Sunday, December 2, 2012

What Zombies Have Taught Me

From one of the most original and dramatic graphic novels in recent memory to one of the best television programs on any network, there are lessons to be learned.

  1. Focus on your goal.  When something is important to you, such as eating the brains of the living, or maybe getting a promotion at work, let nothing else distract you from the task.
  2. Don't be discouraged.  Even when others around you have failed, keep going.  No matter how many before you have had their heads skewered by the naysayers of life, you still must persevere.  
  3. Communication is best when succinct.  Too much time is often wasted on flowery messages.  Let others know what you're after with short, memorable key ideas.
  4. Never be complacent.  You've made it.  You're resting on your achievements, but then, shambling out from the woods, there's more of the competition waiting to bite you.
  5. Accuracy is essential. Never waste your efforts.  Be precise. You can't afford to miss.
  6. Trust in yourself; respect the rest.  You never know what the other guy might do, even within your own team.  Know your abilities, and and rely on others, but don't ever take trust for granted.
  7. Adapt, Improvise, Overcome.  When your situation changes, don't be overwhelmed.  Use what you can all around you.  Even a broken chair might be more useful than you ever thought.  
  8. Teamwork is effective under strong leadership.  Once you take on the role of a leader, others will look to you for leadership.  Simple, but true.  Leaders must be willing and able to lead through every crisis.  This means having the ability to delegate responsibilities to those whose strengths you have recognized.  Doing it all alone leads to high stress and can create mental exhaustion.
  9. Take advice from the team.  Sometimes the wisdom to lead has to be supported by wisdom from the team.  Even the most brilliant leaders surround themselves with trusted advisers.  
  10. Know what you're fighting for.  The struggle doesn't matter unless you know why you're engaged in it.  More than anything else, your knowledge of why you fight will keep you aware, sharp, and successful for another day.
Life gives us lessons from unexpected sources, even from the undead.

All good things...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nora's Crocodile Rockers, 2012, JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes

Dear Family, Friends, Loved Ones, and Colleagues,

I am asking for your help. I ain't askin nobody for nothin, if I can't get it on my own.  So goes the song, but I can't get this on my own. I hope you can offer some kind of financial support to bolster the great research happening today which is bringing a cure for diabetes a bit closer. For those who are interested to know more, please read on. I have tried to help someone on the outside of the problem appreciate a bit of the reality of life with diabetes.

Nine years ago our family experienced a profound transformation. We became a family with a type 1 diabetic child. Our first child, Eleanor, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while she was still only two. Each day since then, each hour, has included some chore, task, reference, thought, or responsibility demanded of us by diabetes. Please do not think of this as an exaggeration, because if I err, it will be in making the demands less pressing than what they are.

And so we live. We focus on life with as much positive energy as we can. Nora does an excellent job of accepting her circumstances on most days. The rest of us do as well. Blood sugar checks number into the multi-thousands that have been endured so far. Daily shots have given way to the self enclosed delivery device called an OmniPod. This device still has to be monitored, though, and changed no less than every three days. This involves having a spring loaded needle inject the delivery line under the skin. It hurts. The insulin that we have put into the pod then gets gradually delivered into the blood as programming suggests. Who programs it? We do. The programming is based on experience and ever-changing needs of the user. Nothing is automatic; not really.

And so we plan. After nine years we are getting pretty proficient with our knowledge of food and its various carbohydrate counts. Nora gives herself more insulin, called a bolus, whenever she eats. This is based on the carbohydrates in the food. Again, formulas are used, but life is inexact. We still practice a refined form of guess work when needed. When the birthday parties, sleepovers, field trips, celebration dinners, etc. arise, we try our best to plan for it, or at least react well to what is being offered. Nora is growing and changing, and her insulin demands continue to change accordingly. She has completed a kids’ triathlon, and she wants to do more, proving that her limits are still far on the horizon.She has chosen to play cello now in the school orchestra, so her fingers, the parts she uses for checking BG, will endure more stress.

And we educate. Nora is another year older, and we all are slightly wiser. Still we find ourselves dealing frequently with misconceptions and ignorance about diabetes. Since Nora’s pod is sometimes visible she gets asked about it. She explains the situation quite well, but I wonder when she might get sick of saying it all. Well meaning people, both family and friends alike, still make comments that amaze me. Recently we were asked again if it is OK for Nora to have chocolate. I have heard someone telling another that she is not allowed to eat sugar. Others persist in these outdated assumptions that come from times when diabetes was not understood well, and its management tools were severely limited. I was happy to help my friend, Lizmari Collazo, again this year in promoting the Diabetes Ice Cream Social, just to combat some of those outdated ideas.

And we hope. Our lives are woven with the demands of type 1 diabetes. But the reason we ask for help and support is because we hope for a day when we can let go of that part of life. We hope to leave behind our diabetic lifestyle one day soon. Please help us to reach that important goal.

