Helping Our Leaders to Lead Us

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I have tried. I have really, really tried to sort out this election. I watched the first presidential debate, sticking through the entire thing with my jaw clenched painfully, in hope that SOMEONE would say something that would reach my heart and give me hope that ONE of these people really cared about me, my family, my financial and physical security and my health.

The faces of my children watching with me reflected the disappointment I felt. I think this was the hardest part of the debate, realizing none of my kids have passion for either political candidate because I want my children believe in our leaders. One of them said “Neither one cares about us mom. They only care about making the other person look bad.”

I missed the first VP debate so I found it on YouTube, thinking maybe there would some redemption with the potential “second in command” peeps. Sadly, the best part of this debate was the funny commercial I had to watch on YouTube before the debate started entitled “How to Poop at a Party”. This humorous advertisement for a product called Poo-Pourri with the hilarious phrase “Control the SHITtuation”  seemed a perfect slogan for the VP debates because within three minutes these men were interrupting and flinging metaphoric poo at each other. The same sick feeling rose in my stomach, though the thought did cross my mind that maybe these two might better serve us as options for the presidential slot that their running mates. It has to be pretty challenging for these two to defend their “bosses” who have both done and said enough upsetting things to have created an irrevocable sense of distrust among many, many voters.

Each of these people (presidential and vice presidential candidates) has had the opportunity to look passionately and humbly into the camera, ignore the poo slinging and say “People of America: I care about each one of you and promise to do my very best to surround myself with smart, equally caring people, who will in turn help me to help you be safe, fed, employed and treated fairly. I promise. With all I am. Amen.”

Yeah. It feels like we might all be in a little trouble.

So I’ve been trying to get my mind wrapped around how we might all carry on despite the inevitable “less than adequate” leadership coming our way and this thought keeps popping into my head:

“What if every single one of us made the commitment to make it EASIER for our leaders to lead us?”

The reality is, we are a difficult bunch to lead. In these United States of America, we have more rights than we know what to do with and many of us are so busy making sure these legally given rights are not stomped upon (insert ANY issue here) that we don’t realize (or maybe we do) that in the process we stomp upon other people’s rights. And this stomping has never been more evident than the present thanks to social media giving us all a much louder and more impactful voice. How does any leader stand a chance with such a diverse and difficult to please nation?

What if each of us stepped back from what we think we know and deserve, just for a minute, and ask our leaders, whether they be politicians, bosses, teachers, or parents “What can I do to make it easier for you to lead me and the rest of your minions?” Now I realize that is a little bit JFK “plagerism-ish” but despite the fact that the world has changed exponentially since the 1960’s, we are all still simply human, even our leaders. We need, now more than ever, to be asking what each of us can do for our country, and for our state, city, school, office and home to make this life we are are all trying to live to the best of our ability, a little bit easier, so that we aren’t all so desperate to be told by our leaders. who are ONLY human. that “everything is going to be okay”.

The reality is, it’s up to us to make things okay.

So, I’m going to pretend for a self indulgent moment that I am a presidential candidate and have been asked the question on national television by a member of the audience “What can I do to make it easier for you to lead me?”

Imagine that I am looking into the camera, which zooms in on my face, compassionate, kind and honest. (This is PRETEND. It’s like a movie people!) This is my moment to change the country for the better because what I say will be heard by MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of people who will APPLY what I say to their everyday thoughts, words and actions and I’ve only got two minutes to answer, IF I’m lucky and the person next to me doesn’t rudely interrupt my once in a lifetime opportunity. I take a deep breath and begin:

“My good and wonderful minion: this is a wonderful question, thank you! The first thing I would ask of you is to realize that I am doing my very best. All leaders on a large and small scale, from presidents to parents are doing their best. But we as human beings bring with us into this life adventure the baggage of our upbringing and our life experiences, of our successes and our failures, of our joys and our heart breaks. Not one of us begins our life thinking ‘I’m going to set out to be the worst, most heinous leader in the history of time.’ Life experiences change us and while we all truly care, sometimes we get a little lost in the chaotic shuffle. Leadership is complicated, especially for us politicians and humanity is not perfect. If it was it wouldn’t NEED leaders. We are all doing our best. If you can realize THIS about every human being, including yourself, you’ll be more apt to live in compassion, which by its very nature allows goodness to prevail.

