Let’s Celebrate Independence Day

flag

“I pledge alliance…”

An Essay

I finished reading the Lilac Girls, a powerful story of inhumanity. One of my book clubs chose it. I resisted reading it, preferring not to hear about the hideous treatment in concentration camps during World War II. The novel, historical fiction, is based on events surrounding a large group of female prisoners during the Holocaust. The “heroine” is the lady who organized and helped raise funds for a trip for the survivors for rehabilitation and relaxation in the US after the war.

The story needs to be shared again and again. I barely touched on the indignations the children and people encountered during the war in my book Gift of the Suitcase, yet one reader told me she found those passages uncomfortable. Throughout the Lilac Girls, the enormity of the atrocities of war caused me to cringe with sadness, even tears.

We are fortunate to live with freedom. I appreciate my independence. I am living the American dream of doing what I love (writing and traveling). Freedom to write this essay is a blessing, which is cause for celebrations with fireworks and friends.

My first trip to Europe gave me an inkling of how Americans are hated and loved. Shamefully, innocent people continue to be killed throughout the world. Our independence should not be taken for granted or in isolation. I realize the world may never rest in peace, but we, as individuals, can live peacefully.

Let’s try to make our country more lovable. We are a country of mixed heritage. Diversity is a strength. Let’s celebrate our wholeness as a nation. Let’s celebrate our unique heritage and respect others.  Vicious words, rather than constructive discussions, foster hatred. War fosters pain and suffering, no matter who is right and just. A fellow author suggests the Democrats and Republicans need to re-brand themselves. I agree.

 

 

Fun on the Fourth

Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy

The Audie Murphy and the Cotton Industry, totally entwined in history.

Antiques and memorabilia at the Audie Murphy/Cotton Museum create lasting memories for visitors. It’s worth the drive, an hour east of Dallas on Highway 30. “What,” you say, “is Audie Murphy doing in a Cotton Museum?” Hunt County, Texas is famous for two things: Audie Murphy and cotton.

Audie: the Hero

Audie lived his life in the fast lane. Born in 1925 in Kingston, near Greenville, he entered the Army ten days after his eighteenth birthday. One of twelve children, he marched off to war with love in his heart for his family and his country.

He served in Sicily, Italy, and France, facing the Germans and stunning his superiors with his expertise and bravery. He returned to Hunt County before his twentieth birthday with thirty-three military awards, including the Medal of Honor. News services picked up the story to honor him.

Audie: the Actor

Audie’s face became well-known throughout the U.S. A handsome guy, articulate and feisty in interviews, actor James Cagney invited him to visit Hollywood. When Audie published his autobiography, the movie industry chose his story for film. He talked his way into the starring role. Much to everyone’s delight, he became as famous for his acting ability as his military acumen. Unfortunately, like many actors and sports stars, he died young and poor. His investments failed and he gambled too much. He died on a foggy, misty night in an airplane accident near Roanoke, Virginia in 1971 at age 46.

A selected list Audie Murphy movies in the gift shop:

To Hell & Back

Cimarron Kid

Cast a Long Shadow

Apache Rifles

Drums Across the River

Cotton and Antique Displays

Beautifying

Hairdresser Agony

The Audie Murphy/Cotton Museum equals fun. Take the grandkids. Let Grandma share her experience with a permanent hair wave using the funny machine that looks like it could electrocute anyone coming near it: she will laugh until her stomach aches, watching the grandkids’ faces.

The cotton displays provide insight into the process of picking and baling the cotton. An enormous wooden cotton gin exhibits the intricacies of the ordeal of making cotton. You will find more insight about Hunt County as the museum supports the entire area.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and closed most holidays, but it will be open on Tuesday, the Fourth of July. A young family can spend an hour or two rambling through the museum, trying to explain how someone used to pick cotton to make a shirt. Senior citizens may saunter slower to reminisce longer than the youngsters.

The scenery refreshes urban cowboys, vets, and families. Horses lean over the fence and an old cabin and restored old home rest in the pristine setting.

