THE POWER OF LESS is working!

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

While I was at the NCVS conference in San Francisco, there was a book sale and I came across Leo Babauta’s book “The Power of Less”.  I have been following Leo’s Blog  for about 6 months and have enjoyed his thoughts considerably, but had never really thought about buying the book.

Zen 003
After reading it I can honestly say that I am glad that I did and the only complaint that I have is that I didn’t do it sooner!  I have been attempting “to do with less” for some time, but in “The Power of Less”, Leo gave me quite a few concrete tips/strategies that will help me at work and personally.

Today is the first day of re-organizing my work space, I got most everything off my desk and went to a file folder system to use in conjunction with my written planner.  It paid dividends when I got a phone call about something and just put my fingers right on the folder instead of “looking” through my “pile”.  I believe that this read it, file it, delegate it or trash it method will help my stress level so much.  That along with his belief in focusing on one thing at a time, instead of the multitasking hell that we put ourselves through on a daily basis and don’t complete anyone project to the fullest extent (it usually gets done “good enough”).

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Picture of my desk (taken about 2 months ago) – not too bad, but you can’t really see around the side – there was a lot of stuff in a pile by the window and it is a mess over by the computer terminal.

Zen 001

This afternoon just before leaving, (I know it won’t always look like this), but if I use the file folder system correctly and only focus on one thing at a time, it can look like this most of the time.  I still have to get rid of the notebooks (they will go tomorrow to the bookcase) and I will finish up the computer terminal area.  Then I will attack the drawers, they need a thorough cleansing.  It actually feels good to write about this, because I feel as though I am making progress.

The other big thing that I did today was clean up my e-mail, because Leo was correct, I was being “ruled” by e-mail (I would stop everything and answer the most recent e-mail that I had received, then attempt to get back to what I was doing – which did cause mistakes, lost train of thought and productive time lost on projects that need to get done.  He recommends that you limit the times you check your e-mail and to turn off the notifications – when you receive e-mail.  I still have to turn off the notifications, but I did limit myself to checking my e-mail at 7:15, 9:45, 1:30 and 4:30.  It was kind of liberating to give myself permission to ignore the siren’s call to check my e-mail constantly and not having to worry about answering someone immediately.

I honestly believe that after making these relatively small changes that I got a lot more done than usual and felt much more focused day than I have been for a long time.  I even undertook a small piece of a large project, I am not looking forward to and have been procrastinating on for way too long.  I didn’t get home completely wiped out, which is my usual state when I leave work.  Let’s see how I am by Thursday (before vacation).

I also cleaned out my e-mails (that took a little longer than I thought it would, but was worth it) and I have gone to the read-it, file-it, forward-it, or trash-it system for my e-mail, the only change I made was a to-do e-mail file (to just keep on the surface for quick retrieval) that gets filed or deleted when checked off in my planner.  When I left work today, for the first time that I can remember, I had no new e-mails in my “in or sent boxes” and it was a good feeling.

One of my co-workers wants to read the book now, so I will bring it in for her to read, but I want it back, because I am going to read it again, only this time I will go through the lists and highlight areas that are important to me.

The “Power of Less” I have a feeling is going to make a positive difference in how I approach work and when I get the book back some other areas of my life.  I strongly urge anyone that has not read the book to read it.  It could make a difference for you.

I will continue to give updates on other things that I am trying since I have read the “Power of Less” – it should be an interesting journey, but one that I will be better for doing.

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I AM BACK AT BLOGGER – MY THOUGHTS

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Well I have done it, I have returned to Blogger.  It seems that no matter what blog host I have used, I always seem to end up coming back to Blogger.  It does have its quirks and the themes and gadgets/widgets are not as nice as the self-hosted WordPress ones.

So why did I come back?  I didn’t want to learn SQL and I am comfortable with Blogger’s quirks – for the most part.

Thank you being patient with my transferring of over 150 blogs posts from Aging Reluctantly and filling anybody who had subscribed to MY THOUGHTS feed reader with stuff you may have already read, but even then I left a bunch of the more mundane posts.

