Thursday, October 31, 2019

Aging and Death

Recently I decided to pop onto Facebook to see if I had missed any birthdays of friends and to see if there was anything I wanted to comment on.  Mind you, I'm not there much---maybe once a week--- so I never really see who and what comes through my timeline consistently.  But on this particular day, the very FIRST post I saw was from a former media colleague.  He shared a recent procedure he had and how grateful he was to still be alive considering how bad off he said he was not long ago.  It immediately caught my attention because it is somewhat similar to a procedure that has been recommended for me by my cardiologist---and one that I am reluctant to want to undergo.

Although Bill and I haven't spoken in nearly least 20 years, I sent him a private message and asked him to call me.  He did (which was a little surprising considering our history).  He told me about his health scare and feeling like he was on the brink of death until he had an angiogram that led to a heart procedure.  I was surprised when he said his recovery time was about 48 hours and he was back to his usual self in a week's time.  I thanked him for the information and was prepared to end the call when, out of the blue, he said, "I've had some time to reflect back on my life and I just want   to apologize to you for being a dick when we worked together."  I was thinking "Oh, wow!"  He then went on to say he could've been a nicer person and then I was thinking, "Yes, you could have!"

I accepted his apology and after we hung up the phone I started thinking about my own mortality and what that conversation taught me:

God's Timing is Always Right on Time:  Bill told me he was very rarely on Facebook and his post just happened to be the very first post I saw when I went there. That's no coincidence to me. Whether he knows it or not, he was used as "Divine Intervention" because even when I do show upon FB, he's never in my timeline.  That's how God works. He has His own timetable and puts us in positions to help others when needed.  While some of us may feel He's LATE, the truth is He's never late or too early.

Near Death Experiences Give us Moments of Clarity:  Every time we go through some life-threatening situation, especially if it's health-related, we tend to have "wake up calls" and "a-ha moments."  Bill obviously had his, which compelled him to reflect back on his life---the good, the bad, and the ugly and to attempt to make amends with people he felt he had mistreated or wasn't particularly kind to.  How many times have you said, "Lord, if you just get me through this, I'll go to church more---or read the Bible more---or be more kind to others?"

It's OK to Jump into the Pity Pool but don't drown:  Several years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing author/poet Nikki Giovanni for my podcast.  Among other things, we discussed her bout with breast cancer.  She shared with me the fact that every morning when she got up she would jump into her pity pool of sorrow over her diagnosis.  It was a "Woe is me mentality, " but, as time went on, she said she spent less and less time lamenting over her illness and decided to take charge of her life and the time she had left.  She credits her change in attitude for her remission.

Yes, it's natural for us to experience some depression when we are facing a life altering illness and to want to isolate ourselves from the world while we try to come to grips with what's happened but wallowing in your own self-pity can have a detrimental effect on your overall health and outlook on life.

Thoughts and Prayers are Nice But-----I think the whole idea of saying "My thoughts and prayers are with you" have become trivialized--because that's what people believe they are expected to say when you tell them what you're going through.

Leave your Legacy:  Studies have shown that most people feel better in the face of death if they are a part of something that will live on after them.  Having a positive impact on future generations can help fulfill that need. Examples of Legacy activities include:

  • Compiling a binder of favorite recipes
  • Compiling a collection of favorite songs
  • Compiling a family tree
  • Compiling a jewelry box for family or friends of pieces with sentimental meaning to you
  • Compiling a video montage – sharing advice, hopes, memories and wishes
  • Creating a scrapbook with keepsakes and photos
  • Establishing a community gift – a park bench, a scholarship in your family’s name or other financial legacies
  • Writing a letter to loved ones
  • Writing a poem or song
  • Voice recordings – love notes, stories, memories, family history, etc.
In my case, I blog (I have 4 of them), a website, and a podcast so my voice will forever remain in some form or fashion.  Also, as a Professional Writing Consultant I have the opportunity to help students daily so, hopefully in their future, they will reflect back on the woman who helped them find their unique voices through written and verbal communication.

It matters not how a man dies but how he lives.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Socializing with Younger Generations Isn't So Bad After All

This past weekend I did something that totally goes against what I wrote in my latest book, The Baby Boomer Millennial Divide/Making it Work at Work. In the book, I talk about the do's and don'ts for Baby Boomers in the workplace. Here's what I said:

Don't hang out with them: It's one thing to sit with them at lunch and engage in harmless chit-chat or even go out after work every now and then for a drink, but it's an entirely different ballgame if you are choosing to socialize with them at their favorite hang-out on the weekends and challenging them to beer chugging contests.  You may be considered the "cool boomer" but not much respect will be attached to it especially if they happen to capture a video of you passed out in a drunken stupor and post it on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook.

