Is your family disaster ready?

postaday2011, prepping

The warning sirens went off one day last year in my hometown. My first thought–oh nevermind it’s Wednesday.  I knew the regular siren testing was at 11am and knew it was Wednesdays. But wait…it was the 9th–but now to be sure I have to look at the calendar.

Then I have to check the county emergency website just to confirm the schedule. I always think the testing is the first Wednesday but nope it’s the second Wednesday at 11am.  So no real threat that day. Whew!

But suddenly I realized—as a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, etc.–what would you do if the sirens had gone off and it wasn’t a drill? It took me at least ten minutes to check to confirm it was a drill–would I want to waste those precious minutes if it had not been a drill?

Do you know without a doubt what the testing schedule is for your community?

Do you know where the school would take your loved ones for you to pick up?

Do you have a full tank of gas so you could get to them without needing to stop at a crowded gas station–right now?

Do you have anything prepared so that you could jump into your car and take off from home and be prepared to not come back at all for several days, or a week or more?

What’s the plan for your pets if you have to leave?

Does your immediate and extended family have a planned meeting place that everyone knows about?

What is the plan if someone doesn’t arrive? I’d be curious to know how many of us are ready for a real disaster?

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#104 Me Today versus Me Ten Years Ago

Finding Self, postaday2011

In a verbal debate between me ten years earlier and me today, I’d definitely have to say that the older version of me would win.  There is something to be said for experience in that it brings a wisdom that can’t often be gained other than by living those extra years.  I think the two versions of me would be about evenly matched in a game of chess or any other mental challenge.

Now if the competition is a physical one, the younger version of me would definitely have the advantage.  I’ve not kept up like I should as some people tend to do as they age.  So the 5K run competition would definitely go to the younger version of me. And the older version of me would most likely volunteer to stay at camp and get the food cooking while the younger version hit the trails or hiked the mountain.  Hey someone has got to cook!

I think another area where the older version of me would win out would have to be in business, especially when it comes to marketing and social media and the confidence level that it takes to be an entrepreneur.  I definitely have more of that ability than I had ten years ago.  And the thing I’ve learned or at least have been reminded of lately gives the older me a great advantage. Sometimes the only difference between those who are successful and those that want to be successful is having the confidence to take action and be persistent.

What about you?

#103 If I Were President for a Day

politics, postaday2011

This probably won’t be a popular post with a lot of folks but here goes.  If I were President of the United States for a day, I would make some changes that would redistribute the wealth throughout the country.

I mean think about it.  Do we really need to have people paying $500 for a pair of shoes to match their outfit that in all likelihood they will wear one time because they have three dozen other pairs of shoes to choose from?  Trust me there are people who pay $40 or less for a pair of shoes and have to wear the same pair every single day and they get by just fine.

Does anyone need to pay $3,000 for a sweater or a dress that you’re going to wear once or twice in your lifetime?  Are there really manufacturers who need to make that much profit on a sweater that cost them less than $50 to make?  Can you think of a better way to spend some of that money?  I know I can.

Do sports figures really need to drive 200,000 cars when a 40,000 car will get them around just as well?  Does anyone really need to have more cars than they can drive on a regular basis?

Do our pets really need to have their own closet full of outfits made to order?  There really are people who buy special made outfits for their dogs when they know that there are children in our country that often go to school without boots or a coat in the winter time.

I’m not saying that the wealthy cannot be wealthy or that they shouldn’t reap the rewards of their hard work, I just think that there are plenty of people who put in a hard day of work every day, 365 days a year without fail for very little in return.  Hard working people should be adequately compensated, period.

If that means we raise the minimum wage then we need to do it.  People with the motivation and drive to get up every morning and go to work should not have to come home at night and worry about whether their electric was shut off that day because the bill was past due.  There are people who get up every day and to work for sometimes ten or twelve hours a day and still don’t have enough to pay basic bills.  I’m talking food, heat, electricity, not extra things like internet, cable tv or cell phone.

Parents should not have to send their children to school in shoes or boots that are too big or too small because all they can afford is hand me downs. Parents should not have to choose between buying tampons or buying diapers because they only have enough left after paying bills to get one or the other.  And before you brush this off as unrealistic, I can tell you that there are many, many people who make these kinds of decisions every day.