We are walking again this year on October 6th at Military Park, Indianapolis. The Walk for a Cure is a great day to bring together hundreds of people in one place to support JDRF and its efforts fund research. If you wish to donate, you can do so online by following the links I have listed below. You may also write a check payable to JDRF. Any size of donation is useful and appreciated, and all are tax deductible.

Please visit my walk fundraising page at the following link. This will allow you to make an online donation if you should choose to do so. Of course, it would be very exciting and helpful if you would want to join our walk team. Information is also at this link:

We are hoping to do well for Nora’s team this year.  Thanks for your time in reading this. You are part of the cure.

Andy Blythe,
Nora’s Crocodile Rockers, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On Beauty, Part 2

Moreso than anything else I have published here, friends have asked me about my post, "For the Love of Beautiful Women".  I am very pleased that this piece of exploration into beauty has gained some attention.  I suspect it means that I have written about something important to people.  Today, partially because of a request by one of my friends in the twitterverse, I revisit the topic of beauty.

Beauty resonates.  Its source is somewhere from within the person, in the realm of the spirit.  We all are endowed with beauty.  Some people have allowed the pain of living to dominate them so that the resonance of their beauty cannot be felt.  Pain, when it receives energy and attention from you, becomes strong and prominent.  Many people wear their pain in masks of anger, apathy, disdain, or detachment.  It is hard to see their beauty through the masks and walls.  Pain comes to us all.  It is the beautiful spirit who gives the pain no more attention than a stone in her shoe.  A momentary pause, a cleansing breath, and then it's released.

I know there are many who believe there is beauty in suffering.  There is truth in that.  What people see in the victim, or rather, feel from her, is a desire to save her from the pain, to lead her to comfort.  Through this desire we may sincerely be trying to connect with the other person, but it may also be an end to itself.  Some of us realize that we are attracted to "damaged" people, those we wish to rescue or fix.  What happens, then, once there is a return to calm and normalcy?  The next suffering friend suddenly seems so much more attractive.

True beauty transcends the circumstances, including the flow of time.  You recognize it within your being.  At times of stress and chaos, the presence of beauty calms you.  At times when you have slipped into unawareness and tedium, the beauty awakens you, and reminds you of the present.  When this happens, you feel the wonderful rush of awareness.  You remember your own power and vitality when her beauty resonates with yours.  There is a harmonious energy that is felt, quite real, which cannot be denied. This is the kind of beauty that should be pursued and nurtured.  This is where love may be found.

Beauty manifests itself in the outer person in countless ways.  The body, in all of its wonderful variations, houses, protects, and projects the inner beauty of the spirit.  If you are aware enough to see, there she will be; ageless, radiant, and lovely.  She may be concerned by superfluous facets of life or age, but you, if you are seeing clearly, will see truth.

Beauty is all around.  Where there is life, so also lives beauty.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Eleven Rules That School Doesn't Teach

First I should say this is not original, and I can't site an author. I have, however, made a few updates to it along the way. This applies to people of any age, but it was intended for the students.

Eleven Rules That School Doesn't Teach

Rule 1- Life is not fair; get used to it.

Rule 2- The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3- You will not make a six-figure salary right out of high school. You'll need to earn your way to the top.

Rule 4- If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you have a boss.

Rule 5- Flipping burgers is not beneath you. Your grandparents had a different name for flipping burgers. They called it opportunity.

Rule 6- If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes. Learn from them.

Rule 7- Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how much you know. So before you save the rainforests from the parasites of your parents' generation, try doing a fair share of the housework.

Rule 8- Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.

Rule 9- Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off.

Rule 10- Television and social media are not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop, temporarily put their phones down, and go to jobs that require some focus and attention.

Rule 11- Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one. And if you happen to be quite smart, don't you dare hide it or pretend you're not. I'm sure some reader could add many more. It's nothing but a few conversation starters for those not yet familiar with the rude realities out there.

All good things....

Social Media, Therapy, and Moving Forward

I have not written a blog in a long while. I have not been able to focus on writing anything more than a sentence or two in length. The condition, if it has a name, led me to certain social media accounts, namely Twitter. This seemingly innocuous creation has helped me in ways that I never would have suspected.

As I have learned to walk forward, perhaps more than ever, I also learned to accept others and to be expressive again. By diving into the sea of human dysfunction, I learned that normal is a far more inclusive construct than I allowed for in the past. We all seem to be healing from something. We all seem to be looking for similar essential comforts and truths.

Among the profane, vulgar, gratuitously shocking, and brash, there are also the clever, witty, touching, gracious, vulnerable, and wise. I would not have stayed long at a real life (RL on Twitter) party if everyone were throwing out their thoughts and feelings uncensored for all to hear. It would be like a crazy passing period in a high school hallway.  But now that I've been there, virtually at least, for a while, I like it.

 As for real life, happiness comes when you can appreciate the beauty of the moments. It's much easier to do that when you have a group of people enjoying their moments, too, and are willing to share their joys. I have found friends in places near and far. From Netherlands to Australia,and California to Florida, such places are home to the wonderful people who have given me little postcards of humanity that serve as reminders of the goodness in us all. Thanks, new friends. I appreciate it.

All good things....