Beige horse

Check the website for more detailed directions and tickets. I guarantee you will love the place, especially if you are an antique with young ones in the party.

Roving Ruth Survey Results – June 2017

Roving Ruth-Survey Summary

The results from the Survey fascinated me.

I write a monthly column for my followers, titled “Roving Ruth”. When I asked my friend and colleague, Brett Schuler, to help me develop a survey, he created the template and I developed the questions. Roving Ruth received a 10% return on the survey from June 1- June 12, 2017. Not bad for a survey. Marketing research shows 9% are the core readers. Forty-two percent said the newsletter was “Very Good” and the same number thought it “Excellent,” which means 92% like it! That’s encouraging for me.

The top three articles were:

“No Ghosts Allowed”

“An Un-Common Hobby: How My Paperweight Collection Evolved”

“Unforgettable Canadians and the Quilt Barn Trail”

Sixty percent said they would like one shorter article and one longer. I like that idea. My creative juices are flowing on reformatting a little. Another asked for more data, but someone else likes hearing about uncommon people who overcome challenges.  The responses indicate they enjoy the variety (60%), length and information.

If you have not yet subscribed to Roving Ruth, here’s the link.

If you have not yet purchased my latest book, Gift of the Suitcase, here is the quickest link. If you prefer to order at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, no problem. It’s in paperback and e-book format. It’s also available at other distribution centers, too.

If you have read the book and not yet written a review, please let other readers know what you think in an Amazon review, the “go-to” source for most everyone. You do not have to purchase the book on Amazon to write a review.

THANKS, everyone, who responded to the survey.

THANKS, everyone who has read my book.

THANKS, everyone, who has written an Amazon review.

The Flapper and the Music Man

 

poster

McMichael Band from 1930s

The story of a young, entrepreneurial couple in the 1930s who collaborated to teach music to the townspeople and their children.

“Who’s the gorgeous woman with the brown hair and finger wave?” Bill murmured to a new friend at a singles party in the 1930s. “I’m not sure. I’ve seen her here a few times. Great style, don’t you think?”

Early Years 

Florence borrowed a dress to wear to the party as her meager earnings prevented costly, stylish clothes. At age 26 her attire was classy, not spinster-like. Her pearl white, satin dress shimmered like glistening snow, accessorized with a little brown hat and clunky, brown tie shoes. She worries about finding a good man. Maybe her finger wave hairdo and friendly demeanor would attract attention.

The remnants of the Depression lingered in Central Ohio. After Bill attended college in Columbus, preparing to teach music, he settled 30 miles from his alma mater. With limited growth opportunities in Coitsville (his hometown), near Youngstown, he risked moving to Newark to investigate employment. Newark, a city of 30,500 offered better opportunities. He stayed the rest of his life.

Unemployment reached the catastrophic statistic of 25% about the time of his arrival. Finding work proved perplexing as few jobs existed in public schools. This young, inexperienced musician decided to teach private lessons. After a year of floundering, he found space for a music studio, in a big house on Hudson Avenue, along tree-lined curbs beside fancy, old homes. With plenty of space for private lessons, Bill’s friendly reputation for teaching the guitar, banjo, bass and mandolin traveled fast. His popularity around the town increased when showing off his students’ skills at club meetings and in churches.

Florence flounced by Bill with pearl earrings dancing from her earlobes at the party. As she moved towards him for a lingering, flirty handshake, she said to him, “Hi, I’m Florence. Are you enjoying the party?” His heart beat faster and faster! Her cologne lingered in the air, suggesting he should learn more about this lady.  Tall, gaunt and gracious, his attraction to Florence seemed mutual.

Florence needed a job. Bill needed someone to schedule appointments for the students and manage the accounting. He paid her a small salary and gave her mandolin lessons rather than extra money. He taught her, in her words, “Everything I know.” They married in 1934.

Growing the Business

Her musical talent blossomed, adding the piano, accordion, and guitar to her skills. Bill taught her the basics of music, which led to her teaching career. She increased his earnings by suggesting he should sell stringed instruments. Word of mouth traveled fast with moms bringing their children to learn from “the new guy in town.”

