In hot pursuit of failure….

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“If you are not failing, you are probably not trying as hard as you should be” – George Church

A simple concept brought to a new level and makes me kick myself for not thinking it first. This isn’t your run of the mill daily failure –  this is the – kicking ass and trying thousands of different ways to achieve your goal, knowing deep down in your mind and heart that it will work, it will.

I read this great article about George Church, Ph.D., with whom I had never heard of before because I do not run in those circles, but was just inspired (and a bit jealous) of the life he has lived to this point. The ups and downs, the so-called ‘breaks’ he thinks he has been given, the passion for science and discovery….

If you have five minutes I strongly recommend this read,  if just for the glimpse of what life has to offer every single one of us, just keep pursuing it, for it is the successes and more importantly the failures, that push us to greatness.

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/05/if-youre-not-failing-youre-probably-not-trying-as-hard-as-you-could-be/

“I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

You are missing from me….

I miss you

I miss you

When I read this post from my friends FB page, it hit me, hit me hard actually. I can’t put a finger on it, but the literal translation from French seems to be so much more accurate when your heart is broken from missing someone…..

I just had to share.

What is all this honking about!!

geese— I saw that the geese were on the move again this morning and made me want to post this again because they make me smile….

It has been said that geese honk while in their formation to encourage the lead goose, for it is that one goose that bears the brunt of the work. What work – just flying is work in itself! The point goose is breaking the air surface and thereby spreading the air current outward. Each goose after the point goose has a lesser degree of air surface to break and makes it a bit easier for them to maintain flight. When the lead goose gets tired he falls to the back of the formation and another goose steps up (or flies up at the case may be). That’s what all the honking is about – working as a team, cheering each other on, sharing the work for the better of the group.

There is so much to learn from such a simple gesture. It goes beyond teamwork and beyond encouragement and it is all natural. They ‘get it’. There is nothing selfish or mean spirited in their quest to get from point A to point B. They don’t secretly wish for one of their feathered mates to fall from the sky so they can get a good laugh from it. They are just honestly praising the hard work and perseverance they are experiencing. What a great concept!

For me, listening to the geese is so self-indulgent I almost feel badly; they bring such a smile to my face while they are working so hard to stay aloft. HONK HONK

Every day is a second chance

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Every day is a second chance, but unless you know what you missed or what you should have changed, the second chance will be for naught…so keep your eyes and mind open. 

I was well aware of this oversight two days ago. As I was pulling out of the parking lot at the super market, a young lady was standing in the very cold rain (about 38 degrees F) in just a hoodie, tshirt, and jeans, holding a sign asking for money for food. My initial reaction was, – what luck I actually have some change on me this time! As I handed it out the window and apologized that it was only about two dollars in change, she thanked me, and blessed me, but I still had a nagging sensation; an invisible someone giving me the dipshit slap in the back of the head.

It wasn’t until I drove away onto the highway that I realized if I stopped for just a moment to observe the situation as a whole, I could have given her my umbrella (IDIOT!!). I kicked myself the whole way home and it is still eating away at me several days later. There are few things worse than being cold, wet, tired, and hungry all at the same time and I know the feeling, which makes me feel worse.

I was hoping by sharing this incident it would be somewhat cathartic but to no avail and just wishful thinking.

I will just have to believe that ‘every day is a second chance’ and prove to myself that I am a much better person that just handing over change to solve a much more profound request.

 

I am grateful for…

A very intelligent, wise, and overflowing with love individual named Patreeko inspired me to write about what I am grateful for (or at least the short version/part I).

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Q – Hiding in the jungle

Without putting a concrete order to the list, let’s start with the parents. Without knowing their background, meeting them for the first time you would think they were on top of the world (but one they worked very hard to obtain). Very meager childhoods did not dissuade them from striving to meet their full potential. They enjoyed everything life had to offer. Even when faced with working three jobs to own his own home and put food on the table for a family of six, my father did not give up and could see the bigger picture. A college degree became very important in the working world if you wanted to move on up and even though my mom was a full time housewife, he pushed her toward the same (as they would say, knowledge is something that no one can take from you). He always maintained a beautiful garden, the envy of all the neighborhood. Growing each plant by seedling, they flourished, spread, and brought amazing colors to all who went by.

Graduating with a high honors Bachelor’s degree to teach, was the obvious choice for my mother. She had so much to offer young people that was not offered in school books. Life is not all black and white (I am looking at you Math) but having a deep passion, appreciating, understanding, and acknowledging the utmost importance of music, art, dance, languages, cultures, travel… it is all related and connected to the ‘black and white’ and if you don’t know and understand these pieces to the puzzle of life, than you are not getting the whole picture, and that’s just sad. She was a docent at a very prestigious art museum and would give tours every Sunday. With a very young me in tow, I learned more about the subtleties of color and symbolism in art than any six year old needs. So yes, very grateful for their wisdom, their commonsense, their teaching me (and my daughter) about the bigger things in life and how to push through, focus, understand, analyze, problem solve, and keep it moving, keep it positive, the ‘you got this’ attitude.

