I and Thou – Random Words for December

Chanukah Candles
Christmas Carols
Generous Gifts
Glimmery Glitz
Goodwill Greetings
Layering Lights
Philanthropic Presents
Red Ribbons
Star Snowflakes
Tinseled Trees

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Image Credit: https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-background-with-snowflakes-string-lights_996886.htm

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: The Labor of a Diamond Part 2

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

The Anatomy of a Diamond

In The Labor of a Diamond Part 1, you learned how and why diamonds are precious and rare. You also learned how complicated they are – from the scientific perspective of temperature, pressure, carbon, and crystals. Then, we went down the rabbit hole of an “old boys network.” Today, we start with its anatomy.

Have you ever wondered why a diamond looks the way it does? Do you even know the language used to describe diamonds? In the next few posts, a deeper dive into the mystery of diamonds will be explored, including the five c’s of carat, cut, color, clarity, and confidence. First, we start with the anatomy of a diamond, which has five parts. One facet will then be compared or contrasted to an aspect of a relationship between two people. Ready?

Picture an upside-down triangle where the point is at the bottom. Then, picture a trapezoid. Place the trapezoid on top of the upside-down triangle. Now, let’s place three points on the top of the trapezoid and three on the bottom, each equidistant to the other, with the last point at the bottom point of the triangle. You should have seven points on this image which is how we can imagine each section. Are you with me so far?

Table, Crown, and Girdle

The top three points of the flat line at the top of the diamond are called the Table. The Crown is the distance between the middle point of the top and bottom lines of the trapezoid. It is the top portion of a diamond, from the Girdle to the Table, where the Girdle is the bottom line of the trapezoid at its widest length. It is also known as the setting edge, where the diamond is held in the jewelry setting. I call it the base where the diamond sits in its setting.

Pavilion and Culet

The bottom point of the upside-down triangle, vertically up to the middle point of the bottom line of the trapezoid, is called the Pavilion. It is the lower part of the diamond. The Culet is the bottom point of the upside-down triangle, the bottom of the diamond. The middle point from the trapezoid’s top to the bottom point of the upside-down triangle is called the Depth. It is the height of the diamond from the Culet to the Table. So, are you with me so far? To identify the parts of a diamond, you will need to differentiate between Table, Pavilion, Culet, Crown, and Girdle.

Is what you pictured in your mind bear any resemblance to this?

Graphic Credit: https://mintdiamonds.com/pages/step-5-2-anatomy-of-a-diamond

Thoughts and Feelings

Is the anatomy of a diamond relevant? I’d say yes! What girl wouldn’t want to know more about diamonds? It is a girl’s best friend, right? Knowing anatomy provides a framework to discuss systems and processes like a diamond in a box with clear parameters and precise dimensions. A relationship, however, is different – certainly not something that can be put in a box! Sure, a basic understanding of systems and processes still applies here. However, there are more intrinsic elements to consider, such as thoughts and feelings, which will be a scrambled mess at some point in a relationship.

A Scrambled Mess

How can you prevent a scrambled mess? By listening to the unspoken word. People may respond to situations based on their childhood experiences, including wounds and traumas they may not even know they have. If your partner overreacts, dig deep and ask them about it. What is the unspoken word here? Ask them about their past thoughts and feelings.

I remember my first boyfriend. Captain of the track team. Rival school. Water-skier. Boater. Fun kind of guy. Plus, he had a driver’s license. He bought me a tiger’s eye necklace. I loved it! But then he broke up with me. From that moment on, I associated pain with Tiger’s Eye. See? A scrambled mess!

So, the next time you ask your partner if they would like a Tiger’s Eye, don’t be surprised if they want a Diamond instead!

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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: Forgive Me

Art Credit: A Forgiving Heart by Fania Simon

Forgive Me

Forgive my crushed spirit.
Forgive my loving eyes.
Forgive my hurtful words.
Forgive my lack of attention.
Forgive my different wavelengths.
Forgive my trivial treasures.
Forgive my unmet expectations.
Forgive my passing judgments.
Forgive my lengthy inaction.
Forgive my jealous thoughts.
Forgive my coveting of others.
Forgive my impatience.
Forgive my open wounds.
Forgive my sweet gaze.

I and Thou: Yom Kippur

Photo Credit: Ruth Walton

Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. According to myjewishlearning.com, “Yom Kippur is when God seals the Books of Life and Death for the coming year.” The overall theme of Yom Kippur is repentance. It is the most solemn day in the life of Judaism.

Yom Kippur, “is the day…to divorce ourselves completely as humanly possible from the mundane world in which we live,
in order to devote ourselves with all our hearts and minds
to our relationship with the Divine.”

Myjewishlearning.com

It is my belief, that the Divine requires us repent. To repent to our fellow humans, and to repent to the Almighty for thoughts, deeds, or words we may have or have not said. Repentance is required for renewal and reconciliation.

If I have offended any of my brothers or sisters, I apologize from the depth of my being and hereby ask for forgiveness of any unkind word, thought or action I may or may not have had or done.

G’mar chatima tovah. Wishing you all to be sealed in the Book of Life.

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam

I am flawed. I am human. I have made mistakes. Forgive me, oh Lord, for I have sinned. Heal my festering wound, so I can start anew.

Amen

My prayer

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/yom-kippur-101/

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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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