What is the first thought that pops into your mind when you see a weed? Something annoying growing in your yard, garden or an empty lot? Do you glare with contempt at them for defying your landscaping efforts? Perhaps you think of something ugly or worthless. Maybe you are compelled out of embarrassment or aggravation to get down on your knees and yank them out of the ground. You’re not alone. Many have these images and feelings where weeds are concerned. The phrase “weed out” is interpreted as getting rid of the imperfect,the useless, the unwanted or intruders. 

What do you think about me as I tell you I happen to see and think of many weeds as engaging and interesting? Am I crazy? A tad misguided? Do you wonder about my sanity or eyesight? You’re not alone. I’m sure there are quite a few who think of me in one or all of these ways for writing this, especially those of you with green thumbs.

Weeds are not necessarily ugly to me and certainly not useless. Before you find something else to read, indulge me for a few moments and continue along with me here.

How weeds are viewed depends on perspective. The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines a weed as “a plant that is not valued where it is growing, a nuisance, unwanted in a human setting.” Humm. This definition is very profound, yet subjective to me. Think about it. A weed is not considered or defined as such when it grows where it belongs or where it is wanted by people.

There’s one particular weed which has always fascinated me. Henbit and Dead Nettle are the names assigned to it. This “weed” grows in clusters each spring, especially in the South. Some of these little gangs often spread to form small seas of brilliantly vivid purple. If you look closely, each resembles a combination of an ant, an alien and a Dr. Seuss conceptualized flower. They have lanky stems encircled by tiers of green frilly skirts, a scattering of purple eyes and oddly formed yet delicate hot pink and violet trumpet antenna.  Weed, smeed. To me, they are awesome.

When I was little, I happily would get on my knees and gather handfuls of these flowers for my mom. I’d get them from our yard, neighbors’ yards and along the roadside. The more I could find, the better. Mama was always delighted and never corrected my definition of them. To her, I was offering her gifts of quirky, funny looking flower bouquets. She would proudly display them in a small glass on her kitchen window ledge until they had absorbed all of the water. Then, I’d go hunt for more!

Have you ever felt you’re seen as a weed? Have you thought of yourself as one? Have you been defined as annoying, ugly or worthless? Perhaps you’ve felt out of place and wished someone would choose you over the seemingly perfect people. Have you ever viewed someone else as a weed? Not valued them? Are there people weeds in your community, school or even family? Do some who are different than you make you uncomfortable or quick to judge? Well, I sure have had those ideas of myself. I’ve been deemed a weed by others at one time or another. I could list many situations and moments where I’ve been characterized as useless or judged unfairly. When I accept that definition of me, it shows in my persona as I feel unwanted or misplaced in life. How grateful I am to those who have chosen or continue to choose to view me as a flower. I may be a bit funny looking or quirky, but to them I am valued and wanted.

I’m embarrassed to admit I have been guilty of defining others as weeds. Rude drivers, loud or annoying co-workers, neighbors or unruly kids. Sometimes it’s been a person ahead of me in line at a store who wafts a rather unpleasant odor. I have viewed some as wonderful one day and an intrusions the next. Even a well-meaning relative now and then can surface in my life as a weed. Wow. That admission was a hard one to divulge, but it’s honest.

When I am caring and unselfish, looking close enough to see people as flowers instead of weeds, great things happen and humbly change my perspective. The elderly driver in the middle of the road probably isn’t being rude. Older people are more cautious and sometimes their eyesight is poor. The boisterous co-worker or classmate could be trying to hide insecurities. The person with B.O. may be from a different country where deodorant is foreign to them and not necessary. That relative may get on my nerves because I choose to feel bothered rather than blessed.

If you have looked at yourself or seen others as weeds, consider your perspective. Instead of being embarrassed or aggravated, try picking bouquets of positiveness and patience. They’re wonderful! Place yourself in a beautiful glass and value yourself as lovely, quirky, funny and unique. Offer gifts of kindness. You’d be surprised at how you feel. After all, doesn’t everyone like to get flowers? Be kind to yourself and to others. I’m going flower picking!

