Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crabby Old Man: Poem - Very Touching

I did not write this; rather, I came across it on Facebook and thought it was so touching with an excellent message that I wanted to share it here on my blog.

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte, Nebraska, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem . Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Missouri . The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health.. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . What do you see?
What are you thinking . . . . . when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man, . ... .. not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . .. . . . . . with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food . . .. . . . . and makes no reply .
When you say in a loud voice .. . . . .. 'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . ... . the things that you do .
And forever is losing . . . . .. . . . . . A sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not . . . . . . .. . . lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse . . . . . you're not looking at me .

I'll tell you who I am . As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, . . . . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten ... . . . . . with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters . . . ... . . . . . who love one another.

A young boy of Sixteen . . with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . . .. .. . . a lover he'll meet..
A groom soon at Twenty . my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows . . . . .. . that I promised to keep.

At Twenty-Five, now . . . . . . . . I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . . . . .. . . . .. My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . . . . . . With ties that should last.

At Forty, my young sons .. . have grown and are gone,
But my woman's beside me . . . . . . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . . . . My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me . . my wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . .. . . . . . . shudder with dread..
For my young are all rearing . . . . . .. young of their own.
And I think of the years . . .. and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man . . . . . .. .. . . and nature is cruel.
Tis jest to make old age . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. . . . . . . grace and vigor, depart..
There is now a stone . . . .. . . . where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass . . a young guy still dwells,
And now and again . . . .. . . . my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys . . . . . . . . .. I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . .. . . . . life over again.

I think of the years, all too few . . . . . gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . . . .. that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people . . . . . . . . open and see.
Not a crabby old man. Look closer . . . see ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within . . . . we will all, one day, be there, too!

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment!

Catherine Stewart-Mott;  


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Volunteer With a Vision! Oxford Children's Water Festival

  • To be Held in Oxford County / May 2012. 

When does water, wisdom, well-being and goodwill go hand in hand?  Have you ever heard of a water festival? Hopefully the answer is yes!  There have been several held across the province over the years, and in May, a Children’s Water Festival is being hosted in Oxford County and will be located at Pittock Conservation Area (Woodstock).  Due to the thousands of students who will be bussed in over a three, or possibly four day period, there is a need and an opportunity for volunteers to assure the festival is its usual kick butt event.  

Volunteers are always of critical importance, and it is anticipated that over 100 will be needed for each day of the festival.  What better way to become involved in your community than to support an initiative meant to explore the importance of our water based resources, related ecosystems, as well as our interaction with and attitude about water?

Take a ‘peek inside’ the world of a water festival by checking out the attached video.  You will see and hear a synopsis of the experiential, interactive, educational and extraordinary 2009 water festival held in Oxford County (2009).  We are hoping this years will be even bigger!

Each activity is strategically designed to be 'curriculum based' and falls into one of of five programming categories, which include: 

  1. Water Conservation
  2. Water Protection
  3. Water Technology
  4. Water Science
  5. Water Attitude
If you should decide to volunteer, it is a win win situation!  Not only do you get an opportunity to be ‘showered’ with the laughter of youth and perhaps the splashing of water, but you will learn a lot yourself while contributing to your community and while gaining valuable volunteer experience.  Volunteer work (if you can really call it that in this case!) is a great addition to a resume, and it is an opportunity for you to explore new horizons.  After checking out the video as well as the link below which provides even more information, hopefully you will be ready to jump in either the shallow or deep end with us!  

Oxford Children's Water Festival  

If interested, and I hope you are, please send me an email.  I would be thrilled to hear from you, as will others on the organizing committee.

Catherine Stewart-Mott
Forward Momentum Services

Email: forwardmomentum.contact@gmail.com 
Blog: http://blog.forwardmomentumservices.ca
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinelmott
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ForwardMomentum

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The 'ic'y Workplace.

This is just a little play on words about workplace cultures, or perhaps I should say play on  letters.  The letters as you might suspect from the Post Title are ic
Workplaces are often like a second home. Sometimes just as (or more) rewarding.  But sometimes, just as potentially dysfunctional.  We spend many hours a day, a week, a month, and a year at these 'second homes'  .... once individuals reach their complacent point or breaking point on the job, things can get dicey or spicy. This is about the time that the normally well tended and guarded inner emotions start to emerge  (i.e as aggressiveness or perhaps remain 'submerged' as passive-aggressiveness).  It is easy to become a victim of the 'ic' factor, and I suspect most of us have fallen into this trap. Not all of course, but more than enough. Hopefully, you are the final 'ic'.

or .............
Ideally, your workplace is terrific?

Catherine Stewart-Mott
Forward Momentum Services

Email: forwardmomentum.contact@gmail.com 
Blog: http://blog.forwardmomentumservices.ca
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinelmott
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ForwardMomentum

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

THANK YOU!!! It Can Come In Many Shapes and Sizes!

