Millennial Management

The Millennial Generation seems to be one of extremes…either they are doing really incredible, wonderful things, or they are being accused of doing really incredibly stupid things. Millennial kids, in the 1990’s were starting to see a boom in technology and were learning about computers and cell phones at young ages, mastering them and likely contributing much to the ongoing evolution of all things “tech.”

Millennial kids are also living with their parents much longer than previous generations, partly because of legitimate economic issues in the nation, but quite a few because they chose to get degrees in fields that aren’t really career fields. This generation is often mocked for being too sensitive to criticisms and finding offense in just about everything.

Of course, people born in the generations prior to millennials must now come to terms with the simple fact that those “kids” are not kids any more, and are moving up in all places of business, many now managing employees older than themselves. If you haven’t had a millennial manager to report to, you may wonder what it is like. What I have learned is that not all of the millennial’s management style is conducive to all types of work.

One thing that I am seeing younger managers strive for is a climate of “fair and equal”, allowing everyone the opportunity to be and/or do whatever it is they would like to experience. Of course, everyone should strive to learn more about their chosen career, gaining knowledge and experience so that they better themselves and, by extension, the team around them along with their customers.

But is wanting a certain experience enough to justify allowing  anyone to have it?

Consider this. Imagine for a moment, that you are a cat owner. Cats are notorious for doing just about anything they want, whenever and wherever they want. Let us say that  your precious kitty has just exited his litter box and proceeded to jump up on the kitchen counter…a place where you prepare food for yourself, your family, perhaps your friends. That cat wants this experience. The cat, however, has no awareness that tracking his fecal matter across your counters can lead to unfortunate outcomes if you do not intervene. The cat is not going to sanitize his paws or your counter because he has no knowledge, experience, or ability to do so.  You must now clean up its mess if you want to avoid possible gastrointestinal disturbances, assuming you know of every instance where he has done this. Do you know if he walked across your dining table before you sit down to eat?

I work in healthcare as a nurse. After thirty years, I consider myself to have a fairly wide range of skills and knowledge that would lend well to my wanting a new experience within my scope of practice. A millennial manager would allow me to take on a new role if I expressed interest in it, because it is “fair”.

However, a nurse with only a year or so of experience is also interested in that new role. To be “fair and equal”, the manager will allow her to take on that role as well. This is where trying to have everything be “fair and equal” becomes a slippery slope for all involved. When something unexpected happens one day and it is important for the person in the new role to manage the potential crisis, who is more likely to ensure the best outcome? I am not trying to be mean or dismissive here. Many young nurses are quite good at their jobs…using the skills and knowledge they have acquired thus far. But things do occur in health care that require more knowledge, better skills, broader experience to prevent negative outcomes.

What I am saying, basically, is that there are jobs where treating all your employees “fair and equal” just is not practical. It’s one thing to throw seniority out of the window for things like scheduling shifts or deciding who will be sent to a conference. It’s quite another thing to put a young nurse in a position where a lack of experience, and perhaps a lack of proper support, will likely mean a crisis situation ends badly for someone. Managers cannot “manage” their employees every second of the day, so may not be aware of a lack of ability to perform adequately in a new role until something goes wrong. The cat owner cannot know for sure everywhere his cat has walked after exiting his litter box, but it is the owner who adjusts and ensures they clean and sanitize all surfaces the cat could have walked on where food may be prepared or eaten (we hope). If a manager cannot or will not be able to monitor every situation her employees are in, and does not want to have to “clean up the mess” whenever things are not done properly, then it seems logical that a manager would only allow an individual to take on a new role after they’ve been properly trained for it.

In health care, there will always be something weird to contend with that even the most experienced person on the floor has not encountered before. Because of this, I would prefer that managers be a little less “fair and equal” in allowing certain individuals certain experiences just because they want them now. Yes, there will also always be extenuating circumstances where you basically throw a less-experienced nurse into tough situations because they are all you have and someone has to handle the crisis somehow. Those are times when the young nurse begins gaining experience, knowledge and skills to get her prepared for a time when she wants to handle those situations regularly. The proverbial cart should not be put before the proverbial horse – do not put inexperienced people in positions they are not suited for just because they express an interest in the role. A quality manager will, instead, help that employee develop the tools she needs to eventually be suited to a new role. To do that, the manager must be acutely aware of the details of the new role – what is needed to be successful in most any circumstance – and aware of the employee’s qualifications.