I have been getting quite a lot of requests for more of my family stories. That’s an honor, believe me. My family is insanely rich with colorful, funny, touching, down-to-earth real stories. Some, I gladly admit are just out-right hilariously insane tales. I would be hard pressed to make this stuff up. I don’t need to. Sometimes, I will change a name or make a slight diversion in order to preserve my hide.

Here’s one such tale. It is written as a haibun (prose with haiku). I read it recently during a Poet’s Coffee House Series at a local university. I have revised and tightened it a bit since its first reading. It was well received, so now I’m sharing it with you. I hope you enjoy it!

Impressions

Summers with my grandparents in Mississippi stick with me. The “air you can wear” humidity plasters everything to everybody. Bug wings and grass clippings adhere around children’s bare feet. Starched collars and lacy slips shrink-wrap adults. Even the ink on Wal-Mart bags tattoos vinyl car seats when left in the sun too long. This summer is “hotter than the third level of hell”, as my uncle says.

I’m glad church is over. Without air conditioning, the flames of hell were almost palpable. My reward for not squirmin’ on the hardwood pew is an afternoon pass to the state park swimming pool. No fire and brimstone threats compare to the salvation of chemically sanitized water. I peel off my sweat-soaked Sunday-go-to-meetin’ dress and wiggle into a one piece bathing suit. I’m cussin’ with every maneuver. There’s a staunch rule against two piece suits for females on the park grounds. I find that stupid and sexist, but I don’t dare say anything like that out loud to where my grandma could get wind of it.

Suffering through church is worth it. I can’t wait for the intense smell of chlorine and a chance to show off. I know how to do flips off of the diving board and cannonball into the deep end without holding my nose. Most kids there can’t or won’t even try.

Pass in hand, I prance past huddles of already sunburned shoulders flopped around old truck tire inner tubes floating in the water. I hesitate for a second because a rising echo of laughter is bouncing off of the water in my direction. A lanky boy in cut-off jeans is pointing to the back of my right thigh. There, in big bright letters are the words “Time To Shine”. I had sat painfully still during church today…on an advertising fan for a new car wash. I’m shining, alright. My face is fiery red.

morning glares

on the radio…

mockingbird

I know what you might be thinking about now. self-deprecating humor,(tellin’ on yourself)  to some, is not a way to be kind. If that is your opinion, run with it. But before you do, think about it this way: If laughter is the best medicine, in spite of MS, I’m as fit as a fiddle. If I take my life too seriously, I’ll not be fit for a grub worm relay. So, why not have a little fun and poke at yourself once in a while? It will keep you from gettin’ too big for you britches. It will help you to forgive yourself and that, my friends, is being kind.

 When Spring Sings 

A previous essay, which I have edited slightly.  I gave this as a gift to my precious Aunt Grace and to my cousins, Debbie, Dana, Eddie and Lewis. Aunt Grace is no longer with us, but I can’t help but imagine the volume of laughter resonating in our family’s little corner of heaven right now. This post is for my family; my wonderfully enormously enormous extended family! Please enjoy and laugh with me as I hug you with this story.

Spring is coming! It is a season I eagerly anticipate. I can’t stand bone-numbing and freezing weather of any sort. When I was younger, I tolerated cold temperatures only if snow was involved. If there was the slightest feathering of the frozen stuff, I knew that meant school was closed. My only solace in popsicle precipitation was knowing I could stay home and play with my brother or listen to records. I certainly can’t change the scheme of nature. Nonetheless, winter remains a nasty season and is only tolerable if I have someone fun to play with and great music.

When spring’s small preludes begin their rehearsal, they simultaneously capture my attention. I feel I’m hearing my favorite song for the first time. I have each stanza memorized, yet I’m always fascinated. I usually catch myself humming the harmony to old hymns my grandmother Bea Bea taught me as I happily conduct an unseen choir with a spatula or a pencil.

