Unintended Consequences

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think through the phrase, “no good deed goes unpunished,” because it really made no sense to me.  If it was a good deed, there wasn’t any reason to think about punishment.  But then –

Jake hasn’t been eating like he should for the past week so I decided that now was the time to begin seriously spoiling him.  I went dog food shopping, looking specifically for grain free canned dog food that had nothing but natural ingredients, no grain, and every ingredient was not only one I could pronounce, it was also one that I could spell.  I thought I hit the jackpot when I found a grain free canned dog food that contained a mix of duck and sweet potato.  I thought we were still good even after opening the can and finding something that looks suspiciously like a paté.  Jake seemed excited after getting a whiff of the contents so I spooned an amount into his dish and crossed my fingers.  The food lasted about 30 seconds, only because Jake spent several moments licking his dish not once, but twice.  Sigh of relief from me, to be honest.  We had something he was interested in eating.  The cottage cheese, pumpkin, and yogurt would be given a rest.  Fast forward to about an hour after he finished his meal….

Sitting in the living room after taking a break from the computer, I was a bit surprised to see Jake get up as quickly as he can these days and walk from the room.  Normally, he’s an attachment to my left hip.  In less than a nanosecond I knew why he moved.  Green air produced by an older dog is lethal at best, and we now have doors and windows opened to air out the house.  Whatever he passed has permeated every room except the bedrooms at the far end of the house.  Good Lord!  Jake has decided that while it’s still comfortable outside, he wants to stay on the deck.  I can’t wait to hear from my neighbors because the gentle breeze is going to bring them a surprise.  My well intentioned deed won’t be repeated tomorrow morning, I can assure everyone of that.

Here’s what I didn’t take into consideration – Jake is a senior pup, over 11 years old now.  His digestive system has been impacted by the gall bladder issue, and the impact of the medications he’s now taking.  Adding the additional protein at a level he’s not accustomed to wasn’t all that smart on my part, even though the portion given to him was small (about three tablespoons) but it was more than enough to insure that Jake and I are sleeping with the windows wide open and the door to the back yard left open just enough for him to slide through.

Sometimes we make decisions with all sorts of good intentions in mind but we get figuratively smacked in the back of the head with unintended consequences.  Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I think it’s far more practical to accept the consequences and revise the initial decision to insure that those consequences aren’t repeated.  It’s okay to make mistakes because we tried to do something right or good.  It’s worse to simply do nothing and make no decisions because we’re afraid of what might happen.  Jake will get through this and his digestive system will settle back into what is his new normal.  I’ll be on the receiving end of some more green air, along with a couple of dirty looks from Jake.  And the upside to all this?  For a couple of moments since that devastating day in March, I actually was glad that Bailey and Elliot weren’t here.  Jake is a rank amateur compared to how quickly Elliot could clear a room and Bailey wasn’t half bad herself.  Even in the midst of the green air cloud, there is a positive.

Some Weeks are Better Than Others – Part 2

This week started out with Jake at the vet’s for yet another blood test. Our very dedicated vet is trying to find something that will ease the arthritic pain Jake’s experiencing in his back and hind legs without sending his liver function tests through the roof. I was able to tell her after the first week that it appears that Jake is getting some relief but there is that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads – what was the impact of the medication on his liver? So this week, we finally got some good news. The new anti-inflammatory medication has had no impact upon Jake’s liver function so he can continue to take it and experience some relief from the arthritic pain in his body. What hasn’t improved is the “funk” that he’s been in off and on since he lost his pack mates, similar to the same thing he showed when his pack mate, Jessie, died from lymphoma. Now I know that there are some folks out there that will think and even perhaps post comments about how I’m humanizing Jake by attributing human emotions to him when he’s just a dog. But no one can explain away how dogs seems to sense when their humans need them the most, why a pup will sleep under the coffin at the funeral home when their owner dies, or when a pup sits on the step with her boy on Father’s Day, and places her paw on her boy’s knee as he cries his heart out over the absence of the father who passed away before the boy’s birth. That dog stayed with her boy until he was ready to face the world again and even attempted to lick the tears from his cheek. So while Jake isn’t human, he’s the latest in a very long and blessed line of extraordinary pups who have blessed my life with unconditional love, attention, and companionship. I know the day is coming sooner than I’d like for Jake to rejoin his pack mates and I’ve promised him that I’ll honor that wish. So for the remainder of this week and hopefully, for many weeks to come, I’ll get to pause in my work and spend several great moments scratching behind Jake’s ears, walking with him, and sitting with him as we watch the bunnies return to their safe haven under our deck. Chalk this week up to being one of the better ones. Enjoy your week, folks. Jake and I certainly plan on doing just that.