Life will never be fair and equal to everyone, and millennial managers must come to understand that they cannot pursue a culture of “fair and equal” and be successful. There will never be equality of character, of knowledge, of skill, or experience across any group of people, and expecting that you will get fair and equal productivity out of your staff is illogical. Why, then, the focus on trying to treat everyone fair and equal? Focus on treating everyone with respect and dignity, with kindness, but be prepared to dish out the “tough love” when necessary…and it is necessary. Empower your staff to accept constructive criticism without falling apart and feeling bullied. Help them grow as people – as nurses. Challenge them to do better, not by expecting to always get what they want, but instead, to read and learn and do more. Crack the whip and expect more from them. Tell them to put their phones away and engage with the coworkers who have the experience that they say they want. Insist that they learn from the older staff, and don’t just promote relationships with peers of their own age.

Millennials have such potential to do great things. I see it every day in many of the young nurses I work with – the sincere desire to care for their patients and families, to expand their knowledge, to save lives. I fear that they will fall short of their potential if they continue to foster the notion that they deserve “fair and equal” treatment in all things, because, what happens when they don’t get their way?

 

 

 

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On My Mind

As I approach the anniversary of my fifty-third trip around the sun I have been thinking a lot about how my work life has changed over the years.

I graduated from nursing school in 1988…thirty years ago! I had attended the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing and Health’s bachelor’s program. Such a program is heavy on course-work and a bit skimpy on clinical training (in my humble opinion). Of note, I will remind readers that attending college in the ’80’s meant you researched all your papers in an actual library with actual books – there was no internet, let alone “Google” for the assist. We took our state boards over two days, typically in the state capital city (for me, Columbus, Ohio), with number-two pencils and “scan-tron” sheets. It took about six weeks to learn your results. In the interim, you could accept a job, were limited slightly in what you could do legally, and signed your paper charts with a special identifier after your name that noted your status as a nurse, just not yet registered.

Back in those “old days,” new graduate nurses were conditioned to expect to work a year or two in a general “med-surg” unit before ever hoping to transfer to an intensive care environment. Nurse residencies were unheard of, and “orientations” were brief. Your more “seasoned” peers likely dumped on you, giving you rotten assignments and leaving you to fend for yourself a lot – a “sink or swim” indoctrination to your chosen profession. Definitely, some took you under their wing, but there were also those “Nurse Ratchets” who treated everyone gruffly. It was a common saying in those days that “nurses ate their young.”

I have had the benefit of working in a variety of hospitals and specialties, so have seen the various styles of nursing practiced by individuals as well as by “teams.” Some nurses played better with others, some not so much. You might be surprised to know that physical unit design often plays a huge role in getting your well-oiled machine running smoothly, or not. Once upon a time, private rooms were reserved for Very Important Patients, or those who were willing to pay more for that luxury. Depending on the facility and even the unit within a facility, you would see anywhere from two to six or more beds in a ward or “pod.” Privacy was limited to cloth curtains – you might not see your “roomie” but you generally heard everything that went on behind the veil. From a nursing perspective, I actually found the multiple-bed environment more desirable since all my patients were cohorted together – it was easy to see if someone was having a problem without relying on a third party to locate and notify you before you could respond. These days, however, private rooms are becoming the new “norm” and every hospital that can afford to have renovations done to accommodate that, will. (I do not know whether insurance makes any stipulations about rooms anymore. To my knowledge, you also do not get charged extra for a phone or television in your room.)

Teamwork effectiveness varies in those differing physical environments as well. With each patient having a private room these days, I see fewer nurses entering a room that they are not assigned to, to do something as simple as address a machine that is beeping. “Not my patient, not my problem?” Sometimes. Sometimes it’s simply that they recognize the beep for something innocuous so leave it for the nurse assigned to that patient to deal with whenever.

Another sad commentary on private rooms is that you don’t always know when your coworker is having a serious problem, whether it is an actual patient emergency or just that he/she is overwhelmed by his/her assignment and needs an extra pair of hands. In emergencies, it takes precious seconds – minutes, perhaps – for that nurse to call out and have help sent in. In the open bay/pod design, you merely had to look up from whatever you might be doing to notice that someone else needed help now! But, “customer service” is important and private rooms are what the customers want, so that is what they now get.

