Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Focus on the GOOD

"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results."
~Willie Nelson 

This blog was originally written about Business, Sales, Leadership, Social Media  optioneerJM since May 2010.  As I was critiquing myself, I recognized that I strayed from its main purposes with reflections on matters that are unbusiness-related. 

 I have since branched out to Meanderings because there are many issues I want to write about that don't fall under business.  I hope you will visit, follow, share and help me there.  It is your support that inspires me to write.  If you have an idea or question you would like me to write about on optioneerJM or Meanderings, drop me a line and let me know

It is far easier to write about one's personal experiences than based on others. We all face situations that tick us off, perplex, astound, shock, disgust us.  However, we all need to dig deeper to look for the positives we encounter.

I was flying in a particular Canadian airline this past week, whom I was disappointed in their service last year.  Unfortunately, I did use my social media skills to bring it to their attention.  And, attend to it they did.  It reminded me of one of the greatest advice ever received in my career:  "people don't always judge you on the mistakes you make,  but they will judge you based upon how you fix them."  How true that is!

Seriously, though.  You would think that most brands have a look out peeled towards negative social media posts.  They react so quickly.   Some call it damage control.  However, disappointing as it sounds, if you pay them a compliment, you will hardly, if ever, be acknowledged.  For example, I did tweet what a marvelous experience I had, without a peep.... What does that say about the force of social media?  Shouldn't it be a force to be reckoned with in its ability to spread good news?  Why not simply focus on what is good?

Scan through the feed on Twitter or trending topics and it will likely be about scandal, shock, sadness.  Heck, I thought I strayed away from media for that very reason.  I used to think that if I wanted to be disappointed, shocked, saddened, all I had to do was turn on the news or pull out a newspaper.  It all amounts to the biggest scoop or the loudest headline rather than anyone or anything helping others.  

It doesn't say much about us as a humanity that we swoop in and glue ourselves to stories about those fallen from grace, accidents, horror, beautiful babes, controversy, terror and beyond .... first.    Then there are the broadcasts cloaked as wisdom that scream "pick me, click me".  We are all guilty of being rubber-neckers: slowing down to view the scene of others' accidents, blunders, misery, mayhem, catastrophe, power plays.

There is a lot to be celebrated about in our world:  births, bravery, beauty, cuteness, poetry, wisdom, knowledge,   We do celebrate our sports teams, heroes, events, cities, countries, or communities.  Sadly, in much lower dosage.  

I do try, as many of us do, to be someone associated with positive vibes, celebratory congratulation, admiring wisdom, bravery, courage, and the little guys and gals who make a difference in our world.  I adore the discovery of someone or some company who is doing some thing that is making a difference in making our world a better place.

Certainly, I would love to have earned the fame and wealth of Oprah who for the most part does incredible things for young girls and education.  Or, be the world's wealthiest billionaire, Bill Gates, who will always remain the found of Microsoft and not of the philanthropy those riches have empowered him and his wife to bestow to make the world a better place. 

"If you don't get out of the box you've been raised in, you won't understand how much bigger the world is." 

                                                                ~Angelina Jollie Pitt

What about Angelina Jollie Pitt, wouldn't it be easier to label her as a femme fatale or marriage wrecker than to acknowledge her as an accomplished actress first, married to Brad Pitt second?  You will find further down the line a humanitarian (and in my opinion, should be at the forefront) an even greater example for women's health: putting health before beauty or what society expects.

I believe it within each of us to encourage one another, champion causes that are for the good and shun anything negative.  We have the ability to stop ourselves from pulling the thread to prevent unraveling.  We can control what we seek, promote, share and pronounce on social media.  

"Things don't have to change the world to be important."

~Steve Jobs

Keep calm and color on

This blog was originally written and shared on my Business, Sales, Leadership, Social Media Blog optioneerJM which I had started in May 2010.  I branched out to Meanderings because there are many issues I want to write about that don't fall under business. 