Flo & bass

Florence with her Bass

She played string bass with his 90-piece banjo band they took to contests throughout the United States, often winning top prizes. When their stringed orchestra played at the World’s Fair in Chicago, they won many awards and recognition. Imagine transporting 90 students, parents, friends and instruments cross country! He became the biggest customer in the U.S. of Gibson products during that decade. Florence suggested marketing ideas while finding locations for the student performances.

World War II

World War II raged within the first ten years of their marriage. Bill departed for the Army shortly after their daughter was born, leaving in early 1944 for the Army. How would she cope? Her tears flowed as she cringed, realizing how little she understood. How could she manage the store and teach while nurturing her baby?

Flo & baby Ruth

Note our hats.

“Whatever will I do?” she wailed. Bill’s response surprised her, “You’ll survive. I trust you.” She hired a nanny to care for the baby who helped with cooking and cleaning. She hired a sales clerk at their store, punching fear in the face. Roomers in the upstairs bedrooms added a little cash to her income while Bill continued his musical career in the service. Bill directed an Army band and played the bugle at Fort Lee, Virginia, never leaving the U.S. Failure was not an option.

Florence morphed into the predecessor of Super Woman, during his tour of duty. Her strong stamina, quick wit, and gift of gap, appealed to customers. She grasped profit and loss, bankers, and bills. Bill recognized Florence’s survival skills. When he returned after the war, she had stashed money in the bank and owned a thriving business.

The Business Roller Coaster

In the 1950s, the couple added phonographs, pianos, sheet music, records and radios. They added television, bringing more business growth. Florence worked in the store and taught music lessons. His first shop on Church Street grew. When they needed more space, they moved to South Third Street around the corner from the popular town square. They moved to another home with their young daughter. She brought her first grade class to see their new television at her house. In fact, their daughter thought all families owned a piano and implored her guests to buy a TV from her dad.

Debt for the pianos and organs caused major angst for Florence. “The bank owns us, Bill! Our names will appear in the newspaper when they come to take everything. We’ll end up in the poor house!” Bill rarely worried, leaving the troubles to her. Although the rise and fall of economic realities consumed their conversations like hail on their windows in a wind-storm, the risk of consigned pianos, organs and other products proved worthwhile.

Bill and Florence showed resilience throughout their marriage. In 1969 at age 61 Bill died of a sudden heart attack. Florence maintained the store until 1972 when she liquidated it. They both loved work. Florence taught private lessons for more than 50 years.  She worked until age 76 or 77 and died in the early 1990s.

Reality and Risk

Bill and Florence faced their struggles through reliance on each other, realistic goals and risk-taking. Although love did not necessarily solve their issues, they counted their blessings, in sync most of the time, despite their differences. Their love balanced each other’s idiosyncrasies while their self-employment enriched the community.

If you visit the natives of Newark over age 50, they probably took lessons from Florence or Bill. Their daughter remains grateful they refrained from naming her Melody, as in her words, “I didn’t want to be a walking advertisement for the music store.”

Today we see a resurgence of the entrepreneurial spirit in small towns. Entrepreneurs face the same challenges as long ago. Tenacity, respect, business savvy, and creative marketing play the same roles, which helped the Flapper and the Music Man.

Happy Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day with a special salute to my own parents.

 

 

 

10 Common Traits of Uncommon People

Guest column:

Craig Hysell shares his thoughts about uncommon people. He owns a unique training facility for body and minds in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Family Pyramid

Craig Hysell and his Family

 

4 Common Traits of Mediocre People:

  1. They have no idea what they want to do with their life
  2. They have no idea how to do what they want to do with their life
  3. They have an idea but are afraid to try
  4. They have an idea, they “tried” it and “it didn’t work” so they quit

Mediocrity is easy. It’s comfortable. The pursuit of commonality and the avoidance of adversity, criticism and the unknown are the surest possible way to die without expressing your full potential. Or worse, to die feeling like a failure. Is that you?

