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Monday, January 26, 2015

Fun as Part of Life


            So, are you ready? You know, for National Have Fun at Work Day which is Wednesday, January 28.  This is not to be confused with the International Have Fun at Work Day which is April 1.  We know what kind of one-sided fun that would be.
            Perhaps you are wondering if “Have Fun at Work” is a real day.  Well, the government didn’t establish it and, obviously, you won’t get off work to celebrate but you will find it listed on the various web sites which list “National Days of.” 
            It seems to me we should ask fewer questions and get around to planning the fun we wish to have.  If you look at the various web sites or articles about Fun at Work day most of the suggestions are for what bosses or others in charge should do to make the day one of, well, of fun.  But that’s wrong.  Fun, it seems to me, doesn’t come from the top down, but from all of us. 
            So, what shall we do for fun?
            I know that some would feel that a fun day at work would mean doing nothing.  Well, I’m sorry to spoil the fun, but National Do Nothing Day is past, having come and gone on January 16 (a real non-event, if you ask me).
            Others might suggest parties or food or games.  Well, there’s a time for all of that (April 3, according to the web), but I’m not sure parties always mean fun.  Truth is, when I go to a party at work there’s always a little someone in the back of my mind saying, “Hey, when are you going to get your work done?”
            Should we tell more jokes or stories (yes, there is a National Joke Day – August 16).  Hey, I like stories and please feel free to send me something funny or enjoyable.  But a whole day of that?  Pass.
            National Fun at Work day faces the same problem as Mother’s Day.  There’s something wrong if we honor moms only one day a year, right?  And if we have fun only once at work that might not be enough to keep us working. 
            So, here’s my plan.  I will see what fun can be had on January 28.  But I am not waiting until then to enjoy life at work.  Nor will I stop afterward.  I need joy, some fun and folks to share it with.  This, of course, comes from a man who works with Altru’s Hospice where sickness and death are daily.  Some might wonder how there can be any fun at work.
            I was visiting an elderly gentleman.  He told me, “I want to die.”  He didn’t want to continue to live in his now old and sick body.  I nodded and didn’t try to talk him out of his view.  A minute or so later he talked about doctors.  “All these different kinds of doctors,” he said, “I just call them all doctors.  Even the windshield doctor.”  As he said this I saw the twinkle in his eye and a little start of a smile as he looked at me to make sure I got it.  I did. 
            No, this man didn’t want to live like this much longer.  But he still lived with a bit of fun even at that.  And, when he leaves this world for the next I will remember he has what he wanted.  But I will also remember his view of doctors. And a little smile will come back to my face.  Life always has a little fun.  Let’s live it that way. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Miss G

    I work with Altru’s Hospice.  A person may come under hospice care only when a doctor confirms a terminal diagnosis of six months or less.  So I am well-acquainted with dying, so much so that some people ask me how I handle it.  I have moments when what I do “gets to me,” but generally I find the privilege and what I receive is greater than what I give.
                But let me tell you about a death that is nagging at me.  I remember her as Miss G (though she later married), who taught speech and drama at my high school.  I talked to her a couple of times after graduating, but not for many years.  I heard, just weeks ago, that she had died.  She was in her sixties, which is too young but not quite tragic.  She wasn’t family, or someone I regularly (or even occasionally) saw.  So why does it bug me?
                I know that one reason is the pleasant memories and feelings brought to my memory.  There were speech tournaments and one act plays.  She cast me as the principal in Up the Down Staircase and asked me to be the MC at the coronation of football royalty.  Truth is I probably had one of those teen-age crushes on her.
                From where I stand now I realize how important a part Miss G played in my life.  She talked me into doing speech and drama and helped me to practice some of the gifts given to me by God.  Gifts I use regularly, if differently, now.  She helped crack the shell I lived within to give me confidence as a speaker, a student and as a person. 
                And I never got to tell her. 
                There.  That’s it.  I would like to say Thank-you, but I’ve missed the chance.  If I had sent her a note or given her a call to say some of this, I think the memory would be almost wholly positive. 
                So, why am I writing this?  Obviously I want everyone who reads these words to feel guilty about the people you haven’t thanked and your failures to appreciate others!  Actually, that’s not why.  No matter how many thank-you notes we send there will always be another Miss G which we might miss.  Guilt is no good.  I don’t want to emphasize the negative.  Let’s go the other way.
                Every time we seek out a Miss G and show a little appreciation we change our lives and the world.  In a very real sense this showing of thanks is almost more for us than for those we thank.  Doesn’t showing appreciation make you feel good?  Doesn’t unexpectedly showing someone thanks make it feel almost like Christmas?  I have a file of little thank-you notes I’ve received.  I might forget what gifts I received at Christmas, but those little words on paper refresh my soul. 
                Today is a day of opportunity for me and for you.  There are people close to us and some who now live far away who deserve a little thank-you.  We will never get to all of them.  But what fun, and what positive energy, comes when we show appreciation to just one.
                Oh, I just checked and another favorite teacher and coach, Mr. T, is still living and I have his address.  Now, where are those thank-you notes … ?