Monday, December 30, 2019

Memorial for an Old Friend


Today, Dec 30, 2019 we said goodbye to an old friend.  He was one of my 4 beloved companion pets, Fred Astaire aka Fat Freddy.  

We met during the winter of 2010.  He was a feral cat living with a colony on the dead end street I lived on in Matawan NJ.  He was so friendly that Tom and I thought he was someones pet or maybe even dumped there.  But he didn't have a collar and was outside even in the snow and there was a lot of snow that year.  I thought he may have been the kids next doors cat, but when I asked, they said no.  

He was just such a nice, pleasant animal, we were compelled to take him in.  While he was friendly he was also cautious, we coaxed him daily with food for about a week then brought him into the house.  From there on out, he knew he had it good!  

He remained an outside cat his whole life but would come home at night to sleep in the cozy home we made for him.  

Soon after we took him in, we took him to our vet to get shots and neutered.  We all thought he was about a year or so old.  We came to find out he was already neutered.  We knew there was a group that ran a catch and release program for the colony that lived in that area, maybe he was part of that colony after all?  He was definitely fixed after the time when he should be, because he still sprayed when we wouldn't let him out at night.  Learning curve, Fred got to go out when he wanted, always. 

When we moved to PA, Freddy came with us.  He gained a lot of weight, to the tune of 30 lbs.  He was our master mouser and vermin serial killer extraordinaire.  He would catch and eat the heads off of bugs and leave their headless corpses on the patio.  Many times we had to chase mice or birds he would bring into the house.  He was a prolific killing machine.  And we respected  and loved that about him.

A few years after we took him in, he fell very ill, he had crystals in his kidneys and nearly died because he could not pee.  We didn't know that feral cats cant really digest dry cat food the way domestic cats can.  We fed both our cats wet and dry food.  Needless to say, he went to the vet and was in the hospital for 2 days getting his kidneys flushed.  He came back from that and we kept the dry food away from him as much as we could.  We began putting water in his wet food and bowls of a water/milk mixture in the morning.  He never really drank from the filtered water bowl that the other animals would drink from.  For years he was good with the added water and milk mixture.  

He was one of the goofiest cats I have ever seen.  He didn't like to be picked up but once in a while he would jump into your lap.  I just loved to smoosh him because he was so big and mushie and had the softest fur.  He was an armful.

He would lay on the patio chairs or hunt in and around the garage.  He never really roamed too far from home.  He always hung out with the dogs.  He didn't really like smokey.. lol  Sometimes I thought, he thought, he was a dog.  He'd get right in line with them for treats.  

He would sit under Tom's truck in the driveway and wait for me to come home from work and run up to me for pets and some loving.   He greeted me every day, he knew my car and he knew what time I got home.  He loved the catnip bushes I planted for him in the garden outback and always pooped in my front gardens where the earth was soft.  He would nap under the lily fronds on the side of the house on  the hot summer days.  He was potty trained but he preferred going outside, just like the dogs!  Many times he pulled food right off Toms plate, once he picked a meatball out of a pot of sauce on the stove.  He loved to wear my shoes and he had an infinity for feet.  Such a strange and wonderful cat was he.

I feel blessed that he came into our lives, he gave us love and laughter.  Its funny how a chance meeting brought us together and how big of a piece of my heart feels like its gone now.  These furry little creatures come into our lives and remind us that we are human, and they love us without conditions, and all they want in return is to be loved and cared for.  Animals teach us how to be kind and patient and to enjoy every day we have here on earth.

He got sick right before thanksgiving this year, and deteriorated quickly.  The doctor said he may have been older than we originally though.  When he started to loose strength in his back legs we knew what had to be done.  It doesn't make it any easier, but it is the last act of kindness we can show these wonderful creatures who bring so much joy to our lives.

I will always remember you Fat Freddy and the love we will always have for you.  You filled my heart with joy and laughter for the short time you were here with us. Go now my boy, over the rainbow bridge.  


Friday, December 27, 2019

Follow the leader


Great leaders don't set out to be a leader, they set out to make a difference.  Its never about the role its always about the goal.

Being a leader isn't just a title, as a matter of fact, its not a title at all.  Because you were granted with title of manager, vp or even president doesnt automatically make you a leader.  Becoming a leader is much more complicated than that, becoming a leader is about how far you will go to rally your troops, stand in the line of fire or be the voice of the people that look up to you.

I'm not talking about a live war theater, I'm talking about corporations and companies.  Although sometimes working in an office environment is certainly like working in a war zone.

Having spent a good part of my life working in a corporate setting, I have seen some really amazing leaders and some truly bad people turn great companies into a wasteland of unmotivated & lackluster employees.

I believe a true leader will always exhibit the following 5 qualities.

A true leader will lead by example.  They will walk the walk they preach.  How can you ask your employees to do something that you feel is beneath you?  Whether its how you dress or even address people, it matters.  Smile and remember peoples names.  It does go a long way.

