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Good Night, and Good Luck. The final installment of “Deer In Headlines.”

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Home Improvement, Local News, News Media, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on May 2, 2018 at 12:32 pm

This edition of Deer In Headlines marks if you’ll pardon the dramatics, the end of an era, at least for me. The question I’ve been asked most often since announcing the end of the series is, “So what will you do now?”

Let me start by saying while an important part of my work over the last decade, this column is not all I’ve been doing, not by a longshot. I’ve run an ad agency, written thousands of published pieces on everything from public relations to marketing, and given lectures and workshops about the media and writing all around the region. I’ve covered a lot of ground and struggled with how best to say goodbye and then it occurred to me.

It has always been my goal to have readers to take something useful from my writings and I don’t want this final installment to be any different. Since it represents several hours a week in research and writing, in the hope of having a positive influence on the thoughts and lives of anyone I can reach, leaving this column behind is a big change for me.

For some people, change is the enemy, it throws them off their game and causes chaos and, for much of my life, it was the same for me. But in recent years, change has become more of a companion that walks through life with me, always nudging me in the side to never be complacent or stagnant either in my actions or my convictions.

We may not like it, but change is the natural order of things. Nothing stays the same for very long. As they say, “to everything there is a season,” and rather than fighting those changes, we should embrace them. It’s not easy, but it makes life more interesting and far less stressful.

It’s easy to see how change affects people in simple ways, like when a child graduates from high school or you move to a new town. We get caught up in happiness and sadness all at the same time, it twists our emotions and forces us to face new challenges and differences in our day-to-day lives. Of course, there are negative changes too, and we have to take the good with the bad. That’s just life.

We grow accustomed to how things are in our world and we’re thrown when it alters. We all know that person who has to have a cup of coffee at a certain time of day, with a specific amount of sugar, or just the right drop of cream. If those kinds of things aren’t met with an exacting order, he or she cannot function. The more flexible you are, the more enjoyable your life. Otherwise, you’re in a constant state of stress.

With that, I’ll take you back to the question of what I will be doing next. It is definitely a time of even more change for me. I’ve recently accepted a position as vice president of communications and public relations with a social internet company. That and caring for my father takes up most of my work time, but I have other projects as well.

I’m still doing television and writing for the print and online media from time to time. I’m concentrating my writing time on my fitness blog, The Old Nerd in The Gym (www.oldnerdinthegym.com). I’m hoping my work helps others who are new to fitness and more healthy living.

Life goes on and new challenges await. I’m just getting started. And that’s how you should feel today too. Treat every day as bringing new opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve, regardless of how great or small the accomplishment and embrace that change! Your future isn’t written yet, so get out there and make it a good one!

With that, it’s time for Deer In Headlines to pass into the newspaper archives. Thank you for indulging me every week and, whether you agreed with me or not, I hope you got something useful or insightful from my ramblings. So, I’ll borrow a classic sign off from a news hero of mine, Edward R. Murrow, and simply say Good Night, and Good Luck.

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5 Pieces of advice for my younger self

In Health, history, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology on August 27, 2015 at 11:54 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOImagine if you could go back 10, 20, 30 years and talk to your younger self, what would you say? What advice would you have knowing what you know now? Well, believe it or not, you might find out some of that advice is just as relevant as it would have been back then. So if I could have a conversation with my younger self, I have five things I’d tell me, him, you know what I mean.

My number one piece of advice would be, and I know it sounds cliché, not to sweat the small stuff. Every day our life path carries us down one road or another, each with its own set of obstacles, successes, failures, and milestones. The important thing to know is how to recognize which is which and remain calm and in control, regardless of what is thrown your way.

There’s no way to really offer much more to anyone else on that subject though because everyone’s definition of “small” is going to be somewhat different. For example, to me small stuff is a flat tire on the car or having to retype a report I’ve worked on for days. As devastating as some events can seem at the time, when weighed against the larger mass of things, most fit the “small stuff” category although we’re often too consumed with the situation for a clear view.

The second thing I’d say to the “younger me” is to ignore people who say you are destined to … whatever. Your life is shaped by the decisions you make. That is, your story isn’t written yet. Every choice you make is like shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, the picture is redrawn at every turn. So, if you want something, go after it and don’t let anyone get in your way.

Number three is borrowed from some philosophical and religious concepts, which tell us that you are the only one who can cause yourself injury. I don’t mean injured in the physical sense, like being whopped over the head by a crowbar, I mean the kind of damage that’s done to the one swinging it. We only hurt ourselves when we cause pain and injury to others.

old youngThe fourth piece of advice is never to take yourself, or life, too seriously. Despite what you might think, you are so not “all that,” and you need to have some humility if you want to get along in the world. But it can’t be artificial because that’ll come back and bite you in the … well, you know. Be good to people because you want to and because it’s just the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s hard to accept, but the needs of others will often have to come way before yours.

