I bow to you O Gentle Soul:
May all Heats hear the Truth in your silence.
May all Hearts see the Wisdom in your work.
May all Hearts feel Peace in your presence.
May all Hearts be yours.
With LOVE and Devotion,
She popped into our lives rather unexpectedly this past Saturday. A petite little blonde, wide-eyed wearing big round glasses and driving a classic old Mercedes Benz . No doubt, she could easily be your Grandmother or mine!
On the way to a Saturday morning hair appointment across town, she became confused. Flora Nicely (yes, that’s her real name) missed the Malvern Avenue stop sign and plowed into the middle of a busy through-street intersection. I turned just in time to see her hit the back end of a small car, pushing hard enough to spin it a full 360 degrees.
My husband and I set coffee mugs down, dashed across the lawn and out into the street. The small car driver was shaken but reported no injury. I ran ahead to the Mercedes and that is when I met Flora for the first time.
She was confused and scared. I asked her if she was hurt and proceeded to confirm that she was not physically injured. We unsnapped her seatbelt and gently lifted both legs to the side. Everything looked good to me. I’m ok she insisted.
Her first question was “Did someone hit me…or did I do something?”
Uhh. Well… I reported – it looks like you hit that car down the street. The good news is that the driver isn’t hurt.
I could see Flora melt in fear and concern. I reached out and took her hand in mine. It was a natural reaction; perhaps I could provide some comfort and strength by holding on.
The police were on their way. In the meantime, we called her hairdresser, contacted her neighbor (who drove over to help), located the insurance and registration papers, and kept her comfortable. And we small talked.
She said she was 91 years old (the DOB on her driver’s license was 1916), living on her own, and had been driving since she was 15. Her daughter and family were in Paris on vacation. She had both knees and one hip replaced in recent years; her walker was folded and lay neatly on the back seat next to the aluminum cane. Flora kept remarking how beautiful the neighborhood looked and how much she liked all the old bungalow homes and front yard flower gardens. When she happened to remember her immediate predicament, the talk shifted to what would happen next – what the officer might do and how bad the damage was on the cars.
Flora didn’t have to say it out loud, but she was terrified about losing something very precious and dear – her driver’s license. My heart was heavy since the future was easy to see. There is no way Flora would be cruising the streets of Fullerton CA again!
I had the privilege of holding Flora Nicely’s hand many times in that hour and one half. I couldn’t help but think about her life and how it would change as a result of this incident. Could she let go gracefully?
The impact of losing the last vestige of independence best known as a driver’s license can be overwhelming for the independent elderly. In fact, most of us – elderly or not – would be bummed about handing over our keys forever. No one wants to become dependent on family, neighbors, and friends; but what if you have no other choice?
After our morning with Flora, I’m convinced that being dependent on others for a ride is something that we should be preparing for in advance. After all, some degree of dependency at some unknown moment in time is our destiny – yours and mine!
Until then, pause and take a look around. Surely there is someone within your reach who could use a hand. Offer to drive your “neighborhood Flora” to the hairdresser, the store, or bank on a regular basis. Every day that you help them celebrate their remaining independence is a gift!
Now don’t forget to tuck the walker and cane in the back. And while you’re out, think about stopping for a light meal. Who knows where a little lunch + small talk might take you?
Most of all, enjoy the ride.
May you find WISDOM in holding hands with your Flora Nicely. May you be a source of LOVE and kindness wherever you go.
These sea turtle babies appeared over at the FDL blog on Friday. Triggered by the sighting, my mind flashed back to a family vacation in Florida (1969?). Out for an evening beach walk, our family encountered a large group of turtles spread over a wide area – who were in various stages of digging nests and laying eggs!
Most of all I remember the tears; giant pearl droplets that ran out of their turtle eyes as they dropped dozens of eggs in the nest holes. Why were they crying? Perhaps they were sad? This 12 year old girl did not understand.
Today I read that the sea turtles in the Florida Gulf are in danger. And it’s not just from the oily dispersant-filled waters. BP cleanup efforts conducted on beaches at night under bright lights have the potential to disorient and confuse hatchlings. As a result, many may not find their way to the sea. This is shaping up to be another potentially devastating problem.
Lest we forget, the act of cleaning up has consequences too.
Of course the turtles don’t know about the toxic brew in the waters. And as long as the BP lights are off, they’ll be on their way. Yet I’m afraid and sad for the little guys…it seems the odds of them making it through are so small. This time giant pearl drop tears run out of my eyes.