I have simplified the title to “MY THOUGTHS”, which is what I write about in my blog.  It seemed like with the title of Aging Reluctantly that I had limited myself on what I planned to write about.  As I continued to write more and more about my thoughts there, I believed that the title might be misleading to some readers.
image

The theme is just about where I want it, and I only have a couple of tweaks left to do.  I don’t plan to run all over the place changing things around, but I might try to get the Langit for Blogger to the same as my WordPress theme and then change over, but that is a long term project, for someone who doesn’t know CSS.

I was finally able to figure out how to put the new header up (kept the fireball) and the custom RSS feed icon, it wasn’t that hard once I figured it out.

I hope that you enjoy being back at MY THOUGHTS as much as I will.

Now if I could just figure out how to edit my categories and create tags

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WHAT GOOD-WILL HINCKLEY MEANT TO ME – 2009

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

There are several people attempting to “save” Good-Will Hinckley and I have been tagged to give my story and state what GWH meant to me.

To begin with I want to say this I have been hit, kicked, scratched, bit, sworn at, mocked (almost daily while there), lied to and a variety of other negative things when I was working as a staff member at Good-Will Hinckley. The kids that I worked with there were not angels by any stretch of the imagination they were considered by many to be a “disposable” part of society. I never believed that any kid is disposable and I still don’t believe it today.

Working at Hinckley, in spite of the negative stuff listed above, was a labor of love, frustrating at times – absolutely, working with kids can be frustrating, but I did love working with these “troubled” youth a great deal. It was not an easy job, but you knew what your mission was – to make kid’s lives better. The kids that attended Hinckley while I was there had a lot “shit” (it is the only word that fits) in their lives and they needed a place where they were treated with respect, dignity, taught that not all adults are bad, boundaries and that they were safe. Most of all that they were safe.

I have seen students come into Hinckley programs with a logs on their shoulder and then as they find out that staff did care about them and are given an opportunity and time to change, change a great deal and over a course of a few years and become a completely different person. They became the person that they were meant to be, not the person that was going to end up in jail or another statistic of failure. Does this happen overnight – no it takes time. It takes time for anyone who has been hurt, abused or neglected to trust again. It did happen to many kids who attended Hinckley, did it work for them all – no but even the ones that didn’t stay – tend look back to Hinckley as a life changing experience when they look back on it.

If a staff member was going through a tough time, other staff came forward to help them out. I know when I was going through a difficult time in 2001, the support of the other staff was critical and made a positive difference in my life. Like the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”, well it also takes a community to keep long-term staff and that is what Hinckley had for a long time. I think that is one of the things I miss the most about Good-Will is the loss of Community that I had when I was there. I haven’t really put down roots anywhere else and I am still closer to the Hinckley community than I am where I live, even after being gone for over a year. That says a lot about the sense of community that we had.

One of the biggest things that staff did with the students was form appropriate adult – student relationships that provided the students with positive role modeling. This mentoring was critically important to these kids, each one of them will have several stories of the adult or adults at Hinckley who made a difference in their lives. I know I have sat through more than a couple of tear jerker stories and the difference Hinckley staff made in that student’s life during Senior Night. I bet almost all of the students who didn’t stay will have memories of staff that tried to make a difference in their life.

Besides how many 18 year old guys in today’s world would arm wrestle with a 50ish teacher and let the old guy win (in front of his peers), then get up and give you a big hug because you “beat” him arm wrestling. That is one of my memories – he even let me rub it in and just smiled and laughed with me (I knew that I couldn’t beat him on my best day and his worst). This was a kid who had 16 failed foster placements, we did make a difference.

I have so many other stories, but this is a quick data dump of how important Hinckley was/is. It is a great place with many special memories for me and many others, the so-called disposable kids in our society need a place like Good-Will Hinckley to provide them with a chance to make their life better and have a place that they can call home and come back to.

That is why I spent over 10 of the 13 years since I retired from the Coast Guard giving to the boys and girls that lived at Good-Will Hinckley adult guidance and hopefully some stability in their lives. The extra hours that I spent beyond regular working hours there were worth every penny to me.

I have had the pleasure and opportunity to be a part of something that is larger than myself. Good-Will Hinckley was not established to be a mental healthfacility, its original mission was to be a home for boys and girls and I want to see it become that again – a home.

Unfortunately it comes down to money and right now Hinckley does not have the money to remain open and provide this opportunity for those boys and girls who have ‘little” voice to have a place to call home. That is the sad part of this story.