What is the most powerful, impactful trend right now?   Coloring! What? .... isn't coloring something you did when you were a kid?  Well, perhaps you did.  Now you have permission to do it as an adult because it is great for you!
The next time you are planning an important corporate event, team meeting, or training session consider adding color to your tools of engagement.  You may realize many benefits:

  • To ward off distractions
  • As an approach to problem solving
  • To improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages, all levels within the organization 
  • Artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems
  • Develop and improve interpersonal skills
  • Manage behavior,
  • Reduce stress,
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Build self-awareness
  • Achieve insight

Coloring and art have been around for ages.     Today,  use it as a powerful stress buster.  Assembled are helpful meanings to get started:


 Mandalas are sacred circles that have been long been used to facilitate meditation in the Indian and Tibetan religions.  

They are created and looked at to center the body and mind.  Mandelas are variations or symbols of circles often found in halos, prayer wheels, religions, architecture and nature.    Now, they are used as a healing tool and a form of meditation which suggest they can boost the immune system, reduce stress, combat depression, reduce pain, lower blood pressure and  stimulate the release of melatonin, a hormone believed to slow cell aging and promote sleep.


The word "tattoo" was brought to Europe by explorer James Cook when he returned in 1771 from his first voyage to Tahiti and New Zealand.   (In his narrative of the voyage, he referred to "tattaw". )

Popularity has steadily risen where artists, executives, and mainstream every day people swarm to "tattoo shops", "tattoo studios", or "tattoo parlors" to undergo their own personalized stamp of creativity.  Today, tattoo enthusiasts refer to tattoos as:

  • ink
  • skin art
  • tattoo art
  • tats

Coloring books:

Paint books and coloring books emerged in the United States as part of the "democratization of art" process.  The McLoughlin Brothers are credited as the inventors of the coloring book with The Little Folks' Painting Book.  
Another pioneer in the genre was Richard Outcault who authored  Buster's Paint Book in 1907.   It launched a trend to use coloring books to advertise a wide variety of products, including coffee and pianos.

 Until the 1930s, books were designed with the intent for them to be painted instead of colored.  Coloring books are widely used in schooling for young children because they tend to be more interested in coloring than other learning methods.  Pictures are also more memorable than simply words.

Educators conclude that all, regardless of background, students benefit from art as a means of enhancing their conceptual understanding of the tangible, developing their cognitive abilities, improving skills, finding a profession, as well as for spiritual edification.

Color therapy:

Color as a holistic therapy dates back thousands of years.  Color gains energy from light and why it is used as Color Therapy.  It can have a major healing impact on us as humans.
Color Therapy is a complementary therapy for which there is evidence dating back thousands of years to the ancient cultures of Egypt, China and India. Color is simply light of varying wavelengths, thus each color has its own particular wavelength and energy.  It can have a major healing impact on us as humans. 

Art Therapy:

Alternatively,  art therapy is a relatively young therapeutic discipline.  It began in the use of the arts in the moral treatment of psychiatric patients in the late 18th century.  It arose out of  a non-conformist religious tradition,  arising in English-speaking and European countries. The early art therapists who published accounts of their work acknowledged the influence of aesthetics, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, rehabilitation, early childhood education, and art education, to varying degrees, on their practices. 

 A British artist named Adrian Hill came up with the name  art therapy in 1942 while he was recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium.  Hill caught on to the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting while convalescing.  He wrote that the value of art therapy lay in "completely engrossing the mind (as well as the fingers)…releasing the creative energy of the frequently inhibited patient", which enabled the patient to "build up a strong defense against his misfortunes". He suggested artistic work to his fellow patients. That began his art therapy work, which he authored a book "Art versus illness." in 1945.

Another key figure, artist Edward Adamson, became the "father of art therapy in Britain" after he was demobilised after World War II.  He helped Hill extend work in long stay mental hospitals.  Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer are credited for being art therapy pioneers in the United States.  

