Friday, June 29, 2012

Let's Have Some Lighter Side Fun!!!

Hey all,

First off, I just realized the post that got lost last week and I redid, was the one that was supposed to have the winner of my birthday gift contest.  

I'm sorry about that.  When I republished it, I forgot to add in the winner as I had in the first one.  My bad.

So, at the bottom of THIS blog is the winner.  And thanks for being so patient.  Not one of you yelled at me, so I appreciate your restraint!  LOL

Anyway, today's Lighter Side blog is all about you.  Well...sort of.  I mean I want YOU to do something for me.  You know how they have those funny captioned pics that you see all over the internet?  I thought we'd play a bit on this Fabulous Friday!!!

So, in honor of the upcoming Olympics I found some photos that just begged to be captioned.  So put on your creative thinking cap and let's see what you can do with the following pics. My attempt at a funny above, info on the picture below.   Ready?  Here we go!!!!

Oh man...I shouldn't have put that extra Tabasco sauce on the Shepherd's Pie.
Troy Dumais of the United States competes in the Men's 3m Springboard preliminary round during Day Six of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 21, 2011.

Gotta Sing!  Gotta Dance!  Gotta Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance!!!
Bulgarian national volleyball team started with a clean win 3:0 in the set against the team of Pakistan in the qualifiers for the Olympics in London. The game took place at Arena Armeec Hall in Sofia. 

Can You Hear Me Now????
Gripping stuff: Britian's Craig Fallon (left) in his match against Ludwig Paischer, of Austria.

And he was like...whaaaaat???  And I was like...wooooah...  And then he was like....
Helsinki-focused Lewis-Francis urges Gemili to shoot for Home Games in London.

O. M. G.  No one told me there were sharks in these waters.  I think they ate my feet.
Adam Van Koeverden (front) of Canada celebrates winning the men's K1 1000m it's your turn.  Caption these.  Put the numbers in front of each caption #1 - #5 so we know what pic you're referring to.  And don't forget your name and contact info.  Everyone who tries will be put in the running for a fun surprise... One of my special stories, never before published.  You'll get a copy for your very own!  More info later when I draw the winner's name!  WooHoo!!!!

And now for the winner of my Birthday surprise.  Scroll down a bit to see who the winner is...


Send me an email and we'll get you your prize!!!!

Until Monday!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Eye of the Beholder

Hey all,

It's a remarkable feeling to discover something new and unique.  I can't imagine living my life in the exact same way, every day, never getting to learn or do something different.  I guess that's why I'm an author and not working in an office cubicle or on an assembly line.  I admire those that do...those that have the stick-to-it nature that can do a job like that.

But I can't.  I'm not wired that way.  I crave the different and unusual.  Anything can be exciting if you look at it in a certain way, and luckily I'm in a position where I can indulge that curious part of myself.  And boy, does it give me fodder for my writing.

Case in point is this odd gravestone I found at the Pierre-La Chaise Cemetery in Paris.  Can't you just see a spooky story being birthed from this pic?

We've always known we wanted to travel.  And have done so as much as we could.  But week long vacations were never our style.  Immersing ourselves in a new place for only seven days was more frustrating than satisfying.  So instead, if we were curious about a city or country, we just moved there.  And several times, we just packed up and headed out with no real idea of where we would end up.

Try doing that a few times with three kids, two cats, three ferrets and many other assorted critters!!!  Yeah.  You can say we were crazy.  Most of our family did.  LOL

We've lived all over.  Been in every state of the USA and over thirty countries, I think, at last count.  We enjoyed it, but it wasn't until the kids were grown and on their own--so to speak--that we did what we'd been longing to do.

Become gypsies.

Working first over in Singapore, then Macau, and now with Cirque du Soleil in Europe is exactly what we'd always dreamed of.  We have seen things we'd always wanted to see.  The Great Wall of China, Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower, or the majesty of Mount Everest.  Experiencing all these well known places has been awesome, but I've enjoyed, just as much, the adventures that were surprises.  Unique and exciting because they were unexpected.  Some might think them odd, some might scratch their heads and say, "WTF?  This is fun?"  But to each his own.  And adventures and the enjoyment of them is all in the eye of the beholder.

So I thought I'd share some of the unique and the unusual with you.  Places and surprises that may not seem like much, but to me, were just as cool as standing on the top of the Great Wall and feeling the wind rush through my hair.  Ready?  Click on the pics to make them bigger.

