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Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Coping with the Big “C”

In Economy, Health, Opinion, psychology, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on November 20, 2017 at 9:06 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

According to the statistics, more than 14 million people are living with cancer today in the United States. Something like 39 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call “cancer,” on the whole, an epidemic.

Every day we’re flooded with “awareness” messages and celebrity pleas for donations to this cancer group or the other. But will there ever be a cure? And how do victims, and families, cope with the stress that comes with the realization of a cancer diagnosis?

First, let’s discuss the possibilities of a cure. For any organization to state, emphatically, that they’re working on a cure for “cancer” is a bit misleading. Cancer comes in many forms. Every research group must focus its attention on one specific type to formulate treatment and potential cures. And research is expensive.

There are countless organizations dedicated to raising funds for research but, unfortunately, that’s probably all it will be. Without sounding like the dark heart in the room, cancer is a huge cash cow to research labs and big pharma. There’s far more money in treating the disease than there ever would be a cure. It might sound cynical, but it would be naive to think there wasn’t some of that kind of thinking at play here.

But what of those who are already affected, how are patients coping with it? Each stage of the journey through cancer care brings about its own set of emotional responses. Granted, a great deal of the initial response depends on how serious the cancer is – not that there is a kind that isn’t. A good prognosis will make the impact a bit less difficult to handle.

Most patients are angry at first, experiencing a level of, “why me?” There’s some denial, more anger, and finally acceptance in some fashion. Dealing with that emotional roller coaster can be incredibly difficult for people, not just the patient but family and friends as well.

What we are told to do by the experts is to look for ways to cope with it in our own way. They first suggest you try to learn as much as you can about the diagnosis, what type of cancer it is and how it is treated. But be aware – it might seem frightening because the information is often provided out of context for the individual situation.

It’s also suggested that you express your feelings about it. Too many times we try to put on a brave face for family or friends and never really let it all out. It’s not only healthy, emotionally, to exercise those feelings, it can help the healing process.

Taking care of yourself through proper diet, exercise, maintaining your regular routines as much as possible can also help. As human beings, we need normality to function. Try to keep as much of it in your day-to-day life as possible as you move through your treatment.

Participating in support groups and talking with others who have shared your experience can be beneficial as well. There’s nothing more frightening than the unknown. When someone shares their experience with you, and knowledge can help ease fear.

We’re also directed to do our best to focus on what we can control in the situation, rather than worrying about what we can’t. Worrying only wastes energy and creates its own stress.

I recently met a woman who, during her treatment for breast cancer, a professional artist who painted stones from the hospital parking lot. Each stone represented how she felt after each treatment, all 33 of them. She made a full recovery but insists the practice helped her focus and have something within her control that also allowed her to deal with her feelings.

No one can say how they’d react to a cancer diagnosis. But, knowing you’re not alone can really help. If you or someone you know is dealing with cancer, no matter what the prognosis, be as positive as you can, and don’t miss out on a minute of life in the process.

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

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Sexual assault is a societal problem.

In Crime, Entertainment, Health, National News, Opinion, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on November 6, 2017 at 8:29 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The continued exposure of alleged sexual assault and mistreatment of women within the entertainment industry have shaken some pillars of the Hollywood elite. But exactly what good will come from the heightened media attention? More to the point, since nothing about this problem seems much of a secret, why aren’t we addressing this issue in other industries with as much vigor?

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a discussion about the idea that Hollywood’s misogynistic, casting-couch culture will likely never change. In case you’re not aware, the term “casting couch” refers to the practice whereby actors or actresses are awarded a part in a production in return for granting sexual favors to whoever is in charge. That could be a producer, casting director, agent, whatever the situation.

Harvey Weinstein has become the poster boy for Hollywood’s misogynistic culture. But he is certainly not alone.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images courtesy Variety)

Because the entertainment industry is, even now, dominated by men, this despicable practice has largely been perpetrated on women. These men promise stardom, fame, and prey on lifelong dreams for a few minutes of repugnant self-gratification.