10 Common Traits of Uncommon People:

  • Uncommon people believe they have a purpose, know their “Why” and live their dream.Think about that. Do you know why you’re here, do you have enough stamina to live your most passionate calling and do you know what conviction(s) you will fall back on when things get hard? To establish these answers, you must accumulate life experiences and then sit down in the quiet and think. There is no timetable on this accumulation and introspection. It could take years or decades. It is constant.
  • Uncommon people are not absent of fear, they just do not let fear make their life become absent.Fear exists for all of us. But fear is crap. It is not real. It exists only in our minds. When you face your fears daily, you conquer fear. You realize that fear is indeed nonsense. It is the main control mechanism for commonality. You must not let fear, any and all fear, hold you back from pursuing your purpose.
  • Uncommon people practice self-mastery. Uncommon people work relentlessly at mastering their mind, body, emotion and spirit (the four pillars that make up your life). They harness these things through daily study and practice. They understand that without a strong mind, all else will fail. They are patient. They enjoy The Process. They are positive. They structure the development and awareness of these four pillars- their emotional content- into a daily practice. They reflect upon these four pillars daily.
  • Uncommon people are self-reliant. This does not mean that uncommon people do not ask for help: on the contrary, being part of a team is vital to growing and sharing larger success. To be self-reliant is to trust that your critical eye, your logic, your reason and your wisdom are tools enough to help you continue to grow. This is not absolutism. Absolutism is folly. This is the ability to understand what is worthless to you and what is not, no matter what the crowd may think, and pursue this relentlessly.
  • Uncommon people have an unwavering discipline. You cannot learn anything worthwhile if you are not devoted to it fully. Uncommon people are disciplined with work, with rest and with play. They make time for all of it and they are fully present at each exploration. This is a lifetime pursuit.
  • Uncommon people are obsessed with the cultivation of their purpose. Uncommon people do not complain about trivial things. They are focused on where they want to go, paying attention to each deliberate step along the way. Silly things like the accumulation of stuff and then complaining when the stuff isn’t just right or gossiping about others is not part of an uncommon person’s life.
  • Uncommon people are extremely durable. Uncommon people remain undeterred by setbacks, failure or defeat. They recognize these things as learning tools and nothing more. They do not falter or waver for long. They do not wallow in self-loathing. They possess supreme confidence in their ability to continue forward. No matter what. They are fully accountable for everything that happens in their life. With accountability comes control and with control comes the ability to change.
  • Uncommon people inspire change.Uncommon people inspire others to follow suit. They show what is possible and make it possible not only for others to come with them, but for others to improve upon what they have provided.
  • Uncommon people act. Uncommon people understand that you are what you are. Best to link your actions with your dreams and your purpose. Best to ask of yourself often, “Is this the best I can do?” Otherwise: a thought without action is simply a wish.
  • Uncommon people do not care what others think. Find your voice. As soon as you begin to talk, others want to talk over you, critique you, tell you how you should do things, twist your voice or use your message against you. Uncommon people persevere through this. They learn to ignore what others might think and realize that you cannot be all things to all people. Uncommon people speak their mind and follow their heart. Their honesty is clear, concise and principled, attracting others who are like-minded. And things begin to expand, slowly at first and then… BOOM!

You must have fun with the practice of becoming uncommon. It’s serious business to be sure, but BE something you love and enjoy,

You must practice “un-commonality” daily. You must be patient. You must shut out negativity and seek the mentorship and guidance of others who have been there before you. You must look long and hard at yourself and those around you. Is this who you want to be? You must be accountable for everything, and I mean everything, in your life. It’s all up to you. Any thought to the contrary is commonality in devious forms.

Hilton Head

Craig Hysell – owner of Conviction Training Facility

Listen. Observe. Act. Adapt. Evolve. Repeat.

“Un-commonality” should be a lifetime pursuit. There is no timetable save this: realize that you are going to die one day and you have no idea when that day will come. There is no time to waste. Meet your death with the satisfaction that you gave this life all you had to give. That will be enough to die well, perhaps even unafraid.