To end I want to say, I have also been hugged, smiled at, been there at those “eureka” moments, told the truth, advocated for a kid, maintained the correct boundary, and most important to me – have been told that I did make a difference in a student’s life.

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SWITCHING BACK TO BLOGGER – JUNE 2009

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

There that chore is done, accomplished, finished and all those other words that indicate that an unpleasant task has been finished – manually copying and posting blogs from January. I am in the process of going back to Bloggerfrom a self-hosted WordPess blog. Why in the world would I want to go back to Blogger when I have WordPress? Pretty simple really and the below image says it all.

I get this message all too often when I am trying to post to my blog or others are attempting to see it. This has been happening since March and I understand that these problems probably has something to do with the SQL Database (it needs some maintenance) that is required to run a self-hosted WordPress blog. I don’t have any SQL experience and honestly, I am just way too busy with the rest of my life right now to try to learn how to be a SQL database administrator. It is so frustrating to see this screen come up or have someone on Twitter go “your site is down” and then all you can do is wait 10 minutes or so and then you are back up. I can’t completely blame the webhost, especially if my site simply needs maintenance that could/would take care of the problem and I simply don’t know how to do it.

In a way it kind of sucks, I just got my theme the way I wanted it…hmmm I wonder if I can transfer some of the CSS from there to the Langit Blogger theme???? Anyone know?

I had a couple of choices go to WordPress.com – which I thought seriously about, transferring my blog would have been a whole lot easier and going back to Google’s Blogger. Many of the advantages of WordPress themes and widgets go away when you don’t host your own blog and rely on WordPress to host your account. So I decided to go back to Blogger which has its limitations but is more flexible than WordPress if you are not hosting your own blog. This time I did go with my own website haroldshawjr.com but it is being hosted by Google. This means that I have no maintenance responsibilities and it all happens in the background for me which is much easier for me.

I am going back to my old “My Thoughts” blog, and over the past two days, I copied and posted almost all of my Aging Reluctantly blogs (I left some of the stat related or mundane ones there). That is the chore I was talking about at the start of this blog.

I have decided on a theme, (no I don’t love it yet), but it isn’t too bad and is getting better, there are a few more tweaks that I want to finish up before I go completely live. Taking off the lower case in some areas, changing the color of the search box, change the post header,

Now I have to remember to go to my webhosting service and take the automatic renewal off and let my agreement with them expire in January.

I guess it wasn’t meant to be, being a famous blogger, making beaucoup money off my own hosted site (tongue in cheek humor), but going back to just letting “MY THOUGHTS” out on the World-Wide-Web. That is good enough for me 🙂

I just wish that I could get LiveWriter to work correctly with my Blogger account, so I don’t have to use this darn Blogger editor.

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WHY THINK ABOUT YOUR PASSIONS

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

In my post on Sunday on”My next 30 years” and this morning’s post, I discussed following my passions and how do I define “passion”. My wife looked at Sunday’s post and asked me what I am passionate about and what I meant by “my passions”. I couldn’t really give her an answer off the top of my, but now that I have time to think about it, here is some amplifying information.

What do I mean when talking about my passions. Is it sexual in nature – no.

This has nothing to do with that subject. In this case talking about my passions, I am talking about things that I absolutely love to do. Things that I spend a lot of time on and don’t get paid for it.

I sat down and thought seriously about things that I do in my life that I spend a lot of time on without getting any kind of monetary gain. Below is a list of my “passions”:

1. Wife and family – this is first, but I sure as heck am not going to write about my personal life for the rest of the world to see. A peek here or there, but otherwise off limits.
2. Blogging – I have been putting a lot of work into blogging over the past few months, but especially the past month or so as I setup my domain and attempt to get my WordPress blog the way I want.
3. Writing – I love to write. I don’t plan to write the great American novel anytime soon, but I do enjoy writing software and application reviews, political commentary and other subjects. Who knows where this will take me in conjunction with my blog.
4. Reading Heroic Fantasy (McKiernan, Brooks, Tolkien) or modern Magical (Delint, Green)
5. Playing Role Playing Games – At one point in my life I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and now when I have time I enjoy play RPG computer games like NeverWinter Nights.
6. Archery – After a hiatus of over 10 years I have started to shoot my bow again and I spend at least one night a week in a league, I am not really that good, (I am average at best) but I enjoy the focus that shooting a bow requires.
7. Running/Jogging – I have run/jogged most of my adult life.