Cultural change within an organization, or an industry, is not so much different from that of a society. There is a status quo that has developed over time, fueled largely by the ambitions of people hoping to succeed and by those already at the top who abuse their power for nefarious gain.

It’s a struggle between the powerless, trying to achieve some level of status, and the powerful, who already have it and may not have achieved it solely on merit, but by largely more devious means. As the floodgates of these allegations began to break down, more women – and men – came forward.

Although this issue should be about decency and civil rights, it has, of course, also turned political. Many of the women coming forward have been labeled publicity hounds and opportunists, primarily by conservative media. While there is certainly some measure of that going on, who can say what is real and what is unscrupulous? Only by investigating each situation can the truth come out and to not do so would be an incredible injustice.

Additionally, the entertainment industry is certainly not the only one where this kind of atmosphere is prominent. Every business has its unspoken norms, with the same stigmas attached to coming forward.

Mistreatment of women is a society-wide problem, with no isolated industry or socioeconomic group. And, while these issues tend to involve women being the subject of the abuse or misconduct, it can happen between anyone in a position of power and a subordinate or a person who feels they are required to accept such behavior because of their status. Unfortunately, we may never know the broad-reaching effects of this issue, especially when so much goes unreported or unprosecuted.

Very few of the well-documented cases within the Catholic church over the years have seen justice. It’s sickening to think that the church has so much power as to avoid the prosecution of potentially hundreds of priests who have spent years sexually abusing young boys. You’d think that the faithful would want to end abuse of any kind, but religion often plays a major role in perpetuating the oppression of women.

Many faiths persist in the subjugation of women to lower status than men, keeping them in positions of service. Young girls are taught to be fruitful and multiply and have as many children as possible to increase the congregation to better serve their god. It is one of the prime duties under the doctrine of their beliefs.

This is a disgusting level of abuse that no one seems to even want to discuss, let alone change. And, because this speaks directly to ignorance and misogyny so prevalent within the Bible-belt following of the conservative right, nothing will be done while they are in power.

Sexual assault and harassment are known and accepted practices in virtually every industry throughout the country. From entertainment to sports and government to big business, the exploitation and mistreatment of women (or others in a subordinate position) is a national, social problem. Society, as a whole, must work to end the stigma surrounding this issue and provide support and justice for those who come forward.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

 

Avoid Election Misdirection

In Education, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on October 19, 2017 at 6:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

With an election coming up, it’s important to keep focused on what’s going on here at home rather than be distracted by the childish circus that has become Washington. Do you know what local governmental seats are up for grabs or the effect the next school levy might have on you if it fails?

Most of the time, we focus our attention on big stories from national news sources and lose sight of the things that really matter. Sometimes, that’s exactly what the politicians, pundits, and issue-pushers want to happen. Politics might seem, on the surface, about an open debate between candidates or issues, but it’s mostly about misdirection.

In the 2016 presidential election, the Trump camp used misdirection and the divided state of the Democratic base to push their message. While people who could greatly alter the outcome of the election were busy with the chaos on the left, Trump’s people had more opportunity to manipulate the right and win over some middle-of-the-road and undecided voters. The same thing happens on a much smaller scale right in your own backyard.

Most local candidates, regardless of whether they are incumbent, hope that simple name recognition will do the trick. Buying a few local newspaper ads and planting hundreds of signs everywhere can give them just that, not so much recognition but a hope that people can’t remember the names of the others.

Think about it. When you step into a voting booth and there’s a seat open for township trustee (and you barely know what a trustee is, much less any of their names), you’re going to pick the name you remember. In the back of your mind, you’ve seen the signs and ads everywhere of the guy who spent the most at the print shop so you touch the screen on his name and that’s that.