Tree blossoms are poking out like shy kids behind their mama’s dresses. There are randomly dispersed patches of green grass trying desperately to connect despite the weeds fighting for the same space. To the delight of my two cats, an array of birds is beginning to flit from tree to tree as they instinctively inspect nesting possibilities. With the kitties distracted, my eyes longingly focus on a certain corner of the yard near a picket fence. Yes! My buttercups are blooming! The bright lemonade yellow frilly cups and saucers are swaying with a dulcet breeze. I so love them!  I know other terms for these flowers such as jonquil or daffodil, but I think buttercup is the best name. It fits better. Besides, that is what I was raised to call them.

I have an Uncle Buttercup; a tall, sweet man with a soothing deep voice. He married my mother’s sister, Grace Ledbetter. Mama (Billie Sue) and her family grew up in Red Bay, AL, right across the state line from my where my daddy, Ray Stephens was raised in Tishomingo Co., MS. The harmony for a rich and endearing family blending began when my parents were married in the Tishomingo County Court House. It takes a mere forty minutes to go from Tishomingo to Red Bay, but the stories about all of the histories and adventures (which usually resulted in family nicknames) would take me a lifetime to tell. This story, however, is one of my favorites.

Uncle Buttercup had a “given name”, but most people rarely heard it unless Aunt Grace was giving him down the road about a trick he had pulled or one she had got caught pulling. My mama does not remember how he got that nickname. It was probably because of his voice could calm a room full of sore-tailed cats with just one “buttery” assurance from him. I’m just guessing, but it seems a likely senerio to me. Everyone liked him and liked his name, Buttercup. It fit.

I sang to him on his 40th birthday. I was only 2 years old when I serenaded him with “Uncle Buttercup fo-tee!” Supposedly, I was very intent on catching a fat fly on Aunt Grace’s curtains, but the laughter as our whole family lovingly teased Uncle Buttercup about turning 40, must have diverted my attention. Lucky for the fly. At 2, the concept of another decade surely was uneventful, but my enthusiasm of chiming in on the fun has not been forgotten. That day, Uncle Buttercup told me he’d sing to me when I turned “fo-tee”. He reminded me of his promise each time our family got together. He said he would even sing it the same way I did. To watch him become animated and chirping a birthday song like a toddler was something I eagerly anticipated.

I turned 40 several years ago. Uncle Buttercup was very sick, and weakened to the point he could no longer speak. I didn’t   get to hear “our song”. Despite how my heart hurt for him, I could not help but smile a lot on my birthday. In my head, I heard his baritone voice laughingly tease me as he sang “Carla Fo-tee!” I knew he would have if he could. That’s all that mattered.

Uncle Buttercup passed away a while back. During the memorial service celebrating his life, my cousin Dana, Buttercup’s youngest daughter, asked people to sing. I choked back tears, but I could not find my voice. My son squeezed my hand and whispered, “Sing, Mama. It’s your turn.” From somewhere within, every word and note to “Amazing Grace” poured out of me. I had to smile. I’d like to believe Uncle Buttercup heard me sing once again, but this time in complete sentences.

Buttercup flowers are glorious as they, in chorus with other blooms, prompt the first stanza of spring. Each year, I gather beautiful bouquets of them and place their warm yellow fragrance in vases throughout my home. They brighten my spirit just as My Uncle Buttercup brightened my life. As I bend to choose each one, I am constantly tempted to hold it to my ear because I swear I can hear it sing….just to me.

What makes your heart sing? What erupts from within you which causes you to pause, anticipate or notice? I hope you find it. There is no haiku written for this entry, just yet. I’m still savoring the sweet aroma of my memories. I’m being kind to myself. Be kind to yourself by simply remembering things or people you love.  I’ll have to bust it tomorrow, but for now…I think I hear a song…and it’s not my birthday, just yet.

