Friday, August 26, 2005

DO WE, AS REGULAR CITIZENS, TRULY HAVE POWER???

I will apologize in advance for ranting...now I will begin.

My blog allows me the opportunity to address issues that are bothersome to me, as the following situation does because it truly relates to just how powerless we the people are when is comes to state and big corporation issues: Do we truly have any power at all?

I have brought my unique situation to the attention of Human Resources personnel of my former employer, all of whom could not assist me or make the situation I am about to address right, so I wrote a letter to another "more powerful" representative that covers the situation about which I'm not very happy:

I became employed at another post-secondary institution on August 1, making July 29 my last day at my former employer. I accumulated over 300 hours in vacation but have yet to be compensated for those hours due to an error in paperwork. While I find the paperwork error unfortunate, it really has little to do with the fact that I am still waiting on the money owed to me. I wouldn't make a big issue out of it except for the fact that I made a purchase, counting on my vacation compensation to cover this expense. Now here it is two pay periods later and I have received nothing.

I spoke with an employee who states that payroll has already been submitted for the August 31 pay period and because the error was not caught until I brought it to the attention of payroll personnel, they would not be able to submit a check to me for said pay date, and could not cut an individual check. Thus, I would have to wait another pay period to receive this compensation. In the meantime, my debt is racking up interest and finance charges that I will ultimately have to pay. To this end, I thought I would obtain an expert opinion, after all this was money I earned but had not received in due time. After speaking with a representative from the Department of Labor, I was informed differently: She stated that it reads "Employees are entitled to any compensation owed to them either on the last day of employment or the first pay period proceeding the last day of employment." In this case, I will receive payment on the fourth pay period proceeding employment, which is ridiculous. My options are to give my employee the opportunity to cut a check or to submit a wage claim with the Department of Labor, which I would rather not do but will if it's my only option. But most importantly, if I were to submit a wage claim it would take 6-8 weeks to process and could take up to a year if there are any problems. How will this help? I will be paid the money before 6 weeks, but I should have been paid at the very least one week ago. So there it is, perfectly understandable. I lose and there’s nothing I can do about it except wait for my check for more than three additional weeks.

Previously, I had made three calls, leaving three messages with requests to return my call, but had NO ONE return my calls. As an alumnus of this institution, I certainly expected better. I asked for someone to get back to me and this is the reply I received.

Lori,

As I understand the situation, your department head for some reason did not file the paper work on time. When you made Human Resources personnel aware of this error she personally worked with the department secretary to get the vacation monies paid out. That money will be paid out on September 16, 2005. Regretfully, mistakes like this happen. The important thing is that you be paid what is owed and that is in process.

Signed: Employment Representative

Once again, if mistakes were made on my end, if I forgot to make a payment on the due date to this place of employment, I wouldn’t hear the words, “Oh you made a mistake, so no problem. Just pay us when you get paid. We understand, regretfully, that mistakes happen.” No way!! I would receive a notice that reads “You have been removed from all class lists for failing to pay your tuition on time. You must submit payment and then attempt to get back in all your classes, but more than likely, they’re full! Sorry!” Funny how things work, huh?? So the question truly is..."Does the regular citizen really have any power at all?? That's my question of the day!

Okay, back to the music, as it's the one thing -- other than my family, friends and fans -- that make life truly a blessing.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

MY SILENT MIND: PART III

Work is...WORK!

Why is it that no one told me that one must know many things before entering the world of work with women? Working with "stereotypical" males (whatever that means), I have become accustomed to a climate of men, many different kinds of them in fact. Men who think about women all the time, men who think about women some of the time, and then men who think about men, which was rare, but did occur on occasion. Not only did men participate in conversation about women but they had the ability to converse about other interesting topics – sports, politics, weather, construction, etc.-- emphatically believing that this was the world to which I truly belonged. But then the unforeseen happened. 1997 - I got promoted by a man in August and then in December, demoted by a woman, a very small woman who apparently saw little value in me as an employee. It’s so peculiar how one can be so valued as an employee, deserving not only a promotion but a considerable raise in salary and then to be equaled to a speck of dirt, inconsequential to my profession, my department, and my workplace. It was at that point my experiences with women in the workforce began. Thinking that my association with women would only get better, I became enlightened very early, finding that either women did not like my type of woman, one who possessed the very attributes they possessed - confidence and the like -- or they simply didn't like me – the person. Although I’m not sure if I will ever learn the truth about why some people, mainly women in management, did not like me or like to work with me, I will have learned much about myself: who I am, what I want out of life, and what makes me tick. Okay, I don’t want to drag out the focus of this blog or try to astonish one with answers to these revelations, for I have none, but one point to ponder does roll from my tongue:

I really don't want to spend my life thinking or talking negatively about others- men or women. Life is too short to spend so much time wasting time, generalizing about the nature of women in the workforce versus men, as I've experienced it so long ago. And navigating from one thought to another attempting to escape from this forte of endless negative thinking about a former workplace experience, I HAVE worked at letting go – taking with me my pride, among other things. So I did, in fact, move on! The promotion of positive thinking continually encircles me, and I refuse to allow others to invade and desecrate my spirit. This bubble that I have created has become interesting; I can only breathe in and out- listening to my heart ring out, a hoisted spirit that is found in translation of hopes and dreams that have not been met…yet. For this power of positive emotions will not be lost-deeming that the concrete contrast between what I’m currently doing and what I want to be doing is not that distant. One must relate such emotions by moving oneself in the direction of truth and belongingness, creating a draft of pleasantness that will invite only pleasure, regardless of the cost. Reaching for what it righteous is an actualization goal that will prove to be life altering. I am only in search of me. And besides, that unfortunate employment incident was many years ago and I have found a renewed sense of accomplishment and an understanding, after having since experienced a great female boss. I realize that those few negative situations were just unique and unfortunate, leaving me now with no room to generalize about management of the female sex, as I do know better. And most importantly, I've learned what not to do as a manager from the bad ones and what to do from the good ones. Experience is good, a key factor in knowing and understanding.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Silent Mind: Part II

1985 - Welcoming myself to my knew life – a country girl in a college town, surrounded by people who didn’t recognize my talents, appreciate my vibrant personality, or understand the woman (okay, girl who longed to be a woman!) beneath the girlish figure: my tall silhouette mirrored the image of a stick. At first I didn’t want to admit it, even though I knew it. My body was one of which others envied, especially my elders (and remember this was 1985 and not 2005???). They would comment that I should model, for I had long legs that traveled all the way to there. What? Where the hell was there? So na├»ve was I. My slender figure was also mentioned, stating that I could wear anything, for my clothes would simply contour my slim, fit body, shadowing the make-up of such a physique. Of course I would turn red when such a thing was mentioned, and only one thought ever came to mind: When am I gonna get some boobs? I heard jokes from – You’re a pirate’s dream, a sunken chest – to – I need a flat surface; lean over, no, the other way. 11 years old and I was hearing jokes about a chest line that didn’t exist and for the record never would. While looking back now the topic of a nonexistent chest line seems so petty; however, at the time it was truly devastating for me!

Monday, August 22, 2005

My Silent Mind - Part I

Silently mind-wandering, reminiscing about my life--what I have done, what I haven’t done, and the goals I have and haven’t achieved – sometimes I find myself thinking about the same ‘ole things. Then I remember the words my grandma left me with… Walk tall and keep your legs crossed. Of course every single time I encountered this humorous spirit she offered this same advice. I would like to say it sunk in, I devoured it and lived with it every single day of my young life, committed to its premise. But I can’t. Too many promises and experiences later, I can regretfully admit I’ve broken every rule in the book. I’ve been here and back and here and back again. But I’m still standing, waiting for the day my fairy tale will come true. But before I can confidently tuck my hands into a sweet and ripened pocket, I must pay my dues and illustrate to the many what I’ve done to deserve a freakin’ break. Perhaps no one owes me a thing, for I was born in American – the best damn country in the world—a place where we as the people are truly free to do, to be whomever we choose to be. And so I choose to be…uhr… uhr…Honestly, I don’t know what the hell I want to do with my life? And that became the question of the day, of the week, of each year of my life, until I discovered that what I really wanted to do with my life was something of impossibility. So of course I settled. My dad emphatically influenced me in a manner like no other. Simply stating what he thought was the best path for me to take, he informed me that I WILL go to college and I WILL like it. He was right and wrong, as most dads are in the mind of a teenager! I DID go to college, but I DIDN’T like it. I wasn’t ready to invest my future in a future that wasn’t for me. School bored me; it literally brought me to my knees, causing me to constantly reflect on what I should be doing out there in this great world of ours. Although I didn’t know what I should be doing, I knew it wasn’t what I was doing. And my silent mind breaks...

