Initiate kindness

The open hands of a child

Photo by Jyn Meyer

It’s that time of year. Graduates are graduating and dreams are being flung toward the heavens along with those tassled caps.

Probably that’s the reason for a series on Linkedin called #IfIWere22. The likes of Richard Branson and Robert Herjovec appear to be participating.

Came across Herjovec’s recently and it made me think of all the things I wished I knew then that I know now. As most of us know, some things are better left unknown until “that time” in your life when you’re mature enough to handle them.

Glass half-full

But other things, like assuming the best in people – while I wish I’d “had it” earlier, for me, came with time.

Maybe I was jaded from losing my father young — maybe on guard and grieving in my early adult years? Maybe it was a sense of identity loss, since I also married young.

While I don’t feel it’s true now, it does seem like I lived too much of my life with a glass half-empty. Still, that’s what I’d tell myself at 22. Here’s why.

Do unto others…

Funny. I always thought I knew what the “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” axiom meant, but the more “judgy” our society becomes, the more important I think it is for each of us to just take the initiative to act on that premise – first.

By that, I mean to assume the best in others – that they are more than likely good people, probably will like you, take interest in you as a fellow human, whatever – and act on it. Initiate kindness.

We have the power

A long time ago – while my dad was still alive, in fact, we were at a conference together. This one speaker talked about how the interactions we initiate lead to positive or negative reception by others. In other words, how we treat someone will likely manifest itself in a similar reaction from them.

So why would we wait on the other person to show kindness?

Ghandi said it best: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Just decide to do good, and then do it.

But how about when a situation is hard to read and you’re the new kid on the block? Last one to the party? What then? It can be terrifying (even for this flaming extrovert).

That doesn’t mean the risk isn’t worth the payoff, though. And it doesn’t let us off the hook if we really want to see change.

Being kind first just means you’re extending an open hand that says, “I have nothing to hide or hold back. At this moment, at this time, I’m here … for you.”

Some people won’t feel it. Don’t take it personally. It’s their problem – really. Others will need it. It’ll be like manna from heaven for them. And you’ll know because they’ll light up the moment you show you care. It could make their day and yours.

So what would I tell myself at 22? I’d tell myself to initiate kindness as an act of faith in others.

And I’d finish with a reminder that it’s nearly impossible not to reciprocate in the same, kind way. If someone doesn’t want to engage in a little kindness today…it really is their loss.

Confessions of a sun worshipper

I admit it. I love the sun.

In the last few weeks, I have realized how much sunlight means to my sanity. I’m not just talking about for tanning purposes. Been there, done that; had a real bad sunburn in places sunburns shouldn’t go.

I’m just saying I appreciate the sun more than ever.

Image of fog settling over Rocky Mountains

How Colorado has looked for nearly one month – until today. Photo by Amber Van Schooneveld

No, really.

Colorado has seen more rain in the month of May 2015 than in any other May in history. That is unacceptable, folks.

But wait – it’s reality. Note to self: Suck it up. That’s what big kids do, right?

Meanwhile, back at Rancho Poor Mexican Gone …

I haven’t been able to crank out any content. I have blog ideas outlined or drafted – but every last one of them has been stuck behind the Publish button – or worse, stuck in my mind. Nothing could unclog them.

Anyway, some things have actually happened in the world of Poor Mexican Gone over the last few weeks:

  • My AncestryDNA test results came back – way earlier than I expected. Is that just “delighting the customer” or did I not have enough data in my tree? A new post on that soon. Interesting stuff.
  • More of Braulio’s peripheral family members and their records have shown up in my research, offering more validation (maybe 70%?) that he is in our bloodline.
  • Some great new fabrics came in to help me with my new quilting/sewing addiction (which requires much more time than anyone can imagine).
  • More freelance work has come my way – yay!
  • I’ve been playing more tennis, AND I got me some new kicks for the 2015 season.

So all that to say – it’s been an oddly overwhelming month, mostly in a good way.

But this weather!

And the angels sang

And the angels sang

Ask any Coloradan: If we don’t get our 300+ days of sunshine per year, we’re a collective, hot mess.

As you might have guessed, the sun finally came out today. We’re thrilled and hopeful, with all fingers and toes crossed.

And now maybe, just maybe, the sun will finally unclog the blog.

Drop in the bucket: Mad Men post mortem

om-don-draper-finale2

Don finds peace. He also finds the idea the for a new :60 Coca Cola spot that makes history. I already miss this character.

On one hand, it’s hard to sum up Mad Men the day after the series finale. On the other hand, it’s hard not to. So I’ve decided to join the fray with the other half-million reviewers / mourners.

Because let’s face it. There are a ton of post-finale recaps out as of yesterday, including these:

Funny: At least two of the above end with some version of “It’s the real thing.” Sigh.