Best Sellers:

Currently, the top sellers on are the featured adult coloring books:

Our lives become busier with each passing day and as technology escalates so do our access to work, obligations and stress. Coloring allows adults a way to slow down, feel calm and use meditative coloring for relaxation.

Unleash your creative spirit with this sophisticated anti-stress colouring, doodling and drawing book. The flowing lines, sweeping swirls and highly-detailed patterns on every illustration have been created so that anyone and everyone can enjoy making something beautiful and calming. Increasing focus through creativity can benefit those who find it difficult to unwind or struggle to find their inner artist when faced with a blank page. There are no instructions, no rights or wrongs, and no need for expensive art supplies - readers can simply doodle and colour in any way they wish to create unique and exquisite pieces.

Art therapy provide healing and growth experiences, and stimulate creativity.  Creating art images is a safe and natural way of communicating feelings and experiences.  People are able to see themselves more clearly, gain different perspectives, and unblock feelings and issues that may otherwise be difficult to bring to the conscious.  We have an energy language in our body that informs us both literally and symbolically.  Immune system neuropeptides transform thoughts into matter, storing emotions and memories in body tissues.  These stored negative experiences, relationship issues and belief systems generate negative energy that affects our health.  The rational and censoring left brain can keep us from this information.  Through meditative aspects inherent in the art therapy process, we tap into the right brain, connecting to symbols, images and perceptions that speak to us from the unconscious. These images may both surprise and inform us.  The act of externalizing images releases repressed memories, stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system to calm us, and the images become our teacher.  By connecting our conscious with our unconscious we gain a more congruent sense of self, improving mind, body and spirit.

Color on

Try it and see if it improves your mood, helps you concentrate, reduces pain, or eliminates stress.  How about improve the morale and retention at your next corporate event?   I've assembled a "Color me Doodle" board on Pinterest along with some of my favorites here for you to help yourself to. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Talking taxes benefits

"In matters of truth or justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same."
~Albert Einstein

A discussion erupted in my home city Calgary recently because a local law enforcement officer was written about because she has gone on record to having to leave our city because topped benefits isn't good enough.  For most Canadians, they are given a percentage of their wage for a certain number of months leading up to and after giving birth.   What topped up benefits means is getting the company or organization to add to that based on tenure and wage -- sometimes in return for the mother to agree to return to her same job, responsibilities, title and wage she had before leaving on maternity.  In addition to  her federal benefits.

An article was posted by MetroNews Calgary inspired me to respond with my own opinion under their comments:

Having your benefits topped up is a dangerous precedent and expensive one.  It is one thing to be pro-women and pro-mothers, I applaud that.  However, we need to take a look at the big picture -- how realistic is it for mothers to gain the same benefits city-wide?  I like the discussion simply because it is about how our taxes are being used.  When I had my THREE kids maternity leave went from 3 months federal benefits to 6 months.  We've come a long way to allowing a year.  However, topping up is not something that every new mom is afforded.  Unless it is legislated for everyone, it shouldn't be an elite squad's right.  Once again, do I have to repeat ... it is our taxes that we're using to support this.  There are far many ways this could be coordinated ... like, child bearing aged moms and pops put into a fund (like we older folks do for retirement) and that fund is used as child benefits.  A la carte, chosen based on needs i.e. maternity or child care.  The young'uns don't want to fit the bill for retirement unless it is their own, then us elders, don't want to fit the bill on what we cannot benefit from.  Perhaps benefits and tax breaks should be chosen by each citizen based on where they need the help?  Just thinking out loud (which is more than I can say for those that come up with buying votes and managing our tax dollars).

Like it or not, we all have to face it that our population is widening between generations with major age gaps.   It is going to become an ever-increasing dilemma to any governing organization trying to please the populous.  When you have a broad gap between Baby Boomers (age 55 plus) and their kids of Gen-X/Melinia (ages 18-35 specifically), you're going to have a nightmare trying to keep everyone happy (and get the votes centered).

