crying emoticone

My friend Jan lost her mother this month.  Jan is doing her best to keep the proverbial stiff upper lip.  In the words of her mother:  “Crying never solved anything.  Get out there and do something.”

Although I understand her mother’s sentiment.  My Dad had a similar adage: if you’re feeling low, look around and find someone who needs a helping hand.  We can get bogged down and sometimes we need a change of pace to kick-start us into a better frame of mind.  Still, for the most part, I beg to differ.  Crying is doing something.

Tears provide us great relief.

There are three kinds of tears:

  • Tears that lubricate eyes and make it possible for eyelids to slip effortlessly over our eyes with each blink;
  • Tears that respond to irritants and flood the eyes in an effort to rid them of pollen, dust, or onion odor;
  • Emotional tears brought on by extreme joy, frustration, or sadness.

I’m a crier.  I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m angry.  That last one can really get me going. 

Many of us face Father’s Day without our Dads.  Even for an adult, the process of losing of a father can leave us adrift and bereft.  On an intellectual level, we know it’s inevitable, yet the reality can hit us with a tornado of emotions,  and sometimes when we least expect it.  This piece was written as my Dad was dying, twelve years ago this year.  I mark the years by the age of my first grand-daughter.  My son placed his newborn daughter in the crook of her great-grandpa’s arms, the day before he dyed.  I’ll never forget the look of pure joy on Dad’s face and the way he squeezed little Emma close to his heart.

Grown

 

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, and I thought as a child.  But when I became an adult, I grew far beyond my childhood, and now I have put away the childish ways.

                                                            – 1 Corinthians 13, 11

This verse keeps running through my mind.  The one persistent thought among a kaleidoscope of memories that wash over me like waves against a lone rock on the beach.  Each time the passage enters my consciousness; I end it with this thought: I was about eight when I put away my childish ways.

When I was brand new at the job I’ve had for nearly a decade, I called one of my best friends.  She’s been my friend since grade school.

“I’m the Most Responsible Person.”  I explain, over the phone, about my new position as head of Regulatory Affairs for a small pharmaceutical company.  “Whenever I submit papers to the Agency, there’s a line that asks for ‘the most responsible person’.  That’s me!”

This woman, who’s known me for so long, laughs a deep, from the belly laugh.  “You’ve been

Judith Wright An old friend from high school. We’re both a long way from the self-consciously confident students we once were, “Judy” and I still keep in touch.

Judy Sewell, a bookish student involved in publication, orchestra, marching band, and student council, says she was a plain chubby girl searching for something, unaware what she was missing and unable to identify her dreams.  The year Judy graduated from high school, at least one high school teacher, Bonita Ansbaugh, knew that Judy stood head and shoulders above her peers and recognized her for outstanding achievement in publication.  Perhaps this small vote of confidence helped Judy have the self-assurance to put effort into identifying and pursuing her dreams.  On September 20, 2008, Swartz Creek High School honored Judith Wright (Judy) with the Outstanding Alumni Award.

Judith Wright is a recognized and sought after personal coach and self-help expert. She appeared on over 50 television programs including

If you read Once a Little Girl, you know I L-O-V-E, love to camp and I love adventure.  Today, I had some adventure in a tent.  A brand new experience for me:  A tent sale.   I H-A-T-E, hate shopping.  If I could, I’d only shop with a catalog, the internet, and a glass of wine.  My daughter, Duckie, loves to shop.  And I love Duckie.  So today off , after breakfast, we head to the Wilton Tent Sale.  Great finds can be had there for the patient and persevering.  I’m one of those.

Did I mention Duckie loves to talk? She processes everything out-loud. The tent sale is a 60+ minutes away, so Duckie has lots of time to tell me everything that’s on her mind.  I get a chance to practice my listening skills.  Duckie works at the local grocery store as a courtesy clerk.  She’s one of those people; she bag groceries and loads them in customers’ cars.    Duckie has the low-down on everyone.  She loves people.

Wow!  So many people stuffed in one tent:  People going up and down the aisles in willy-nilly.  We are like

Did you know that our property is supposed to revert to the state after our death?  Our Founding Fathers deliberately designed property to be “on loan” in order to prevent a royal class, or a class of the ultra-wealthy.  Imagine how different we might live our lives if we considered ownership temporary.

In my corporate career, centered in science and industry, I learned what gets measured, gets attention.  Measurement is the first step towards improvement.  Thus we pay attention to Gross National Product (GNP), National Debt, Unemployment Rates, etc.  In other words, measurements of national economic prosperity.

Manufacturers measure things like cycle time, re-work, defect rate, variability, and so on.  These are measurements of efficiency and effectiveness.

In our careers, we measure income and percent pay increase, and ratings on our performance reviews.  We measure our success.

On a personal level, we keep track of our HDL/LDL, our BMI, our Blood Pressure, our weight, our dress size, and the hairs left on our brush each morning.  This is how we measure our health and beauty.

What if we took the approach of the Tibetan country of Bhutan?

Photo by Maryanne Russell

Gloria Feldt’s most recent book, No Excuses, haunts me.  It is beautifully crafted and written.  Her call to political action is compelling.  After all, as Stephanie McNulty points out in The Philadelphia Inquirer,

women are finally gaining a foothold on political power through the Americas-except in one nation…the United States.

Ms. Feldt, Gloria, wants to change that.   I had an opportunity to sit down and listen to her vision, and her call to live a life with intention.

Gloria learned at an early age what it felt like to be an outsider.  The only Jewish family in small-town Texas, she also learned a respect for

cuba

“Last year, we sent sheets to Cuba.  My wife’s grandmother had surgery, and the hospital had no sheets.”  Rainier Andres  (Ray) is an American citizen who came to these United States with his mother.  He has no brothers or sisters and his father is still in Cuba.   Ray reminds me of a documentary I saw last Fourth of July:  “Citizen U.S.A.:  A 50 State Road Trip,” by Alexandra Pelosi.  These new citizens brought tears to my eyes.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCjsw9zwAgg

Ray was a teenager when he came to America, he was too naïve, or perhaps too filled with machismo to understand the dangers.   Ray considered