Monday, April 30, 2012

Z: Zydeco, Cajun, or Zydecajun

So I ended up going to work yesterday.  Yes, the second weekend in a row, but that's okay.  I like who I worked with.  We listened to Zydeco and Cajun music all morning.  I was telling my co-workers how I was almost done with the A to Z challenge and my ideas for Z.  They said forget whatever you're going to write about. 
Z has to be Zydeco. 

Why did I say Cajun and Zydeco?  Aren't they the same thing you ask?  No.  They do have a similar sound, but Zydeco tends to have more of a blues feel due to the Black Creole influence.  The free men of color and freed slaves were influence by African music, as well as  Caribbean, Spanish, and European to make a completely new sound.  The term zydeco is most likely from a local phrase that means "the snap beans aren't salty", meaning times are hard.  The music was born at a time when life was hard for Creole people.  Zydeco  relies on a washboard and the piano style accordion. It is sung in English as much as French.

Cajun music on the other hand is still sung in French.  It gets it's origins from the French folk music brought from Canada during the Acadian Expulsion.  In Louisiana the music incorporated African and Spanish rhythms and music from Native Americans.  Cajun music uses the button style accordion and still employs the fiddle.  The guitar also has a more prominent role.

Then there's the more modern Zydecajun which combines the two.   Wayne Toups is the musician credited with coining this phrase.

In the 1910's and '20's Cajun music  was threatened due to prejudiced against the French speaking people. Cajun French was banned in schools.  People were looked down on for speaking it.  The culture was considered backward and uneducated.  Luckily, enough people kept the heritage and passed it down so that not all was lost.  Even today,though, Louisiana is continuing to recover from the stigma of that era. 

Many times people hear Zydeco or Cajun music and they think of ignorance.  Swamp People and getting wasted at Mardis Gras comes to mind.  Maybe some are more generous and they think of fishing and festivals and good eating.  The truth is, it's all Louisiana.   
Maybe after reading this, you'll think of a people as diverse as the music that identifies them. Maybe you'll want to know more about this people that has families and friends like the rest of the world.  They have educations and jobs.  They want better for their kids than they had.  They have as much right to be proud of their culture as anybody else does, if not more, for Louisiana culture is a story of not only of survival but also being able to enjoy life despite it's hardships.
To try to fully explain Louisiana music and it's origins is as complicated as trying to explain culture that gives it life. One thing, though, it's distinctive to Louisiana. To hear the music is to learn of the hardships, struggles, triumphs, and joys of the people it represents.
When people hear Zydeco or Cajun music, for good or bad, they immediately think Louisiana.  Does your culture have something unique to it? 

for more on the history of Louisiana muisc:
for more on the Cajuns and Acadian Expulsion:
for more on Creole Culture:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y: Yield or Not to Yield

Yield--to produce or provide, especially by cultivation
Yielding--giving way under pressure.  Not hard or rigid.

Yield is one of those weird words. 
In business, product yield is crucial to company survival.  You don't yield, you don't make money. You have to be yielding.
But, yielding can be a bad thing.  Yielding to temptation.  Like, I'm tempted to yield and not do my housework--ok, I've already yielded to this!
On the job we can be yielding an excellent product or yielding to the temptation of  laziness and mediocrity. 
I've heard the best way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.  But that's not really getting rid of it.  By acting on it we're internalizing it, making it a part of ourselves.  What are you tempted to yield to?
Yielding might not be bad when you're listening to others and learning a new and better way of doing things.  Like a yield sign when driving, we should take the time to slow down and check our surroundings then move in the desired direction.
So, yielding can be good or bad, depending on the outcome. 
Think about your job.  Look at your life. 
What are you yielding?
What are you yielding to? 

Interlude: No Birds Harmed but one HP Sacrificed

I was outside this evening working on my computer.  I had my coffee and cordless phone with me.  By my porch is an oak tree where a mockingbird has built her nest.  There are many birds around that argue and fuss and fight with the squirrels, but tonight that momma bird was being crankier than usual.  It was weird since I couldn't see the usual suspects around, namely the stray cat, squirrel, or other birds.
The sun went down and the skeeters came out so I decided to call the outdoors quits. I gathered my coffee, cordless, and computer and started in.  Well, the bird was still fussing until I got to the carport and my motion light came on.  I didn't think much of it until I got to the backdoor.
I started to put my foot down and reach for the door handle.  A gecko caught my eye and I watched it run down the door.  Good thing he was there because right below my foot was a baby mockingbird.  I jumped back, dropping the phone and spilling coffee.  I managed to hang on to the laptop.   He was chirping. I didn't hear the momma mockingbird but figured she'd been trying earlier to get him to come back to the nest. 
I tried to get a picture of him.  It was too shadowed for my camera, but this one gives you an idea.   I think the shattering pieces of my cordless scared him enough he couldn't move.  I thought maybe I should do something.  I thought for a second and then did Nothing. 
Having encountered this with both squirrels and birds, I knew to just wait and watch.  Well, let me just say, the bird wouldn't move, and I really needed to pick up the phone parts.  I stood inside the door and watched.  Finally, I realized, he probably wasn't moving because of the light.  Sure enough, when I turned off the light off he went back home.  I heard his momma really fussin now. I'll bet that bird's in big trouble!
I picked up the pieces of my phone--which I bought last week--and put it back together.  It calls but it has no display. I'm thinking it's a funny story because the bird got away safely even if the phone didn't.  So, I'm going to write about it. 
Now, remember, I had that coffee, right?  You know, the coffee that spilled? 
I opened up my HP and fired her up.  Half the screen looks like an amoeba attacked it. The keyboard smells like Deadman's Reach Coffee.  My laptop apparently is another casualty in the bird caper.  I guess I'll be heading to Best Buy Saturday...again. 
I wonder how this will go:  "How did the coffee get in this time?"  "Well, there was this baby bird..."
Can you tell this won't be the first time my computer has been at Best Buy?  It's had a few adventures so I always renew the service contracts.  As I've embraced technology this will only be a minor setback. I'll be finishing out the A to Z challenge on my netbook. 
Now I'm not only going to have to look out for squirrles, rabbits, racoons, armadillos, snakes, lizards, and the occasional baby alligator in my yard.  I'll be looking out for baby birds, too.  I guess I'm a regular Snow White here. I guess that's just the way things go in Louisiana.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X: Xerox and X-rays

