Josiah Henson

Growing up in an area where certain people are famous sometimes you forget there’s more to the story than you have heard repeated a million times over. And then you forget you only have so little time in history classes where again, the professors are trying to get in as much as possible.

Harriet Beecher Stowe is well known in Connecticut. Her house in Hartford is right across from Mark Twain’s. Stowe has always been “the little woman who started the great war”.

I’ve tried reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin several times but could never get into it. I think I’ve read almost everything else and then I find the book The Road to Dawn by Jared Brock and my reaction is…..not yet, you haven’t.

Until reading The Road to Dawn, I had never heard about The Key to Uncle Tom. My reaction was: what? There’s more? Lincoln read it as well? When do I get to read it? Stowe is one of my literary and political idols as she was very prolific and stood up for her beliefs. Stowe took her power of words and created ways to reach people and help change the world. It makes sense have would have had a compendium of sources.

I’ve been near, or maybe even passed, where Josiah lived in Maryland and quite possibly Kentucky as well. You go by history all of the time and don’t even realize it. Next time I go, it will be with different eyes.

Josiah never gave up. Dawn always comes.

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Spetakkel

Spetakkel appears on page 162 of the book Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien. O’Brien quotes a woman from Kragnes Township in Minnesota. Spetakkel is defined as “rambunctious” in English, yet sounds better in Norwegian. This word was used to describe one of the first well-known and daring female pilots, Florence Klingensmith.

Have you ever heard of Florence Klingensmith? I am going to guess probably not. Neither had I until I read Keith O’Brien’s work. The only other person I had ever heard about in the book was Amelia Earhart.

O’Brien’s book is about the first aviatrixes in the United States beginning in the 1920’s. Earhart’s fame and untimely disappearance in the 1930’s overshadowed all of their lives, deaths, and accomplishments. O’Brien does a magnificent job of bringing them all back to life and the truth of their deaths.

These women accomplished the same and more than some men (sorry, fellas) yet history has forgotten them.

It’s Always Groundhog Day

I didn’t see the movie “Groundhog Day” when it first came out yet saw it years later and finally watched it again last night. I realized I missed a lot of the subtleties and the message the first time. Yes, Phil the Weatherman gets the girl but there is more going on.

Culturally, people always refer to this movie when they talk about things being the same and repeating over and over but the entire context and message is being overlooked. So was Phil the Weatherman really trapped for something like 12,000 plus days until he got everything right? Or did he just figure how to work the system he was in until he got everything “right” and changed his attitude? Or a combination of both?

We are all part of a “system” or many systems in our lives. Think about how many systems we come across daily. Our whole education system is set up to send us out into one of the many workforce systems. Our medical system, government system, debt system, financial system, religious systems. We can’t survive without them and wouldn’t have many of the daily services we rely on, like our electricity, plumbing, first responders, and roads.

People I talk to always complain about being trapped by “the system”. Some systems are not going to change because the people who work in them don’t want change or change comes slowly. Some people deal with the system in their own way, either by being negative or overly compensating. How many times have I gotten nasty responses and nasty looks when I say “just deal” because there are people and situations who are never going to change? Just wait until someone leaves because eventually change will happen. We each have our own situations like that. Just deal, ask for guidance how to change the situation, and keep going for now. Change will come but not in the way you usually want or can predict.

Phil the Weatherman had to figure this out and in the end worked it to his advantage. The people who were around him weren’t going to change, Phil had to change. There are some days none of us would ever want to be trapped in, myself included. Yet Phil went from being an awful jerk (sarcasm aside and sarcasm can be a life-saver sometimes) and trying to kill himself to understanding that he had to work with people on their level. Phil realized he had to understand them and find what made them happy and made them tick. Did he like all of them? Probably not. Yet it isn’t about liking, it’s about understanding. And when you can’t understand, at least try to work with them where they are now and then the future “nows”.

Will it get you the person of your dreams? That’s a Hollywood ending. Will it get you somewhere you never thought? I would venture to guess “yes”. So if everyday feels like Groundhog Day, take what you can, save it, learn from it, and make the best from it later on.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

My reaction to this book: Wow, just, Wow. One of the librarians at my local library said she can’t wait to read this book. Now I understand why. This book is better than the local news.

The story of George Washington Black, known as “Wash”, begins in Barbados and ends in Morocco. The story begins with how he sees the world and understands of it through what he learns about himself and his past. Wash undertakes many journeys, both physical and emotional, due to what happened to him on Barbados. Wash’s story gives a very different perspective to the world of the early 1800s.

A must read for history and science fans.

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

I began reading this book while sitting in a parking lot waiting for a wake to begin. I just needed something different from all of the seriousness and sadness going on. I actually wanted to finish reading this book, something that rarely happens.

Two couples decide to go on vacation together and their secrets, their past, and their problems follow them. The ending you don’t see coming and the big reveal is only one line that you may miss if you skip ahead.

