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Pursuing your passion

In Children and Family, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:36 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I once read that great things are unique and unconventional. I’m certain that’s true and in order to achieve great things we, ourselves, must be equally unique and unconventional. We have to step outside our comfort zones. Or, as is often the case with me, run screaming outside them and be willing to screw up big time and embarrass ourselves in the process. To do any less will mean perpetual mediocrity.

I used to believe that everyone searches for purpose in life. But, what I’ve learned in my nearly half-century on this earth, is that there are people who just don’t care. That’s not meant to sound harsh, I just mean that day-to-day living is, for all practical reasons, their “purpose.”

Still, some can find meaning in the most superficial of accomplishments however self-serving others might see them. Achieving great things means different things to different people, some more superficial than others. But it’s all in how you look at it.

In my experience, finding that sense of self-worth is incredibly difficult and a constant personal journey for me. I have no real answers to how to get there, but I have discovered that the path begins with three steps – locate your passion, apply your talent and help others. Let’s look at the details.

First, “locate your passion.” According to Dictionary.com, the most accurate definition of the word “passion” in this context is, “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Such as, “he has a ‘passion’ for music.”

My friend Jim Karns, and the rest of “The Brothers & Co.” and I find some of our purpose in bringing laughter and music to others.

This is probably the most difficult part of the process because even the very concept is ambiguous. I know it’s always been hard for me to nail it down and then figure out how that fits with work, family responsibilities and goals.

Finding your passion requires a great deal of personal exploration, reflection, and trial and error. The journey to discovering your passion is the search for that one “thing” that makes you forget to eat or go to the bathroom.

Whenever I hear someone talk about “passion,” particularly related to an occupation or job, it usually comes from some crunchy granola-type artist or non-profit worker. I’m not sure I’ve ever found a single, motivating passion in my life. I have several, all of which have equal importance to who I am. I’m still working on it, and it’s very likely to be a continuing effort of weeks, months, or even years.

Second on my list is, “apply your talent.” Here the idea is to take whatever talents you have – natural or learned, yes there are both – and apply that skill and energy to your passion.

For example, let’s say your passion turns out to be writing. You’ll probably first want to decide what kind of writer you want to be. Do you pen Shakespearean drama, or do your talents flow more towards “Fifty Shades of Grey?” What makes you want to write? What kind of writing makes you want to sit down and just let the stories flow onto your computer screen, to the exclusion of everything else? That’s where applying your talent to your passion really comes into play.

Third, and possibly the most rewarding and important of your first steps, is helping others. As you achieve a certain level of awareness and success, it becomes more important for you to share your knowledge and understanding with those less accomplished.

This in no way implies that you have to be an expert or have every aspect of your life’s pursuit nailed down. It just means that you should try to help those who may not be as advanced in their search. Mentoring is one of the most rewarding of experiences to come out of this process.

Mentoring is not the only way to help people while continuing your personal growth. I’ve found that volunteering to work in an organization or for a cause that falls within your passion interest can also be incredibly valuable to both the beneficiaries of the effort and to yourself.

Giving your life more meaning by pursuing a personal passion is not easy and it’s certainly not right for everyone. We only get one life and one future so don’t waste it.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.  More at gerydeer.com

 

What’s in a label?

In Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

One things that human beings have in common is an insatiable need to label each other, both individually and by groups. I’m no expert at human evolution or psychology, but I’d guess that categorizing our fellow man must have been a leftover from prehistoric times. Our instinctive ability to size up a potential adversary may have served us well as cave people, but today, those emotions can inadvertently damage our relationships in the civilized world.

For our discussion purposes, the term “label” generally implies a negatively-focused word that’s used to identify someone based on visible stereotypical characteristics, like behavior, clothing, language, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. It’s not a factual assessment but rather an assumption, and it’s nearly always wrong. I’ve never found labels particularly helpful and arrived at from a single action or characteristic.