I did not follow my own advice (LOL!) when I decided to take a road trip to Atlanta with three younger, former co-workers to celebrate the wedding of someone we all worked with. Surprisingly, I never hesitated when I knew who would be going because I always enjoyed being around them at work and, to be honest, I probably would not have gone on my own. Although we have stayed connected via social media, we hadn't seen each other in about two years so it was exciting to have a reunion of sorts.

When I tell you I had a great time, that would be an understatement.  I had even MORE fun than I thought I would from start to finish!  Here's what I learned about socializing with younger people:

You share more in common than you think:  We all have a "back in the day" or "when I was growing up" story.  Some of the experiences they shared were also my own as far as how our parents and guardians raised us.  Even though I was 20-30 years older than them I could still relate to many of the things we talked about.  Children---boyfriends---husbands---losing weight---jobs and people we don't like, etc.  Life happens no matter how old you are.  We all still have bills to pay and challenges to overcome.

I think one of the problems with older adults is they tend to frown upon the behavior and lifestyle of young folks while forgetting that they were also young once and sometimes had reckless behavior and did foolish things that they now secretly regret. 

Respect is a two-way street:  Some older adults automatically assume that just because they're "older" they should command respect.  That's where they get it twisted.  While I believe older adults shouldn't be disrespected, I do believe respect is earned based on your character.  If you're over the age of 50 and every other word out of your mouth is a curse word or you show little regard for others around you, it is inconceivable to me that you would be deserving of anyone's adoration.  "It's the way you carry yourself" is what the grown-ups used to say when I was a kid and the same holds true for young adults.  They, too, must demonstrate their worthiness for respect.   To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't have gone on the trip had I not had a level of respect for ALL of them.

You can still act your age and share your wisdom:  The beauty of aging is young people get a chance to see and hear what their lives may be like as they grow older.  My life is nowhere near perfect but I have been blessed to have a career, a home, a wonderful husband, daughter and grandchild. I've also known what it's like to have been fired from more than one job, be unemployed for a period of time and to struggle spiritually and mentally from time to time.  These are stories to share because they make us real and transparent.  Two of the best conversations we had during the trip was about our walk with Christ and what it means when little boys see adults around them show genuine affection for each other.

On the other hand....I did catch myself acting my age just a little too much this past weekend!  I was constantly complaining about my hip and back pain and how far I had to walk to use the bathroom at the rest stop.  In that regard, aging is no joke. LOL!  I fizzled out after the wedding reception so going to the after party AFTER the reception was out of the question.

Music makes the world go round:  Thanks to SiriusXM radio, we all got a good sampling of music dating back to the 70's during the trip.    Although I've never been a fan of hip-hop, I actually forgot many of the songs I actually did like when my daughter was a teenager so we all took a trip down memory lane listening to Dance with Me, Gangsta's Paradise"Return of the Mack", and "Walk it Out"

You can learn new things: I was so excited to learn that my former co-worker (like a daughter to me) was getting married but I had never been to a Gay wedding before so I didn't know what to expect.  Keeping it real, I believe I would've been a lot more uncomfortable had I not gone with my millennial and GenX travel mates or I probably wouldn't have gone at all.  They helped me overcome any inhibitions I may have felt.  That's another difference between the younger and older generations.  Some of us get "stuck" in our ways and are less receptive to the differences in others while young people are more likely to accept you at face value.  I'm still a work in progress.

The other new thing I learned was:  FIREBALL!

A study conducted by Harvard University some years ago indicated that older people who had active social lives were happier, healthier and more likely to live longer.  I'm not saying you need to hang out with young people every weekend but socializing with them on occasion can be a win-win for everyone.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Stop Lumping ALL Older Black Folks Together

While watching CNN recently, I listened to the commentators talk about the impact the black vote will have on who gets the nod in the Democratic party to run for President.  The general consensus was (backed up by a recent  Poll) that Joe Biden had an overwhelming amount of support from black people age 65 and older. According to Michael Nutter, a former Philadelphia Mayor and current Democratic National Committee member, the assumption is, "You go with what you know.  A lot of folks know Joe Biden.  There's power and loyalty in that."  Why?  Because he was President Obama's VP?  He, just like many of the other white candidates, are pimping the black vote.

I'm not quite in that age group but I'm close enough and, for the record, I am NOT on the Joe Biden bandwagon.  As a matter of fact, most of the people in my circle aren't in his camp.  Many of us haven't forgotten how disrespectful he was to Professor Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings AND the fact that he didn't offer an apology until he officially entered the presidential race.  Those of us who read and listen to more than one news source may recall some comments printed back in 1975 when he was a Senator.  He was quoted by a Delaware publication as saying:

"I don't feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather.  I feel responsible for what the situation is today for the sins of my own generation, and I'll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago."

If you watched the most recent Democratic debate, you saw him avoid answering the question when a reporter brought up the comments he made in 1975.  Instead, he rambled on about how some black parents don't really know how to raise their kids.