Bad Optics

When Kindness and Respect Really Matter

Any time anyone  is targeted for hate on social media and elsewhere, we all should realize that a hateful word is like throwing a pebble into a pool of water.  There are ripple effects that none of us can begin to imagine but which can lead to a devastating act by the targets of that hate, leaving family and friends to grapple with a tremendous burden of grief that lasts a lifetime.

Case in point: One kind person who has been targeted for hate comments is Jennie Kim of the group, “Black Pink.”  For those who’ve read our recent postings, you’ll recognize her name from our posting about the hatred that spewed forth because of her obvious struggle to deal with the panic of an apparently overwhelming crowd closing in on her, as seen in the published videos.  I’ve since learned that she has been targeted with some of the crudest expressions of hate for quite some time.

What’s troubling is that I could find no effort by anyone associated with her management company to speak up on Jennie’s behalf.  I think that a delayed response is useless.  An ineffective delayed approach was showcased in the recent suicide death of a young Korean entertainer who had received hateful comments for more than a year.  In a video published over the weekend of 19 October, the apparent response by Jennie’s management company appeared to treat her as a second class citizen, subject to different rules than the remaining members of Black Pink. She wasn’t allowed to ride in the same vehicle with the other members, allegedly for security reasons.  But as seen in the video, managers controlled who she talked to and walked with into the airport.  Whether intended or not, YG Entertainment’s response validates the words of the haters.  Bad optics…..

Other management companies in Korea have started tracking down offenders and bringing legal action against them. Let’s all hope that these actions are soon taken globally and the hate seen on social media becomes a thing of the past.  Now is the time for YG Entertainment to proactively protect their entertainers.  To do anything less will signify YG’s agreement with the comments.

Jennie has refused to respond to the haters.  She has gone about her work and behind the scenes acts of kindness with her head held high.    From my vantage point, this very kind young person merits my respect.  As a leader within my community and profession, I can learn a lot from Jennie’s situation and how best to help anyone who might become targets of hate on social media.  They deserve the very best I can do for them to protect them and pursue appropriate legal action against anyone who targets them for hate and malicious comments.  Those people I will be protecting will have no doubt that I hold each of them in very high regard.


How NOT to Implement Change!

A while back, we posted some thoughts on implementing change in difficult times.  I got to thinking about the approach we developed when I came across the recent activities of YG Entertainment in Korea.

I don’t normally follow entertainment companies in any country.  I do like some of the music performed by the talented singers and dancers so when I run across something new, I usually take a look.  I came across YG Entertainment while doing some research on white collar criminal activities and found some interesting reading on YG.   I then started wondering how the organization was going to come through this mess.  Switch from criminal justice interest to leadership and implementing change interest.

Our sense is that YG has apparently taken the “hunker down and let’s hope this storm passes quickly” approach.  Good idea?  Not so much.  If I were to make a site visit to YG right about now, I’m pretty sure what we’d find – a staff that is struggling to get ahead of the storyline, a sense of wondering when the next shoe is going to drop, and pretty much a sense of just going through the motions.  At this point, here’s where YG could be making a clean break from the rather tawdry past of the former chief executive and make a clean and fresh start.  That takes some insight and knowledge of how change impacts people and organizations.  One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t close your eyes and bull ahead, hoping that the past is finally left behind and the change will take hold.  You might get some short term changes but those won’t last.

Here’s a thought – YG Entertainment, we know how to help you.  Best thing is that we don’t have a horse in this race and our only agenda is helping you implement some much needed change. You handle the business end.  We’ll assist with the people issues.  Give us a call!

Action needed, not just words

I read an Internet article yesterday about the death of a former K-pop singer, Sulli.  My first thought was of her family and friends and the devastating sense of loss they must be feeling.  I wondered how such a talented young woman would come to think that the only solution to her mental anguish was to apparently take her own life.  How is it in today’s world, where we are supposedly so interconnected through social media, that a young person would come to feel so isolated and alone?  It appears to me that far too many people, young and old alike, come to believe that the ultimate solution to their pain becomes their only option.  We, as a society and global community, are diminished by that decision.  How can we turn this around?