My fifth and final piece of advice for my former self would be to relax a bit more, while you have the time. Life gets harder as days go on, not easier, regardless of what you might see in the media. Take whatever time you can when you have it, but never at the expense of others.

So, for now, that’s all I would say to me 30 years ago. No, actually, there is one other thing. I’d tell me to give my Mom a hug every chance I got and spend as much time with her as possible. Her absence has left an indescribable open wound that will never heal.

Oddly, the funniest thing about all of this is that, as a younger person, it’s highly unlikely any of us would have listened because we knew everything already, right?

The truth is people were giving you advice like this all the time but it just flew in one ear and out the other. After all, what did old people know? You had the world on the end of your line and you were reeling her in.

Now that I understand some of this, I know that some of the best people I know are on a constant journey of self improvement. Remember, it’s never too late for a little sage advice. Take care out there.

 

Watch the television version of this piece from WDTN-TV2’s LIVING DAYTON program …

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

Long holiday season diminishes purpose

In Entertainment, Holiday, Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on November 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm

DIH LOGOMaybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I really don’t understand the concept of having the Christmas holiday season start before the last kid has knocked on the door and yelled, “Trick or treat.” Yet, every year, its arrival seems to advance a few more days.

From artificial Christmas trees to holiday-themed tableware, it all hits the shelves even as parents are still helping the kids carve a Jack-O-Lantern. Then, as if signaled by the dousing of porch lights after Beggars’ Night, municipal workers swiftly hang garland and lamp post banners cheerfully lettered with the bland and ever faith-neutral greeting, “Happy Holidays,” so as to avoid offending anyone.

To cash in on early shoppers this year, Walmart announced it would open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, no doubt in response to the flood of competitors who started opening early last season.  Over the last couple of years, many department stores were criticized for allegedly forcing employees to work on national holidays, supposedly threatening them with dismissal if they failed to show up.

It’s hard to criticize the merchant companies, however, because if people weren’t lining up around the block to get in, they wouldn’t bother opening early. Clearly, shoppers want to get in on the best deals as early as possible and store management simply met their demands. Of course, it’d be easy enough to argue that people wouldn’t do that if merchants weren’t enticing them with exceptional savings. So who is really to blame? I’d say it looks like the fault lies equally with both parties.

Even so, last year some employees went on strike, for lack of a better description, and refused to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many lost their jobs when they didn’t show up for the new holiday shifts, despite intervention by civil liberties supporters.

No one wants to have to work on a holiday unnecessarily. But, and not to be too blunt about it, if you’re going to work a retail job, there are certain responsibilities that come with that – like it or not. An ever-changing, irregular work schedule is probably one of the most common aspects of a retail sales job and if that’s a deal-breaker, you may need to find some other line of work.

So why are more and more retailers backing up the shopping season? Mostly retailers are trying to cash in on a higher volume of sales and make some kind of effort to steer consumers away from online competitors.

Over the last five or six years, holiday purchases have become increasingly Internet based. Many web-savvy shoppers find it far more rewarding and easier to just point and click, even taking advantage of free shipping, gift wrap and last-minute delivery offered by online retailers like Amazon and eBay.

Perhaps you’ve also noticed that TV networks and radio stations are in on the backward rush to ring in the merry season. Networks like Hallmark Channel and Lifetime began showing Christmas-themed movies and television show episodes during the first week of November. Locally, one of the best multi-genre radio stations for in the Dayton, Ohio market, Mix 107.7, has already started playing 24-hour Christmas music.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with celebrating, or even getting into the spirit of the season a bit early, but doesn’t all this commercialism and dragging out the festivities diminish the purpose of having a holiday? After all it is a – “Holy Day” – holiday; not a holi-month, or holi-quarter. Even Hanukkah has been lumped in with Thanksgiving this year; the whole thing is just becoming a blur of shopping and pointless present-buying.

Maybe it’s time we slow down a bit and think about the point of all of this. This season shouldn’t be about endless shopping or nonstop Christmas media. Whatever your plans may be, remember to reflect on the meaning of the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Religious or not, be thankful for whatever prosperity you have and share it with those less fortunate however possible. That’s what Christmas is all about.

 

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. More at http://www.deerinheadlines.com

We see the 1950s with rose-colored glasses

In Entertainment, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on August 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm

DIH LOGOI recently read a CBS News poll asking people to choose a decade back to which they’d like to time travel. Overwhelmingly, the leading answer was the 1950s. What I can’t wrap my head around is, why?

Some people see those times as simpler, easier to manage, with fewer concerns and more security. Gas was 23-cents per gallon and you could get a really nice home for $22,000. A good price when you consider the average annual salary – hold onto your hats – just over $4,100.

So, yes, things were cheaper but only when compared to today’s prices. Actually, I think we have a fairly tainted view of the 1950s, America’s so-called, “Golden Age.” The “Leave it to Beaver” family unit and less-complicated lifestyles of those days simply wouldn’t work in modern society, for a number of reasons.

