Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Now hiring out my child for motivational speaking opportunities

Friday, June 26, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - It had been a long day at work, and it was only just barely after lunch. I was driving Emerson and her BFF, Kayla, back to the university with me, where they'd been and helped and behaved themselves all day. But I'd only gotten 4 hours sleep the night before, and I had needed to be on campus by 6:45 a.m., so I was dragging.

We sat in the air conditioning in the car while I tried to get myself back in gear.




Yeah, no. It wasn't happening.

"Ugh, I need a hype man!" I exclaimed. "I need to get hyped up for the rest of the day."

Emerson sprang forward in the backseat: "You can DO this, mama. Just ONE MORE HOUR. You are SMART. Everybody LIKES you. You are IMPORTANT, and EVERYBODY KNOWS it. You can do this!"

Tony Robbins, look out.

She kept it up as we walked back in the building. By the time we got back to my office, I was grinning and felt great. I'm thinking of renting her out as Ultimate Hype Whoa-man.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I didn't think I'd ever get remarried, but...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I'm manning a table with my coworkers, and the sun is in my eyes.

"Ugh, it's burning my face off," I grumble.

"You can move the pop-up banner to block the sun," M. comments.

But I only got four hours of sleep last night, and it's honestly less effort to let my face melt.

"Eh, that would require moving," I joke.

He grins, gets up, and slides it over to block my face from the death rays turning it into Jello: "Is that a subtle hint that I should do it for you?"

"No," I laugh. "I just didn't get enough sleep last night."

"Geez, it's like being married," he chuckles.

The sun is still in my eyes. 

I grin: "Well, then, here's where I tell you you're not good enough."

I move the banner over another foot, then sit back down.

"Yep," he deadpans. "We're officially married."

B. stands up. "See you. I'm going back upstairs."

"Wish I could go with you," M. says.

I give him a faux glare: "But now we have to have an argument. About your mother."

"Well, I wouldn't want to miss that."

Monday, June 15, 2015

On apologies and forgiveness

Monday, June 15, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - Of all the lessons I try to teach Emerson, I think the most powerful is how to give and to accept apologies and offer forgiveness.

Whether it is for a minor offense ("I'm sorry I dropped that glass.") or a major snafu ("I am sorry I forgot our anniversary."), I try really hard to model and to encourage what it takes to give and accept apologies and try to forgive.

On apologies

Apologies can be a beautiful thing. I'm not talking about the begrudging "SOR-RY!" that you might get from a playground bully when he or she is forced to apologize by a teacher. Or the snarky "Oh, sorry..." you might receive from that adult Regina George wanna-be who always manages to put other people's children down while exalting her own children. Or even the "sorry, sorry" that we mutter as reflex whenever we pass to closely someone on a crowded street.

Sincere apologies are really an amazing human response. With just a few words - that we developed over several millenia (no big deal, right?) and the appropriate non-verbal cues, we have the power to heal other people of actual wounds that we have inflicted. They may not be physical wounds, but they're no less real. Apologies can temper humiliation, lessen grudges, eliminate vengeance, and inspire forgiveness. They can assuage guilt, reduce shame, and improve self-esteem. They can repair a broken relationship, knit a marital rift, and mend a torn friendship.

With that much power, it's no wonder they don't come easily. And it's not surprising that it demands a lot from a person.
  • First, an apology requires a person to have the self-awareness to realize that you have committed an offense against another person. That's a level of self-reflection that a lot of people do not possess.
  • Second, an apology requires a person to take ownership of the wrong and accept the consequences of their behavior.
  • Third, an apology is best served with some kind of restitution - some way to right the wrong that was perpetrated. 
That's a lot. So when someone apologizes, it's important to be gracious. Because every apology requires a certain display of humility. The person apologizing is prostrating themselves before you, to an extent.

But when the quality of your character matters to you, and you care about the people you have hurt, a sincere apology is usually worth it. And sincerity cannot be faked. But many people will try, and it's in your best interests to learn how to recognize a person who is insincere in his or her apology in some way. Perhaps he or she is seeking your approval, but not truly remorseful. Perhaps he or she is simply sorry for getting caught, and not for the behavior. Perhaps they face social pressure to mend the relationship. Perhaps they feel guilty, but are apologizing for themselves, and not for you.

The issue that we often run into is that accepting an apology is expected, once it is offered. Even a mere suggestion of contrition brings to bear a social code wherein the wounded party is required to immediately forgive the offending party.

But what if the apology is insincere? What if the apology is given to regain social status, for example? There are ways to tell.

