Don’t Sell Out!

Don’t Sell Out!

Today was my final day working for Procter & Gamble – 24 years!  I took a separation package and qualify for “special” retirement; meaning I’m entitled to pay for P&G retiree health care vs. having to fund it myself – a real bonus!! 

I’m 47 and in no position financially to “retire” with the lifestyle that I deserve (I deserve the very best – how about you?)!  At my retirement party yesterday everyone asked – “What’s next Rick?”  Here’s what I can recall from the story I related during my retirement speech.

“During the winter of 1983/84 I was desperately seeking employment at an hourly rate greater than the $2.65 / hr I was earning as a lifeguard.  I sent over 200 resumes’ to company’s all over America looking for summer work, but nothing!  VERY late in the school year I received a telephone call from a gentleman at Allen-Bradley in Milwaukee.  He was interested in hiring me to write programs in a language I didn’t know but was certain I could master it quickly because I knew Pascal.  At $10.50 / hr my reply was direct and concise – “I’ll see you Monday!” 

When looking for employment for the following summer (I was on the 4.5 year plan), my experience stated that I was a programmer and that’s exactly what I did – wrote programs for a defense contractor while living at home.  When it came time to find a permanent position – guess what I was qualified to do?  No surprise, write programs and that’s exactly what P&G hired me to do.  

I turned a desperate need for summer income into a 24 year career!!  No plan, no strategy, no secret decoder ring, just a college student’s need to fund his education.

On February 18, 1986 I started with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, OH at one of their technical centers.  On my way to work the first day the pin holding the clutch pedal together in my new car sheared off, making it impossible to shift gears.  I coasted to a gas station at the bottom of the hill and in my panic locked my keys in my car!!  Here I was in a new city, with no friends, no phone numbers and no jacket in the middle of winter.  I didn’t even really know how to get to the office, I thought I’d recognize the turns when I saw them.  1986 was back in the day when new employees were celebrated with a coffee cart.  Someone from the cafeteria would bring a cart with coffee and pastries and at a pre-determined time everyone would gather to welcome the new employee – unfortunately I did not make it!

I walked a mile to a bus stop on the first major road of my journey and took it to the top of the hill.  Recognizing the turn I pulled the cord and asked the driver when the next bus was scheduled down North Bend Avenue.  He said one should be along any minute.  In between cursing my luck and the weather while walking down North Bend Avenue I thought about the heights to which I would ascend on the corporate ladder, my accomplishments along the way and the places I would see and experience.  

Retiring as a Band II means I missed 4 of those rungs on the Corporate Ladder but we were able to accomplish a lot.  I traveled to four continents on a P&G expense account and had the opportunity to see and do things that most people only dream.  I’ve worked side-by-side with many of you and on one start-up in Manchester, England logged 205 hours in 2 weeks.  I know because I had to sign the timesheet for the person who accompanied me.  Every single meal on that trip came from the mini bar in the hotel, the vending machine at the plant or a convenience store on the way back to our room.  

Many of you know that I’ve actively worked a home business for the past 16 years in an effort to work myself out of my “day” job at P&G.  My career with Procter & Gamble gave me the opportunity to try, learn, fail and try again; never giving up on those dreams I had on that cold winter day walking down North Bend Avenue (I walked the entire way, about 6 miles arriving a few hours late for work.  Frozen and without my coffee cart).  Those skills have perfectly positioned me to assist others achieve their dreams through promoting the Body by Vi Challenge.

Each of us is here for a specific purpose.  When God made you he broke the mold.  There will never be another person with your skills and talents.  What’s your dream?  Don’t give up on them, hold them close and use your imagination to keep them alive in your mind.  Don’t give up and settle but continue to strive for what you want.”

Or something like that.  I almost broke down crying by the time it was over and I saw a few people feeling the emotions as well.  Maybe they’ve sacrificed their dreams for convenience, selling them to the highest bidder.  Don’t sell out; keep your dreams clear and fresh in your mind.  Step out and make your mark for if you don’t YOUR mark will never be made!!

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So Blessed

So Blessed

I celebrated a birthday last week – 47 years old for those of you that lost track (That list includes my parents, by vocalizing my age I think it reminds them of their age).

I schedule a physical with my lab coat doctor (my “primary care” physician who only sees me once a year for my annual physical) in the month of May as my “celebration” of health to get some lab tests and have my prostate examined (half of all cancer in men is 1 finger deep).  He gave me a clean bill of health, but failed to note that my LDL cholesterol is high!  This past year I got my total cholesterol below 200 and lost 6 pounds (I fit comfortably in size 34 pants, my ultimate test for my weight)! 