Thank you, Craig Hysell, for allowing me reprint a condensed and slightly revised article about uncommon people. Craig’s Conviction Training Facility in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Be sure to visit his website and his uncommon blog.

 

 

Finding a Fit after Fifty

Sometimes finding your “fit” takes time.

Linda-the-Pastor

Linda Whitworth-Reed in the Pulpit

When Linda planned to abandon her career of short-term jobs to go to seminary, she was 52 years old. She had supported her husband through seminary a decade previously. They relocated many times for his two different careers. “Now it’s my turn,” she said. “David has not received his next calling. We may need to live apart awhile. I am well aware of the challenges.”

Linda’s dad was a Presbyterian minister. He lived with them after her mother died. When David quit an excellent technical sales job to become a minister, she and her dad applauded loudly. They understood the pitfalls and pleasures of life as a minister.

“Linda,” I wailed. “You’re over 50. Are you sure you want to graduate when you are 56 years old?”

“Well,” she responded, “I’ll still be 56 or 57 anyhow.  The timing is right and I’m sure the call is real.”  The love of learning flows through Linda’s veins. Returning to graduate school would invigorate this energetic lady.

Linda’s work history is one we call “patchwork.” She’s been a French and Spanish teacher, a publisher, an Information Technology Instructor, an exercise expert and held many other jobs. Would this be another two or three-year stint? Teaching and speaking demonstrates a recurring theme in her career.

I questioned how she knew this rung in her career ladder would be a better fit.  Linda is super-intelligent, introspective and gregarious. Before her dad passed, Linda and David took her father to visit people from his past. Within a two-week period three of his friends, who had watched her grow up, inquired about “her church.” They assumed she had followed the same career as her dad and husband. That was the sign she needed. With David in transition the present looked promising for her to begin her studies. The rocky road to seminary took five years to solidify. She registered at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin. Fortunately, David became an interim pastor in Waco, 98 miles from the seminary.

With age discrimination rampant, I worried about my friend. I didn’t need to fret. Her quick smile, unconventional wisdom, and perky personality endeared her to the other students.  Linda expected to fly through all her classes, but Hebrew and Greek gave her heartburn. Although fluent in Spanish and French, she struggled.  Discussions on theology, evolution, and creationism stirred her intellect.  Text books rarely put her to sleep. Volunteer work with the homeless while in Austin opened her eyes wider to poverty. Additional study in family dynamics increased her strength in what she would face in her ministry. Driving back and forth with their two dogs to visit her husband caused horrendous challenges with time management and their schedules.

 

Linda sings

Linda Singing a Happy Song

When she graduated, David and Linda moved to a town in South Texas, a town of over 80% Hispanic. Since Linda is fluent in Spanish, she loved the ability to converse in Spanish daily. David and Linda were called co-pastors. The situation for any new pastor is challenging and this was no exception. She loved the town, the people, and the green parrot in a nearby tree. Relationship building began in earnest.

David went to serve another church as an interim pastor. She became the Senior Minister, giving her a chance for new responsibilities. Her next call took the couple to Little Rock.

My comment:

If you are thinking of becoming a minister, she cautions, you must love and learn how to cope with diverse personalities from a Christian perspective and much faith. Linda has found her niche. The job is difficult, the hardest one she’s ever had, but she loves it.  She found her niche at 57. Risky, but worth the effort and hard work.

Currently Linda has been a minster for nine years. David is “honorably retired” and finds part-time ministry and musical gigs wherever they live. He does wood-working while she writes the sermons. Now they live in Iola, Kansas.

As we worked together on this article, she stressed, “In working with myself and others in order to give myself grace, I must realize we do the best we can with what we have.”

Are you doing the best you can with what you have? From exercise guru to minister, we find peace with what we have, no matter the age or circumstances.

 

 

Loving Others

Valentine

Smile. It’s contagious. Photo by R. Glover

 

February is the traditional month we think about love. Our new President scares the “snot” right out of some. We need to love and pray for our government and leaders. I don’t want to get preachy, but, doggonit, smiling is better than frowning. Wringing our hands is not fruitful. Nasty, rude comments solve nothing.