Ah, what a nice night.  I love it when you get a nice thank you for your efforts.  And I can't resist a good deal. In this case, I happen to sit on an advisory committee for the City of Woodstock.  Tonight was a Wine and Cheese Thank You evening, with about 90 people scheduled to attend. It was held in a nice venue, meaning the local Woodstock Art Gallery. Some of us were dressed to the nines.  I don't get that opportunity much, so heck, out came the little black dress. Mind you, I wore it with black boots. Can't take the redneck out of the gal, I guess!

It was wonderful chowing down on a range of creatively prepared appetizers and sipping wine. At one point, I also ended up with a coffee in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.  Don't ask; perhaps the first glass of wine I gulped down earlier had something to do with my double sipping. Just kidding, ... I think.  

You know, the formal setting, all the networking I accomplished, and the wine and yum yums were wonderful, but I am also happy with small thank you gestures as well.  As long as they are sincere.  

So ... employers, volunteer leaders, etc.  Do you recognize the importance of assuring staff or those who volunteer for your organization or cause truly feel valued?  In our crazy and fast paced world, sometimes we forget the seeming 'small things', yet they can have a resounding (and positive) impact. A pat on the back, a helium balloon, a note of appreciation, a coffee card, a gift certificate, a happy face sticker on a completed project, a fortune cookie, or maybe a cupcake with a candle. 

When I was at Conestoga College, our manager brought in a little toy animal which laughed hysterically when you wound it up.  It was presented at a team meeting. It is one of my best memories, actually.  That and fart cushions, although the former was the gem.  We are adults, but it does not mean we can't be young at heart. Her gesture showed that she both understood and appreciated (and felt profound sympathy!) for the crazy work pace we had to endure at the height of the recession.  Even better (for me at least!), I did not have something to take home and dust, but it still felt like a creative acknowledgement of appreciation had been bestowed upon us.  (Thank you Kim M., since I plan to provide you with this link as my 'thank you'.)

So folks. The ideas can be endless, but nice is when the thank you takes into account the personality of the recipient. Sure, a big fat pay raise is always nice too, but that isn't always realistic. Especially if you are a volunteer but even in the paid workforce.  Unfortunately. : )

Pay it forward.  Make someone's day.  Make them smile.  


Catherine Stewart-Mott
Forward Momentum Services

Email: forwardmomentum.contact@gmail.com 
Blog: http://blog.forwardmomentumservices.ca
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinelmott
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ForwardMomentum

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cover Letter Done? Yes! (Well ... Maybe)

Whoa, pull back on the rains (or is that reigns?) 
  • Incorporated company info? Yes!  (Too many letters are written with no reference to company knowledge.) 
  • Job specific? Yes!  (If in response to a job posting, are you detailing qualifications you possess which relate to the company's identified needs?) 
  • Spell check done? Yes! (Well good for you, but read on.)
Wait a minute! A spell checker doesn't always catch everything, even when the 'red and green wiggly lines are gone'. Two common problems are spelling errors and wording misuse.  (Among others which often relate to content or formatting issues.)
  • Spelling related: WHIMIS versus WHMIS.  Do you know what the actual abbreviation stands for?  It is Workplace Hazardous Information Systems, but people often add in an extra 'I' near to the beginning as they think of it as a word rather than an abbreviation, and consequently spell it 'like it sounds'.
  • Word misuse: ensure versus insure; their versus there versus they're; It's versus Its; your versus you're.  (Of course, it depends upon the context of your sentence as to which word is correct in each situation!)
Such goof ups can be definite turnoffs for the employer crowd.   So learn your weakness 'hot spots' and get to work on them.  And have a professional glance over your final product(s).  It might be worth a few dollars for a quick editing critique.
Like in many life circumstances, some errors can have costly or perhaps at times embarrassing results.  (See photo ... which should read 'pea', I suspect; It did bring about a chuckle, mind you)  But with cover letters, which often serve as a first window to who you are and what you can offer, mistakes are not necessarily regarded as a laughing matter. (or the laughter might be at your expense!

Catherine Stewart-Mott
Forward Momentum Services

Email: forwardmomentum.contact@gmail.com 
Blog: http://blog.forwardmomentumservices.ca
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinelmott
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ForwardMomentum

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quitting a Job and EI. Yes, No or Maybe So???

I recently assisted a lovely (both inside and out!) young lady with developing a resume.  We are not done yet, but she is working hard at making some suggested adaptations which will result in a combination style resume and a job redirect.  She wants to get back to work as quickly as she can.  She hates having too much time on her hands, and is solely responsible for paying a mortgage.  In first meeting with my client, I assumed it was a layoff.  In fact, I learned that she is seeking a new role due to a high level of stress faced at her last job, and the related  burnout and tensions she endured.