Today I learned that sea turtles cry to remove excess salt from their body and to clear sand from their eyes while on land. Their eggs hatch about eight weeks after they’ve been laid. Very few eggs actually hatch, and the hatchlings that survive will have to overcome many obstacles. Upon hatching they orient to the brightest part of the sky, the horizon, and on the way enter into the sea.
I am reminded how perfectly Mother Nature provides for her children.
She’s practical, and as designed, uses tears to remove excesses and encumbrances. She’s proactive, laying many eggs to counter balance the reality that few will hatch. Mother Nature imbeds wisdom into her “art-work” as a female sea turtle knows her duty and fulfills her destiny when nests are dug and eggs are laid. There are no attachments to the act of birth or expectations for the future. Since mother sea turtles are not around when the eggs hatch, the hatchlings instinctively initiate the process of survival…they simply follow the light.
What could we learn from Mother Nature that might help us now?
That Nature protects and provides, renews and reclaims. That there is perfection in the design and in the processes of birth, life, and death. That things are what they are.
Thankfully there are kind, concerned folks who are fighting for the turtles; let’s hope they will succeed. Life in the Gulf requires great patience and strength. May those who are fighting for the lives of Mother Nature’s children be blessed.
May the sea turtles find their way.
We send what aid we can…including our LOVE and gratitude.
Going…Beyond Petroleum and Everything Else
with a little help from a Roadmap and a wise, old Sūtra quoted below:
Notice how things are “beyond broken” everywhere we turn?
It doesn’t matter what we’re discussing: the Gulf or a coal mine in WV, economics here or abroad, Government, Countries/States/Cities, institutions/corporations/unions, our financial security – the systems we have built and sustained over the last 45+ years are failing.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. But that’s the problem with blame – you just go round and round and nothing gets solved and or fixed. Those who are responsible and who are protecting the status quo love blame games as it keeps them safe from being outed for their crimes and indiscretions.
Sometime last year I finally realized the TRUTH. Our problems, challenges, issues lie beyond what any single person, politician, Party, Government, institution/corporation can solve. We’re in too deep! Those in positions of power have become absolutely powerless to do anything meaningful to change anything anymore. Witness the recent attempts at health care reform, financial reform, managing the BP disaster, and so on.
They pretend they have achieved meaningful reform and or progress – but instead, it’s BUSINESS AS USUAL. They can’t admit the truth of their ignorance/incompetency/impotency or the entire charade would collapse. Besides, why “come clean” when the system is already rigged in your favor? They’re all in on the privatize the profits and socialize the losses game. That’s why we’ll never see real change coming from the top!
Therefore, We the People must create the change we want to see – for ourselves, by ourselves. There is no other way.
I’m advocating for a WE and not me approach here as this will take collaboration and teamwork on a broad scale. Look for Leaders/Leadership to emerge on a local level and within established communities (the Blog Roll members listed below would be an example of a community operating in the economic/financial realm).
Together WE can develop plans for taking action and finding the way forward.
It doesn’t have to be total chaos. We can choose. Let’s become advocates for what we want to be/to see and NOT for what we fear/or fear we have lost. This is the critical choice!
I’ve promised you a Roadmap. Here are the ideas for getting BEYOND BROKEN:
- GET A GRIP on the TRUTH. See the blame game for what it is. Angry talking heads, finger pointing, tantrums, asking the President to get madder – don’t accomplish anything. The whole point is that blame keeps you tied up and impotent; too afraid, depressed or angry to act. When you stop the blaming (and the angry, fearful emotions that accompany it) you are free to see the truth, to see beyond what is broken.
- ACCEPT what is real, right here right now. Yes we’re incredibly sad, heartbroken and scared that TopKill didn’t work. Yes we’re worried about how we’re going to afford to support ourselves for another 30 years. Yes we’re aware that nobody’s being held accountable for any bad deed (emphasis on financial) anywhere anymore. ACCEPTANCE, without blame or expectation, is the only way forward.
- Be GRATEFUL for what you do have. Yes, we’re living paycheck to paycheck, yet we still have our family, friends, food on the table and a roof overhead. Find the positive and acknowledge it by showing gratitude as expressed through/in your thoughts, words, and deeds. This is your foundation, your rock, your strength; it will keep you grounded and strong.
- Choose to GO BEYOND. Ask yourself: what ACTION can I take right here right now in response? If I have financial abundance, then making a financial contribution to those advocating for your issue/cause of choice is a good move. Perhaps you have the time to volunteer. You don’t have to go down to the Gulf when those in your local community are in need. Choose to GO BEYOND by being an ADVOCATE for the things that matter most, for what you value and believe in.