The Catacombs of Paris.  Creepy, interesting and not for those with claustrophobia.  The amount of bones is overwhelming and a little bit frightening.  So many many lost.  Rich or poor, it didn't matter.  If you were buried.  And that was that.

One of my favorite adventures is discovering museums that are off the beaten path.  Those the tourists seem to forget about.  So was it with the Museum de Carnevalet in Paris.  A small museum, yet filled with so many delightful surprises.  This Peacock room was just one of them.  The color and the feeling of the room stayed with me long after I was gone.

You want weird?  How about a blast from a past trip?  Carhenge.  That's right.  In western Nebraska someone set up Stonehenge...but with cars.  How about that for unusual!!!

And a firmly believe art is where you find it.  Check this out in one of the subway stations of Barcelona.  When you went up the stairs you could see this great mural of one of Joan Miro's paintings.  But looking down from the top?  It was invisible.

These cuties were in a park in Amsterdam.  Dozens of them just hanging out.  I did a double take each time I saw them.  And yes...they are statues.  But why they are sitting in an Amsterdam park?  I have no idea.  I just enjoyed them.

I could go on and on, but I've already taken up too much space in this blog.  But I'll leave you with a pic I found in Antwerp, which is where we are now.  A random walk down an ally and I found this unique building.  We think it was a firehouse, but honestly don't know.  But the building caught my eye and when something like this does, I don't pass it by.

Just a few samplings.  I'd put more up, but the server here is soooo slow, it's ridiculous.  But I wanted you all to see a little of what draws me.  What I look for as I'm out wandering about.  The main museums, attractions and sightseeing have their place, but for me the excitement of the unknown is what keeps me looking around the corner for something new.

I'll be back on Friday with another Lighter Side!

Hugs to all,

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, June 25, 2012

Simple Is As Simple Does

Hey all,

I've heard it's been a tough week.  Things happen and you're not sure how to deal with them.  A friend gets hurt by her boyfriend, an investment doesn't come through, some money get's stolen, someone you trusted lets you down.

Sometimes you wonder if it's worth getting up in the morning.  I know I've been there.  When all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and pretend the world outside didn't exist.  I'm not sure I've met anyone who HASN'T had one of those days.

It's harder for some than for others.  It's all about your nature--how you deal with adversity.  Some people thrive on it, want to fix and overcome all the problems.  Others want to mimic the proverbial ostrich and stick their head in the sand.  But I think most of us fall into a different category.  

We hang in there.

We don't hide, but we don't rush out to take on the world, either.  We just hang in, deal with things as we need to, and hope for the best.

I had the above poster--or one like it--when I was in highschool.  I know a lot of my generation did.  And it's a sentiment I've never forgot.  It wasn't, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" or "he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day".  Nope.  I was somewhere in between, keeping it simple...just hanging on.

For me, when something blows up in my life, my first instinct has always been to fight.  To growl and spit and hiss and snarl.  I have a tendency to react first and then think.  It's taken me years to learn to handle things differently.  And when I fail--which I all too often do--I add insult to my injury.  Now I'm not only mad at what happened, but I'm pissed at myself for how I handled it.  And that can be just as painful.

Because I'm one of those Mary Poppins types--I want to be Practically Perfect in Every Way--I have a really horrible time when things go wrong.  I fight the fact that it happened, then get depressed and pissed at myself because I screwed up how I reacted to it.  Sometimes, depending on what happened, it can take days for me to recover.

And THAT just pisses me off more.

One of my favorite movies is Forest Gump.  I'll watch it every once in a while and marvel at how Forest reacted each time he went through an life change or upheaval.  He felt, yet he didn't freak.  He kept it simple.  To paraphrase a FG quote, "simple is as simple does."  

It's a great movie because it shows you that all kinds of things can happen in life--both good and bad--but it's not the things that make us who we are, it's how we deal with them.

Forest, by keeping his life simple and not "reacting", got through life in an amazing way.  And what an incredible life he led.  He may of been slow, but he wasn't stupid.

Sometimes I wonder if I could be like Forest.  Look at things in the way he did.  Simply.  Without all the drama, frothing at the mouth and worry I do so well.  All too often I think I know how things are going to turn out and so I react accordingly.  But then I discover I was wrong...oh so wrong and I missed something that could have been wondrous otherwise.

