A recent conversation brought this to mind. The saying of, “Better to ask forgiveness than permission”, is another of the things people frequently use incorrectly. Generally, they say this somewhat cavalierly because they leap to the conclusion forgiveness will automatically be given. In the real world, that is most assuredly not the case.
The first time I heard this expression was as a young second lieutenant in the Army. The desire to cut through bureaucratic layers/red tape is the usual reason this approach is taken. A few years after when I was a senior first lieutenant/soon to be captain, a boss elaborated on the concept. He was not an easy guy to work for, but this was one of those pieces of advice I took to heart and have passed on to subordinates. He said that if I choose to disregard a regulation or a policy – of which there are many – to remember this: a) There are legal aspects that underlay many regulations. Learn the difference and never break a law; b) Take time to learn the regulation/policy or listen to someone who does know it – there are usually “experts” in these things; c) Have a logical reason for disregard and have a persuasive argument if called to task; d) Understand there may be adverse consequences to the choice and accept responsibility if it turns out that way
In my career, I never knowingly broke a law although I admit there may have have been some early on I wasn’t aware of. There were times I did the deliberate disregard after being advised to follow the regulation/policy and it worked out just fine – maybe a butt-chewing, but forgiveness. There were a few notable times of adverse consequences and I have the figurative scars as a reminder. The advice works just as well in the civilian world as in the military.
February is that oddly short month that tends to throw everyone off. Couple that with some extra items/tasks thrown in and it does seem to truly “fly by”. Anyway, it seems as if everyone decides to then schedule virtually everything else in March with hardly a day in the coming month without some event or needing to prepare for an event. This is Women’s History month which accounts for part of it. Then there are two major fundraisers for two different organizations – okay, technically three, but one of those sort of wraps it in with the Woman’s History angle.
We do have some awesome women around and it’s always good to celebrate Sisterhood. By that I mean the genuine kind; not the thin veneer slapped on to fit a specific occasion. I looked up some different quotes and hadn’t seen these two before. “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” – Marie Curie. Also, “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand.
Quite some time ago, I did a post (maybe more than once) about how from my perspective genuine sisterhood includes understanding that choosing to be a “traditional mom” has a special place, too. I don’t dispute we appreciate Marie Curie’s accomplishments and Ayn Rand had a tremendous influence on me in my early twenties. Not everyone is going to be a groundbreaker/pioneer or famous. And not every woman actually has a choice to be a “stay at home” wife or mother instead of juggling job (or career) and family. To insist though that it “doesn’t count” unless you are juggling both is inappropriate. Shifting gears, I am also heartened to see when girls/young women look at IT and the trades as a path. This is still an area where women lag behind and we’ll see what the future brings with it.
In the strictest sense, it is not that I have an actual gap in writing as I’m still doing one, often two, occasionally three articles a week for the community paper. Since 1997, I was publishing at least one book per year and frequently a novel plus a non-fiction (a few co-authored). For those who may be less familiar with my writing, I have three series in novels and some stand-alone as well as the non-fictions. When people ask me how many books I’ve written I have to pause for a count. It comes up to 15 novels, 3 non-fiction, and 4 co-authored (https://www.charliehudson.net/books.html) I have mentioned before that swapping between a novel and non-fiction near simultaneously was never as issue for me as they are distinctly different in approach. Okay, not an issue from a writing perspective; time management was another aspect.
Anyway, a series of things – again as I have either mentioned or alluded to in the blog – have occurred over the past two years to result in me not having an active book project for the first time in decades. This fall into two categories; 1) real life does interfere sometimes, and 2) priorities can get shuffled around. Part of it is the “Small Town” Quilting series was pretty much intended to be a short run of four books and I closed that out. I have now completed four books in the “Shades” and “Chris Green” series and while I haven’t closed either out, the idea I have for “Shades of Remorse” is a bit tricky. I have to use a technique I haven’t done before and I am not yet clear on how I will do it. I am getting closer though and think I’m ready to tackle it later this year which will put publication in 2024. With that said, I now also have to do some of that re-prioritizing of the time management part.
Semi-emotional alert. I say “semi” because some of this is simply recognition of our aging and some is more difficult. When I wrote, “Your Room at the End: Thoughts About Aging We’d Rather Avoid”, (Charlie Hudson’s Books) I did sequence it to where the most intense part was upfront as the whole idea was to deal with those things first. Part II is lighter in general. A conversation the other day with five or six of us discussing upcoming birthdays is part of what keyed this post. We all have various issues although we are also in pretty good shape. One unfortunately is going through a terrible bout of arthritis and they are working a treatment plan for her. We all of course can’t do the kinds of things we were able to 20 years ago and except for one of us, we take at least a couple of regular medications. Joints are stiff and so forth.
One husband passed away not long ago; not unexpected considering overall health issues, but there was not lingering illness and most of the family was able to gather in order to say good-bye. There will be a memorial at some point and will no doubt include many stories of what was a life well-lived.