Interesting:

  • Peggy and Joan each sought career and sometimes love. Joan thought she’d landed one of each, only to end up choosing career over traditional love. Peggy got both.

    PeggyatMcCann

    Funny, how when you let things go a bit, they seem to come back together. Couldn’t resist including this image of Peggy, who is right there.

  • Don finally got clarity, however fleeting — although, it seemed long enough to crank out the legendary Coca-Cola commercial promoting world peace.
  • What does Roger care anymore? He’s had a stellar career, so he settles into l’amour.
  • Pete, lucky dog, gets his wife and kid back and keeps that lucrative gig with McCann.
  • Betty – dang it – love or hate her, has a death sentence hanging over her, though I’d expect her to find her way out so as not to put her children through watching their mother die.

Surprising: The show ends in hope. Hope that Don can somehow make something of the name and identity he’d assumed, and maybe even be a more present father in his children’s lives (really?). Hope that the world could be a better place (the Coke commercial).

I’ve gotta say: I fully expected a European turn for the worst – someone’s tragedy, a la Downton Abbey, where someone seems to die in nearly every season finale. To me, the hopeful ending makes Mad Men a new, true, all-American classic.

All in all, Mad Men, while set in the presumably sexy advertising business, isn’t much about the ad biz at all. It’s really about the existential questions of the ’60s and ’70s. Is this all there is? Are we all alone? (At Big Sur, Don learns – finally – he’s not.)

The aches of those questions and their answers were real and often frustrating during the series, which easily could have ended more tragically. But the idealist in me is glad Weiner chose hope for the final note.

Still, I cannot tell a lie: I will miss seeing that Don Draper face and wanting to know the thoughts behind his dark eyes.

So long, Mad Men – until the next binge.

Where the fishies bite

Shore of mountain reservoir with fog rolling in as fisherman waits for catch

A shot of my hubby on the shore, with a snowstorm threatening just beyond.

So I sent the hubby off on his Annual Ice-Out Fishing Trip over a long weekend – the 19th such event. Family and friends from Texas and Colorado met in western Colorado to go on the offensive for some hungry fish.

Little did they know what they’d be up against – because, logistically, something always goes wrong.

Fish Tales ( << I know…like that’s never been done before)

I’ve concluded fishing is like any other sport. It has its own terminology and its it own breed of competition, which includes a certain brand of stories.

For example, if the fish are biting in a certain area, it’s not uncommon – correction, it’s downright custom – not to tell inquirers what the fish are biting on (i.e., lure/bait). I guess it’s the accepted way of protecting the watering hole and tomorrow’s catch.

On the other hand, when one has caught fish, he/she is likely to stretch both story and fish size to nearly unrealistic dimensions.

Lo the angler. He riseth in the morning and upsetteth the whole household.
Mighty are his preparations.
He goeth forth with great hope in his heart — and when the day is far spent he returneth, smelling of strong drink,
and the truth is not in him.

—Unknown

Rain or shine … or snow

Last I’d checked (yesterday morning), there was a winter storm warning, with 6″-12″ of snow predicted for the area where they were fishing. The last time I heard from my hubby, the bites had been few.

Cold fisherman braving snowfall while night fishing. (Not recommended)

Note for 20th Ice Out: Don’t bother fishing in the snow.

And all the fisher guys weren’t even there. One had gotten held up behind an accident on a mountain pass, so he had to spend the night in a nearby town.

This could only mean one thing: a very long weekend, to include multiple stops at various streams on their way home.

As is common with fishing trips, communication between base and the homestead was scarce, so I didn’t hear anything else until they got home this afternoon. And this is what I got:

While the hubs and pops-in-law unloaded the car, I asked hesitantly whether they’d caught anything.

Stranger things have happened

Dad mentioned they’d run into a group of fishermen at a nearby store – 23 of them – who’d just caught over 300 fish in the same area over the weekend. Naturally, I was hopeful our guys had gotten some good intel – and fish – before trip’s end.

To his surprise: “We asked them what the fish were biting on, and they told us!”

Followed by, “We asked them where they were biting, and they told us!”

I know now it was the truth, because tonight my hubs just vacuum-packed over a dozen speckled trout – the largest at about 16″. Whew! They didn’t get skunked by a bunch of fish.

So a good trip all-around. I’m just waiting for the story about “the one that got away” – as in, the 24″ kind.

The Big Cabin

Next year is The Big One – the 20th Annual Ice Out. The Big Cabin is reserved, the caps and t-shirts are being brainstormed. Other than that, I haven’t a clue what that this means in fishing terms. I’m sure there will be some great stories, though.

Taming squirrels

Parque Zoológico Santa Fe - Medellín - Colombia - Suramerica

Photo by memoossa

Feels like so long since I’ve blogged.

