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Archive for August 2008

The Missing Link

When your mother is very ill and your heart is breaking, you want an e-mail like the one my close friend sent me. It was filled with hope and support and love and friendship.

I never acknowledged it.

When I called her to talk, she asked if I were angry. Why hadn’t I responded?

I hadn’t responded because I never received the e-mail.

I know of at least ten e-mails that haven’t gotten to me in the last few months. Those are the ones I’ve found out about and been able to rectify. What worries me are the ones I don’t find out about. Kind words from friends or well-wishers. Inquiries about speaking opportunities. How many people think I have snubbed them when the culprit is some technological glitch?

Then I start to wonder how many e-mails I’ve sent that have gone unacknowledged. I assumed they just ignored the e-mail. But, maybe they didn’t even get it.

If it’s a personal e-mail, this kind of mess-up can really hurt feelings. If it is a business e-mail, it can hurt the bottom line. I wonder what we can about it, short of everyone having to r.s.v.p. within 24 hours for every e-mail, which is ridiculous, or just getting rid of e-mail altogether and resorting to good old human contact. That is also ridiculous because none of us has time for that anymore.

Let me know at . I’ll write back.

If I get the e-mail.

Conflict avoidance…

I know a lot of us have a problem confronting those who undermine us or flat-out knife us in the back. We’re afraid that, if we say something, our words will be distorted, spread around and used to hurt us even more. So, we remain silent.

Silence, of course, suggests you condone what happened.

If you are afraid to directly spell out the crime, you can always resort to my secret method of confrontation. Once something has happened, just go up to the person who did it and say, “I know what you did.”

The person gets all out-of-sorts and starts demanding details. “What? What did I do? What are you saying?”

You respond, “I know what you did. I am not going to engage further, but I want you to know you did not get away with it.”

Then, walk away. It is so beautifully effective and absolutely simple.

Is it as good as a direct confrontation where you spell things out and put everything in the open? Generally not. But sometimes, you end up in conflicts with gossippy people who will continue to damage you if you engage. Just know that it is an option.

What Mom taught me about perspective

“Fawn,” my mother said. Her eyes brightened with recognition, thrilled by the surprise visit. “I’m so happy…”

That was an extreme moment of clarity from a once brilliant woman who has faded into the fog of Alzheimer’s and has been in a nursing home now for three years. She’s not doing well this week — she has the MRSA infection throughout her body and we’ve gotten a mixture of reports from her caregivers. They range from hopeful to dark, and there is a thread of seriousness and worry that connects them all. This is a tough time, and it confounds me because she seems healthy on the outside.

My mom had a major stroke in 1992 when she was 66 years old. The signs of Alzheimer’s appeared eight years ago. My father took care of her until he literally wore his back out and we had to let her go to a nursing home three years ago. It is a place where she is happy and feels safe.

I don’t think anyone would have imagined she would have willed her way into her eighties, but that is what she did. Instead of becoming depressed over her loss of independence and mobility, she embraced life fully, finding joy in everything she did. I think of that all the time, because I sometimes get so wound up in the demands of the day that I forget how meaningless those hassles are.

inside dvd download

Mom can’t communicate much, but she can communicate love. That is what has kept her going and has filled her life with more meaning than most able-bodied, fully-alert people have.

I’d like you to meet her. She’s the most amazing woman I have ever met. This short video tells you a truly inspiring story.

Regarding Woman v. Woman conflict…

You have GOT to see this…

school of rock the free

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Indulging an old passion

I always tell people to know their passions and indulge them.

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When I was in college, I studied journalism and photography. When I got to my first newspaper after I graduated, I had to make a choice between being a reporter and being a photographer. Reporting won. But, all these years later, I love capturing the moment with my camera. So, here are a few shots from my Alaska gallery that I shot while on a cruise two weeks ago. That old passion for photography still lives in me.

And here is a shot taken of me just enjoying the whole experience:

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A glimpse at the real world, 2008

I’m looking for tenants for a lovely four-bedroom home that I purchased out of foreclosure and renovated recently. Interest in the house has been intense and immediate, and I’ve shown it so many times now that I am exhausted.

Every single person, save one, is coming out of a foreclosure or bankruptcy. I am seeing, up close, what the economy is doing to good, decent people who happily thought they were living their version of the American Dream, only to find they had to escape some kind of financial nightmare. I don’t judge them at all, especially since seeing the kinds of people I have been meeting as they try to pick up the pieces and rebuild for themselves and their families. These are good people with bad problems.