A person offering an insincere apology will toy with the right words, but ultimately insist on including the wounded party in the blame. It is sociopathic behavior, but if the person you're dealing with was fixed with a strong moral center, he or she likely wouldn't have done something for which an apology is necessary. He or she will:

  • Remind you of your supposed moral responsibility to accept his or her apology.
  • Will accuse you of similar behavior to deflect from their offense, or find a reason to blame you in some way.
  • Will be dishonest in relating the facts of the offense leading up to the apology.
  • Will express sympathy and concern for you, but not regret or remorse for the wrong.
  • Will talk more about their own situation to garner sympathy for themselves, break down your barrier to forgiveness and manipulate you into their good graces or control again.
So how do you know if an apology is sincere? Well, you can carry around the checklists above, but that's not very practical. In general, if you feel worse after an apology, it's probably not sincere. And you have to accept that the person speaking to you is not actually sorry, and there is nothing you can do to change that. What you have to do is decide if this person is worthy of being in your life. How big was the offense? What were the motivations behind it? How likely is it to happen again? Is this a first offense or a repeating pattern? And only you can answer those questions.

On forgiveness 

How important is it to forgive someone for an offense?

Forgiveness is central to the Christian tradition, and therefore it's a common theme in American culture. The Bible has a lot to say on the subject, but forgiveness is generally defined as an act of mercy and grace on the part of the wronged. It is interesting to note that English translations lack the nuance of the original languages - Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic - and there are scholars who differ on the translation of the word.

From a secular standpoint, most people turn to the seeming wisdom of Hannah Arendt. In "The Human Condition," she argued that forgiveness is a necessary achievement. That the opposite of forgiveness is punishment: Without forgiveness, we would be forever "confined to one single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer's apprentice who lacked the magic formula to break the spell."

I'm not a religious or philosophical leader. Yet I say forgiveness is ideal, but unnecessary. It is a choice we make based on who we want to be - and it's important to make the distinction between forgiving someone and trusting someone.

It is possible to forgive someone and choose to trust him or her again.

It is also possible to forgive someone and choose not to trust that person again.

It is possible forgive someone and believe that he or she should still be punished for a crime.

It is also possible to forgive an offense too quickly or too readily - and thus offer forgiveness as in-authentically as any insincere apology, because true forgiveness is a process.

But it is also possible to choose not to forgive someone, and still lead a happy, progressive life. To interact with them in a professional or friendly way. In other words, to choose not to excuse an offender's behavior in any way, but to also refuse to let the offender's behavior dictate your own.

The common wisdom is that people who forgive are healthier and more whole, and that people who do not forgive are angry, bitter and live in the past. But common wisdom can also be terribly wrong. The narrative of necessary forgiveness assumes that an offender's behavior forever dictates the wronged person's behavior and even self-actualization. It assumes a childish game of tit-for-tat, wherein wherein the wronged person spews venom, attempts retribution, or fixates on the wrong or the offender.

And that can sometimes happen. We all know people like that. But that is not the case for all people. There are those who live by moral and ethical guidelines and do not make quid pro quo choices on how to behave towards other people. There exist people who can choose not to forgive an offender, and yet go about their days indifferent to schadenfreude. Those people practice acceptance over forgiveness.

So to accept an apology, or not? To forgive, or not to forgive? That is the question. Except it's really not. The real question is: Who is your offender, and who are you? Who do you want to be?

And only you can answer that.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The best way to welcome new employees

Friday, May 22, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - Recently, I was using the microwave in a different office. I was not familiar with this machine, and when I pushed the start button ... and the RADIO came on. I spun around looking for the source of the noise, and a professor came out of his office, to see me looking around in the air for the magical surprise radio. Simultaneously, we realized it was coming from the microwave at the same time.

"That's weird," he said. And we both laughed.

AND THEN I SAW IT. The button marked "voice record."

"What the hell does this do?" I asked.

"It probably lets you record a message when so it speaks instead of beeping when your food is done," he said.

So we tried it, but it didn't work that way. We supposed that it is probably a relic of the pre-cell-phone days, when people would leave messages for each other instead of texting.

Knowing the next person to discover this button would be equally surprised, I recorded "DON'T TOUCH THIS BUTTON!"

We have new faculty starting soon. I am looking forward to this.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beware the multibear... whatever that is

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 By


Emerson: "MOM."

Me: "zzzzzzhuh? What?"

I glance at the clock. It's 3:48 a.m.

Emerson: "Mom. I was telling him that he doesn't need to be afraid of the multibear, but he wasn't listening."

Me: "Oh?"

Emerson:"Do you know what a multibear is?"

Me: "No."

Emerson:"It's a bear with multiple heads."

I open my eyes on the darkened room. That's a scary mental picture.

Me: "Okay, and what about a multibear?"

Emerson: "Well, I was just telling him that he doesn't need to be afraid of the multibear, like it's not going to come out of the distance, or anything."

Me: "Right. That makes sense."

Emerson: "And then, just as I was saying that, boom. Multibear. Right in the distance."

Me: "Oh, man. That's scary. What did you do?"