I'm just about smack in the middle.  I had my child-bearing years and am now facing the daunting task of looming retirement.  Safe to say, both milestones in life are important.  We need to keep the young people working while the older ones keep saving as much as they can for safekeeping and to avoid being a burden to the tax base in 10 to 15 years.

I was even at the tail end of child extra-curricular tax benefits.  When the Harper government in Canada introduced a tax credit for parents of children who are enrolled in sports mainly were given a break to compensate for fees associated.  I applauded the idea because, although I had had to pay for that on my own, I also recognized that kids who are in sports tend to stay out of trouble which can be a burden on resources and funds.  I always said that being a figure skater for many years, was an expensive way for my parents to keep me out of trouble.  Later on as my skills improved, the cost for ice time, coaching, private lessons, competitions, shows, skates, etc. got really expensive, I got a PT job to contribute.  I think that was a brilliant move on my parents' part because it demonstrated how keen I was to skate because I loved it, not because my parents could afford to give me the best tools to become good at it.

We should all look at the big picture.  If the government funds a select group, the other groups will want their own piece of the benefits.  Like I said, although I don't argue with the many merits of the various tax breaks, I have been disappointed to miss the mark to gain any pay off.

Let's take a look at just voting.  Statistics were given that in Canada only 34% of the age group of 18-24 vote, whereas 65% of the 65 plus age group do.  That is a huge balancing act to be sure.  So what do politicians do?  They appeal to the segment that garners the most votes.  That isn't rocket science.  Then they poll and speculate that they had better appeal to the other age segment that may wake up and realize that their vote can cause change and make a difference in their present lives in their future. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon where you fall, many of the benefits fall in the middle.  The child-bearing, child-rearing age group, child care paying, population.... who get maternity benefits, child care subsidies (in some areas), and parents of kids 8-16 year olds get breaks for being a model parent.  Ironically, my math shows they represent 1% of the voting populous while reaping a good 85% of the tax funding.

Then there is the 18-24 year old group that get breaks to squirrel away to put a down payment on buying a house.  Again, I'm saying that is a good idea because real estate transactions fuel the economy -- buyers get loans from lenders, builders get funds generated by building which sweetens the economy.  When buyers stop buying, the economy rolls to an abrupt halt or swiftly slow downs.

Sounds like a lot of imbalance if you ask me.  Then there is the other part of the equation.  The one group that tends to help the investment community is from the older age segment.  Then investment, gives money for banks and such to lend money.  A different spiral.

If you have two spirals working in opposite ends of the economy it is no wonder the ones in the middle get a lot of dust.  But then again, that is where the government focusses a lot on their funding and tax breaks.

Okay, so I've gone on and one and painted a very real picture.  What do we do?  Seems pretty simple to me.  Take an example from an employee's insurance benefits offered by the best corporations:  you get a certain percentage of your wage to be used as YOU wish it to be used.  You have a say in how much you contribute (usually between 1-5%) which the company matches.  Sounds like the ideal company to work for doesn't it?

I'm getting to my point:  why doesn't the federal government use the same process.  Instead of the expense, studies and pushback on deciding on where tax breaks go, let the individual citizen make the decision themselves.  For example, everyone gets 5% of their wage to go into a federal tax fund/break.  Each individual gets to decide themselves where that fund goes:

  • 18-24 year olds into education, saving for a house, starting a business, saving for when they have a child (income top up and child care)
  • 25-40 year olds can put it towards putting their kids into sports programs, buying down their mortgage, saving for their retirement
  • 40-55 year olds use it for paying off their mortgage, to give them more disposable income to do other things that fuel the economy, like make investments, plan their retirement, buy a vacation property
  • 55-65 will hopefully have paid off their mortgage and use the left over funds for investment and planning their retirement
  • 65+ are allowed to spend their hard saved cash with little penalties because they do not burden the rest of the tax system, they are rewarded if they help their kids or grand kids buy a house, pay for their education -- all which society benefits from.
Sometimes you can't see the forest because you are only looking at trees.  Let's pressure our politicians and leaders to have more integrity and use our votes to the benefit of everyone, not a select few. 