X-rays and Xerox:  The ability to see through  and copy everything.
X-rays revolutionized health care.  We can actually see inside the human body.  This is a good thing but, often we find irrelevant information.  Each human body is unique with it's own oddities. Do we really need to see everything in there?  I know, I  know.  I order tests all the time to diagnose my patients, but sometimes you find something that's a variation on normal, and well, then what do you do with it? Subject your patient to more costly tests?  Monitor it?  Do nothing? 
Information is great, but you can have too much information.  You know, like the friends that want to tell you everything from bowel habits to what their boyfriend said five seconds ago, and ten seconds ago,etc...
In health care you want all the relevant information to make a sound clinical judgement.  But, too much can be harmful.  For example, over-exposure to radiation can cause changes in the body's cells leading to various illnesses. 
Sometimes in life not sharing information can be more beneficial than just putting it all out there, especially in the workplace.  Not every co-worker needs--or wants--to know every detail of your life. Think before you expose, especially at work.  Once it's out there, you can't take it back.
Xerox is a company that also has made life easier.  We can copy on a machine in seconds with just a touch of a button.
Technology has made it so that  you don't have to copy everything. This saves wasted space, trees, time, resources.  Copy only things that are important and you need to keep. 
You know were this is going, right?  In your job and in your life you're going to see many ways of doing things.  Be discerning.  Copy only those that are productive.  Or better yet, strive to be someone to be copied. Create your own ideas. Think of how you would like it done and do it. Be a communicator.  Be kind and considerate. 

X-Rays and Xerox:  see through and copy everything.  But before you do, ask yourself:  Should I?

Don't over-expose yourself. 
Be an original, not a Xerox copy. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W: Wilingness at Work

  • the mental faculty that enables one to consciously choose or decide on a course of action.
  • the act or process of exercising the power of choice.
  • cheerful compliance
Businesses need people who are willing to put forth an effort.  The desire to come to work on time and give 100% every day to do a good job is essential.  Yet these days doing a good job seems to be defined as showing up most of the time and only talking/texting half. Success has been relegated to "oh, well, he tried." That may work when you're five, but as adults it won't fly.  In business just trying doesn't pay the bills. 
Businesses want to be good to their employees, but they also have to make money.  Work isn't a party all the time.  You can't expect a bonus for doing what you should. You don't have to be the star employee but you do need to be productive. That means actually getting up and succeeding at something.

What are you willing to do at work?
  • Think of what you can do to be more productive?
  • Work extra to help colleagues?
  • Work the hours you're hired for?
  • Be courteous to colleagues and customers?
  • Change when needed?
  • Stand up for what's right?
  • Endure criticism  from less productive co-workers?
  • Be a team player?
As you're going through life you'll have jobs you don't like.  How you conduct yourself at these places will be a reflection on what you will do in a career you love

I've talked about balance, self-confidence, integrity, character, being yourself.  Your Willingness to Work is one way you show these qualities.  How do people see you?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V: Vision & Vitality

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.
- Joel A Barker
Vision:  the state of being able to see.  To dream.  The ability to anticipate what will happen.

Without a clear vision you're wasting your time.  Businesses have reasons for existing, their mission statements.  In life we should also  have a  mission statement.  Our vision will come from what we're good at or what interests us.

Vitality: the state of being strong and active; the power giving continuance of life
You need Vitality to be able to accomplish your goal.  I like Fitzgerald's take on it because it's realistic.  In life we know what we want.  We make a plan and start out.
Then two things complicate our plans: 
1.  Life Happens
2. People get involved. 
We have a Vision.  We act on it.  Vitality gives us the energy to continue but also to modify if needed. We have more movtivation to do what we enjoy or are good at.  Vitality keeps us motivated.

There are so many things that can sap our energy: work, family, vacations, activities, kids' activities. Multi-tasking is a way of life now.   Others put demands on us.  Schedules conflict because we agree to too much.  We feel like we should keep but we find that we can't. 
One little word will help "No."  Think about what you want, where you're heading.  Think about your goals for your family.  It's okay to tell your kids no, you can't do everything.  It's okay to tell friends no.  It's okay to say no to yet one more committee at church.  You don't want to be lazy, but you don't want to be doing too much.  Multi-tasking isn't always a good thing. You're focus is off so not everything is done well.  Limiting yourself is the key.
Be yourself, not who you think others want you to be. Do what you're supposed to be doing, not what you think society or people want. 
Have your Vision.  Vitality to realize your Vision comes from knowing who you are and acting on it. This is how we succeed in our careers and in life. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U: Uniquely Undivided

Everyone wants to belong somewhere.  We like to know we matter.  But too often we sacrifice who we are to be accepted. 
That's not a good plan, though.  Why?  The obvious answer is we lose ourselves.  The other answer is everyone else loses. 
We each have our own Unique way of doing things.  We bring certain personalities, skills, perspectives to the table and use unique talents to accomplish tasks.  Each part is necessary for the whole to run smoothly.  The body is the obvious example, but think about any system: a company, an ecosystem, a family. Groups rely on individuals. 
In R I talked about being who you really are.  In S I talked about Self-Confidence and Strength to be yourself.  It's not easy to be Unique.  The more visible roles get the attention.  Others seem to be promoted over us.  Certain positions get more money and prestige. It's hard to not compare ourselves to others. 
Yet, it's so important for an individual to do their job and not try to be what the aren't.  You know,the whole what if an ear was trying to do the eye's job? 

