Home » Posts tagged 'elfidd.com'
Tag Archives: elfidd.com
A couple we consider good friends, who live down south in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, were recently at a wedding in Leadville, CO. The wife of the couple is a fellow blogger, who goes by the handle as Merling Muse, life in the mountains. Were the husband a Blogger, it would have something to do with trains, I’m sure. They recently made a cross country trip to attend that wedding, and blog about it along the way.
The trip brought back many great memories of a trip Uncle Bob, (wife’s brother, who is no longer with us) and I made in 2010 via Rt#50 all the way. Miss you and that “First One Today” Bobby !
So, bloggers post, and those who get to read them can comment about that post. On occasion I get a bit wordy, My response to Anne was so wordy, I thought I’d steal from it and make it a post.
Our daughter Sarah was married on 7/2, in an Anglican church built in 1733, which sits on the bank of the Wicomico River. Bricks in the church were baked in the same kiln as a home we lived in for five years 20 years ago. They were shipped here by boat from Williamsburg, VA. A bit of Brick History, should you be interested: https://brickcollecting.com/history.htm
Mary Agnes and I have been to Leadville, and have long thought of returning for the train excursion. Mary Agnes was enamored with Molly Brown, thus the trip to the high back then. https://mollybrown.org/about-molly-brown/
We did take the train ride to Silverton that year. https://durangosilvertonrailroad.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjw__fnBRANEiwAuFxETx5mCHb8ZdUybu40BWcIvcIeVb8SjGjsPQkvwL-Rk_I3gg4ymKeumBoCUWgQAvD_BwE
We have a granddaughter who graduated from USAFA, class of 2012 (Samantha) and for four years made trips to the Rockies. Brother-in-law Bob Romspert and I delivered Sam her car to her at the start of her junior year.
We used old Route #50 to cross the country and only hit an Interstate when we had to cross the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Great memories with a now departed companion of that awesome trip and our time together.
For me, the highlight of that trip was stumbling upon Bent’s Fort.
Congratulations to the newlyweds Anne & John.
Daughter Sarah, her beau Greg, daughter Kathryn, wife Mary Agnes and yours truly The Rooster, spent the better part of a week in San Antonio, TX not long ago. The reason, Sarah’s son, and our grandson Thomas, (Tommy) was graduating from Air Force Basic Training at Lackland, AFB. We also spent a couple of meals with nephew Noah, a 2018 graduate of the USAFA who is in Drone training. Here’s a site on the subject if interested: https://www.aetc.af.mil/Flying-Training/
As you read this Tommy is now at Sheppard AFB, Texas for further training with the Air Education and Training Command.
So there you go, something to read and possibly follow up on a trip of your own one day. There’s lots to see in this great country of ours. Get off the Interstate, travel the back roads and small towns and meet the people who make this country what it is. You might just wind up in Allen, MD one day.
Busy has gotten in the way of blogging lately and, of reading those blogs I’ve come to enjoy. For the past 4-5 days I’ve been catching up on my reading and am hereby posting a blog. My Anglican Priest, Foodie Critic, friend, http://diningwithdonald.com/ has kept me up on the food chain in Winnipeg, Anne Mehrling keeps me posted on her family and Maggie’s Valley @ https://amehrling.com/ As they say out west, “I’m back in the saddle again”.
There are numerous other bloggers who will take you on journeys in foreign countries as well as NYC and visitations to places one has no idea they even exist. So many interesting people with something to share. Just last week I learned how to do some planting from pots to earth. The Lord has certainly supplied the water of late to help promote that growth.
When time permits on a Sunday morning, at 0900 here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I’ll turn on the TV to “CBS Sunday Morning”. There always seems to be something that piqued my interest, this morning was just such a day.
On most Mondays thru Fridays the wife and I can be found spending time with Alex Trebek and “Jeopardy” @ 1930. Today Alex was a feature part of “CBS Sunday Morning”. Alex has been treated for stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer lately. If your interested, here is the link to today’s show.
CBS Sunday Morning also featured a piece on Admiral William McRaven, https://youtu.be/_6hNIuaBo9w
Admiral McRaven gave a well known commencement speech at the University of Texas a few years back. The central issue of this speech was the making of your bed to start your day. Should you have a few minutes, fifteen (15) to be exact, here is that Motivational Speech @ https://youtu.be/TBuIGBCF9jc
If you want to start your day off right, make your bed.
A blogging friend’s husband from down Carolina way, sent me a condensed version of a great undertaking by the folks in North Platte, Nebraska this past summer. I looked around as I often do and found this old article from the Wall Street Journal. All credit goes to Bob Greene, and the WSJ and, North Platte Telegraph for this content. Be you Red or Blue, here’s a feel-good story for you.
A Soldier Never Forgets North Platte
When service members pass through this small town in Nebraska, the community comes together to thank them.