Next up, the kid, or Goose as she is known in this blog. Through no fault of her own, she has pushed me to become a better person. One with more patience and understanding (although she may not agree with that statement but it is on-going and always working on it), one that makes me look deeper into my own self to do what is right and not what is easy, to try my best to be a good role model, to be less selfish, to enjoy what life has to offer us, and at many times, make our own fun. She is the bright ball of smiles and laughter you would expect any child to be and even to this day, her naivety is a breath of fresh air in this sullied society. Our time together has been unmatched…all the day trips, international vacations, daily up and downs…I wouldn’t change any of it. She has always had the gift of giving and has found a way to bring her sunshine to those that may not have it. She currently works as a caregiver (while working on her nursing degree) for the elderly and while not all are homebound and alone, she offers companionship and many laughs for them and their family members. Her patients are very lucky to have someone who loves to assist and support them as much as she does, for growing old can be a very lonely and scary process these days. She is simply an amazing person that has so much to offer, on so many levels, to so many people.

I am very grateful for The Q – can’t talk about her and you can’t make me. But she most definitely was my world.

I use the word ‘friend’ sparingly because there are very few people who actually can be honored by it. In today’s world it is overused and tainted. Very few people who will drop everything and be there for you when you need it, no questions asked, no judgement given, and not ‘yes’ you to death but one that will tell the truth for your own good, no matter how much it hurts and want the same in return. I have had the privilege of befriending Brienne (like Brie cheese and then N), “DubaSue” and her dolphin move, one that shall remain anonymous, and Rebecca (aka Beth to her family, she is Rebecca to me). Each one of them has been a part of my life for well over 15 years and although we don’t get to see one another or talk as often as we would like, truth is, I know I could meet up at any given point and carry on as if no time had passed, just a few more gray hairs to count the years since we last met.

To end this ‘Part I’ of sorts I will say, I am very grateful for my health. I thank God every night for my health; mental, physical, and emotional. It does need a little tweaking here and there. I am now in the battle of the bulge mode; maintaining what others may consider to be a ‘normal’ weight but it bugs the heck out of me. If I don’t contain it now, it will only become an issue later one. Being middle aged brings on a plethora of health issues and thus far (knock on wood) I have been blessed with a body that requires little to no maintenance; no medication, no surgeries, no therapy…yes very blessed and it does not go without thanks.

Days go by quickly and it is very important to take the time to remember what we are grateful for, even if it is not a list of things, but merely one or two (this sounds corny but every day I thank the man out loud, that invented indoor plumbing and the hot shower-that guy rocks!).

Look hard, find that thing you are grateful for today, big or small…embrace it and be grateful for it, today and every day.

 

Close your eyes and you are at the beach

I have to start off by saying I am not a big fan of the Cape (Cod) but I do have to acknowledge that I have had some wonderful times there over the last 6 years all thanks to ‘The Man That Puts Up With Me’.

Case in point: my very handsome guy (who puts up with me) owns a boat, and it lends itself to some otherwise non-accessible beach areas which then in turn lends itself to many very relaxing secluded day trips. Picnics, sunbathing, and reflection, are all the agenda holds on those days.

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This picture is taken a few years ago at a point in Chatham called Monomoy (If you are unfamiliar with the area, it is the very tip of the elbow portion of the Cape). This is a naturally created huge sand bar type area that protects the inner harbor and changes with the tides each day and with every storm. So much so that the place where I took these pictures no longer exists. It was a beautiful hilly peninsula extending far into the ocean full of tall ocean grass, piping plovers, and seals (and sometimes, if you are lucky, you can get a glimpse off in the distance of a whale spouting his water). We had been to this spot many times to just beach the boat and watch the seals swim their laps up and down not 10 feet from the short line.

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Several storms have left the area sands drastically shifted and ocean grass now several feet below the water. The seals still find the wet almost muddy areas to take a nap and escape the well-known great white sharks looking for a snack but sitting, reflecting, and relaxing in this spot will have to remain a memory.

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When I said ‘secluded’ I wasn’t kidding. Although almost everyone owns a boat here, there are so many sand bars and so much shore line you will more than likely find your own slice of heaven on any given day.

Come to think of if, you wouldn’t like it here, it’s hot, traffic sucks, overcrowded beaches, the fresh fish is awful, and you don’t want to get sunburned (whew that was a close one! I almost had to share my nirvana…). 

The city I love to hate

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An original Harvey Ball smiley face (image: The World Smiley Foundation)

Worcester: A stale lifeless zombie with empty eyes longing for fresh blood and tasty brains to create life once again and live up to the potential it had for so many years prior. Through no fault of her own, the townspeople have beaten her into this vegetative-zombie state and so she will remain until a hero can save her.

Before we move on, let’s get one thing straight, the zombie’s name is pronounced Wista. Not Wor-cess-ter, nor Wor-chester. She gets very angry when you mispronounce her name. I won’t lie, I get very angry, not her.

I didn’t always hate the city of Worcester. When I was young it was a great place to raise a family. Parks with baseball games, super tall swings, ‘petting’ zoos full of goats, sheep, peacocks, deer and buffalo that roamed in their pens, throwing bread in the pond to feed the fish, swimming in the lake or being brave enough to enter the water using the tire swing… everything you would picture the Norman Rockwell picture of America to be like. A blue collar working class city and as the second largest city in all of New England, if you didn’t know everyone, you know a person who knew that person or someone related to that person. It was that kind of place.