These are my top 7 passions (things I love to do for free or actually spend money to do).
What are your passions? And no I am not interested in “that” kind.

If you like this entry, have amplifying information or have a different perspective than what I have in this post, please comment below.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

I ADMIT IT – I AM A CHIPAHOLIC

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

I have two great weaknesses when it comes to junk food, one is potato chips, the other I will write about later this week. But Potato Chips are the biggest culprit when it comes to my eating healthy downfall.

I LOVE POTATO CHIPS
I know, I know chips are not healthy! But they taste great and are more filling. My addiction to these wondrous slices of fried potato in oil, started way back in the late 60’s. My grandmother would buy 3-4 bags a week of Humpty Dumptypotato chips and I could/did indulge myself. At first I was only allowed a bowl of chips at a time, but as I got into high school and was burning megacalories playing sports extra, I would eat almost a bag at a time.

Even in my 20s, 30s and 40s potato chips were a comfort food, the taste of the salt, the texture when eating them, when combined with a Dr. Pepper or Moxie, took me out of many a bad day. Looking back I hate to think how much money and how much extra fat/salt I have eaten as a result of simply eating potato chips. For a long time I bought the small bags, because it didn’t make much difference, what size bag I opened by the end of the night it was gone.

My potato chip of choice was and isWAVY LAYS – Red Bag. Since they changed over to the sunflower recipe they aren’t the same, they don’t have as bad of a greasy, salty taste as they used. But I guess they are a little bit healthier for me.

Looking at the label a serving of chips is about 11 chips (yeah right) when was the last time I stopped at eating 11 chips. Serving sizes are so B.S. BUT they do give you an idea of what is suggested.

I have cut way back compared to how I used to eat potato chips. I now try to stay around 3 small bowls a week, but I think with the possibility of high blood pressure, the extra weight I am carrying around, I really need to cut chips out of my life even more. I know I can change over to pretzels, but it just isn’t the same.

One of the joys of getting older – you can’t actually eat what you want anymore. Well most of the time.

But once in a while, I will indulge in a bowl of chips, just not the whole bag.

The confessions of a chipaholic.

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I WENT TO GOOD-WILL HINCKLEY’S LAST GRADUATION

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

Today was a day of hugs, sadness, tears, laughter and joy. I did go back to Good-Will Hinckley’s Baccalaureate and Graduation ceremonies today. Going into Moody Chapel I was greeted by a couple of former students. That is where the hugs began (I am not usually a huggy type person, but today I gave and got so many, I lost count).

I learned that Hinckley is expected to suspend operations on June 30, 2009 for all parts except the Glenn Stratton Learning Center which they are planning to keep open under some different arrangement. If this does occur, it will result in over 100 people becoming unemployed. If this happens it will be a very, very sad day indeed, these people are not the nameless statistics or numbers that you read or hear about. These are people that I have worked with, been part of a something bigger than ourselves with, many of who I got to know personally and became friends with some. That was part of the sadness.

I caught up with a very close friend that I haven’t seen in a year (yes you can be a close friend) and then when the teachers marched in – several of them shook my hand, high fived or fist bumped me (I hadn’t seen any but one in a year), that was when the tears started. That was tough for me because I don’t like to let my feelings show too much in public and tears were streaming down my face. My friend just put his arm over my shoulders and said, “See you are home again”. I agreed with him and the tears came a little harder.

Baccalaureate was a baccalaureate, and Pastor Don does as good a job as anyone does. After that I talked with one of my other friends for a while and then we went to the Cafe for lunch. We sat down and were joined by a couple of the “higher ups” of the organization, we talked some small talk and then I went around the cafe to mingle and see others that I hadn’t for the past year. It was part of the laughter and I had several short conversations with many of those I hadn’t seen for a long time.

I “play” tackled one of my students from last year, we kidded around a bit and talked for a while, the changes in him are incredible, some more of the laughter.