Carla:

This is the kindness my father not only spoke of, but exampled. Thank you, Charlotte, for this interview and kind words. Daddy, if you’re reading (which I know you so are) from up there or out there or from within me, here’s to you! Thank you, also, to my precious kindergarten teacher, Mrs. White. Because whatever you saw in a 4 and a half yr. old girl, I will be forever grateful. Uncle Earl and Aunt Cat, I hate to interrupt a good “heavenly” game of Scrabble, but I think this is a triple word score just for you. Always, Carla Sue.

Originally posted on Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog:

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I’ve been enjoying Carla Shepard Sim’s blog for a long time, randombraincells.com.

I recently interviewed her after reading her wonderful haiku. Her life and writing will inspire you. After you read the interview below, please follow Carla’s blog for more inspiration.

What do you love about being a writer? 

I adore virtually every aspect of writing. My family is rich with story tellers and readers. As a child, I was completely captivated by tales of my parents’ childhoods and the many fictional tales one of my great uncles would spontaneously concoct about someone or something he noticed. I was also read to constantly.  My grandmother would tape inspiring quotes to her bathroom mirror, making sure everyone would read them. My father was always giving me circle excerpts from books, magazines and newspapers for me to read. After I was grown, he would still send clippings to me or read them over…

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“Where have you been?” That is a question I have heard countless times during the months I have taken for a blog sabbatical. Was I laid up and left for vulture food by my MS? Did the Prize Patrol knock on my door to give me a million dollars and a bunch of balloons? Did the world really end ( taking only me) as some boneheads predicted by misreading the Mayan calendar? Did I go insane, committed to a padded cell to eat green jello, and given experimental medications in paper cups? Uh…no.

Well, the answer to the first question is only a partial no. I’m not buzzard bait or road kill. My MS has decided to misbehave and treat some to the nerves in my noggin as an endless buffet. But, with some different medications and time, MS will be put on a starvation diet for a while. Enough said.

All of that explaining aside, I will tell you where I’ve been. Lost. Gloriously so. I’ve been lost in a new (to me) form of poetry, which has altered and opened up many areas of my life. It has not changed my personality, but my perception. It has not changed my unemployed status, but my mental state.

I am studying, seeking and absorbing the world (genre) of haiku. I am writing haiku and have had several of my haiku published in various journals and anthologies. I’ve even been published in a local newspaper. Go figure.

Before you roll your eyes at me, let me tell you what haiku is NOT. Haiku is not your typical, middle school taught, three-line poem. It is NOT a limerick. It is NOT a rhyming little riff in a song. (Yes, I’ve been asked and even told that.)

Haiku is a poetry genre which originated in Japan more than 300 yrs. ago. A haiku (and there is no such thing as haikus…it is plural in itself) is often written as a 3-line poem in which the first line as 5 syllables, the second has 7 and the 3rd has 5. Haiku can be written, appropriately, even in one line. I’ve seen a haiku in one word. Haiku is “in the moment” with nature and or human nature, written in a concise, never “wordy” form. Wordy to me is “carpet fuzz.” (unnecessary or redundant) I believe I’ve seen wordiness, concerning haiku, as pillowy. Don’t quote me on that.

Within this blog post, I am not able to accurately define or detail haiku. The Haiku Society of America has a vast listing of learning and reading websites and journals. As my dad used to say, “look it up.”

Before I share a few haiku I have had published, I must thank a dear friend, Terri French, who is not only a well-known published writer of haiku, she as well as Laurence Stacey have been instrumental in helping me practice and put into words the “now moments” of everyday. There are others, believe me. Haiku writers are branches in a wonderfully diverse, yet kind family tree.

