Monthly Archives: February 2013

How to break through the fog

fog It’s a beautiful, sunny morning yet the fog in my brain keeps me from clearly seeing a story on this page.

Bits and pieces are all I can glimpse through the haze. I’m like a car on Chicago’s outer drive, just south of Navy Pier. I’ve driven this stretch of street many times before, yet the sudden fog throws me. I inch along, wondering, every worrying, what might happen if I move into the soup. What if I bump into something unpleasant? How thick is this hazard?

Sometimes it feels the fog won’t lift, causing me to make a decision. Leave the road or surge ahead. I inch at first, then – sensing no real obstacles – I pick up some speed.

“This is good, making progress, moving forward.” Forward through the soup is better than pulled off the side of the road – waiting for what.

And sometimes when the fog is so thick we can’t see where we’re going, have no idea what obstacles lie ahead – what do we do? This seems so trite but I love the Dory’s line from “Finding Nemo” – “just keep swimming, just keep swimming …”

Because you can pull over to get out of the way, or keep moving forward. Just move forward – not sideways or backwards – you’ve driven through fog before and haven’t yet fallen off the edge of the earth. For me, doing something is better than doing nothing.

What do you do when fog clouds your thinking? I’d really like to know.

 

 

How to take your heart with you wherever you go

It occurs to me after nearly a week visiting Las Cruces, NM, that I left a piece of my heart when I moved back to Indiana in 2011. I wonder as I ponder “being in the world but not of it” if it is possible to leave some heart everywhere we go.

Aw'gy guards our moving truck, August 2011, bound for Indiana.

Aw’gy guards our moving truck, August 2011.

I mean, I left! Moved. Packed up a 72-pound dog and 7,720 pounds of worldly possessions. Yet, as I’ve visited with friends who are as close as family, and in some cases even more open and loving, it has felt as though I never left.

Moved here on a whim back in oh four. “Bought an acre of land off the back of a matchbook,” I joked about the acre of land I bought from a realtor. “Either gonna move there or make money on the land,” I said.

Did both.

Come to think of it, I’ve left some heart in France; Sarasota, Florida; and all across the midwest. I don’t think it’s about me. I think it’s about the open, loving people I meet along the way. It’s also about being real, in a “wherever you go there you are” way.

You see, the thing is – this is so cool! – we are all connected.

In this vast, beneficent universe, we are connected, we are the same. You may be having a bad day and someone else has had those feelings. You’re celebrating and others know your joy.

You are just as connected as I am. If you don’t feel connected, I’m sorry about that. Here’s all you need to do: open your heart – actually picture your Valentine Day’s heart in your chest opening to the nature of people around you. Smile, thank them, wish them a good day and the heart you give them will come back to you in, well, hearts.

And corny as it sounds, but I’m here to tell ya, your heart will grow so large you’ll be able to leave pieces of it everywhere you go. And more will grow. So there you go. Happy Valentine’s Day from sunny SoNewMex.

 

 

How to de-stress travel

photo-3 It’s 12:05 p on a Friday. I’m sitting at O’Hare’s G3 with an Apple in my lap, contemplating an email I received from Real Simple magazine this week.

“We want to hear from you – and feature you in your words.”

A writer’s dream. And I’m sure I’m the only one who got it.

“This month we want to know, how do you make travel less stressful?”

(When people answer, “Good question,” is it because the question makes us think? Or because we don’t know the answer? Or maybe it’s a question no one’s asked. All of the above?)

Good question!

How do you make travel less stressful? Let me think.

My first flight in 1966. Cousin Bob sent 200 birthday bucks with instructions to visit the American Airlines office on Michigan Avenue and purchase a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles.

I was nervous about the whole idea until he told me what it’s like to fly.

“It’s like walking into your living room, sitting a chair and then arriving in a different place.”

Bob knew how to take the stress out of travel. Wish I could ask him Real Simple’s question of the month but about 15 years ago he took a tram to Judgment City. Continue reading

Why can’t the NRA be like Johnson & Johnson?

NRA is using a lot of fire power to thwart the Sensible Gun Laws now before Congress.

