I and Thou – Lessons Learned from Queen Elizabeth Part 1

Image Credit: “Symbolic Transom” Religious Stained Glass Window (stainedglassinc.com)

Introduction

In the next few weeks, I will share my insight into relationships in the Royal Family. There is much to learn, I promise. We will look at key players and how they finally found love. We will begin with duty and love. And how at the end of the day, the Royal Family puts on pajamas like the rest of us.

Lesson #1: Duty and Love rarely mix well.

Duty and Love

I have been following the Royal Family in bits and pieces. I am no expert by any means. What seems so obvious to me was how Queen Elizabeth was torn between duty and love for her family. I felt it first in her affection for her sister, Margaret. She loved her so. I can only imagine how painful it was for Queen Elizabeth to deny Margaret from marrying her soulmate, Peter Townsend, who happened to be a divorcee. The Church had a lot to say about divorce in 1955.

Then, in the 1970s, I saw the Queen’s influence on Prince Charles and his secret love for Camilla, who, in the Queen’s eyes, was not worthy enough for him. Camilla was a “party” girl, and the Queen thought she would not be a suitable princess. This signaled a sense of duty weighing much more heavily than love. This baffled me as the greatest commandment is to love one another. Nowhere in The Bible does it say to love only rich people. Or love only those in one’s same socioeconomic class. Then, again, his divorce, public love, and marriage to Camilla in 2005 seemed to snub The Church and its anti-divorce platform. 

Town & Country Magazine wrote, “A change in the Church of England’s rules about remarriage after divorce, which took effect in 2002, made it possible for Charles to marry Camilla. In an attempt to avoid controversy given their relationship history, the couple opted not to have a grand royal wedding, but instead married in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor, and then had their marriage blessed by the Church in St. George’s Chapel. While the Queen approved of the marriage, she was not present at her son’s wedding ceremony. But she did attend the church blessing and reception.”

Fast forward to 2021. Prince Harry and Meghan. Not only did Prince Harry marry a divorced woman, but they were also married at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, England, where his father and Camilla received a blessing that preceded their civil marriage ceremony at Windsor Guildhall. We all are witnesses to the transformation that happened right in front of our eyes. In 16 short years, we went from a civil ceremony of Prince Charles and Camilla, two divorced royals, to a religious wedding ceremony in a cathedral of a divorced soon-to-be royal. I call that progress!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!

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I and Thou: Guitars, Sand, Surf & Kids

Guitars, Sand, Surf

Nursery school, pre-school, kindergarten,
Playing dress-up, building blocks, and learning to read.
Kids Kamp, pre-cherub, t-ball,
Singing, crafting, and swinging a bat.
Mothers loving arms cradle.

First grade, second grade, third grade,
Reading, writing, and more writing.
Cub scouts, choir, Tai Kwon Do,
Pinewood derbies, musicals, and orange belts.
Mothers loving arms cuddle.

Fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade,
Science conventions, school plays, and cell phones.
Bike parades, circus tents, fireworks,
Summers swimming in lakes and pools.
Mothers loving arms snuggle.

Seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade,
Smart mouths spewing bratty words.
Clarinets, guitars, trombones,
Sitting on stage and playing so proudly.
Mothers loving arms grow weary.

Tenth grade, eleventh grade, twelfth grade,
Internalizing questions not ready to ask.
Tennis lessons, football, and lacrosse,
Scoring a touchdown, goal, or 15-love.
Mothers loving arms start separating.

Red robe, mortar, tassel,
Processing to pomp and circumstance.
Protecting, guiding, parental role,
Unfair situation hoisted upon.
Mothers loving arms feel empty.

Glimpses, shadows, silence,
Gradually disappearing from plain view.
Suitcase, car, gasoline,
Interstate highways across the country.
Mothers loving arms love from afar.

Apartment, condo, house,
No known address to be found.
Sand, pebbles, white beaches,
Relocation destination miles and miles due west.
…Mothers loving arms feel forgotten.

