Letters and privilege

A letter sitting on a desk

The pandemic has forced us to slow down. And that’s a good thing.

One of the slow-downs has sped up life for many… delivery services are overloaded. A good friend drives for Amazon. He has been regularly been putting in 60-hour workweeks. Knowing him makes me very thankful to all the delivery drivers out there.

An upside to overloaded delivery services is that we have to wait. Amazon Prime used to mean next-day delivery. Now it can mean two-week delivery.

Some of the things we “need” we really don’t need.


We have some friends in South Africa. They live near Cape Town, a beautiful place that would be fun to visit. That’s on my list of dream destinations… if only the airfare was less. (Sigh.)

I sent them a letter last summer and received it back a month later. A stamped message on the envelope informed me that South Africa no longer has any mail service.

Wow.

I take for granted the privilege that mail is.


Before the pandemic, one of my sons lived in Sicily, Italy. Two months was the normal time for my letters to reach his mailbox.

Living in America is a privilege.

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Space

dining room table with saturday morning coffee and reading

You have to find space in your life.

Life has seasons. When our kids were seven, five and zero years old, we had little space in our lives to think, plan or relax.

Now that we’re semi-empty nesters,* there’s more space.

* Our college-age daughter is temporarily home on break and staying busy with work and friends. Our two sons are no longer living under the same roof.

No matter the season, I’ve always tried to carve out space to let my mind recover from the stresses of the week.

Saturday morning has been that time for many years. I wake up at the same time as on weekdays, so the house is quiet for about two hours before anyone appears.

I enjoy the newspaper. (Yes, we still have it delivered. There’s something about consuming information on paper that is more satisfying than looking at a screen, especially on the weekend.)

I love my coffee-press coffee.

I savor the quiet.


I would encourage you to carve out some space in your week. Let your mind breathe.

Maybe it’s just a five-minute walk around the block.

Enjoy.

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My favorite month

Aspen leaves in the mountains of Colorado during September

September is my favorite month.

After a long hot summer, the cool days are such a wonderful change.

Leaves are starting to change, at least in North America. (I missed that during the five years I lived in Africa.) Growing up in suburban Washington DC, I loved the rich variety of colors falling around me.

My birthday hits this month. Though I’m not huge on birthday celebrations, it’s still a fun day.

School starts. Or it did during my childhood… that was before school began in August. I always enjoyed going back to class and friends, even though it meant the pain of homework.

Enjoy your September!

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Weird times

Skyline of Denver with a construction crane

These are such strange times.

We’re surrounded by business closing – yet some sectors of the stock market are soaring.

The world has become Woke and yet there seems to be complete intolerance toward anything but the majority view. Every single written or spoken word is judged using just one filter that determines what is correct.

In the name of justice, society is shutting down traditional methods of maintaining law and order.

Wake me up when it’s over.

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When change happens too fast

dead leaves on a tree in autumn

Autumn hit Denver this year faster than ever. The temperature dropped 70 degrees in 12 hours. As a result, most leaves never had a chance to turn their usual bright colors. They went from green to brown and are falling swiftly to the ground.

Business often forces growth in the same way. If the acceleration of growth happens at the speed of a Ferrari, what could go wrong?

A lot.

When quantity increases too fast, quality drops.

The end user’s needs often get lost in the push to get the product out the door.

So instead, slow down and experience the joys of life – both personally and in your business.


Caveat… businesses should be able to adapt to change quickly. An example is the music industry and its slow adjustment to the changes streaming brought to the marketplace.

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Cauterized

match with flame

The older we get, the more cynical and cauterized we can become about life’s experiences.

As we’re hurt, it’s easy to say, “I’ve experienced this before, so it shouldn’t hurt as much this time through.”

Wrong.

If you experience pain, it shows you’re alive.

I’m thankful to be alive.

Sometimes it’s better to fully experience our pain rather than avoiding it. The lessons we learn might stick longer. Our appreciation of life post-pain will be greater. And our ability to empathize with those who are in pain will increase – they know we understand.

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Facing the impossible

cars parked too close in Catania, Italy

It was our last night visiting our son, Ben. He lives in a crowded, noisy, hot city in Sicily, Catania.

We decided to stay in an Airbnb together in the heart of downtown, to give him a break from his normal life.

Problem: there’s literally nowhere to park.

The main parking garage is blocked in by the outdoor market. You can only park there if you arrive before the market stalls are set up or after they are taken down – and the stalls are up for most waking hours.

We finally found a spot, after looking for 20 minutes. Ben stood in the opening so I could drive around the block to access the spot. But then my lack of directional sense meant I could not get back. (A maze of one-way streets conspired against me.)

Ben, who is totally used to living there, was almost as frustrated by the situation as I was.


The moral of the story is, how do I deal with frustration and disappointment?

In this case, things worked out, and afterward, our frustration eventually died down.

(Ben met me in a place I shared via a maps app and then navigated me back to the aforementioned slot, which quite miraculously was still open. )

But a better reaction would have been to just relax and not worry about how long it all was taking. After all, we were on vacation together!

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Matches are Lucifers

Dutch matches package

If you are in Belgium or the Netherlands and need something to start your fire, you reach for … a lucifer.

Yes, “lucifer” is one of the Dutch (or Flemish) words for matches.

English is confusing enough – did you mean match, as in “tennis,” as in “they were made for each other,” or as in, “fire starter?”

Language is important. Even if we speak the same language, we need to strive to be understood. Tuning in to the person or people we’re speaking with, a tactic that some consider to be a basic survival skill, is far more than that – it’s a way to enjoy life by seeking understanding.

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Recycling fears

I’ve never visited a recycling plant. That would make a great school field trip, but at my age, I’d have to take time off of work to enjoy such an outing.

Anyhow, I fear that sometimes stuff I’ve put into the recycling bin ends up in landfills. That’s not just a fear on my part – it’s reality: here’s the link to a related story. In America, a lot of the difficulty comes from political gyrations on the part of our current government.

Another problem comes into play – how manufacturers create their products – many times, materials are mixed, so it’s impossible to properly recycle the package or product. If you look at the plastic bottle above that contained some cold brew coffee, you’ll see that the manufacturer of the coffee was kind enough to point that out.

But how many people would take the time to peel off the label? Maybe 2%, if we’re lucky!

I would love it if manufacturers would employ creative resources (and funds) to come up with easier-to-recycle packages and products. I know that some car manufacturers are moving in that direction (related story), but the rest of the product world has a long way to go.

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Burned out on Christmas music

de-inflated christmas decorations on a front lawn

I’m burned out on Christmas music.

My brother and I used to both get a Christmas CD every year. The variety of interpretations of classic Christmas carols and songs was always interesting.

Until ten years or so ago.

Then stores and parking lots and hospitals and everywhere except your car or home began playing Christmas songs from the day after Thanksgiving onward.

It’s just too much. And there’s no choice.

Their bad = my bad.

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