My first published haiku, which appeared in Frog Pond, vol. 35:2 of 2012:

insects on the backs of leaves

his secrets safe

for a while…

 

The second was published in Modern Haiku, Autumn 2012: 

muddy pond…

the radiologist’s face

 

The 3rd was published in Haiku News, Aug. 5, 2012:

news of a missing child

fish bubbles

ripple to the lake’s surface

 

There you have it. This is where I’ve been. I may not always write in the haiku form in my blog, but I will always take the importance of noticing details, discipline and astounding revelations I have learned and thread it, like saffron, though everything.

Please be patient as I try to gather links which will be helpful to you in learning and writing haiku. There are several WordPress sites for haiku as well as many noted and published haiku poets’ blogs. It is the generosity of others which has helped me. Notice the details of your life. Even with MS raging in my body, my spirit has been quieted and nourished. I’ve been kind to myself. Isn’t that what my dad used to say? Yes, it is. “Be kind”.

 

 

 

 

I spent this last weekend, a long gloriously fatigue inducing and brain-blowing three days (and many late nights) submerged in a writers conference. The Alabama Writers Conclave, to be exact. State-wide would be an understatement. Famous, published and polished writers were there from all over Alabama as well as some from Tennessee. If I missed a state, forgive me. Not so famous, not yet published and rough around the edges writers were there, too. From the clued in to the clueless. Best of all, it didn’t matter! Writers love other writers. If I can be so crass, which I will just go ahead and be, I dove into this bunch and experienced my first writer orgy/ Woodstock moment for word groupies. Bodies of work and “better than chocolate” words were all over the place. I was high as runaway kite, blowing into sessions and conversations wherever words enticed me.  I grabbed, grappled and groped, trying to lose mind in the art of writing and yeah, baby, I was a shameless success at it… falling  head over hills, addicted in love. And, yes..it was THAT good!

I became pregnant. No, really, I did. If your mind is in the gutter, just stay there and laugh with me. I became pregnant with WORDS. I should have a “Who’s Your Word Daddy” t-shirt. I was glowing. I went home after the first night with anticipation and went back the next two days for more, even though “creative sickness” made me woozy. I had so many questions. I received so many answers. I was showered with encouragement and skills which I need to be able write creatively and pop out words like a female farm cat squeezes out litters of kittens. Whether in stories essays or poetry, I found love. I have the brain stretch marks to show it.

It wasn’t always easy. I struggled during some assignments. I fought back tears of appreciation for those who so seemingly without effort produced a jaw-dropping poem or title or even paragraphs. Many times, I was just about “there” and then….nothing. “Just breathe and let it flow from you…be real…write from you gut…” Some things would not flow. Some things felt overwhelming and I wanted to scream. Some things, however, some of these whizzing words in my mind buzzed like a bee hive and I could taste how sweet they came together or stung me with my honesty.

I’m still in love. I plan on staying that was for a long long time. No lie, at least 10 poems, haiku, essays,books and  blog ideas are waiting for my fertile noggin to get with it and give birth to them.

If it is not writing, I know you have something which you love. You must. If you don’t, find something. Try something. Stretch yourself. Passion is dizzy delicious. Treat yourself. You may be surprised. What if you have multiple loves? :) Just do it!  Pop it out and be kind to those following behind and beside you or leading you.  Be kind to me, please, when you stumble over horrid grammatical or spelling “whoops” in this piece.

“He smelled like pennies…” I’m gonna go work on that baby “write” now. :)

Have you ever heard of Goldfish Syndrome? Probably not. I hadn’t until I made it up. Maybe you think I’m referring to famous people living in a clear glass bowl in which every movement made is subjected to public scrutiny, Jay Leno jokes or tweeted about. That is one theory, however, it’s not mine.

I am certainly not famous, but I do feel, at times, quite like a goldfish in a bowl. Sorta like the random ones won at carnivals as prizes for popping a balloon or the one scooped out of a slimy fish, poop infested tank at a pet store, bagged, wrapped with a bread bag tie and handed to a scatter-brained kid because a frazzled mom caved in and bought it for a kid who won’t quit whining.