I walked through the old path back to the High School through the Vergillion Oaks and just enjoyed the walk through them, it was one of my favorite places on campus. I met up with another old friend who had to come back to her car for tissues, we talked for a while and caught up on what had been going on for us. More tears and more laughter. I had forgotten my camera today, so she let me borrow hers and will send me pictures sometime this week.

Graduation was seeing more people I hadn’t seen for a year and a few more tears, some laughs and pride at the students that had been in my classes who were graduating. On the way out the Board Chair who sat with us at lunch started talking with me and “I asked to get Hinckley opened back up as soon as possible, because we need our home back as soon as possible” and a couple of other things. He said he was working on it, but there were no guarantees. After that I had several more hugs from various students and staff on the way out. After the ceremony, I enjoyed a big bear hug from one of my former colleagues (more tears – didn’t let anyone see these) and walked around talking to lots other colleagues and students.

There is one student (who I had when he was in 7th grade and was now a Junior) who came up to me and Mr. Shaw, I probably won’t ever see you again and I just wanted to say goodbye” (More tears) I reminded him that ever is a long time and that he might be surprised at when we see each other again. I also reminded him that there were people around him that loved him and to remember that. We smiled and hugged and waved – see you later (I refuse to say goodbye).

It was an emotionally draining day. I was glad to see all of my former colleagues and students though I was extremely saddened that many of them will shortly be looking for new jobs and that the Hinckley I remember will never be the same.

If Good Will Hinckley does suspend operations, a part of me will have been taken away. I will be saddened by the loss that will be felt by many when that does happen.

I wish all of those at Good Will Hinckley the best of luck and wish you didn’t have this bridge to cross.

For the students today, the backdrop of the possibility of Good-Will Hinckley closing and them being the last graduating class for a while, I hope that this did not cause too much of a downer for your day. But when we all sang Olde Langs Ein, there were many a teary eye.

The hardest thing that I will take from this day was watching the Principle with tears in his eyes during the march out. He is a very good person and this has to be tearing him apart.

No pictures today, I think words express it best.

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GOOD-WILL HINCKLEY IS A PART OF ME – 2009

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

Tomorrow is my one year anniversary of leaving Good-Will Hinckley’s Averill/Alfond Schools. I spent almost 11 years working there before leaving after last year’s graduation. I spent many hours of my life on that campus during those years and I consider it one of my homes.

I stopped by during April vacation, but no one was there, other than that I have not been back to Hinckley since last year’s graduation. I keep up with some of the old staff and kids via Facebook, but I really do miss the school, most of the staff and the kids (getting a wee bit nostalgic). I am planning to attend tomorrow’s graduation of the Averill High School Class of 2009, and from rumors, it might be Good-Will Hinckley’s last graduating class for a while. I hope those doomsayers are wrong, but in the present economy, it is not looking promising.

One of the real reasons that I left last June, was not simply because I was tired of teaching or that I disliked the kids, it was because I wanted to ensure that I had a job. My wife and I were predicting that economy was going to tank and that things would get a lot worse at Hinckley over the next year. They have had some pretty significant layoffs during the past year. Unfortunately, we were definitely correct on the economy and it turns out that unless there is a 12th hour miracle that I will be correct on Hinckley (I pray that I am wrong).

I really believe that if Good-Will Hinckley does go away, it is because they experienced one of the deadly sins…mission creep and that is another reason I left when I did. Hinckley’s original mission was to be a home for boys and girls who did not have a “home” for whatever the circumstance.

Good-Will Hinckley’s Mission Statement
“The purposes of this organization shall be to provide a home for the reception and support of needy boys and girls who are in need of a home and a helping hand, to maintain and operate a school for them and to attend to the physical, industrial, moral and spiritual development of those who shall be placed in its care; its spirit to be evangelical without being sectarian.”
-Reverend George Walter Hinckley, October 5, 1889

For many years it did just that provided a home to boys and girls, when it creeps away from that mission, it seems to experience difficulties. In the 1980’s it almost closed, when it attempted to become a “prep school” and then came back when there was dynamic leadership (Doc) and the getting back to the mission of being a home for boys and girls that needed a home.