These are heartbreaking times for Americans who are truly struggling. I often tell people that it is in these moments of self-definition that we find our greatest opportunities to define ourselves and create our greatest successes. That may seem way too Pollyanna to say to someone who has just lost a home or has suffered the indignity of a bankruptcy, but I believe it so strongly.

You can either submit to adversity or overpower it. It comes down to mindset. There is more than enough bad news to convince you that the timing is bad, the economy is in the tank and the future is bleak. If you give energy to the negativity, you will fall victim to it — just like most people. But, if there is an amazing amount of opportunity and good fortune available to those people who keep moving forward, ignoring the bad news and zooming past those people who just give up.

free striptease Yes, there is serious trouble in our economy.

Yes, people are losing their homes and jobs.

Yes, we all feel pain every time we pay these gas prices.

But, the world has not stopped. There is still opportunity and fortune available for those who push past these obstacles and keep envisioning real success.

The message that has been most heartening from some of the potential tenants I have been meeting is that the finality of a foreclosure and bankruptcy is followed by a sense of relief. They have unburdened themselves. They are free to start over and succeed again.

I wish them so many great things.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

Mustang Sally rides again

It amazes me how threatening it is for the status quo to embrace change. As a change agent, I’ve sure taken my share of hits for shaking things up in the business world. But, these battles happen everywhere.

My latest one is in my own neighborhood, but it serves as an example of the fortitude we have to have when we are mustangs sounding the call.

There have been several instances of violent crime in my very lovely waterfront neighborhood in Clearwater, Fla. This is a neighborhood that has one of the highest tax bases in the county, yet police back-burnered it for patrols when confronted with budget cuts. In recent months, we’ve had a handful of assaults and an influx of street crime.

So, I hosted a neighborhood meeting and invited the police to talk to us. Nearly 80 people showed up. I announced a blog where we would post photos and stories, and the reception was thunderously positive — except when it came to the people who have been running the neighborhood association all along. Tell me, what is so threatening about a neighborhood blog? Apparently plenty. One of the old-timers said the blog will reduce property values. Good grief. Street crime reduces property values.

Anyhow, I am relating this story because it is a template for what most change agents experience whenever they come up against the status quo. Remember, the status quo is the status quo because it does not like change.

The association called a meeting last night using the e-mail list from the meeting at my house. In recent years, only a handful of people have gone to their meetings, but last night, there were more than 70. The biggest item on their agenda: Telling us to let them run things because they know best. My favorite moment came when they said they would post times of future meetings on the neighborhood website. Someone asked what the web address was and they acknowledged they don’t have one yet. So, I volunteered to put the notices on my blog and I was told that my very popular neighborhood blog is basically unauthorized and has nothing to do with the change the neighborhood is seeking. I told them that it was my understanding that our neighborhood was still located in America.

I thought of something Miriam Reed said in my book, Mustang Sallies. Reed is the former division chief of the Denver Police Department who suffered blatant discrimination and harassment for many years. Her words are so powerful:

“Almost every idea that changes the status quo starts out with, ‘You’ve got to be crazy, it will never happen,’ ” Reed said. “But, if you can last long enough, there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Things move from, ‘You’re crazy,’ to, ‘We can talk about it, but it won’t work,’ to, ‘I guess we’ll give it a trial period, but it won’t work,’ to, having the trial period and it works well, to the person in power saying, ‘It worked well because I proposed this idea a long time ago.’ That has happened to so many women over the years. The accolades and recognition go to someone else when other people finally say, ‘Why did they do it the wrong way in the first place?’ ”

My little neighborhood. I don’t care who is in charge. I don’t care what website is used. I just care that we get on top of this troubling situation now, before it gets worse.

The next time others try to hold you down or put you in “your place,” remember this conversation I had with the legendary journalist, Helen Thomas, for Mustang Sallies:

I confided, “I keep being told that I don’t know my place.” “What is your place?” Thomas shot back. “It’s what you say it is. It’s not what they

say it is.” Thomas had been through enough battles to know she was and always will be a mustang woman. Until I met her, I didn’t realize that’s what I was. I’d just thought I was a misfit. An outsider. Instead, I was a trailblazer.

It doesn’t matter whether the battle is in the boardroom, the neighborhood association or even in your own family. Change is tough. But the rewards of progress are huge. Have confidence to hold your ground and keep moving forward.

Be bold!

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

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