Christian religion says, “Give it to God.” Sometimes that seems the only or best answer. We cannot help the angry police officer who is wiping spit off his face from an accused predator.  We cannot help the jerk who cuts in front of us on a busy highway. We cannot help the pilot when the plane is late. But…we can try more thoughtfulness before responding in a heated conversation. Helping others soothes the soul but fear brings a raft of emotions.

Subways

statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty from the Harbor by R. Glover

Before I visited New York City last year I feared conquering the subways. Would someone accost me? Rip my backpack off? Would I become confused traveling to the theater? A friend assured me the New York City subways are safe, but I should not stay out late. I looked at the subway map and nausea enveloped me.

The doorman at the hotel, where we stayed near Washington Park, helped me understand the reality of “uptown” and “downtown,” along with suggestions for taking the A-line or B-line for best results. His kindness and raucous laughter assuaged my fear. Only later did a recall managing the subways in France when I was 21 years-old.

Success

Never got lost! Had a great time. Glad I overcame my fear.

Fear

The French suffer a reputation for caustic communication. I know France is struggling with fear of foreigners. Many French Jews are moving (again) because of fear. Israel’s geography may change as the borders become unsafe for their citizens. The world is in chaos. Certainly, not the first or last time.

Eiffel Tower

Under the Eiffel Tower-Photo by R. McMichael

Love One Another

What can we do? We must love one another. We must try to understand and cope when our values are diverse. Each day let’s concentrate on kindness to others. At the end of each day where did we deposit kindness? At the very least, show respect.

It’s February. Hug a friend. Send a note to a neglected relative. Love others. Respect diversity and value difference. It can only make the world a better place to live.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Peace Be with Us.

Dignity in Death

Genevieve-headshot

Genevieve Keeney-President of the National Museum of Funeral History
Photo Courtesy of the Museum

Little Genevieve Keeney’s curiosity focused frequently on death and dying. Her mother, a bit incredulous, encouraged her questions. Fearless at age seven, Genevieve never lost her fascination with how we care for our loved ones during death.

Genevieve thought about medical school but money for additional education was scarce. So, instead she joined the Army. While in the military she worked in the medical field managing life and death situations. Her basic medical training led to a career path as a Non-Commissioned Officer and Senior Medic.

When she left the Army after 12 years, she researched what offered decent pay, fit her skills, and matched her interests. Smart lady!  Her new, part time job at the Veterans Administration Medical Center steered her to become an expert in palliative care, helping patients and families during their final chapter in life.  Returning to college became reality. She completed a Masters in Science in Non-Profit Organizational Management in 2015. Long hours and hard work are a way of life for her.

Originally wanting to be a coroner, her studies and profound experience led her to become a funeral director. During her studies for the license, she volunteered at the nearby National Museum of Funeral History. The staff recognized her diligence and passion for helping with whatever needed to be accomplished.

Soon after she began her volunteer work, Museum leaders decided to build a small tribute to the passing of the Popes. The plan started small but when others saw Genevieve’s creative talent in helping with the project, they hired her full time, beginning in 2007. She has a gift for creating thought provoking exhibits that support the Museum’s mission and make an often difficult subject more tolerable for visitors. She has truly helped take the museum to the next level, helping grow awareness, change perception and increase attendance. Innovation and willingness to speak with diplomacy suggest the perfect match for her talents. Her quiet demeanor and empathy on the job soothes the souls of her listeners. Yet, when she needs to be direct, watch out!

Whether speaking to a group of children about death and dying or working with the issues that confront the Board of Directors, her communication skills aid in her countless duties. The newest special exhibit she created, in remembrance of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, offers memorial books signed by a grieving nation and pictures drawn and colored by children to honor those who perished that fateful day.