It gets a little confusing when you think about how to accurately describe someone without bias or negativity. If I were a Muslim, for example, it would be OK to say, “He’s a Muslim,” if you are stating a fact. On the other hand, if it’s stated in a way that has a negative connotation behind it like, “He’s one of those Muslims,” that’s not a fact, it’s a label. It comes with images of terrorism or other undesirable stereotypes.

In fact, trying to find any unoffensive example of labeling was a challenge, but I figured if I use myself as the subject that would be OK, so here it goes. I was raised on a farm in a rural community. Some people have a predetermined “image” of what someone like me should look, act and sound like.

My corn-fed brethren might even be labeled with a term that I find incredibly offensive – redneck. Despite what some might think, it’s just as intolerant to pin a racial slur on a white person as anyone else. It does, indeed, go both ways.

People are people – not labels. (Infographic courtesy of TrustLifeToday.com)

The general assumption is that someone with my background is uneducated, ignorant, with a “hillbilly” accent, bad grammar, less than stellar dental hygiene and who prefers to date within his or her own family. Throw in some right-wing, gun-totin’, Bible-quotin’, racism and that’s pretty much the way the liberal left sees us too.

Absolutely none of this is accurate where I am concerned, nor is it for most people I know. I’m well educated, I have no discernible accent, I’m not racist and, while my grammar isn’t perfect all the time, I’d like to think I’m above average in that area. The point is that the “rural” label is usually so far off as to be laughable. In fact, when people meet me they generally have no clue as to my background. None of this implies anything positive.

All that said, a close friend reminded me recently that labels have a positive side as well. In some cases, when people are vastly different from ourselves, a label can sometimes give us a reference point to understanding.

If you’re like me, a rural-raised American, you may have never met someone from, say inland China. When that opportunity arises, a label might be helpful as a starting point. If I say, “she is Chinese,” you probably already have an idea of what that means in your mind and an image forms based on your past understanding.

This type of labeling can be helpful provided the assessment does not end there and you keep an open mind about the individual. We must be respectful of the fact that we are each far more than the sum of our parts. I’m a farm boy, but a quick Google of my name will tell you there’s nothing “typical” about me. And that’s true for most of the people I know who grew up like I did.

Remember that labels are generally bad, but could have a positive application if people are willing to look beyond the surface and learn about the individual. Categorizing anyone can be incredibly destructive and serve only to perpetuate nonconstructive stereotypes. Give people a chance and learn about them before you slap a tag on their forehead. Our diversity in the world really is our strength. Let’s start behaving that way.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. more at deerinheadlines.com

 

Veterans do not want pity

In Health, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on February 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThe way in which we care for military veterans in this country is shameful, to say the least. And, so far in the Trump administration’s first term, there has been no movement to correct it. Strangely, some people still think veterans are just whining or wanting some kind of pity from the rest of us.

Well for those of you who think they’re whining, here are some facts. There are more than 21.5 million living veterans in America. From that group we know that they are 26.3 percent less educated than the average citizen, earn more money on average, about $8800 per year more, and 71 percent of them vote in general elections.

Nearly 2 million veterans and almost 1 million of their family members, lack health insurance and more than one-sixth of all veterans have an active duty related disability that they can’t get the Veterans Administration to recognize. If they do recognize it, some veterans must wait up to three years for treatment to begin.

Veterans don't want pity - they want what they were promised.

Veterans don’t want pity – they want what they were promised.

The divorce rates for veterans is at record levels while declining among the civilian population. Veterans are half as likely to be homeless as non-vets and more soldiers have committed suicide this year than have died on the battlefield. These statistics are incomprehensible to any sensible, thinking person.

My questions are simple. Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where are the executive orders? None of the above have happened, nor are they likely to.
Sure, occasionally you get an appropriations bill coming through congress that’s supposed to shore up resources for veteran programs, update medical facilities, or increase money for benefits a bit. But that’s it, and even that money gets whittled down repeatedly until the overall impact is negligible.

Dozens of veteran-focused organizations are out there with the mission to assist individuals with problems like jobs, housing, welfare, whatever. But these are people who have protected us from at least one full generation that has done so voluntarily. No one conscripted them – they went willingly to take up the front lines.

