Saturday, October 13, 2018

No loyalty in taking care of business

Business as unusual? Not business as usual.

I composed this when it was fresh news but for some reason never posted it.

The sale of Oklahoma business icon Sonic to the company that owns Buffalo Wild Wings in late September triggered something akin to PTSD (related to surviving several reductions-in-force in 34 years of service before finally losing my job with The Oklahoman two years ago in a layoff), with a thought that business sales and mergers that are announced as positives so often seem to result in major cost-cutting and a downturn in quality, at least from my perspective. I'm not even a big Sonic customer, but I've enjoyed what it stands for and I know so many people who are major fans of the chain. I thought: If the Sonic board can sell that great company, what's next? Braum's? That's one that would hit closer to my tastes.

During the next 12 to 24 hours, I found my mind trying to settle on some positive outcomes to business mergers. My mind settled on the idea that some future merger of The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World newspapers might have some promising possibilities.

So, imagine my surprise when I started seeing Facebook posts the next day that The Oklahoman was being sold -- but not in a merger with the World. Instead, it was being bought by Gatehouse Media, the company to which my job had been outsourced two years ago. Never in my wildest imaginings was that a consideration.

It fueled a lot of emotion. I felt a surprising loyalty to journalism. A frustration about the way things are done. Hearing reports that parts of how this was done were even harsher than methods used in the past. (Those who were laid off reported being notified by email while everyone was still gathered for the companywide meeting reporting these wonderful changes.)

Tied to that, major shifts are occurring in another industry in which I have a vested interest.

More and more, it looks like loyalty doesn't mean anything. People are treated as commodities. And who can you believe?

I've felt unexpected waves of emotion, from sadness, disappointment and a sense of grief, to anger, fear and frustration -- and, amazingly, gratitude, grace and faith.

Through it all, I've repeatedly been reminded of so many reasons to be grateful. The importance of people. Think of my priorities. What's important to me. What do I want to stand for? What can I do to make a difference?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Crazy way of doing business

You know life's going crazy when the adventure of shopping in Walmart's recently arranged grocery aisles becomes an interesting distraction.

I've always heard that stores rearrange their product placement from time to time to keep shoppers from just going straight to what they want. And they want you to have to pass by things you might not have thought about on the way to get what's on your list.

Still, it seems like past rearrangements have made more sense than this most recent one.

Gene and I first noticed the changes about three weeks ago when we were shopping. I couldn't find the gum (now on a shelf facing the first row of refrigerated items, including pizza), and after that I think we spent some time searching for coffee and peanut butter.

The next week, we were on a hunt for Nestle's Quik, which had always on the aisle with the coffee. It wasn't there, nor was it with the cereal. We finally found it with other breakfast items, such as granola bars and maybe oatmeal -- all more than an aisle away from the breakfast cereal (which now faces snacks such as chips). What kind of logic is that???

Today, my search for bacon took me from the middle of the meat section (where the bacon had been near other packaged meat products along a wall), all up and down the refrigerated meat shelves and floor units, to no avail. I also looked among the frozen breakfast foods, but didn't think it should be there. I ended up asking the clerk at the self-service checkout. He apologized for the confusion and said bacon is now with the eggs. Of course! Bacon and eggs. Why didn't I think of that? As I later told a man who was looking for the butter  (which previously was near the eggs, but now was nowhere in sight): The reason I didn't think to look for bacon near the eggs was because that's never where it had been before!  Besides, none of the other moves  I've seen made that much sense. Meanwhile, I was able to help the man search shelves for butter, and we spotted it on a far wall where string cheese previously had been sold.

On my way back to where the bacon and eggs were, I passed a woman wondering out loud where the chocolate drink mix was. I said, you mean like Nestle's Quik? She said yes; it used to be by the coffee. I said right, but it's not there any more. Let me think of where we found it last week. I was pretty sure it was with cereal or other breakfast items. She said she had looked with the breakfast bars, so she went to check the cereal aisle. A few steps later, I found the Quik next to packaged oatmeal (if I recall correctly). I just said in a slightly raised voice, knowing she was in the next aisle, "I found it!" She said thanks and came back.

As I headed to the front of the story after getting the bacon, I noticed people looking up and down, seemingly dazed and confused, along each aisle. Fortunately, everyone seemed to be in reasonably good spirits despite the inconvenience.

But how can Walmart or any other company think it's a good thing for customers to be wasting time wandering around looking for things that are regularly on their grocery lists?

The clerk at the self-service check out said these are not local decisions. "Call 1-800-Walmart," he advised. I probably won't do that. Maybe I should.

Instead, I'll just add it to the string of business developments I've encountered in the past month that have been surprising at best and unsettling at worst. (I may write more about that in a separate post.)

For today, I'm grateful I could maintain a good spirit and be of some help to fellow shoppers.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A brighter perspective

I won't know for sure until tomorrow, but I'm optimistic I finally have a pair of lenses in my new eyeglasses that allow me to see distances, midrange and up-close clearly and without double vision.

Dare I get my hopes up? Yes, I dare!