I came across a group of three kids in the grocery store one time, the oldest was probably seventeen or so.  They had a list obviously from their mom and they were trying to decided between buying I think it was peanut butter and cheese because they didn’t have enough money for both things.  In that instance I gave them $10 out of my pocket and told them to get both. Children raised in households where there is barely enough food to get by….hmm I wonder what the long-term effects of that would be on society?

C’mon America.  Don’t be fooled by the media.  Are there some folks who milk the system, yes.  But the majority of people on welfare are working every day and still not making enough to get by.  Think for yourself.  Open your eyes and look around.  Those of you who have more than you need, you know who you are.  Find a worthy cause in your area that you can donate to if you aren’t doing it already.

Do we live in the land of the free and the brave?  Because I can tell you that for many people, including many of our veterans that risked their lives to protect that freedom, it is the land of the poor and hungry.  Veterans are living homeless on the streets in many cities.  Why?  Because the stress and trauma of serving their country was overwhelming, their minds snapped under the pressures, and they returned home to little if any resources.  Trust me I’ve worked with these guys.  They served our country and were discharged some dishonorably but most honorably and there was nowhere for them to go. Resources through VA facilities have long delays, are difficult to access, and care is half-hearted and uncoordinated.

This country is capable of amazing feats of goodwill as demonstrated by the fundraising and support that took place after 9-11.

Since I’m not yet President of the United States, my challenge to you today is to find a worthy cause, anything that you determine is worthy of your help and make a commitment to help in whatever way you can.

Whether you help one family in your neighborhood or choose to go through a non-profit agency or other organization, do your part and pay it forward in whatever way you can.

Let’s work together to make this a world that our children and their children will be proud to call their home.

#102 Top Ten Fav Things to Do

Just for Fun, postaday2011

Here’s a great topic, my top ten favorite things to do that I haven’t done in a year.

1.  Go Camping, complete with bonfire and cold beer!

2.  All Day cookout/get together with my extended family

3.  Line Dancing at Jewels

4.  Read a book cover to cover without stopping

5.  Dance in the rain with the kids

6.  Horseback Riding

7.  Backyard Bonfire

8.  Water skiing

9.  Sit on the back steps and smell grapes from the vineyard next door

10. Downhill Skiing

#101 Invisible for a day

politics, postaday2011

Short post tonight because I’m already tired, it’s been a long day.

If I could go invisible for a day, I’d probably head to Washington D.C. and sit in on some political sessions to find out what really goes on behind closed doors when the politicians think no one is watching.

Wouldn’t you really like to know what kind of deals are being made based on who owes who for what?  I would.  If it’s anything like how the court systems operate, it’s no wonder we’re all in trouble.

Then I’d probably follow each of my kids around just to see what they really do when they think I’m not looking.

I’m pretty sure the youngest ones jump on the bed on a daily basis when they think I’m not looking.

It would be nice to bust each of them on a couple of things and prove that mama really does have eyes everywhere and know all!

What would you do?

#100 I can live without electronics, Riiiiight

for the present, postaday2011, prepping, technology in the home, Uncategorized

My phone, laptop, Ipad, tab and desktop are dead, which would I miss the most?  If this had been yesterday’s topic I would have told you that I could live without all of those things fairly easily.  But as luck would have it, this morning reality hit.

My desktop was infected with the Windows Recovery virus and I completely lost my mind as I realized that my data files were not only at risk but being wiped out systematically.  Now mind you folks, I teach computer skills and anyone that has been a client of mine will tell you that the very first thing I always tell them is backup, backup, backup your files.  So you would think that the teacher would follow that rule, right?

Wrong.  I’ve been swamped lately and I probably haven’t completely backed up in about four months.  Sure I moved some stuff to a new Drop Box account and I have some previous versions of my book on a flash drive but nothing complete.

And this morning, disaster struck.  I watched as my data files disappeared and the alerts popped up saying critical data error and damaged data sectors detected, etc.  And then suddenly I realized that the logo on the Windows Recovery message wasn’t actually a Windows logo at all.  It looked very similar, same color scheme and all the warnings certainly looked official, but it wasn’t their logo.  Ahh my computer mind kicked in, a virus and I needed to stop it and fast.  I launched my Malware Bytes Anti-Malware program but it derailed.  I closed it and launched again.  While it ran, I called the one person I knew could fix it but got no answer.

