A Motto to Live By

By Ed Baranosky

 

In my working career I had worked with a man who every morning would go through his schedule and agonize on each job. I watched him torture himself even before he went on his first call. I knew I had to do something. I told him he was a capable technician and he should not worry about each job beforehand. He should wait to see what the problem was when he got there.

 

I knew there was always more to the job than just electronics. The attitude of the customer was a part of it. The customers were always anxious to get their units up and running. There were always some individuals who gave the technicians a hard time.

 

When I first started on this job I did the same thing to myself. I was beating myself up about  electronic problems and customer attitudes. I found I was putting off the difficult problems and customers. At the end of several weeks I had a stack of jobs that I had made all sorts of excuses to delay tackling.

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It was then I decided that this could not go on.

 

My solution came to me at 3 a.m. in bed when I was replaying the problems over in my mind.

 

First, I decided I was going to do one difficult job a day. No matter what it was I was going to carry it
through. At the end of the first week I had five less problems in the stack.

 

The answer to the difficult customers who used their authority to abuse people they believe below their station also became apparent to me. I determined that I would greet them with a smile and a cheerful “good morning.” That diffused most of their aggression.

The motto I chose to live by was something by Gen. Patton said during the darkest hours of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He simply suggested: “Do not take counsel of your fears.”

 

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Letter to a Teacher

By Ethel Abraham

 

I love you dearly teacher

Who daily sets me right.

With calm resolve to love me

But never judge or fight.

 

You’re not afraid of asking

The questions that I dread

Because you know the answers

Are sleeping in my head.

 

You listen and inspire

And sometimes read aloud

Some words I’ve never heard of

Unless my head is bowed.

 

Like old friends sent to greet me

With lessons from afar

You aim a light into my heart

Just like a shooting star.

 

You part the clouds and wipe a tear

And loan me courage to turn from fear

I love you teacher, dear.

 

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The Indignity of It All

By John-Paul Marciano

I’ve been sitting in chairs for 60-plus years and never once have they failed me–until now.

Most standard chairs offer a weight capacity of 800 pounds but that’s a static rating for weight that doesn’t move. Static weight doesn’t take into account someone who adjusts to get comfortable or just can’t sit still.  It also doesn’t take into consideration someone leaning on the back two legs.  Now we have what is called dynamic weight.  That drops to 350 pounds or less.  Commercial chairs used in restaurants offer a weight capacity of 1000 pounds.  But again that’s static weight.

As far back as we can remember there have been chairs–wooden, upholstered, arm, beach, wrought iron, plastic, lounges, beanbags, rocking, swivel, folding and reclining chairs–more types  than I care to remember.  You sit in one and the chair does what it’s supposed to do.  You relax, watch TV, read the paper or a book or talk to your spouse or a friend. Ninety-nine per cent of the time chairs do what they were made to do.

Now visualize my wife and I celebrating our anniversary. We go to a nice restaurant.  The setting is terrific, overlooking a lake surrounded by mountains. It’s quiet except for the muted conversations and the chirping birds.

The hostess takes us to our table, leaves the wine and dinner menus, and says, “Enjoy your meal.”  Ever the gentleman, I slide the chair out for my wife and as she takes her seat I think to myself, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Without giving it a thought I walk around to my chair.  I’ve got 99- per-cent-reliability on my side.  I start to say something to my wife.  I never complete the sentence.  As soon as my buttocks hit the chair it collapses out from under me.

If I were alone with my wife I’d probably have a good laugh and a few choice words for the chair.  But I have 50 sets of eyes focused on me, me without a rock to crawl under.  Oh yeah . . . I weigh a dynamic 320 pounds.

Apple Memories

By Ed Baranosky

        In Australia and Argentina the cold of winter is just beginning to leave. In October, Connecticut is just starting to get a little frosty. It’s apple-picking time. Macs and tart Granny Smiths are being plucked from trees. In kitchens the sounds of rolling pins are heard as mothers and grandmothers roll dough for piecrusts. Their aprons are covered with white flour and some have a little white dust on their noses while they hum a happy tune.

This time of year the aroma of cinnamon and baking apple pie is in the air. The anticipation of a slice of homemade pie with a scoop of ice cream after supper cannot be described. There is nothing this side of heaven like the look Heaven on a grandmothers face as she watches her grandchildren fork a delightful bit of pie into their mouths.

In 1938 I was 10 years old. Walking home from a friend’s house who lived about a mile away, I saw an apple tree growing along the side of the road. I stopped and picked a few and put them in my pocket. I was eating one when I got home. In our kitchen my mother saw me and asked where I had gotten the apple. I told her about the tree. She got an old flannel shirt, tied the sleeves, buttoned it up and sent me to get some apples.

The apples were green and a little buggy. That didn’t matter. My mother simply peeled the apples, trimmed out the buggy part and baked one of the most delicious apple pies I had ever eaten.

How Not to be a Tree Stump

By Karen Cheney

It recently occurred to me that I am a tree stump.  I wasn’t born this way; it’s something that happened to me gradually over time.  As an empath I absorb the emotions and feelings of others and intuitively know things about them just by observing tiny details in their behavior.

These qualities served me well when I was working as a nurse.  On the hospital day shifts I was able to multi-task well while still picking up on changes that needed critical interventions. On the evening shifts, when the pace slowed down, the halls fell silent and the lights were low, patients and family would open up to me and I became both their counselor and confidant.

There was something so peacefully powerful in those intimate moments that I keep them always as warm embers in my heart.

As a child I had a knack for finding lost and injured things.  It didn’t matter if they were animal, insect or human.  If it was hurting or lost I would give it comfort and care.  I always kept a cardboard box hidden under our porch which served as both a shelter and sick bay for whatever critter-in-need I found.

As an adult, I still have a critter box under my porch and a place in my heart for all who are lost and broken.

You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with me being a tree stump.  So I will tell you now.  There are people in this world whose hearts are dark and they prey on people like me. They use and abuse for selfish gain and leave scars and pain and dirty stains in the wake of their manipulative madness.  I was born into a family of people like this and also had the madness of mind to marry one.

It wasn’t until I reread the book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein that a light in my attic went on.  It was then that I realized that I was the stump in his book on which that boy selfishly sat.

As a child I had the heart and mind of a child and, much like the tree, I was taken advantage of until there was nothing left but a mere stump of myself. Still I let them sit on me.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized two truths: First, I am not responsible for other people’s happiness–they are.  And second, I need to put my oxygen mask on first before I can help others with theirs.  It’s not selfish, it’s a necessity.

I want to spend the rest of my life re-growing into the beautiful tree they cut down with new roots so well-grounded I can weather any storm.  I want my canopy to be broad to shelter others from storms, my fruit to be plentiful to share with the hungry, my example to teach others to be strong and to learn to let go so my heart can finally find the peace it so desperately seeks.

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