293 Comments By Bob Greene July 22, 2018 4:01 p.m. ET
Community and service members in North Platte, Nebraska. Photo: Stephen Barkley/The North Platte Telegraph
‘We were overwhelmed,” said Lt. Col. Nick Jaskolski. “I don’t really have words to describe how surprised and moved we all were. I had never even heard of the town before.”
Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base.
A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry. The company placed a call to the visitors’ bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack?
North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes.
The community welcomed more than 700 service men and women, North Platte , Nebraska, June 18-19. Photo: Stephen Barkley/The North Platte Telegraph
During World War II, North Platte was a geographically isolated town of 12,000. Soldiers, sailors and aviators on their way to fight the war rode troop trains across the nation, bound for Europe via the East Coast or the Pacific via the West Coast. The Union Pacific Railroad trains that transported the soldiers always made 10-minute stops in North Platte to take on water.
The townspeople made those 10 minutes count. Starting in December 1941, they met every train: up to 23 a day, beginning at 5 a.m. and ending after midnight. Those volunteers greeted between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers a day. They presented them with sandwiches and gifts, played music for them, danced with them, baked birthday cakes for them. Every day of the year, every day of the war, they were there at the depot. They never missed a train, never missed a soldier. They fed six million soldiers by the end of the war. Not 1 cent of government money was asked for or spent, save for a $5 bill sent by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The soldiers never forgot the kindness. Most of them, and most of the townspeople who greeted them, are dead. And now, in 2018, those 21 busloads from the 142nd Field Artillery were on their way, expecting to stop at some fast-food joint.
Photo: Stephen Barkley/The North Platte Telegraph
“We couldn’t believe what we saw when we pulled up,” Col. Jaskolski said. As each bus arrived over a two-day period, the soldiers stepped out to be greeted by lines of cheering people holding signs of thanks. They weren’t at a fast-food restaurant: They were at North Platte’s events center, which had been opened and decorated especially for them.
“People just started calling our office when they heard the soldiers were on their way,” said Lisa Burke, the director of the visitors’ bureau. “Hundreds of people, who wanted to help.”
The soldiers entered the events center to the aroma of steaks grilling and the sound of recorded music: current songs by Luke Bryan, Justin Timberlake, Florida Georgia Line; World War II songs by Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey. They were served steak sandwiches, ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, deviled eggs, salads and fruit; local church groups baked pies, brownies and cookies.
Mayor Dwight Livingston stood at the door for two days and shook every soldier’s hand. Mr. Livingston served in the Air Force in Vietnam and came home to no words of thanks. Now, he said, as he shook the hands and welcomed the soldiers, “I don’t know whether those moments were more important for them, or for me. I knew I had to be there.”
“It was one soldier’s 21st birthday,” Lisa Burke said. “When I gave him his cake, he told me it was the first birthday cake he’d ever had in his life.” Not wanting to pry, she didn’t ask him how that could possibly be. “I was able to hold my emotions together,” she said. “Until later.”
When it became time to settle up—the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks—the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us.
This is on North Platte.
Mr. Greene’s books include “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.”
Today it is raining cats and dogs as a big front moved east across the Delmarva. This has been a good opportunity to catch up on blogs I follow on three different sites, WordPress, Google, and Medium. I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been keeping a Journal for a number of years, it will now take on a different look as I encompass some of Barry Davret’s ideas.
Each half hour I get up and take to a 40 step walk, ten times through our downstairs. Two rooms, Living/Dining combination, and a Bedroom. We also have a bathroom on this level. Yes, small by most standards and a big step down from our 3500 sq/foot previous home. We do have an Annex of 900 sg/feet that is also a guest house.
Upstairs there is the Sewing room where the quilts are put together, a bedroom where the quilts are laid out, my Office and another full Bath. We also have a loft, attic, garret, whatever is your pleasure. When the Grands were Wees we would throw the lot of them up there to sleep. “Go TO SLEEP”!
See, much like that daily documenting, things are stimulating memory. I’m just doing it here in the Blog. So, here you go with a couple of sites to pull up. Especially take a few minutes for https://medium.com/@Barry.Davret/how-an-experience-journal-will-turbocharge-your-daily-writing-and-ease-your-anxiety-9e1961eb3ec3
“A life worth living is a life worth recording”. Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn, the philosopher who has left an indelible legacy of time-proven principles says:
How An“Experience Journal” Will Turbocharge Your Daily Writing And Ease Your Anxiety by: Barry Davret
All You Need Is A $2.00 Notebook and 15 Minutes Before Bed.
Watch Shonda Rhimes’s Wonderfully Candid Dartmouth Commencement Speech
My daughter and I share stuff back and forth. Today when I opened my mail, this was waiting for me. Yes I know, a lengthy read. but worthy to be read by those going forward in this world of ours. Take ten minutes or so and read it. If you know of a young one out there going forth in the world, share it. If you think it worthy, don’t thank me, thank my daughter, that would be our first born, Kathryn. She has that uncanny ability to motivate people, mentor our youth and inspire many.
