Virginia Is Lucky…

Virginia will soon be the new home of my friend, Linda Stingel-May.

After an entire career in the Graphic Arts Industry, more specifically, printing…Linda is retiring next week to move closer to one of her sons. Half my heart is happy for her and the other half of my heart is sad for me. I will be losing a friend, confidant and mentor.

Linda and I met a few years ago at a Dallas get-together of “Girls Who Print,” an international group started locally by Mary Beth Smith. We hit it off immediately and six weeks later she joined the sales staff at Ussery Printing.

I can’t say enough nice things about Linda, but of course, she’s my friend so you would expect that. But, Linda is well-known, well-liked and admired throughout our industry and just as equally appreciated by her clients. She has served them well. In an ever-changing, commodity driven industry, she has kept the pace her entire career. She is still hard-working and focused with her sparkling blue eyes and positive demeanor. She’s competitive, smart and has a skill-set that sadly, can not be replaced.

When next week comes and goes and I pass by the empty office down the hall, I know I will miss Linda terribly. In the few short years we’ve known each other she has become a positive light in my day. I know the joy she will bring to her family in her retirement will be their blessing and I wish my friend love, peace and most of all…happiness.

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Saying Goodbye.

Tomorrow at 1pm many of us in Dallas will say our formal goodbye to our colleague, Ron Hagood. Ron was a friend to many and that will be even more difficult. Then, there’s his family and I am positive their sadness is immense.

I truly appreciated Ron and knew he was a trusted colleague. I have to admit though that I couldn’t classify him as a friend. As a friend I would have known his wife and his children’s names. I did know his church affiliation because we talked about his faith, and that gives me comfort knowing he had faith.

Whether out of respect, friendship or love, our celebration of Ron’s life will be bittersweet. Ron was a veteran of the Graphic Arts Industry who in his work life developed relationships with many people. Now, it is with sadness that we join his family to say our goodbye’s. Ron will truly be missed.

Ussery cares about Irving Cares

When Fran Ussery came back from her meeting with the folks at Irving Cares she was pumped up. She came into my office and asked me to help her create a company-wide challenge to gather non-perishable food items for distribution within our community. What we came up with is a campaign called Ussery cares about Irving Cares.

We decided to measure our donations by weight instead of more traditional dollar or quantity measures. We located an old but eclectic flat shipping scale that now has a new life in our reception area. We’ll weigh-in our food items and keep a tally of their weight during the month. At the end of the month we’ll take our food donation over to Irving Cares. We determined it would take approximately 130 pounds of non-perishable food to feed a family of four for one week. Our first month’s goal is to feed two families ~ that’s 260 pounds of food.

I like Fran’s enthusiasm and was right on board with her for a couple of reasons. One, I also believe strongly that it’s imperative to support programs in your own community…we think it’s important to give back. Two, Irving Cares mission statement is this:

Irving Cares, in partnership with the Irving community, is dedicated to providing residents with temporary assistance and training to promote self-sufficiency. It’s not a handout. It’s a hand up.

Let’s join hands to help them help others in need.

Strange Impressions ~

My neighbor must have thought I’d lost my mind this morning. As she came out of her backdoor, there I was, on my patio puttering around wearing a navy blue skirt with a pink striped long-sleeved button down shirt and my bright pink flip-flops.

What she didn’t know was that earlier that morning I had gotten dressed for work and was waiting for a GE repairman. That repairman was now in my house fixing my dishwasher, and as long as I was on the patio, my dog (who was in the backyard) would be quiet. So there I was ~ skirt and all, re-arranging potted plants, sweeping up spilled dirt and trying to cut off those extremely annoying white hang tags that were sewn into the seams of my new, bright red patio furniture cushions. And, there’s no-way to rip or cut those things off without leaving a remnant of white Tyvek. Argh ~ ah, but I digress…

I’ve written before about first impressions and how they can be misleading. But even long after a first impression wears off and you come to know a person, you can still surprise each other with out of the ordinary behavior. How could my neighbor have known what my reasoning was; to be tending to these chores dressed the way I was.

Everyone acts strange now and then. Enlightenment comes from understanding the reason.

Mama Always Said:

If you don’t have anything nice to say…shut your mouth.