Then there’s some human services levy up for a vote and you have no idea what the fine print says, but it’s for the hospital, or children’s services issue right? What kind of person would you be if you say no to that, so what if you have no idea that it’s going to double your property tax for the next five years? This might seem exaggerated but the point is clear – learn about these candidates and issues before that Tuesday in November.

In this year’s election, the state issue that stands out as most confusing to people seems to be Ohio Issue 2, the drug price standards initiative. Both sides have spent a fortune in print, digital, direct mail, and broadcast advertising trying to sway your vote one way or the other, and it’s only going to increase.

We won’t spend any time on the issue here, but suffice to say that it’s controversial because it involves Medicare drug pricing agreements between the state government and pharma companies. Talk about an unholy alliance. Can you think of any two organizations that have proven to care less about the plight of the average citizen? That’s why it’s so confusing to people.

But, you’re going to have to go look up the exact wording, but take your lawyer with you. Actually, that may not help, because the language of these proposals is made overly complicated for a reason – so you can’t understand them. That’s no accident. The more complex the wording, the more confusing it is to the voter. Mission accomplished.

Remember that the local elections mean far more than the national ones in the grand scheme of things. Pay as close attention as possible to these smaller ballots because the outcomes have a far more immediate effect on your day-to-day life.

Most of these candidates have little or no money to spend on advertising so you may not even see their names until you get to your polling place. You’ll have to do some digging. Your county elections board has all the information you need to get started understanding these issues before it comes time to punch a chad, pull a lever, or tap a screen.

Take the time to know for whom and what you’re voting. It’s up to you to make the best choice for yourself and your community.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com

Caregiving a parent with dignity

In Children and Family, Economy, Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on October 5, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Deer In Headlines
Gery L. Deer

When you’re a caregiver of a senior parent one of the most difficult things is maintaining the dignity of your charge. When we’re kids, our parents wipe our faces free of food, help us in the bathroom, even spoon-feed us. But, decades later, when those roles are reversed, it’s important to keep in mind that the person you’re helping isn’t a child. He or she is an adult with a mature sense of dignity and pride.

It took me a long time to get used to helping care for my parents. To say it was uncomfortable to have to help my mother dress or manually feed her would be a massive understatement. Alzheimer’s had long settled in by the time she broke a hip, but not being able to walk created further challenges. Her mind was like that of a toddler and she didn’t initiate speech or really understand anything going on around her. So, it was different than it is with my father now.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery Deer, with his father, Gary Sr.

My parents were proud people and didn’t like taking help from anyone. Now, the man who was always looking after everyone around him needs more care than he’d probably ever imagined he would in his golden years.

Like many seniors in this situation, Dad is fully cognizant of what is going on around him, but he needs a great deal of physical help in managing his day-to-day activities. One thing it took a while to understand is that his sense of personal privacy and dignity must be preserved, though it seems to outsiders like it wouldn’t matter as much anymore. It does.

Which brings us to the first point of what you can do to maintain self-worth for your senior parent, whether you’re caring for them all the time or just helping out once in a while. First, you can help maintain personal privacy and dignity by closing the door when you help him or her to bathe, dress or change clothes.

You wouldn’t think twice about closing the door when you do those things but put yourself in their place. What makes you feel awkward probably makes them feel that way too.

Don’t make a show of things. Try your best to avoid drawing unwanted attention to your charge whenever possible. Adult children sometimes have a need for outside validation of the caregiving task they’ve undertaking and can be overly dramatic in public. I can assure you it’s unlikely your mom or dad or whomever you’re caring for really wants any of that attention. They want to feel as normal and inconspicuous as possible so help them.

The more prepared you are the better. Keep a care bag packed to travel with, even if just going around town for the day. Load it with spare clothing, tissues, a towel, facial wipes, a bottle of water, specialized eating utensils, whatever your senior may potentially need, both commonly or in an emergency. Remember that their comfort comes first. Be ready for anything.

Sometimes the best way to help is to do nothing. As frustrating as it can be as a caregiver to sit by and watch your charge struggle to do something like button his shirt, there are times when you need to do just that – nothing. Although it can be part of the individual’s therapy to do normal, day-to-day things like getting dressed, it can be challenging.