I would ask of you to look to the person on your left and to the person on your right and recognize the following: they each have value; they are each struggling in their own way; and they each could use a helping hand. I would ask that you offer your hand and help pull the people around you out of their struggles. Do this every day. All day. Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile or a kind word. Sometimes it takes more effort in the form of your time, talent or treasure. While you can not be all things to all people, you CAN be aware of your immediate surroundings and change your small part of the world by giving of yourself in small ways. I speak to myself as much as I do to you, because it is very, very easy as humans to forget about others as we struggle in our daily lives. But if we all take the approach of giving of ourselves, of listening to our fellow man and seeking to understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes, we will in turn be met with similar kindness and compassion.

I would ask that in this age of social media and the ability to reach millions of people with the push of a button, that you consider carefully everything you publish. Ask yourself: is it kind and meaningful or is it cruel and pointless? As technology continues to advance, our social responsibility becomes more and more important.

And lastly I would ask that you to stop wastefulness in its tracks. Water, food, clothing, shelter, transportation: do not take these things for granted. Be thankful if you have them and treat these resources with great care: use what you need, share if you have extra. It’s really that simple. Resist throwing away anything that still has use for you or for someone else. We live in a country with amazing abundance. If we are each good stewards of what is available to us and give what we have but don’t need, there will always be enough. For everyone.

It is up to each and everyone one of us to keep our country strong, good and plentiful. We must each be a leader within our families, our cities and our nation. We must each be examples of kindness, compassion and good stewardship, and we must each strive to do our best so that our country will continue to be a great and honorable nation.”

This is how I would answer the question that needs to be regularly asked by us of our leaders. I realize my answer is simplistic. But maybe it really CAN be as simple as living by the golden rule and treating others as we wish to be treated. When I watch the second presidential debate tonight, I am going to do my very best to look upon these candidates from a more compassionate and less selfish perspective than I did during the first debate. The reality is WE picked these candidates and so it is our responsibility to make it easier for one of them, in all their human weakness, to lead us. They are each doing their best. And so must we.

You Should Lighten the F*** Up

Yes. I am talking to YOU.

Do I have your attention? Good!

Have I offended you already? Fantastic!

Now, get your bunched up panties out of your butt crack and read my words because I am probably going to save the world with this blog post.

But first a word about my sponsor who doesn’t KNOW they are my sponsor so they are not PAYING me anything (yet). It’s also possible they might sue me. I’m not really sure. It could go either way.

Anyhoo, two days ago my second born son’s girlfriend Maggie tagged me via Facebook on a funny video commercial created by Organic Valley :

http://www.organicvalley.coop/

See? Your welcome Organic Valley people! You will now probably get two or three more clicks on your website. The commercial has gone viral on Facebook with over a million views. It sarcastically depicts what women really have time for in the morning which doesn’t include washing our hair and making our beds or doing yoga in our underwear but DOES include drinking an organic protein drink.

Now. The video was funny. (Seriously, check it out.) It made me giggle. I’m a mother of six with a full time career and have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else, which sometimes doesn’t feel like enough. So yes, some days I’m a lazy hag, no wait, I mean “less than perfect” woman, especially in the morning when it’s GO TIME and I just don’t wanna ‘go’. And yeah. I swear. A lot. Even when I’m NOT in a bad mood or having a hard day. Swearing is fun.

But the humorous content of the commercial is not why I intend to buy ‘Organic Balance’ as soon as I get to the store. Nor does any alliance I may or may not have toward healthy living or eating organic foods have anything to do with my new found love for a drink that for all I know may not even taste good. (TBD) Because quite frankly I could (on any given day) be a spokesperson for consuming processed foods (I am a Cheez-It whore), eating once living creatures* for my own personal enjoyment/sustenance, drinking waaay too much wine and being a couch potato. It really depends on the day which way I’m gonna roll.   

The real reason I’m going to buy this drink is because the commercial created a WHOLE bunch of entertaining and thought provoking controversy on Facebook over something that was supposed to be FUNNY but instead, as is our AMERICAN way, allowed for a bunch of idiots to once again shine their anger on one more goddamn thing that just isn’t all that important. Which is spectacular to witness. And BRILLIANT marketing. And for freaks like me: FUN. And I feel it is my responsibility and duty to support anything that so brilliantly fuels my fun. (Anything that is legal of course.)