It's way too late for New Year's Resolutions, but I think we should often re-evaluate our lives.  And when things get bad, you can ponder this.  Don't react, think things through.  Get the facts before you go ballistic.  As my mama used to say, "make good choices".  *smile*  I want to see life the way Forest did.  Wide-eyed and child-like, yet knowing what was right and what was wrong, AND what was right and wrong for him.  

Then maybe I can open up that box of chocolates and see what life has in store for me!

I'll be back on Wednesday with more fun and thoughts.


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's a Miraculous Lighter Side

Hey all,

I ranted earlier this week, so how about today I concentrate of a "feel good moment" for our Lighter Side Friday?
This morning, in my wanderings through the internet, I read this article on Yahoo, and it just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  While I'm not a huge fan of Adele's music,  I think she's got a lot of talent, and it looks as if she's got exactly what it takes to wake a sleeping beauty, too!

Apparently this little girl was in a coma after surgery.  The doctors had given her mother little hope of her coming out of it.  Then one day her mom started singing along to the song "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele.  And, for the first time since her surgery, the little girl smiled.

How awesome is that?  Whether it was the song or the sound of her mama's voice, it really makes no difference.  Music can be miraculous, and in this case, it made all the difference in the world to this family.  The daughter is recovering and will probably never forget the song that awoke her from her slumbers.  And the first two lines of the song are definitely prophetic!

There's a fire starting in my heart.
Reaching a fever pitch, and it's bring me out of the dark.

Curious now?  Here's the video of the song.

Do you have a specific song that makes you think of miracles?  One that will bring you out of the fog of whatever you're doing whenever it comes on the radio?  Share it in the comments below.  And if there is a story behind it you can share, tell us that too!

Hugs and see you on Monday!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Serendipity--The Art of Making Happy Discoveries

Hey all,

Just what is serendipity?  You see it used in's the name of movie, and song lyrics sometimes use it--if they can find a word to rhyme.  But what does the word really mean?  In Webster's Online Dictionary, it says this...
: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for

But I've got to say, that is a tepid and boring definition for a word describing something that--if you let it--can change your life.

Sometimes the serendipitous phenomenon is small--finding a wonderful new place for afternoon tea when you were looking for a place to buy shoes.  Other times, it can be momentous, like when you're shopping in the grocery store and while you're picking out the best apples, you look up and there he is.  And you see your future in his eyes.

That's serendipity.

I find serendipitous things can happen all the time.  Because for me, serendipity isn't just a noun, it's a verb.  A way of looking at things.  An action I choose to take.  The coolest part is YOU have the control over it.  Serendipity is a choice most of the time.  You can receive the gift of it or ignore it.  I've learned to be truly happy in life, you must learn to embrace each serendipitous moment with all you've got.  Because when you do, something awesome happens.  

You can turn a moment of disaster into a moment of triumph.   

Let me give you an example.  On Sunday, I wanted to do something special for Jonathon for Father's Day.  We're away from the kids and we miss them, so when he got off work I'd planned this whole evening for us.  I was going to get some really elegant food, a nice bottle of wine and sneak away to the park for a romantic dinner.

Then I discovered that all the bloody stores in Antwerp close on Sundays and that put a real damper on my evening.

But, as I roamed the neighborhoods searching in vain for a single grocery store that was open, I happened upon something truly amazing.  One of the churches I wanted to visit--one that had been closed last time I walked by--was open.  And not only was it open, there was going to be a concert given by a famous organist.  And it started in five minutes.

Serendipitous?  You bet your sweet patootie!

But wait, it gets better.  I decided to take advantage of the moment (verb action here) and paid my money to go inside.  That's when I was told that I didn't have to sit and listen to the concert, I could explore the church as I did so, which for me is like a ticket to heaven.  The church happened to be St. James', which I discovered is where Peter Paul Rubens is buried.  
As his home kerk (church) it has quite a few of his paintings, so I spent the next hour listening to beautiful organ music while I indulged in my passion for the arts.

All because I couldn't find a grocery store.

There is a quote by Peter McWilliams that I do agree with...

"In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts."

In a way, he's right.  If I hadn't kept looking for a grocery store...if I hadn't put the effort into making my sweet baboo's Father's Day a special one, I would never have been able to experience this wonderful event.  But I believe God puts special gifts in front of us all the time.  And it's up to us if we want to unwrap them.