On the positive side, I will say that technology and medical advances have greatly improved the care that we give our patients. My primary focus is in neonatal intensive care. When I took my first NICU job in 1990, I was amazed at what we could do for infants as young as twenty-six weeks gestation. Of course, certain beliefs in what premature babies experienced meant that we didn’t always address their developmental needs adequately or appropriately. “Minor” surgical procedures were often done at the bedside with just a paralytic and no sedative or pain medication offered. We know much better now. Also, we are saving infants born as early as twenty-two weeks gestation. It is amazing! We manage infants from earlier ages without mechanical ventilation, saving many of them from future chronic lung disease. We know more about preventing intra-cranial hemorrhages and retinopathies. We are offering better quality of life to the tiniest of humans.

For all the wonderful advances made in medicine, can we say the same about nurses?

Those of us who embody either the baby-boomer or Gen-X generations have witnessed a perceived difference in the people coming into the profession over the last decade or so. While I have encountered some really tremendous young men and women who are very smart, quick to learn, and extremely dedicated to their calling, I have also met others who are, well, “less” than all that. Yes, sure, there have always been nurses who are not the caliber I would like to see in every generation. Perhaps I am only seeing what I want (or don’t want) to see in this latest generation. What I think cannot be denied is that the “millennial” nurses certainly have a different mentality in general from us “senior” nurses, and I am not reassured that it is all for the best.

Millennials have been judged, unfairly in many cases, of suffering from significant entitlement issues. Just since the early two-thousands (2002, 2003 or so), I have seen more new nurses come into the work place with expectations that we older nurses would never have contemplated in the very beginning of our careers. This latest generation has no concept of “low man on the totem pole” and “seniority.” I find too many young nurses insist that everything be “fair and equal”, not understanding that nothing in life is fair, nor equal.

More new graduate nurses are entering specialty fields right out of school before they have developed important organizational skills, let alone critical thinking skills. They simply do not know what they don’t know. As more and more senior staff retire, or cut back their hours, there are fewer and fewer experienced nurses to precept these new hires and teach them things they need to know now, as well as things they need to know later. More and more, new graduate nurses are being trained by nurses who have barely one year of experience themselves, mixed in with some shifts with an experienced nurse, if there is one available. Someone who became a specialty nurse right out of school doesn’t know enough to effectively teach another new grad the skills they will need in a crisis.

On top of that, millennials are being mentored into management positions of critical care units with very little clinical nursing time under their belts. While it’s true that managers do not have to be able to perform that actual work of the people they manage, it’s always better when they can. How do you evaluate someone’s performance if you are not familiar with what they are expected to be doing? Millennial managers like to toss out lots of catch words and phrases that sound meaningful but really aren’t, usually preceded by a pound sign – oops! a “hash-tag”, so that it “trends.” The word “team” especially is bandied about as if to include everyone, yet actual engagement of all age groups seems to be unimportant. On paper it is. In reality, it often feels as if older, experienced nurses are being “marginalized” (to use one of those trendy new words), and when they remove themselves further from participation – whether it is cutting hours, removing themselves from committees or groups, or just leaving altogether – it’s as if the younger crowd breathes a sigh of relief. Nothing is done to discern why the older nurses are growing unhappy, nothing offered to keep them and their expertise around.

Like everything else, the world is evolving and the new generation is molding it to suit them, as they should. I wonder what older nurses thought of me as the new kid on the block. Perhaps they thought I had ideas that were not going to do our profession proud.

Where I am now, I worry about the future. I worry that catering to a millennial’s need for acceptance more than ensuring their continued clinical education and growth by the most experienced nurses available will result in some pretty significant, negative, yet preventable events. We care about our patients. We care about these young nurses. Some of them truly appreciate what knowledge and support we offer.

But there are some who come to the profession with an attitude that screams “I got this!” without the skills to back that up. And when they get “schooled” by an older colleague, it is taken as harsh criticism and even “bullying.” The older nurse ends up being the one “scolded” while the younger one is given what she wants under the premise that everyone has a right to new experiences, even if they lack the skills to do the best job possible.

I’m not sure what types of seminars managers in the medical field attend, whether there are enough that are specific to medicine, or if they attend lots of generic management seminars that are geared more towards the corporate world. Hospitals are a 24/7/365 operation with very specific and unique employees and customers that cannot and should not be placed under the same management style as, say, a financial corporation. “Teamwork” in nursing involves much different interactions with your peers than a group putting together a portfolio to win over some wealthy individual client. In an office setting, one person may be able – and willing – do perform a variety of tasks to get a project completed. When a patient codes, I need to trust my team to know their roles and be able to perform them as no one person can run a code unassisted and expect a successful outcome.

