Farewell dad: July 20, 1925 – June 30, 2018

I had no idea what to expect. For once in my life, I had slowed down enough to really hear what was being said. “You need to come; sooner, rather than later.” It wasn’t convenient. I had just returned from a work trip, I didn’t want to leave again. But the words stuck, “you need to come now.” Within 48 hours of returning from Minnesota, I was on a plane headed for Florida. She had only said that he had been sleeping a lot more lately, and not eating much.

Dad was 92 years old. To be honest, over the last few years, I noticed him slowing down; the walker, the hearing loss. At the end of each of our last few visits (over a couple of years), I would wonder if it was the last visit. Truly hearing her words were a blessing, “You need to come now.” So, I went.

I had three days with him. Not knowing much about how this end of life stuff worked, I didn’t realize that these were three of his last seven days. He did sleep a lot. But when he was awake, we shared some extraordinary moments. We had conversations about spiritual matters, about my work and my son moving to college. There were times in our conversation when he, like many other times, was strong in his opinion. It was good to see the spark still come from a weakened 90-pound man. He was still in there. Months ago, his distinctive voice, that I pray never leaves my memory, diminished. His deep but friendly voice carried the spirit of what he believed in his heart.

Dad was kind-hearted and believed in helping where and when he could. He believed in getting a good education and being productive. He shared often that everyone has something to contribute. He had a big spirit, but a humble heart. I remember him telling me once, “if you have something you don’t need, but someone else does, you should give it to him. That thing isn’t doing you a bit of good but could make a difference to the next guy.” Dad was full of what he called his little “sermons.” While probably too many times in my life I didn’t listen, sometimes I did and would decide for myself if that was a belief I would adopt.

Sitting with him at his home in Florida, I saw a very big personality, active every day, taking interest in many things, fading. He had spent his years getting up every day and doing something. They would go visit friends, play golf, fish, play cards, rock hunt, yard sale, find something to do. In the course of that activity, there was always somebody to meet, or an adventure to be had. This, of course, led to dad having more stories to tell. “We met this fella…”

Dad always had a notebook of paper and a pen. He would be doodling or designing. His mind was moving, even when he was sitting. He left the writing to me, although during the years he lived in Saudi Arabia, he wrote some of the most wonderful letters.

During our recent visit, when he was quiet, I imagine his mind was still moving. He knew he wasn’t long for this world. His health had failed to the point of having hands too swollen to hold a pencil. His eyes could no longer see to peruse books or magazines. He shared that he no longer had a purpose.

Like so many other times in his life, dad didn’t realize that even in those last seven days, he had a purpose. Three of those days at least, his purpose was to slow his “middle daughter down” in order to connect one last time, to appreciate not in some naive way, her dad. For all of his imperfection, he was my dad, he brought me into this world. He loved me. Like many other parent/child relationships, we had seasons of distance. But those seasons have faded over the last 30 years, to come to the blessing of an adult relationship. One that allowed me to appreciate and love dad for who he was and what he brought to our relationship.

Sitting in his recliner that weighed twice what he did, his eyes were crystal blue. I sat close to save his voice from straining, and to ensure I could hear him. He recalled stories of years past with such detail that I didn’t even remember. Other times, he would just look straight into my eyes. We connected without words. He was my father. And he was fading from this world into the next. He was being called home. His effervescent spirit was calm, he had peace.

The morning I left, he really wanted to go to the airport. Selfishly, I didn’t think I could handle my good-bye to be at the Delta (#deltaairlines) curb. But if he wanted to, I would get over it and enjoy the ride to the airport. After getting dressed and a small breakfast, he decided to stay home. I have to wonder if he had the same thought I did about where our farewell would take place. We held hands and I looked into his eyes unable to say goodbye, I told him I would see him again. Our conversation of spiritual matters and the Bible assured me of that. The last two words dad said to me were whispered, “Love you.”

Thank you, dad, for your spirited example of living. May our lives honor that through continuing to be life-long learners, kind-hearted people, and productive citizens.

KK

#heaven

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Lessons From the Flag

The 4th of July usually gets our big bang of patriotism. So today, in my effort to reignite KK’s Candor, we celebrate Old Glory (#flagday) with this shared article from Harvey Mackay. Enjoy and stay tuned for some Karen originals to follow.

By Harvey Mackay

June 14 is Flag Day, celebrating the 13 stripes and the 50 stars that symbolize our humble beginnings and our growth into one unified nation.

On June 14, 1777, in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution that read the following: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

The resolution didn’t mention the significance behind the choice of red, white and blue — because the three colors did not have any official meaning when the flag was adopted in 1777.