As for my gift, it just kept getting better...

After the concert, I met Mark, one of the volunteers that put the musical program together.  He had answered a couple questions for me and given me a short tour of one of the many side rooms of the church where a couple of interesting paintings were tucked away.  As we talked at the reception (did I mention wine, cheese and snacks were offered afterwards) we discovered a matching interest in art, music and travel.  

And after we got to know each other, he offered to take Jonathon and myself on a behind the scenes tour of one of the other Cathedrals here in town.  Where there is art very few tourists get to see.

All because I chose to take advantage of a serendipitous moment.  How awesome is that???

So keep your eyes open.  You have to train yourself to see serendipity when it passes your way.  Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it hits you like a 2x4 to the head, but the art of making happy discoveries is like any other talent.  

You have to practice to be good at it.

Have a serendipitous event that changed your life?  A quick moment in time you didn't expect but will never forget?  Share it in the comments below.  I'd love to hear what you think!

Until Friday,

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, June 18, 2012

Parents!!!! Control Your Children!!!

Hey all,

Okay.  I'm ranting today.  Sometimes a rant will just grab you by the throat and not let go.  And when it happens again and again...well then it's blogging time. What am I talking about this time?

Kids who are out of control.

Seriously, parents...WTF???  Did something change in the last few years and it's okay to have your little Suzie or Johnny run amok?  Or are you just too fricking lazy to get off your butts and discipline your child?  Where is it now written that kids don't have to respect anyone or anything around them?

I've seen it time and time again when we're out and about.  Kids running around in grocery stores pulling stuff off shelves, brats racing through crowds laughing in glee as they goose people on the way by, or even something as disgusting as when you are eating in a fast food place, the children at the table next to you are throwing their food at each other while parents blindly ignore them.

Now I'm not talking about toddlers here.  Small kids who when you see this, you usually smile and shake your head.  In EACH case above, these kids were at the youngest, seven or eight.  Far past the age where they know right from wrong.  So where the hell are the parents?  Why aren't they doing their f*cking jobs?????

Don't get me wrong.  I love kids.  I have three of my own.  Not only did I raise them, I homeschooled them, so you KNOW my children were disciplined.  It's impossible to teach without it.  So I figure I have a good handle on how to keep your kids under control.

While they aren't perfect--God knows they are not even on the planet of Perfect--they were taught to respect and be aware of those around them.  So if I can do it and I'm just an ordinary MOM, why the hell can't everyone else????

Case in point.

I'm in the pool exercising Sunday morning.  (No, I'm not wearing a tiger suit.  I just loved the picture) I do my laps and try to get there early enough so there are few, if anyone there.  But it's a weekend, so I expect to share the pool.  I get about half my workout done and a woman and her son come in.  He's about 10.  The first thing he does is grab my kickboard.  I'm okay with that because the only one I could find has Thomas the Train on it, so it's a kid magnet.  I tell him it's mine and he ignores me.  Language barrier.  I'm okay with that, too.  So his mom talks to him and he makes a sad face and puts it back.  Everything is cool.

Until he gets in the pool.  Honestly, I've done laps in pools all over the world and there is an unspoken rule that if someone is doing laps you try and stay out of their way.  It's bloody common courtesy.  One of the first thing I taught my kids, and I blistered their hides if they were careless about it.

But in the last few years I've seen this change.  And so it was that morning.  No one cares about being courteous.  They just care about themselves.  Little Ivan--he sounded Russian, so that's what I called him in my head--jumped and splashed and NOT ONCE did he look to see where I was when he did it.  And NOT ONCE did good old mum get her head out of her phone and watch her child.

After a few minutes, the uncle and dad came in and they brought a ball for him to play with.  OMG!  Can you see where this is going?  Yep!  Now not only was I being splashed and run into, I was being targeted by a ten year old wanna be European Cup winner!  AND now I had THREE BLOODY ADULTS ignoring the whole thing!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah....  Come on, parents!!!  Control your child.  It's not hard.  You just teach them right and wrong.  You tell them YES, when they do good and you tell them NO, when they screw up.  It won't break their little psyche.  It shouldn't send them to a psychiatrist couch. They may get mad, but you're a parent--having your kids mad at you is part of the job. And, in fact, learning these lessons, as painful as it may be for all of you, will make them a better person.