And, as caregivers, it’s tough not to jump in and just do it for them. But, from the standpoint of respect, you have to let them do their best to tackle it on their own. It’s when their own frustration level peaks you might need to take over.

Naturally, there are things you have to do to care for them that they’re not going to be happy with. He or she may not want to use the cane or walker they’ve been provided. You will probably need to be firm with them on this because sometimes safety must outweigh pride.

Finally, be patient. I struggle with this one daily. Remember that this is hard for them too. Remember you’re not alone. If you need help, go find it.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com.

A Half-Century and Counting

In Education, Entertainment, Health, history, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on September 28, 2017 at 10:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

At the end of September this year, I will celebrate my 50th birthday. It’s funny how you don’t notice the years flying by until there’s a milestone like this to make you stop and reflect on them. No, turning a half-century old is nothing new, until it happens to you. Then, it’s a big deal.

On my last birthday, I decided to figure out a way to commemorate the passage of the year leading to my 50th. Now, only days away, and I wonder what I’ve accomplished this year which begs the question, what do we do with our time? How does it slip away so easily, so unnoticed in the lightning pace of our modern lives?

Even the simplest moments, often the most important, go right past us without so much as a footnote in the mental journal of our day. I wanted to make sure I remembered at least some of this past year so I made it a point to do something new every day that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I didn’t exactly manage something every single day, but I did make some major changes in my life that have had much more of an effect than I ever anticipated.

In order to accomplish anything in our lives, we have to set a reasonable and measurable goal. I know, that sounds like something off some high school career lecture, but it’s valid. I’ve never cared much for the word “goal,” but we do need to have something to aim for or we can’t work toward it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, I wanted to remember the last year in as many ways as I could. One of my goals was to improve my health and that meant a great alteration of my day-to-day lifestyle, which had actually begun a few years ago when I stepped back from things like soda and junk food.

From there, I started an exercise program that culminated in my becoming an endurance cyclist, accomplishing both a 100-kilometer and 100-mile bike ride, respectively, over the summer. In preparing for these events, I improved my stamina, respiratory function, muscle tone and overall health – and I’m still going. From couch potato to athlete in just a few months, and there was nothing easy about it.

At this point in life, if you’re paying attention at all, you probably have a better grasp on just how much drama you will put up with as well. I know I have. I can’t even describe how many people I know close to my age who have yet to shake out all the dead wood from their lives.

I’m referring to those negative people that always seem to have disaster following them, primarily of their own making, and want you to solve their problems for them. You can’t. Nothing you do will change who they are and how they drive their own lives – walk away.

When people straight out of college demand salaries and respect akin to those twice their elder and greater experienced it’s a sad state. At the same time, I’ve met a great many older people for whom I have little respect, for one reason or another.

Contrary to what younger folks might say, at 50, we’re not quite doddering, forgetful seniors, ready for the walker and rocking chair, although that’s what most Millennials probably think. In my case, I’m in the best physical condition of my life, I have a better understanding of who I am than ever before and those around me are benefiting from my achievements.

To me, what matters most is how my life to date has prepared me for all that comes next 50. There’s still a lot to do and I have no intention of sitting by and letting the world fly by, not that I ever did that before.

People say I’m over the hill, maybe they’re right. But, Charles Schultz, the creator of, “Peanuts,” once said, “Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” Couldn’t agree more! I have more to do in the next half-century.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

Dems, get your heads out of your …

In Business, Economy, Education, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Uncategorized on September 27, 2017 at 11:24 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Hey, all of you Democrats who are whining and crying about a Trump presidency, listen up (or in this case, keep reading). You’re the reason he’s president, so either get over it or get on the ball, make up your minds. In all my years a writer I have never seen a more bumfuzzled time in American politics. It’s goofy on both sides, but the Democrats really take the prize here.