- Be an ADVOCATE. Be the change, the hope, the LOVE, you want to see in the world! When you connect with what you believe in and bring that connection to life, you go beyond – you become an ADVOCATE for everything you value. Advocate’s Formula: Purpose + Passion/Compassion + Action = ADVOCACY (an ADVOCATE in action).
- Build a COMMUNITY. Look for other like-minded/hearted/handed folks to join you. This is a WE proposition; the power is in COLLABORATION, in harnessing the contributions of those within your community.
Going BEYOND BROKEN is a process, a journey, and not a destination. The Roadmap steps outlined above will support you in transforming your thinking/feeling/doing into something amazing. It’s like building The Bridge to Somewhere- where finding your way – is the Heart (Sutra) of the matter.
So here’s a Roadmap. Let your Bridge-building begin today!
May you GO BEYOND, even beyond the beyond, and into a new awareness and ENLIGHTENMENT.
Something’s up with this recession. It feels really different from what I remember in the past. My sense is that we’re in a kind of trance-like state, numb and stunned because we’ve been displaced on a grand scale - like the poor spider that got the “vacuum cleaner treatment” after a desperate tissue scooping attempt failed to net positive results.
Vac power on. Wooshhhh. Gone.
No one seems immune from the impact of this economic chaos. It’s swept up a diverse array of folks – across numerous industries, with varying levels of expertise and longevity, within all sizes of firms. Many of my family members, friends, and contacts are finding themselves unemployed or grossly under-employed for long periods of time. Most of you heard a giant sucking sound as the work, the 10 or 20% of gross pay, the special projects, the overtime, the 401K’s, the vacation, and the benefits disappeared. It’s just plain confounding, confining, and crazy; sort of like a spider’s life inside the vacuum bag.
I’m not exaggerating or being dramatic here. The impact of a recession on employment is well documented.
So how bad is it?
(click on the image below for a larger view) (use the left arrow button to return to this spot)
The trend doesn’t look real promising to me. Notice how much longer it took to achieve job loss recovery after the recent events of 1981, 1990, and 2001. Based on current trends, it’s logical to assume that we’re in for a prolonged recovery this time as well - which puts us at 47 months plus plus. UhOh, we’re not even half way there.
For all of you who have reported that it feels like we’ve fallen off a cliff – your proof is in the chart. That red line tracks one massive descent. No employment recession has been as deep (and perhaps as long – TBD) as this one.
Now you have the facts; the truth of the matter is that the employment situation is dire! Just today, the BLS reported an increase in the unemployment rate to 9.9% because 499,000 more Americans are out of work. On the other side of the equation there was an uptick in job creation; 290,000 jobs added sounds pretty good. It represents a start, but how could it possibly be enough given where we are?
Like some of you, I’m not content staring at harsh reality/facts without wanting to do something to improve and or change the situation. I believe that the way ahead involves a radical TRANSFORMATION of the dynamics of our present situation. We’ve got the power to get beyond current circumstances; let’s use it! We’ve got the compassion to help others on the way; it’s why we hurry outside with the vacuum bag to release our spider friend and why we read/write blogs.
For ideas on the TRANSFORMATION, let me quote from an earlier post of mine:
“We know all of us are going to have to readjust. To redefine our goals, dreams, expectations, and values as they relate to work, the economy and our prosperity. The future may be a little foggy…but with some focused effort and collaboration we can find ourselves heading in a positive new direction.”
We are committed to presenting ideas for charting a new course. Starting next week, every post will attempt to identify potential “next steps” in building your personal ROADMAP for the journey ahead.
Getting from where we are to where we need to go is a process – one we embrace whole heartedly! Your feedback and insight are invaluable to helping us build that BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE…
I ask you again – Are you in?
My thanks to the folks over at Calculated Risk who generated the chart. I visit their site several times a day to get insight related to the developing/evolving economic situation. I invite you to do the same!
Last night I was lured into watching one of the many interesting programs on the World Fishing Network (yeah, it’s fishing 24/7 plus lots of beautiful scenery). This particular show featured a well-known legend. The man LOVES to fish! He’s got his own program and all the best sponsors and gear. He understands the sport, and as a result – he catches and gently releases lots of fish. You can clearly see that he is grateful for the opportunity to be on the water, and genuinely happy to share his wisdom with the rest of us.