Surfing, kayaking, lifeguarding,
Commanding waters to abide.
Instructing, directing, tutoring,
Strategically working to earn a degree.
…Mothers loving arms feel so helpless.

Black robe, mortar, royal blue sash,
Graduating livestream with purple Lai.
Congratulating, celebrating, handshaking,
Proud parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Mothers loving arms clap so loudly.

Holidays, birthdays, special events,
A seat empty and waiting to be filled.
Cheering, shouting, echoing,
Come back, come back. We miss you so.
Mothers loving arms open wide.

Doors open, gifts waiting, keeping watch,
All hands-on deck for arrival.
Excitedly, gathering, anticipating,
Patiently waiting for return.
Mothers loving arms extend further.

Harry Potter, Pokemon, laser tag,
Birthdays celebrated in movie theaters and fun places.
Red belt, brown belt, black belt,
Memories of yesteryear.
…Mothers loving arms holding a camera to commemorate occasions.

Living, accepting, healing,
Life is rapidly speeding by.
Glorious, celebration, awaits,
Slaughter the chocolate-covered insects.
Mothers loving arms embrace once again.

Artist Credit: Lonely Guy on Sea Coast by Mykola Nisolovskyi (royalty-free)

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I and Thou – The Quick Brown Fox

Forgive me if I use the wrong terminology. Technology and I have had a strange relationship starting with the IBM Selectric typewriter. There I was in Typing 101 at Clifton High School. A colossal poster board in the front of the room had the keyboard displayed. There were no letters on the typing keys. They were blank. I sat down at the table with the typewriter in front of me. To my left was an easel to stand the book I would be typing from – eventually. But first came the typing exercises to learn and memorize the keys and my finger placement. It was a true test of manual dexterity and hand and eye coordination – thankfully, I excelled at both.

First, I learned where to put my fingers.

Then, I learned what keys were where.

Finally, I could type:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

At my prime, I was able to type 70-80 WPM. The goal, of course, was to type as fast as possible without any mistakes. Over the years, I have come to appreciate my ability to type. My favorite is still the look on people’s faces when I am typing and looking directly at the person I’m conversing with. Often, the person asks, “How do you do that?” To me, it is second nature.

Remember the first and only rule of typing.
Never look at the keyboard.

Typing Class

I won’t bore you with the details of the technology migrations I have managed throughout my career. Although, for posterity’s sake, I’ll list them in the order I remember. Typewriter – DEC 350 with Word 11 – Apple with FileMaker Pro – IBM with Microsoft Word – Dell – Asus. To date myself, my master’s thesis was typed on a DEC 350 with Word 11. How grateful I was to be able to cut and paste and use the backspace (delete) instead of having to insert the white-out strips when I had a typo. By the way, my thesis was on IRCA (Immigration, Reform, & Control Act).

I’m not an expert by any means. I’m a novice at the flash drive and forget about trying to copy files. I acknowledge my strengths in typing and my weaknesses in needing to learn about internal and external hard drives. Much like the car – I’m an excellent driver but not so much a mechanic. Although, when I flip up my hood to add oil to my car in 3 minutes flat, dressed in a suit, I receive raised eyebrows – if to say, “Well done.”

Tangent here: How often have you heard the words, “Well done?” Think about it. It makes me think of the parable of the good and faithful servant. Although scripture meant this to be a lesson in the sense of duty, it is a lesson in affirmation, for me.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’…

Matthew 25:21

Typing itself is affirming to me. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But the more I write and type, the quicker I get. Sometimes, I even feel an inner Spirit guiding my thoughts and fingers. Words flow out of me, and for that, I am grateful. What a gift to be able to type letters that become words that can speak to a person I may never meet. To me, that is affirmation. The one “like” to a post. It is affirmation. One encouraging word from a friend. Is affirmation.

The typing class was one of my most practical classes in high school. It baffles me when I see today’s students hunting and pecking on a keyboard.

Don’t they teach typing anymore?

