Friday, August 31, 2012

I Have Started Another School Year

I got my 2012-2013 school year off to a wonderful start yesterday with a standing ovation after my staff development workshop for a great school district in Antigo, Wisconsin; so I guess they liked my presentation!

If you do not know where Antigo is, it is a nice little community of about 8,000 people in central Wisconsin located about a half hour north and east of Wausau. Everyone knows where Wausau is, right?

Geographically, they are a pretty large district where middle and high school students could live in homes as far as fifty miles apart! So, busing is a major issue for a district with about twenty-three hundred K-12 students. I spoke with their entire staff of about four hundred people. And there was only one Green Bay Packer uniform in the bunch!

I had fun teasing teachers about things like the physical education teachers not having a real job because all they do is play to getting a kindergarten teacher to stop giggling. I communicated several times before my visit with their Human Resources Director, Sarah Zelazoski about their specific objectives for my workshop and put together a fouteen-page handout together to meet those objectives. She told me afterwards my presentation was just what they needed. In fact, she said one teacher told her it was exactly what he needed to get him excited about the upcoming year!

Sarah also told me several teachers were already commenting on arranging to have me come back and spend a day with their secondary students! I love hearing stories like that.

My attendant, Kelly, and I got to eat a great lunch at Dixie's, a cool, little cafe which are my favorite eating places when I visit small towns. While we were there, a woman I met back in the middle nineties at the Wisconsin Teen Leadership Program (WTLP) came down for a quick visit before she went to pick up her seven-year-old son to bring him to my afternoon session for their athletes, coaches and several members of the community.

Please do not get me wrong, I loved my day with the staff in the morning, and teasing several football players in my afternoon session. We did a lot of laughing and hope they learned some things. I was in my element and feeding off the energy of my audience, like I always do; but the highlight of my trip was seeing my friend and getting to catch up a bit, Mary Meister, and meeting her son, Jacob! He was all excited because immediately after my presentation they were headed for his very first Packer game! Mary said he told her he would start to read his new, autographed book to his uncles and mom on their way to the game. That was cool!

Let me tell you why Mary made my day. The year after she attended WTLP as a participant, she came back as a counselor and did so for several years. At the same time, another Antigo student, Tara Wagner, was also attending our leadership program. We had great conversations at each camp and became great friends with these two wonderful young leaders.

We became such good friends, they both invited me to their weddings! An interesting note on that is, I was the only adult from those programs they invited. We formed a connection.

I love making or having longtime friends, not seeing them for a while and then when given the opportunity, reconnecting and picking up where we left off. That happened with Mary yesterday. We could have talked all afternoon.

After a two hundred forty mile drive home, I had a confirmation email for another school in Edgerton, Minnesota, where we lived from 1963 to 1966. I am going to visit the school, and the local paper is writing about my Edgerton history, memories and specifics about our time there. It will be published September fifth and have been given permission to put it in the Articles page on my website. I have read a draft and it promises to be a good article.

Yesterday was a Red Letter Day!

I look forward to your comments.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Can we learn anything from Wile E. Coyote?

Okay, please get past the foul language and imagine you are in Wile's shoes. His comment about working for twenty years is actually a lot longer dating back to 1949. According to several sources, the first of only forty-nine episodes titled Fast and Furry-ous for Warner Brothers went on the air. Yes, it was Mel Blanc's voice that did the Beep, Beep! of the Roadrunner.

What do you do when the company you have worked for goes bankrupt and you lose your 401K, your pension is gone, the paycheck you were depending on to pay the mortgage stops, your skill set is limited and you find yourself unqualified for a position you need to live on?

How do we handle adversity? What would you do if you had a new-found disability that prohibited you from performing your current occupation? Have you ever thought about it? Like Wile, trying to learn a new skill set may be very frustrating. But, did he handle his waiter's job very well? I think not. His problem solving skills were being tested.

Do you have additional skills to transfer into a new career once your job is robotized or eliminated? I do not have many skills left if I were not able to speak. I could do data entry, but I would have a hard time punching a clock eight hours a day. Physically, I simply do not have the stamina. I certainly could not do it very quickly. My typing skills are limited. 

My career is perfect for me. I cannot imagine doing anything else! If you know me, you know I like to talk and I like to meet new people. I also like to listen. I love to hear peoples' stories. You would not believe some of the things people tell me. Sometimes, it is after only hearing me for an hour or two. I guess I have a way of getting people to trust me when I speak.

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself in Wile's position? By the way, if Wile and his buddy ate the Roadrunner it would have been so tough from all that running, it would have been like eating shoe leather.

I look forward to your comments.



Friday, August 10, 2012


We have all heard the phrase Attitude is everything. I believe that statement and try to have a good attitude every day. Unfortunately, there are days when we get tested and we wonder how our attitude is going to get us through that particular situation. At least, I do.

It happened to me again the other day. I had received orders for several books, gotten an email from a new school who was inquiring about me coming to spend a day and had a good day started. Then, my attitude got tested. 

My personal care attendant did not show up because we had a miscommunication about scheduling, my chair developed an intermittent electrical short, my computer crashed, my power door would not lock, so I did not want to leave my apartment. Plus, I was starting to get hungry. It seemed like I was getting attacked from all directions! My attitude was starting to get tested.

Well, four hours later my technical support representative in India, finally got my computer running; although my website is back, it does not have the current version showing. My attendant showed up and fixed me dinner. My power door magically started working again, and once again Mike's World was functioning at a workable pace!

The quote, Don't sweat the small stuff, was in full force. As you may know, there is a second part to that quote that reads, it's all small stuff! I had to remember that quote the other day.

I love a quote by the late George Carlin, on his perspective of optimism and pessimism. He was a realist. This is a paraphrase, but the gist of his quote was: The optimist says the glass is half full. The pessimist says the glass is half empty. I'm a realist. The glass is twice as big as it needs to be!

I put myself in that realist group. The example I often use in speeches is no matter how optimistic I can be about walking again someday, I am realistic enough to know it will not happen tomorrow.

Then, I spotted this diagram and it blew the whole analogy out of the water. (Please pardon the pun.) It shows the glass as always being full! Now, what am I going to do?

As always, I welcome your comments.