It frosts me this lobbying group, one of the country’s strongest marketing firms, hides behind the Second Amendment to help sell big guns.

Gabrielle Giffords, speaks at Wednesday's Senate hearings on gun control. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Gabrielle Giffords, speaks at Wednesday’s Senate hearings on gun control. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I found a fascinating article posted Thursday on Rolling Stone Politics. I’ve tried to excerpt some salient points but it’s loaded with information about the NRA’s commitment to selling military-style weapons and why, and with details about the gun manufacturers on its board.

It’s frightening really.

Please read the article; “The NRA vs. America.”

Here are a two things in particular that rocked me:

1.  “Billing itself as the nation’s “oldest civil rights organization,” the NRA still claims to represent the interests of marksmen, hunters and responsible gun owners. But over the past decade and a half, the NRA has morphed into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like the assault rifles used in the massacres at Newtown and Aurora, Colorado. 

2. “The NRA’s board is stocked with industry brass. Pete Brownell, president of Brownells – an Internet arms superstore that features “ultrahigh-capacity magazines” … Another board seat belongs to Ronnie Barrett, CEO of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, whose company produces .50-caliber sniper rifles capable of piercing armor from nearly a mile away. Barrett’s firm also sells scope-mounted ballistics computers that enable clueless civilians to hit targets like they were special-forces snipers. The ammunitions side of the industry finds a voice in board member Stephen Hornady, whose company peddles armor-piercing bullets and trades on the slogan “Accurate. Deadly. Dependable.” 

Also from the article, “The NRA insists in its publications that it is “not a trade organization” and that it is “not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition. That is a lie. NRA’s corporate patrons include 22 firearms manufacturers, 12 of which are makers of assault weapons with household names like Beretta and Ruger, according to a 2011 analysis by the Violence Policy Center. The report, drawn from the NRA’s own disclosures, also identified gifts from dozens of firms that profit from high-capacity magazines, including Browning and Remington.”

When I think of those killed by these “products,” if you will, I am reminded about the 1982 Tylenol scare.

Seven people were killed in September and October after an employee laced capsules with cyanide. While the culprit has never been caught, the manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has been credited with its immediate action, i.e., warnings on prime time news from the CEO, 31 million bottles recalled representing more than $100 million in sales.

Says Wikipedia,

“The company also advertised in the national media for individuals not to consume any products that contained acetaminophen. When it was determined that only capsules were tampered with, they offered to exchange all Tylenol capsules already purchased by the public with solid tablets.”

How can we, the American public, allow the NRA to avoid liability? Oh, the Bush Administration helped the NRA with that little detail, according to the Rolling Stones article.

As a marketer, I think of the companies that have had to change their corporate directions at best or simply alter their marketing strategies after the media or consumer groups pointed out the errors of their ways.

Even when people didn’t die!

When Johnson & Johnson’s product killed people, the company launched an immediate national campaign to prevent more deaths. When Audi brakes caused accidents and even deaths in the late 80s, the company responded by retooling. McDonald’s added salads and now a Happy Meal includes a book rather than a toy. Even big old Coca Cola is getting the message that too much sugar isn’t good for its customers.

Is the NRA greater than the cigarette lobby? I guess so. That’s scary.

And we are weak.

We want sugar, Big Macs, big guns. It’s America. We can buy whatever we want. And hurt ourselves with cigarettes, fat, sugar, gas guzzling vehicles …

… but I learned a long time ago that your freedom ends where mine begins. And I don’t want violence in our schools, my community, my country. No I am not a Pollyanna. I am a peaceful soul wishing for a peaceful world. I wish it everyday.

Talking about it will do nothing.

Contact your congress person and tell them you support the President’s plan to reduce gun violence. It doesn’t mean an individual will have to give up his or her guns. Here it is from the Obama-Biden email:

THE PRESIDENT’S PLAN INCLUDES:

  1. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands
  2. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and taking other common sense steps
  3. Making schools safer
  4. Increasing access to mental health services

Forever there have been people who feel a need to wield power over others. Sadly, I don’t believe human nature will change enough for us to be a peaceful people. But we can work for peace in our own corners of the world. Please support the President’s plan.