A goldfish? Yes. A goldfish. The analogy is quite clear, even down to the sludge-riddled small bowl, goopy rocks and fake palm tree. Here’s why. Stay with me on this one. The first fish to be domesticated, thanks to the Chinese, was a goldfish. I feel I’m fairly domesticated at this point in my life. I don’t eat poo or my young and I try to keep clean. So is it with goldfish. If they do eat poo, it’s because they haven’t been fed or can’t see through the parasitic water. They try to clean off the gunk by scratching against something in the bowl. Goldfish have trainable behaviors which are conditioned by their owners. I’ve been conditioned by my family to behave (kinda). I’m perhaps still in a learning phase with some things, but that’s cool. Despite what we have all heard, goldfish have longer memories than 3 seconds. They have a memory span of up to 3 months. With my MS brain, 3 months sounds good goal for me. Goldfish also have voice recognition abilities. That’s awesome! I may not remember a birthday, name or what I ate on my last vacation, but I know the voices of my friends and family. A well cared for goldfish can live up to 10 years before being put into a match box or flushed. I’m older than 10, but if I take care of myself and others will help care for me, I will live to hopefully 100 and land a spot on a Smuckers Jelly jar on the Today Show.

People and goldfish have quite a lot in common. Both need air, clean water and food in order to survive and thrive. Both need room to grow. Did you know goldfish can get stressed out? They can. If their environments and messed with, some chubby-handed kid tries to pet them or there is too much noise, (yes, I said noise) they can wig out just like we can. I don’t like my surroundings to be drastically disrupted, I am a huge advocate for personal space and I. Hate. Noise. Plop me in a mall during a holiday, encapsulate me shoulder to shoulder with too many people, (even shopping when all of church crowd, lugging tired fit-pitching kids, pile into my local grocery store is a near death experience for me) or there’s a loud mouth or TV blaring, confusion, anxiety and possibly a few potty-mouthed laced sentences are triggered.

Fish get diseases. We get diseases. Goldfish get ones like Hole in the Head, Dropsy, Fin Rot and Costia. Goldfish diseases are usually from neglect, not enough air, over-feeding and parasites. I’ve not been neglected. MS is not a disease I got from dirty water, too much ice cream or bug bites. I do have lesions on my brain (like parasites gnawing the nerves), my right foot drags and my right hand flops and drops stuff, I can’t feel my big toe, but I don’t think it’s gonna rot, and I’m a bit awkward when I walk. (Costia in goldfish make them swim weirdly.)

When goldfish are not fed properly, their bowls resemble a cloudy scum pond, and they are neglected (usually by the kid who promised to faithfully care for it) and pushed behind a stack of magazines or toys, they will become diseased, beg for air, swallow their poo, lay limp on the bottom of the rocks next to the then slimy palm tree and subsequently float to the top of the bowl to die. Sad.

Can you see, now, the correlation between me and a goldfish? It’s not just me. Gratefully, I have the care and attention I need and medicine to help slow this MS mess down a bit. I can be the best me I can. I’m not at the mercy of a responsibility-challenged person. Widen the view beyond my bowl and yours (home, neighborhood and city) to the world at large. Aren’t we supposed to be responsible for the care of others, especially those who can’t care for themselves or have fallen on bad times? Aren’t we supposed to care they have a safe environment, clean air and water and food to eat? Yes we are. Do we always? No. We’re all subject to the Goldfish Syndrome. We’re all swimming together in this world’s bowl of humanity. Let’s be responsible, meet needs and care. And as we do, let’s all remember to be kind.

 

Over this past weekend, I was awarded The Illuminating Blogger Award by my new fellow foodie friend, C.J. at foodstoriesblog. I am graciously delighted! When people take a moment out of their day to read my blog, I’m always honored. I have to say, with my love of healthy, mouth-watering food and all of the trappings and gizmos which attract those of us who adore cooking, this award is especially savory. So, from the bottom of my now growling stomach, I thank you, C.J. for seeing something which captured your attention within my blog.