The silence has been less for lack of something to say than for lack of ability to focus on something to say (hence the squirrel). Lots of transition swirling about, and I’m having to be much more intentional about how I process and manage a few moving targets. Basically, I’m having to become my own project manager.

It’s times like these that I feel less intuitive about what to do next, so I basically need a roadmap of my life – not just to-do lists – to get me to the next step and beyond.

I’m toying with tools old and new to keep things straight:

For a right-brainer like me, living strictly by lists can take the joy out of things. So using tools I love helps me get things done, even as they pile up. And as long as there’s margin for the creative, it’s all good.

Here’s to planning for crazy.

There is life after a layoff

doctor-is-inIt has been a week.

A number of my friends and former colleagues were laid off. Some saw it coming, but I think many didn’t.

And just like that, it felt like old times. Having an open door, (OK, a phone, texting and Facebook) being the sounding board, fielding lots of questions. Why? Who? When? How?

In the end, when a layoff happens to you, all that really matters is What.

Having been there not once, but three times – twice in the last few years – it’s hard not to feel their pain. And surprisingly, at first it was hard not to relive my own.

Thankfully, getting to the other side does happen. It takes time, healing, rest, resetting and, most importantly, getting back up and dusting ourselves off.

Also in there somewhere , but absolutely necessary, is re-prioritizing. Values change, focus changes and, eventually, we learn how to negotiate back into our lives the prerequisite margin we need to live life fully – preferably more fully than before.

Ultimately, though, we have to be there for each other. Not only would I never wish a layoff on someone the way they happen these days. I wouldn’t wish on anyone to go through it alone.

Rainy days and Mondays

Well, we know it ain’t Monday anymore.

But it is a rainy day. And a hard, dark day on a lot of levels, for reasons it would be unfair to explore here.

Suffice it to say that, the gloom and doom shall pass. It really will.

And joy comes in the morning.

So close and yet so far

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 5.31.44 PMI felt like I was at a library of obscure books the other night when I googled “Coahuila, Mexico.” You know, so I can learn more about why, oh, why I can’t find my great-grandfather Braulio or any of his compadres.

But wow – the books I came up with, most of which are out of print or so rare you couldn’t possibly find them in any library or bookstore, are a treasure trove of (presumable) context and insight.

I’ve learned recently to search for obscure book topics or titles in Google Play, but who knew I’d come across stuff like this?

So I’m kind of overwhelmed now by what could either be a treasure trove (glass half-full) or a bunch more needles in my haystack (glass half-empty). The mind is getting weary and I might just be sucking my positive juice dry.

Now, if I could just find a book that can tell me what the heck happened to Saltillo parish records from the mid-19th century – a fire, flood, some disaster? – I might have more of a lead of what was going on in those days and whether it’s my great-grandfather who’s “missing” or just his records.

For now, a little spittle on a test strip for DNA-by-mail is going to have to do.

Can’t we all just get along?

Rodney King caricature. He speaks into a mic

A little throwback in light of the week’s events in the U.S. Painful then, painful now. No more. Image Cass Anaya via Creative Commons.

The next chapter … faster?

I know I won’t be the first to be hung up, possibly for years, on researching an ancestor.

But the optimist in me wants to believe my case will be different – that I’ll get a break of some kind and be able to forge ahead.

I’m not sure whether last night was “that” break, but the vetting and sorting process for getting to the bottom of my great-grandfather Braulio‘s history just got a whole lot easier.

Braulio-AncestryAs a beginner genealogist, I’ve gotten so much out of Family Search, although it’s easy to lose a lot of time due to the need to search manually from so much data.

Until recent weeks, I hadn’t really taken Ancestry.com seriously – mostly because, of all the data available on my family members, very little of it could be validated through actual documentation. Regardless how much I found, it seemed I’d always have to return to Family Search for validation or more research.

So I lost confidence in Ancestry’s validity – even though, I have to admit, the DNA test was becoming more tempting.

And then last night, I caught something on the Ancestry site that prompted me – finally – to download the mobile app, which I’d resisted because I thought it was only for photos.

I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong.

Let’s just say that, once installed, this app saved me hours upon hours – possibly days – of compiling peripheral family members around Braulio.

Sigh. For what it’s worth: I now love this (late) man dearly, merely due to how hard I am having to work to “know” him.

Anyway, I basically rebuilt my family tree within the app in just a couple of hours. Nearly everyone for whom I have records in past generations is now loaded into my Ancestry family tree.

Then tonight, I caved and bought the DNA kit (20% off through 4/27 this time around). Its results, I hope, will keep me busy for awhile by helping me discover within-scope ancestors and, by contrast, those who might not be in my lines.

As my friend Estelle likes to say, the beat goes on … And the mirror ball – my head – keeps spinning right along with it.