Enjoy. Siracusa will have you hanging on for more.

Under My Notebook (Answering Seth Godin)

What will they tell their friends?

I usually carry a notebook and pens with me wherever I go. The notebook is filled with math calculations and notes about my resume clients’ work experience.

What I can’t carry with me is what other people have to say about me.

I was at a meeting for a group I’m involved with the other night and one of the women there was talking about her own business and how she hates marketing. However, marketing oneself is a necessary evil if one wants to run a business. Yes, marketing is tough but the people who do it constantly, be their true selves, and without being jerks come out the best.

Women have a difficult time with this because of the caught-in-the-middle attitude of society. Other women don’t like women who are straight shooters and men don’t like women who “brag” and stand up for themselves. A business owner has to find their crowd and find the people who support them.

Doing what I do, I have to be a straight shooter. I had to tell a resume client this week their email address wasn’t too professional and come to find out they had another email account they hadn’t been using. I’ve fought it out for my clients with parents, teachers, and even principals. Being a straight shooter and asking the tough questions gets things done and reveals insights.

What will they tell their friends? I usually find this out on social media. As much as I beg and plead for referrals, my best ones come from people referring me when a third party is asking for help. It takes them less than 10 seconds to tag me and write a few words. I jot everything down and save it and put it on the landing page for my website. Then I have it to share with anyone who wants it.

A Letter to Anu Partanen

Dear Anu,

I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up your book The Nordic Theory of Everything.  Yet once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.  Then I got to the end and my reaction was: why did you stay?  Love?  Wouldn’t you both be better off if you followed the Nordic System of Love?

Some days I would give up everything to have unquestioned access to healthcare and free college and a system that values education and learning.

Yesterday a friend told me that a 10 year-old family member wants to kill themselves after being bullied for an entire school year by a teacher.  The teacher is not being disciplined.  Would this happen in Norway or are teachers as strongly vetted as they here in the US?  You mention about teachers not being able to teach but not about how they treat their students.

Recently I had to pay $125 in order to get a prescription for a $5 bottle of amoxicillin.  And I had to tell the doctor what I had.  I find this is the experience of most people here in the US.  They have to go in prepared and already done their research when talking to a doctor.  Does this happen in Norway?

In college the choice was pay for college or have health insurance.  I was furious when I received the insurance company packets and they said because I’m a woman, my premiums were four times that as a man the same age as myself.  (Never mind that male teenagers and young adults pay higher car insurance but I don’t think the insurance would have been as high as those premiums I was quoted.  My car insurance was a drop in the bucket compared to the health insurance.)  All of those packets went into the recycling.

I was also working full-time while going to college and my employer paid me out of three separate accounts so that it would look like I was part-time and they didn’t have ot give me benefits. And these were local politicians.

Speaking of politicians, they use the word “reform” for healthcare here in the US.  Does this strike you as strange or weird?  They should turn away the lobbyists and bling and set limits on drug costs and a whole other host of items.  Yes, I know equipment costs money but sometimes….Yet all they do is talk, talk, talk and no action.  Well, usually it consists of bucking and fighting whatever is being presented and then knocking it out when new people are elected.  Price setting in the current way of being and thinking would never work here out of pure greed.

Have a job after many months after having a baby?  What concept is that?  I know people who have gone back to work 4 days after giving birth.  Again, large corporations cry and complain, yet as you point out, it’s a boon for new entrants into the workforce.  Just a huge “WOW” is all I can say.  Even if most women don’t express it directly, I’m sure they would give anything to have this after having  a baby.  And money to boot?  I’d work three jobs to get that money back when I need it.

Your work dredged up a lot of not-so-pleasant memories and reactions, my own personal reactions, mainly being upset about how this system is available and it works yet out of greed people and corporations claw at it and fight it every chance they get.

People here in the U.S. are split in different directions regarding healthcare.  However, I’m seeing more and more people on social media venting their frustrations and people are wiling to have “socialized” medicine because our system of care sucks and as one woman pointed out, due to the lack of specialists, she already has to wait six months for an appointment anyway.  I’m glad to see that you brought up medical bankruptcy.  One woman I know, and her husband died, is now $1 million in debt for his cancer treatments and she has small children.   I can’t imagine.  This is another “taboo” topic.  Why?  Why can’t we have conversations about this and make changes?  Nobody wants to talk about it.  Is it the stigma that going through bankruptcy means that you have failed?

One item you referred to but didn’t mention is that going on individual State benefits opens the door to the individual State to freeze your assets and/or take the money from your estate before your heirs receive it.  Does this happen in Norway?  I’ve heard stories of families in probate court have a State official show up at the probate hearing and submit the documentation for the State to take the amount in benefits that the person used for food stamps et al. while they were alive.  The State gets the money first and then the family can split the rest.  Some people don’t know this and I know some people just don’t care.

I don’t know how it is in New York.

I’m glad you wrote this book and I hope everything is working out for you here.

Sincerely,

Angela