While elected officials debate and

Those of us with veterans in our families understand the reality of waiting weeks for a doctor’s appointment or months for treatment of a diagnosis. But it’s not all about medical care.

Make no mistake. Veterans don’t want our pity but our respect and to have the U.S. Government fulfill its promise of lifelong care for their service. In this writer’s opinion, beyond race or gender, a veteran should be given first consideration for jobs, loans, business opportunities and so on. They’ve earned it. They put their civilian lives on hold, and sometimes their very lives on the line for all of us.

To put it into perspective, members of the U.S. Congress receive lifelong retirement and health insurance benefits befitting most other federal employees at the same pay level – on average around $220,000 per year. But it’s a sure bet that none of them would have to wait three years for any diagnosis or treatment but all of them get to decide on how much money goes towards caring for the veterans who will.

It’s disgraceful that any serving enlisted military member must survive on welfare of any kind. Then, once they finish their tour – or tours – of duty, they must depend on the V.A. for services that are so low in standard as to be laughable. And change is moving at a snail’s pace.

I’m not a veteran. I considered going into the U.S. Air Force after high school, but health issues made that impossible. Still, as a citizen, I’m constantly impressed and in awe of the level of which military men and women, active and retired, serve with no regrets, and who express unshakable loyalty to a country which has done virtually nothing to support them after the fact.

Veterans don’t want a handout. They want an opportunity; an opportunity to receive what they were promised when Uncle Sam accepted their signature. There’s nothing charitable about that – it’s just the right thing to do.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the podcast version, free,  at MyGreeneRadio.com.

The invisible side of caregiving.

In Children and Family, finances, Health, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

12191385_10153464406329342_2088873762632508759_oWhen you think of the term “caregiver,” you might have the image in your head of the dutiful family member looking out for an elderly parent or disabled child. What you see in public or on the surface is someone helping a senior citizen do her shopping or teaching a child with limited mobility to use an iPad. But, it’s the stuff you never see that is really the hard part of the job.

Caring for a family member is not something that comes with many benefits. Actually, there is only one benefit – looking after your loved one. Yes, there are some people who get paid to take care of a family member, but that’s rare and extremely difficult to

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Shower prep for caregivers can be like gearing up for battle. Helping a senior parent with every day personal care can be hard to get used to – for both – but extremely necessary.

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Medicines must be cataloged, dosed, and set into daily dispense containers. Tracking of administration is also necessary to ensure proper care, safety and financial maintenance.

Personal care is one of the hardest parts of caring for a senior parent. Different than helping a child with these issues, an elderly adult has a different perception of self-sufficiency and personal dignity. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for my father that he now needs help just to do something as simple as shaving or taking a shower.

As a Parkinson’s sufferer, Dad can’t hold his hands still enough to shave with a safety razor and we’ve had to go to an electric model. He does his best to try to do it on his own, but his hands can’t apply any pressure to the razor on his face so it misses, well, pretty much everything. So once a week, we do a complete, clean shave starting with a trimmer.

Showers also require some consideration to personal dignity while trying to ensure complete cleanliness. When I help Dad with a shower, it’s like gearing up for battle. It’s tough to get used to, for both of us. But we do our best. I just try to make sure he gets in and out without injury, get him clean and get him dressed. How would you feel if, suddenly, your children had to help you with trimming nails, combing hair, or washing? You have to be aware of your charge’s discomfort while still meeting the needs.

Managing medications is also a challenge for caregivers. I’m actually pretty lucky in our situation because Dad’s meds – for now at least – can be divided into two daily packets. Every Sunday, I refill a daily box dispenser and we have a record book to record every dose administered and by whom.

14192078_10154177027939342_4999691246789055042_nMoney is probably the biggest sore spot for many caregivers as well because we end up having to handle our own homes as well as the finances of our charge. It wasn’t long after my mother became ill that I learned who the money manager of the house was as I grew up.

As is common with many elderly folks, Dad was letting bills go unpaid, utilities were being cut off, debt was mounting and statements lay unopened, piling up on the kitchen table – Never again. My siblings and I took over managing his money and paid off all his major debt so we only have living expenses, medicines and doctor bills to worry about.