A couple of other friends have moved away to be closer to adult children understanding the time will come when proximity will be better for everyone. We miss them while recognizing the practicality of the decision. One, not involved in this particular discussion, recently did the opposite of relocating an older parent and that has come with some “bumps along the road”. It does seem to be stabilizing though.
For other friends, there are some “routine” things they once took for granted and can no longer do. This is tougher and it’s rarely easy to adjust to. The phrase, “Growing older isn’t for sissies”, exists for a reason.
Musing ahead alert. There is an awesome principal at one of our charter schools which is a grades 6-12 academy and we have covered them a few times for the paper. We deal with a lot of the schools and when the principal reached out to the paper a few years ago, I wasn’t impressed with the location for reasons I’m not going to detail here. However, it was another one of those situations where I was so glad I went because the principal has made it her mission to provide what is in essence an educational opportunity oasis to students. We have some of the widest school choices in the country and charter schools are a major part of that. (I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of charter schools here)
The particular charter school company this school belongs too seems to be especially good and this principal is determined she will bring in every advantage she can for the students no matter what path they choose. Here is the link to the article we did last week, bottom of the page: https://www.southdadenewsleader.com/eedition/page-a01/page_8d945f10-d1bf-54c3-b23d-e21492e285ed.html
Going back to STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math curriculum which is all the rage (I mean that in a good way). STEAM is one of two things where A is either for Aviation or Art. As I have posted numerous times, trying to make a living in any of the arts is usually difficult, yet when the passion for art in whatever form exists in an individual, it is equally difficult to balance the need for a “practical” choice and fulfill the passion. Deriding or trying to suppress the passion is not something I recommend based on our experience. If I could go back and change one thing when son was in college, I wish I had accepted his request to swap to theater major with dance minor (major wasn’t offered). Insisting he do something more “practical” did not work for any of us.
Not for me, of course as I’m well past that. Son’s birthday this year falls on a Tuesday, so they did celebrate on Sunday which is the only day they have off. They went to a winery where a friend recently had a wedding and were so impressed, they went back.
Forty-two was actually a momentous year for me as that was the year I retired from the Army. For those not familiar with how that goes, retirement from the military is minimum of 20 years and mandatory at 30 years. (There are exceptions to the 30, but case-by-case). Now in financial reality, the military pension for the most part is not something one can live on, however, it does provide a cushion to allow one to consider follow-on employment without the compensation aspect being the prime factor. (Making as much money as possible is still a consideration for many of course). So speaking of forty-two and follow-on employment, that was when Hubby was assigned to the Pentagon, something that happens eventually to most career officers. I’ve posted before about Hubby being wonderfully supportive of me in that he had urged me to write that novel I’d always intended and take the time I needed to do so. Notwithstanding our high hopes and the initial positive feedback I received from a respected agent, that did not translate into a deal as I have previously explained. Completing the novel (Orchids in the Snow if you are new to the blog) was an accomplishment though even without publication for quite a while. The other encouragement was from the few people I had read it as a small “focus group”. In light of not being commercially published, I did go on after the new year (I was still 42) to enter the standard retired officer career of working for one of the “Alphabet Companies” – that’s a common reference to the many contractors that work predominantly with the government. As I have also previously posted, my wonderful husband would make dinner each evening and take care of many of the domestic tasks on the weekend so I could continue to write.
In an interesting coincidence, I was involved last evening in a discussion of Desert Shield/Desert Storm with a guy who was “there” in a civilian capacity. There are multiple roles civilians fill during wartime. He was not part of our organization and I’m not entirely clear where all he was in addition to Kuwait City at whatever point that was. I’ve previously posted about the Desert Shield segment being from early August 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait to when the actual war began January 1991. Rapid deployment forces of selected units in all services deployed to Saudi Arabia immediately after the invasion to prevent incursion beyond Kuwait and to begin build-up to whatever action would ultimately be taken. There were continuing efforts to get Hussein to withdraw without armed response.
In addition to having seized the country and seized American and I think some allied civilians who were being held as hostages, he made it clear he would set oilfields on fire if his forces were attacked. Although I wasn’t part of the meeting, the Brigadier General in command of our unit (2d Corps Support Command) was either in the meeting or was told by his boss, the Lieutenant General in command of VII Corps, that when the Emir of Kuwait was reminded of this threat, his response was along these lines. “I can rebuild my country. I can’t if I don’t have my country.”
Most people don’t realize Hussein had also instructed large trenches to be dug in the oilfields and filled with oil. When Desert Storm (the actual offensive) was launched in the lightning speed that occurred, Hussein carried out his threat. More than 600 wells and the oil-filled trenches were set on fire. We were set up in the desert in Saudi Arabia at this point and I was in the trailer we were using for operations. Someone reported what had happened, but it was later in the morning before I stepped outside. We were at least 200 kilometers away and the sky was dark as if it was a total eclipse from the effect of the smoke. That lasted most of the day and lessening effect for us over the next few days. In and around the actual sites, it went on for months. It took from February until November to extinguish the last of the fires.