But have you ever stopped to think about the meaning of the flag’s colors? There’s plenty of symbolism there too. Red implies hardiness and valor. White stands for purity and innocence. Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice. These qualities that our country was founded on should carry through in our lives and businesses today.

In an article on Time.com, Mike Buss, a flag expert with the American Legion, says that the most obvious reason for the flag’s colors is that they were simply taken from our mother country’s flag — the Union Jack of England. “Our heritage does come from Great Britain, and that was some of the thought processes that went about in coming up with our flag,” Buss says in the article.

I think it’s also important to connect how these colors relate to our working lives.

RED: Hardiness and valor stand for the ability to endure difficult conditions; determination in facing great danger, courage, and bravery.

Determination keeps people hammering away. Determined people possess the stamina and courage to pursue their ambitions despite criticism, ridicule or unfavorable circumstances. In fact, discouragement usually spurs them on to greater things. When they get discouraged, they recognize that to change their results, some change is in order.

Courage is regarded as one of the major human virtues. Courage is bravery, valor, standing up to danger, guts and nerve all rolled into one. It’s easy to be ordinary. Courage is what sets us apart from the crowd.

WHITE: Purity and innocence are synonymous. They stand for freedom from moral wrong and simplicity. Those are tall orders in our complicated world, but worth striving for. Way back in 1872, Sen. Carl Schurz of Missouri paraphrased Naval hero Stephen Decatur with these patriotic words: “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.” That sentiment is purity at its best.

Sen. Schurz would settle for nothing less than the best for his country. Similarly, we should demand the best from our businesses. Doing things right should be a way of life.

BLUE: Vigilance, perseverance, and justice are self-explanatory. Justice translates to fair play, honesty, and integrity.

Perseverance separates the winners from the losers. Success in life depends on your willingness to never give up, even when the reward is delayed.

Honesty, ethics, integrity — in my estimation, you can interchange them, because they all convey the single attribute that determines whether a person or an organization can be trusted. Honesty is always the best policy. You must be able to trust the people with whom you work. Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

Integrity: either you have it or you don’t. It’s not something that you can have one day and not have the next. Integrity begins at the top. As leaders, we must set the example — that alone inspires employees to do right. Enduring leaders know that the numbers will be better if integrity is not optional.

Our national values are well represented in the colors of our flag. Fly it proudly.

Smile!

The Olympic RingsWatching the Olympic opening ceremony (#olympics), thousands of athletes proudly parade into the arena. They come from all parts of the globe- 3,000 athletes from 92 countries. For most, they have worked toward this their entire lives. Their families have sacrificed dearly while supporting the dream to be an Olympic athlete. These games are the highest form of competition they will experience. The athletes speak different languages and have different cultures and traditions.

One similarity stands out among the different shapes, sizes, cultures, and languages. Every athlete is smiling. They strut in proudly wearing the colors of their country and they are all smiling. With a cheerful cadence, they carry their flag and smile with excitement. No matter the culture or home country, all humans share this expression that means something positive. It’s amazing that something so small that doesn’t have to be taught can instantly bring people together in a shared experience. A smile promotes warmth and unity among those who share it.

May these Olympic games promote other commonalities among the nations.

KK

21 Days a habit

Punxsutawney Phil looking straight into the cameraWelcome to February – a month where we focus on love, because quite frankly once you get past Ground Hog day (please don’t make your spring plans based on his prediction, #groundhogday) and outside of Valentine’s Day, it’s a pretty bland month. It’s the “middle child” month of winter. Around here, we can have a lot of cold, grey days. BUT, it does only have 28 days. So, what can we do with this month? Create a new habit.

As part of building healthy habits, I gave up soda pop for the month. It’s 28 days. I can do this. On day 23, we will have our biometric screening for health insurance so why not purge of whatever stuff is in sodas that’s not good for me. I’ve also committed to maintain at least an 8,000 step-a-day average and start working arm strength exercises. Three W’s — water, walking, and weights.

Although I’m not one for getting headaches without it, a daily Coke (#shareacoke) has been my caffeine source. So as to not throw the system into full shock, tea, chocolate, and a little mocha coffee will be my caffeine as needed. These will also prevent any sugar meltdowns.

The walking part is easy. On any given day I can do 6,000 steps just with my normal activity. Add regular walking breaks at work and a trip or two to the gym and I’m good with an 8,000 step average.

Now for the hard part, weights. This is a little harder to implement because it doesn’t happen within my normal routines. So, I have to make this happen. Every day I have to remember to pick up my hand weights and spend a few minutes lifting and curling. Today is the eighth and so far, I’ve not done well. So, with you for accountability,  today I begin this part of the 3-W approach to healthy habits.

How’s your winter going?