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I and Thou – A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Dear God,

We are in different stages in our life journey, so we ask your help meeting us where we are.

Sit with us.

Hold our hand.

Listen to us.

Give us a hug.

Drink wine with us.

Share a meal with us.

The basics for sustenance. Fresh fruit and vegetables. Meats and baked breads.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

The foundation for spiritual nourishment. Holy scripture. Holy Spirit. A community of friends.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

Without you we are just a bag of bones. Brittle. Stale. Broken.

With you, Lord, we are caring souls. Resilient. Refreshed. Whole.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

We are thankful O Lord, for your infinite mercy and grace. May you shower us with your healing power. And let us remember to be grateful for what we have, not wishing for what we don’t have.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

Amen

Image Credit: https://wallpapercave.com/thanksgiving-cornucopia-wallpapers

I and Thou – The Veggie Box

Logistics, Farmer’s Markets, Veggie Box

My younger son recently graduated from college and landed his first full-time job and apartment. Looking back, I wonder what role I played in his stick-to-itiveness attitude toward setting and, more importantly, achieving goals. It doesn’t really come as a surprise to me that he specializes in logistics. One of my favorite books was Cheaper by the Dozen, a tall telltale of time management. Time management and logistics? Hmm. I think these two are interdependent on one another. What do you think?

Goals are great if you can actually meet them. One of my goals is to eat healthily. Eating healthy has been a part of my life, except for the few years before and after college when I lived on fast food. In high school, I was on the track team. To keep up with all the practices and meets, my go-to smoothie was banana, orange juice, peanut butter, and a raw egg several times a week for an extra immune boost. I know, raw egg! I often wonder if this is why I am now allergic to eggs? My son likes to eat healthily now, too but did not when he would eat mostly macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, pizza, and cheese balls. 

Rural Arkansas taught me to appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables more than I already had. It was disappointing to peruse the local farmer’s market as they offered very little fruit or vegetables. Except, of course, at the peach festival in July, but only if they had a good yield. 

It was there, in rural Arkansas, in a large blue box store, that I saw for the very first time how customers placed their 12 packs of sodas and blue-colored electrolyte water bottles on the rim of their shopping carts. Mind you, most of these customers were overweight and had cookies, cakes, and lots of boxed foods in their carts. What happened to small-town good food? I was beginning to wonder. It just so happened I did survive living there, although I’m pretty sure it caused havoc on my digestive system; the mold, from a dining hall water leak, in my office wasn’t helping matters either. 

Artwork: Apples by Bob Orsillo

It is now my son’s turn to live in a rural town and find foods that make him sparkle. Recently, he discovered the veggie box! He drives once a week to a farm and picks up a box of assorted veggies. The mystery of not knowing what is in the box makes it fun! I absolutely love when he calls to tell me about his box. The best part? We chat about what meal options he can create with said veggies. Sometimes, he takes me to the grocery store (by phone). The funniest part? He’ll ask me where an item might be, and I’ll say – it’s next to so and so – and there it will be and says to me, “How did you know that?”

Because sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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I and Thou: The Labor of a Diamond Part 1.

Photo Credit: found on https://www.thermofisher.com/blog/mining/the-diamond-shortage-the-hunt-for-kimberlite-and-new-high-quality-synthetics/

Diamonds and The Old Boys’ Network

Have you ever wondered about diamonds? Why are they precious and rare? How do they form? And what about the diamond that has been in your family for generations? You may even wonder what in the world diamonds and The Old Boys’ Network have in common. When I was reading about diamonds, it reminded me of The Old Boys Network. Both seem to have been around for eons and each have bonding qualities. It does make a bit of sense, doesn’t it? Let’s first take a peek at diamonds.

Diamonds are complicated. I mean, over the top, engineering complicated because of its billion-year origin. According to The Smithsonian Magazine, “Diamonds are made of carbon, so they form as carbon atoms under a high temperature and pressure; they bond together to start growing crystals…[and]…are formed deep within the Earth about 100 miles or so below the surface in the upper mantle… There’s a lot of pressure, the weight of the overlying rock bearing down, so that combination of high temperature and high pressure is necessary to grow diamond crystals in the Earth.” (2006). 

