a ride to that same place — well, life just works sometimes, doesn’t it? I sent the order in from the business fax (yes, I know, but that’s how they wanted it done!) and gathered the keys, my jacket, and left out the door, with anticipation of a fresh, hot sandwich and my favorite fizzy drink in my future.

Little did I know that seemingly everyone in the world had decided that today was the day to go out. Traffic, normally even on a warm summer day, would have been half of what it was now — add in the ice-covered roadways, and you had to plan for potential disaster. One look at the higher-traffic roads, and I decided to take an alternate route. Which wasn’t a good idea — apparently I drove by something or someone that was not good for Adam.

I hear Adam shift, and look in the mirror just in time to see the hood of the hoodie go over his head. This is not good; it’s time to worry when the hood is tugged down. A telltale sign with Adam is that the more you can see of his head, the better things are going. Even when it feels below zero outside. So, hoping that this is only a brief mood, we keep going. And, it looks like I made the correct choice — there was nearly an accident outside the restaurant with someone trying to turn in, and the car didn’t want to stop even to cross traffic. At least I’m going the correct direction just to turn in!

Yes, you guessed correctly – there is a line for the drive-up window. Thankfully not long enough that there’s a danger of getting the car hit, but enough to be a wait. And Adam’s hood is still down. This means that he is now Having A Bad Day. And I’m the only one that is close enough to listen if he wants to talk.

There are days that I physically check from the back seats to make sure there isn’t a bar-tending license, or even psychology degree, visible from there. Some folks just want to talk things out, and that’s fine with me — I can listen and drive in circles for them. But some expect me to have opinions at best, and answers that will work for them in any situation. I once made the mistake of making a comment that solved one person’s problems — soon I had all of their friends in the car for literally weeks, wanting answers. Now I know why gurus choose the top of the mountain. Some of them actually got angry with me that I didn’t have a ready solution to their problem!

And the hood just got tugged down again, thankfully after he passed me his written order, and the money to pay for it. He’s still silent, so the radio plays quietly in the car, competing with the rap from the car in front of us, the new country from a parked car nearby, and something else that was making the entire car vibrate directly across from us in line. I guess I should have be thankful they had the windows up.

Thankfully, they turned off the music before rolling down the window to order. I looked to make a comment to Adam, and the words stopped — the hood was down below the mustache, and tears were flowing. As if sensing my gaze, he turned violently away from the building, and a slight sob escaped.

After several rounds of mental cursing, I decide, since the Bad Day is obviously getting worse without me doing anything, I’d wait until I was spoken to, or one of the other signs that the Bad Day was spreading. I went back to listening to music, and watching the cars go sideways down the road I was facing.

Oh come on! Whoever you are in the blue car — make up your mind before you get to the speaker! You’ve been in line for over three minutes now, and the menu is the same as it’s been for the last six months. You should at least know what you want, and even if they reordered the menu, you should be able to find it in less than the two full minutes you’ve been sitting there staring at the sign. Well, at least the line at the pay window is gone — but I bet I’ll be done with my order (I’m two cars back) before that person gets done paying.

Finally I get to the speaker, and tell them there will be two tickets on this order. Thankfully, the voice on the speaker is familiar, so it isn’t going to be an issue. I mention the business name, and make sure the order is rang up correctly. I start on Adam’s order, and get as far as the drink before that blue car pulls up to the pickup window. I was almost correct; another two seconds, and I’m pulling forward. Adam is still inside his hoodie, and facing away from the building — did he fall asleep? And since silence seems to be a good thing, I’m darned if I’m going to disturb him to hand him food and drink — so while keeping an eye on the line, I pull out a drink holder for the company, and one for his food and drink. With that settled, I pull up to pay.

There is a comment from the cashier that the fried items are about a minute from done, so I nod and finish paperwork for this half of the ride, while waiting my turn to pick up food. This also allows me to clear things out, and make sure that my logs don’t have drink spilled on them. I’m bad about this — I know I should do it, but some days you get rushed, and then never take the time to put things back. Plus, what better to do while waiting for…

FOOD!

I apologize for that, but this place gives the food as fresh as possible, and make sure it’s correct before handing it out. The drinks for the office came in a carrier, with Adam’s handed out separately. And then, hot, wonderful meals — all in their own bags, and labeled with names for my order. With only moments to get everything arranged, I set things onto the seat, and in the carriers, and got out of the way of the next person. A shift forward a few feet so as to let the next car access the window, and then some moving things around to make sure nothing slides onto the floor if I were to try and stop in a hurry.

Adam is now seriously Having A Bad Day — even the scent of food isn’t enough to bring him out. But things aren’t getting worse, so silence isn’t a bad thing, especially with the roads as they are. Sliding into a pole because you take your attention off the road isn’t an image I want presented of the company. Carefully moving forward, and watching for other drivers, we turn onto the main road; back toward Adam’s house, in lieu of any other communication.

A block later, and the flood of words starts. Adam is still turtled in his hoodie, but that doesn’t seem to stop him. I think this is what must have been disturbing him — the words cover everything from jeans that didn’t fit that morning, to his issues at work, and “finding another job” problems. It’s good that he doesn’t seem to expect a response, because I’d have issues getting a word in! The narrative is broken by sobs, and a request to go home promptly. At a red light, I hand back his large drink, and hear the straw suck air before we’ve gone two blocks.

The hood is up a bit, and the silence doesn’t feel as strained as the ride completes. I sit here, hoping that the telephone doesn’t ring and send him one direction or another. He mentions that a particular friend is coming to visit later, and I sigh silently in relief — that one is a good listener, and may be able to bring him back to normal.

The bill Adam hands me is enough to cover the fare, and he walks off while I’m getting change. Throwing the car in park, I grab his food (which he forgot), along with the change from both the meal and the fare, and catch up to him. He takes the food, and looks at the money, then walks in the house. Okay — even when Having A Bad Day, he still in generous with the tip. I stuff the money from the food bill into his mail box (it’s an old-style through-the-door one) and head back to provide lunch for the crew.

Then discover, while getting out of the car, that I had given my sandwich — the one I’d been dreaming about for days — to Adam!

Shrugging my shoulders, I resign myself to enjoying my drink and his lunch. And it isn’t so Bad after all.

driver only carries five dollars change and random other junk
Are you MacGyver??!?

Dreams – The Portal

Featuredswirling portal of red and blue

They came through the portal; that’s what we called it. Someone did something they shouldn’t have. The portal came into being during a science experiment; it was a hole into who knows where. They were short, squat and wore some sort of suit; they couldn’t breath in our atmosphere.

There was a war at first. We didn’t win. There were few of us remaining, wandering through demolished cities, scrounging to survive and hiding. They were hunting us. Nowadays they didn’t kill us outright. In fact, we didn’t really know what they did with those they captured — no one ever came back. All we know is they had a weapon that rendered the target docile, even happy to be captured.

I had a companion. Until now we had successfully avoided being discovered. But right now they are tracking me. We had separated to draw them in two directions, hopefully losing them. My friend got caught; once zapped, he gave in. Right now I’m hiding in the rubble of an apartment building, huddled behind a wall. One of them is on my trail and closing; slowly, but deliberately, blocking off any escape route, like a game of chess. I am trapped. Looking around for anything I could use as a weapon, I see a table knife in the dirt. I pick it up, and as it comes through the door, I swing the knife across the tubes running into the face plate…

Thank you to Mr. D4v3 for the guest-post! Very entertaining. Hope you readers enjoy it. ❤

-N.