The problem is that things won’t stay that way. People don’t understand how little Medicare and its supplements really cover and the expenses continue to mount as a senior’s care grows more complicated because things like Parkinson’s continue to progress.

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Adjusting work to caregiver life is rarely easy, sometimes it is impossible. Many caregivers have to choose one over the other.

Naturally, The U.S. Congress is far too busy voting itself another ridiculous raise and cutting Social Security to bother considering how to better spend money to care for its citizens. After all, it’s “our” money. And there is no outside financial support for caregivers.

So, the bills continue to roll in – co-pays, lift chairs, vaccinations, home care (yes, it’s mostly self-pay), unforeseen changes in the health of the patient and the understanding that with Parkinson’s, diabetes and glaucoma, my father will get worse, even with the best possible care.

Tons of other things come into play too. When you’re a caregiver, you’re often the housekeeper, accountant, chef, chauffeur, nurse, clothes and dishwasher, and much more. The rest of the world doesn’t see the countless hours spent making sure the things like cracker packets and juice bottles are stored in a way he can easily open them with limited mobility.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about my experiences in helping to care for my parents. But people I meet always seem to be shocked how much we have to do that no one ever sees. So, when you see someone out in public dealing with something like this, just remember how hard it is and open a door for them or be patient when they’re sorting groceries for two households at the checkout. We appreciate it.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is available as a podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

Hope in a world of tragedy.

In Health, Holiday, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on December 30, 2016 at 10:46 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOHope – A small word that carries a great deal of weight. Hope inspires people, gives them purpose, direction, even courage. For some, hope is all they have to motivate them.

If you look up hope in a dictionary its synonyms include: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, and so on. But I’m not entirely convinced that these are accurate. In my mind, hope is not a simple thought or expectation, but one of the most powerful of all emotions.

Yes, hope is an emotion. It has no medical or biological origin. It is a complete figment of the heart, which can move the mind and body to do incredible things. Unlike other aspirational emotions, I believe that hope requires the additional element of faith.

The type of faith depends strongly on the individual. It could be faith in God or some other supernatural belief. It could be faith in one’s own character and accomplishments. For me, faith in the integrity, loyalty and support of others is what fuels my hope. If hope is to have weight, faith must be unwavering and consistent.

Action is also needed in the equation in order to move you towards your goal. You can’t just sit idly by and dream of something, you must act. You “hope” your child will be accepted to a good school. So you do things to support that hope by helping her along the way providing, music lessons, math camp, whatever supports the end goal.

Hope without action is merely a wish, void of substance or direction. A wish is fine if you’re throwing a penny into a fountain, but hope is usually focused around a mindset of action.

Sometimes, people still have hope for things over which they have no control. A great many people hoped the 2016 U.S. presidential election would have turned out differently.

Others hope the new president will do all of the things he says he will and meet their hopes for America. Either way, it’s all about your perspective – and that’s often the very nature of hope.

In hope, as in life, perspective is everything. Your hopes are dependent upon your life view. You hope for things that will improve or enhance the lives of yourself and those closest to you. Hope also requires time.

Action is rarely instantaneous, so time is required for hope to be a motivator. That’s hard sometimes, particularly if someone is in dire need. When we hope a sick family member will recover, we have to be patient while the treatments are applied.

Also, we generally “hope” for things to turn out for the best. Our anticipation may grow because of hope. Good news about a potential raise or promotion at work can build hope. It’s not often that hope is associated with something negative.

But again, hope is nothing without faith and action. If you are someone who generally sits idly by praying that God or someone else will fix your problem, I’m afraid you’re in for a big disappointment. You have to take steps towards what you want – even if it doesn’t feel you have much control over it.

With so much tragedy in the world – wars, mass shootings, and xenophobic politicians – how can you find hope? If I had the answer to questions like that, the Dalai Lama would have some competition or his job.