I’ve also read somewhere that going more than 12-1,600 words, you tend to lose your audience. I apologize for that, however, this is what the lady said, and what I’m sharing. Didn’t someone once say ‘Go forth and multiply”?
I share with you. Shonda Rhimes gave Dartmouth’s commencement address on Sunday, noting to the sea of students that she was worried that she might “pass out or die or poop my pants” midway. But! She made it — imparting much general wisdom and some added tips on being someone whom many people assume effortlessly “does it all.” (The secret? “You don’t.”)
Her speech begins at 1:41, and you can read a full transcript below.
President Hanlon, faculty, staff, honored guests, parents, students, families and friends—good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth graduating class of 2014!
This is weird.
Me giving a speech. In general, I do not like giving speeches. Giving a speech requires standing in front of large groups of people while they look at you and it also requires talking. I can do the standing part OK. But you looking and me talking … I am not a fan. I get this overwhelming feeling of fear. Terror, really. Dry mouth, heartbeats superfast, everything gets a little bit slow motion. Like I might pass out. Or die. Or poop my pants or something. I mean, don’t worry. I’m not going to pass out or die or poop my pants. Mainly because just by telling you that it could happen, I have somehow neutralized it as an option. Like as if saying it out loud casts some kind of spell where now it cannot possibly happen now. Vomit. I could vomit. See. Vomiting is now also off the table. Neutralized it. We’re good.
Anyway, the point is. I do not like to give speeches. I’m a writer. I’m a TV writer. I like to write stuff for other people to say. I actually contemplated bringing Ellen Pompeo or Kerry Washington here to say my speech for me … but my lawyer pointed out that when you drag someone across state lines against their will, the FBI comes looking for you, so…
I don’t like giving speeches, in general, because of the fear and terror. But this speech? This speech, I really did not want to give.
A Dartmouth Commencement speech? Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.
Look, it would be fine if this were, 20 years ago. If it were back in the day when I graduated from Dartmouth. Twenty-three years ago, I was sitting right where you are now. And I was listening to Elizabeth Dole speak. And she was great. She was calm and she was confident. It was just … different. It felt like she was just talking to a group of people. Like a fireside chat with friends. Just Liddy Dole and like 9,000 of her closest friends. Because it was 20 years ago. And she was just talking to a group of people.
Now? Twenty years later? This is no fireside chat. It’s not just you and me. This speech is filmed and streamed and tweeted and uploaded. NPR has like, a whole site dedicated to Commencement speeches. A whole site just about commencement speeches. There are sites that rate them and mock them and dissect them. It’s weird. And stressful. And kind of vicious if you’re an introvert perfectionist writer who hates speaking in public in the first place.
When President Hanlon called me—and by the way, I would like to thank President Hanlon for asking me way back in January, thus giving me a full six months of terror and panic to enjoy. When President Hanlon called me, I almost said no. Almost.
Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.
But I’m here. I am gonna do it. I’m doing it. You know why?
Because I like a challenge. And because this year I made myself a promise that I was going to do the stuff that terrifies me. And because, 20-plus years ago when I was trudging uphill from the River Cluster through all that snow to get to the Hop for play rehearsal, I never imagined that I would one day be standing here, at the Old Pine lectern. Staring out at all of you. About to throw down on some wisdom in the Dartmouth Commencement address.
So, you know, yeah. Moments.
Also, I’m here because I really, really wanted some EBAs.
I want to say right now that every single time someone asked me what I was going to talk about in this speech, I would boldly and confidently tell them that I had all kinds wisdom to share. I was lying. I feel wildly unqualified to give you advice. There is no wisdom here. So all I can do is talk about some stuff that could maybe be useful to you, from one Dartmouth grad to another. Some stuff that won’t ever show up in a Meredith Grey voiceover or a Papa Pope monologue. Some stuff I probably shouldn’t be telling you here now because of the uploading and the streaming and the tweeting. But I am going to pretend that it is 20 years ago. That it’s just you and me. That we’re having a fireside chat. Screw the outside world and what they think. I’ve already said “poop” like five times already anyway … things are getting real up in here.
OK, wait. Before I talk to you. I want to talk to your parents. Because the other thing about it being 20 years later is that I’m a mother now. So I know some things, some very different things. I have three girls. I’ve been to the show. You don’t know what that means, but your parents do. You think this day is all about you. But your parents… the people who raised you … the people who endured you … they potty trained you, they taught you to read, they survived you as a teenager, they have suffered 21 years and not once did they kill you. This day … you call it your graduation day. But this day is not about you. This is their day. This is the day they take back their lives, this is the day they earn their freedom. This day is their Independence Day. So, parents, I salute you. And as I have an eight-month-old, I hope to join your ranks of freedom in 20 years!
