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.

Be like Eliza….

I’ve never found history boring and have found the more one learns, the more there is always to learn. (The same can be said of science and other “subjects”, or areas of learning. Yes, math is included in this.)

Last night, even with a hockey playoff game going on in the background, I finished Tilar Mazzeo’s work Eliza Hamilton.  Eliza’s life was a Shakespearean type drama and Greek tragedy rolled into one. Eliza was born into the Schuyler family of New York, who were cousins to the Rensselaer family. Does this name sound familiar? Eliza’s father, Phillip, fought in the Revolutionary War and was one of George Washington’s top generals. This is how she came to meet Alexander Hamilton.

Mazzeo divulges into Eliza’s life before and after Hamilton and how her life afterwards was always under his shadow. Mazzeo also goes into how history isn’t always what we think it is and there is always much more to each story given. Mazzeo goes deeply into the Maria Reynolds affair: did it really happen and was it a cover up for something else going on? The whitewashed history books don’t talk about people’s fiances and back door dealings that all of the Founding Fathers partook in. Mazzeo’s biography of Eliza is only the third of fourth book I’ve read that tackles this subject. The two best history teachers I had were the only ones who discussed this and Hamilton’s link to the Crash of 1792.

Eliza not only lost Alexander in a duel. Her oldest son, also Phillip, was killed in a duel shortly before Alexander was. Eliza dealt with situations and events most people could not picture today yet she survived and preserved what she wanted to preserve of Alexander’s legacy. Eliza also took her grief and made it into something positive.

Be like Eliza.

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.

Don’t Disturb My Circles: Navigating Early

A family member selected this book on audio to listen to.  Clare Vanderpool is a Newberry Award winning author.

Jack Baker’s first person account about change in his life with the death of his mother, his father returning from World War II, and his father’s decision to place him in a boarding school in Maine weaves this tale together beautifully.  At the boarding school, Jack meets Early and Early changes his life forever.

Left alone at the boarding school together (something that would never happen today), Early and Jack set out not only an adventure but a quest for what Early has been looking for.  Jack’s story holds you until the end.

Jack’s story is also a reminder that we are all connected, even if we don’t realize it.

What am I doing now?  Early was obsessed with Pi.  Pi (3.14) features prominently in the story.  I’m listening to videos about Pi.

W.W.Y.D? (What would Yale do?)

I’m angry right now. Yes, whole wide world, I’m going to admit that.  Angry and fired up.

Why?  I’ll explain in a minute.

Yesterday I was walking around the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.  I was there waiting to pick someone up from an appointment.  It was a nice fall day and students, purportedly some of the the best and brightest in the world, walked and wheeled around me.  The streets are for the most part clean, the architecture comes from old Europe replicated here.  I enjoyed it yet my mind was elsewhere.

The night before I had received an email with a scanned attachment that showed red and a lot of cross outs and scribble.  Underneath all of that was the resume I had put together for a business class for a client of mine.  My client has been self-employed for the past 10 years after being laid off and has been slowly working their way through classes for a college degree.  It has not been easy for them.

The professor, and later another gentleman in career services, took off her self-employment and put her down as a “professional” student.  They left them with a 10 year gap.   Why?  I was yelling at the computer, because in the eyes of these professional academics self-employment is a crime? They took away their databases that she used for classes and that transfer over to the real world and left them with general “database management”.  There were a few other things as well, including not giving hard numbers and adding in “fluff” that anyone can add in.  Good customer service?  Even drug dealers can say that.  Show your hard numbers.  They took those out and left in the good customer service.

As I walked around Yale I know Yale would never leave their students or graduates with a resume that I was reading.  They would have every little specific thing the student has ever done, every computer program, every database, every class, every internship, and they would surely play up the fact that this person is self-sufficient, self-employed, and gets out there and hustles for their living.

I’m still furious thinking about this.  I can only imagine how many other students this has happened to over the years and now feel down and out, frustrated, upset, and wonder why they can’t find work.  Yale would never do this to their students, why are other schools allowed ot make a mockery of their students’ lives?