I routinely asked her if she had applied for EI and she indicated she had not; she assumed that quitting the job meant she would not be considered.  I then asked if she would mind sharing her story.  Her job description and duties had morphed with time.  As other people quit or were laid off, those who remained had to absorb the extra workload. There were constant innuendos about further layoffs.  There was a significant decrease in staff morale.  There was more criticism of work quality, but minimal measures of how to resolve the challenges. The result? Many days she came home only to burst into tears, after having 'held it together' each day.  I asked if she had communicated her concerns with her employer and her doctor.  With the former, yes ... attempts had been made.  With the latter, apparently no unfortunately.  She indicated that she did not want to be perceived as a complainer as that was not her style.  Oh my, have I heard that before.  Sometimes, that "I am strong" motto come back to bite one in the butt.

Yes, she had spoken with her employer on numerous occasions, but had not recorded details.  A first but common no no. To her surprise, I urged her to apply for Employment Insurance regardless, and to take the time in advance of doing so to think carefully and conscientiously about what to write.  Now that she is not embroiled in the situation, sometimes it is easier as you have a clearer 'rear view mirror' perspective.  I also learned she still needed her Record of Employment, so she is off taking care of that asap. This of course is the short version. 

Even though there were likely many steps she could and should have taken before throwing in the towel, I know this type of situation happens all too often in a high stressed work world.  We are human and often react 'in kind'.   And I am sure the people 'up there' looking at those EI applications know it as well.  And if you have never been down that road, hindsight can hurt. We generally don't look for an instruction manual as to how to leave a job that is getting the better of us.  When we are embroiled in it, we can at times act impulsively or dare I say it, emotionally. So why apply if we are going to be denied anyway? 

Depending on the overall circumstances of each situation and most likely depending upon how you explain it, and who receives the EI application (they are human too), such EI applications are not always approved.  But I have seen people who thought they did not stand a chance in you-know-where end up collecting an EI claim. If not in an initial application, then during the appeal process.  Of course, not always. It is the real world after all.  It is my hope that my client 'lucks out'.  Mind you, it is not all luck, as it takes conscientious effort to explain such circumstances in a way that some stranger can relate.  But if she does not try, she will not know.And many just don't try.

In closing, It may be after the fact, but I suggested she speak with her doctor.  I urged her to try, as best she could, to detail events, discussions, dates, etc. that reflect circumstances she endured at her last place of employment. I recommended that she NOT come out with 'pen swinging' as too many people do in their paperwork, but rather she should show professionalism in her written approach, as well as sincerity. And of course, I wished her luck and asked for an update.  I am crossing my fingers it is positive one.  
Catherine Stewart-Mott

Forward Momentum Services

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Running as a Politician: A Job Where all Constituents are Your Interviewers

Imagine a job interview that lasts for weeks, rather than minutes or hours.  Back in the fall, for the second time, I ran as a candidate in an election.  The first being federally in 2008.  As a thorn in the side of regular politics, I ran for the Green Party on both occasions.  This time I flipped to provincial. As per usual, it was quite an experience (and a very loooooooooong interview I might add!) even though I did not ultimately land that particular job.  I suppose the odds were slightly against me from the get go, given I live in a Conservative dominated riding with a Member of Provincial Parliament who is now on his fifth term.  (Congratulations Ernie!  Mind you, I still have to cash in on a coffee bet I had with our 'recycled' MPP, and I plan to do so!  That is another story best left unsaid.  : )  

So why bother if the odds are seemingly against you?

Despite this perceived loss as there was only one person voted in within each riding, it was a great time and a worthwhile experience none-the-less.  Between networking with and meeting community members and organizations (see photo; I am to the right),  composing speeches and responses to seemingly a zillion questionnaires, and of course the many debates I attended, it certainly utilized a lot of competencies:  to name a few ... public speaking, maintaining a calm presence under fire (deodorant helps too), topical research skills to keep one step ahead of the questionnaires and debate questions fired at you, teamwork, and a sense of humour.  (If you don't have a sense of humour and a thick skin for politics, you are in in for a bruising!)  I even found myself getting in a cardio workout as I ran from student to student in a packed gymnasium ... microphone in tow during a Q & A session at an elementary school. And as the party for the most part reflect my values, my decision to run demonstrates  I attempt to live consistently when possible, even in challenging times!

So even if you think the odds are against you, give some of those 'lofty' jobs or job postings a shot, even if they seem beyond your reach at first glance. The skills and life experience that you can already offer, as well as those you will gain from the experience itself, are well worth the effort regardless of the outcome.   And you just never know. After all, we Greens got our first person elected to Canadian (federal) parliament in May of 2011.  And there were many people saying it was a steep hill to climb.  But Elizabeth May climbed that hill and  `nailed it` by assuring her long term interview was conducted with determination and all the work that goes with that mindset.

Catherine Stewart-Mott

Forward Momentum Services