HUMAN ERROR

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Imagine that you are someone who takes pride in how you manage your financial life. You have set up most of your bills to be paid online out of your checking account or a credit card. You have solved the problem of worrying about whether your bills get sent to your winter home on time. Things have usually worked out the way they are supposed to. This is important to you to keep your credit history in good shape.
And then one day you walk to your mailbox in Florida and there are three letters from your longtime car insurance company of over 25 years. The first one demands an overdue payment because your bank said your account was closed. If not paid the insurance will be cancelled. The second one says there is a large fee because you had not paid the bill. The third one says you now have a new policy, price revised sharply upward because you no longer have an extended payment transfer set up. And you are 1300 miles away from home.
This happened to me last Thursday! I erupted with a flash. Especially after I checked with the bank and they had indeed taken the payment out of our account right on time. Over the phone they assured me they done it right and I could see that online. They definitely had taken the money out.
So I called our insurance agent, venting my anger. It seemed worse to me because the local agent had received a notice that the account was closed and no one bothered to check with us. After talking to me they assured me that they would find out what had happened and repair the damage. Later that day they called, very apologetic, and said it would be fixed. But since it wouldn’t be done in time for the March payment electronically I needed to send them a check immediately for that.
I accepted their apology but I was still very angry that no one noticed anything was wrong. The next day I sent a check for March. You can bet I’ll be watching for another revised policy soon.
I guess it had been quite a while since I had been so upset, and I started to think about why that was. As you get older it isn’t always so easy to do your everyday chores like bill paying quite as smoothly as you once did. Somehow this time it felt harder for me to cope with the problem. But by nightfall another phrase had come to me.
“Human Error”. It had been human error that made the mistake and once I accepted that the anger faded away and I could sleep peacefully again. Another lesson learned for me, we are all in the learning and accepting business. Hopefully I won’t have to put my emotions thru this one again. But…I will be watching and make sure they take care of the problems they gave us.

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CONNECTED

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Colorado, my Colorado
Another word for us to ponder today, and this one should be on our top ten list!
Connected! What does it mean to you in the scheme of things? Are you connected with your family, your church, your job in a meaningful way? Is it important to you to know that no matter what happens you have people you can depend on to back you up?
This idea was brought home to me earlier this week on Messenger, the app on Facebook where we can text each other in a more private fashion than the normal way of doing things. The conversation was with a group of four people all giving voice to our opinions, and we definitely felt committed. We shared ideas and pictures and lots of little red hearts. Altho we were in four separate homes scattered about the United States we felt that we as a group were connected no matter the physical distance between us.
I can still remember living in Colorado Springs, 1300 miles away from home, and how much I missed my family. Phone calls were beyond our budget, and so we wrote letters and ran to the mail box every day hoping for answers. Now we as grandparents are connected by electronic devices that bring our friends and family into our presence just by pressing a few buttons. We see how easy it has become to keep in touch, daily if we choose to. The pictures of family life are saved so easily that we carry them with us wherever we go. We meet new friends or renew old acquaintances and it brings back the smiles to our faces.
There are many ways for us to feel connected to the world, but it is up to us to make the effort in order to reap the benefits of our closeness to one another. So think about the word “connected” the next time you meet or greet someone you love. Whether it is “online” or the physical reality, know that we are all connected, one with another. Your joy or pain is my joy or pain, and we can show that in our daily lives as we remain connected to each other.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH?