So stop being afraid and discipline your child.  It's not a dirty word.  Do you even know what it means?  This is taken from the online version of the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

Definition of DISCIPLINE

1: Punishment
2: Instruction
3: A Field of Study
4: Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
5: a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order, b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior, c : self-control
6: A rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity 

See?  It's not only about punishment.  In fact, that's only ONE of six definitions.  Discipline is instructing, training, and teaching an orderly pattern of behavior.   It's teaching your kids SELF-CONTROL.  Better yet, it's SHOWING them that self-control.  Because children learn most from what they see.  And if they see you ignoring common courtesies, then they will too!  So pull up your big girl panties or big boy jockey briefs and get a clue!!!!

Do you have a specific rant about this?  Go ahead and share your pain! We'd all love to hear it.

Until Wednesday...


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, June 15, 2012

Just When I Thought it was Safe to Go to the Bathroom...

Hey all,

Today's blog is about one of my all time favorite topics.


And perhaps as you may remember, I've whined, griped, and complained about bathrooms all over the world.  I shook my head at the lack of amenities in such a huge city like Paris.  I snickered over the ways to sneak into those in Barcelona.  I gawked at the open air urinals for men in Amsterdam.  And, if you remember, I fled in terror from the mamasan with the pinchy-pinch in Macau.

Well, guess what.  I've already found another bathroom WTF? in Antwerp.

Now some of you may not see this as unusual.  Maybe it's an everyday occurrence in your country.  But in the good ole U S of A, they'd no more do this than fly to the moon.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that would be done BEFORE this.

So what am I talking about?  

Check this out.  I'm wandering around Antwerp on my first day and eventually I have to pee.  I've already noted that you can't use the toilet here without paying--even at a McDonalds and you're eating there, you still have to cough up the money. Totally wrong in my opinion, but there it is.  

Yet I had to go and so found myself in a mall just off the Groenplaats Square.

I tracked down the bathrooms.  (I could do another blog on the inaccessibility of toilets in Europe.  Why the hell are they all on the top floor or in the basement?  And you ALWAYS have to take these narrow little circular stairs to get to them.  How do people in wheelchairs or others with walking disabilities go potty?  Do they hold it for the whole day?)  

Ooops.  Sorry about the mini rant within a rant, but the placement of bathrooms, especially in restaurants is another WTF? topic over here for me.  

Anyway, I found them, paid my .50 and then got in line to wait.

And wait...

And wait...

After several long minutes I got to wondering if there was only a single bathroom.  But, as I got closer to the front of the line, I saw there were eight stalls.  So what was taking so long?  Then I saw her.  

The Belgium equivalent of the Macau mamasan.  

Standing there in her rubber gloves and calf-high support hose, she nearly had me turning around and racing out the door.  Her cleaning rag clutched in her hand, she glared at each one of us who dared to enter her domain.  And as a lady hesitantly left a stall, her head bowed in shame for having to use the facilities, and the cleaning woman bustled in, her toilet brush waving like a magic wand, I finally understood the reason for the long wait.

Belgium mamasan cleaned each stall EVERY TIME IT WAS USED.  

That's right.  Every time.  Talk about job security.  A woman would use a toilet, leave the stall and she'd scurry in and clean the damn place.  Every. Single. Time.

Now I appreciate a clean bathroom.  Don't get me wrong.  But cleaning a stall each and every time someone goes potty?  Seriously?  No wonder the line reached out into the mall.  Unless they'd had an outbreak of some deadly disease, IMHO, this was total overkill.

Average wait?  Almost eight minutes.  And that was during a slow part of the day.  I can't imagine what it would be like during the busy part on a weekend.  And if you had a child who had to go NOW!!!!  Just get ready to change her pants.  She'd never make it in time.

And the scariest part of the whole thing?  Finding out that terrifying bathroom attendants now span international lines.  I'll bet they even have an organization.  They share  cleaning ideas and how to intimidate and frighten those who would mess up their clean bathrooms.

They probably have meetings.  Stand proudly and while waving their cleaning rags, toilet brushes or pinchy-pinches, chant in whatever language they use...

No Toilet will Go Uncleaned. 