The simplest answer is to provide new graduate nurses with the most experienced support available as they begin their career, pairing them with the nurses who will teach them the most in the time they have together. Worrying about making sure they develop friendships and ties to colleagues of similar age should not be a focus of management. Friendships will occur in time, as they should after you’ve ensured proper training has taken place. Placing the focus on the millennial’s satisfaction without ensuring your senior staff are also satisfied in their jobs simply exacerbates the problem of not having enough experienced nurses around to teach the next generation what they need to know.

Perhaps my work place situation is unique and other institutions. Perhaps other units within my own organization do not have similar concerns. Perhaps I am coming across as a “disgruntled employee”.

My hope is that more managers take a good look at their unit’s staff and really see how the various age groups interact, then, without bias, work to ensure everyone’s  satisfaction. The result will be a new generation of nurses who are better trained to care for their patients, and retention of those who will continue to impart their wisdom on them.

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Me, too.

So, there’s a shit-ton of “stuff” all over all aspects of the media these days about rape and allegations of sexual misconduct. I have my two-cents to add, after first coming clean and stating, I’ve been there, it happened to me, too.

All I will say is that it occurred either just before or just after my 18th birthday. I had blocked the memory out for many years and, honestly, don’t wish to bring back those details that remain lost. It wasn’t violent, per se, it was what would be considered “date rape”, and, at the time, I blamed myself, as so many people do.

Over the years, of course, I have remembered, sometimes just when I’m alone, sometimes when I was with someone and something triggered a memory, and pretty much all the time I see articles on-line about someone else’s struggles.

This whole deal with a man who is currently being nominated to the Supreme Court, makes me cringe. While I would never go so far as to say the woman accusing him is lying, I have to wonder why she would choose to bring it up now, after all these years. She has obviously lived her life, quite successfully, despite her past crisis. She chose not to report anything then, or while this man was making his own successes in life. Once past the legal statute of limitations, the worst that happens is that the accuser ruins the reputation of the alleged attacker, sometimes to such a degree that the accused is professionally ruined, and possibly financially, and socially as well.

Is that the end goal? To publicly make someone feel as badly as you did when you were hurt? To have the innocent people around him – his wife, his children – also come under intense social scrutiny, their lives and reputations also ruined?

I just don’t get it.

I remember the name of my attacker, but I have no idea what he’s become over the last 30+ years, and I have no intention of “googling” him to find out. If I heard in the news, tomorrow, that he was being honored for something extraordinary, or being elevated to some grand position, I would still keep my mouth shut about what occurred all those years ago.

Why, you ask?

Because it doesn’t do ME any good to rehash such a crappy moment in my life. It doesn’t do ME any good to have to publicly air my “dirty laundry.” It doesn’t do ME any good, period.

Oh, but what if he’d hurt others? What if they won’t come forward because I don’t? What if he might yet hurt someone else?

What if?

What if?

What if?

What if I forgave myself for thinking I was to blame for what happened back then? What if I chose not to let that one event derail my entire life? What if I went on to marry and have kids and be happy?

What if he felt remorse for what he’d done? What if he never committed another offense against anyone after that one night? What if he chose to be someone who lived their life in service to others? Even if he never paid another thought to me or what he’d done to me, what if he simply grew up and did right by everyone else in his life later?

Did this judge do something wrong back in high school? I don’t know, and likely neither will the rest of the world, not the full truth, anyway. She apparently was spared from what I would define as actual rape, her own story being that he “tried to remove her clothes” and that he “grinded” on her, but that she was able to get away before worse happened.

Is the woman falsely accusing him? I sure hope not. I mean, that’s a pretty dirty move for ANY woman to make, and there is NO justification for such a lie. I empathize with anyone who has been assaulted in any way, shape, or form, and I believe that person should be able to deal with the pain however they need to.

But…

I cannot believe that she needs this confrontation at this point in her life. She chose to study psychology, whether as a result of her assault or not, only she can say. But having chosen that field, she, better than most, understands what happens in the mind when one is assaulted, and what needs to happen in order to recover. I feel sorry for her if she has not figured it out for herself after all these years.

Honestly, I think my “problem” with this situation, in part, is because she’s choosing, now, to ruin a man’s life over what she is claiming was attempted rape. She wasn’t raped. She got away. She made something of her life that appears to be quite positive and successful, despite that frightening encounter that I’m sure left her feeling quite vulnerable at the time. Is she still so fragile that she can only gain some type of “closure” by coming forward now?

I don’t have any answers, of course. Perhaps we’ll never know her true motivations. But if this is all a stunt, then I hope the judge has charges filed against her for the false accusations.

Men shouldn’t assault women.

But women shouldn’t be able to “assault” men either. And too often these days, it seems that social media convicts men based only on the word of a woman claiming to be a victim before any and all facts are brought to light. Our justice system was based on the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty.

At what point did we start to accept the opposite?

 

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Mature White Female….

I did not realize how long it has been since I last posted anything here. Certainly, once I opened up my second blog page (preppinwolf.wordpress.com), I started shifting more of my thoughts and activities there. Plus, there’s still Facebook, which I view daily. Many of the projects I post about on my other blog left me little time for the hobbies that prompted me to start this blog…I no longer scrap, other than the occasional hand-made greeting card, and I hardly ever get out my good camera anymore, simply snapping photos with my phone or a pocket camera. Those were the two biggest reasons for this blog – so show off my creative side.

But, time marches on, and our focus tends to change as things in our life change. We bought a few acres and I decided to start raising chickens back in 2014, and that’s pretty much when the scrapbooking started to decline. I still kept my good camera out, as I was keen on documenting my new ventures in pictures. Over time, though, it was easier to just grab the phone or pocket camera, and quality of the photos was less important than just having taken them.

Outside of those old hobbies and whatever the project-du-jour happens to be, I find myself becoming more and more reclusive, not caring to socialize much, favoring the computer or TV for entertainment. Is it because I’m getting older? Maybe. With age, I have found blessings in that I don’t stress so much about what other may think of me. I’m getting more comfortable speaking my mind even if it might raise an eyebrow or two, or make someone think less of me. I am not as concerned with being liked by everyone anymore. It’s quite liberating! Also, with age, I simply do not care as much about anything that does not affect me and mine. I have less patience for fools and find that it’s so much more relaxing to remain in the company of myself and my family.

Once in a while I do still wonder if I am missing out on things when I chose to not make an effort to “get involved.” It’s been that way my whole life, though, so it’s difficult to change. Always the introvert, the loner, never mind that, should you engage me in conversation, I can and will likely talk your ear off. Then again, that, too is happening less as I’ve matured. I realize that most people are not all that interested in what you have to say, but would rather talk about themselves. I often find that, if a conversation I’m having with someone gets interrupted, if I do not force a return to my topic of discussion once the interruption has passed, the person I was speaking with (to?) more often than not, does not ask me to resume where I’d left off. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped resuming my tale, knowing that it probably wasn’t as interesting to the other person as it was to me.

Along with this, I also find that I do not succumb to the impulse to interject my thoughts/opinions into every conversation going on around me. Don’t get me wrong…I still DO participate in many discussions, I just am getting better about knowing when my input will have zero impact or is otherwise unnecessary. This includes Facebook posts. Sure I still say my piece, but usually by posting comments on my own page instead of adding to that of someone else. With my friends list being kept purposefully smaller than many others, it’s more likely that my comments will be appreciated by more like-minded people than when I share those same views on someone else’s post who tends to have double, triple, or more “friends” who will see – and disagree with my opinion. I neatly avoid confrontations or “flame wars” that way.

So, what is the point of this particular narrative? I honestly couldn’t say, other than just filling a void in my own personal blog that hasn’t seen any activity in a year and a half.  Just one more entry into a “diary” of sorts that will be around for my kids to review some day, adding another piece to the puzzle that is “their mom.” Perhaps, someone reading this will find that they are not alone in caring less for the drama of others and preferring their own company. It’s okay to be that way. If you are content, still engaging in meaningful (to you) activities, working (as is necessary), and not shunning true obligations to others, then there is nothing wrong with being an introvert.

That said, you still should make the occasional effort to reach out and get along with others. You may find that you have quite a lot of knowledge and experiences to share that others are keen to learn about. The point, really, is that you grow up without growing old.

 

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Be Kind or Be Quiet

I am writing this to record my thoughts on how our country has gone mad over the last several years. I intend this as nothing more than my personal opinions on various matters, hoping to look back in ten, twenty years or more and think (hopefully) “We’ve come a long way since then.”

About eight years ago now, I had the distinct displeasure to know that the man I did NOT vote for, for President, won. While everyone who did vote for him will say that my ire has all to do with the man’s race, I assure you it did not. Of course, who will believe that these days?  No, my concern was that he was a “no one” on the world’s stage. I may not know everyone in politics – who does? – but Barrack Hussein Obama is not a name you’d forget if you’d heard of him prior to his candidacy. I was not alone in being concerned that he was unqualified to become President of the United States.

I won’t digress into naming every tiny thing he did that I disapproved of as it has all been said so many times before, heard only by those of my peers who shared my concerns (the left-leaning folks of this country saw nothing but a Golden Child who could do no wrong). Suffice it to say that he did many  things wrong and few things right.

One thing that came out of this tenure was this bizarre exacerbation of “political correctness.” It was already starting before Mr. Obama took office, but it snowballed until there was an avalanche of outrage for using simple descriptive terms that one would have never thought could be offensive. “Micro-aggression” became a “thing” and people everywhere have to censure what comes out of there mouths lest they trigger some unforeseen affront to others, many of whom the disparaging word did not pertain to in the slightest.

The media fostered the outrage by asserting condemnations in every headline whenever anyone disagreed with something Mr. Obama said or did. Even in the media’s eyes, our 44th President could do no wrong.

They had eight years to shift their obligations from reporting all the news fairly, without bias, to reporting only the stories that built Mr. Obama up, and none that would tear him down lest they be castigated as “racist” against him. Few media outlets dared to report about his mistakes, about his failures, about dangerous actions he took that had the potential to – and sometimes did – hurt our country. Those media outlets were demonized by the rest, and oftentimes dismissed by the President himself, not caring to give more than a handful of interviews with those journalists over the course of his tenure.

By the time Mr. Obama’s second term was coming to an end, the media clung to all things liberal and continued showing their bias as they favored the same woman that Mr. Obama bested for the Democratic party candidacy eight years earlier. Never mind that Mrs. Clinton had some shady dealings and scandals in her past, she, too, could do no wrong in the liberal-leaning media’s mind. Her own sense of entitlement and self-importance lead, in part, to her being defeated in 2016. What was astonishing was that the man who won had no political experience prior to his candidacy, though he was, at least, a known figure to many Americans. While I did vote for Mr. Trump, he was not my first choice during the primaries. I don’t know if he’s the type of person I’d get along with if I met him outside on the street. I do appreciate the way he has treated many people over the years, news of which most of the media choose to forget as they try to cast him as the next Hitler, or the anti-Christ. I’m not fond of braggarts or boorish people, so he could bail me out of a crisis and, while I would be forever grateful to him, I probably wouldn’t invite him to dinner with my family. I’d send him a yearly Christmas card, though.

That said, I at least feel like he’s making some changes that need to be made, and he’s been in office less than two weeks as I write this. I completely agree with his temporary ban on immigration and accepting of refugees. I can’t understand the hostility he is facing all over the world when he is doing exactly what at least three Democratic presidents have done before him. Give our immigration agencies time to properly vet all persons wanting entry into the states so we can be more assured that fewer “bad apples” will sneak in with the good. Why is that so hard to swallow?

Many of his other initial orders come with a “wait and see” disclaimer. It’s too early to tell how pulling out of various trade agreements will go, or how quickly – and how well – the government comes up with a suitable replacement for Obamacare. In terms of cutting foreign aid to non-governmental organizations who use our money to fund abortions in other countries, well, we’ve already seen where the Dutch are ponying up money to compensate for that. I have always, personally, sat on the fence when it comes to abortion rights…suffice it to say I believe it should be kept legal, but have my own opinions on various limitations that I won’t bother voicing here. The point is, why should so many millions – perhaps billions – of U.S. taxpayer dollars go to so many foreign countries, not just for abortion, but for anything? There are plenty of wealthy nations out there who give far less for the same causes, who could afford to give so much more, yet for some unfathomable reason, “everyone” expects the U.S. to spend the most.

We have so many people in our own country in need, that much of that money should be being spent here rather than sending it oversees. Yes, it’s tremendously sad that kids in Africa don’t get the immunizations or other health care they need, that children all over the globe are starving. But kids right here in America are starving, too. If we spent our money right, we wouldn’t have homeless people in any city. We’d have proper mental health care for those who cannot cope with everyday life. Our Veterans would have all the health care – including mental health – that they need, and all the support they require to return from their deployments to live engaged and satisfying lives.

I know my younger son has fears about how Trump’s administration is going to deal with LGBT issues. I urge him – and others – to take a deep breath, let it out, and calmly look at exactly what is being done – or not done – from a legal perspective to any laws passed during Obama’s administration. So far, a web page focused on LGBT issues on the White House.gov site has been taken down. So, what does that actually mean? Could mean nothing. Could mean Trump feels LGBT issues should be managed at a state level and that the federal government should stay out of them.

Spanish translation of the White House web site has also been removed. There hasn’t been any law enacting the removal of Spanish language from any U.S. based web site, so no one has had any “rights” taken away from them. Perhaps Trump feels that American citizens, no matter where they are from, should learn to read, write, and speak English? I know, that’s terrible!! How dare he??  Really, folks. My mom was an immigrant and she was very intent on learning English and becoming American. She is proud to be American and get’s offended if you call her by her nationality of origin. How is it wrong to ask those who want to be U.S. citizens to hold similar sentiment?

So what can we do?

Well, for a start, how about letting Mr. Trump at least try to make some changes without getting your collective panties in a knot? Yes, he’s had some business failures in his lifetime, but he’s had far more successes. He may not get everything he puts his mind – and pen – to right, but he may get more things right than you give him credit for. Have some of his business dealings been shady. Sure. But how many shady deals has our government dealt in the past? Fast and Furious. Iran. Halliburton/Blackwater. Whitewater. Lewinsky. The list could go on forever.

The media needs to do some serious soul-searching and decide to go back to truly unbiased reporting. Yes, Mr. Trump will continue to give you all the titillating headlines that you love to bash him with, so how about you also honestly report on the positive things he’s doing? Or at least stop exaggerating things with the sole purpose of making him look dastardly. Really – there is no “Muslim” ban. Report the Executive Order correctly as you know there is no language in it that has anything to do with banning people of a specific religion, especially when three past Democratic presidents have all executed the same type of ban at some point in their administrations.

And people….get a grip! Quit looking for the bad in your President. Yes, he is your President so long as you hold citizenship here. You tell everyone to be kind or be quiet. You say “love trumps hate”. You want us all to see the good in others – those others being refugees, immigrants, LGBT people, people of color,  and women – but you refuse to see the good in Mr. Trump. You refuse to see the good in “old white men” or women who are anti-abortion. You refuse to see the good in black republicans – any republican or conservative person, really.

You totally fail to see how your hate, your intolerance, your divisiveness is tearing the country apart. Trump isn’t doing it. “It” was already happening before he came along, he’s just the latest “scapegoat” for you to target. It’s time to start practicing what you preach.

Be kind or be quiet.

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Who Are You?

 

Are you a child? A parent? A sibling or spouse?

Are you a student? A professional? A butcher, or baker, or candlestick maker?

Are you an artist, or author, or musician, or athlete?

When you get up in the morning, what’s on your mind? Do you think:

I have a term paper due today.

I have to pack the kids’ lunches.

Coffee!!

Mmmmm…an omelet sounds delish!

Where are my running shoes? I have to put in five miles today.

What a beautiful sunrise! Where’s my camera or my paintbrush?

Ugh…I’ve got that conference call at work today.

 

I’m guessing not too many people wake up and think:

I’m black today.

I’m gay today.

I’m a woman today.

 

(Well, if you’re pregnant, menopausal, or on your period, you might think, “Damnit, why do I have to be a woman today?”)

 

Lately, our society wants everyone to focus on “diversity.” Everyone has got to BE something more than just “being.” But what society forgets is that there’s more to being diverse than the color of your skin, your religion, your gender, or your sexual preference. If you look up “diversity” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the first thing you see is this: diversity

Note that the first definition is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” Race and culture come after “differing elements.”

 

Who got to decide that, in our nation, diversity must only refer to your race, gender, religion, or sexual preference? Each and every one of us is a diverse individual. We all have different forms, ideas, interests, skills. We are all made up of more than the color of our skin, or our gender.

 

Now, I understand that some individuals have suffered more discrimination and oppression more than others based on some aspect of their character, and I agree that MOST of that discrimination and oppression is absolutely wrong. What I disagree with is the notion that ONLY certain races or cultures or genders have ever suffered from discrimination or oppression. Obviously, the severity of it differs, but so, too, has society over the generations.

 

I am a white female. There are things that, as a female, I am subjected to that men are not; sexual harassment and rape come to mind. There are also things that, as a female, I shouldn’t expect to be able to do, or included in unless I possess some pretty stringent qualifications. Very few women, for instance, can pass the physical agility portion of testing to become firefighters and, therefore, should be excluded from that job. Yes, I said it. There are places in the work-force (and in the military) where women just don’t belong. I don’t want to be trapped in a fire on the second (or higher) floor of a building and see some 120-pound woman come in thinking she’s going to carry my happy ass down a ladder – or my husband or my 170-pound dog. Forgive me for thinking that she’s just not capable of such feats. Chances are, she is not.

 

I am the child of a German immigrant. I was in elementary school still before the Berlin Wall came down. There were a few of us kids with German immigrant parents. When the other kids figured it out, I recall having to defend my mother as being from West Germany, or “the good side” so as not to be confused with the Nazis.

 

The news today abounds with stories of black oppression and it truly is a problem in some areas. But it’s also NOT a problem everywhere. The one thing that I really do not understand is the continued idea that slavery is something that blacks need to be compensated for in some way. Unless you are caught up in a human trafficking situation (and your race or gender does not grant you any exceptional status here), slavery has not been around for several generations. No one alive today has been a slave nor a slave owner. So many people in our nation today are first- and second-generation immigrants, so have no dog or pony in this show. Yes, slavery was a terrible thing, and it continues to be a terrible thing, mostly in other countries (discounting the aforementioned trafficking trade). There is no way to make up for it at this point in time. It was abolished and, legally, all men (and women) are equal now. Opportunities to achieve on all levels are available to all, whether or not some can and do take advantage of them. It’s hard work, but obviously it pays off seeing as we have spent the last (nearly) eight years with a black President of the United States.

 

This topic will obviously ruffle a lot of feathers, and that was not my intent with this post. First and foremost, I want people to recognize that each individual is unique and diverse all by his/herself. You probably don’t get up in the morning with your first thought being “I’m black/white, gay/straight, whatever today.” You’ve got too much else on your plate, too many other personal and professional responsibilities to let that one aspect of your being be the primary focus of your day-to-day existence.

 

So when will you stop allowing society, as depicted by the mainstream media, dictate who and what you are based only on one aspect?

You are more than that.

You are a person. A person of great worth. Don’t live your life fighting to be that “gay person” or that “black person”. Be YOU. Be your own person who just happens to be gay or black or female or whatever.

 

It is you who are responsible for your happiness. Our forefathers only guaranteed you the right to pursue it. Quit living a life expecting others to fix what you see is wrong. Stand up, dust yourself off, and fix your problems yourself.

Besides, chances are, you are the primary cause of your problems, not “others.”

 

 

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Story Time – Who Was Your Hero?

Today I’m seeing headlines about some “challenge” posed by a “TV Star” and the dangers young girls are putting themselves in trying to emulate the girl. This famous girl is no one particularly special. She just happens to have been born into a wealthy family who has made their fortunes mostly by parading their “glamorous” life on “reality” television. The father wishes he were a woman, the mother was previously married to a lawyer who defended a former sports-hero who was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her lover. The girl’s sisters have made themselves famous – or infamous – through “reality” TV and other endeavors by which they actually have shown some business acumen.

But why do our kids today want to emulate these types of “stars?” What is so impressive about today’s celebrities that we, as a society, indulge them any credibility as people of interest, let alone role models?

When I was a kid, the only “reality” TV was the local news or perhaps a game show where some “regular” person might win a wash machine. Our “heroes” came from comic books and TV shows that where fiction. Little boys might want to be Superman or Captain America. We little girls wanted to be like Wonder Woman or even the Bionic Woman. We wanted our pretend boyfriends to be one of the Monkees or maybe one of the men from “S.W.A.T.”

I am not a fan of any form of today’s “reality” TV (even “Survivor” has jumped the shark for me), and I have a hard time understanding what attracts others to watch the seemingly endless parade of train wrecks that have replaced entertainment as we used to know it. I am thankful that my husband and I canceled our satellite service years ago every time I pass by the TV in our break room at work and someone is watching a program about “My 600 Pound Life” or “Neighbors with Benefits.” Whoever consents to being on a program about how sex landed them in the emergency room is NOT a celebrity in the making. These people, in my opinion, are either very sad attention whores, or they think they have found an easy way to make some money.

But at what cost?

Well, if you ask me, the cost is their integrity. People of good character aren’t going to put every aspect of their lives under a microscope for the rest of society to judge. Those that do risk extensive ridicule and humiliation. And, those that allow their worlds to be scrutinized by the masses have no right to complain later about their mistreatment.

In the mean time, if you are a parent, are you monitoring what your children are watching on television? What are they reading in magazines or viewing on the internet? Do you think it’s okay for your daughters to want to inject foreign substances into their lips so they are nice and plump like some spoiled brat on TV whose parents clearly do not have their own children’s best interests in mind?

Introduce your kids to some of your local firemen, policemen, or veterans. Let them see what a real hero looks like and encourage them to emulate people of high moral character and integrity. Turn off the TV. Disable the internet. Teach your kids that their self-worth should be based on what they can accomplish without trying to mimic the UN-reality of what they are exposed to in the media.

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