It was up to little old me.  So through my tears over my missing data files, I grabbed my daughter’s laptop and did a quick search.  I tried not to think about all the photos, my novel in progress, my project files disappearing.  I found instructions for removing the virus.  It seemed doable.  I downloaded RKill which by the way is my new favorite program.  The pop ups and critical error messages stopped!  Malware Bytes was able to complete.  I ran a full scan after that.  Virus successfully removed.  I could breathe again.  But my data folders were still empty.

I went back to the instructions and read further, the virus hides your files and they can be unhidden.  There was a glimmer of hope.  But would it work?  I held my breath and watched for several minutes as the program ran on that eerie black screen.  And then the message that my files should now be visible.  I checked and they were there!  I checked again just to be sure it was real.  And then I actually cheered out loud.

Tonight I’m backing up my files.  So….I guess the answer to that question is I can make it through the day without my electronics, I’d probably miss my phone and laptop the least.  But my desktop data files, now those I’ve got to have!

So just a word of warning, watch for the Windows Recovery virus and don’t click okay on something just because it says Windows.  I imagine it would have been a lot worse for me if I had clicked okay to anything.  Always double-check the logo to make certain that it is actually legit.

Are your files backed up? 🙂

#99 Danara’s Destiny-Prologue

Fiction, postaday2011

Lorisal

 Danara’s Destiny

Prologue

A silver-haired Elven man, more than eight decades old, stormed into the tower room without bothering to shut the door behind him.  Spotting the human wizard, bent over a work table on the far side of the room, he strode toward him. “Akuji!  It’s started again!  He waved his arms as he reached Akuji’s side. “Your brother’s mutated minions are raiding and killing entire villages now.”  Akuji remained bent over his work table as if he hadn’t heard a word.  “How can you just sit by and do nothing?”  The Elven spun Akuji around by the arm. “It’s worse than before, Akuji.  I can’t do this alone. I need your help”, he pleaded.  When the wizard didn’t respond, the Elven grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him.  Akuji just stared as if he could see right through him.  Frustrated the Elven threw up his hands and began pacing.  “Xorn has gone mad.” He declared.

“I have to bring her back, Lorisal” As Akuji spoke, Lorisal glanced at him.  The wizard looked different, more tired and beaten than when he’d last seen him almost a year ago.  His normally tanned skin looked pasty as if it hadn’t seen sunlight in months.  Lorisal studied him further.  His robes were dirty and threadbare.  Lorisal scanned the tower room and realized it was also a neglected mess.  Ingredients lay everywhere.  Not tagged and stored as usual.  He swung his eyes back to Akuji who had bent once more over his work table.

“So that’s it then?  Lorisal asked him.  “You’re going to stay locked up in your tower while your brother kills and mutates entire villages of people?”  Akuji glanced up, his eyes were glazed over and his hair was matted and dirty.  Realization hit Lorisal like a sword in the stomach.  Akuji was still obsessed with retrieving the soul of Nevaeh, his lover, who died decades ago.  As Lorisal sighed and turned to leave, Akuji mumbled under his breath.  “What did you say?”  Lorisal turned back to Akuji.

“Seek the gnome healer.”  Akuji’s voice suddenly rang clear as a bell.

“What gnome healer?  Lorisal asked.  “Where?”  Akuji didn’t respond.  “What gnome healer? Lorisal repeated. Still no answer from the wizard.  Lorisal sighed heavily and took his leave.

*****************************************************

Almost a month later, Lorisal entered the vision cave.  Smooth, confident strides took him along a familiar path that led deeper into the cavern.  He ducked his head in several places to avoid the low hanging ceiling.  As he walked, his eyes automatically scanned for any unwelcome observers, his Elven ears remained alert to any unnatural sounds echoing off the rock walls.  The rocky path opened into a large rocky cavern surrounding a crystal clear pool and he paused.  Lorisal knelt on the rocky ledge near the edge of the water.  He reached to touch the pool with his fingertips and then settled in to watch.  The ripples caused by his touch stilled and a scene appeared in the water. Danara Kelblaine, a gnome of twenty-six years, stood on a path among tall trees.  Lorisal leaned forward to get a closer look at her surroundings and nodded.  She was still in the forest outside of Riversend, the village where she’d spent the night before.  She had dainty pixie like features and was all of three feet tall.  Though he could sense her inner strength, he knew she’d certainly be no match in a physical battle against the Farlon.