The fact is that we should have hope despite tragedy. Keeping our hope alive is what gives purpose to human beings in perilous circumstances. No matter how well off someone might seem to be in position, finances, love, work, whatever, we all have hopes for something.

Hope isn’t as much about answers but more about questions. What do you want out of life? Have you done anything to move towards getting those things? Are you making a plan to get there?

It’s been said that hope is the desire for something with the expectation of getting it. Well, as I’ve pointed out, I don’t believe it’s quite so simple. If it were, hope wouldn’t be such a powerful influence on human existence.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. 

 

Resolving for a better new year.

In Education, Health, Holiday, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on December 22, 2016 at 11:55 pm

img_3313Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

 

 

 

DIH LOGOWell, the holidays are upon us once more and 2016 is nearing an end. It’s safe to say that the past year has certainly been filled with remarkable change. What did 2016 mean to you? Was it an end or a beginning? Did you experience triumph or tragedy?

If you’re like most, it was a mixture of both. Sometimes it’s hard to discern the difference. What some see as catastrophe, others view as a success. It really depends on your perspective. Of course, the New Year is always a good time to make a change for the better in your own life.

But be aware that most statistics show that only around 46 percent of resolutions continue past six months. At the same time, people who set a goal based on a resolution are 10 percent more likely to succeed than those who do not.

However you do it, in order to change your life for the better you have to get up and take the first step. And, sometimes attitude is everything where life changes are concerned.

You have to stay positive, dismiss the naysayers and keep motivated and moving forward. So, whether you start because of a resolution or just because you think now is a good time, your potential success or failure rests largely with your motivation.

Additionally, remember that you can’t force someone else to change either. If they want a different life, they have to take the steps toward that end.

For example, suppose Lisa is dating Mike and she’s having a tough time because he is addicted to role-playing games. Lisa wants to eventually marry Mike, but she cannot handle the gaming.

Lisa believes, however, that she can change him, help him to see the error of his ways. She believes that she can set a resolution to reform him with love – or a rolling pin (just kidding, she doesn’t bake – she actually uses a frying pan).

Mike is never going to change because someone else wants him to do so. If he wants to quit playing he will have to do it for his own reasons. I am certainly no psychologist, but I do know that for any New Year’s resolution to be successful, the desire to change has to come from within.

I may be wrong, but I think the motivation for change at the start of a new year comes from a deep desire in all of us for a fresh start. Most people want to strive for something better, no matter what our situation. Of course, there are still people out there who simply don’t care and are either complacent or resigned.

For some, the new year offers an opportunity to get “it” right – whatever your particular “it” happens to be at the time. In any case, it’s up to you to make those choices and follow through. If you don’t, you have no one to blame but yourself.

You can get things moving by creating a list of the things you want to accomplish in the coming year. For the record, I’d leave out a lottery jackpot and focus on more realistic expectations, like finishing your education or pursuing a career change.

Then figure out what it takes to reach those milestones and make a plan to get there (the “make a plan” part is pretty important). You will likely have a great deal of work to do and, for some at least, a long-term goal may require multiple short-term steps. Be patient, work hard and stay focused.

Incidentally, staying focused may indeed be the biggest challenge you face. The aforementioned plan is vital. Lay it out, be consistent, stick to it one step at a time, rather than trying to do everything all at once, and you can be successful.

A New Year’s resolution can be either a step towards improving your life or it can be a fruitless, frustrating endeavor that causes you stress and worry. It all depends on how committed you are to the kind of change you want in your life. However you do it, the choice rests with you.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Listen to the Deer In Headlines podcast free at MyGreeneRadio.com.

 

There is always another way

In Education, Health, Holiday, Media, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Uncategorized on December 12, 2016 at 8:55 am

By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines

For some people, maybe even among those close to you, every day can be an emotional struggle. The problem might be not enough money or too little work. Still, others struggle with personal demons, addictions, mental illness, or family difficulties. The list is endless and, often, there is no way out for those fighting such overwhelming internal battles.

edouard_manet_-_le_suicideWhen life becomes too difficult to manage anymore and the odds seem totally stacked against them, some simply choose not to go on. According to the most recent statistics, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, averaging 117 per day. Those are staggering numbers.