For one thing, we need to have meaningful conversations with one another.  That means that the cell phones are put down and face to face conversations take place.  We need to be engaged with one another in discussing the things that matter most in our lives.  Old fashioned eye to eye conversation is needed in order to make that human connection that will mean so much to those involved.

Next, as a society and global community, we need to reassess our priorities.  Today’s technological world has the advantage of social media, but that advantage also carries some significant consequences.  Social media can and often does create an unrealistic standard of what we should look like, what to wear,  what to eat, who we should follow, etc., etc.    What’s missing in that approach?  I think what’s missing is the realization that each of us is unique and individual.  Because of the anonymity of the Internet, some folks believe that gives them license to point out other people’s imperfections, often in demeaning terms.  Instead of insulting one another over real or perceived imperfections, why aren’t we celebrating the fact that despite our individual differences, we humans have the heart and mind to come together as a family, group of friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.  That coming together to solve common problems is, in my assessment, the avenue we must use in order to stop the sense of isolation which can lead some to believe that the world is better off without them.  Trust me, we aren’t.

Welcome to my Monday

If we can adapt to sudden changes in schedules in our personal lives, might we also apply those same skills to adapting to sudden changes in our professional lives?  Here’s a sample of what I’m thinking.
My family and close friends rarely, if ever, use the term “normal” in reference to me. I like using that term and do so frequently, probably in hopes of persuading them. So I had high hopes this morning.
This Monday started out like a “normal” Monday for me – time spent with Jake in the cool morning, weekly calendar reviewed, emails checked, and favorite background music playing in the office. That’s about as far as I got on the normal scale. When I went to feed Jake and give him his daily dose of cottage cheese (which I can’t stand, by the way), I found that the container felt like it was glued down to the shelf. And there I discovered that a container of honey glaze had leaked onto the glass shelf, gluing everything in place. Trust me, it wasn’t on my schedule this morning to spend the next two hours cleaning my refrigerator and freezer (I’ll explain that in a moment) and rearranging the shelves. I was planning to spend time writing an abstract for a proposed workshop presentation next year. But as I cleaned up the spill and looked at the items that had migrated to the back of the shelf, I ended up cleaning every shelf and drawer. I found some interesting stuff, too. Why I had a jar of kosher pickles, I have no clue. Like cottage cheese, kosher and dill pickles are not welcome in my home. How is that the short jars always seem to be hiding behind the taller jars? Why is that?
Oh, and the freezer. I made the mistake of opening the freezer door after cleaning the refrigerator when I heard an ice cube fall from the ice maker to the bottom shelf. Ever have that experience where you spill something on the counter and after cleaning it up, you extend the cleaning to the point where all of the counters are cleaned and rearranged? That’s sort of what happened with the freezer. When I picked up the ice cube, I noticed a couple of Jake’s hairs – need I explain any further?
Have a great Monday, folks, and enjoy the rest of your week. I plan to do just that.

Finding Peace of Mind

The hard decision has been made and some final goodbyes have been completed. With the help of a totally wonderful vet, both Bailey and Elliot are comfortable for the time being. But we know that the time we have left with them is very short indeed. Some peace of mind was given to me by our vet when she pointed out that I have been able to give Elliot over four more years than his previous owners were willing to give him. For the last four plus years, she noted that he’s been loved, cuddled, cared for, and wanted more than he ever knew before we rescued him. Bailey also came to us from a bad situation but with the help of both Jessie and Jake, she learned that she was loved again. Peace of mind for Bailey and Elliot will come the moment they reach that very special place where all dogs go. Peace of mind for me will be a bit slower in coming but the knowledge that I was blessed with two more extraordinary pups will help.
The words of kindness and support to our most recent posting have also been very helpful. That gives me the hope that the evil we hear, see, and read about virtually all the time is not an accurate reflection of the truly kind and caring hearts which abound in our world. Strangers are so willing to offer a kind word, a show of support, a path to peace of mind… To my way of thinking, the world is populated with far more good and kindhearted people than it is with evildoers. We just need to shift our focus and attention to those positive role models. They’re all around us, both in human and canine form. Thanks to all of you who shared your kindness. It is very much appreciated.