Probably the second most iconic smiley face (Mona Lisa being the first) was created by Harvey Ball 50+ years ago in, you guessed it, Worcester! That big yellow ball with its quirky smile has been seen world-wide hundreds of times over. While there is much controversy over this well-known smile due to copyright issues, until history wants to give me a definitive answer, I give credit to Mr. Ball.

Here is a little background on Worcester:  The city is built on seven hills, they create the topography and explain why there are very few bicyclists among the traffic…their common English names are: Grafton Hill, Bell Hill, Airport Hill, Bancroft Hill, Green Hill, Pakachog Hill, and Vernon Hill. The 4-mile long lake that runs through it is Lake Quinsigamond, glacier created and home to the inter-collegiate regatta since 1859.

If you came from the Salisbury Street/west side area, you had money (period), if you lived on ‘the hill’ you were probably lower middle class, if you lived in the South end, more than likely you had a harder life but just didn’t know it at the time, and if you were from the Piedmont Street area well… it was known as the shall we say ‘working girl’ section of town, and like any good city, it knew to keep itself in check, not seeping into other neighborhoods.

Worcester is deep in history; it boasts such names as Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, Abraham Lincoln who visited and spoke at City Hall (1848), it is home to Marshall “Major” Taylor who held seven world records for his professional bicycle racing and the second African-American to hold a world record in any sport (1899), and John Adams worked as a school teacher and studied law (1755-1758), just to name a few.

The Blackstone Canal (1828) allowed the city to thrive and become a huge source for textiles, shoes, and clothing and known to be the largest inlet port on the east coast. This canal also led to a huge immigration of Irish, French, and Swedish in the mid-19th century.

In 1831, Ichabod Washburn opened Washburn & Moen which shortly thereafter became the largest wire manufacturing company in the country, then brought more manufacturing to the area and became the center of machinery and wire products for companies such as Wyman-Gordon, American Steel & Wire, Morgan Construction and Norton Company. The Royal Worcester Corset Factory (1908) was the largest employer of women in the United States at the time.  If you have ever had a soda made by Polar Beverages (1882), you are drinking from a fourth-generation family owned business that abuts Rte 290 and has the smiling blown up mascot Orson the Polar Bear waving to you (who has been the butt of many college pranks and stolen many times over). In the years 1949, 1960, 1965, 1981, AND 2000 Worcester was voted All-American City!

You want inventions? We gave you Candlepin bowling in 1879 (which is still a New England thing where you bowl with pins that are a different shape, the ball fits into the palm of your hand and you throw three times as compared to twice with 10-pin bowling), the first massed produced Valentine Day card in 1847, the first organized protest against the U.S. Government (known as Shays Rebellion), the first monkey wrench (1840), the first envelope folding machine (1853), the typewriter as we know it today (Charles Thurber 1940) the first pressurized space suit developed at David Clark Company who are still leaders in aerospace developers this day and age, delicious Table Talk pies of all flavors (to include the one of the best Boston crème pies you will ever taste) and more…

It is home to some of the best and brightest who attended the schools: Worcester Polytech Institute (WPI), College of the Holy Cross, Clark University (Albert Einstein spoke here), University of Massachusetts Medical School (and Nobel Prize winner for Medicine 2006), Assumption College, Worcester State College, Becker University, and Quinsigamond Community College – all right here within the city limits!

But what have you done for me lately and why all the hate? Sadly, as hard as this city tries to regain some of its grandeur, the residents will not allow it, and they are in essence, the living breathing ‘city’. More drugs, more crime, and more violence pushed the working class (the backbone and those financially sustaining the city) to move out and rely on being subsidized by state and federal monies instead.

Does she try very hard to cater to the families of young children with classes at the library and Y, yes. Does she cater to the many colleges with plenty of bars to decompress from finals, yes.  She also has one amazing (and second largest in New England) art museum established in 1898, the Higgins Armory which was the one and only of its kind, (closed only recently 1931-2013) and was dedicated to arms and armor in the country, one ‘acoustical masterpiece’ known as Mechanics Hall, one theatre for plays/comedians (Hanover Theater), one civic center (the Centrum as it will always be called I don’t care who has the bigger check to rename it) but that is pretty much it.

Back in the day, the Downtown/Main Street area would ROCK; live music, DJs, dance clubs, all genres of music and all within walking distance of one another. These days, walk around on Main Street on any given night and you may find one or two places to have a drink but the distance between them and any other establishment would be cause for concern as there are blocks and blocks of abandon buildings or shops that close at 6:00 pm.

Thus the zombie is born…dutifully obeying its master, not growing, not thriving, day in and day out simply existing…and it just breaks my heart…no big yellow smiley face here Mr. Ball.

 

In response to today’s prompt-We Built This City: What do you love most about the city / town / place that you live in? What do you like the least about it? If you were mayor, what would be the most important problem you’d tackle? How would you tackle it?