We think of being Unique as being different, standing out in the crowd.  But, it also is what Unites us, making us Undivided. If we have confidence in ourselves we don't need to pull down others to build ourselves.  We can even encourage them to succeed.   Balance is achieved.  Everybody wins.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T: Tuned into Technology

If you visit my email account you will see 1,321 emails.  Now, only about 3/4 are new.  I read, I just don't always delete.  I'm not going for some world record.  It's just that I've always had this love/hate relationship with technology. 
I said I didn't need a computer--until I got one.
I said I didn't need a cell phone--until I got one. 
I said I didn't need an i-Phone--until I got one. 
I said I'd never own a Kindle--until I got one as a present.
How did a girl who likes talking, holding the book, the beauty of an clean sheet of paper, and being in nature come to embrace blogging and texting?
Technology isn't an evil word. 
The A to Z challenge is the perfect example.  How much have you been inspired?  How many new friends have you visited?  I've been all over the Continental US, crossed into Canada, flown across the Pond, and visited Hawaii all in one evening.
There are thousands of examples of how technology helps us.  Just in medicine alone I could fill up twenty pages off the top of my head. Telemedicine, medical apps, digital x-rays. The list goes on and on. 
As writers, self-publishing and ezines bring publishing within reach in exciting ways. 
Our kids can't imagine a time without Nintendo DS, DVR, or text messaging. Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized socializing. Social Media is here whether we like it or not.
The thing we have to never lose sight of is humans create technology.  We have to be careful that it doesn't control us.

Some suggestions for using Technology Responsibly:

  • There's no conversation worth getting in a wreck over--STOP TEXTING AND DRIVING. Don't talk on the hands free or cell either. (boy, that's been hard for me!)
  • Don't start texting or answer your phone when someone's talking to you. It's rude.  In our office, your provider will walk out and see the next patient if you do this. There are exceptions to this but not many.
  • Plan how much TV you'll watch. Seriously, your life will end if you don't TiVo everything?  Turn off the TV and talk, especially to your children.
  • Really? We care if you're doing laundry?  Think about what you put on Facebook and Twitter. Be interesting. You promote yourself when you post.  
  • Speaking of posts,  don't ask your health care provider personal questions on social media.  Except for email there's no way to ensure privacy.  You can tell everyone your business.  We can't. Most offices should have a policy about this.  If your business doesn't, consider creating one, even if you aren't in health care.
  • Don't post/blog/text anything you can't say face to face.  Manners still apply.
  • Go outside.  Real dogs and flowers are much better than virtual ones and at least the flowers will smell better.  Real sunshine makes us feel better. Computer screens can trigger headaches.
  • Resist the urge for the newest.  New doesn't mean better.  Remember Apple, Microsoft,Blackberry, Sprint-- all those big companies are looking at the bottom line: they want to make money. Think about what you want and need before you buy. 
  • Limit video games.  I always have to set a timer for this.  And, it took a while to actually turn off Wii sports and Band Hero. One or two hours a day is enough.
  • Ask yourself: am I watching all the hundreds of channels so it's worth taking out a third mortgage to pay for it? (Since the 2nd mortgage is paying the cell bill)
  • Do you have an emergency phone call every time you get in the car?  STOP TEXTING AND DRIVING.   From all this you may think I've had someone effected by texting and driving.  Not personally.  And I'd like to keep it that way.
Technology keeps us connected. It opens the world to us. Every day there's something new. But no matter how smart our phones get they won't replace people. Technology isn't good or bad. It's just a thing, a tool to use.  People using it makes it good or bad. 
One of the best ways to use technology is to turn it off every once in a while.  You don't have to be available 24-7.  Staying connected is great bu we need our alone time, even if it's for five minutes.  Turn off the information and just Be in the Moment sometimes.
How do you use your technology responsibly?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not So Lazy Sunday

It's a lazy Sunday for the A to Z Challenge, but not for work. Sick kids and their germs don't keep regular office hours so the Children's Clinic doesn't either. 
If you don't have anything else to do, spend some time outdoors, preferably with your best buddy. If your BFF is a stuffed tiger all the better.  Enjoy the day!

Theme music: Journey.  Even if you don't like the band, you have to admit, it's a great song. It reminds us to slow down and reconnect with the people we care about.

    Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S: Strength, Self-Confidence, & Self-Esteem