When I interviewed her, we talked some about Halloween. The main goal at the Museum is to honor the compassion and dedication of the funeral services industry, enlighten visitors on one of man’s oldest cultural rituals and celebrate the heritage of the funeral services industry. The museum takes great care to present information in a respectful and tasteful way. Genevieve is not a big fan of people who disrespect the customs of others. She assures the Halloween displays, like the annual family-friendly Haunted House, epitomize, not ridicule or mock, the unique ways others celebrate the end of life.

When you visit the museum, you may see her wandering throughout the facility, making sure the exhibits and displays are well-lit and shiny clean or talking with the gift shop manager, where all items are tastefully displayed; she might even be leading a tour or visiting with museum goers. She tries to circulate but much of her time is devoted to speaking and coordinating events. She also still holds her job at the local veterans’ hospital. I loved her comment, “I continue to work at the VA where I am honored when I hold the hand of a dying Veteran. I get to use all of my skills every day, both at the VA and the Museum. Who would have thought when I was young, I’d be a part of such an elegant, thoughtful career?”

I, too, am honored to meet and write about this gifted lady. Marathon runner, mother, new grandma, and lifelong learner—she understands the joy of life and preserves dignity in death.

A big thanks to Monica Rhoades and Genevieve Keeney for their assistance with this article.

 

 

 

How to Become Uncommon

 

Implement ideas

Take time to develop your ideas.

What ideas are you not sharing with others? Are you a fourth grade teacher with a system for keeping your students organized? Are you a retired gentleman with an idea for a duck call you know works? Are you passionate enough about the baby toy you created for your child that you would like to be on Shark Tank? Are you uncommon?

To write I must read and listen carefully to others. To prepare my articles about uncommon people today, I watched several YouTube videos. I read Chris Anderson’s book titled TED Talks: the Official Guide to Public Speaking, which is fabulous. I considered writing about Chris. He is renown as he is the Curator and “inventor” of TED Talks, which means he decides who speaks at their conferences.

Chris personifies the ultimate entrepreneur. During his 20s he played in the rock band REM (a rock band from the 80s. He jumped from business venture to business venture, some created winners and others failed miserably. His list of employment includes Los Alamos National Laboratories, known for nuclear physics projects for the government and wide variety of other entities. He applied his tech savvy when he became the editor of numerous scientific journals, most notably as the former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. While playing with his children in the backyard with their remote control airplanes, he realized the power that drones bring to government and private industries. DIYDrones and 3D Robotics became realities. Plus, he’s a writer and speaker. He has a wife and five children.

Leads coworking Nod

Chirag Gupta

But many uncommon people are unrecognized nationwide. I thought about featuring Chirag Gupta, who started his own company before graduation from Northwestern University in Chicago. His current business, called NoD, is a coworking community space in North Dallas. He gathers various entrepreneurs for collaboration and community. They lease space from him where their businesses flourish. Chirag attracts people of all ages and cultures. He schedules tours for enlightening the public about the company’s energy and atmosphere. He writes, he speaks, and he teaches social media classes. Under age 30, yet he is uncommon. Down to earth, loves music and plays the drums. He understands the power of networking and cooperative efforts.

How does this relate to the fourth grade teacher with an idea to organize her students or the guy who wants to build a better vacuum cleaner? If you want to be uncommon, you need guts and not glory. You need to form your ideas regardless of the naysayers: pretend you work for Nike and “just do it.”

Words bring power to your ideas whether it is writing or speaking. You don’t need to be an extrovert, but you must pull words together to express your ideas. You must be willing to fail. If you don’t try, you can’t fail. If you try, you can refine your idea or find a different idea to move forward. After the fourth grade teacher watches the YouTube about Khan Academy for motivation he or she must articulate the idea to the right people for funding and implementation. Take Chirag’s advice, “You can read the news or be the news.”

Collaborating for fun and work at Nod.

Collaborating for fun and work at Nod.

What is your uncommon motivation? Are you passionate about your idea? Is the idea workable?

It’s September. A new school year started. You’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve in five minutes. Start now to mold your idea, to nudge it, to polish it. Can you make progress by the end of the year?