And there is only one thing funner** to me than reading comments from idiots who love having something to be angry about and a place to voice it and that’s being an idiot myself and succumbing  to the conversation. It turns out that several women took total offense to the commercial, saying it shined a negative light on women by focusing on their dirty hair and unmade beds…blah blah blah… instead of on all the positive things that women do. Now, what I wanted to write was “Oh for fuck’s sake ladies. Go spend your time getting a manicure or feeding a hungry person or ANYTHING more important than this conversation.” But I didn’t because 1) I would never write something that vulgar and judgmental and 2) clearly the conversation WAS somewhat important to me because I could NOT resist putting my two idiot cents in:

“People need to lighten up. That was funny!”

And this one simple comment put me in the mix of even more angry and frustrated comments, which to me was hilariously entertaining but also thought provoking.

See, here’s the thing. WE ARE SO BLESSED to be able to say whatever the hell we want in these United States of America. And LORD have mercy do we take advantage of this.

But the reality is all people are fucking idiots at some point and time in their lives (at least from someone else’s perspective), especially when we are championing or defending a cause that makes our pulse rates go up. It is one thing we ALL have in common. I’m willing to bet that even Mother Teresa*** probably acted like an idiot once or twice in her life.  And with the power of social media, we now have the opportunity to spread our idiocy to whoever wants to pay attention to whatever idiot thing we feel the need to say. And this is our RIGHT.

BUT when we lose the ability to make FUN of shit, mainly ourselves and whatever label we give ourselves or platform we place ourselves upon (there are just too many labels and platforms to list) we run the risk of going from idiot to asshole.

And THIS my good people is what hurts the world more than anything else.

The moment we lose our sense of humor and take our cause or belief so seriously that anything anyone says that is contrary to our own thinking offends us to the point that we turn a funny little protein shake commercial into a damn battle, we ourselves become part of the problem.

Now, there are a lot of very serious problems in this world that should be dealt with. But the reality is SOMETIMES the very act of discussing them makes the problem bigger and uglier

And at what point does freedom of speech not only overshadow the actual cause but outright harm it and the people who champion it?

This is a very subjective question.

It makes me think about the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty**** on the football field. Part of the hype and fun of football is the ramped up, testosterone loaded trash talk and posturing of some of the players. And this is accepted up to a certain point but yellow flagged by the referees when it goes beyond what is subjectively deemed reasonable. Players are often willing to suffer a fine or two and a bit of fan booing in order to “play their game” and be “who they are” as people and competitors. But when the line is crossed too many times it leads to consequences beyond smack talk and, like in some infamous moments, can spiral into mayhem that completely overshadows the actual game of FOOTBALL, along with the players who just want to play the game without a bunch of drama. See?

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This is the signal for unsportsmanlike conduct found on the NFL Website below

http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/signals/26

Sometimes I wish we could create unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for our communication with each other.  But how do we do this without eroding our freedom of speech rights?  It’s too bad there isn’t some kind of internal mechanism within each of us that literally makes us unable to communicate with anyone in anyway for a period of time if we say or write too many idiot things that are harmful to the general well being of the world. A penalty box of sorts, for being an idiot. NO! A “Shut the Fuck Up Box”! Just THINK how quiet it would be until people figured it out. And no one would have to be in charge of the punishment because it would just be automatic, like a self imposed shock collar or a conscience on steroids, with a whip.  

And here are the three simple rules I wish we would all stick to for all forms of communication, but namely on social media, that if broken more than three times within any three day period would automatically get you three days in the “shut the fuck up box”:

  1. You do not need to publicly announce at every opportunity that you are ____________ (insert in the blank any label you have given for yourself or platform that you stand on). Most people are going to surmise the kind of person you are from your actions and more times than not, don’t really care that you are _______ unless you get in their face about it.  Just live your best life: dramatic declarations at every turn are not needed or necessary.
  2. Don’t make EVERYTHING an argument. Choose your battles carefully. Most of the world is not out to harm you (putting aside psychopathic killers and other such types) unless you bitch and complain and protest about EVERYTHING, in which case you are pretty much BEGGING for ridicule and are going to be spending a lot of time in the “STFU Box”. And when you do choose to argue, at least be relevant so that you aren’t FOREVER labeled as a hopeless idiot. For instance if a cute video of a sweet little boy holding his new baby brother has gone viral on Facebook, it more than likely has nothing to do with your platform of beliefs. It is more than likely just a cute video of two brothers that a lot of people thought was cute. So for fuck’s sake, don’t say something stupid like “This is a classic case of over population.” or “This is a clear case of child abandonment, they are both going to have issues.” Either push the “like” button or don’t and move the hell on!
  3. When you feel the need to say or write something publicly, count to at least three and ask yourself: “is what I am about to say kind, humble, funny, smart and/or important to someone else’s well being?” If it is not at LEAST one of these things, don’t say or write it. (Swearing is always optional because this is my blog post and MY rules of engagement.)