The onus would then be on citizens to elect those that appeal to the big picture, not greedy with power or backfilling their own agenda. 

Sounds like Utopia to me.  Doesn't sound too difficult to me either.  What may be the most difficult would be to hold ourselves accountable on how we vote, who we vote for, and then only approve those that have the integrity to benefit society as a whole. 

This is not socialist thinking or communism.  We would still be using the democratic process.  The pay off would be when everyone, not a select few, gets a piece of the action and benefits.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
~George Orwell

Friday, May 15, 2015

Need for Weed?

Cannabidiol | Weed | CBD Hemp Oil CNN Special Dr Sanjay Gupta 2014 Documentary

“Federal and state laws (should) be changed to no longer make it a crime to possess marijuana for private use.”
~Richard M. Nixon

I have reservations about going against what I grew up believing and taught that weed is illegal and bad news.  However, one can't help wonder and re-evaluate their stand after watching CNN's series on Marijuana helping with seizures, pain and numerous other ailments.  We're no where near where Colorado is in acceptance here in Alberta or Canada.  Yet one can't help but reconsider the merit when one reads after a story like this.  

Is marijuana a gateway drug? 

Many consider marijuana the"gateway" drug:  meaning once you're established with marijuana, you will go on to the more nastier drugs like cocaine or crack to get a better high.  That is a major leap! 

 I do wonder what Canadians really think about the whole legalization of marijuana for medical purposes?  I do agree with the argument that must has been said about alcohol being addictive and carrying detrimental consequences whether it is health or coping in life ... yet it is perfectly legal. 

At what point will alcohol become illegal? 

 There is convincing data that it is unhealthy, destroys lives, ruins finances, tears families apart, contributes to job losses.  Again, it is perfectly legal.

“I cannot find the harm in it.”                                                                                                                                                        ~Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Gupta told Katie Couric that he didn’t see much danger in recreational marijuana use, especially considering the fact that alcohol and tobacco are legal for adults.
Recently, I had a conversation with someone  (name reserved due to privacy) who drinks way too much.  I know this person has a birth defect, and been contending with scoliosis his whole life.  I know he battles pain every day, and more often all day.  He admitted to me that one of the reasons he drinks as much as he does is to cloak the pain.  One can't wonder aloud with him that it eventually will compound health issues with his liver, kidneys, other organs.  Along with hamper his performance at his job eventually.  People more than likely can smell the fumes from the night before by body odor.

Once, as a manager, I did have to manage someone who battled alcoholism.  Most employers do.  He was a super star contributor with customers loving him.  It all started to unfold for him long after others could smell the alcohol fumes from his body, not just the hangover breath.   He started to call me almost daily around 5 or 6 o'clock, after the other employees had left, and he knew I was going to be in finishing up paperwork.  His calls started out to be conversations rehashing the day's events and what we did well, spilling with ideas on making improvements.  

Unfortunately, the more I listened and the more habitual those calls became, they deteriorated.  He started to rant.  I continued to listen.  I reached out to HR and who I reported to to express concern with what I perceived to be a deteriorating situation.  The catapult was when he came in one Monday, barely being able to move, stating that he had injured himself while helping neighbors move.  I had a flashback to a few years back when there was a company party and I offered to drive him home or share a cab home because he was wasted.  He insisted on going on his own -- the next time I saw him at work, he was in crutches and had injured his leg.  He didn't report to me at the time.  I instinctively knew his injury was from stumbling or falling while drunk.

I did try to ask if he needed help gently during one of those rants.  Thinking that the environment was appropriate to start questioning and helping his declining performance and impact of his drinking.  I was so empathetic because I knew he lived alone, was in his 50s and his work was his life.