I do “feel my age” more than I used to.  Recall from a previous post that Anita and I are tending to the lawn care responsibilities again.  I especially feel it after kneeling, stooping, reaching and doing all kinds of other tasks that I used to do with ease.  My back tends to ache a bit more (I guess I should have paid more attention to good posture as a teen) but I do some exercises for my lower back that I discovered on the internet which help tremendously. 

Exercising irregularly as I do tends to produce more aches and pains than sculpted body parts.  Anita and I are making a point to walk more.  I enjoy the time together, no TV, no computer, just the two of us talking (that’s a novel concept) and walking for health.  We get a bit carried away at times and boy are my tendons and calves tight the next day.  I’ve discovered another exercise to stretch them out (I realize stretching before and after walking would be a better idea).

I have a BIG list of things I intend to accomplish in life, places I’ll visit, experiences I’ll share and people I’ll meet but I have so many things for which I’m truly grateful the other pales in comparison.  In our instant gratification society, where blame is placed elsewhere until proven in a court of law, where stories of doom and gloom top the headlines and people look to others to provide their basic necessities for life it’s hard to stay focused on the things we enjoy every day, the blessings that are shared with us so abundantly.

What are you grateful for today?  Start a list, write it down; tell someone you value them.

Here’s today’s top 10 for which I’m so truly grateful:

  1. A relationship with God.
  2. My health.
  3. The opportunity to share my life with someone I love dearly, my wife Anita (sorry honey today you’re #3).
  4. The love of so many family and friends.
  5. Living in the best country in the world with freedoms and opportunities many only dream of having.
  6. The willingness to try new things.
  7. A willingness to say I’m sorry (when the new things don’t go as planned).
  8. A kind heart to reach out to others to let them know they matter.
  9. Confidence in myself with a feeling of unrealized expectation (I’m retiring from my career at Procter & Gamble the end of the month).
  10. File drawers with empty space (I spent Saturday doing some spring cleaning).  Maybe this is better phrased “A willingness to release things that no longer add value to my life”.

Who can you call today to tell them they’ve made a difference?  

All the things that really matter in life are FREE – our mind, our health, our family, our relationships, our goals and dreams, our lives!

When I get caught up in the doom and gloom of it all, when I’ve got a big challenge that’s been placed directly in front of me, when I allow things outside my control to affect my attitude reflecting on the things for which I’m grateful puts everything back in perspective.  Refocuses and reenergizes me on what’s right in my life, takes me to a place of peace and serenity that was so easy to lose.

Give it a try, what’s the worst thing that can happen?  The pain, fear, anger or other destructive emotion will be there waiting for you.  Open your eyes to the abundance you have in your life and be grateful for it!

Rick Barron's Signature

All Sewn Up

All Sewn Up

Have you ever delayed starting something because you didn’t think you were capable of doing the task?

I had a few sewing projects that I’ve delayed for just that reason – 3 separate tasks that required some stitching to complete:

  1. Add a Velcro strap to a line cutter I use for SCUBA diving to enable mounting and removal on my harness (this might not mean much if you’re not a diver, but in a tangle emergency underwater quick access to this little piece of equipment would be a live safer).
  2. Repair a tear in my SCUBA diving hood.  A little tear is typically not a problem unless I pull and tug at the hood (which I do to remove it after a long dive).
  3. Repair a seam in a brand new shirt.  Anita and I attended the Beatles tribute concert RAIN.  We each purchased a cool shirt to remember (and share) the experience but I’ve never worn mine because my over priced concert shirt had a seam coming apart in the sleeve.
  4. Repair the pocket for the tension bar of the knee brace I wear exercising.  It won’t offer much support if the tension bar on 1 side of the brace is not in the proper position.

I have sewn before so these were not to be my first attempts, but these projects posed some new challenges.  

  •  Sewing REAL clothing!  The only sewing I’ve ever done was to repair tears in my SCUBA gear.  These repairs never have to look good and are always sealed with neoprene cement to cover any mistakes.  
  • Difficult fabrics.  The knee brace and the line cutter sheath are both made of thick, tough fabric that’s difficult to puncture with a needle (but that needle will easily puncture a misplaced finger).
  • Awkward positions.  The Velco on the line cutter had to be sewn under the line cutter strap and the seam in my RAIN shirt had to be repaired from the inside.  Both repairs were to require discipline and accuracy.

The only way I grow is by trying new things, so I tacked the line cutter first (the one requiring the most new skill – tough fabric and awkward position). To my delight, it was accomplished without rancor, blood or cursing.  Then I pulled the RAIN shirt from the closet.  It required 2 attempts, but after flipping the shirt right side out it looked GREAT!  Now for the knee brace.  The fabric was thicker than I anticipated and required the use of a new tool – the thimble!  This too was accomplished with ease so I finished by sewing and gluing the tears in my hood.