Much of the time, a suicide attempt is a plea for help. The sufferer will talk about it, threaten it; even make the attempt. But when someone really wants out, there is rarely a warning or long, dramatic leader – they just do it.

By then, it’s too late to help. Sometimes it’s up to the rest of us to try to recognize and help the individual before it gets that far. Sadly, that doesn’t always work. You can’t help someone who is unwilling, or if there is mental illness or other medical issues in play, the sufferer may not even realize it.

Life can be daunting for someone dealing with these kinds of struggles especially when trying to meet the expectations of others, exhibit self-expression without judgment, or just deal with outside criticism. All of that can really knock joy out of even the happiest of everyday activity. Usually, there is a clinical reason for all of this, whether it’s ever treated or not.

Let me be clear, I’m no psychologist or counselor so I’m speaking generally and colloquially about all of this. But suicide has touched my life on more than one occasion.

I know that for those struggling with severe depression or suicidal thoughts, the world must seem a really dark and unforgiving place. It doesn’t help to lob useless platitudes at someone like that either; it’s neither helpful nor productive.

And the reality of someone considering suicide is not obvious or cliché like it is on some Lifetime TV movie. Someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts may not look “sad” or anxious in any way to an observer. People who have to deal with this kind of roller coaster of emotion can learn to hide it pretty well.

Also, expecting or nagging someone to just “snap out of it” is not only impossible it can actually make matters worse. When you do that you may be reinforcing the idea that there’s something wrong with the person, that they’re not “normal.” A caring, nonjudgmental ear can go a long way easing some of the emotional pain.

The truth is, depression and other similar issues are, in fact, perfectly normal. It’s the level and cause of the issue that changes the effectiveness of treatment. But every treatment is dependent on the individual seeking out help – and that can be tough. But suicide is not inevitable. Opening the conversation is a start.

If you’re reading this and know someone who might be dealing with these kinds of issues, there is help available. If that person is you, I have a personal plea – please don’t give up. Think of the people you love and who love you and what you mean to them and what losing you will mean. We all have a much bigger effect on those around us than we realize.

Confide in someone close to you. If there is no one then call a local hotline or visit a nearby support group. You can usually stay anonymous and people can help direct you to where you can get long-term assistance.

If you’re in need of support right now, please don’t give up! If you have no one else or can’t talk to those close to you, then call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s free and confidential.

It might not seem like it, but there is plenty to live for, just take the first step, ask for help, and give it a chance. You have no idea what it will mean to those around you. There is always another way.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Stories, the tapestry of our lives

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Literature, Opinion, Uncategorized on November 9, 2016 at 9:35 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines
DIH LOGOLong before man learned to put pen to paper, stories kept the history of human kind. Passed down from generation to generation, our stories weave the tapestry of who we are as a people, the perils and the promise, the struggles and successes.

One might think in this modern age of nonstop information, digital data and wearable technology, that we would have abandoned the need for sharing stories verbally. Thankfully, I’ve learned not only that the practice is alive and well, but also takes place often in the most unlikely places.

Recently I was privileged to attend a storytelling event hosted by my friend Michael. For more than two decades, he and some of his closest friends have gathered each year to share stories of all kinds.

Painting by Albert Anker

Painting by Albert Anker

Everyone brings a snack or beverage to share and gather, goodies in hand, to lose themselves in the tales spun by each reader.  Those chosen to read take, in turn, the “reader’s chair” to share aloud an original story or a piece by a favorite author.

I’ve both hosted and attended author readings before. But I’ve never been to something like this. But there is no formal group or organization involved here. There is no religious or political agenda – something I found beyond refreshing.

The entire evening is focused, not the quality of the writing or the impact of the stories, but the fellowship and common interest of long time friends and new acquaintances. It was the modern day equivalent of a tribe sitting around a campfire.

What I was most impressed by was everyone’s level of attention, respect and admiration for the person in the reader’s chair. This was not something people were compelled to attend. There was no work obligation or social requirement.