But all kidding aside, these are simple rules based on love, compassion, mutual respect, humble living and common courtesy.  Nothing new. But the fact is, we have been breaking these rules since day one of our existence. And there isn’t a STFU Penalty Box inside each of us (though I really, really wish I had one).  We only have our own moral compass (our conscience) that generally has good intentions but often lacks self discipline and common sense which can turn us all into idiots from time to time.

So when a funny commercial designed for the pure purpose of selling an organic protein shake turns into a woman’s rights discussion because one or two women think you SHOULD wash your hair every day and that using dry shampoo is a sign of laziness and should NOT be encouraged or laughed about, well, I’m gonna laugh about it, loud and clear for the world to hear.

Then I’m gonna go buy the goddamn protein shake.

And you should too.

So I don’t get sued.

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This screen shot is from the Organic Valley web site. 

*I don’t eat people or pets you moron. Just chicken, fish, cows, pigs and once I ate snails.

**Funner is so TOO a word. Wiktionary SAYS so:  https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/funner

***I am probably going to hell for saying the word ‘fuck’ and Mother Teresa in the same paragraph but I was trying to prove a fucking point.  

****I find it amusing that the team I cheer for, the Steelers, received the highest number of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the league during the 2015 season. This clearly says how big of an idiot I am and I’m probably gonna have to turn the other cheek to quite a bit of idiot smack talk on this now that I have brought it up or I’m gonna have to go to the STFU Box.  

The Day I Almost Stopped Living for a Minute: A Dramatic Reenactment

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Pretend you are reading a scene from a movie script…

Zero in on a woman sitting at a desk. She is me: a goofy crooked faced, bundle of forty six year oldness with very messy hair…but you already know this from my website picture…

…which by the way was one of the ONEHUNDREDANDFORTYTWO pictures that my daughter Maria took of me for peaceof8. Only SHE would have the patience to take that many pictures, knowing full well I would only like ONE out of that many. I just don’t photograph well…

…so actually, on second thought: the woman at the desk is Sharon Stone, PLAYING me (in the MOVIE) because she is more photogenic than I am even though she is FIFTY-six and is just…well…better for the role of ME then I am …

…any how…movie scene…

But wait, so that you know, I also use this same picture of me for Facebook, Twitter, Google Mail, Yahoo Mail and LinkedIn as well, so that there is no confusion…despite my multiple personalities…which is a common occurrence when you have too many social media networks…plus, well the other 141 pictures just plain sucked…

…so Sharon Stone (we will call her Heather from here on out now that you have a clear visual) is sitting at her desk and she just looks fabulous as usual, except that she has some really sexy dark circles under her eyes because she is weary, so very weary. Her lap top is on, her iPad is on, one iPhone is dead on her desk, another iPhone is plugged in and reads in big mean letters: “can not activate, please call your provider at 1-800-blablabla to resolved this issue”, and another phone is held between her ear and her very sexy shoulder.

(I will try to stop using the word sexy, but it’s really hard when Sharon Stone is playing you in a movie, so I can’t make any promises.)

The other line sounds kinda like this:

“If you are calling to pay your bill, press 1. If you are calling for anything else, please hang on the line for seventy two minutes while we can drum up someone really difficult to make you feel stupid and cry and not help you at all. Or you can go to our friendly website where we can complicate this seemingly simple task even further.”

Heather hangs up and rubs her forehead in a really sexy way. She still looks sexy despite her frustration because she is currently still in control and hasn’t started to cry yet (which can make her look not sexy, at all.) She thinks back to the time when her company switched from Blackberry’s to iPhones and promised herself that this would NOT be another episode where she ended up (literally) on the floor in fetal position, wailing and crying and hyperventilating while her cool, new iPhone rang and beeped and vibrated, messages pouring in and she, a once smart woman suddenly turned moron, could not figure out how to answer it. Her youngest (then SIX YEARS OLD) took the phone from her sweaty hands and answered “Mom’s phone, how can I help you. Oh, hey Heather’s boss, no, she can’t answer right now. I think she is in a coma…no wait…she just moved a little. I will have her call you when she pulls her thumb out of her mouth. Wow she looks bad, she may need to call in sick tomorrow.”

Now, as a mostly intelligent person I, like many professionals my age, have rolled with most of the giganticus changes that have occurred since we started our careers and have managed to see the value of technology. I mean man oh man, the fax machine sure saved MY life. And what about the pager? I knew for SURE (on account of the 42 pages) to call the office when I reached the next available pay-phone booth, which in my territory could be a hundred miles away.

So, me being a cool, roll with the times kinda gal, I gotta tell you that nothing makes me go dumb faster (by dumb I mean completely numb, blind, with no thoughts, dead woman walking zombie dumb) than having my technology shut down on me.

Because I need it. To go on living.

Heather pauses for a moment and then goes to her company’s website on her iPad to try and find her company help line number and doesn’t find it. Thinking old school will help, she gets onto the exact same website on her laptop and there it is in glaring large numbers. Lap tops are so much more friendly than iPads.

She dials the help number on the “other” phone which is the home “cell phone”, a nice simple phone made for CALLING people and talking to them, with your voice. The help line rings and a mean robot voice answers and requests that she enter her employee ID number so that they can best serve her.

And this is where things go kinda bad…

…because suddenly, after six years of using her company ID number EVERY SINGLE DAY, Heather can not remember it or where she might have written it down…and therefore can not get help, from the help line, that is supposed to be helpful…but is not.

In Heather’s defense, it is late in the day, and her mind is full from her usual daily sales challenges along with lots of information she acquired during a two-hour social media class where she learned how to Face, Twitter, Google and be LinkedIn all on her iPhone…which stopped working at 3:45 pm that day.

Heather had been in possession of her new improved much better corporate iPhone for a week but the seven page document explaining in (not enough) detail the 427 steps needed to activate the phone and all the necessary corporate programs seemed daunting and very time consuming, so she’d avoided it until this devastating moment.

After a bunch of primal screaming and a desperate call to her boss (who now has evidence that she is a lunatic) Heather is able to enter her now very memorable employee ID number and she makes contact with a real man named Brandon.

“Oh Brandon. Thank God you’re here. I need you Brandon.”

Brandon has a calming, soft southern drawl “How can I help you Heather?”

“I just don’t know what to DO Brandon. My phone isn’t activated and I am quite certain it’s only the beginning of really bad things ahead for me here Brandon!”

“Did you call your network provider Heather?”

“Well I tried Brandon (insert breakdown sob here) but I just so very much needed a real person to help me through this.”

Okay, so you know how when you were a little kid and you fell down and were fine until you made eye contact with your mom and then the tears just started squirting out of your eyes in big giant drops without your permission? Well it was like that with me and Brandon. It is not one of my prouder moments. Thank goodness Sharon Stone is me in this scene or it would just be mortifying.

“I can make the call for you Heather. That’s what we are here for. It’s okay. These things can be frustrating. Now hold on the line for just a minute.”

Heather hiccups and in a shaky crybaby voice weakly says “okay”. She thinks to herself that he is probably calling the suicide hotline or holding up a sign to his fellow cubical dudes “Send for back up. We’ve got a crazy on line seven!” Brandon gets back on the line and Heather sees that her phone is now activated. It is a miracle. “Oh Brandon! Thank you! Ummm…do you have to go now or can you help me with the seven page instructions on what to do now that my phone is activated?”

She hears Brandon softly sigh.

But he is a professional and hangs with Heather to the end…forty five minutes of his calm soothing voice telling her exactly what to do step by step and her crazy tears turn to puffy faced joyful sobs of relief when she sees all of her contacts and emails and apps have been properly transferred to the new iPhone. She has twenty voice mails, fifty-two emails, four new tweets, some google alerts, nineteen Facebook messages, one LinkedIn message and seventeen texts.

“Oh Brandon, thank you for being here for me. I simply could not have faced this madness alone. You saved me! I can go on living now!”

She says goodbye and hangs up before things get weird(er) with Brandon (the conversation IS after all being recorded) and there is a soft tap at her office door. It’s is her littlest one (now nine) who must have been concerned about the primal screaming. He looks at her puffy, red eyes solemnly. Clearly (like Brandon) he doesn’t realize she is Sharon Stone. And sexy means nothing to nine year olds, especially when they are your maniac mother. “Oh mom, phone problems AGAIN?”