I started working at Hinckley for the first time in 1996 and it was a home and a school for 11-21 year olds with four separate programs was operating very successfully, it was believe it or not actually growing. I left in 1998 and then came back again in 2000 (I was going through a divorce and needed to come “home”). Hinckley is not just a home for its student’s it has also become a “home” for many of its staff, who gave and give much more to it, than they ever would to a “regular” job. Over the course of the next 4-5 years there was considerable attempts on the part of one program to have their philosophy be the dominant one on campus and sometime during 2005-2007 the clinical/shift worker philosophy gained the dominant ideological edge on the campus.

While this was happening the organization crept away from being a home for boys and girls to becoming a therapeutic mental health facility that had a school attached. Hinckley eventually choose to move away from the Roundel (to become more “modern” looking and Hinckley’s logo became trees). At this point the organization lost some of its tradition and the identity that it had created since its founding – the idea that Hinckley was a home for boys and girls.

The leadership attitude became too clinically oriented, there were official policies restricting staff mentoring (the previous mentoring model did not fit the good practices of a mental health model, but seemed to work very well under the home model), changes to the behavioral systems, and many other seemingly minor changes that when taken in total resulted in a less than a positive atmosphere on campus for staff and “clients”.

This shift in focus away from the Mission Statement to the mental health/shift worker dominance in my personal opinion lead to a death spiral effect on the Hinckley campus “Community”. Staff (both residential and education) came to be treated more and more like shift workers (they were treated less like family and more as employees – I guess it is called professionalism) and students became looked at as clients, which was a profound shift away from the “family teachers/assistant (house parents), teacher and kids” concept that had been prevalent in the past.

As a result of these changes away from being a home model to the therapeutic mental health model, the kids (now clients) did not have the same feelings for Hinckley and it became just another mental health facility to them, not their home. This lead to increased negative behaviors and more negativity throughout the campus. The campus had always had negative behaviors during the time I was there (that is the population we served), but the level and extent of the negative behaviors during my last year were unprecedented.

I know that the economics of the State and change in policies regardingresidential care of kids, Medicaid reimbursement and other economic factors have had much to do with the problems and some/most of the attempted changes that Hinckley has undergone over the last few years. The leadership believed that these changes were necessary. However, I strongly believe that going from a home based model to a therapeutic model also had a larger role in many of the problems they have encountered than leadership would be willing to admit.

This afternoon there is supposed to be a big meeting of the Good-Will HinckleyBoard of Directors to determine the future of Good-Will Hinckley. I honestly and truly hope that they find a way to remain in operation. At the same time I also they find a way to go back to the original precept for founding Good-Will Hinckley in 1889 – to provide a home to boys and girls that need one.

It is evident that being a therapeutic shift facility has failed. Perhaps it is also time look at new dynamic leadership and a change of direction back to George Walter Hinckley’s original plan – a home for boys and girls. Maybe I am being naive, but it seems that getting back to the Mission Statement would be better than the direction Good-Will Hinckley is heading under the present plan.

These are my views and my views alone. I have purposely waited a year before saying anything, first I wanted to see if the organization would rebound during this year and secondly because I wanted a good cooling off period before commenting on my opinions on the direction that Hinckley was heading. When I left I was disappointed and tired of the politics that had and were taking place and that the therapeutic/shift worker bloc had become so dominant on campus.

If I had written this entry a year ago, it would have been more critical and pointed. It would have been the comments of a burnt-out, former employee venting his frustration towards the present leadership of an organization that he loved a great deal and had put a great deal of his time/effort into helping to change the lives of the student that were there over the years that he was.

I simply was not ready to write this entry when I left last year. Today this blog entry is just to put my thoughts into words, before they are forgotten. What I have written will have no impact or bearing upon the future of Good-Will Hinckley, everything will have been decided by others who have a lot more knowledge of the situation and current organization needs than I do, but I do feel better now that I have written them down.

Good-Will Hinckley will always have a special place in my heart and if there are ways that I can as a private citizen help it to be successful again, I will help. But for now I will remain employed in a job that I like a lot, but Hinckley will remain one of those jobs that I was truly passionate about.

I will always believe Good-Will Hinckley is one of the places I consider home, even though I only worked there, it became a part of me and who I have become.

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KYAKING – HOW QUICKLY THINGS CHANGE – DANGEROUSLY

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) on

We went kyaking this afternoon, it was one of those cloudy/sun-shiny days. We drifted around for about an hour, Mary was fishing and we were just enjoying the day, then we heard some thunder in the distance and decided to head back to the truckWhen we came around the point and saw a wall of clouds heading directly  towards coming from the mountains at this point we had about another 25 minutes to get back to the truck from here.