OK. So here comes the real deal part of the speech, or you might call it, Some Random Stuff Some Random Alum Who Runs a TV Show Thinks I Should Know Before I Graduate:
When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have the wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.
I think that’s crap.
I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.
The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be …” or “I wish.”
“I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.”
And they dream of it. The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams, and the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. Maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother. And it feels really good. You’re talking about it, and you’re planning it. Kind of. You are blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing. Right? I mean, that’s what Oprah and Bill Gates did to get successful, right?
Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.
So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.
You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.
I did not dream of being a TV writer. Never, not once when I was here in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, did I say to myself, “Self, I want to write TV.”
You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue sky’ed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI. Anyway, there I was in that basement, and I was dreaming of being Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. And guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up. So one day I was sitting in that basement and I read an article that said—it was in The New York Times—and it said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought I could dream about being Toni Morrison, or I could do.
At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I had no stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.
Lesson Two. Lesson two is that tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you.
When I graduated from Dartmouth that day in 1991, when I was sitting right where you are and I was staring up at Elizabeth Dole speaking, I will admit that I have no idea what she was saying. Could n’t even listen to her. Not because I was overwhelmed or emotional or any of that. But because I had a serious hangover. Like, an epic painful hangover because (and here is where I apologize to President Hanlon because I know that you are trying to build a better and more responsible Dartmouth and I applaud you and I admire you and it is (very necessary) but I was really freaking drunk the night before. And the reason I’d been so drunk the night before, the reason I’d done upside down margarita shots at Bones Gate was because I knew that after graduation, I was going to take off my cap and gown, my parents were going to pack my stuff in the car and I was going to go home and probably never come back to Hanover again. And even if I did come back, it wouldn’t matter because it wouldn’t be the same because I didn’t live here anymore.
On my graduation day, I was grieving.
My friends were celebrating. They were partying. They were excited. So happy. No more school, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks. And I was like, are you freaking kidding me? You get all the fro‑yo you want here! The gym is free. The apartments in Manhattan are smaller than my suite in North Mass. Who cared if there was no place to get my hair done? All my friends are here. I have a theatre company here. I was grieving. I knew enough about how the world works, enough about how adulthood plays out, to be grieving.
Here’s where I am going to embarrass myself and make you all feel maybe a little bit better about yourselves. I literally lay down on the floor of my dorm room and cried while my mother packed up my room. I refused to help her. Like, hell no I won’t go. I nonviolent-protested leaving here. Like, went limp like a protestor, only without the chanting—it was really pathetic. If none of you lie down on a dirty hardwood floor and cry today while your mommy packs up your dorm room, you are already starting your careers out ahead of me. You are winning.
But here’s the thing. The thing I really felt like I knew was that the real world sucks. And it is scary. College is awesome. You’re special here. You’re in the Ivy League, you are at the pinnacle of your life’s goals at this point—your entire life up until now has been about getting into some great college and then graduating from that college. And now, today, you have done it. The moment you get out of college, you think you are going to take the world by storm. All doors will be opened to you. It’s going to be laughter and diamonds and soirees left and right.
What really happens is that, to the rest of the world, you are now at the bottom of the heap. Maybe you’re an intern, possibly a low-paid assistant. And it is awful. The real world, it sucked so badly for me. I felt like a loser all of the time. And more than a loser? I felt lost.
Which brings me to clarify lesson number two.
Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you. But don’t be an asshole.
Here’s the thing. Yes, it is hard out there. But hard is relative. I come from a middle-class family, my parents are academics, I was born after the civil rights movement, I was a toddler during the women’s movement, I live in the United States of America, all of which means I’m allowed to own my freedom, my rights, my voice, and my uterus; and I went to Dartmouth and I earned an Ivy League degree.
The lint in my navel that accumulated while I gazed at it as I suffered from feeling lost about how hard it was to not feel special after graduation … that navel lint was embarrassed for me.
Elsewhere in the world, girls are harmed simply because they want to get an education. Slavery still exists. Children still die from malnutrition. In this country, we lose more people to handgun violence than any other nation in the world. Sexual assault against women in America is pervasive and disturbing and continues at an alarming rate.
So yes, tomorrow may suck for you—as it did for me. But as you stare at the lint in your navel, have some perspective. We are incredibly lucky. We have been given a gift. An incredible education has been placed before us. We ate all the fro-yo we could get our hands on. We skied. We had EBAs at 1 a.m. We built bonfires and got frostbite and had all the free treadmills. We beer-ponged our asses off. Now it’s time to pay it forward.
Find a cause you love. It’s OK to pick just one. You are going to need to spend a lot of time out in the real world trying to figure out how to stop feeling like a lost loser, so one cause is good. Devote some time every week to it.
Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething
Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s Game of Thrones.
Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an asshole.
Lesson number three.
So you’re out there, and you’re giving back and you’re doing, and it’s working. And life is good. You are making it. You’re a success. And it’s exciting and it’s great. At least it is for me. I love my life. I have three TV shows at work and I have three daughters at home. And it’s all amazing, and I am truly happy. And people are constantly asking me, how do you do it?
And usually, they have this sort of admiring and amazed tone.
Shonda, how do you do it all?
Like I’m full of magical magic and special wisdom-ness or something.
How do you do it all?
And I usually just smile and say like, “I’m really organized.” Or if I’m feeling slightly kindly, I say, “I have a lot of help.”
And those things are true. But they also are not true.
And this is the thing that I really want to say. To all of you. Not just to the women out there. Although this will matter to you women a great deal as you enter the work force and try to figure out how to juggle work and family. But it will also matter to the men, who I think increasingly are also trying to figure out how to juggle work and family. And frankly, if you aren’t trying to figure it out, men of Dartmouth, you should be. Fatherhood is being redefined at a lightning-fast rate. You do not want to be a dinosaur.
So women and men of Dartmouth: As you try to figure out the impossible task of juggling work and family and you hear over and over and over again that you just need a lot of help or you just need to be organized or you just need to try just a little bit harder … as a very successful woman, a single mother of three, who constantly gets asked the question “How do you do it all?” For once I am going to answer that question with 100 percent honesty here for you now. Because it’s just us. Because it’s our fireside chat. Because somebody has to tell you the truth.
Shonda, how do you do it all?
The answer is this: I don’t.
Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.
If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.
Something is always missing.
And yet. I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland. There is a land and it is named after their mother. In their world, mothers run companies. In their world, mothers own Thursday nights. In their world, mothers work. And I am a better mother for it. The woman I am because I get to run Shondaland, because I get write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person—and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing.
Lesson Number Three is that anyone who tells you they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.
I fear I’ve scared you or been a little bit bleak, and that was not my intention. It is my hope that you run out of here, excited, leaning forward, into the wind, ready to take the world by storm. That would be so very fabulous. For you to do what everyone expects of you. For you to just go be exactly the picture of hardcore Dartmouth awesome.
My point, I think, is that it is OK if you don’t. My point is that it can be scary to graduate. That you can lie on the hardwood floor of your dorm room and cry while your mom packs up your stuff. That you can have an impossible dream to be Toni Morrison that you have to let go of. That every day you can feel like you might be failing at work or at your home life. That the real world is hard.
And yet, you can still wake up every single morning and go, “I have three amazing kids and I have created work I am proud of, and I absolutely love my life and I would not trade it for anyone else’s life ever.”
You can still wake up one day and find yourself living a life you never even imagined dreaming of.
My dreams did not come true. But I worked really hard. And I ended up building an empire out of my imagination. So my dreams? Can suck it.
You can wake up one day and find that you are interesting and powerful and engaged. You can wake up one day and find that you are a doer.
You can be sitting right where you are now. Looking up at me. Probably—hopefully, I pray for you—hung over. And then 20 years from now, you can wake up and find yourself in the Hanover Inn full of fear and terror because you are going to give the Commencement speech. Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.
Which one of you will it be? Which member of the 2014 class is going to find themselves standing up here? Because I checked and it is pretty rare for an alum to speak here. It’s pretty much just me and Robert Frost and Mr. Rogers, which is crazy awesome.
Which one of you is going to make it up here? I really hope that it’s one of you. Seriously.
When it happens, you’ll know what this feels like.
Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything moves in slow motion.
Graduates, every single one of you, be proud of your accomplishments. Make good on your diplomas.
You are no longer students. You are no longer works in progress. You are now citizens of the real world. You have a responsibility to become a person worthy of joining and contributing to society. Because who you are today … that’s who you are.
So be brave.
And every single time you get a chance?
Stand up in front of people.
Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.
Go ahead and have the dry mouth.
Let your heart beat so, so fast.
Watch everything move in slow motion.
You pass out, you die, you poop?
And this is really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know …
You take it in.
You breathe this rare air.
You feel alive.
You be yourself.
You truly finally always be yourself.
Thank you. Good luck.
The Rooster and his wife were so appreciative to have the Mehrling’s stop by on their trip north today. We have followed Anne’s blog for a number of years, and she has followed mine. We have been known to frequently respond with comments towards each other’s writings. Although time committments didn’t allow the visit to be lenghthy, it was wonderful none the less, in meeting the person holding the pen. Well, the hand punching the keys at any rate.
I’ve grown to know the family through Ann’s Blog, as well as the growth of eight year old neighbor Logan and others who live close by. It’s simply amazing how the blogging world brings people together. This one short visit and life’s event sharing, paints the picture further and fills the gaps not said in a Blog.