And how do these diamonds make it to the surface of the Earth? Volcanoes. Fascinating, isn’t it? If any of these interests you, I would recommend researching the topic. It is simply brilliant!

The temperature.

The pressure.

The eruption.

The “pipes.”

As carbon atoms bond to crystals, which in turn become diamonds, I couldn’t help but think of how young men bond with more experienced men through The Old Boy’s Network. I wondered whether it was still alive and well. And if it was, what impact has it had on the labor force?

Frankly, I was surprised to learn Zippia reported a whopping 31.5% of today’s CEOs are female, while 68.5% are men. In 2010 females were at 26.27%. Yet, it is all a bit misleading when Quantic reports that 8.9% of Fortune 500 companies are females. That paints a very different story! I remember from my Stat I & II courses that you can make numbers support whatever you want. However, I will leave that topic for a future post. Men know this network is alive and well, especially at the upper-tier management level. You, ladies, know what I’m talking about. It’s no wonder that diamond relics remind me of the “old boy’s network.”

Stevens Institute of Technology, a historically male engineering school, accepted its first female class in 1971, representing 3% of the student population. In 1982, the first sorority appeared at Stevens; today, there are five. In fall 2021, Stevens enrolled 30% females and 70% males in its programs. It was equally compelling to see Stevens’ enrollment numbers parallel almost identically to CEOs’ male / female ratios. Kudos to Stevens!

This brings me back to the “old boy’s network.” What, then, is at play here? 

Networking

The infamous “they” said that 80% of all job hires came from networking decades ago. A quick browser search shows that the new number is between 70-85%. Quite striking to find out that even after all these years, networking is still a valuable tool in the job hunt. So, what is networking? Networking is a touch. It is a broad-based reaching catch-all phrase encompassing trying to connect with anyone who can hire you or knowing someone who can. It is very much like the Faberge shampoo commercial of 1986…”And they’ll tell two friends…And so on…And so on…And…” A modern-day LinkedIn.

Mentoring

When you speak to women who were trailblazers in their fields, they point to the importance of mentors. Mentors helped cultivate their knowledge into practical leadership skills, formal or informal. That is all well and good, yet, mentorship is not always available to everyone. The most successful businesses today recognize the importance of mentoring programs. In the “old boys’ network,” mentoring took place on golf courses, racquetball courts, or catching a drink at the local watering hole. Again, all well and good, yet are women being included? In my experience, not nearly enough. Nowadays, organizations such as Ten Thousand Coffees ask themselves how they can connect ten thousand leaders with ten thousand more leaders over ten thousand coffees. Leveling the playing field, at last! (hopefully).

Promotions

According to a recent Forbes article regarding research done at Harvard, the old boys’ network is still very much intact. It seems that if a male is working under a male manager, he will be promoted much faster than if he is operating under a female manager. In fact, the study stated, “on average, a 14.6% higher salary.” If we take the average professional salary, per ZipRecruiter, of $50,882 and add a 14.6% increase in salary, the number is $58,310.77. What would you do with an additional $7,423.77?

Elite colleges, ya gotta love them! Danielle Li of MIT “found that women employees were 14% less likely to be promoted than their male colleagues,” despite their higher performance review scores. Again, the old boy’s network is alive and well. This research was reported in 2022. Not much has really changed. Back in 1999, I was passed over for a promotion. My direct report was male, and he promoted my male counterpart. We had equal credentials, including high-performance scores (mine were higher) and an equal amount of experience. I also had seniority. I left shortly after.

Ms. Li talks about how males are likelier to leave a job when they aren’t promoted. “Men who were passed over for a promotion were 35%-40% more likely to leave than females; whereas women were only 10% more likely.” Not surprising. In most cases, females have to work harder, work smarter, and juggle more responsibilities than their male counterparts. In a recent Deloitte post, women who work in organizations that promote gender equality have higher productivity, engagement, and loyalty levels.