Promise yourself today, right now, to start your plan. Do a little research. Determine if your idea is viable. Write a short proposal to share with friends and family for their input. Refine the idea and rock on! You can be any age to focus your idea into reality. You can become uncommon.

 

 

All Aboard for the Glacier Express

mountain top

The Matterhorn-Photo by T. Glover

Wine, cheese and chocolates at every stop appealed to me. My husband and I traveled through Switzerland for ten days in 2003. Every stop on the itinerary left us in awe of Swiss beauty. If you ride with me on this trip, you may want to buy a ticket for the next flight to Europe.

My cousin suggested we visit Zermatt where he spent many vacations throughout his life. He loved the place, both summer and winter. I discovered the Matterhorn Mountain, one of the most photographed sites in the world, looms over Zermatt.

A friend told me about her ride on the Glacier Express, which travels from St. Moritz to Zermatt. Research increased my enthusiasm for riding this small train, which is neither an express train nor a glacier but travels slowly towards St. Moritz.

St. Moritz

Our trip took place in late May. Upon our arrival at the airport in Zurich we boarded a train to St. Moritz.  After an extremely long travel day, we sighed with relief for the bright light over the hotel door and the friendly innkeeper, who spoke English, French, German, and Italian.

In the morning we hiked around the lake with the warm sun shining in our eyes. The snow-capped Alps surrounded us. We drank hot chocolate near the town square.

When we explored the back streets of the hilly, little town I expected to see Hansel and Gretel or hear someone yodel from a balcony. We discovered a small waterfall. We could touch the icy waters splashing down the brown rocks where green ferns dotted the rocky hill. I recall a plethora of yellow flowers growing out of cracks in a stone wall along a narrow road. I ate white asparagus for the first time, drank superb, regional wine, and gorged on chocolates.

The Glacier Express

little swiss train

Glacier Express Train

We departed St. Moritz on the Glacier Express, a small train with few passengers aboard and no tour guide that day. The weather report reflected heavy snow storms on our eight-hour train ride from Saint Moritz to Zermatt on Memorial Day at home.

Huge pine trees and cows (each with a different bell) in the pastures peppered idyllic views as train ride began. Frigid rivers raced beside the tracks.

As the train clicked along the track the snow began to fall. We rose higher with increasing snow around us.  I don’t mean the sideways snow crossing a road which I would have recognized from living in the Midwest. My husband thought it looked like we were traveling inside a full milk carton. Nothing but white appeared outside the windows. At times the engineer used cog wheels to climb and descend through the snow and ice.

A new, more glamorous train takes tourists on this panoramic experience today through a nine and a half-mile tunnel on the 180-mile adventure. The data shows 91 tunnels and 291 bridges across the Oberalp Pass at 2033 meters in altitude (almost 7000 feet). Arches, some built in the Middle Ages, stand like aqueducts with the small train rumbling along the tracks to Zermatt.

Zermatt

Dusk surrounded us as we departed the train when we arrived in Zermatt. Cars are forbidden in Zermatt in the tourist district because of limited space. However, small trucks rushed through the narrow streets finishing daily deliveries to the hotels, gift shops and restaurants.

hotel ceiling

Hotel ceiling with hand-painted tiles

A five-minute walk dragging our roll-arounds through snowy slush led us to our hotel. The hand-painted flowers on the ceiling of our hotel room fascinated me. Later, we ate pizza at a cozy restaurant with a roaring fire, a glass of local Swiss wine, and stinky cheese for dessert. What a way to spend Memorial Day!

The Matterhorn

Crow

What is he doing here?-Photo by R. Glover

After wandering through town the next day we boarded another, small train, which rattled up the side of the mountain for tourists to see the Matterhorn Mountain more closely. While we ate sandwiches on a chilly patio at the top, a crow lit on the railing. As a little boy in a red and white snowsuit tried to feed the bird; the crow seemed as far from home as we were.

Thanks to Gay Vencill who suggested the Glacier Express. If you’d like to hear more about this trip, let me know. Next stop was Montreux on Lake Geneva.