We began paddling hard to get back to get back to the truck what had taken us about 25 minutes only took us 15 to almost get back to Castle Rock Channel.

About 100 yards from Castle Rock I looked to the right and couldn’t see the hills anymore and knew we were in trouble – the rain was coming. At about 75 yards away the rain, the wind and the Thunder came. I turned around to see where Mary was.she was about 25 yards behind me and having a lot of trouble (she told me afterward that she was giving it all she had and wasn’t moving forward at all).  I went back planning to tie her off to me and get us to shore. Well the waves were so bad, that idea was quickly abandoned. The whole area was nothing but rocks, so attempting to beach close by was not an option.

I was hollering at Mary to go get the wind at her back and she got angry at me for yelling at her, but we put the wind to our backs and surfed and paddled while looking for a place to get off the lake somewhat safely. It was touch and go whether we were going to dump the kyaks and it was very scary, it got to the point where we weren’t paddling at all and were using the paddles as a rudder. We didn’t try to fight nature, we just let her take us where she wanted.

As we were pushed toward the other shore we looked for a place to put and found a little beach between some big boulders and beached up there. When we got to shore we both were very relieved. It could have been a lot worse. But now we were about a mile from the truck.

So I took off to see where we were in relation to where the boat launch was and jogged over there in the rain. When I got to the truck I had forgotten that my keys were in the life vest and had to jog back and get them. That was a real pain in the butt, I pissed and moaned to myself, but had to have my keys. So I jogged back to where we were beached and then turned around and jogged back to the truck.

One thing to remember if you are kyaking you don’t have running shoes on and jogging in the rain on the side of a freshly worked roadside in sandals is not a good thing. I have pretty bad rub marks (blisters) on my feet from the sandal straps,

When I got back to where we beached the kyaks with the truck, Mary had been fishing and had caught a sunfish, so she was pretty happy. Me I was just glad to be in the truck and both of us safe.

Luckily nothing bad happened, but it shows that you have to pay attention when out on a lake, conditions can change so quickly.

I am very happy that we can look back and joke about it, but damn I wish I had taken some more pictures.

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A Clean Desk = Less Stress

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) on 10/28/10

From 7/3/09

After reading the “The Power of Less” by Leo Babauta last weekend, I decided to make some real changes at work this week.  I knew that that this would be one of those “hell” weeks, due to being gone to a Conference in San Franciscoand then going vacation whenever I left work Thursday (July 2nd) with several deadlines due before I could leave.  Usually this would be one of those weeks where I am completely stressed and not someone anyone else wants to be around.The first thing that I did last week was clean off my desk, then clean it again and then re-organize it once more. Below is the result.

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What I had left on my desktop were the planner and a phone.  I have re-done my filing system and attempt to work on one thing at a time (multitasking is a difficult thing to avoid) and then the work folder back in the proper drawer.  This system was really valuable when I was attempting to meet my Grants submission deadline by the end of the day Thursday, which I did meet and didn’t feel nearly as stressed as last time.  The touch it once, read it, file it, forward it, or trash it method is helping me to keep things this way.

As a result of these two relatively easy and minor changes, I just felt much more focused on what I was doing last week.  I found another minor distraction that I had never really thought about until after I moved my phone to the desktop.  The little red blinking light, it kept causing me to look at while I was working which would cause me to loose focus on what I was doing (I covered it up). It really is amazing how many little distractions there are on your desk that you don’t even realize until you eliminate the clutter and move things around.

I came out this week in a much better space and relatively unstressed.  I was definitely much nicer to be around and even smiled and laughed a lot, which I believe is very important.  The work got done and yes 3 of the 4 nights this week I worked quite a few extra hours and didn’t get to exercise per my agreed upon daily schedule.  But I didn’t get all upset and actually had some energy still at the end of the week.

Even though there are some other things that I am doing in addition to this (which I am going to blog about later), cleaning off my desktop is by far the most visible and has received the most comments from Co-workers.  The clean desk idea is seems, is part of the solution for me.

Thanks Leo.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours.  Please remember to comment at the bottom of this post.

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