Several days earlier I had mentioned to our eldest daughter of the pending visit. My daughter inquired, what we would do if they turned out to be Cereal Killers? No worry’s here I assured her. The only thing that turned out to be dead was their car. Seems the van they rode in was a rental with NY plates. Anne has written several times lately about their own van. It died on them once at a Funeral Home, (how appropriate) and, most recently needed a jump to get started. Turns out this was something I cautioned her about recently. Just yesterday she wrote in an email about their coming trip the following, “To set your mind at rest — we got a new battery for the car this morning. Yes, it helps my mind, too”. The cereal killer got the van my daughter.
So I’ll end this Blog with a most appreciative, thank you Anne and John for taking the time out of your busy schedule to vist with us. You are more than the fingers walking across the keys. We call you our friends and look forward to returning the visit, The Rooster and wife.
From October 22 to 28 we recognize Pastoral Care Week, also known as Spiritual Care Week. As more people around the world come to recognize the importance of whole person care, we take note during this special week, now in its 32nd year, to celebrate those who provide this care through professional chaplaincy and pastoral counseling. These trained professionals minister to the needs of persons of all faiths or none. They provide this care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospices, nursing homes and military settings throughout the world. By celebrating the week we have the opportunity to recognize the important and often unrecognized work and healing gifts of pastoral care givers, be they clergy, chaplains, or volunteers. By Eric J. Hall (Huffington Post)
Back in June of this year daughter Kathryn, ever watchful over the lives of her aging parents, sent me an email pertaining to an upcoming educational program offered at the hospital where she is employed. The course offered the opportunity for an individual to be trained in Pastoral Counseling and ultimately be a Chaplain upon successful completion. I’m guessing she thought I had too much idle time on my hands. I accepted the opportunity, filled out a lenghthy application and passed the background investigation and was accepted.
I finished the course successfully along with five other classmates and have begun walking the halls of the hospital and doing patient visitations. I am part of the Volunteer Services of the institution and am proud to be worthy of this responsibility.
During my formative years I was raised a Methodist, practiced as a Lutheran and attended a Baptist church while in the Marine Corps in Washington, DC. Fifty three years ago I married a young Catholic girl and have long been a practicing member of that faith. I’ve worshiped with Mormons, Jews and those of the Episcopal faith and attended a few Charismatic services. The rooms I enter will have a listener from many perspectives and three-quarters of a century of life experiences. Now, if these legs just hold up, I may do some good. Not quite sure what they might say when they realize a Rooster’s walking the halls.
No matter the faith, we all ask for a blessing from a higher authority when the chips are not quite falling our way. This is especially true when sickness or injury brings us inside those antiseptic walls of a hospital. An ending quote from a Chaplain that was recently carried in the Huffington Post went like this.
““We as chaplains in health care are often invited by patients and family members to stand with them in sacred spaces at sacred times in their lives. We are there with them to witness the beginnings of the lives and the ending of lives. We stand with them and support them during some of the greatest joys and some of the greatest tragedies that life brings to any person.”
Pastoral Care Overview
Through the Pastoral Care Advisory Committee, CHA looks at the changing landscape, challenges and opportunities for delivering spiritual care in new and creative ways. While pastoral care has traditionally been provided in Catholic hospitals and long-term care facilities, the shift in health care delivery to non-acute care and outpatient settings has created new opportunities for patients and residents to receive holistic care in these new settings. Many of our members are using chaplains in physician offices and ambulatory settings where patients with chronic diseases are being treated. Catholic health care is committed to providing holistic care in whatever setting care is being delivered. The need for qualified chaplains is growing.
Recognizing there is a shortage of trained, qualified chaplains in health care, CHA is committed to working collaboratively with board certifying groups to ensure there will be enough qualified chaplains to fill the needs going into the future. Many members are finding ways to use board certified chaplains with the most critically ill patients and supplement their staff though trained volunteers and local clergy. For more information about pastoral care activities, please contact Brian Smith, MS, MA, M.Div., CHA senior director of mission innovation and integration.
Back in June, daughter Kathryn sent me information about an upcoming training course at the hospital she works for, Penisula Regional Medical Center. The course was a “Basic Chaplains course,” with participants responsible for “Pastoral Care in Hospitals” upon completion.
Twenty-six years ago I also was an employee of this institution. Just one of my many hats during three-quarters of a century traveling around the sun. I have thought of volunteering at this hospital for some time. I felt it would be a way to give back for the thirty years of Cardiological Care I have received. I’ve had quite a few positive outcomes from various procedures and am a proud, five-time graduate of the Cardiac Rehabilitation program.