Emerson: "zzzzzzzzzzz...:


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kids know how to make medicine fun

Thursday, May 14, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - So, long story short, as a result of her thrilling ER visit a while back, Emerson had to follow up with a pediatric gastroenterologist, who recommended a colonoscopy.

"How do you feel about that, Doodle?" I asked.

"Oh, I feel totally comfortable with it," Emerson said. "You know what she said? She said, 'Before this, you're going to poop your brains out, and after it, you're going to fart your brains out!'"

I snort-laughed. "Okay, well, she's not wrong about it, from what I understand."

"Maybe I can fart the alphabet."

"I would actually be interested to see that, Em."

Maybe this is where she discovers her superpower!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Growing up is hard - for moms

Monday, May 11, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Recently, Emerson experienced one of her first big disappointments. It was something she wanted very badly, something she worked hard to attain, and after being given an opportunity, that opportunity was snatched away from her because of someone else's mistake. It might still be fixable, but we don't know, yet.

It was hard to hear the deep, resonant sobs she poured out into the pillows. My heart hurt for her, and all I could do was hold her and say how sorry I was that this happened.

After an hour of bawling, she sat up and asked for something to drink. Then she looked at me askance. "And maybe a tiny bit of ice cream?"

Ha. She didn't get the ice cream. But we stayed up a little late, snuggling and talking. She cried a little more, but slowly calmed down. Then, as she came back from the bathroom right before bed, she squared her shoulders and looked at me. "I can't be sad anymore, mama. I have an audition tomorrow. And that's another opportunity."

If I hadn't already been lying down, I would have fallen down. She's 10, and already has a better head on her shoulders than I do at none-of-your-business-years-old.

She went to that audition with a great attitude and gave it her best. When she came out, she felt happy and confident. Then she said, "If I don't get it, I'll feel sad. But there's always another opportunity."

If she doesn't get into the program she wanted, it won't be because she didn't give it her best. And that's all we can ask of her.

But what do we do if she tries her best and doesn't get in? Do we tell her to work harder? Do we accept that she may not be good enough? I don't want to think about it right now, so we'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

But with her positive attitude and determination, even if she doesn't get in, it will probably be much easier for her to deal with than it will be for her mama... and for whatever fool rejects her.

Monday, May 04, 2015

And the Earth keeps spinning

Monday, May 04, 2015 By

Him: "I think we should not see each other anymore."

Her: "Um, I know you're seeing someone else, and you're going to lie about it in perpetuity. So I agree it's for the best that we don't see each other anymore."

Him: "Except if someone you don't even know dies and I need sympathy."

Her: "But that only benefits you. I don't get anything out of that."

Him: "I wasn't looking to give you anything."

Her: "Oh. Yeah, that sounds about right."

Friday, May 01, 2015

My Little Pony is still a better love story than Twilight

Friday, May 01, 2015 By


Emerson: Why are they drinking tomato juice? 

Me: Some people like to drink tomato juice.

Emerson: Like vegetarian vampires?

Me: Yep. Exactly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mother's Day is just around the corner

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 By

Augusta, GA. - Emerson just asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day. And she was genuinely confused by my answer.

"How about an expensive bottle of perfume?" "How about an expensive bunch of makeup?" "How about some expensive jewelry?"

First, I was somewhat concerned that the adjective preceding all of those possible gifts was "expensive." That's not something that impresses me... unless you're talking about my salary, amiright, ladies?!

Second, I don't want any of that stuff. I have never really wanted any of that stuff.

If you are looking for something to do for your mother for Mother's Day, I am telling you that the best thing you can do for your mom is to clean her freaking house and do her yard work. Just make her life a little bit easier.

Look, I like jewelry. I like perfume. Sometimes I like makeup - it just depends on the day. But what I like more than anything else is not having to do the dishes. It's not having to weed whack my yard. It's not having to cook dinner. It's not having to scrub the toilet.

What I like more than expensive jewelry and perfume and makeup is the ability to come home at the end of a long day at work and just enjoy my home and my family, and not have to think about all the things around me that need to be done so that I can take care of my home and my family. But, you know, not actually enjoy them.

So, folks, for Mother's Day, here's what your mom wants:
  1. An empty dishwasher
  2. An empty clothes washer
  3. An empty clothes dryer
  4. An empty laundry basket
  5. A full refrigerator
  6. Clean floors
  7. Organized shelves
  8. Mowed lawn
  9. Weeded garden
  10. Clean stove/oven
  11. Dusted surfaces
  12. Sparkling clean toilets
  13. Fed and bathed cats
  14. Clean litter boxes
  15. Wiped-down baseboards
  16. Scrubbed floors

And time. Time for herself, time with her family, time to breathe.

Although, if you don't feel like doing that stuff, she also wants a kayak.