The guy we were talking with carries some of those photos on his I-pad.
Musings ahead alert. An incident recently occurred which brought to mind how no matter what one wishes or how one tries, there are times when certain things are no longer sustainable. This is hardly a new thought and has been rendered in story, song, and other arts for probably as long mankind has been able to acknowledge and express the sentiment. After all, most know Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “There is a time for everything”, if not through church lessons then the Byrds song of “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
Back a few years ago, a longstanding non-profit closed out as a combination of aging participants to where membership dwindled and a few other factors. I’ve posted before about family businesses that often don’t make it past the third generation. The house and property that was in my first husband’s family for I think seven generations was another example. We were supposed to eventually move there and carry on the tradition which we would then have passed to our son. In the “life happens”, it simply didn’t work out that way. The small law office my maternal grandfather established might not go into the fourth generation either; only time will tell. History comes in all forms with certain ancient places enduring to at least be remembered if no longer used. In far more modern applications, there are frequent struggles between “progress” or “economic benefit” that override a sense of history. There are multiple cable TV series of individuals and organizations that seek to preserve or restore places, buildings, or items that have been neglected or abandoned. In other cases, there is merely documentation of something that will be allowed to deteriorate to the point of no longer being recognizable.
There can be a sadness in losing what once was, yet sustaining something of historical value/legacy requires resources of usually funding and effort that aren’t always available.
Another memory triggered of a very long time ago; a time when “you don’t know what you don’t know”, that might or might not have made a difference in my chosen career path. For reasons that are not clear, my older sister and younger brother were both excellent with math. I say “not clear” because neither of our parents nor any of our grandparents had an interest in math beyond the basics. I was fine up through then as well; straight A student in everything until algebra. Herein lies a significant point. We had junior high of 7-9th grades rather than middle school. There were two math teachers. The female teacher, and that was unusual in those days, and the male. My sister, who was two years ahead of me, had the female and she was of course glad to have a female student who embraced math. Now, even at that age, my sister knew she wanted to be a scientist and math was a building block/companion rather than an end to itself. By either coincidence or perhaps fate if one chooses to go at it from that angle, the science teacher at that time was also female. She very much took my sister on as a protege. As you have probably already surmised, I had the other math teacher who was one of those who didn’t expect students to like math. I was taken aback to suddenly have a subject I wasn’t good at and couldn’t seem to grasp. Turning to my sister was the natural thing and that was a situation where she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t understand and our “tutoring” did not go well. We come to the other part of, “it’s okay for girls not to do well in math and science”, and I had straight A’s in everything else, was an avid reader, and already showing a desire to write. We knew nothing of different learning styles to realize that there can be more than one approach to teaching a subject such as math. So, from 7th grade on, I followed the usual path of taking only minimum math through high school and college.
I liked the concept of engineering, but thought no more about it. On the other hand, while my brother easily did well in math, he briefly tried for electrical engineering to satisfy the parental urging for a “practical career”. His passion was theater and he dropped out, did a number of things for an extended time before he made it back to college; not in a math-focused way. So, when I see great engineering projects and feel a bit of a twinge, perhaps if I had help in conquering math, it might not have made a difference anyway.
Rumors had been swirling around that the local family-owned restaurant that’s been in business for 50+ years was going to be sold. Those of us who are regulars have known for a while it was more or less on the market. As often happens, the third generation of the family doesn’t want to continue. It is a “legacy” restaurant and the intent has always been for someone to agree to maintain that aspect, so there was no plan to just sell out. The current deal is still in the “process stage” and we’ll see what actually comes about.
The point to the blog goes back to what I’ve written about the next generation in a small business. In writing for the community paper, I’ve now encountered one family business with the fourth generation, several with three and more with two. A friend and I were discussing this the other day and she quoted, “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” I wasn’t familiar with that one and found this on-line: “from proverbial saying, early 20th century; meaning that wealth gained in one generation will be lost by the third.” In the situation I’m talking about, it isn’t so much the loss of wealth (although that certainly does happen), but rather the loss of interest. In some cases, it’s because interests simply diverge; in others, it’s having “grown up in the business” and deciding it isn’t a fit. That’s what happened on my father’s side. Even though Papaw had the farm in good shape with the amount of land he handled and the acreage he leased out, none of the four sons wanted to follow in his footsteps. On my mother’s side, it was the opposite. I don’t recall if my uncle stepped into the law office before Papaw became a judge or as soon as he did. As I explained, I was supposed to be the third generation and when I stayed longer in the Army than I initially planned, my cousin joined the office. His younger sister did too for a while, then she followed the line of being a judge. In talking with her oldest daughter, now a lawyer, married to a lawyer, whether or not they choose to take it over remains to be seen. Moving back to the really small town where she grew up might not be in the works.