This is really good advice and more people should take it. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve made mistakes, said something out of line or gossipy to the wrong person. It has, and always will come back to haunt you. It’s true, really, better to take the high road. I often remind myself of a quote I read in Ann Landers years ago. Her definition of maturity is the ability to take an insult or an offense and not retaliate. The immature response is to hurt back, and convincing yourself the person deserves it is an easy sell to a bruised ego. A hurting person usually hurts people. Boy am I full of adages this morning. Can anyone tell I’m trying hard not to strike back? Not to hurt the people who have hurt me? No, this time it’s not about anyone at work. But, even in print shops, advertising agencies, or corporate cultures, we have the ability to reach out and verbally smack somebody.

Groups of people who work together towards a common goal, often hear the adage; “it takes a village.” Whether or not you’re raising your children, running a PTA or trying to make a neighborhood POA run better, the power of the village is preferred. Even though you might not agree with everyone and you might not even like some of your villagers, the benefits of the group effort should out-weight petty differences.

Over the years I’ve encouraged my kids, within reason of their ages, to experience people with different points of view. This was one way I figured they might learn to consider a diplomatic way to disagree when they found themselves challenged by people with different needs and behaviors. To understand that others will have life experiences, bias, and yes, even…hatefulness towards one-another on occasion that will influence their behavior. To be truly diplomatic requires conducting yourself in a positive manner and to act as a liaison between people who can’t or won’t work together instead of encouraging hostility. Diplomacy is not about giving sway to stronger or more belligerent people, but establishing the best rapport possible and encouraging a give-and-take attitude to avoid retaliation.

Diplomacy is undervalued quite possibly because it may appear as a weakness or not having strong values. No, I’m not talking about changing your values or your goals, only the means by how you achieve them.

Chump Change?

Tyler’s first mission trip was to Mexico and boy was he excited about his upcoming adventure. For months prior to them leaving we attended all the parent meetings, where we talked about where they would be and their safety. We talked about what they should bring and more importantly what they shouldn’t bring on the trip, especially too much spending money, cell phones, computers or ipods.

There was a lot to do before their departure. Malaria pills, shots, supplies and ultimately packing. As we went through the packing list and checked things off I remembered that I had some pesos left over from trips to Mexico. Some of the money was from a trip a long time ago. I knew right where the money was, it was tucked away in the bottom of an old jewelry box in my closet. I went ahead and got it and told Ty that he could hide it away in his bag in case he needed some money for gifts. He was a little reluctant because they weren’t supposed to bring a lot of money. The pesos totaled a little over $75.00. He was still wary, but I insisted that he take it.

Fast forward two weeks later and in true Ty-style he exits the plane with a huge sombrero on his head. Yes, that was his gift to me. As we gathered bags and headed for the car I couldn’t wait to hear about his experience in Mexico. Did he learn anything? What did he witness? How did it feel? Did he eat enough? Did he have enough money? That’s when Ty said, mom we have something to talk about. Parents all around the world know what that means…what’s wrong? Nothing, he said, but he forewarned me that if he made a wrong decision that I could take the money out of his savings account. Oh dear, I thought, what did he do?

Well…let me back up just a bit. When I was counting the pesos from my jewelry box I knew the exchange rate. I counted and recounted and thought I was making an error in moving the decimal. No, that just can’t be right I convinced myself and never gave it another thought. Till now. So, Tyler said, mom, do you know how much money you gave me? Yes, $75.00, right? Well, no mom it was actually $750.00. OHHHHHHH, kkkkkkkkk. So, what did you do with the money?

Tyler donated it to the church in Mexico so they could build a roof. Are you mad mom? No, I said, not at all…God put that money in the right hands.

Let’s Consider Being Thankful

Since mid-June I’ve had a new CSR; his name is Larry. Although Larry is trained as an estimator, he was hired at Ussery as a Customer Service Representative. If you’re in the loop of printing gossip, there are some changes happening at Ussery and Larry will again be an estimator. Here’s a snippet of an email I sent to Fran, CEO, and Mike Lamb, President, of Ussery Printing.

“All I want to say is how much I’ve enjoyed having a CSR like Larry McFadden. Granted, he hasn’t had much CSR experience, but what he brings to the table is attitude…GOOD attitude. If you ask down the sales hall you’ll get the same response. Although we understand that he’ll now be an estimator, I wanted to reach out and give him a huge pat on the back. His gracious, agreeable and helpful attitude will never be forgotten.”

Larry has taken some ribbing from coworkers about being so gracious, agreeable and helpful. His response was, “you would be too after months of an unemployment check.”

It’s obvious that I’m going to miss Larry in his capacity as my CSR, but his response reminded me of how thankless we can be during good times. It’s only when we go without, that we become aware of how thankful we should be.