It seems that men and women can equally do well or fail in a job. Finding the diamond in the rough should not be that difficult. Managers need to, once again, level the playing field, and provide promotional opportunities as part of a specific career plan with achievable goals for all employees. Each person brings unique knowledge, skills, and abilities to the table. Let’s do a better job creating more diamonds to sparkle throughout the workplace.

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References

Facts and Statistics – Stevens Institute of Technology

Diamonds Unearthed | Science| Smithsonian Magazine

How Many Fortune 500 CEOs Are Women? And Why So Few? – The Quantic Blog

This Mentorship Platform Connects Young Professionals To CEOs In More Than 40 Industries (Forbes. com)

Professional Salary ($50,882 – October 2022) ZipRecruiter

Women are less likely than men to be promoted. Here’s one reason why | MIT Sloan

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/value-of-diversity-and-inclusion/strengthening-women-workers-loyalty-after-the-pandemic.html

I and Thou: The Labor of a Shell

Do you ever wonder about seashells? How they form? How critical they are to our environment? After reading a few articles, seashells are very important. They are mostly calcium with a sprinkle of protein and form from mollusks. Who knew? In fact, they are so vital that it is against the law in some countries to remove them from the ocean. When I think of a seashell, I can imagine the length of refining it took for what it became rather than how it began. And that sure sounds like labor.

A friend recently posted on lifelong labor, retirement, and the meaning of life. It was a great post – so feel free to check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/robertmullinswrites

Photo Credit: Carol Leigh, “South African Turban Shell” fineartamerica.com

I commented “life is about finding meaning and the worth of existence. The word retirement needs to be thrown out the window and replaced with refocusment (I made the word up) or, perhaps even better, refinement?

Which got me thinking about what refinement might look like. Could it possibly be the process of discovering ourselves in the bigger scheme of existence in relationship to others? If we put others first, a basic tenet of Christianity, perhaps labor would feel less like labor.

As I muddled through life, I performed an array of odd “labor.” I cut lawns, lifeguarded, and babysat so I could pay college tuition. I worked at a sporting goods store for three years too. Then, I was lucky enough to earn a college degree and start my first full-time professional job. What they didn’t teach in college was that a degree in psychology and working in education would never afford you to have any real discretionary income. But it was enough to provide food and shelter. Then, I found my knight in shining armor, or so I thought.

I had been blessed as a stay-at-home mom for nearly ten years while I raised my two boys. Most honest parents will tell you that raising kids is no picnic. But not having to dress in a corporate suit and wear heels every day was lovely. Then, I hit a rough patch of another ten years where it seemed that working was all I was doing. It sure sounded like Joseph telling the Pharoah that seven years of famine would follow seven years of abundance. (Genesis 41). I worked at a grocery store and taught pre-school to pay bills and have food on the table. At the same time, I was trying to launch a consulting firm. I did manage (by the grace of God) to pick up a few consulting gigs at fascinating places – and the best part? I didn’t have to wear heels. And then the money started to flow. My college degrees were finally paying off. I can’t imagine people who have to work to survive over the long haul.

During this almost penniless, having three dollars and forty-three cents to my name timeframe, I had to work with little time to refine. Yet perhaps that whole time spent piecing together four part-time gigs was part of the refining process. I certainly would not be the person I am today; had I not had the experience of being thrown down into a deep dark tunnel only to climb myself out of it with the help of others. Not that I wish that experience on anyone, but it was undoubtedly a testimony to my grit.

It took a village to support and encourage me to take a leap of faith—a leap to Arkansas, where I found peace and my tribe. And, if you are being pulled in a specific direction – take the leap of faith! I miss my tribe dearly – but I know they are all within me and part of the refining process. Kind of like the shell, taking years to form from cells, calcium, and proteins floating in the ocean. Yes, it takes a village; sometimes, it is one person, and at other times, it may be many people. What does your village look like?

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