I am supposed to say something random about myself as I accept this award. So, here it is: I have at least 10 dish patterns. Some are complete sets, some are incomplete, but I like to mix and match dishes, cups and cookware just as I like to mix and match my life.

Thank you for this honor, for your kinship in the love of cooking and for your friendship.

illuminatingbloggeraward_1501.jpg (150×150)

 

After months and months and months of job hunting, scouring the want ads and having to fill out online job applications, I’m here to tell you, insanity will surface at some point. If you’ve attempted to look for work lately, you know. It is a pain in the butt and the in brain.

I understand employers are now trying to streamline the application process. They’re busy. But, they’re not too busy because I’ve run up on some of the most asinine questions lately, especially in the online application forms. And, it’s not just the questions, which they have now decided need to be multiple choice, it’s the length of the application and the unquestionable lack of sense by which these things are formatted. I’m laughing because some companies pay big bucks for someone else to come up with this stuff. Employers now feel swayed to believe a computer can get inside of a potential employee’s noggin, mess with it a while and come up with a desperate soul who just happens to point and click the “right” answer. Subjective verses objective. Psychobabble verses common sense. I don’t like it, and shrinks out there will disagree with me, but I wonder what happened to filling out your basic information, schooling, job experience and the name of someone to call to be sure you’re not an idiot. Sounds simple. Sure would make people more likely to look for work in more places and save everyone a ton of time and second guessing.

Here are a few examples of multiple choice questions asked on job applications these days: (Yes, these are REAL questions…Lord help us all.)

1. What percentage of politicians do you feel are honest? I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking just about none. What does that say about me? Am I paranoid? Have watched “Consipiracy Theory” too many times? Or, do I just notice how many sleezy ones make headlines? If I’m gonna work for the Government, this may apply. Maybe. If I’m wanting to be a chef or hairdresser, what the crap do my political opinions have to do with pasta or curling irons?

2. Do you see your friends a) as unproductive as you b) as productive as you c) more productive than you….I’d add a “d” to that one and say none of the above, cause if I’m lazy I wouldn’t be filling out this application in the first place. I’d get one of my productive overachiever buddies to do it for me and then ask a free-loader friend to come over lay around with me while I wait on a response…seeing I’d have all this spare time.

3. What percentage of people do you think have gotten speeding tickets in the last year? Please tell me you’re kidding here. If I’m job hunting, do I have the time or want to make the effort to research the police database? All I want to do is drive and not get killed. If some fool gets a ticket, that’s their problem. I won’t be clocking speeders when I’m stocking dog food or typing invoices for a medical supply company.

4. Which pair of pants goes best with this shirt? I say, the ones on clearance in my size, don’t make my butt look big and are not plaid. That answer is not an option, evidently. Isn’t everyone’s taste different? Aren’t the runways and malls crawling with tacky, over-priced, itchy muffin top enhancing attire?

5. If you heard a fellow employee being rude to another employee or customer would you say something? You’re dang right I would, but the trick question is to whom would you say it? Personally, being raised in the South and with my smart mouth, I’d tell that rude dude or chick to quit being such a butthole, go outside by the back door for your cig break cause you’re either nicotine deficent, somebody licked the red off of your candy, get the chip off of your shoulder and act right. I wouldn’t have to tell anyone else, cause around here, either the customer will do enough tattling for everybody or somebody else over heard this butthole and tell their mama on them.

6. How often do you feel satisfied with your life? Well, depends on if I’m working with a bunch of buttholes my MS has pitched a fit, my kids won’t pick up their stuff or if I’m just feeling fine and dandy. Overall, I’m dandy. I do have my days, though. So, how do you answer that without looking like “Eyore” or a narcisist?