In the past month I’ve worked with our local child protective services to keep a baby out of a dangerous home.   I’ve diagnosed cancer and referred for treatment early enough for a 95% chance of survival.  I treat a teenage boy with ADHD who just two months ago wanted to drop out of school and now is proud of the fact he knows the answers before the “smart kids.”  Every provider in our clinic can give story after story of what we’ve done for our patients.  So imagine my frustration when one of the nurses said “don’t you want to do something with your life and leave something behind?”   This was in a discussion of getting married and having kids. Now, I’m sure men do something similar, but I see it time and again:  savvy, smart, successful women brought down because they have been made to believe self-worth comes from having marriage and family and so they belittle the things they have accomplished.
Now, this blog is NOT about whether  or not you should get married.  And, it’s not to debate what’s better. 
What it IS about is Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence.  No matter what you think about the above, you need Self-Confidence to have the Strength to stand by your convictions.  Self-Confidence comes from a high Self-Esteem. 
Now, I could go on and on about how we need to instill confidence in our kids at early ages.  The truth is, not every child has the opportunity to be in a home where this is given.  Maybe a foster parent or grandparent or teacher can fill the role.  Far too often the child/adult has to find it inside themselves. 
How can this be done? 
  • You have to want to be confident.  The role of victim is an easy one to assume, especially with all the attention it receives.  To be strong and confident doesn’t always have the perks.  It’s still better, though. 
  • Think about what you can do.  What are you good at?  What do you like?  What are things you want to do? Do what you’re passionate about.
  •  You’ve invested a lot into your career, but you aren’t you’re career.  You are you.  Make the job what you want it to be, not the other  way around.
  • Don’t just do the job.  Have something else: a hobby, friends, things you like for relaxation. Something that isn’t related to your job.
  • Take care of what you can control.  In your workspace, keep it tidy.  Make sure everything that can be done is caught up.  At home, pay your bills, make your bed, wash your clothes and dishes.  There’s enough you can’t control:  annoying co-workers, that unexpected client, a kid getting sick. Not being cluttered with stuff that should be done boosts esteem and confidence. 
  • Don’t try to do it all. Involve co-workers.  Invite friends.  If you’ve got a spouse and kids, make them help you.  Let go of your ideal. If it’s done correctly, it doesn’t have to be just like you’d do it.
  • Think forward.  What are your goals?  How can you achieve them?  Many people don’t sit down and think realistically about what they want from life.  Make a plan based on what you want.  Move ahead with your plans, but know circumstances may change them. Be flexible. 
  • Celebrate your accomplishments.  This is not arrogantly flaunting what you’ve done, but giving yourself a high five for a job well done.  You’d do it for others.  Why not yourself?  Thinking about what you’ve been successful doing gives confidence to try new things and to not be devastated by failure.  Nobody’s perfect.  We forgive others, but beat ourselves up over our smallest mistakes. 
  • Look at others who are confident.  What about them makes them stand out? Be like them.
  • Fake it if you have to.  Most health care providers have this down to a science.  How you present yourself effects how others respond.  Appear strong even if you don’t feel like it.  How?  Be prepared when you go into something.  Do your homework.  It takes effort, but know the situation as much as you can.  Scan the Internet.  Do continuing education.  Research a company before the interview. Knowledge brings confidence.  The more you succeed at faking it, them more real confidence you gain.

I said emulate those who have self-confidence.  How can you tell who they are?
  • They take care of themselves. In their appearance and speech they are clean, neat, put together. They manage their lives responsibly.
  • They consider others’ opinions but make their own decisions.
  • They congratulate others when they deserve it but don’t applaud negative behaviors. 
  • They take risks.  Mistakes don’t scare them or bring them down.
  • They offer help with no strings attached.
  • They show caring for themselves and for others.
I could list more.  And I could go on to tell you what low self-esteem looks like.  But I don’t want to clutter our brains with negative thoughts. 
Everyone wants to be successful. We want to have a good life and think we did something worthwhile. When that doesn’t happen we want someone to blame.  In the end, though, God isn’t going to ask what our mom or dad did or what our spouse did to us. 
What He’s going to ask is “What did you do?”  We are responsible for our lives. The confidence to do this has to come from ourselves.  Others can influence it, but only individually can we can use it.
If Character is what we do when others aren’t around and Integrity is how we show it to others, then Self-Confidence is what we need to have the Strength to use it. Without a high Self-Esteem we won’t believe we can or even have the ability to accomplish what we want in life. 

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
                                            Isaiah 40:30-31

Without hope in God, none of the rest of this is possible.  People will hurt you; they will do things to shake your confidence.  But with God’s strength you can stand strong. 

So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"  
Hebrews 13:6

Friday, April 20, 2012

R: Really?

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. ~Kurt Vonnegut
When someone asks who are you, what do you say?
Are you mom, dad, husband,wife, nurse, writer, lover, fighter?  Do you give your occupation, relationships, characteristics? 
How would you answer this in an interview:  Why should I hire you over the others?  What makes you special?

Most of the time when someone asks, we say "Fine, how are you?" merely being social, not sincere. On more than one occasion, though, I've wanted to say "Horrible.  Let me tell you why..." 
How come I don't?  I know they don't Really want to know. 
But also, it comes from being afraid to share who I really am at the moment. I want to be accepted. If I Reveal myself I Risk being Rejected or Ridiculed.  I wish someone would see through the mask to who I am without me having to say it.

No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

We want to be accepted for who we are, but if we won't share how can we? How can you be Real?

  • Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde. Define yourself on your own terms.
  • Consider others opinions or advice, but make up your own mind. You are Responsible for who you are.  Don't give up that control to others.
  • Pause long enough to think about who you are:  what do you like? don't like? what music, colors, clothes?  Think about your style.
  • Learn not to compare yourself with others. This is hard since others seem to be and have what we want.  Seems to, but the grass isn't always greener.
  • Learn from the past and move on.  You can't change what's already happened.
  • Do unto yourself as you'd do unto others.  Be kind, forgiving, encouraging.
  • Be authentic.  Don't say it if you don't mean it.  Don't agree if you don't believe it.  Don't say yes when you Really mean no.
  • Choose to be yourself.
Originality is... a by-product of sincerity. ~Marianne Moore

Really?  Who are you Really?
In writing we would edit out Really and say it's better.   In life, we edit out Really and we edit out ourselves.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q: The Quest-ion of Quitting

Question mark by Marco Bellucci
To quit or not to quit?  That is the question we face at times.  There are different things we quit: relationships, marriages, jobs, activities, diets.  We might think we have to quit dreaming and get back to reality.
Depending on how you're using it, quit has different connotations.  Quit can mean to leave a place or to stop, be at rest.  Or it can mean to give up. Your circumstances decides whether quitting is a good or bad idea.

 A few questions you should ask yourself before giving up or changing:
  • Why are you quitting?  Are you mad?  Upset? Moving with family?
  •  What will you do instead?  Is it better or just different?
  •  Do you really want to change? Who or what are you doing this for?
  • Is now the right time?  Are you being hasty? 
  • What's in it for you? Does quitting offer you an advantage?
  • Will your life be better if you quit? How?
  • How much have you invested into it? Time? Money?
  • If someone else were in your position what would you tell them? 
  • Do you have peace about it? 
  • Are those whose opinion you value in agreement?

