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Archive for January, 2011

Just the other day meteorologist were calling for the 127th snowstorm of the season, and of course the path of the storm is always unpredictable. One are can expect five inches while another area…only a couple of miles away could get 10 inches.

It got me thinking about how unpredictable life can be on the YBR. Let me use a pending snowstorm to illustrate my point.

Say you live in Upper Bellybutton and the weatherman says you can expect about 1-3 inches of snow. Now say you have a friend who lives in Bended Elbow, which is about 25 miles east of Upper Belly Button. The weatherman is calling for 6 inches in Bended Elbow.

Now to add to the illustration, the weatherman is saying that people living in Arm Pit, 20 miles south of Upper Belly Button and Bended Elbow won’t get any snow at all.

It’s possible.

So, what’s my point.

Here it is. Numbered among our human weaknesses is our inability to understand that the weather in someone else’s life. We have a tendency to think that weather we are experiencing is the same weather everyone is experiencing.  Seldom do we stop and think that just because something is or is not happening to us, that it must be the same for everyone.

Instead of weathermen predicting snow, let’s say they are predicting happiness. Just because I am experiencing happiness does not necessarily mean that someone else is also experiencing happiness.

Why is it so hard for us to understand that everyone’s weather patterns are not the same? Why do we think that just because what’s happening in our world is happening all over the world.

Weather are the conditions life throws at us. Sometimes we’re hit by a raging blizzard. Sometimes it’s bright and sunny.

Sometimes my life is stormy while your life is calm. That’s the way it is…sometimes.

I think what we need to do is understand that we have to be more understanding of other people…and their life conditions.

And if we know someone is snowed under maybe we can lend a hand and help shovel away some of the snow.

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Dorothy was definitely bullied by the Wicked Witch of the West. And while Dorothy had to endure a degree of pain and suffering at the hands of the WWW, the bullying was out in the open, not done behind closed doors and gnarled trees. And thankfully, Dorothy never surrendered.

The bullying that is making headlines every day across the nation, has reached epidemic proportion.

Just this week a young teenage boy in my school district took his own life and there are those who say that he was being bullied on the internet, if not also at school.

But it is internet bullying that is more reprehensible because it is done almost anonymously.

I am not an expert on the root causes of bullying, but I have been around long enough to have witnessed it on far too many occasions.

And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most bullying occurs during adolescence because that’s when we are  most vulnerable.

It all comes down to one word: difference. It’s our differences that not only set us apart, but also set us up for bullying.

None of us want to be different. None of us what to be a target for bullying just because we’re too… (you fill in the word.)

And because we don’t want to be the target of bullying we are in danger of becoming part of a mob/group of people who have targeted someone for bullying just because they are different.

We believe that it is better to shake the target off our back and nail it on someone else. We join in the gossip mongering that is common among pre-teens and teens who get some kind of sadistic satisfaction out of tormenting someone else because they are too….

Growing up I wasn’t “too” anything. But I also wasn’t too confident. I never joined in making fun of someone else who was too…because it literally broke my heart to see someone sad because they were being made fun of.

So, I became anonymous. More than that. I became invisible.

One story that might illustrate my point (if I have one).

As a tenth grade student in a Catholic HS I had a religion teacher who was teaching high school students for the first time (after a stint as a second grade teacher for almost a decade.)

She was different because she was too…nice, kind, gentle, etc. So she was made fun of…mercilessly…by the boys in the class.

It pained me to see this woman in so much pain…and her pain was visible on her face.

It came time for me to do some presentation, but instead of talking about the Gospel of that week, I took the opportunity to talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room…and by that I don’t mean Sister Reginald.

I started off by saying that Sr. Reginald was a jerk because we were so much smarter than she was and that she was out of her mind if she thought she had something to teach us.

In brief I said how much better, smarter and proud we all were because we were making fun of Sr. Reginald.

While I was talking I could see an evil glare emanating from the eyes of some of the boys in the class. I had called them out and they didn’t like it.