The situation did not improve.  The rants turned into flipping out at employees that he supervised.  That caused mistrust and wariness of his colleagues.  Being the manager, I was disheartened to see someone so talented digging his own grave both employment and health wise.

It all came to a head when he started to call in sick.  He had said that he had had a flood in his apartment and had to wait for the cleanup and insurance.  After a few days, he did come to work, worse for wear saying that he had broken his ribs slipping on the wet floor.  I offered to drive him to emergency at the hospital.  He wouldn't hear of it, insisting he take a cab.  The next day he didn't even call in and there was no answer when I tried calling.  Alarmed, I was worried that he was admitted to the hospital.  Nope, no person at the hospital.

Reviewing the situation with my boss, he became alerted.  You see, this same employee had worked for the company years passed and had ended up being fired.  Something about an identical situation about a flood.  His supervisor discovered it was a lie.  My boss, demanded that I call him on it.  Offer to send someone over to help with clean up.  It was declined.  

It continued to escalate.  The work attendance became spotty, calling in to say he wouldn't make it became obsolete, and the excuses became weaker.

Under my boss' direction, I let this fellow go.  Yes, I treaded carefully per Human Resources guidance.  Long before it reared its ugly head and came to a stand off, he was offered time off to get rest and referred to company benefits that could help him.

Some 6 months later, I was picking up my daughter from the C-Train and was driving by him in the parking lot and stopped to ask how he was doing.  He looked horrible, like a homeless person.  I later found out that was exactly what happened to him.  I blamed myself.  

It was after counseling from others, including my boss, I stopped blaming myself entirely.  I did realize that I was not responsible for this person drinking himself into a life nobody would have predicted of someone so talented, important to customers, and genuinely liked (before he became moody and a hot head:  outcome from alcohol abuse).

Is marijuana a miracle drug? 

I started to write about weed and its supposed holistic benefit.  I got sidetracked on alcohol and the damage it does to people's lives and health.  

Where I was going with this?  I can't help but wonder if the employee had smoked weed, would it have mellowed his personality from erupting, silenced his demons, and allowed him to cope with living alone and deterred him from drinking alcohol that ended up causing him to lose his job and become homeless?

I guess what I am asking is which is worse: 

smoking weed to help with pain or

drinking oneself death?

I ran across this article from Canada's Globe and Mail about the impact of marijuana ... some interesting insight:  The real effects of marijuana on teens

“The United States government also owns a patent on marijuana as a medical application.” 
~Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spring's eternal bloom

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."
~ Henri Matisse

Flowers start to bloom in each spring regardless of the winter past.  They don't curl their leaves from disappointment, fatigue, stress or discouragement.  Flowers are eternally optimistic.

 As  the sun shines on them, they blossom with optimism to brighten our lives, give pollen for our bees, who work hard on our crops, so that we can harvest the food to eat among our assembled friends and family. 

"The earth laughs in flowers." 

~Ralph Aldo Emerson

How can we not be more hopeful when we see a flower?  How can we not feel love when given to us by loved ones on occasions?  We should feel  inspired by flowers' optimism that even as the cool winter air befalls them and they curl and become hidden ...  spring will renew it once again to bloom and bring beauty, love to our world.  

Flowers show us that even should we crumple and hide, whither with disappointment, feel pain, battle depression ....  Spring allows us to bloom with new life and beauty to share with others. 

Do not be shadowed by rain showers in spring ... be rejuvenated and happy to know that the sprinkles are washing away what was before, to bring new life, new optimism, new flowers.

"Keep love in your heart.  A life without it is like a sunless garden when all the flowers are dead." 
~Oscar Wilde

Being attracted to beautiful imagery inspires me and reminds me that creativity doesn't always have to be by one's own hand, recognizing another's talent is rewarding and rejuvenates ones eyes Esmat Morshedy provided the image above and below which I loved because of the quality and it is also my favorite color:  purple  I hope others are as thankful as I am to be able to share in the joy you find in your passion whether it is art, photography or writing.