And, as I have written many times, they handed the White House to Trump on a silver platter, covered in gold and trimmed in platinum. “What? It’s not our fault,” blah, blah, blah. Oh, yes, it is your fault.

The only reason, the only reason, the only reason (yes, that’s meant to be there three times) Trump won the election was because Democrats divided themselves and didn’t get out and vote. Protesting Hillary or Bernie or whoever cost them the election, not some overwhelming love of Trump. Just to beat the dead horse one more time, it happened something like this.

On one side, you had the Bernie Sanders hippies. Yes, I meant to use that word – hippies. The sandal-wearing, left-wingers who hate corporate America, right up until their non-profit needs a check. Moreover, they have absolutely no idea how to pay for any of the grand social overhauls they want to make. Giving everything free to everyone costs somebody money somewhere. Just writing that gives me a headache.

Confused Hillary courtesy of TheGatewayPundit.com

Then you have the Hillary Clinton crowd. For all that the pant-suited, former First Lady commands intelligence, experience, and demeanor, she inspires, well, no one, for any reason. She carries the baggage of a type that’s not easily shed in the social media-driven trenches of popular politics. Instead of falling in behind Hillary after the primaries, white Obama voters went over to Trump – I still don’t get that, but the math doesn’t lie.

Could Hillary and Bernie have taken the White House together? Possibly. But, again, there was just too much anger out there in the real world about Obama’s entitlement programs. Working class people were getting tired of having to break their backs to make ends meet while anyone who didn’t want to do anything could get a check and free healthcare just for being lazy. I know, that’s not the reality, but that’s the perception ignored by the Dems in the media.

If the Democrats are going to try to oust the current administration in 2020, they’d better get a move on. So far, very few they have suggested as a challenge to Trump could even get past the primaries, let alone win the Oval Office. Right now, the list of potential candidates that might have a chance includes Senator Elizabeth Warren, Bernie (again, please no), Michelle Obama, and Joe Biden. Getting Mrs. Obama or former Vice President Biden to run would be a challenge. They both seem to be done with day-to-day Washington, but who knows.

Elizabeth Warren is a bit too far to the left to drag any moderates over to pull the lever for a Democrat. And you need moderates right now. Alienating them is something that Bernie did really well. You can’t be a massive, outspoken socialist, even a democratic one, and pull anyone from the middle, it will just never work.

I mentioned perception a few paragraphs before, and that’s the key word here. It’s a perception problem with the Democrats. They’re seen by the moderate and conservative public as the bleeding-heart, all-or-nothing left-wingers who want only to cater to minorities, let in any Mexican who wants to come north, criminal or not, and punish people for being white and earning a paycheck. Sounds bad when you put it like that, doesn’t it? Well, that’s the perception to be challenged.

In short, the 2020 election will not be about politics, a border wall or Obamacare, but a fight between nationalism and socialism, about smart and ignorant, about bigotry and acceptance. There must be some way to restore some dignity to the White House and I guess it’ll be up to the Democratic National Committee to figure out who can do it. Oh, my, we’re in trouble.

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

Life can’t be hacked

In Business, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on July 3, 2017 at 11:48 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook his annoyance at the term, “hacking,” and how overused it is in society today. No, we’re not talking about Russian infiltration into American elections. No, in this case, the word “hack,” refers to a way around the hard work required to get from point A to point B, a cheat or shortcut, if you will.

As you might be aware, the Internet is loaded with “experts,” self-proclaimed gurus who will tell you the quickest ways to anything as long as you subscribe to their YouTube channel or buy their self-published book. They use content marketing to generate interest by publishing articles, videos and infographics with titles like, “10 Hacks To House Flipping,” or “Hacking The Self Employment Life,” or other such nonsense.

The primary goal here is for the author to set his or herself up as the “expert” by creating tons of content and luring in subscribers. Once they’ve got you in their marketing list, you will be inundated with messages trying to convince you that you can’t function without their dime-store psychobabble or unqualified business advice.