When it was all over Sr. Reginald stepped up in front of the class, and she was a changed woman. She had taken back her power and restored her own dignity.

I, on the other hand, suffered the slings and arrows of the rage of a dozen or so teenage boys. I was bullied.

And while I didn’t like it, I realized it was far better to stand up for what I believed to be the right thing than to hide behind my own cowardice.

We are all different. And I believe our differences need to be celebrated.

And because young children cannot stand up for themselves, we, who have the power and authority, need to do it…and not be shy about it.

I know that will be hard for many of us because even though we are adults we are still afraid of being made fun of because we are too….

No child should ever take his/her life because they are different (since we’re all different in different ways).

It’s bad enough we lose children to diseases. We should never lose another child because of bullying.

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YBR's First Birthday. Does it take a cyclone to blow out the candle?

 

I’m a big believer in reflection because unless you reflect on where you’ve been it’s difficult to understand why you are where you are…and almost impossible to have any idea where you’re going (if you are going) and most especially, to understanding if you’re going in the right direction.

I started this blog a year ago this week.  In that year I’ve posted 196 blogs. The blog has had 6,444 views, with the biggest day a total of 154 views.

Those are not impressive numbers in a world where many blogs get thousands of views in a day.

On slow days, many YBR blogs had only three views. (Such is life)

Two of my blogs stand out for the number of views. “My three fathers’ blog posted in June gets viewed almost every day (A total to date of 422). And the blog “Beginning to See God Again for the First Time” posted in May, also gets views almost every day (A total of 1,846 views).

Together those two blogs account for almost one-third of the blog’s total views. And I have no idea why.

With that said, where am I a year after blogging? I don’t know. I like my blog like I like some of the other toys I have. Has blogging been a good experience? I don’t know.

Blogging is a lot like that damn tree that falls in the woods when no one is around. Does it make any noise when it falls?

You could ask the same question about a blog.

You could also say that a blog is the sound of one hand clapping.

Would you be impressed if I told you that Oprah Winfrey was one of the YBR’s subscribers?

Well, she’s not.

The YBR only has seven subscribers. And I thank them for subscribing.

The next question. Is a blog a waste of time?

(I ask myself such hard questions. But to be honest, I’d have to say…maybe.)

So, what’s ahead for the YBR? Your guess is as good as mine.

Maybe I’ll flip a coin. Heads, I continue to blog when the spirit moves me. Tails, I tell Dorothy to click her heels and go home.

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In high school I was voted most likely to almost succeed.

What does a ventriloquist and two pro football teams have in common…and what the hell do they have to do with a blog about the yellow brick road? I’m sure that’s what’s on your mind. Probably not, but it was on my mind this morning as I watched the Sunday CBS Morning Show (probably one of the best shows on network television).

It all comes down to hope. And while business people will tell you that hope is not a business plan, I think hope it an ingredient often found lacking in our diets.

Hope. I think it was quite evident last night in two football playoff games last night. Last year’s Superbowl Champs, the New Orleans Saints (11-6) were considered a definite shoe-in when they faced the Seattle Seahawks (8-9). In an amazingly high-scoring game, the Seahawks vanquished the Saints sending them to football hell where they can commiserate with the NY Giants. David slew Goliath and hope prevailed. The hope that comes from believing in yourself despite what others might say about your chances of success.

The Jets (12-5) might have played footsies with the Colts(10-7)  in the Wild Card game, but they took flight in the last seconds of a game that was supposed to have ended with a win for  Peyton Manning and his stable of Colts. Alas, hope again prevailed with a winning field goal in the last seconds of play.

Both games are a metaphor for our lives on the YBR because none of us have escaped the burden of having someone telling us we should give up and become hope-less.

And who better to speak up for those who have been told to abandon all hope than ventriloquist Terry Fator, a 42-year old man who is no dummy. His game-winning field goal came a few seasons back when he won the championship round in “America’s Got Talent.”

Listening to him and his story on the CBS Sunday Morning Show made me realize how important hope is in our lives.

As a child he stumbled upon ventriloquism when he took out a book on the subject from his local library. The book was the answer to his question,”what should I do with my life?”  His gut, his heart and his soul told him he not only had to be a ventriloquist, he needed to be one if he were ever to be happy and whole.

Fator had a supportive mother, but he had a father who took every opportunity to tell his son that he was going to be a loser.

Having your father tell you that you are going to fail is something that should be against the law. But rather than believe his father, Fator kept his hope alive by believing in himself.

At age 40, however, he almost lost his reserve and was about to say his father was right, he found himself a candidate on a talent show. When the final whistle blew, Fator won his personal Superbowl.

Hope. It wasn’t one of the gifts the travelers on the YBR asked for from Oz, but they didn’t have to ask for it. Their journey was a journey of hope.

Here’s hoping that your journey on the YBR in 2011 is also a journey of hope.

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Some wit once wrote that a flashlight was a container for dead batteries.

Think about the number of times you’ve needed a flashlight…and actually found it where it was supposed to be…only to find that when you turn it on the batteries are dead…or if not ‘absolutely, positively dead’  that you’d better off with a jar of old lightning bugs.

Although there is some literal truth in what the wit said, there is also something YBRish about  it especially if we use it as one of those metaphors that we encounter.

We are flashlights. And we  all come with batteries. However, many of us are sometimes just containers for dead batteries. And that’s a bad thing because our batteries can be considered anything from our souls to our inner energy. And our Durasoul batteries can die without us even knowing it. And when we go to turn our light on…guess what? The light doesn’t go on.

The flashlight doesn’t look any different. It’s the same container regardless. That’s why we can be on a bus with a bunch of other flashlights and never know whose batteries are powered up or dead.

And the saddest thing of all is that many flashlights never want to know if they contain dead batteries. They prefer living in the dark.

Dorothy’s batteries were operating at peak performance because she was totally alive. She was constantly recharging her batteries.

So, here’s the question of the day? Are you a container with dead batteries or can you bring light into a dark world?

If your batteries are dead or if your light don’t shine, you can recharge them by taking a moment to count your blessings, read a good book, turn off the lights and watch a really good movie, turn on some good music, take a walk in the snow with someone you love, enjoy a cup of tea and conversation, play with your children or….[you fill in the blank]

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The route an idea takes to get to a blog is often best described as random. While making scrambled eggs this morning I found a piece of ham in a bag with some provolone cheese. It didn’t come as a surprise that the ham smelled like provolone cheese.

It got me thinking about how one thing, or in many cases, one person can have an odiferous effect on something…or someone else.

Take the innocent apple. Left in the company of other appleas…and protected from the strong odor of say…garlic

the apple smells just like an apple…but once you have said apple spend time with garlic, the poor apple not only smells like garlic, it tastes like garlic, too.

How often does that happen to us? How many times do we, an apple, begin to smell like garlic when we associate with it? Obviously I’m speaking metaphorically. What I’m saying is that all too often we begin to take on the odoriferous characteristics of people we associate with. It’s what  I call the ‘odor factor.’

As kids if we hang out with people with strong odors, we are at risk of becoming just like them. We might still look like an apple…and even delude ourselves into thinking we’re an apple…but in reality we’ve become garlic.

I think that’s why so many idealistic young people lose their ‘fragrance’ when they go to work for a piece of garlic…and overtime become just another piece of garlic.

It’s exceedingly difficult to fight off the odor of power when it’s abused or authority when it’s misused. But if we are to remain true to ourselves we have to.

Oddly enough the word odor has another definition we rarely hear. Odor also means: esteem and repute. And those are good things.

I think we owe it to ourselves to be careful we don’t take on an odor that is rank, but rather keep our distance from people who want nothing more than to overpower us with their stink.

In 2011…let’s smell well.

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