So imagine my surprise at getting personally “hooked up” by the work of this crafty fisherman during the final seconds of the show. He cast this comment into the ether of television land, and I took the bait.
“I used to fish for a living… now, I live to fish”.
A giant smile crossed his face as the camera zoomed in for a close-up. I swear the guy was glowing like a shiny Big Mouth bass! He looked absolutely joyful.
No doubt, this is a man who has realized his dream and is living it.
I was touched by his sincerity and genuine desire to share the details of his wonderful life. Obviously he’d crossed The Bridge and ended up Somewhere really special – from fishing for a living to living to fish. What happened that enabled him to get to the other side and live his passion?
I’ve been contemplating that question most of the afternoon and have come to this conclusion: it was a matter of personal choice. At some point in time, he must have made a conscious decision, a choice to – live to fish.
Really? Could it be that simple? Perhaps, let’s run through an example to see if it makes sense.
You need to make a living; you like fishing and are a decent fisherman, so you find that you can fish and generate income. Sweet. You improve your skills and reinvest profits in upgrading your gear. As a result you catch more fish, build your reputation and sponsors, and grow your business and income. Each year the cycle continues. You crank faster and harder. Then one day you wake up to realize you’ve become a fishing machine!
You make decent money. You fish every day. But something’s missing.
Where did the JOY of fishing go?
You have reached the pinnacle of fishing for a living. And you realize that the fishing machine is driving the boat full speed ahead. No wonder the joy is missing from your fishing experience. Now what?
By waking up to the reality of your situation, you take the first step to reclaiming the live to fish dream. Take heart – obviously our fishing legend found himself here too – he used to fish for a living, remember?
So how do you make the transition – to get into the glorious position of living your dream? Interestingly enough, the answers are found in the first paragraph of this post.
What empowers the process and facilitates your passage is the way in which you live to fish.
I’ll repeat the first paragraph and highlight the key attributes to show you what I mean.
The man LOVES to fish! He’s got his own program and all the best sponsors and gear. He understands the sport, and as a result – he catches and gently releases lots of fish. You can clearly see that he is grateful for the opportunity to be on the water, and genuinely happy to share his wisdom with the rest of us.
We can choose how to live while on the path to fulfillment of our dreams. It seems to me that is where our focus needs to be. By living your passion in every moment…with LOVE, with understanding, gently, gratefully, genuinely, happily, in service, with wisdom…your destiny is fulfilled. You are sure to catch yourself smiling and glowing – just like a Big Mouth bass about to be released.
You can start living right here, right now. Wherever you are. Whatever your passion.
May you find your way.
Welcome to The Bridge to Somewhere.
This is the site for those of us searching to find our place in this crazy economy or as we fondly refer to it – the New Economy.
We need a BRIDGE because we’re in transition. Plus, bridges are also a means of connection – which is what we hope this site will be.
And going SOMEWHERE is so much better than going Nowhere!
Of course, it’s no secret that this economy has hurt a lot of good people. For many, the process of trying to understand what happened and what to do next is confounding. Despite our best efforts, it’s easy to feel like you’re getting nowhere – fast! Since we’re on the path to discover a new direction ourselves, it makes sense to document our progress. Why not share what we’re learning?
Experience transformed into thoughts, words, and deeds is power. This moment in time is precious and we choose to use it in pursuit of finding the way forward.
Let’s start by telling the story as we’ve lived it.
Once upon a time (over most of the last 25 years) nearly everyone who wanted to work was working. Opportunity was abundant and most of us could enter or change career direction through education, training and or through individual efforts like proving yourself. “Making a living” was a course to be charted and a process to be followed; that’s probably why many of us referred to it as a career path. We took the process of work seriously and we even allowed it to define who we were in the world.
Our commitment to work helped build an economy. In return, the economy generated work. And in our paradigm, work and the economy became the YIN and YANG of economic PROSPERITY.
The evidence of prosperity – in terms of opportunity and growth – was everywhere! And no matter the circumstances in which you were working, it was possible to achieve your chosen definition and degree of prosperity.
But somewhere along the way things started to change. The tested and true strategies for overcoming obstacles, achieving success, and generating prosperity stopped producing.
We found ourselves in various forms of transition; we were being squeezed out of good positions or downsized, passed over for promotion, working for greatly reduced commissions or on straight commission, and even working for FREE (on the promise of future revenue). In addition, the abundant opportunities of the past (new positions, new projects, contract work, startups) were becoming scarcer.