He prayed that this time the pool was showing him the right gnome healer.  He still wasn’t sure why he’d first been led to her mother only so she could fail him.  Nor why death, like a thief in the night, now complicated things.  Time was running out and he couldn’t afford to be wrong again.  He continued to watch as Danara knelt beside the path, her dainty fingers hovered over fresh tracks.  She bent her head and took several deep breaths.  She called upon the many forestry lessons of her father.  Danara was on the wrong path but if he was right, fate would intervene and she’d soon find the strength to embrace her destiny.  Lorisal’s long fingers stroked his chin as he studied her.  Her reaction to the coming attack would go a long way toward convincing him that she was the one he sought.

The screams began.  He watched via the pool as Danara lifted her head and stood abruptly as the screams continued.  She spun and scrutinized the forest behind her.  His heart swelled with pride as she broke into a dead run back toward Riversend.  Her speed picked up within seconds and Lorisal smiled.  He’d forgotten how quickly gnomes could run when needed.  Danara broke through the trees into the clearing outside Riversend and found the village engulfed in smoke and flames.  She stopped short and paused to catch her breath as she pondered what to do next.  He was sure that she now realized that this was more than just a bear attack.  Lorisal felt her fear building.  The village seemed oddly quiet now, save for the roar of flames.  No laughing children playing near the gate like when she arrived the day prior.  Danara stood rooted to one spot for several minutes and inwardly Lorisal groaned.  Would she run and hide?  He smiled as she shook off her fear and stepped through the gate.  She would help them or at least she was going to try.  She showed signs of a true healer even if she didn’t know it yet herself.  She would however, need a teacher and her mother would be no help now.  Lorisal stirred the water, the ripples erased the scene and he stood.  He’d seen enough for now.

He was going to pay another visit to Akuji.  The wizard was going to have to get involved whether he liked it or not.

So what do you think?  Would you buy this book?  Comments welcome.  Thanks!  –Meg

#97 If I could pilot any vehicle it would be..

Just for Fun, postaday2011

Short post today but I can’t pass up the topic.  If I could pilot any vehicle I think it would have to be that invisible plane which I think belonged to Wonder Woman.  Or maybe she just borrowed it from the League of Superheros but anyway the invisible plane would be fun!  Can you imagine?  I could sneak up on just about anyone in that plane and do a flyby…watch out Lyle you know I’m comin’ your way!  They’re bringing Wonder Woman back by the way and there’s a huge controversy over the costume she’s going to wear.  I’ll skip the costume but I’d love to have her lasso of truth, I can think of a few folks I’d like to use that thing on!

Course the other vehicle that would be fun is the Batmobile, now that was an awesome car!  I wonder if it would come with a sidekick at my beck and call?

Or the talking car, Kit, that David Hasselhoff I think it was used to drive.  I’d love to have a car that could talk to me on long road trips.  Shoot that car can drive itself probably better than I can.

We’re actually closer to that being a reality than most people would think with the introduction of the newest technology that includes forward collision detection.  With the help of GPS technology, cars can already talk to you and are now able to parallel park themselves, stop you from backing into something and alert you to something in your blind spot.  With the newest pedestrian detection system, the car will alert you to an obstacle in your path and if you don’t respond it will apply the brakes to stop the car or at least slow it down before impact depending on your speed.  Probably a good thing with all the people I see texting or applying make-up while driving!

So I guess if the talking cars that drive themselves are coming anyhow, I’ll stick with my wish for that invisible plane.  Course for me it will have to come with some kind of locator so I can find it when it’s parked.  It’s hard enough to remember where I parked my car in a parking garage or at the mall, I can’t imagine the trouble I’d have if I had to find an invisible plane!

So I’ve got dibs on that invisible plane.  What vehicle would you choose to pilot?

#96 Something About Bacon

Just for Fun, postaday2011

Any of you checking in daily with my blog realize that I’m having trouble staying disciplined enough to write something every day.  Well today’s post a day 2011 topic is one that I just can’t pass up.  I mean bacon is after all my favorite food.

To say that I love bacon is even an understatement.  Whenever I cook the bacon, I have to make extra because I eat so much of it while I’m cooking that there isn’t enough left for the kids.  Very rarely do I make less than a pound of bacon at a time and even more rare are the times when there is any bacon left once breakfast is over.