WOW – I’d done it!  I didn’t allow my fear of failure, of trying new things, of living up to others expectations (what would people say if they saw a lame repair on my concert shirt?) , of puncturing my fingers keep me from accomplishing something new, something that I had postponed for many months until I could find someone else to do it right!

How many other things have I yet to start or worse yet haven’t even considered, because of skills or limitation that I perceive to be missing? 

I once read that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real – inaccurate or incomplete projections of my past performance into the future. 

  • Sure I’ve never sewn a real piece of clothing, but I have done numerous repairs on my SCUBA gear.
  • I’m good with my hands, I’ve got an intelligent mind and I’ve got the most important thing going for me – a reason!!

A reason, a desire, a goal, an intention turned out to be more powerful than all the false evidence I stacked up against myself.  I pressed on and through and now can use the experience to reinforce the image of myself as one who can accept and complete new and unique challenges.  

Do you think I’m making too much of a little sewing project?  I certainly hope not.  Big goals can always be broken down into smaller goals.  Small goals are often not simple and require the learning of new skills or the application of existing skills in a new area.  Meaning I’m able to achieve my big goals by pressing through the completion of the smaller ones, learning and applying new skills, building and reinforcing confidence and self-esteem.

I’ll accept the challenges for what they are – learning opportunities.  I’ll risk a few punctured fingers, a comment or two about the seam in my shirt or anything else that i may perceive to be a risk to make progress one-step at a time toward the realization of who I want to be and what I plan to accomplish. 

I’ll not allow fear to paralyze me (for long).  Fear is a sign that growth is about to occur, provided I press on through the fear to the prize on the other side!

Rick Barron's Signature

P.S.  The tension bar in my knee brace is visible through the threads of my repair.  I put two lines of stitches in my repair but it seems I should have used the nylon line I use for the SCUBA repairs vs. the black thread I used for the t-shirt.  When I try new things I have to try them again to improve my performance.   If the tension bar pops out of its pocket again, I’ll come prepared with tougher thread and a thimble to add four rows of stitches!

Knot Therapy

Knot Therapy

Do you ever find yourself making decisions that are incongruent with who you are and what you want?  I recently came very close to making this mistake, but…

I took action on the tight knot in my gut to get me back on track.

My mother Sally was the victim of a horrible accident years ago.  My brother Kevin, my sister Kendra and I made the pilgrimage to the hospital to be by her side.  She was heavily sedated and doesn’t even remember the time we spent together, but the experience had a lasting impact on me.  Let’s bring the family together to celebrate happy times vs. sitting at the side of a hospital bed wondering if the next family member needed another ice chip to moisten their mouth.

I designated myself the family cruise director and began planning group vacations.  Anita and I are blessed to own Time Share point with Wyndham and used the points to schedule celebrations for the family at select destinations.  In 2004 we enjoyed our first celebration on Edisto Island, SC.  When we weren’t hiding in the bathroom for the tornado warnings from hurricane Frances, we enjoyed time together playing on the beach, swimming in the pools, playing games, building puzzles and cooking meals.

In 2006 we headed to Florida to enjoy a beachfront property in Pompano Beach.  The weather was beautiful and the time together was precious.  It’s a wonderful pleasure to participate in life through the experiences of the Barron/Guidry kids.  In 2007 Anita and I went to Disney with extended family (my granddaughters Mia and Anna and their family).  Then in 2009, the Barron/Guidry clan reunited for a week on the mountain in Massanutten, VA.  What a fabulous week canoeing on the Shenandoah River, enjoying the water park, racing go carts, hiking in the rain and watching movies. 

I’ve come to realize that life’s about sharing experiences with those we love; participating in life and the lives of others; using life’s collective experiences to grow together.

So, exactly why was I even considering NOT attending my nephew Will’s first communion in Richmond?

  1. Well you see, I never really received an invitation.  It was Mom that told me that she would be in VA and asked if it would be possible for Anita and I to come.
  2. I am preparing to >retire early from my 24 year career at Procter & Gamble so shouldn’t I start acting like someone without a steady paycheck?
  3. Airfare to Richmond is expensive and driving takes 9 hours each way so I’d have to take a few vacation days to make it work.

I called Mom to break the bad news just as she arrived in Richmond.  She was with my sister-in-law Tina on their way to pick up the kids from school.  Mom never asked if I was planning to come.  She sensed my decision and respected that my reasons were important.

I attended a meeting that evening and on the way back home I got that feeling one gets when they’re making a poor choice.  You know that knot in your stomach that isn’t due to lack of food but due entirely to lack of perspective.  Fortunately, I’ve felt that knot before and was willing to act upon it.  I entered the door at home and asked Anita if she wanted to go to Richmond for the weekend.  She was scheduled to work in the morning and did not see a way to clear her schedule after the store had already closed. 