KK

 

How to catch an earworm

Many mornings I wake with a song on my mind. Not a bad way for this non-morning person to start the day. Going through the routine of getting ready for work, the song hangs on. If it lasts beyond breakfast, I declare it an earworm and decide its demise. This morning the song was a snippet of a hymn we sang Sunday morning when we visited a Baptist church. It was a hymn I had learned in middle school when we attended Walnut Street Baptist church. So it was familiar and singing it stirred the memory. It had a catchy melody. One that can easily get stuck. I guess it’s not bad to have an inspirational song rattling around in your head. The problem is that all I could remember was the chorus, so those two lines kept running over, and over, and over in my head. By the time I got in the car, the song went from inspirational to flat out annoying.

There are two cures for earworms that I’ve been successful with. First, listen to the song and sing along. That gets the melody and the words through your cognitive path it’s stuck on and out your mouth. Ok, so there is probably a fancy scientific reason this works, but girl with headphones singing with all her heart to the music.in layman’s terms…just sing it!

The other cure is to listen to some other music. You don’t have to sing along, but it seems that just getting another tune going spooks the earworm and it crawls away.

To save my office neighbors an uninvited concert this morning, I’ve tapped into the second cure. Along with sharing this with you, it seems to be working.

What’s your earworm (#earworm) story?

KK

Written Goals

Here we are at the end of January. Twenty-eight days of the new year complete. How are Meme that says There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.those New Year’s resolutions (#newyearsresolution) holding up for you? By now, many have given up. As I’ve shared with you, I’m a little behind on things and had to give myself permission to take the month to catch up. So far, so good.

The goals from last year have been reviewed, renewed or rewritten. There were several from that last year that did not get accomplished. While considering the reason, I realized that those were the goals that required someone or something outside of me or my control to accomplish.

For example, if the goal was to get a book traditionally published, well, that requires a publisher to accept it etc. But if the goal is to get my book completed, edited and sent to a publisher, then I am the only one who controls the success of that goal.

Another consideration was that some of the goals were really more like behaviors. A goal (#goals) might be to lose 10 pounds. A behavior change is to do something like eat healthy meals. Perhaps a behavior change will support accomplishing a goal. It’s too easy to write down a bunch of goals that will later overwhelm you. This year write three or four real goals to accomplish, but then commit to one or two behaviors you would like to change.

What will 2018 hold for you?

KK

 

 

Do you need to go to the bathroom?

boys-and-girls-bathroom-signs-for-popular-girls-bathroom-signs-for-kids-diy-bathroom-door-signs-happiness-is-19There is an interesting social phenomenon among females that all these years later is still a mystery to me. The bathroom buddy system. Do I need to go to the bathroom? I’m pretty sure before middle school I hadn’t been asked that since I was two-years-old. It was a significant life-lesson for me to know the question had nothing to do with having to USE the facility. In middle school and high school, it’s not uncommon to see a gaggle of girls all going to the bathroom together. If you were female and not in the group going, it is likely you were the subject of conversation while the girls were using the facility, checking make-up, and brushing hair. At the end of a meal or at a given point in a social gathering one of the girls would say to the others, “do you need to go to the bathroom?”

The high school I attended (Christian Academy of Louisville, Rock Creek campus), had a girls room right off the cafeteria. This was a bathroom (single user) perhaps as big as 7′ x 5′. It included a sink with mirror, a toilet and, a radiator. While sharing “all the news on the gossip chain, we had a method for rotating turns in front of the mirror that included at least one of us sitting on the radiator, and someone standing on the back of the toilet. Of course, no one actually voided their bladder. This trip was all about primping and news gathering.

In college, the bathrooms got larger but were still a gathering place for the exchange of gossip. Girls still went to the bathroom in groups. There were more mirrors, sinks and now we had stalls for taking care of other personal activities. This is when the whole odyssey to the restroom changed for me. I still took the journey to the restroom with the girls, but it became a little weird to me to talk over the stalls. I don’t know, it just seems weird to me to have a normal conversation while doing that which should NEVER be shared with anyone. No one. That’s a little too intimate for me.

For me, the need for pairing up to go to the bathroom ended with college. If I’m the odd person out and become the topic of conversation, I consider it an honor. Spoiler alert, I’m not that interesting. Don’t waste your time. Part of this maturity may come from me really not caring to participate in the commentary of wardrobe, behaviors, parenting skills, or evaluations of the date someone came with. One of the most awkward social moments I’ve had as an adult is when another female in our party has stopped conversations to ask me if I wanted to go the bathroom. Not to embarrass them too much, I simply replied, “No, I’m good. Thanks.”

If I happen to run into someone coming in or at the mirror, I may chat. But sorry, I’m not having a conversation over the stall wall. Oh, and more than likely I won’t participate in epic gossip.

Just a thought,

KK

#metoo
#restroom