It's been a relief these past two weeks to be able to see clearly, even as my eyes continue to adjust to the more precise focus required with trifocals. This is either my fifth or set of lenses as the optometrist and optician have tried to figure out what I need. A new set with one more tweak should be available for me to try tomorrow, along with the sunglasses, all of which I paid for in early August.

I'm grateful I didn't give up on the process when I was so discouraged earlier this month, even after the optometrist and optician both assured me they wanted to continue working with me -- with no further charge -- until I was satisfied. I felt strangely guilty that with each new set of lenses before this one, I still couldn't see clearly, without excessive strain. I can truthfully say that in past situations I have given up on such a process. I hope I'll be able to file this as a positive learning experience.

A September to remember?

When the month started, I was thinking about how many Septembers have had many memorable moments. That doesn't seem as true this year, but maybe my memory's just not as good as it used to be!

I do know that this past week -- the final week of September -- has included happenings that triggered less-than-pleasant memories. Fortunately, those occurrences also brought me back around to the attitude of gratitude and continued awareness and faith that no matter happens in my own little sphere or the world at large, God is sovereign and working all things for good.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

36 years and counting: Grateful. Loved. Blessed.

My niece, Brandi, resumed her Facebook "Question of the Day" this morning with this: "Fill in the blank: When I think of September, I think of ______."

Even before I saw what she was asking, I had thought I might play along this round. In the past, I have enjoyed reading other people's responses but very rarely added my own.

Of course, when I got ready to respond, I remembered why I typically decided against doing so. I have trouble limiting my response to one thing.

These are the ones that came to readily to mind: Anniversaries, fall, football, sadness that summer's almost over, dread that cold weather is getting closer.

This is what I wrote:  "As I turn the page to September, I’m grateful to take time to remember, Rich blessings of family, faith and spirit: Sweet music of life — To hear it! To share it!!" Because that truly is one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of September, as well as November and December.

Today, my theme verse is very much tied to my husband's and my 36th wedding anniversary. 

While we didn't exchange specific gifts, I feel we celebrated each other's moving forward with projects that are important to us, individually and as a couple. 

Gene got two major pieces of material needed for rigging up a jon boat he bought earlier this year to replace the one with a leak that caused the second angler (sometimes me) to have to bail water after more than a couple of hours on the lake.

I was able to move forward on a little charitable venture that really doesn't change much how I support worthy causes yet somehow inspires me to feel even more grateful. And it fully embodies the rich blessings of family, faith and spirit, making my heart sing with sweet music!

As with many friends and family members I'm aware of, Gene and I seem to be at a place in our relationship where we've learned to appreciate simple pleasures and to celebrate the things that make each other feel grateful, happy and blessed. 

It's a priceless treasure.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A September song of hope

I started and ended August pulling weeds out of the lawn, and now I've started September the same way! The big ones are almost gone, although I'm sure I'll see more between the next rain and the next round of mowing.

I'm determined to move from just pulling the weeds outside to weeding out the clutter that spoils my interior living space. I've followed through with some action today. It will take consistent, focused effort to get this project done. Supposedly, it's been my priority the two years since I quit working for pay, outside the home. It's amazing how many things come up each day to distract me from the task.

Picking up on a theme I tried to return to at the end of July, I hope and pray that as I weed out the clutter, there will be more room for the sweet music of life inside and outside of my home.

Of course, that brought back to mind my September, November and December refrain (plug in the month that fits), first written probably in the mid-1990s but always a fresh reminder of things I hold dear:

As I turn the page to September
I'm grateful to take time to remember 
Rich blessings of family, friendship and spirit
Sweet music of life: To hear it! To share it!

It continues to resonate.

Shortly after I started this blog in November 2009, I wrote about the "spirit" referenced in the blog name as well as the verse:

* The spirit is definitely God: God's love; His mercy, love, grace, graciousness, creativity, compassion, omnipotence and so many more things than I could ever write. 
* It is definitely the spirit of Christ, Who gave all that I may be in relationship with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and all of creation. 
* The spirit is family: My parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and extended family of other relatives as well as church. It seems as if more each day, I see how their lives -- breathing (spirit) on Earth and beyond -- help me look for and find the good in my life and the lives of others.
* The spirit is friendship. I've been blessed with some great ones.

* The spirit is fellowship. As hard as it is sometimes for me to write, it's usually easier for me to write than to relate directly with people. Awkward is me! And still I am loved and accepted. I need not be afraid to spend time relating with people.
* The spirit is love.
* The spirit is compassion.
* The spirit is music.
* The spirit is gratitude.

Today, I'll add that the spirit is hope, which springs eternal because of God's mercies, which spring afresh each day.

Rich blessings of family, friendship and spirit
Sweet music of life:
To hear it!
To share it! 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Amen to August!

The month started with a surprising opportunity to adjust my attitude, and it appears it will also end on a positive note.

Throughout the month, devotional readings have offered just the right words to keep me hopeful even when my actions weren't accomplishing my intentions.

As I've looked for a way to wrap up the month, some key words come to mind, all starting with the same initial as August:

Action/act as if.
Also (as in: "This Too, Is God" -- it's worth looking up, along with "Simple Abundance").

And I can't resist including some Scriptures that have guided me:

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

"Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature."  Romans 12:2

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)