Don’t misunderstand, there are plenty of legitimate content marketers out there who have great and useful information to share. But those who are reputable might offer tips to get you where you want to be, but generally, never offer any sort of shortcut. The only thing that will see you from start to success is hard work, consistency, and persistence.

There is just no such thing as a hack to anything worthwhile. You have to put in the time, make the effort, learn the steps and execute them with intent. That’s the only way you’ll ever achieve your goals.

When these so-called experts or motivational people get up on a stage and start telling everyone how to live their lives it infuriates me. People are smart. They need guidance, not the ravings of someone trying to sell a book or something.

The only skill most of these people have is in getting someone who’s a little lost in life to cough up buckets of cash for junk advice, books, videos or whatever. At this point, someone who reads my work regularly is probably saying, “Wait, don’t you offer advice and tips about things?” Yes, I do, but there is a major difference – credibility.

I only offer advice and tips on subjects with which I have experience and, usually, in a logical and objective way. I also generally explain in those kinds of pieces that I’m giving you an account of my own experience or that of someone I know directly who can speak on it with authority.

I will also never try to get you to buy a book or subscribe to a mailing list or other such tactics. Although I appreciate that you’ve purchased the newspaper you may be reading this in, but it’s not necessary. My columns are freely available online in most areas where I’m published.

If I do want you to respond to some business opportunity, I’ll say exactly that. It won’t be shrouded in some kind of self-help gimmick. I will always contend that people are smarter and more resourceful than they give themselves credit. That goes for personal and professional issues alike.

If you just sit down and analyze whatever situation you’re coping with as objectively as you can, get advice from trusted friends or family, and then act accordingly you’ll do just fine. Things might not always turn out as you hope, but we all do the best that we can.

You will never need a “hack” to do something worthwhile. It will never work even if there is some shortcut available to you. Everything we do of substance requires patience and effort, something many people shy away from in a modern society where instant gratification rules the day.

So the next time you see a self-help post or article with the word, “hack” in it, and it’s not about a computer problem, think twice before following the lead of the author. Is it useful information or just a gateway to a shopping cart?

 

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

 

 

Deer In Headlines: The elusive art of small talk

In Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on June 5, 2017 at 9:03 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer
I recently read a 2016 article in the New Yorker, in which journalist Karan Mahajan wrote about his personal experience as an immigrant trying to comprehend and learn to use American small talk. After a decade in the States, Mahajan, originally from Delhi, finally mastered the art of small talk and discussed its role in American society.

The complexity and difficulty of small talk aren’t lost in the fictional world as well. I recall an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Lt. Commander Data, the android character on the science fiction show, was fascinated by the concept of small talk and spent a good part of the program trying to mimic the innate skills of another officer.

Although I grew up in the American heartland, I can completely relate to Mahajan and Data’s struggle to comprehend and apply this most useless but unmistakably necessary communication skill. But what is small talk and why do we do it?

According to UrbanDictionary.com, “small talk” is defined as, “Useless and unnecessary conversation attempted to fill the silence in an awkward situation. Usually is initiated by comments regarding the current weather, weather pattern of the past/future few days or major weather disturbances in the recent past.”

In day-to-day conversation, can be characterized in a casual exchange at a checkout counter when someone says, “how’s your day,” or waiting in a long queue for coffee, “they’re really busy today, huh?” I’ve also noticed that the person who initiates the attempted conversation is generally the one who feels most uncomfortable in the situation. Oddly, when I feel that way I tend to get quieter, not more talkative, probably a symptom of my lack of assimilation to this concept.

In his article, Mahajan suggests that American society is one where we all want to believe we like each other and that conversation should be easy among strangers. However, we only want to communicate to the line of privacy that should never be crossed leaving a sort of empty space where the meaningful conversation should be if we allowed it. Small talk is how we fill that void.