Then an interesting thing happened.  Kevin called to return a phone call I had made to him on a different topic a few days earlier.  After discussing the topic at hand, I asked if they had room to add me to the guests for the weekend and at 9:20 PM I was committed to leaving 12 hours later to enjoy the family celebration for Will’s first communion!

Will’s 8 years old and graciously allowed me to sleep in his room for the weekend (his bed was a bit short but the bubbling of the fish tank provided a nice lullaby).  On Saturday he showed me the light sabers he and his sister Grace had built at camp last year.  The construction technique was crude but functional.  The light sabers had to be disassembled and a wire taped to the battery to illuminate them.  I asked if he considered upgrading his saber to include a switch.  He did not know it was possible and requested how it might be done.  I grabbed my laptop and we researched parts online.  We found a local Radio Shack and added it to our list of destinations for the afternoon.  We found everything needed to perform the upgrade and after returning from purchasing Will a new shirt for his first communion, we spent the rest of the afternoon gluing, soldering and drilling to upgrade both his Grace’s light sabers. 

I’ve spent enough time with kids to understand the appeal of the light saber will fade, but the experience of the upgrade will remain FOREVER.  Those few hours that Will and I spent creating something together and then reapplying our learning’s to Grace’s light saber (she was camping with the Junior Girl Scouts for the weekend) were worth ten 9 hour commutes.  Our time together was special, memorable AND it allowed us to give to Grace (she was thrilled to see the results of the upgrade).

I must be reminded (sometimes frequently) of what’s really important.  Sometimes I make choices that are incongruent with who I am or what I want to become, but…

If I’m willing to listen to that knot in my stomach AND take action, I can get back on track to enjoy life changing experiences.

Rick Barron's Signature

P.S.  Will enjoyed his first communion and the party afterward gave me the opportunity to spend an hour with Mom while walking the family dog Dasher.  Thanx God for setting me straight on the importance of staying true to myself!

What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

When I was young I made a list of “needs” for my birthday, for Christmas, for the start of school, for the start of summer, for the start of baseball season, for the start of…..  I think you get the idea.  Children are NEVER at a loss for ways to spend a few extra bucks and ALWAYS have a mental list of desires. 

Try it some time.  Head to the mall, the grocery store, an amusement park or some other destination where you’ll find kids and an opportunity to spend money.  Then offer a completely random child a few extra dollars with which to enhance their experience (with their parent’s permission) and see what happens.  I’m betting you’ll see one of two things:

  1. They’ll head directly to their favorite place and begin the process of fulfilling their desires. 
  2. They’ll ask you what you like and use that in their decision making process to share their new spoils with you – their new friend!

Fast forward 10, 20, 30+ years…

Do you have a mental list of your desires?  Do you know what you want?  If someone were to give you a windfall of cash today would you know exactly what you’re going to do with it?  Would you reach out to friends, family or those needing assistance to share your new wealth?  I’ll not provide my answer on the grounds that it may incriminate you!

Most people go through their lives without a true sense of direction, without a list of goals they want to accomplish during their lifetime.  Bouncing from one location, job, relationship and experience to the next without a sense of purpose.  Wondering if their lives are to have any meaning at all.  Wondering what they’ll be given from life rather than what they can make of their life!

It’s impossible to reach a destination unless you know where you’re going!  

When getting in your car to leave the house the only thing you need is a destination!!  Everything else can be figured out along the way.  You can ask for directions, you can buy a map, you can work for gas money, you can sleep in the car but you cannot get someone else to tell you where you’re going!

I’ve discovered that most adults have a list of what they don’t want, rather than what they do want.  When I ask them a question I get a list of “I don’t like…”, “I don’t want…”, “We had this for dinner last night and that for dinner the night before”.  That’s not what I asked you.  I asked for your opinion, for your desire.

What Do You Want?

I’ve got a mind and I’m not afraid to use it.  When asked of my desire, I provide it.  When asked for my opinion I share it in a manner that protects their honor and dignity (most of the time).  I know what I like, I know what I want and I know that I’m entitled to receive it. 

Hey Rick, where’d that one come from – “…I’m entitled to receive it”?  I’ll save that for another post.

Why not view the world we live in as one of absolute abundance?  One in which our creator is ready, willing and able to provide for all our desires.  Provided….We know what they are!! 

Get out some paper and a pencil, open up your laptop, flip open your PDA and start dreaming again.  Go back to the days of your youth when you truly believed that you’d get everything you truly desired.  Let your imagination soar.  Dream BIG! 

What’s the best that could happen? 

Rick Barron's Signature