And, while some of us who were there are writers, most were not. Add to that such a variety of people who really had only one thing in common – our host. One person whose circle of friends combined for this single purpose, a couple of hours of distance between us and the chaos of the world outside.

The stories chosen were also captivating, not as much because of the tales being told but the teller. Each reader had his or her own, individual style, some more animated, others more calm and quiet. To say it was entertaining would be an understatement.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that in our “immediate” society, it was really nice to calm down, relax and just be there, in the moment, among friends and new acquaintances.

You know what else? No one was looking at their smart phone or any other kind of screen for a couple of hours! Sure people checked for texts once in a while from the sitter or verified the ringer was off. But, for just a little while, no one was nose-down into a glowing box.

It might sound corny to some people but there’s something great about the disconnection from the outside to connect with the in. That’s saying something since socializing is not my strong suit. I’ve never been that comfortable at social gatherings, always feeling awkward and out of place, but not this time.

Everyone was engaged and welcoming in this setting, with no hidden agendas, no ulterior motives, no business maneuvering. This was just some great people getting together to enjoy an evening of calm, thoughtful writing.

Yes, it’s probably a bit nerdy and may sound pretentious to some people. But, I can assure you it wasn’t. If anything, it gave me a break from the hustle bustle of the week and I got to see my friend Michael in a different environment, something we should all try to do from time to time.

Sharing stories creates our history and weaves our society together and we need to remember that it started with two people communicating with each other – directly, person to person. Try it sometime. You might just find you have more in common with those around you than you may have thought. And thanks again to Michael and his storytellers.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the Deer In Headlines podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

 

 

Detach and de-stress from politics

In Health, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology on May 17, 2016 at 7:57 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA July 2014 article in The Washington Post included a headline that read, “Politicians are the No. 1 cause of stress in our lives.” The article focused on a stress survey in which, “Americans cited, ‘Hearing about what the government or politicians are doing,’ as the most frequent daily stressor on their lives, and at a substantially higher rate than the usual annoyances like commuting, chores and general schedule-juggling.”

That was nearly two years ago and reactions to day-to-day politics were driving the survey. At that time the dizzying level of ridiculousness surrounding the 2016 presidential bid had yet to shift into high gear. Now, with just a few weeks until the first convention, the stakes have never been higher, and neither has our collective blood pressure.

In the time between now and the conventions, it’s unlikely anything of consequence will occur. There will be blustering and feather ruffling from candidates, but, in the end, the convention is the next decisive event. It’s time to back away for a while.

If the presidential race has driven a wedge between you and those close to you, it may be time let it go. It’s not important. The truth is, very little that takes place on the presidential campaign level will affect those of us down here in the real world.

And it certainly is not worth the loss of close friendships. So how do you disconnect? Well, here are a few short tips.

First, step away from social media – immediately! As if the cable news blather wasn’t enough, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of social media is inundated with opinion, and certainly not necessarily what you would call, “informed” opinion.

maxresdefaultMost people, for whatever reason, have a difficult time recognizing fact from rhetoric. How many times have you been taken in on Facebook or Twitter by some fake news story? Generally those kinds of things are harmless. But when conflict and gossip are presented as factually based information, things get murky and you have to know the difference.

Along with the computer, switch off the TV as well. Face it you’re never going to get an “objective” view of any candidate, party or issue from corporate news agencies. Every organization introduces the spin they want you to hear. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest, have their own political agendas and when they want you to think, they’ll tell you how.

Consider also, how you feel when you encounter political news. Take close note of your emotions when you’re reading, watching or listening to political material. Does your heart rate jump? Do you feel angry or enraged? Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what they want; “they” being the media manipulators.

But, you don’t have to fall for it. You can choose what information to which you are exposed and how it affects you. If you just let them get to you, that’s your own fault.

Probably the best way to keep from being overwhelmed by the election hype is to be informed. Do your own research on the candidates and issues and get the information as first-hand as possible. The more facts you know, the less likely you are to get sucked into the garbage.