The POOT.  That's what their organization is called.  The Petrifying Operators of Toilets.  There's probably a chapter in every country of the world--except America.  Oh the horror!!!

I wonder if I can hold it until I get back to the USA.

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Age is a Number and Mine is Unlisted

Hey all,

It's my birthday today!  WooHoo!!!  And in honor of that birthday I thought I'd share some truths I've learned as I've grown older.  Ready?

What the heart cherishes, there its home will be.~~~Anonymous
A warrior would rather be defeated and die then act against his nature.  ~~~~Taylor (Poltergeist II)
Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself. ~~~Harvey Fiersten 
The only truth I can convince someone of is the truth they're willing to believe.  ~~~Anonymous
It takes a real storm in the average person's life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the squalls. ~~~Bruce Barton

When one door closes, God opens a window. But it may be hell in the hallway.~~~Anonymous

Freedom is the greatest gift we are born with, and the hardest thing to hold on to.~~~Joseph (Quantum Leap Episode: Freedom)

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but looking outward together in the same direction. ~~~Antoine de Saint- Exupery 

The world is like a giant spider, spinning it’s web. Each strand we can easily break, but if we let them wrap around us, suddenly we are no longer free…but food for the spider.~~~Anonymous 

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to be over.  It's about learning how to dance in the rain.~~~Anonymous 

Imagination in more important than knowledge.~~~Albert Einstein 

Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself.~~~Harlan Ellison 

To voyage without an open heart is meaningless.~~~Anonymous

Dream as if you'll live forever.  Live as if you'll die today.~~~James Dean 

And my all time favorite quote of all time...