Politicians use small talk to placate voters on the campaign trail or at public events. Hairdressers and barbers are master small talkers, as often are restaurant servers, cashiers and others in the retail industry. Don’t misunderstand, that isn’t an insult by any means, quite the opposite.

Phone small talk is another thing at which I’ve never been very good. I really don’t like the phone at all. I don’t understand getting on the phone and talking and talking, largely about nothing. And I see people doing this all of the time. I just don’t get it. If I’m taking the time to call you, it’s important and needs some level of substantial discussion. Otherwise, text me. I can answer when I have the chance and it doesn’t interrupt my day.

I consider myself to have someone of an above average grasp of the English language and still this talent eludes me. It’s a valuable skill in many respects and sometimes people think it’s a “city” thing.

In my opinion, however, the “gift of gab,” as it is sometimes called, is far more common in rural communities than in more urban settings. You may have heard it said of someone that he or she, “never met a stranger.” What that means is that the individual in question has an easy time saying hello and striking up a conversation with pretty much anyone.

Many people in my family tend to be that way. When I was growing up I’d watch my dad go back and forth with a restaurant server or gas station attendant for what seemed to me as hours. I’d sit and wait while he discussed the traffic or the gas mileage of his farm truck or whatever. I never understood it.

I am just not the open communicator that one might need to be in those situations. I’m never rude, but I can be brusque. I just want to get in and get out. That said, there are people in or near my hometown that I know who work in various places and I’ll say hello or talk to them about something more meaningful. I enjoy those interactions, but I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to do so for my sake.

To me small talk is uniquely American and it has an important, albeit innocuous place in our society. I do wish, though, that when we could find more substantial common ground upon which to begin a dialogue with one another. Maybe someday.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

The Value of All

In Children and Family, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on May 12, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOEach one of us, at some point in our lives, experiences a time when we’re uncertain of our own value; not just to others but to ourselves. When most people think of the word “value,” a monetary concept probably comes to mind. How much do you make from your job? What is your financial worth? How much real estate do you own? That’s not the kind of value I’m referring to here, although money does play a role in the concept, as you’ll see shortly.

I’m mostly referring to the value we place in what we value as individuals, or “self-value.” More behavioral than emotional, self-value is different than self-esteem, which is more about how we feel about ourselves when compared to other people. Self-value has more to do with how we behave toward the things we value, including people.

If you’re going to “value” something, you have to do more than just think of it as important. There must be an inherent appreciation of its characteristics and qualities, good and bad, while investing the time to nurture and maintain your association with it.

In order to truly value something material, you must accept everything about the object and appreciate all of its inherent characteristics. If, for example, you value muscle cars, you probably enjoy far more about any one vehicle than its financial worth. Your value in the vehicle rests in a full appreciation of the machine’s components, handling, paint finishes, and so on. Much in the way someone might appreciate a piece of fine art, or chef’s signature creation.

The same is true for the people in our lives as well. When we place a higher value in others, we do the same for ourselves. And, conversely, when you devalue others, your own value suffers as well. Here is an example.

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Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Suppose someone who you employ is not performing as you expected. First, you need to evaluate if the expectations were clearly laid out at the beginning. Does he or she know what you expect from them as well as they knowing what to expect from you? If it was not clearly defined at the beginning, a misinterpreted expectation can cause you to devalue each other.

Additionally, when we place and express value in those around us, our own self-value increases. Plus, this behavior is generally reciprocated in many ways. When people realize their valued with you, they are more cooperative, more open to change that might originate from you, and allows you to more fluently communicate with those who might have been resistant otherwise.

So how do you get there? How do you go from being less self-focused, to more able to value the things and people around you? Personally, I think most of it can happen by just lifting your eyes from the floor and be more aware.

We have a terrible tendency today to live our lives in a bit of a vacuum. Part of that is caused by technology but also our society. Modern Americans are isolationists and self-segregators. We tend to gravitate to what’s easier, what’s mostly like us and what we’re used to, rather than put in the time to appreciate differences.