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Sometimes when we are rushing thru our daily lives, immersed in a major problem at work, or trying to catch up or keep up with the people that surround us, it is hard to know that we have chosen the right path to follow. Maybe it is that we have filled up every spare moment with tasks that have to be done whether we like it or not. The people that we take care of, our children, our parents or spouses, all depend upon us to keep things running smoothly. Even our bosses at work expect us to be an example of efficiency no matter what needs to be done.
And at the top of the list is our own inner voice, telling us what we are responsible for – clean houses, clean children, good balanced meals, and the ability to keep it all working properly.
Our inner voice can be our own worst enemy, commenting constantly as we work our way thru the day. And why should that be? After all, we chose this path, didn’t we? We looked at all of the choices available to us, the education or lack of it, the spouse or lack of one, the children that came into our lives, and all of the responsibilities that came with them.
As one of the seniors that is on the later side of life, I can look back in wonder at just how busy our lives were from the age of maturity when we first began to make all of the choices. I have to dig into my memory bank in order to remember just how crazy it all was. When I look at the lives of our grand children I am reminded of just how busy we really were. We didn’t have time to debate whether we were on the right path or not, we were just headed towards the future and did whatever had to be done. But eventually for most people, things begin to change, children grow up and away, and we start to question our busy lives. We look for what is most important, and while we are doing that we may notice that the younger generation is starting to take over, giving us some freedom from the constant push in our lives.
We take pride in their accomplishments as they mature. We see how busy they are and hope that they will find a way to stop and smell the roses along the way. They are on their own path too, following along behind ours. We have just gone on ahead of them to a new phase of our existence.
So as you think about your path and how far you have gone on it, remember that the example of your path may inspire those following you. Encouragement will go a long way towards helping others as they grow steadily in the direction they desire. And you can rest assured that you have advanced on your own path as you make your way thru life.

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?

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There is something about making lists that has always intrigued me. It looks so neat and so efficient on paper that it gives forth the impression that I have got everything under control. Making this particular list turned out to have a great effect on me and how I feel about my life. I didn’t list everything that I could have, it turned out that there are so many events that make me happy. And that is a fantastic feeling, knowing that all of the little things really do matter. So here it goes, here is what is making me happy at this stage of my life.
When I wake up in the morning and know I made it thru the night.
When I hear that one of my favorite authors has a new book out.
When I watch the stock market and see my screen turning green.
When I hear Bob tell me or others that he and I are partners.
When I see the Florida State line in November.
When I see the Michigan State line in April.
Whenever I see the Colorado State line, no matter when.
When I watch my screensaver and remember all of our wonderful trips.
When I open up FB and there is a picture of another new great grandchild.
When I feel the pride that comes from looking at all of our sons and daughters and knowing what wonderful adults they have become.
When I feel the strength that comes from knowing what connection I have with all of my sisters and brothers.
When I see our children enjoying the same activities I did so long ago.
When I read my articles in our Creative Writers and I see the smiles around me.
When I close my eyes and meditation becomes a way of bringing me peace.
When I know that I am right where I am supposed to be, and I can relax.
When I do what I can, and I love what I am doing.

JUST ANOTHER REASON TO COME TO FLORIDA

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When I am lucky enough to be here in Florida for a few months each year there are always plenty of reasons for me to make a statement of love for my adopted state. It isn’t that I love Michigan any the less, as there are numerous reasons for me to care for the state that I was fortunate enough to be born in. Where else can I enjoy Lake Michigan, the lakes, the boating, canoeing, and the fantastic sunsets. The variety of plants, the farms filled with orchards or cattle or fields of corn or wheat are everywhere. The land of Hiawatha, all of the Great Lakes, the miles and miles of forests filled with trails and lakes and bicycles paths. I love Michigan and in harvest season there is no place I would rather be.
In Colorado where I lived for quite a while there were the mountains and the clear air and the feeling that you could reach up to the sky for your Maker. There was a sense of adventure, a new place that many Americans have traveled to for the last few centuries. It was a place where I felt at home from the very first altho it was very different from Michigan. But life intervened and I eventually returned to the state of my birth, Michigan. I became a part of the orchards and the farms and the forests again, and I loved it.
Now here I am today, in Florida, and the weather channel says we are going to get some solid rain and thunderstorms this afternoon. We are rejoicing because our lawns, our gardens, and our crops, all need the refreshing rainfall. It is strawberry season in Florida and heaven has arrived. Imagine living where the markets and stores are filled with fresh, local strawberries, every day for weeks. Strawberry shortcake every day if you are so disposed to do so. Festivals will abound for shortcake or sundaes all around the surrounding area.
There will be specials in the restaurants and also Church festivals. People will relax and enjoy the products that our local farmers have provided for us. Each year people dream of coming to Florida to soak up in the sun and get warm again. But one of the things that should bring them here in February is the sweet succulent strawberry and the shortcake that follows it.
Maybe our state planners should decide that when they next advertise for Northerners to visit us, they should mention the beautiful strawberry. Nothing could show off our state in a better way than to mention the fresh fruits and vegetables that are fresh off of a local farm. Fresh tomatoes in February? There is no way for anyone to compete with that.
We had fresh tomato and bacon sandwiches for lunch today. Come on down, our dear neighbors to the North, and we will welcome you with the best shortcake in the country to be had, and it is all here waiting for you.
Ah, the rain is about here, and the strawberries will continue to ripen and we will be thankful for Florida. Strawberries, another reason to be grateful in a wonderful state.