Now there are some brands of bacon that I don’t particularly like as well but in my years of eating bacon I’ve only found one brand that I thought was so awful I didn’t eat it.  Bacon is good just by itself or with eggs, French toast, or pancakes.  I love BLT sandwiches although I have to admit that I have been known to oder a BLT without the L and the T…yep I know that makes it a bacon sandwich.  I’ve also been known to make a bacon sandwich at home with just miracle whip and nothing else.

Hey did I mention that I love bacon?

My rare talent

postaday2011

A rare talent that I have that most people don’t know about it is the ability to serve as a bridge person.  I didn’t become aware that I had this ability until my early twenties but once it was pointed out to me, I knew instantly that it was one of the things I was put on this earth to do. The easiest way to explain this is to first tell you what high school was like for me.  Everyone can remember that high school has different groups of kids, the nicknames for each group change with each generation but basically the groups are the same. There are the “jocks” of course, the athletic types that include football players and cheerleaders.  The jocks are tight with the “Preppy” crowd who are usually huge fans and in my day wore polo shirts with those tiny little alligators on the collar and were able to realistically expect a new car for their sixteenth birthday. Most schools also have their version of the “Burnouts” which are the kids that are perceived as spending their time smoking cigarettes and other things in the bathrooms or behind the bleachers.  In reality the Burnouts don’t really rebel or party much more than the other groups, they just don’t go to such extremes to hide it from the world. Every high school has another group, in my day they were the “Nerds”.  This was the group that everyone knew were ultra smart.  Members of this group in my day could be identified by plaid shirts, pocket protectors, and in a lot of cases the glasses with heavy black or brown frames.  Many of them learned how to program computers before other people even knew how to turn one on. Okay so now you’re remembering the different groups of kids in your school and you can probably remember pretty clearly which group you identified with in school.  Maybe you were a jock, a nerd or a burnout.  In most cases your friends would have all been part of the same group. So now on to what a bridge person is so you can figure out if maybe you have this ability too.  A bridge person can float, not literally as in up in the sky, but metaphorically they can float from one group to another.  For example in high school, I could name friends from each of the groups I listed above.  Not only did I have friends in each of these groups, I made it known that I expected everyone to get along and that I wasn’t going to choose between friends.  I’d like to think that my stubborn refusal to be pigeonholed way back then actually contributed to opening some eyes about stereotypes but who knows. My eighteenth birthday party is a good example.  I grew up in one town and went to the same school district until I was a Freshman in high school. Because my parents had divorced, I ended up graduating from a nearby rival school.  So now not only was I bridging cliques within the same school, I had friends in each of the two rival schools.  I sent out my party invitations to kids from both rival schools.  Friends in both schools told me I was nuts.  They warned me that there would be fighting and drama because the kids from these two rival schools would clash.  I just kept repeating that I wouldn’t tolerate any fighting.  Guess what?  Not only were there no fights but several friendships and couples relationships began that day.  If you’re one of my high school friends, I’d love to hear whether you felt I was truly a part of one group or the other because I never really felt that I was at the time. It’s not as prominent, but the workplace is often very similar to high school only in the case of workplaces, the groups are often dictated by job titles. Executives stick with executives, laborers stick with laborers, secretaries with secretaries, etc.  I found that I was able to serve as a bridge person in this arena too.  Maybe it was my ego, I’m not sure, but in my mind everyone was valued and everyone’s opinion was useful and it just didn’t matter to me what someone’s title was.  What mattered most to me was solving whatever problem we had at the time or meeting our goals, etc. and I would talk to whoever I felt could help and enlist them on the project. So a bridge person is someone who not only declines to be labeled themselves but is comfortable and accepted as they move in and out of different groups. More importantly, because they truly know the ins and outs of more than one group, they can help to bridge the gap between different groups for other people as well.  So much more can get accomplished when you take into consideration all the opinions of those who are involved.  So the next time you think “I can’t talk to that person”, take a deep breath and remember that old saying “he puts his pants on one leg at a time just like I do” and forge ahead for the good of the project. And for the parents out there, let’s do what we can to create a generation of bridge people to carry us through the future.

Say What You Mean and Do What You Say

parenting, postaday2011, Relationships

Trust is one of those things that takes a very long time to build and yet can be wiped out in an instant.   In some relationships, trust is eroded gradually but other times, a major act of betrayal or dishonesty can virtually destroy trust overnight causing sometimes irreparable damage.

Trust is important in every relationship we are involved in including personal relationships with family, friends, children or spouses as well as professional relationships with clients, professors, colleagues, partners and employers.

One way to strengthen and rebuild trust in any relationship is to practice being consistent and honest.  Think carefully before you promise something so that you can say what you mean and then do what you say.  This practice is a good one to implement for both personal and business relationships.  Little things can often build trust, for instance if you say you’ll take the garbage out in the morning, make sure you do it.  If you tell your child you will be there for their birthday, make sure you’re there.  This is especially important for parents because a child’s ability to trust is being developed by how trustworthy they view the adults in their life.

Trust plays an important role in work teams also because if you say you’ll be at a meeting, your employer counts on you to be there.  When you tell co-workers or group members you’ll finish a portion of a project, make sure it gets done or at least you give them a heads up if it won’t be ready on time.  Your reputation is on the line every time you swear by a product because a client or customer trusts you to help them make an informed decision.

Big things like infidelity, lying, dishonesty or theft can destroy trust virtually overnight but often it’s the little things we do everyday that can quietly eat away at the trust in a relationship unnoticed until there is nothing left.

Be mindful of how trustful you are to the people who are important in your life.  Are you giving them reasons to trust you more?  Or less?  Make sure your daily behaviors are in line with your promises and you’ll reap the rewards of developing trusting relationships.

How Do I Find My Muse?

postaday2011, writing process

How do I find my muse?  I know that for some writers finding their muse is a wonderful and creative process that involves listening to their favorite music, whether it’s Nirvana, Garth Brooks or even something by Bach or Beethoven.

Some of my friends who are writers, have described their writing process to me and talk about their muse as if she’s a close friend and confidant, that dances into their head when exactly the right conditions exist, to help them pour forth creativity and wisdom onto the written page.

To be honest, it’s just not like that for me and I can’t recall it ever being exactly like that although I have a sense that it may have been similar to that when I was younger and used to write for hours and hours about characters that to me were very real.

But how I find my muse, at least for much of my adult life, is a much more elusive and unpredictable process.  Now you all know that I have extended family in the house full-time, including one of my grandsons who is three and my mother, who is in her mid-sixties.  Top that off with my two youngest daughters who are 2 and 6 and my oldest daughter, who is about to turn 22 this year and you have a recipe for almost constant noise and disruption.

So it’s within the middle of this chaotic environment that I’m usually trying to write.  For me this means that finding my muse is more about whether or not I have the strength to not only drag her kicking and screaming into my head but the added energy to hang on to her tightly while I try to get any ideas out onto the paper.  Or in my case into the computer, which is probably a good thing, because when I can hold onto her, at least I can type really fast before the crying and bickering starts and she runs screaming back into her peaceful world.

So for those of you who have a muse that is your close friend and confidant I envy you.  And for those of you who, like me barely have time to use the bathroom without company, let alone write uninterrupted for hours while your muse dances around you, I sympathize.  Know that you are not alone and that someday when the house is quiet again, you may actually come to know your muse in a way that doesn’t involve choke holds.

If I Had A Magic Tree…

Just for Fun, postaday2011, Relationships, Uncategorized

Tonight’s post of the day 2011 will be short and sweet.  If I had a magic tree, it would grow “time”.  The reason I decided that this is what I would want my magic tree to grow is that I have discovered that there are so many amazing things that can be done in this world, there just seems not enough time to do them all.

I also would love to have an ample supply of time that I could pick as I need it so that I could spend more time with my children and my grandchildren who even though they occasionally bring some headaches, truly bring me so much joy every day.

So there you have it, get in line for the magic tree in my backyard will soon be sprouting leaves of time.

The Town I Grew Up In

parenting, postaday2011, Relationships

As I think back on the town I grew up in, I realize that it was, at least to my childhood memory, just about perfect.

We lived in a three bedroom mobile home trailer which inside was a rather tight space for our family however the trailer was on its own piece of property in a neighborhood.  This meant we actually had a front yard, back yard and a huge side yard.  My paternal grandparents lived behind us so of course we had access to all of that space as well.

Our town was small back then, though I couldn’t tell you the exact population.  I just know that to me it felt like I knew almost everyone and if I didn’t my parents or grandparents certainly did.  I knew every family on my street to be sure, all the way to the lake which was at the far end, probably sixteen blocks or so at least.

If I was hurt or in trouble anywhere on the street, I could safely go knock on the nearest door and ask for help, even if it was something as simple as using the restroom.

I could probably still give you the names of those families and some of them I’ve been in touch with in recent years.  Several of those families were present at my grandparents’ funerals.

Most kids in the neighborhood were on a first name basis with the family who owned the corner store and the gas station at the end of the street as well.  If it was your birthday you could be sure that whatever you bought in the store that day would be “on the house” because the owner somehow just knew it was your special day.

When it rained really hard and fast, the big treat of the day was to put on a bathing suit and tramp and swim in the ditches on the side of the road.  Now wait parents cause I can hear you screaming at this.  As a parent today I would freak out if I saw children swimming in a ditch because of dangers from traffic, glass, trash, bacteria, etc. but we did it repeatedly every summer until I was about twelve and here I am.  It wasn’t just a different time back then, it truly was a completely different world.

We headed outside right after school during the week, would race home for dinner and then go back outside.  The primary rule in good weather was “be home before it gets dark.”  Weekend mornings there was an unwritten rule which kept us inside until after morning cartoons (about 11am usually) but then we’d be off to meet up with friends.  This gave us plenty of time to ride bikes, climb trees and whatever else our young minds could devise.  Many times on weekends, our house was the place everyone headed for just before dark, with permission first from parents of course to stay out later, and there were games of flashlight tag, ghost in the graveyard and hide and seek.

To say I was in a gang probably would be overdoing it, but our street had a core group of kids that were just about inseparable with a few others thrown in here and there.  Sometimes we’d be joined by an occasional younger sibling at the “request” of our parents.  We setup a kool-aid stand in our big side yard and cars would stop and no one thought anything of it then.  Course we drank up a lot of the inventory too on hot days.  Several of us had pairs of tall stilts made from 2×2’s and we’d hold a circus event or stilt races in the side yard.

But what I remember most about the town where I grew up is that everyone knew everyone else.  We had to behave most of the time because the whole neighborhood was full of eyes.  If a neighbor saw us doing something we shouldn’t be doing, they’d quickly come out, give us a lecture and send us home.  By the time we got home, at least one parent would be waiting on the doorstep because “Mrs. Smith” called each house to let them know what had gone on.

Maybe that’s why kids are in so much trouble today.  Neighbors not only don’t know one another but they are actually afraid to get involved in any way even verbally.  So the next time another parent or a neighbor approaches you about something your child did wrong, think about the intent behind their actions.  Even if they didn’t handle the situation in the same way you might have, be appreciative that they cared enough about your child to step in and to notify you so you could be more aware of your child’s world.

When the community stands together in raising children, it can create a much more effective and nurturing environment for everyone.  Let’s get back to that world again.  I know it can be done if enough people care.

What Can’t I Say “No” To?

Finding Self, postaday2011

This will come as no big surprise to most people who know me but the one thing I can’t say “no” to is helping someone who needs help.  It really doesn’t matter what kind of help is needed.  If it’s something that I feel I can do or at least help with, it takes all my effort to say “no” to someone.

This has gotten me into many a predicament over the years and has resulted in my being overbooked in multiple areas.  Early in my career it meant that I was often helping other people or coming up with ideas to better help other people after work hours had ended.

When I first became a mom this tendency got me involved in various activities involving other single moms.  Not because I thought I was doing such a great job myself, but just because it seemed that someone needed to bring single moms together so they could help one another to cope.

Later in my career it meant I worked long hours often without being paid just to make sure that everyone had what they needed when they needed it.  And in that phase of my career it resulted in burn out and a need to change industries for a job that was strictly 9-5 pm for a while.

Now later in life, I still have that tendency to say yes when someone asks for my help but I try to restrict it to family and close friends.  I have found that recently I’ve been saying yes to too many clients in the same week and it results in my schedule being overloaded so I’m working on being able to say “I can schedule that for next week” instead of “sure I can do it by tomorrow”.

Now if I can just figure out how to say “no” more often to my 2 1/2-year-old when she gives me her little sad face, I’ll be good to go.