Literally and figuratively, we walk around with our heads down and faces in a screen, so we miss a great deal of what’s going on around us. How are you supposed to value what you never even see? There is no value on the Facebook post you just shared or in that two-hundred-thousandth cat video you watched on Instagram today.

For our lives to have value, beyond money, we must embrace differences, explore new opportunities, and be open to fresh experiences. It’s hard, I won’t minimize that, but it can be done. You have to want it and commit to it and sacrifice for it.

To value anything outside yourself, and in turn, giving your own life more meaning, you have to commit to a higher standard of physical, emotional and professional well-being. Nothing of value is easy. But you have to start by honoring your own values, keep your eyes open and be wary of those people and things that cause you to devalue yourself, and, above all, be compassionate.

Watch the TV version of this content on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

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

What is “fun” to you?

In Entertainment, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on April 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

To me, the concept of “fun” meant to waste time in frivolous pursuits. I mean, I’ve probably had fun doing things but completely oblivious as to how to recognize it. As it turns out, a little fun can do wonders for the psyche, as most of you probably already know.

There are those of us out here who weren’t raised in a “fun” environment. There weren’t party or card game nights, elaborate social functions or trips to fancy resorts to jet ski or go horseback riding. The most “social” thing my family ever did were reunions and holiday parties, all motivated by my mother’s need for social interaction which my father thoroughly loathed.

Sadly, I’m more like dad than mom in that regard. I’ve never been much of a social butterfly, keeping my circle of friends tight and close and never really reaching outside of that for fun. I’ve learned over the years, however, that it’s not a good idea to isolate yourself so much.

Having fun through socialization doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it should be thoroughly enjoyable or else it shouldn’t happen at all. For me, though, it has always been hard. I’m sure some of that comes from a working family, there simply wasn’t time for leisure fun when survival was so prominent.

Being the kind of person who doesn’t perceive “fun” the way others do, I can’t always relate to the way others experience it. For example, I don’t get the idea of putting your life in danger or even taking the slightest risk of injury or harm for the sake of having a good time.

I’m not a drinker, and I will never ever be a skydiver, bungee jumper, or anything else that requires signing a liability waiver because you could die from doing it. I’ve had enough risk in my life that I didn’t ask for without intentionally piling on a bunch of other hazards. So, I’m left being “no fun” for some people to be around because I won’t take idiotic risks.

The idea of people going to a bar and getting drunk for “fun” is completely foreign to me as well. I can’t wrap my head around any of that. It just seems, at least when it’s in excess, like immature, sad behavior. That might seem a little judgmental, but so be it, I’m judged often enough by the rest of the world for not drinking at all, so to each his or her own.

One thing I have learned is that in order to have fun, you have to let your guard down a bit and be open to experiencing the moment as it’s happening. That’s not easy for some people, myself included. I think that’s why alcohol is such a huge part of the social fun because some people need to knock down those inhibitions first, quiet (depress) the nerves, and take the edge off that normally keeps their behavior leveler.

I have always had a tough time attaching the word “fun” to anything I’m doing. Yes, there are activities and events I enjoy, but to label them as fun, by definition, would be hard for me. If I were to do something that added an element of danger just for the “rush” of it, I would be so stressed out by the risk, even if it’s irrational, I just wouldn’t get any fun out of it anyway.

No matter what your sensibilities, you have to choose what “fun” is to you. Most of what I consider to be fun is more about who I’m with and where I am than what I’m doing. I doubt that’s a strange concept, but trying to understand when and how I’m having fun certainly is to me.

What is “fun” to you? How do you relax or spend your down time? I think how we spend our down time and what we choose for fun says a lot about us as individuals and as a society. In a world where we spend so much of our waking hours trying to survive and provide for ourselves and our families, it’s important to take the time to re-energize the body and the spirit.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the Deer In Headlines Podcast online at MyGreeneRadio.com! More at gerydeer.com