 

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

 

 

 

 

Caleb’s Crossing

Even though this book is a work of fiction, Caleb’s Crossing could easily be used as a jumping off point to teach early American history, women’s studies, Native American history, colonial history, and much more.

It was fascinating to read this as I have visited both Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and the Mashantuckut Pequot Museum in Ledyard, Connecticut.  This is one of the many parts of American history I shake my head in sorry at and feel like Western civilization trampled and nearly killed off peoples who could have helped this country on a different course.  What Geraldine Brooks writes about is a “missing” piece of American history.  I will especially never look at Harvard University the same way again.

Two Suns Rising

This book opens with a quote by Rumi.  Rumi has come to be my favorite poet and philosopher after Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Rumi writes that “today is your day”.

Today is always your day and you just need to recognize that.

The author, Jonathan Star, whoever this is, puts together a compilation of sacred writings with regards to love and higher power throughout the world.  Reading this, I wish I had read it earlier yet realize I read this at the right time in my life.

I wish I had had this for some of my undergraduate classes.  The writing is pure and down-to-earth at the same time.  One can feel the power put through the words shared.

Pot by the Road (A Client Story)

I saw the pot on the side of the road.  Just sitting, all alone.  It looked as if someone had taken it out of a car and forgotten it.  It was March, too early for leaves or flowers if there were to be any on its’ branches.

I was back a few days later.  That pot was still sitting there.  I drove over and swung the car around so my passenger side door was next to it, parked, got out, opened the passenger door and tossed the pot it.  I drove home carefully that day, trying not to knock it around.

When I got home I found a shovel and planted the plant in there.  A few weeks later pretty dark pink blossoms appeared.  In the two years since, it gives me the same blossoms each spring for a few days.

Those blossoms remind me of the client I was seeing when I found that pot.

The client was a third party referral and third party payer, something I appreciate because I know once the contract is signed and then I turn in my hours, I get paid.  Yet by the end this one brought more of a story than I was expecting.

My client lived in a condo complex off of a main artery that had a gated parking lot.  They didn’t drive so they didn’t have the pass code to the gate.  No problem, I waited for someone to come in and park in the unmarked spots.  No one bothered me until one day a man started following me from the building to my car and was threatening to call the police.  I thought it was because of the gate but I quickly realized he thought I was pimping.

I had the municipality’s non-emergency police dispatch number in my phone less than five minutes after I was home that day.

A bit of background: due to the third party arrangements, the client’s guardian squeezed every minute out of me they could get and refused to take less than an hour and a half at one time so I just made the sessions two hours to lessen the amount of times I would have to go.

The next time I just parked on the street and wedged myself through an opening in the gate.

Driving home I would have the windows rolled down.  The condo had a very interesting smell and my significant other would comment when I walked in the door.  Those clothes were immediately stripped off and in the washing machine.

The longer I was with my client the more I found out that helped some things I had observed make sense.

When I talk about my 85% to 90% success rate, this client was one of those I don’t know the outcome or outcomes.  I was summoned after they had failed their licensing test the first time and met the usual resistance.  They had certain expectations and their guardian had others.  The meticulous notes I found in the book and paperwork were not my client’s.  The second time their score went up yet it was still under what the State was requesting.  We used up the hours right before they were scheduled to take the test a third time. I left my client with a detailed, written instruction list of study tips, review tips, piles of organized flashcards, a notebook with notes, and a message of it is up to you to study for this.

I called the third party for a followup but never received any.

To this day I still don’t know what happened with them.  I wonder when I go by the area where they live, if they are still there.

I hope life has treated them well and they passed on their third try.  I think of that when I see the pink blossoms in the spring.

Review: Fifth Business

Don’t look up information before you write a review.  Yet I did find out Tokyo Police Club wrote a song based on this book.

Ramsay, the protagonist of Fifth Business, could be Everyman and Anyperson except that historical and world events move through his life and become up close and personal.

Fifth Business is a story that no matter how much we don’t believe that we impact people’s lives around us, we find out about it at the weirdest moments and when we least expect to. Then at some point everything will come to a head and perhaps not the way we expect. It’s also about belief, love, being yourself, being part of something and being part of other people’s lives.

This book talks a lot about magic and has a magic all of it’s own.