Often quitting is too easy.  Quitting marriages, quitting jobs.  In a moment of frustration or anger we make a decision and act on it without thinking. Choices  like this shouldn't be made lightly.  Emotions should be involved, but we should temper them with rationality and at least a moment's thought, though when we have extreme emotions we should wait. 
When you quit something, weigh your decision carefully.  Someone once said to me "I heard you quit your boyfriend."  It was the first time I'd heard it said like that and it gave it a more permanent feel. Breaking up with someone was one thing, but quitting? I'm not a quitter.  But in that situation I was.
Quitting isn't necessarily a bad thing.  When we quit to pursue a dream or goal we've put on hold. Quitting to help care for a loved one. Quitting to gain some peace and rest.

To quit or not to quit? 

***For Writers:  What about that story you quit?  Why did you start it?  Why did you stop it?  Is it bothering you?  Maybe you should dust off the pages and try at it again.  Even if it's not a best seller you can call it finished.***

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P: Preference POV & Perspective

One person's craziness is another person's reality.
 ― Tim Burton
CDM Dark Roast Coffee &...
I'm sitting down to a nice cafe au lait.  For those of you who don't know it's simply coffee with milk. I made it with  CDM coffe.  If you've ever been to New Orleans, you know CDM stands for Cafe du Monde. It may be in a cafe, but this is no boutique coffee.  They make you have a note from your cardiologist before they'll put in extra shots.  It's been the perfect compliment to beignets for years.
However, not everyone likes it because of the chicory. Chicory has experienced a love/hate relationship with coffee drinkers.   Then again, maybe some people really believe colored water is coffee.  Whatever the reason, coffee is very much a matter of preference.  One man's heart attack is another man's after dinner relaxation.
It's all about perspective. 

Perspective is one's choice of a context for opinions, beliefs, and experiences. This is also known as our point of view, or POV.
Now, we talk about POV in writing as the perspective from which the story is told, but isn't it the same in life?  Depending on life experience, choices, etc, we all tell a different version of the same story. 
And I suppose if I had to choose between the true version and an elaborate one involving a fish and a wedding ring, I might choose the fancy version. But that's just me. Daniel Wallace, Big Fish

Yesterday Team Pessimism tried to pull ahead.  It was one of those days you laugh at so you won't scream. I don't have enough time to share the insanity that is my reality.   But, I get to choose my perspective.  Instead of me having to stay late, I thought of it as three less kids not spending hours in the ER. Instead of "ask someone else", it was "how can I help you". Health care today is a profession that can jade you. You constantly have to give yourself mental pep talks and slow down long enough to think about why you're at work.  When you do you can see the good things--the kid that was better on recheck.  The mom that brings you homemade jelly.  Not calling child protective services--YAY!
 Score another for Team Optimism.

Some things you can do to keep a positive perspective:
  • Think about and be grateful for the good things in your life--there's at least one thing.
  • Decide ahead of time you're going to have a positive attitude.
  • Let go of this nonexistent perfection.  It's fantasy.
  • Practice.  The more you do it, the more your attitude changes.
It's the same amount of water whether you see it half full or half empty. The difference is perspective.  Oddly enough, there's people who prefer pessimism.  They like having a negative attitude.  Some like the attention whining gets them. 
Me?  I Prefer my POV to be from a more Positive Perspective.  I've always liked the fancy version, not boring reality. It's a lot more fun to take the glass and water the flowers with it.

 What's your perspective on life? How do you keep from losing it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O: Optimism: Opportunites in Obstacles

This morning I woke up two hours late with a migraine.  I think it's because my neighbor had a street light installed which shines into my backyard right into my bedroom window and now I don't sleep as well.
Then when I put my clothes on my sandal strap broke--I love those sandals, and I spilt coffee on my shirt and ended up having to wear scrubs.  I'm tired of scrubs.  Now I'm mad at myself because my scrubs are a little tight since I stopped exercising for a stupid reason not important here. 
"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth, and now there's gum in my hair." Alexander--Judith Viorst.
 My morning is reminding me of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Even writing this is making me later, but I can't help it. I think it's great that my topic for O is optimism and opportunities and my day is starting as it is.  It's a chance to put optimism to the test. 

I'm not holding out much hope to say the day is going to be fantastic. But there are going to be some positive things as well as negative.  It's life.  I'm not going to let my day be ruined by focusing on the negative.
But I have my MAC makeup and my Avalanche has a full tank of gas.  I also like the color of the scrubs I'm wearing. As far as my neighbors--they are so nice and will do anything for you. And, I know two of my patients coming to see me today and they always make your day better.
So, I have my Imitrex and Motrin.  I'll eventually find my keys and make it out the door.  And if all goes well, I'll only have to call child protection once today and actually get done on time and be able to leave at five. 
I'll let you know in a few hours.....

In work, as in life, attitude is everything.  Are you on Team Optimism? Or Team Pessimism?
Or are you somewhere in between? 

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
Roger Crawford

Monday, April 16, 2012

N: The Necessity of Networking

Network: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.

Networking is important in work and life.  Think about why you're doing this challenge.  Is one reason to meet other authors?
Writing can be solitary, but we still need others to edit and publish our ideas.  In medicine we use it to be able to access information and services.  I think we can agree we need to network.  But how?

  1. Use all forms of communication.  Social media's good, but also have real face time.  Talk some.  Listen more.  
  2. Be kind.  When you're face to face it's easier to reign in the conversation but on facebook and twitter it's harder.  Remember you're trying to promote yourself professionally.  People really don't care if you're doing laundry or at the car wash. When you post, say about others as you'd have them say about you.  You can't take it back.
  3. Join groups.  I'm in our local writer's group--the Bayou Writer's Group.  And I'm in NAPNAP and LANP, and Sigma Theta Tau--three organizations for nurse practitioners. Get to know people in the field you're interested in.
  4. Find a mentor.  They can introduce you to the right people and model what you need to know.  
  5. Keep a notebook, note page on your phone--some place to put new and old people.
  6. Go to conferences. Catch up with old acquaintances and meet new ones.
  7. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Walk up to someone at a meeting and introduce yourself.  Not everyone will want to be in your sphere, but that's okay.  Be open to both rejection and acceptance.
  8. Be sincere. 
When you set up a computer, the network is the system in place for the computer to talk to other computers or the Internet.  If one part breaks down, the system doesn't work. It's the same in life.  If you fail in communication lines or have faulty ones, then the system doesn't work. We need to be able to interact with others.