It’s hard to say if it was the economy or the work side of the equation that broke down first. Perhaps both were eroding simultaneously. What we would later come to realize, is that things really hadn’t been what they seemed to be! Our beliefs about our security in the world of work and the reality we were facing were two completely different things. It was one of those shocking “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” moments.
Unfortunately, we never took the time to fully understand the economy/economic/financial side of the equation. It’s accurate to admit we took it for granted. Consequently, we were not prepared for the crash (October 2008). This final event forced us into some heavy soul-searching…
The truth is that what we had created and sustained was an illusion of prosperity. “Prosperity” had been (and is being) nurtured and supported through unsound practices – fancy financial manipulation – bubbles and debt – with help from Wall Street, The FED, Uncle Sam, Congress, unions, a corporate-owned media, and corporate-sponsored lobbyists. Sadly, the working people of America are bearing the burden for the combined failures of the entities and institutions listed here. The loss of equity – in everything from our careers, our home values and retirement/savings, and in our lives – is unprecedented.
We were living “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs” story all along and didn’t know it. Or if we did suspect that things weren’t right, we didn’t or couldn’t do anything about it. Yes, we “goosed” the economy to death. For what, exactly?
We know that the world of work, the economy, and one’s economic prosperity are intrinsically linked. That’s why there are so many talented, experienced, hard-working folks finding themselves in the following categories.
- Employed Under Stress.In a situation where layoffs have decimated work groups and everyone must do more with less. The impact is felt in real terms such as permanent pay cuts and a decrease and or elimination of benefits like paid vacations, 401K’s, healthcare benefits and insurance. Add the constant fear of losing your job, and for a few – guilt that you’re still employed – and you have the new normal at work.
Check. Check. Check. We’ve been there too.
And when/why did so many of the things we believed in and could count on stop working for us?
- I’ve always been able to make a good living.
- If I apply myself and work hard, I create financial success/security for myself and my family.
- If I did want to change jobs, or if I found myself in a search of a new job, my experience would produce options – a choice of where I go and what I do.
- You can do meaningful work in the world and make a living.
- You can reach key contacts and prospects by phone during work hours.
- A great resume will help you get noticed.
- I can sell the house in 3 months and move out of state for that new position.
- The contractors and or consultants (1099 employees) are making all the money and having all the fun.
- Teachers and Government workers don’t do as well financially as those of us in the private sector.
- We’ll be better off financially than our parents.
- The free market rewards those who play by the rules.
- The system rewards those who produce positive results.
- Performance and pay go hand-in-hand.
- You are never too good or too big to fail.
- If we don’t buy a home now we’ll be priced out of the market.
- Taking personal responsibility for our mistakes is a virtue.
- The fundamentals of the economy are strong.
- Excuses (“We didn’t see it coming!”) are always a cover-up.
If any or even all of the above are no longer true…than this blog is for you. If any or all of these are still true we want to hear from you too.
Here’s what we’ve learned from our experiences:
- The old ways and the old rules (at work and in the economy) – NO LONGER APPLY. They won’t/can’t get us where we are going next.
- The work/jobs (as we knew them) are never coming back.
- More for less is the new normal in the workplace. More work, more hours, more responsibility, more stress, more fear (of losing your job). All with less people and for less compensation (measured in both wages and benefits)!
- There are lots of great folks out there who want to work, to contribute and who are finding the marketplace unbelievably challenging and inhospitable.
- The way forward is not understood and or well-known.
So, how did we get here? Where are we headed? How do we get from here to there? Which path do we take?
We believe that getting from here to there will require a major transition. Like you, we’re not sure exactly where we’re headed or what the final destination will be. But hey, we’re optimistic! We’ve got faith that wherever it is – all will be well.
That’s why we’re building The Bridge to Somewhere - to the land of what’s next. Our intention is to share our experiences. To let others know they are not alone. (And NO! You are NOT a loser!!). We’re not just walking this path…we’re living it!
Here’s what we believe in:
- Prosperity. For those who choose it. For those who create it, collaborate, and contribute to it.
- We create value and build equity by giving more than we take.
- It’s up to us to develop a plan, find our next steps and get moving in the New Economy.
- There’s a place for everyone who wants to “play” in the New Economy.
- Together we can create a world where cooperation, harmony, and generosity leads to success, abundance, and prosperity for all.
We know all of us are going to have to readjust. To redefine our goals, dreams, expectations, and values as they relate to work, the economy and our prosperity.
The future may be a little foggy…but with some focused effort and collaboration we can find ourselves heading in a positive new direction!
Are you in?