INSPIRATION

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Thinking about a new word today – inspiration. A long word for a sizable subject, you might say.
To inspire is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially something creative.
Most of us can look back at our own lives and find someone or something that inspired us in a positive way. In the early years it may have been a parent or a special teacher in our grade schools.
As we grew up our horizons became broadened. We listened to speeches or we read books that were very significant to us. We had special authors that inspired us to look at many new and unknown subjects. It might have been a musician or a sports figure that we followed their every word. We wanted to be just like they were, or maybe even better.
I submit to you that as adults, and also as creative writers we all have the ability to inspire the generations coming up behind us. We have the innate ability to show them that each of them is capable of bringing joy into their lives by the way they choose to live, and the choices that they make. We know that what we put into our minds will be reflected all around us and it is up to us to inspire our families and friends by living a life that they will wish to emulate.
Words, either written or spoken can inspire others and we want only the best for the people who listen to us or read our words. So it is our pleasure to remember that someday we may be the ones that are the inspiration for young lives just as our heroes and heroines were for us. It is an awesome responsibility, and one we shouldn’t take too lightly.

MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC

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“Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon,
All I want is loving you, and music, music, music!”
These are the words that popped into my mind when I started thinking about writing an article about music! This song, written by Stephen Weiss and Bernie Baum in 1949, was very popular when I was growing up. Teresa Brewer put out the biggest version of it in 1950. At that time, whenever one singer got a big hit, every other singer followed it up with their own special version. The minute I would hear it on the radio I would start singing right along with it. Teresa was at the top of the charts for many years with her bouncy style of music. She was a very small girl, but filled with energy and people loved her.
In my teens there was hardly ever a time when I didn’t have the radio or my phonograph turned on. The first thing I bought with my library job was a 3 speed record player and it cost $60. Since I was making 60 cents an hour you can see that I really felt it was worth it for me to have my own music. As the years went by I acquired quite a few long playing 33 speed albums.
Singing in our church choir for many years, taking piano lessons for seven years, listening to the radio constantly, my life has always been filled with music. Now my laptop and my Ipad are filled with it. As I type here I am listening to Elton John singing “My Song”.
My Aunt Donnie played the piano beautifully and I wanted to be as accomplished as she was. For a long time I just played the piano by using my fingers and pretending on our kitchen table. My dad found a way to buy an old upright piano for $25, and then my mother figured out a way to pay for lessons for me at $1.00 a week. She gave up things that she needed so that I could have the lessons for a long time. Alas, tho I loved playing and practiced diligently, I never acquired the skill that my aunt had all of her life. My cousin, Carolyn played by ear, beautifully, which means she didn’t even need to see the notes, and I really envied that.
It is amazing how the words, music, music, bring back all of the memories of my life and how much of a part they played in it. Music, books, writing, the Internet, all have formed me into becoming the person that I am today. In our house my mother played mostly show tunes from Broadway, so I became a great fan of people like George Gershwin, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Classical music also filled the air, mostly because my piano teacher gave me assignments of symphonies. And in later years I became an avid rock fan, and still to this day I play all of the greats of the 80s and 90s.
So I guess that I am a product of all of the years spent listening to radio and tv in all of its forms, and it has been a great pleasure for me. Many of the major events in my life can be brought back just by listening to a particular song, like “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters.
We all seem to feel a special closeness to the singers who sang the songs that we have loved for a long time. When we hear of the untimely death of one of them, it is like a big chunk has been taken out of our lives. We smile thru the tears as we remember what it was like when we listened to them at a special time in our life. And we thank all of the songwriters who expressed our feelings so well as we listened to their music.
Thanks to the friend who suggested using Music as a subject to write about in our group. The words just came bubbling up like Teresa Brewer, Music, Music, Music. We owe a debt of gratitude to the ones who make us sing, or cry or smile as we remember. Music, one of the greatest pleasures in life.