You may be thinking but I don't know how to talk to people. The only way to do it is to do it. At first there may be some awkward moments and you won't add everyone to your list.  That's okay. Keep practicing. It's worth it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Constructive Interlude

As today is a non-letter day I'll take a moment to post an update on my storage building/garden shed/patio--whatever it is. It's gone through a few names over the past two months we've been working on it.  As you can see from previous pictures to now it's gone through a huge transformation. We're near the end of completion.  On the building itself it's cosmetic things. We still need concrete for the patio. Crazy Louisiana rains.  It's got to be dry so you can pour concrete. Go figure, right?
It's been taking longer on my little house/patio than we thought, but isn't that the way construction goes?  And I want it to be right.  I didn't realize it at first, but this is becoming more than just a storehouse and patio.  I love being outside.  I love my flowers and the sunshine.  It's all so inspiring.  So, I've been more picky because I'm designing a creating space.  So now y'all know where all these posts are typed.  I was sad to see the nail gun go back to my brother's house.  Maybe I'll have to get me one of those!

The best thing about today is it's Clean Sheet Day.  Don't you just love the feeling of clean sheets when you get in them at the end of the day?  So crisp and clean and free of any pet hair. Another fabulous thing in life! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M: Mentors and MAC Make-up

Mentor: advise, master, guide, preceptor.  A wise and trusted counselor or teacher.

Jenny and Mary Ann
One of the most famous examples of mentorship is in Star Wars. Obi Wan Kenoboi is the mentor.  He is Jedi Master to both Darth Vader (aka Anakin) and Luke Skywalker.

“When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.”
“Only a master of evil, Darth.”
At least one mentee listened to him, right?

I've been fortunate to have had a few Obi Wans in my nursing career.  People who over the years still encourage and teach me. Mary Ann was my clinical advisor at UTMB. She didn't just do the academic part of our education, but also gave advice, encouraged, and stood up for her students.  She was advisor in every sense of the word.  Jenny was a preceptor I had in Houma, Louisiana.  She demonstrated what rapport with people should be and has remained a friend to me over the past 12 years.  If Jenny and Mary Ann have been my Obi Wans, then Dr. McCanless is Yoda.  You just can't describe Dr. Mac.  He's practiced for 63 years and hasn't lost any of his wit and compassion despite all that he's seen.  I can only hope to be a little like him when I'm 87.  
 Because of this, I have a responsibility to pass it on.  This is why I love having students. I've had some pretty awesome ones.  As a preceptor you learn as much from your students as you teach them--at least that's been my experience.  Unfortunately I've also has a few Darth Vaders in my career.  You know, those who you look at and go "I didn't teach you that." Those are frustrating because I love all my padawans.  Being a mentor doesn't mean you're responsible for them after they become the master, but you feel like it!
Mentoring is fun and you meet so many awesome people.  Maybe you think "Yeah, in health care you have to mentor, but in my job  I don't have anything to offer." 
Not true!  Think about what you like.  Our book store has a knitting group that meets weekly.  I'm a member of Bayou Writer's Group.  There are instructors from Leisure Learning classes I still email and ask questions of.  Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, church groups:  the opportunities are all around us.  We all have something to offer: encouragement, friendship, life experience. Once you start sharing, you'll find you get as much as you give.
Do you have a mentor in your job or life?  Who can you be a mentor to?

MAC Makeup
Today is a two post day.  I really wasn't going to write about this but I think in work and life it's an important thing.  Not MAC make up specifically but appearances. 
I wrote about appearances with Letter  A.  This is a little different take on it. I recently discovered MAC at Dillard's.  Until then I wasn't interested in make up.  Different brands I'd tried had various allergy and irritation issues, making even the best not worth the expense. But MAC was different.  I talked to a consultant and was hooked. So, why write about it on a blog about professionalism?  Yesterday I was tired. I hadn't slept much.  Getting ready for work seemed like a chore.  I wasn't going to wear makeup but my AM routine for it is only about three minutes.  I'm not that lazy so I put it on for work. And, well after that I was like, hey, my make up looks good.  Maybe today's not so bad.
Why did I feel like that? Because my MAC is something that I feel good in.  You know, that one thing that just makes you feel fabulous.
My other fabulous is my Chevy Avalanche. When I drive it I want to say "Yeah, I'm a Southern Girl from Texas. You want to say something about it?"  I've had cars before, but I always go back to trucks.
We all need those one or two things that make us feel good even on the worst of days.  Children do it all the time:  pacifiers, blankets, stuffed animals.  Our special thing grows with us as adults. We use them as pick me ups, wear them to interviews, or on that first date.  Any time we need to feel empowered.
I know appearances aren't everything, but when you know you know you look good, it sure helps!
My favorite outfit? Blue jeans, t-shirt, old sandals, MAC makeup, and Chevy Truck.
What makes you feel fabulous?

Friday, April 13, 2012

L: Lost Art of Listening

A lot clutters our brains: to-do lists, work deadlines, kids' activities. Even when we're talking we are thinking of a million other things. You've probably seen it in your own conversations. The blank stare when you're talking to someone. Or the response that doesn't have to do with what you're talking about. Or the antsy looking at the door. You may have done them all yourself.

In the A to Z challenge I've been all over the world and learned some interesting things.  I've done it all from the comfort of my big comfy couch.  With the advent of social media we are able to communicate on a global scale and we can do it instantly.  This is not a bad thing. The downside though is that sometimes we type when we should be talking.  Because it's impersonal we skim emails or blog posts and don't consider what's behind the words.  We don't have to truly listen.