Putting Joe Biden front and center as the CHOICE of the Democratic party is another media ploy---just like the media couldn't get enough of the soundbites and antics of Donald Trump during his presidential run.  I've said it before and will continue to say it:  The media is responsible for putting Trump in the White House.

Here's the truth about polls:  They can be shaped anyway you choose for the result you want.  I don't actually know what "overwhelming support by black voters 65 and older" actually means because I don't know how many voters were actually surveyed for the responses provided.  I do know that if you only interviewed 1000 people and more than 600 said they support Biden, that could be viewed as overwhelming support but interviewing only 1000 black people 65 and over is ridiculous when the population is more than four million.

I vote faithfully EVERY ELECTION even though I do feel, sometimes, that my vote holds little value (especially after the 2016 Russian interference).

If any political pundits do happen to read this, please be advised I am not on the Joe Biden bandwagon and I would appreciate it if you respect the fact that not all of us speak with the same voice when it comes to politics.  Thank you very much.

Monday, September 02, 2019

The Radicalization of White Evangelicals

#45 and Evangelical supporters

According to a recent survey, more than 60 percent of white evangelicals say Trump has not damaged the dignity of the office of the Presidency.  A whopping 99 percent say of these same white evangelicals say they are opposed to him being impeached from office.  They believe Trump represents their interests and their hopes for keeping America the kind of country they can identify with (code for "white privilege rule") and free from terrorism, immigration and crime.  They see him as their protector.

Not long ago, I saw a video posted on Twitter about a man who identified himself as a Pastor and declared there would be a war on Christians before the end of 2019 and he was heading to his bunker to prepare.

Yes, I do believe there is a war going on INSIDE the United States but the white evangelicals are the perpetrators.  They have picked up their crosses (and probably their guns) and declared themselves as victims of a war AGAINST THEM by the non-believers.  They have been radicalized and and say it's all "in the name of Jesus!"  As a follower of Christ, I am baffled at how a group of people who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus are behaving like white terrorists.

 Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of white evangelicals until I moved to the South and then I was curious as to why they call themselves evangelicalsIs it because they believe they are God's angels placed here on Earth to make sure we are all "born-again" so we can go to Heaven and be one big happy family under God?  I think not---especially when you take into consideration that more than 80 percent of those who identify themselves as evangelicals voted for #45 in the 2016 election.  (Source:   Furthermore, a whopping 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants approved of #45 from July 2018 to January 2019.  And according to a Pew study, "White evangelical Protestants who regularly attend church (at least once a week or more) approve of #45 at rates matching or exceeded those of white evangelicals who attend church less often." (Source:  The Atlantic).

It's obvious these people have an agenda.  Otherwise, how do you explain the fact that have tolerated Trump's crass behavior and not spoken out against Trump's betrayal of Biblical principles. According to my Bible, #45 has broken at least FIVE of the Ten Commandments!  However, these white evangelicals have become his foot soldiers with their rallying cries against Muslims and other immigrants as they long for his Make America Great Again campaign slogan to become their reality.

Yes, these white evangelicals clearly have an agenda and they are willing to put their "religion" aside for their GREATER good.  It's no secret that they'd like to see a world without abortion rights and have applauded states like AL, GA, LA, KY, MS, MO, OH, AR and UT, who have all passed stricter abortion laws in 2019.  They are concerned that their white christian culture may be dissolving before their eyes so they need judges on the bench who will rule in favor of their causes.  They get what they want from #45 and he gets what he wants---their votes.  One hand washes the other but sadly, it'll never be clean.

The rest of America has been consumed by things like mass shootings, the impeachment inquiry, climate change, the unraveling of the Middle East, etc.  What we need to focus on is those white Christians who call themselves evangelicals and who have been radicalized in the name of Jesus. Remember, these are the SAME people who believe #45 was chosen by God to protect our nation.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Age is MORE Than Just a Number

You've heard the old saying, "Age ain't nothing but a number." Some people love to use the phrase to remind older folks that as long as we remain young in spirit our birth years are irrelevant.  I beg to differ because I've got the aches and pains that come with growing older but that's beside the point.

This blog post is about the importance and beauty of aging and the impact we can have on a life with all of our knowledge and wisdom.  

I spent six weeks of my summer tutoring a group of young people who are transitioning from public to private middle school this Fall.  I was one of six tutors---the majority of us over the age of 60.

Picture represents 200+ years of education, knowledge, experience, and wisdom.  

Recently, we got together to re-cap our tutoring sessions with the students.  As I sat and listened to the others, I realized just how different we were in our approaches.  Our takeaways from the sessions explained quite a bit about our backgrounds and experiences in dealing with minority students.  As the only black tutor in the group, I had a much easier time dealing with each child.  Perhaps because they saw me as a "grandmother figure" and everyone respects their grandma!  I do believe all of the tutors meant well, despite their limited exposure, because they saw it as an opportunity to "give back."  