So I filled out the necessary paperwork for the “Basic Chaplain Course” and was quite pleased when I found out I was accepted. I looked forward to my Thursday evenings and engaging in dialogue with my fellow students and instructor. After several weeks we would meet with in-patients, explain the services offered by the “Pastoral Care Department,” and carry on dialogue with the patients under the guidance and oversight of staff chaplains.
I proudly completed that course last Thursday and look forward to starting my Volunteer Chaplain time at the hospital in the coming days. I’ve developed of late, a habit of doing a daily reading of one kind or another. Today I happened to read, An Accessible Woman: Remembering St. Teresa of Kolkata, by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB One part of that reading was as follows:
“The fruit of silence is PRAYER. The fruit of prayer is FAITH. The fruit of faith is LOVE. The fruit of love is SERVICE. The fruit of service is PEACE. God bless you. –Mother Teresa.”
It’s a Saturday, September 1, 2018, and I have to plan my day wisely. I’m going off on a trip. I must ensure that Ben, our two-year-old Standard Poodle will be looked after later today. I shall be off to Philadelphia International Airport, shortly after noon. My wife and daughter will be arriving from their ten-day trip to Germany, via Dublin. I call Granddaughter Abby, she will be around she says, and will tend to Ben’s needs. Dang, she’s a good one, that Abby.
I do all the routine housekeeping chores, dishes, laundry, trash, and load it in the car for deposit at the refuse station on the way out. I dig out the vacuum, use it to clean, all is in order. The bed is made, a beautiful bottle of Chardonnay is on Ice, and the favorite glass is being chilled in the freezer.
Around 12:30 I head over to the daughter and son-in-law’s and swap cars, mine is a bit small, comfort and luggage storage are paramount for these two travelers. I transfer the bag of trash to drop off and head out for PHL at 12:45.
After dropping off the trash, I give a quick check to Flight Aware, a great App if you’ve never used it. You can check on a flight, and it shows you where it is on a map, departure time and ETA. I learn the flight is due to land in exactly three hours, thirty minutes early. I don’t need to fly, no pun intended, but I hope traffic moves well as I go up the road.
It’s smooth sailing up the Delmarva Peninsula to Dover, DE where I get on Route-1, a toll road, and once again traffic is rolling along quite well. Route-1 is a posted 65 mph roadway, and I hang with traffic moving at 75 mph. No problem I think, I’ll arrive in plenty of time.
Route-1 merges with I-95 in Christiana, DE, right at the massive traffic area of the Christiana Mall. There is also a lot of construction going on affecting the merge onto I-95. All northbound traffic comes to a complete stop. A plethora of ramps and roadways ahead and to the right, show bumper to bumper traffic, inching stop and go style.
I check my watch, 35 minutes until the plane is scheduled to touch down. I’m 29 miles from PHL and the GPS, after five minutes of inching long says it will be 35 minutes to PHL. After 5 or 6 minutes of this, I’m now onto the merge ramp for I-95 north; At this junction, there are lane closures to the far right. Things are not looking good.
If driving north, you can pretty much do three things at this location. You can go over the Delaware Memorial Twin Span Bridges to New Jersey, keeping to the right to do so. If you stay center to the next split, the right will take you up I-495 along the Delaware River, and this is what the GPS tells me to do. Being quite familiar with the area I choose to ignore the GPS and take the left fork, thanks, Yogi Berra. I’m going right through the center of Wilmington, Delaware. “Bingo” — I’m flying along once again, I’ll get there in plenty of time.
I-495 and I-95 merge outside of Wilmington at the Pennsylvania state line. The traffic slows down a bit here, and there is a left merge that comes into I-95 and slows things a bit more not too far up the road. I clear this point without incident and arrive at the airport with eight minutes to go. I smile at myself and say “Rooster, you done good.”
I find the well-marked Cell Phone Lot and slip into a Parallel parking spot. This will turn out to have been a good move. I roll the windows down, take out the key and put it into my pocket. I grab a book, I’ve just started to read, “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Gramm, and exit the car, a 2013, Honda, Pilot. I do a few exercises to loosen up an ailing Hip. Sitting for the past two-plus hour just did the body no good at all.
My first alert on the phone comes in shortly after exercising, “landed” it says. I send a thumbs up. I check “Find Friends” I’m a Tech addict my wife tells me, she’s right of course. They are still sitting at the gate, and I set the little Who’s-E-Dingy that will alert me when they move. I go back to the book.
“Ding,” they’re moving. I can follow them as they move through Terminal A toward the Baggage Claim area. After a pause at the Lady’s Bathroom, they’re on the move again. It’s another fifteen minutes until I get the “Come get us” notification. I close the book, grab the keys out of my pocket and hop into the driver’s seat. I’m like a kid on Christmas morning; I’m getting my friend of 53 years back.