Listening: to make an effort to hear something, to pay attention to or take notice of what someone says. 

You have to make a choice to listen. You hear what someone says and then respond. It's not always easy. But it's important. It's part of what makes us human. We need face time, not just Facebook or Twitter time. Seeing the person is as important as hearing since how it's said sometimes is more telling than the words. Listening is not just active, but interactive.  We hear and respond.  The other person responds.  We communicate.

In work listening is crucial. It's how you know instructions and deadlines. If you don't hear you don't know what to do. In medicine a patient's history is more important than any lab test. If we don't listen we can miss a key piece of information needed for care. You have to slow down long enough to pay attention.

Listening is not easy, especially when we are not in the habit of doing it.  So, how can we sharpen our skills?
  • Listen to conversations. See how others communicate.
  • Make a decision to listen.
  • Ignore texts and calls--silence your phone if you have to.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Repeat something of what the person says back to them.
  • Try to keep emotions in check.
  • Ignore distractions.
  • Put aside personal prejudices or preconceived ideas.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice
Whether your office is a boardroom or a playground its important to talk to each other.  We all have a need to hear and be heard. This is done through listening.  Even if you didn't learn it as a child it's never too late.  It doesn't take money or classroom education.  You only have to have  two people and a few questions to get things started. The more you listen the better you are at it.

What are things you can do this weekend to sharpen your listening skill?  Who needs you to listen to them?  Who do you need to listen to you?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K: Kindle Kindness

Do you think this is about nice Kindles?  Think again....

We live in a time of selfishness.  It's about wanting more and doing less to get it. We ask "what's in it for me?" when someone asks a favor.  We're so busy we don't like to be inconvenienced for nothing.
There's  competition in the workplace.  We vie for recognition, raises, promotions.  We want more money or prestige and often walk all over someone else to get it.
Layoffs abound.  People worry about how they will survive and so kindness is put on the back burner and ruthlessness takes its place.
But, does that really make us more productive?  Can we truly win the race walking over people? Can any business survive without kindness? Why would anybody want to work or shop in a place without nice people?

How kind of Caroline to help Stuart
with his crossword.
1. to set alight or start to burn
2. to arouse or be aroused the project kindled his interest
3. to make or become bright
  • The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
  • 2.     A kind act.
     Kindle Kindness--to light or make bright the quality of being friendly, generous, considerate.

    Being kind is essential to work and life but in the stress of work we sometimes forget this important quality. Unfortunately being nice isn't something that comes naturally but has to be a conscious effort.
    Kindling kindness is more than just saying the words.  You have to model kindness.  How can we do this at work? 
    • Help others. Volunteer.  Don't wait to be asked.
    • Find something nice to say, especially to the person who is always negative.
    • Respect others and their opinion. Feel free to disagree but don't attack the person.
    • Let it go--as long as it's done right does it really matter how it got done?
    • Less gossip, more encouragement.
    • Be patient with everyone, but especially the new people.
    • Think of ways you can share a smile: secret presents, bring breakfast, buy someone a Coke.
    • Before you say it TNK
      • is it True?
      • is it Nnecessary?
      • is it Kind?
    These are just a few things I could think of to be kind in the workplace.  What are things you can do at your work?  Has anyone shown kindness to you? 
    Light a fire at work--Kindle Kindness.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    J: Judge Not???

    There is only one Lawgiver and one Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?  James 4:12

    Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be used.  Matthew 7:1-2

    Looking at the pictures what are they about?  What's happening in them?  No doubt many of you already have a story in mind.  Or, the growers out there will key in on the plants--what are they? Do you know?  How about you contractors?  What do you see?
    The thing is, everyone looks and makes decisions based on what they see. We form judgements.
    Wait, no, that can't be right. Judging is bad.  Jesus himself said don't judge.

    There's judging and then there's judging.

    In my business we have to make judgements every day:  our triage nurses have to make judgements regarding advice and office visits based on what parents tell them on the phone--we have awesome nurses!!!!  I have to make judgements regarding best treatments for my patients or make decisions that could result in a child being removed from a home.
    In all of these scenarios we make judgements based on many factors.  We ask questions, finding out as much information as we can.  I'm sure everyone can think of at least one scenario where they had to make a judgement.
    Judgement like this is necessary.  It's making rational, sensible decisions based on facts and educated assessments.  You have to make sound calls in business in order to take calculated risks.  In writing you make judgements about what to keep and what to edit.  The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Sometimes it's right, sometimes not.  The more you do it, the better you get at making right decisions.
    These involve judgment of situations, not people.  It's good judgment.  But, of course, opinions about people are formed, for good or bad.
    That leads to the bad judgment. Bad judgment ignores sensibility and doesn't care about the facts.  It lets feelings, prejudices, and personal experience cloud the picture. 
    In our workplaces we do it all the time--that person who's never there on time or leaves early every day. That customer who doesn't dress "right"--what's right anyway? We don't know their situations yet we presume to make assumptions about them. 
    Do you judge people or situations? 
    Sometimes though, it's not really others we're being hard on, but ourselves.  Another human quality is comparing ourselves with others. With what measure to you judge yourself?  Why are we often so willing to give others a break but not cut ourselves some slack?We need to look at ourselves and see where we can improve or grow, but beating ourselves up over things is not good judgement.

    No matter how pure we think we are it's human nature to judge. What we do with those opinions is what counts. Will you choose to reserve your first impression until you have all the facts? Or, will you let your personal feelings ignore the truth?
    In the end the only person we'll be accountable for is ourselves.  How will others judge you?