See what I mean? These are only a few of the hundreds of questions on hundreds of job applications. If I wanted to play “Jeopardy”, I’d take Stupid for $400, Alex.

I know. I know. I always say to be nice at the end of my blogs and I will in this one, so just hang on. Times are changing. No one wants to practice their observational skills in person and will pay top dollar for a group of head knockers to make decisions for them on who they hire. I’m gonna be opening my own business within a couple of years. I’ve got the plans in the making. I’ve been in owner/management positions before. It’s not hard to tell if someone is a moron, rude, hard worker or willing to learn when you get eyeball to eyeball with them. Some people I’ve interviewed give me the creeps, even if their resume is spotless. Some I’ve feared for their life when they try to walk, pop their gum and potentially trip over their saggy-butted expensive pants.You can’t read body language through a computer. You can’t tell if there is a genuine desire to do what will be asked of them by wading through a ton of subjective hoo-ha. Psychos can trick computers and good-hearted folks get passed by because they got the politics or speeding questions “wrong”.

If you’re gonna be job hunting soon, I feel for you. Be yourself, be polite and just do your best and go onto the next mammoth application. In time, someone will notice your skills and or willingness. If you’re gonna be hiring soon, take time to get out of the “in thing” of computer clicks, listen to your heart and talk to people. Either position in which you find yourself, take Kindness for $500. You’ll win every time.

I have been a tad side-lined, sideways and side-tracked lately. MS and upcoming surgery can do that to a person. Those who know me could and probably will add more “colorful” adjectives to describe me for the last month or so.  If you see any cloud formations in my neck of the woods, trust me, they’re probably not normal clouds, but all of my latest brain farts. Each one, a particle of a thought or idea or an unfinished sentence all clinging together overhead. However, there is one thing that has not evaporated into the atmosphere, just yet. I need to tell you about it before it does.

A few days ago, I was made aware of a very intriguing statistic about person to person communication. If you are a “noticer” type of person, you will get this right away. 93% of person to person communication is non-verbal, while only 7% is verbal. Cool, huh? What a huge difference between the two!

Micro-expressions, hand movements, body positioning, eye contact, touch, etc. are the essence of our communication skills. Wrap your head around that for a minute. The best orators in the world can be lousy communicators and are probably not liked very much by those who have been personally around them. The sincerity of their 7% will always be judged by someone else’s 93% radar.

Do you feel comfortable talking with someone who is looking past you, down at their feet, head stuck in a cell phone, paper, television program or making any sort of abrupt body language, even if that person is saying “nice” words? I bet not. I don’t. I feel dismissed or unimportant. What did they say? Whatever it was, I’m usually not gonna believe it, become frustrated and my 93% will hear it as rude anyway. People from family members to neighbors to politicians to doctors to preachers can tell you they care about you, would appreciate your vote, they are concerned, the sky is blue or Jesus loves you with their 7% and if their 93% gives off conflicting vibes, the loveliest of words can turn to meaningless “blah blah blah” quickly.

Have you been around anyone and without them saying a word, left their presence feeling you had the most engaging and wonderful conversation ever? I have. I hope others have around me. I may stumble over my words, get tongue-tied, have major brain farts and not be able to complete a sentence at times. I hope my 93% makes up for that awkward 7%. I may be passionately speaking, wanting someone to understand at times. I hope my 93% enhances that 7%.

I’m not advocating over-analyzing every eyebrow lift, arm cross or bit lip of yours or of others. We don’t need to go all “Lie to Me” or “The Mentalist” , but it never hurts to remember how much of what we say isn’t said at all.

If I could see each of you in person and generously and sincerely thank you for reading “me”, I would. Perhaps, I can sometime. Maybe, I won’t be in such of a brain-fart cloud as I’m in now. I’m gonna be practicing my 93% so it matches my 7% and think it would be cool if you’d join me. As you notice, practice and go throughout this next week, allow 100% of you to be kind.

 

 

 

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