I fasten the seat belt, put the key into the ignition, put my foot on the brake, turn the key, turn the key, turn the key, Nothing!!!! The car is deader than the last squirrel that tried to make it across the road in front of me. What the? Ok, check everything, nothing on, I’m doing everything right, I know I am. Try again, again nothing. I work the horn, lights, windows and there is no power in the car, The Pilot is Dead, Dead, Dead.
Parked a few slots to my rear is a gentleman in a new Dodge pickup. I approach, ask if he has cables, and can give me a jump. Yes and yes he says. He saddles up inches from the driver’s door. I pull the hood latch, climb over the center console, no small feat for this seventy-five-year-old geriatric and exit the car. I pop the hood, and we hook up. I give it a few minutes to pull some power from the big Dodge. I return to the passenger’s side and once again climb the mountain that is the center console, and I return to the driver’s seat.
Into the ignition goes the key, I say a silent prayer, turn the key, and nothing happens once again. I’m thinking the big guy up above can’t hear me over all the noise from the big jets landing and taking off. I hit the horn, dead as a doornail. I holler out to the kind owner of the Dodge, let’s just let it charge for a few minutes. He gives me a thumbs-up. I sit for what seems a good five minutes. I get a text from the girls, “?”. I ignore it, try the key one more time, still nothing. “Crap,” I say.
I exit over Mount Console once again; I jiggle the hook-up on the Pilot, my new-found friend does the same on the Dodge. We chat a bit with the hope that more time will make things right. I learn he is from Lancaster, PA and picking up friends from the Mid-West. I’m all set to get more info on him when his phone rings. His guests have arrived, he must leave. He tells me he’s sorry, we unhook his cables, and he’s gone.
I call the girls and explain what’s been transpiring. I suggest they grab a cab and join me. They do and are with me in a matter of minutes, and fifteen dollars poorer. We hug, it’s so good to see them. I feel inept. These two have been up since ever, riding in a three-seat across airplane and are now standing in a parking lot in the ninety-degree heat with no promise of getting home any time soon.
I make a useless call to AAA. It’s a holiday weekend you know. Philadelphia is always busy. I’m told, even more so over a holiday. William, very nice, very apologetic, very unhelpful dispatcher tells me the bad news. The best we can do sir is have someone there between 7:00 and 10:30 PM. It is now 5:45. I get an incident number and am told to cancel if something works out.
I call the airport to inquire if roadside help is available. After some cockamamie story, I’m told NO, not to the cell phone lot, sorry. I murmur unprintables under my breath while daughter Kathryn rummages through the storage box under the rear seat. She brings out a set of heavy-duty jumper cables. Now we need to find a savior to hook up with.
The daughter is entertaining the idea of getting a hotel room for the night. I’m going to try one more thing. I call the airport police. The dispatcher says she will check if one of the cars has a set of cables. If so she will send one to my area if they are available. Is this hope, I wonder.
I’m holding the cables, and I see him, a man in “Black.” He is a Black man, with Black Button down shirt, Black Pants, Black belt, shoes, and socks. He has a Black pencil mustache. “Need a jump,” he asks. I explain the previous attempt by the other good samaritan and his having to leave. My new friend says, “let’s give it a shot.”
He returns to his vehicle, a Chevy Suburban, of course it’s Black! Once again as the previous Dodge owner, he pulls within inches of the driver’s door. We hook up the heavy-duty cables, and life once again begins to trickle into the Pilot, I hope. After five-plus minutes I climb once again over Mount Console and assume my position as Pilot of the Pilot. I turn the key, nothing. There is hope though, dashboard lights in all the colors of the rainbow come on, this is a first. I shout out the good news. Let us wait a bit longer my Man in Black says. I exit once again.
We chat, “a member of the cloth,” I ask. He chuckles, “no, Real Estate,” he says. I learn he’s from Pennsauken, NJ just down the road from Willingboro, where I went to High School. I reminisce about days gone by, fifty-six years worth to be precise. Time passes, the girls leaning on the guardrail close-by. After what seems like an eternity we agree to try once more. I’m feeling right about the life-blood that has been flowing into the pilot.
Once again I climb over the console and assume the position, I’m feeling really good about a start this time. I make sure AC, radio and any other electrical draining devices are off. My foot is on the brake; I turn the key,——ignition, it starts! Thank you Lord, there is a Savior, and he is, All Black. There is a Rugby team from New Zealand of the same name, in case you didn’t know. They bought a beer for the wife some years back in Ireland, during the World Cup.
I leave the Pilot running, exit once again, over the mountain and through the door. We unhook, his phone rings, time to go he says, my pick-up is ready. I give this kind sole a massive hug of thanks, and we say good-bye.
Daughter Kathryn returns the cables and loads their luggage to the back. We call the Police and AAA and cancel future service calls. We are off to Eden, how appropriate is that name on this night. Eden, Md, God’s Country on the Eastern Shore, here we come.