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Importance of Surrounding Oneself with Great People

Independent Country Music Artist

I began my day retrieving my email, as I always do, and in my inbox was a quote, one I get everyday for I subscribe to both the Positive Quote of the Day and the Personal Achievement Quote of the Day listservs. Both are great listservs to which to belong, but sometimes they really touch on what's truly related to one's life, as my personal achievement quote by Mark Twain does, as it reads,

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

What a great way to say that those people who really support your endeavors, those who are on your side, willing to pump you up when you feel like you're going down, are those with whom you must associate. I've found in this business (the music business), it doesn't matter how little you are, once you get out there and begin getting some media, some will try to knock you down. I've made it my duty to find only those who are great, those with great attitudes, great families, great situations, are those with whom I will surround myself. I do believe in the business & political worlds the great leaders say to surround yourself with good people and they will make you look great. Well, that's my goal. And I know I'm headed in the right direction.

While the many outstanding citizens of yesteryear, those who have made an indentation in our world's history in a positive manner, have provided guidance to those of use who look to model people for advice on how to become a better person, I follow their example but, most importantly, I follow the examples of my friends, colleagues and family members I respect, in particular my mom and dad. They taught my two simple rules: Treat people respectfully and hard work will give you great satisfaction!!

I believe I will take their advice, continue surrounding myself with the great folks of the world, and think positively. One never knows what the road ahead holds for us now do they???

Thursday, August 04, 2005

To all my beautiful friends -- inside and out...



Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
At least that's what some people say.
But you can be the judge of course
of what you see day to day.
It's not one's outward beauty
that stirs a sense of doubt.
But it's what you do for others
that brings one's beauty out.
Perhaps if you take a second glance
and look way deep inside,
You'll visualize maturity
and one's deepest inner pride.
It's sometimes second nature
to be most concerned of wealth,
but if you take the time to look within
You may find beauty in yourself.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Training on trying, and trying again...

Here I am again - another day, another dollar, right? Well it's become a notion that's more than necessary as I begin another day celebrating life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I use that more and more often these days, as I find myself reflecting on the Iraq experience for the men and women over there doing what they can to help the Iraqi peoples. Unfortunately, CNN sends me breaking news, so I open my email to another 14 Marines as well as a civilian interpreter killed. While I know that US soldiers are doing so much good (I learned this from a US Army soldier who had returned from Iraq after serving two tours.), I dread to hear of young men and women losing their lives. Thank goodness I'm a Christian and truly believe they're in a better place, but I really do hurt for their families and friends, so I will continue to pray for those who are making every effort to keep the peace in the hopes that the peoples of Iraq will get their freedoms and the terrorists will get exactly what they deserve: You can infer from here!

On the other side of the world, in the good 'ole United States, Shipman, Illinois in particular, things are going well. The band - Miles Station -- and I are beginning to show great strides in the making of a country unit. I look forward to the next few weeks as we will practice until our show becomes tightly knitted. Additionally, I will keep all informed as to what's going on and how we are progressing. To some it might be extremely boring, but to others the excitement roars!

Until then, I say we "Country ROCK on!!"

Monday, August 01, 2005

Independent Country Music Artist

Independent Country Music Artist

Today was day one at Blackburn College as Director of Teacher Education and Clinical Placements. While I'm extremely excited about beginning a new position, I am challenged once again by the learning of new material, particularly college rules and policies. There's nothing like a good challenge, however!! In addition, I'm glad to be taking on multiple roles. Most recently I was working at SIUE, recording a CD, going to school, and being a mother and wife. Now I'm working at Blackburn College, marketing a CD, learning new songs, practicing with a true blue "ball-busting" band, planning a class reunion, participating in individual gigs, and continue to be a mother and wife. There's nothing like being busy, huh???

Okay, my plea to the world outside of my mind is to get others to sign on and talk to me, ask questions, tell me jokes, give me advice...(Never mind on the advice; I need no more, please!!), or simply mumble a sweet tune. Anything...Something...Before my mind explodes....

Now that the dramatics have been expressed, I must sign off and continue working... I'll be singing you later! Bye for now...