    We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    I: Integumentary Integrity

    How much of our body contains:
    • 19 million cells,
    • 625 sweat glands,
    • 90 oil glands,
    • 19 feet of blood vessels,
    • 19,000 sensory cells?
    The answer: one square inch of human skin. And our skin covers about 20 square feet on the average adult. The human skin is considered the largest organ in the body (about 16% of your body weight).  Pretty important organ.
    Our skin has many  functions that help keep the body stabilized, including protection. It keeps things in that should be in and keeps things out that don't need to be there.   Some, like me, is white and full of freckles.  Some can be described as porcelain. Some is different shade of brown or black.  It's unique to each person. We color it with tattoos.  We put chemicals on it to keep it from betraying our true age.
    Skin.  It's pretty awesome.
    So what happens if we don't have skin? Anything that wants to can attack our insides.  Our insides come out. Just one little cut can become a major infection if not attended to. Cancer can start and eat through if we stay in the sun too long without sunscreen. When our skin's intact we don't have to worry about attacks from dirt and germs.
    Our skin's appearance says a lot about who we are on the inside so it's important for skin to maintain it's integrity--Ha, you knew that was coming,  right? Skin integrity protects us, but only if we pay attention to it.  Like personal integrity.  If it's intact we have less to worry about.
    If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.--Mark Twain

    What is Integrity?
    1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
    2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the skin or character.  
    3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of skin or character.  

    Character is what we do when nobody's looking.
    Sometimes it's easier to do the right thing when nobody's there to make fun of you. In our jobs there are those who will always do as little as possible. They make up names for the hard workers.    But, in the end, sticks and stones may hurt us, but our words and actions are what help us keep from being laid off. Integrity protects us.
    Integrity describes character when everybody's looking.
    We have to plan ahead to have integrity.  It's not just in the big things, but the little ones as well.  On our skin, you don't have to have a big cut to get an infection. Sometimes it's the smallest scratch that causes the most damage. Little things--one day called in that you're not really sick, one time doing a half-hearted job, one damaging thing said about a co-worker, just one time giving in. If we don't deal with it, the damage doesn't heal and our integrity is breached.
    Integrity doesn't demand perfection, just consistency. 
    Keep true. Never be ashamed of doing right. Decide on what you think is right and stick to it.  George Elliot

    Look at your integrity.  What does it say about you?  Is it intact or is there a cut that needs cleaning?

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    H: Harvey Honsinger: 1934-2012

    A cowboy is man with guts and a horse. -- will james.

      The first time I met Harvey Honsinger was in a writing workshop.  I'd submitted a murder mystery for critique.  After lengthy discussion with Harvey regarding guns the killer decided he'd use a knife instead. Harvey didn't ever let you slide on details, especially when it came to firearms.
     "What happened? Nobody died." Any time I'd submit a story that didn't involve murder and mayhem--which wasn't often--Harvey would have that at the top of the page. To me it said he really read my work and considered his comments.
    When trying to think of an H word to use for professionalism, Harvey kept coming  to mind.  I thought I would blog about him and he'd read it and get a good laugh.  But, three days before the challenge started Harvey passed away from cancer. So this post becomes as much of a tribute as a part of the challenge. 
    When you talked to Harvey you could tell he enjoyed everything he'd done in life. He had a particular fondness for justice and fair play.  Maybe this was why he liked westerns.  Or maybe his love for the West, especially his home in Texas, gave him those ideals.  He applied them to everything he did, including work and writing.

    Speak your mind, but ride a fast horse. --Cowboy saying.

    Harvey made the Old West come alive with interesting characters in difficult situations. For over twenty years he wrote, always sending out his manuscripts and consistently being denied.  So, he finally took matters in his own hands and self-published. In 2011 Firehair became available on
    Harvey reminds me that you can't lose your sense of fair play--in work, in writing, in life. When he critiqued stories, no matter how bad the writing, he always found something positive.  And it was always about the work, not the author. 
    He also reminds me not to be discouraged in my writing.  It took him years to get his book published.  In the mean time he was doing other things:  law enforcement, the media, publishing articles and short stories.  He didn't stop living and he didn't take no as the answer.

    Never miss a good chance to shut up.

    Another H word for Harvey is Hope.  Never give up on the things you're most passionate about.
    In workshops and in the Bayou Writer's Group Harvey will be missed.  He was a true cowboy in every sense of the word.

    If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.

    Firehair can be found at

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    G: Gamble--go for the nuggets

    Wahoo, we talked about fun, now we’re going to gamble.  Where I live we have two casinos within 10 minutes…

    No, no, no…not gambling money.  Taking a chance.  In a way, though, it is gambling money—if it works, profits go up.  If it doesn’t you’ve lost time and productivity, which is translates to money.  This in addition to whatever monetary investment was made.

                    Wow, sounds scary!  Why should I gamble at work?

                    Think about chicken nuggets.  I’ve said before that I wish I’d invented chicken nuggets.  Someone took a chance on mashing parts of a bird (sometimes what bird is up for question) together and called them edible.  Look where it got him.

               In writing we take chances.  Just doing this AtoZ challenge is a risk.  What if nobody reads your posts?  What if they're no good?  If we listen to all the what ifs we won't finish...or even start to begin with.  But, think of everything we gain when we take the chance on putting our writing out there. Even rejections are a good experience. 

    In health care chances are taken all the time.  It’s how new discoveries are made.  But it isn’t like a crap shoot in Vegas.  It’s calculated, based on ideas, research, and planning.  It starts with knowledge and then thinks how can this be improved? Without taking chances in medicine penicillin would still be mold on bread.  Dr. Michael DeBakey pioneered heart surgeries we take for granted now, one of which saved his own life.  Taking chances are risky, but in health care they not only improve quality, but also save lives.
    Creativity says “what if we did it this way?”  Taking a gamble says “let’s try it.” What's the worst that can happen?  You fail?  In those cases you go back and try again.
                              If you stay with status quo, you’re assured of the outcome.  Color inside the lines you get a lovely picture, but one that looks like all the rest.  Take a chance, and you might have the next penicillin or chicken nuggets.
    Success is not final.  Failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.
                    Winston Churchill

    For more on Chicken Nuggets check here:
    For more on Penicillin check here:
    For more on Michael DeBakey check here:,2933,381245,00.html