Dance like no one is watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like no one is listening,
Live like it's heaven on earth.
~~~William Purkey

So now it's your turn.  Give me a birthday gift and at the same time you might get one for yourself.  In the comments below, do two things...

1) Choose the quote in my blog that touched you the most.  Copy it into the comment box.  
2) Give me a quote or saying of your own that has made a difference in your life.  Put it, too, in the comment box.
3) Give me your name and an email addy to get in touch with you.  If you don't want to leave it in the comment box, then send me an email at  Make sure you tell me why you're sending it.  (Note:  Email addys can be sent to me, but quotes MUST be put in the comment boxes.)

I'll promote this birthday contest until the following Wednesday (June 20th) when I'll draw one name from the hat.  The winner will get to choose one of my published ebooks as a prize.  Have them all?  AWESOME!!!  But still enter.  We'll work something out!

Good luck and Happy Birthday to me!!!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, June 11, 2012

Doing the Right Thing--Why Is it so Hard???

Hey all,

I've got a question for all of you on this fine Wednesday.  One I've been chewing on for the last few weeks and I'm still perplexed over it.  Ready?

Why is doing the right thing so damn hard?

Now I'm not talking about seeing someone drop his wallet and making the choice to pick it up and give it back to him.  That's a moral issue between you and your conscience (God).  What I'm talking about is doing the right thing on a day to day basis with your friends, employers, business associates, etc.

For example... I've got a friend who has to turn in his receipts for work.  Not an uncommon occurrence, right?  Lot's of people have to do it.  He gathers them together, writes down the date, receipt name and amount and submits them for reimbursement.  Should be easy.

But it's not.

Each week he suffers over which receipts he should submit and what he shouldn't.  And not for the reason you'd think.  Each and every receipt he has IS reimbursable.  All show money he's put out for the company.  But he worries that if he puts too many in, the PTBs will get upset with him and he'll have trouble.

WTF?  It's in his contract that ANY work receipts will be paid for by his employer.  He's not trying to pad his expense account.  I've seen what he's submitting, and they are all legit.  But because his HR department gives employees the fish eye whenever they do submit--going so far as to make them bring in their contract and point it out to them--many say forget it and wind up eating all or part of the expenses.

I think that's wrong.  Just when did doing the right thing, in the right way become so hard?

Another case in point.  And this one has happened to me in the past.  I've got an author friend --pretty new to the game-- who signed with one of the bigger houses.  She had a lawyer go through her contract to make sure she was comfortable with all the legalese.  She negotiated in good faith and won some changes as well as lost some.  But when she signed, she was happy with the outcome of the talks.  She sent in her book and waited for the whole process to start.

And that's where things started to go horribly wrong.

She got a note from her editor saying she had to make changes.  Again, not an uncommon occurrence, but the changes she was told she had to make were not ones stipulated in her contract.  She wrote back and explained that to the editor.  Very professionally I might add.  I saw the letter.

The editor (an absolute bitch, I'll put in here) replied saying the changes still had to be made contract or no contract.  And if my friend didn't do it within the time period stipulated, they would be forced to nullify the contract.  And or begin legal proceedings.

Confused, my friend contacted the publisher and explained what was going on.  To her surprise, she was sent a note saying not to be such a DIVA.  Yeah.  In those words.  She was told to do what the editor wanted.  Gamely, my friend pushed on, cutting and pasting the part of the contract where the publisher was ignoring and explaining yet again why what they were asking wasn't right.

This time she got a reply from the editor.  A very icy reply retracting her request, but doing it in such a way my friend felt like she'd gotten a horsewhipping.  Edits came and went and the whole time the editor acted like a total snot just because my friend insisted on following the contract.  The horrors.  An author who follows the contract!!!

She also had problems with the cover art.  It was very good, but when they asked for her opinion (don't miss that part--they ASKED for her opinion) she mentioned she'd like to see the title a little bigger.  Thought it would pop more.  

You'd think she'd cut their heart out.  She got a NASTY letter from the cover editor saying she had no right to request changes.  She wasn't an artist.  She had no idea the time and effort... Blah, blah, blah.

By this time she was pretty much fed up with the company.  She wrote back, again very professionally, that if they hadn't wanted her opinion on the cover, they shouldn't have asked.  She cut and pasted the offending part and sent it back.

This time she heard nothing, but the font on the cover was made bigger.

You'd think it was over, right?  But when the book was published, they'd forgotten to put the copyright info on the inner page.   And when my friend saw that, she didn't know what to do.  Should she do the right thing and tell them?  Or let it go so she wouldn't have to listen to yet another diatribe of venom from them?

And that's just ridiculous.  Why should doing the right thing make you a pariah?

If you have the right to do something, why is it people can make us feel so guilty when we use those rights?  Whether it is a contract (you DO NOT want to get me started), working with an editor (we are partners working together for a common goal.  It's NOT personal if I choose not to use one of your edits), free speech (no, I'm not talking about stupid stuff, but just speaking out your opinions, whether it be religion, politics, gay marriage or animal cruelty), or being told something is wrong when you know damn well it isn't.

Fear has started to rule our actions and that is a slippery slope, my friends.  I have been told I'm a black and white type of person and I agree with that assessment.  But I just don't see why speaking the truth about something in work, relationships or anything else is so wrong as long as you do it politely and/or professionally.  Being afraid to do something or speak out because you a) might get in trouble, even though you're in the right, b) don't want to make waves or 3) know you'll have to fight to do the right thing, is stupid and shouldn't be allowed to go on.

Politics is a dirty business and it's everywhere.  Not just in the government.  If my author friend can't point out her contract to remind them of what's right, and is worried about what they might do to her career, that's politics.  If my other friend has to eat beans because he was too afraid to be reimbursed for expenses, that's politics.  And if I see something wrong in one of my books and point it out, yet am called a DIVA because I had the temerity to do so, that too, is another form of politics.

And I don't do politics very well.  In fact this quote, from an unknown author sums it up quite nicely...

We live in a world in which politics has replaced right and wrong.  ~ Author Unknown

What do you think of politics in the workplace or in interpersonal relationships?  How many times have you had to pull back from doing what was right so you wouldn't make any waves?  Share your opinion in the comments below.  I'm curious as to how everyone sees their world around them.

Let me leave you with one last excellent quote to share with you...

Until Wednesday when I'll be back with a fun birthday blog for you all!!!


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, June 8, 2012

Epic Fail x 3 On the Lighter Side

Hey there,

I was stumbling, just looking around at things when I found this.  I've seen a picture like this before, but this cracked me up.  I just know I've done something similar (not with a car).  Tried to fix a problem and wound up making it worse.

But nothing I've ever done has been quite this bad.  LOL  Check it out...

to the rescue - funny pictures

So do you think the pictures are real?  Or photo-shopped?  Does it really matter?  LOL  The idea of the trucks falling in after failing to pick up a tiny little car just cracks me up. 

Obviously it's not as LIGHT as I thought it was!!!

Hugs and I'll see you on Monday with a mini rant about right and wrong.

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams