My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Moving and Attitudes in Our Work

We finally moved into our new house and are adjusting to unpacking and setting up where everything goes. Probably the hardest part for me has been adjusting to a new kitchen. Trying to remember which drawer has the measuring cups, where are the coffee cups, or trying to remember where the pots and pans are. But after four days I am learning.

With all the stress of the move one aspect that I appreciated was the moving company who moved our big furniture pieces. To save money we moved most of our boxes ourselves. For our furniture we went with a local moving company. I know my limits and would rather trust our large pieces to professionals.

Observing the movers in action; loading the truck in Brownsville and then unloading in New Braunfels helped me to appreciate their skill and hard work. I also started thinking about work attitudes. The movers worked as a team and I sensed a positive spirit between them as they joked with each other. From shrink wrapping our couch and recliners to wrapping up my wife’s dining room hutch they took care in what they did. I mentioned to one of the movers how well they worked together and that they appeared to enjoy their work. He went on to tell me about a three story move once, where they were bringing down a large marble furniture piece and the owner seeing them in good spirits said to them. “Shouldn’t you be cussing carrying such a difficult piece?” His response was how would cussing and having a bad attitude help in moving a large marble furniture piece?

He is so right a nasty work attitude does not contribute to excellence in work. Jessica Pryce-Jones in her book Happiness at Work says of work attitude: “Bad attitude is bad news. Because it is more often a cause for downfall than failing to do a job well…” Bad attitude spreads negativity throughout the workplace. It affects a person’s motivation to do an excellent job and then can affect the motivation of those around them. This results in poor work results and complaints of boredom as the bad attitude worker is not open to learn new ways to improve their work.

A positive work attitude is like the movers I observed. Dedicated to being careful with the customer’s belongings, working energetically even in difficult situations. We had a one story house which is nice for movers but the morning was very hot so they were sweating profusely. They sure appreciated the bottles of Gatorade we picked up for them at the Stripes Gas Station.

Reflecting over their hard work caused me to reflect on my work attitudes. In my work life my hardest days were when I fed into negativity. These days would cause a downward spiral affecting work performance and my life outside of work. Thankfully those days have been few and far between as I have mentioned before from a spiritual standpoint as a Christian, I try to keep a God focus in my work. I try to do my work as pleasing to God first and then secondly for the customers I serve; which for the past 10 years has been helping College students succeed in their lives.

The moving experience helped me to see all types is work is important. To have a better work experience an attitude check is a must each and everyday.

Reflect over your work experience. Do you primarily carry a positive or bad attitude in your work experience? Write down a couple of ideas how can you improve your work attitude by “kicking it up a notch”, as the Chef, Emeril Lagasse , used to say on his Food Network show?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life Moves and Life Poems

My family is making a move from Brownsville, Texas to New Braunfels, Texas. We have visited many times in the past the Hill Country area and my wife and I thought it would be a good place to retire. As happenstance has a way of doing, events transpired for the move to occur now when we are still a distance from retiring. When you have settled in one place as we have been in the Rio Grande Valley for 10 years, it is hard to move to another place; even if it is a place you like. For me there is trepidation in that I am stepping out with no set job yet. My wife has a new opportunity but even that for her -- she has to face a new situation.

I find solace in that recently at church and other spiritual readings we have encountered, Faith has been a topic facing us. Any change takes faith to step out to try something new. In our faith we know in our heart that God has opened this new direction. So even though all the pieces are not together we know the puzzle will fall into place.

I was recently practicing a Michael Card song for a speech at my daughter’s school and it made me think of God’s direction in our lives. I have the words below for The Poem of Your Life. Click on the title hyperlink to listen to a Youtube video of Michael Card singing it. He is being accompanied by my favorite guitarist Phil Keaggy.

The Poem Of Your Life by Michael Card

Life is a song We must sing with our days A poem with meaning
More than words can say A painting with colors No rainbow can tell
A lyric that rhymes Either heaven or hell

We are living letters That doubt desecrates We're the notes of the song
Of the chorus of faith God shapes every second Of our little lives
And minds every minute As the universe waits by

The pain and the longing The joy and the moments of light
Are the rhythm and rhyme The free verse of the Poem of life

So look in the mirror And pray for the grace To tear off the mask See the art of your face Open your earlids And hear the sweet song Of each moment that passes And pray to prolong

Your time in the ball Of the dance of your days Your canvas of colors Of moments ablaze With all that is holy With the joy and the strife
Of the rhythm and rhyme Of the poem of your life
Of the rhythm and rhyme Of the poem of your life

Poems have various stanzas that make up the whole meaning of the poem. Viewing our life journey as a poem we see each turning point segment begins a new stanza. Recently as I prepare for the move I look back at the memories of our home here, friends and co-workers who will be missed. In faith I look towards a new stanza of the poem beginning in our new setting of New Braunfels (click to view the N.B. Visitors website).

It is comforting to know that God is guiding the minutes of my life. God helps create meaning in my poetic journey. In a way I can see Him as the Poet and Artist behind the shaping of my life. Yet through the pains, the joys, the plans, the serendipitous surprises He allows me to make personal Choices, which creates as the song says, “the rhythm and the rhyme the free verse of the poem of life.” Based on our choices we can make our life a heaven or a hell.

Take time to write a Poem about memories of a previous Poetic stanza in your life or write a Poem about the next stanza you see yourself stepping out in Faith towards.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Encourage Reading With Book Fairs

This week of May 2-8, 2011 is Children’s book week. The official website to promote this week is where more information about it can be obtained. They have an important quote listed on their “About” page – “A great nation is a reading nation." That is a statement I sincerely believe in. If we want to keep our country great one important factor is keeping people literate. Reading needs to be encouraged to keep growing fertile minds of creativity and critical thinking. We as a society need to start with the young which is the importance of Children’s book week. Then of course all ages need to continue to read to keep reading at the forefront of culture.

Earlier this week I experienced one way to encourage reading in children and adults. In the nearby city of McAllen, they had their first International Book Fair May 1-3. I remembered the Book Fairs when I was living in Chicago. Especially the 57th Street Book Fair down near the University of Chicago campus. The book readings and the books from various publishers on display made for an atmosphere to promote the joy of reading. I knew this one in McAllen would not be comparable since it was just starting out. But as I have said since my daughter calls me Mr. Bookhead, where there are books I must go. I was not able to attend the first day but went out early on the Monday morning. I made it to the McAllen Convention Center at the starting time. Knowing the Rio Grande Valley I should have known that Monday morning is not the best time to attend any kind of Fair.

As I walked into the main hall I noticed a small amount of the booth spaces were open. There was a Publisher from Mexico there which makes sense as this is a Border town. The local Barnes & Nobles had a large booth space. There were a couple of Christian Bookstores open and to my surprise a used bookstore. I had been in the Valley for 10 years and did not know McAllen has several Used bookstores.

In speaking with people there I found out that Sunday had been very crowded which was encouraging to hear. They were anticipating more people to come out in the afternoon. Local schools had been invited as well to bring children. That was a positive idea to invite the schools to the event. Probably a Saturday, Sunday , and Monday timeframe would have been better.

As I was leaving, I met the man who dreamed up the book fair event. His name is Oscar Moreno. He shared how his family as he was growing up encouraged reading. Book fairs his father took him to in Mexico caught his interest in reading. Oscar brought up a concern he has how so much of free time in the Valley is spent watching movies and videos so he wanted this book fair as a way to encourage more reading in the Valley. I encouraged him to keep up letting this event grow in the future as it is a tool to help encourage reading. I have a lot of respect for a man such as this who took his dream and brought it to fruition. He shared how many people scoffed at the idea, even well educated lawyers. I told him not to let negativity from others to dissuade him from doing this again. Hopefully his idea will expand to the Lower valley of San Benito and Brownsville.

When you have the opportunity to attend a Book Fair take the opportunity. It helps you see what book stores are in the area. They offer opportunities to meet authors and learn more about the writing process. The experience can also open the minds of young children and young people the importance of reading.

Reflection: How are you encouraging the joy of reading in children that you know? Mark on your calendar next years date for Children’s Book Week - 2012: May 7 – 13. Take a moment to reflect over the last book you read for enjoyment.