A true leader will listen and assess the situation without judging.   A leader of people will not base their reasoning on preconceived notions or things that other employees may have gossiped to them.  They will listen and ask questions and show that they care about the outcome. 

A true leader will be honest and have integrity.  There is no way to build a successful team without trust.   If you are not honest or have integrity you will never build that essential trust.

A true leader will motivate people to do better.  Its not just telling people "do better" its inspiring people to do better.  Its about making people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

A true leader never stops learning, and they do not act as though they already know everything.  A know-it-all is just that, a spoiled person who thinks too highly of themselves so they never open themselves up to learn.  A closed mind is a follower not a leader.

A leader is a person who not only has the courage and perseverance to succeed on their own but also to lift up those around them to succeed too!  We see all levels of leadership every day, they may not be the CEOs or VPs but they are the people in your life that you know you can go to when you need guidance and reassurance. 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”



Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Expectations

People can really irritate you when they don't live up to your expectations.  Whether or not you realise it, the expectations we have of others maybe irrational or unrealistic.  We expect people to behave in a specific way in certain situations, when they don't we usually become annoyed.  

Sometimes it's ourselves being unreasonable, sometimes, it's the other person being unreasonable.  

When you find yourself becoming aggravated by someone because they are not meeting your expectations, just stop for a moment and ask yourself, is it me being unreasonable, or is it them?

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Know When It's Time To Leave

During my career, I have seen people who are truly unhappy with where they are in the work they are doing.  Unfortunately they stay in "dead end" and "get nowhere" jobs way past the time they should have been onto the next step in their careers.  While many people  have their reasons, whether it be their own shortcomings, like they just don't have the confidence in themselves or are afraid to make a move, or the health benefits or whatever have you.  Staying at a job when you are miserable is just not conductive of a life well lived. 

How do you know it's time to move on?  There are a few questions you need to ask yourself and you have to be brutally honest with yourself. 

1. Are you proud of the work you are doing?  Can you still be part of the "team" and add quality & value to your position?  Or has your position become mundane, automatic and boring?  If you find yourself making careless mistakes constantly, and don't really care, you have pretty much given up on your position.   If you can't be proud of a job well done, you need to start looking at other options.

2. Do you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning and loath going to work?  Are you late or absent all the time?  On average an employee is absent 1 day every 2 months and should not be late more than 1 time every 3 months.  If you find yourself sleeping through your alarm, not leaving your house till late, getting to work late all the time.  This is usually caused by depression because you are not happy in your current position, you need to start looking at other options.

3.  Are you mad and feel slighted at work?  Do you feel no matter how hard you try or how much you accomplish, it's just never enough?  You are looking for validation to stay at a job that just does not work for you any longer.  Sometimes it's hard to pull off that bandaid and make the move.  We all get comfortable in our jobs after a few years but knowing that you have outgrown a position and making moves to go onto the next step, is the adult thing to do.   Don't be mad, just move along.  You will never get the validation you seek from your current job, you need to start looking at other options.

4.  Does the negative energy at work follow you home?  If you are constantly fretting over your position and the issues you have with it, obviously you are not happy.  Everyone complains on occasion about their positions or co workers or the commute but when you go out of your way and bring this bad mojo home with you consistently, it's a sign you need to start looking at other options.

5.  Is the environment toxic?  A toxic work environment is one that will eventually take a toll on your health or mental well being.  Its usually rife with narcissistic leadership, little to no enthusiasm among the workers, little and negative communication and a high turnover rate, just to name a few.   It's really hard to know when you first take a job if the environment is actually toxic.  Everyone usually puts their best face on when they are in the process of hiring someone.  However after a few months you should see the signs and that should be the sign for you to start your exit strategy. 

In ending, the choices you make are up to you.  Staying in a "dead end" job will not get you anywhere in life but in the grave a lot sooner than you should be.  It will affect your health and mental well being.  It's also needless, you don't have to put up with a workplace that harbors insecurity or  loathing, you just need to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and move onto the next chapter of your career. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Struggles of Life

One day a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable nothing ever worked out for her and she didn't know how she would survive.  She was tired of fighting and struggling and the world being so unfair to her all the time. It always seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.
Her father took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each one on a burner on the stove..

Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then sat at the kitchen table and let them boil, without saying a word to his daughter.

The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After
twenty minutes he turned off the burners.  He took the potatoes out of the pot and
placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in another bowl. He
then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.



“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

Turning to her, he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”
“Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied very annoyed at her father.
“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noticed that they were soft.
He then asked her to take an egg and peel it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face. 
He then explained that the potatoes, eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity - boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.
The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter.
“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Moral of the story: 
In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is how you choose to react to it and the lessons you take away from those situations. Life is all about learning, adopting and converting all the struggles that we experience into something positive.