Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New and Improved?

Ever notice how as soon as you get used to a service or a product, the company changes it? Here's an example .. remember when Facebook changed to their 'timeline' format? Some people I know loved it and many others did not. I suppose the biggest reason for many was because they weren't given a choice ... we were told that we had until a certain date to change our formats over on our own or on a given date it would be changed for us. I chose to change mine over, so I'm not actually sure if that threat ever happened or not.

It seems the concept of always changing things and claiming that the changes are 'new and improved' aren't always accurate. Change CAN be a good and productive thing ... some times, but when things change just for the reason of making a change is that always a good thing? I don't think so. I used to love my white leather Keds sneakers because they fit just right, I could wipe them off when they got dirty, AND I knew exactly what to expect. Then they 'tweaked' them. Why? There wasn't anything wrong with them. So why change them?

Another example ... I've used cleaning products before that I relied on. Then the company 'tweaked' them, changed the formula and the packaging, and called them 'new and improved'. Why? I don't know, but I do know that I don't like the products any more and won't use them now. Personally I think that every year or so many companies change their products (or 'tweak' them, since that seems to be my word of the day) only to keep their advertising and marketing departments busy. Sort of a 'job security' approach, I suppose.

All I know is that summer is almost here and I'm still searching for a new pair of sneakers that fit like my old Keds!

What do you think? What has changed in your life recently? Was it a good change or an unwelcome one?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do you wear blinders?

I've been doing a lot of people watching & listening lately. I read Facebook postings to see what is new with the people I know, I listen to conversations to hear who could use my support and prayers, and I observe people's reactions and behaviors to see what their priorities are. I've become more aware recently that a lot of people seem to wear blinders (metaphorically speaking). While many people are fully aware of their surroundings, a lot of people seem to look past (intentionally or not I wouldn't begin to assume) what and who is around them.

My church recently held a volunteer food packing event. My daughter took a donation bag to school to see if anyone would want to donate to the cause. The students in one of her classes were watching a documentary about a past tsunami and how it devastated the area and the survivors. She took the opportunity to ask her teacher if she could speak to the class about the upcoming food packing event, to which he said 'yes'. She explained the concept of packing the food and how it could get shipped to areas of disaster where it was needed most. While some students donated their leftover change from lunch, a few students were dumbfounded and responded with replies like 'isn't that like volunteering?' and 'you mean you actually give up time to volunteer?' as if to say 'what's in it for you?' My daughter had a mix of emotions ... thankfulness to those that had donated, anger to those that mocked her efforts, sadness to those who were oblivious, and disappointment for those that didn't seem to care one way or the other.

Last week I was speaking with some adults at a school function. We were discussing the differences and options between fundraising for groups and the possibility of just charging larger amounts to the parents for their student's involvement in the program. There are a lot of opinions on that subject, so I'll save that topic for a future blog entry. Some parents like the fundraising aspects because it's a way to unite the families that are involved, while some parents would prefer to write a check. No one approach is right or wrong or better than the other. The part of the conversation that surprised me was when one parent (who I like) suggested that she didn't understand why everyone wouldn't just want to write a larger check and be done with it. She suggested that we lived in nice area and she couldn't believe that not everyone would have the money available to them to do it. My input was that perhaps she wasn't seeing the whole picture. I mentioned that I knew of people who had 2 income households and after one or both of them had lost their job they were doing their best to maintain their home and lifestyle. If we really look around us we will see that some households are doing fine, some are tightening their belts, some are re-prioritizing their needs and wants, and some are experiencing the possibility of losing it all. The teacher that was present even suggested (to her surprise) that our own high school was considered in need (not sure if that is the correct term) because a large enough % of the students qualified and received free school lunches.

The point is that when you walk down your street and criticize someone because their grass is getting a little tall for your liking, maybe you should ask yourself why. Have they taken on a 2nd job recently and haven't been home all week to cut the grass? Is the house in foreclosure? Did the homeowner suffer a heart attack last month and isn't able to handle the maintenance just now?

If we don't make the effort to interact with our neighbors, friends, and even strangers how can we truly expect to see the big picture? How can we know what is needed or how we can help?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why are some decisions harder than others?

Today I entered a Facebook post that simply asked 'Why do we struggle with decisions some days more than others?' A friend responded rather quickly suggesting that it would make a good 'Insights Are Blooming' topic. Well, there you go ... talk about inspiration.

Decisions can come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes with a lot of strings attached. Some decisions are what I like to call 'no-brainers', while trying to make other decisions often cause us to lose sleep. Those are the difficult life-changing ones. I don't think there is a one of us who doesn't have to make at least one decision a day ... our lives are overflowing with choices. What should we wear to work today? What should we pack in our child's school lunch (that we hope they will actually eat)? Should we put time aside this week to actually call that friend or relative who is still waiting to hear from us? Should we plan a vacation or stick close to home? Should we downsize our home when our kids are grown and out of the house? Should we hold on to hope and try the medical treatment that might save our life? Should we retire or continue working for another year or two?

Everyone's 'choices' that are currently weighing them down may or may not be just like those of the person next to you. We often think we are faced with decisions that no one else could possibly understand. We often feel alone. At the same time, we just might be more like the person standing next to us than we thought. Making serious decisions can be difficult. Of course, we need to do our research and weigh all of our options. Be thorough, but in the end trust yourself.

What was your most recent decision (serious or trivial)?

Friday, April 6, 2012

What's your favorite school time memory?

It's been a week since my last post. No excuses here, just been REALLY busy. It's spring break for my teenager which you might think would give me some free time (parental math problem ... her schedule = my schedule). Not the case though. It's Holy Week which made for a busy week at work for me ... additional sscheduling ... Easter flower deliveries ... lots of worship bulletins, etc. This week though the weather has been decent, a few warmer days and a few chillier days ... but today is a nice one. Blue sky and sunshine go a long way in my book. Baseball opening day was yesterday and the Tigers won. As my Pastor (and boss) left the building in the afternoon he said 'It's nice that you have Christian music playing on your computer, but if I were you I'd turn the game on on the radio.' No one had to ask me twice. It's amazing how much work a person can accomplish in their last 2 hours of the work day if they're the only one left in the building, their office window is open with a cool breeze coming in AND the Detroit Tigers have a great bottom of the ninth on opening day at Comerica Park. Great way indeed to end my work week.

Today my daughter and husband took a break with me from our day's schedule and went to Good Friday worship. My teenager did one of the readings and did an awesome job. I still find it amazing to watch my daughter perform her music or do public speaking in front of people. She's poised and confident. Nothing like the old kindergarten days when she would clutch my hand so tightly that my knuckles turned white. Somewhere along the line she blossomed - I can't say exactly when it happened, maybe it was a gradual process, but in a lot of ways she definately isn't the little girl I remember.

Seeing all of the kids out of school this week had me thinking about my own childhood memories from elementary school. We used to do so many cool projects. I wonder if kids still do them today - especially since they don't involve computers or iphones. I used to love the science projects we would do that involved plants and seeds. We would put the lima bean inside a folded wet piece of brown paper toweling, put it in a sealed ziploc bag, then tape the bag to the classroom window. We always seemed to do the project on a Friday afternoon. We'd come back on Monday morning and I'd run to the window to discover that my seed had sprouted and was green. I WAS AMAZED!!!

What's one of your favorite childhood school memories? Something about recess? Something about getting Billy to shoot milk out of his nose during lunch? I told you one of mine, so you should tell me one of yours ... it's only fair.