Making Hard Decisions

How many times have we heard someone – anyone – say that life is not fair? It’s not and I’m not sure it was ever intended to be. Otherwise, we’d never have to face those situations where we have to make difficult and sometimes heart wrenching decisions.
My son and I have had to face a very difficult situation involving one of our pups. With great sadness, we’ve reached the appropriate decision and both of us know that the hole in our hearts won’t ever heal completely. But we know that we love and are loved by one of the best pups ever. What we didn’t expect to deal with is the impact of her cancer on one of our other pups. He’s been at a complete loss with her illness – so much so that those who know this pup best realize that he’ll never survive her passing. It has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. But I now accept that it will be the best decision I can make to have the second pup go home at the same time our first pup starts her journey. He’ll be her protector while she’ll be the reassurance he’ll need to make the journey safely. At the end of their trip, they’ll be greeted by the Dobie I lost to cancer when she was just about 4 years old and they will finally come to that place where they’ll be healed completely, able to play in the sun, chase butterflies, and for the one pup – he’ll never have to be afraid ever again. The hole in my heart will never heal completely and the anxiety and second guessing my son and I have gone through in making this decision has taken its toll.
Making difficult decisions is not easy and sometimes, it’s not fair. But it’s a measure of our faith, and our reliance upon one another that sees us through and helps us grow in knowledge, strength of character, faith, and confidence. Godspeed, Bailey and Elliot. Give Jess a kiss from us. We’ll see you again.

Life Lessons = Karma?

Many times we hear of someone receiving a life lesson and folks nod knowingly and murmur something about karma. From what I’ve gathered, karma is another way of talking about how things all seem to balance out, one way or the other.
In trying to understand why I get an occasional figurative smack to the back of my head – one as recently as Monday evening, I took a look at some things I learned when I first entered the military, affectionately known as the three truths in life. Trust me, the subtle filter is in place!
“Time will tell.” This is usually stated when someone questions whether a decision is the right one or not. Time will let us know whether we’ve made the right decision or whether we need to make an adjustment. A modified dose of karma?
“Some things in life will always smell, no matter what we do.” That science experiment in the office fridge, the dirty diaper filled just moments after the old diaper has been removed, the ‘green air’ emitted by our dog just as guests arrive for a formal dinner… You get the picture. Not sure any of these qualify as karma but it is one of life’s truths that some things really do stink. Feel free to make your own decision on this.
“Water will seek its own level.” I think that no matter what I do, things are going to even out at some point in time. And for me, this is where the concept of karma comes in. Water has a way of moving mountains and making its own way – just look at the Grand Canyon, for example. No matter what we do, water makes its way around and through the structures we might place in its path, often to our detriment. Karma? Probably.
So what has this got to do with problem solving? Sometimes, problems come about because we ignore the three truths in life and try to impose our own will, often to our detriment. Sometimes, we simply have to accept things for what they are and work as best we can with them. Taking that approach can be far less stressful than having to clean up the impact of karma and the life lesson we just had dumped into our lap.
Oh, and my most recent life lesson? Trying to rush the rehab on my left wrist. I thought I was finally ready to lift something that weighed about ten pounds. I was but my wrist wasn’t. I’m repainting the kitchen in a few weeks. Karma!

The Real Start of Spring

Forget the calendar, forget the groundhog – it’s the start of spring training with the reporting of pitchers and catchers, followed by the other players that really signals the beginning of spring. Of course, here in the desert southwest, we got another dose of winter with overnight temps in the mid to upper 30s this week.  For those going through the polar vortex cold and snowy winter, that doesn’t sound so bad. But temps that low with a humidity level in the 10% range have a way of biting right through all the layers and settling directly into your bones. We’ll warm up soon enough and before we know it, the triple digit days will be upon us. But with the start of spring comes a sense of a new beginning. Spring is a reminder that we have come through a period of short, dark days usually accompanied by cold, ice, and snow.
Seeing the desert wildflowers bloom, much like watching the flowers in any part of the country come to life, reminds us that hope always springs eternal. If all those daffodils can weather the multiple feet of snow and ice and with the first hint of the spring warmth, poke their heads through all that cold and bring a smile to our faces with their bright whites and yellows, can we do less? Let’s strive to put the winter dark and cold behind us and move forward into the spring sunshine and warmth. You won’t hear a single word of complaint from me when the streak of triple digit highs comes to spend the summer!