A study conducted several years ago at the University of Pittsburgh found that older people who donate their free time benefit greatly by doing so.  The research, involving 200 volunteers age 50 and over, indicated that the volunteers reported significant improvements in their mental health, along with other socio-emotional benefits ranging from a greater feeling of productivity to increased social activity to an overall sense that their life had improved.

According to research by Corporation for National and Community Service, older adults who volunteer can benefit with lower rates of depression,increased energy and stamina, improved cognitive function, and increased self-esteem.

What I've personally discovered is growing older has given me a broader perspective of how I can use my knowledge, expertise and wisdom to make a difference in the lives of our future generations.  Tutoring has given me opportunities to share (and listen to) different points of view, come of with creative and challenging ways of learning, and to look for the values and gifts in each child.  More importantly, it has given me joy!  

If someone had asked me 30 years ago what I thought I would be doing at the age of 62, I'm not really sure what my answer would've been.  But I can tell you now that I see the importance, beauty, and wisdom of aging every time I look in my mirror.  

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me." ~ Erma Bombeck

 Comment from one of the students:  
"One of the outstanding tutors was Ms. Beverly because she has a great knowledge about what she is doing.  And if we didn’t understand the work, she encouraged the children and showed that she believed in them."

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Top Notch Customer Service Still Reigns Supreme

In the past 48 hours I've had the BEST and WORST customer service experiences.  On Saturday, I walked away ----or should I say I DROVE away from Enterprise Sales----in a new car due, in part, to the outstanding customer service interaction I had with the sales team.  Meanwhile, on Monday I walked away from Burger King determined to let Corporate know how dissatisfied I was with one of their managers.  What set these individuals apart?  Attitude and a genuine enthusiasm to make the customer happy.

Saturday experience:  I can't say enough GOOD things about the way I was treated.  Charles, who worked with me initially on determining what type of vehicle I was interested in, was patient, kind, knowledgeable, courteous and personable while offering absolutely no hard sales pitch or pressure to buy.  Mike, one the of the managers who help with the financing, found a way to make me laugh when MY patience started falling short.

Monday experience:  I can't say enough BAD things about the way I was treated by Mike at the Burger King drive-thru window when I ordered a croissant sandwich before work AND when I returned the half-eaten sandwich because of its horrible taste. (My complaint was that the sandwich wasn't fresh, fast and flavorful like they advertise.  Oh, it was FAST---too fast.  That's probably why it tasted so bad because it was cold and it looked like it had been prepared hours ago.  When I returned the sandwich I discovered Mike was also the manager who seemed like he was having a bad morning---but that wasn't my fault.  He did offer to make me another sandwich to which I declined but he offered no apology and no refund.  (Of course, you know I took the survey to express these sentiments).

Here's my point:  Businesses who invest in quality customer service will attract loyalty and referrals from those loyal customers.  A well trained, positive customer service team will make their company the best version of itself.  Employees/managers who can communicate effectively with customers will always come out on top and people like me will sing their praises.  On the other hand, nothing matters when you offer poor customer service to someone like me.  You not only lose a customer but you may lose more business once the word gets out (like in the blog post) and you could even lose your job.

Customer Service Matters!

Thursday, May 02, 2019

What We Can Teach Our College Graduates

If you are the parent of an upcoming college graduate CONGRATULATIONS!  Your financial investment (along with some frustration and tears) has finally paid off.  But, wait.  What if your college grad doesn't have a job lined up?  Chances are they will be living with you for awhile.  The number of college graduates returning home to mom and dad has nearly doubled in the past several years.  So what can you teach your young adult beyond the classroom as they prepare to step into a new career?

1)  Let them know they should not DELAY in looking for a job because the longer they delay looking for full-time employment, the harder it becomes to compete and network. Every year thousands of college graduates prepare to enter the job market with even stronger skills than the previous graduates.  Competition is fierce!

2)  Let them know that if they don't get a decent job in a reasonable amount of time to continue learning.  This  is especially critical for young people who may need additional marketable skills. Learning doesn't end at graduation, and many opportunities exist (some are even free) to learn new skills. Courses range from boot camps for technical skills to video classes for vocational training.

3)  Let them know they should not to get hung up on wanting a certain salary.  If they expect to come out of college making $50K, they will be sadly disappointed.  The important thing is to get a foot in the door and go from there.

4)  Don't ignore non-profit job opportunities.  They may not pay as much but the experience you can get will be of tremendous value due to the fact that you, more than likely, will end of working in more than one capacity.  One great website is NC Non Profit Careers

5)  Finally, let them know how proud you are of their accomplishments up to this point and provide encouragement  because as long as they keep their eyes on their goals and continue to press forward, they will eventually launch and find a path to a successful career.