First, we had all the same problems back then that we have today, but we perceived and dealt with them differently. The country probably wasn’t as politically fractured as it is today, only because we were all riding a bit of a patriotic “high” after the end of World War II.

Technology or the lack thereof made a difference to our perceptions in those days too. There was the radio, a morning newspaper, an evening newspaper, sometimes an “extra” mid-day edition, and an evening television newscast. We didn’t get all the bad news of the world every moment it was happening. If we were going to tell people how our vacation was going, we had to mail out post cards.

According to the 1955 United States Census, America’s population was 166 million and the average unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, or about 81 million people. Today it’s about 314 million with a 7.4 percent unemployment factor, around 23 million.

So, barring some kind of economic cataclysm, as the population doubled, the unemployment rate followed suit. From a ratio standpoint, there were actually more people out of work 60 years ago than there are now. That’s good news, right? Sort of, yes.

What makes this a steeper hill to climb today is, once again, technology related. Labor-intensive, blue collar jobs like those at GM, NCR and other big manufacturers just don’t exist anymore. Many have been eliminated or sent overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor costs.

Additionally, many people – myself included – believe Americans to be lazier than ever and a good number of us simply don’t want to work. People are especially hard to motivate when employee benefits and pensions are a thing of the past and there is no longer any sort of job security.

Speaking of security, remember the “duck and cover” drills of the 50s and 60s? How much of a pointless endeavor was that? “Here, little Johnny, get under this desk so the Russian atomic bomb won’t hurt you.” Really, I mean, how dumb were we?

I suppose at least it gave us all something to do in the face of the unthinkable. In reality, there was nothing secure about the 50s, especially considering we were always on the brink of war with Russia and it only got worse as 1960 approached.

Personally, I think we spend far too much time looking back and not nearly enough looking forward. The past is done and you can plan for the future to some degree, but, reasonably, all we have is the here and now. Focus on making your present more fruitful and your future will follow along.

 

Who am I, and what am I doing here?

In Entertainment, Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on May 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

We’ve all had moments when we’ve turned to someone, a father, a brother, a God and asked, “What was I meant for? Am I doing what I was supposed to do?” It’s a normal exercise for us to question our situation, regardless of its status.

But we have to be careful to realize, regardless of how much we’d like the world to be a mystical place, our own choices landed us where we are and nothing was “meant to be,” that wasn’t directed by personal decisions.

I think it’s pretty normal to think we were meant for something more than we are, at least most of us probably feel that way. What many people tend to miss is how much value their lives have to others and how much would be different in the world without their contributions.

Over the last few years, I’ve written a great deal about my late mother, Lois. She passed away in November of 2011 after long battle with Alzheimer’s disease which among other things robbed her of a lifetime of memories.

Mom wasn’t an overly complicated person but she was very smart and caring, always putting others ahead of her – particularly her children and grandchildren. She only ever worked as a school volunteer, on the farm with Dad and for a time as a waitress in a little hometown restaurant where I grew up.

She might not have had the life people grow up dreaming about, but I’d like to think she felt like she had made a difference in the world. I know she did for me and my family. She didn’t have money or status or important connections, but she had wisdom and a level of understanding of her world and those in it that I truly wish I could emulate.

To some people a basic, down-home lifestyle could seem like Purgatory; a futile, pointless existence. Even though she didn’t have a list of college degrees after her name, nor did she work some high-powered job (unless you count managing my dad), her mere influence upon those around her probably had far greater reach than she ever knew.

In my mind, Mom had the life she was “meant” to live, evidenced by the efforts of those who helped care for her and offer support to our family as her illness advanced. We all have a place in the world and it might not seem like it matters at the time, but we are often more influential than we realize.

Since the kind of work life I have chosen does not lend itself to earning fistfuls of cash, far from it, I have always hoped that my labors have at least helped to enhance someone’s life, even in the slightest. Whether I am making people laugh on stage during The Brothers & Co. variety shows, or passing along my worldly observations in my writing, I always try to give people something that will help make their life better, even if it’s only for a moment. To me, that’s rewarding in itself.

Even when people don’t agree with something I’ve written, the point to take away is that they read it, and it made them think. I don’t want everyone to agree with me, nor am I trying to persuade them to alter their life paths based on my opinion of something. My job is to enhance someone’s life just by giving them something new to think about and that is the accomplishment.

So, a sense of accomplishment isn’t always derived from academic or financial achievement, and in my limited view of the world, it almost never comes from material success. Sometimes just being who you are and contributing to the world around you makes the longest-lasting difference.

Were you “meant” to be who you are, though? That’s a question best left to you. Only you can evaluate your level personal satisfaction from the world you’ve created for yourself. You are who you are, right or wrong. So like I heard once in a song, “This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball.” And enjoy being you. It doesn’t matter how you got there.

 
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at www.gerydeer.com.