Politics can sometimes be a fun diversion, though for whom I haven’t a clue. But when things are as charged up as they are this time around, most of what results is stress, angry feelings and regretful behavior.

Remember that politicians at that level – including Hillary, Bernie, and Donald – have no stake in your life. They could care less about anything save their own quest for power, ego and personal benefit. And they’ll say anything to get the votes they want. Anyone who sincerely believes otherwise is a bit naive.

So as the election creeps up on us, be prepared to go vote your conscience when the time comes. Until then, shut it all down, tune it all out, and relax!

For further study and resource …

6 Ways To Cope With Political Stress by Dr. David Lowenstein

http://drlowenstein.com/2016/03/10/6-ways-to-cope-with-political-stress/

5 Ways To Avoid Stress and Stay Healthy In Political Campaigns by PoliticalCampaigningTips.com

http://www.politicalcampaigningtips.com/5-ways-to-avoid-stress-stay-healthy-in-political-campaigns/

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

 

 

Confronting your greatest fear

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on April 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

In the aftermath of the 1974 Xenia tornado, people in surrounding communities did what they could to help with the cleanup. Although my father was a teacher at the vocational school at the time, he also had heavy trucks so we went to help as well.

Everywhere you looked was devastation. Stunned families cried or stared blankly as broken water mains sprayed the splintered remains of unrecognizable homes. It was horrific. Even as a first-grader, what I saw that first day among the shattered remains of Xenia was inexorably seared into my memory and cultivated a fear of storms that’s hard for me to, even now, put into words.

During my first couple of years of college, I was fortunate enough to live at home and commute. One after class I went home and settled in to watch a movie and scarf down some drive thru before hitting the books. It was a dark, rainy day and the sky had that “look” about it.

Ever since that day in 1974, I’ve been keenly aware of unstable weather, as if I had some kind of built in, biological barometer in my head and this was one of those days when that sense was at its peak.

As I plowed through my burger and onion rings in front of the TV, the power flickered several times, but I did my best to ignore it. I was home alone, and as the wind and rain picked up, the trees in the valley surrounding our small farm it sounded like wild animals roaring in the distance.

At one point, I ventured out the back door and stood behind the house, watching the clouds off to the southwest. The wind became still. The rain stopped. It was dead quiet. I walked to the other side of the house for a better view on the far side of our barn. And there it was. About a hundred yards away, spinning down from the sky to the pasture in front of me – a tornado. It was small, gray, kicking up debris and dancing its way across the field in front of me as if with some kind of purpose in mind.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3. This is probably the most famous photo taken of the giant twister from Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart.

I was frozen; not with fear, but with fascination. There it was, right in front of me, the thing I feared most; no, more than that. It was the only thing I’d ever been afraid of. Any normal person would have bolted to the nearest cellar. But I didn’t. I stood there, motionless.

A moment later, the funnel met the ancient wooden sideboards of one of my dad’s old farm trucks and they exploded into splinters with a sound like the cracking of a dozen brittle bones. I still didn’t move. I wasn’t afraid at all.

It seemed like it took an eternity for it to cross the 10-acre spread of pasture field, but it was probably more like 30 seconds. It bounced across the road a quarter mile away, circumvented one neighbor’s home completely but then crashed into an adjacent barn, destroying it in the blink of an eye and scattered bits of wood, sheet metal and hay for miles. I stood there, still motionless, taking it all in.

And as quickly as it came, it was gone. After it wrecked the barn across the road, it dissolved into nothing. A moment later, I realized I was being soaked by rain but still staring off across the field. It left a path of small debris along the way and mashed down the high grass as if some kids had tromped a trail through the field. But it was over. And any fear I once felt of these storms was gone.

As I got older, I studied everything I could about tornadoes, even going on a few local storm chases back in school. Over the years, I faced with two more of the swirling monsters but no longer fear any kind of storm. Today I am respectful of their power and unpredictability and still have a sixth sense when things aren’t right in the wind. The best thing any of us can do during Ohio’s tornado seasons is to be alert and prepared.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.