Best Practice Family – oldie but goodie!

My family wasn’t able to pull off a 2-generation business, let alone one that involves four!  Follow this link to a 06/08/15 post on my retired older2elder blog that spotlights the Gerhard family, who make intergen part of their very successful business plan.

Even if don’t care how rare it is for a family biz to make it to the 4th generation (a mere 4%), reading the post was more than a trip down Memory Lane for me – it reminded me of the basics that make the Gerhard family tick, that apply to the rest of us.

Excerpt – –  “They trust us.  A shared vision.  A willingness to leave disagreements behind.  The capacity to step into real conversations.  Yes, those are core components of successfully handing down a business through the generations.  And they are the basic must-haves for a successful family, where people don’t have to worry about feeling aftershocks of a morning disagreement at a family dinner that night; where people know the vision they share & are comfortable talking about how best to make it come alive & stay alive; an ability to trust 24/7/365.  Not always be in agreement, not always seeing things the same way, but always willing to step into a real conversation.

“It’s that sort of approach that helps assure the next generation to lead a business comes from the next generation of family – and that families stay happily connected through the generations. ”


DO IT WELL. MAKE IT FUN ~ a still-reading book review

Mea culpa – this post is not accepting paragraph breaks.  CONFUSING.  Tried to fix, failed.  Each new paragraph starts in bold.  My heartfelt apologies.  ~deev~
It is great FUN being 65, seeing how things unfolded over my past, giving me confidence in this Now that the the future will do the same.  Consider how Ron Culberson’s DO IT WELL.  MAKE IT FUN came into my life.
Was super psyched last week, discovering that JOLENE BRACKEY is making a rare East Coast appearance next month, giving the keynote presentation at the Northern Virginia Dementia Care Consortium’s Creating Moments of Joy Caregiver’s Conference.  Almost bounced off the walls – an author I admire beyond words, giving a talk on the very thing that’s presented itself as my true life work, partnered with John.  Infusing as many moments as possible, whatever the age or circumstance, with joy glee fun.
The schedule showed Jolene opening the conference & a fellow named RON CULBERSON closing it with If Not Now, When?  Immediately caught my eye, because it happens to be the title of a beloved Reb Zalman video.  So, checked out Ron, who turned out to be  NOTHING like what I expected.
According to the conference brochure, “Ron Culberson, MSW, CSP, CPAE, spent the first part of his career working in a large hospice organization as a clinical social worker, middle manager, and senior leader. As a speaker, humorist, and author of Do it Well. Make it Fun. The Key to Success in Life, Death, and Almost Everything in Between, he has delivered more than 1,000 presentations to associations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporations.”  A lot of words that left me without a clear sense of the person, whether his presentation would be worth sticking around after watching Paula Kyle (Dance for Parkinson’s) at 1:00 p.m.  Looked him up.
wow.  Wow.   WOW!  Ron is no less than a FUN!sultant & deeper I get into his book, the more he is my newest super hero.
Ron’s opening certainly caught my interest, as well as a tremendous amount of skepticism.  He totally trashes personal development books, proclaiming that HIS book is the only one anyone needs.  As someone writing a BOOK thanking the very “earnest psychologists, new age gurus, and overexposed Oprahs” he brushes aside on Page 2, it would be reasonable to think his opus would be headed for the thrift shop, pages pristine, not a single corner turned down.
Not so – I was over-the-moon to find a book that shouts from the rooftops the author’s belief in the power of FUN to make life work well.  Yes, he’s cocky confident that what he has to offer has more value than my book mentors, but I had an immediate strong sense that the Universe had commissioned Ron to write a book for ME, in this moment.  Am up to Chapter 6 & that feeling just gets stronger with each page.
Ron’s approach, his writing style is different than any of the 29 books that I’m thanking in my own tome.  Its unique cadence is unusually engaging – feels like we are at my favorite cafe, simply talking together over a cafe au lait & chocolate chip scone.
I am just finishing up the chapter on faith & already amazed & delighted by what & how you’re sharing.  It’s not just that you have an engaging writing style – it’s hard to find a unique cadence, which you do – but that it feels like we are simply talking together.
Yes, Ron disparages the very personal growth authors I celebrate, but the fact is that I am the rare bird who actually CHANGED due to reading the scores of books that line my shelves.  Sadly, too many feel energized by doing a deep dive into self-help material, but come up short at implementing what they read.
Maybe those remarkable books worked for me because I stepped out of any normal time expectations, letting it take as long as it took, always believing that better was possible.
I’ve long believed there was a Ron Culberson out there, with the book that would help me make sense of it all.  That would clue in this unrepentant Pollyanna to something I couldn’t identify but knew existed.
That we are meant to do life well by making it fun. That we get there by focusing on excellence AND joy.   “It’s about the value with which we live rather than the amount of time we have left.  When we focus on VALUE, we achieve a higher level of richness & success in our lives.
Thanks, Ron – I needed that.  And it was just on page 3  – wasn’t even out of his intro yet!
At first read, I thought Ron had it wrong – surely he meant that making things fun helps us do it well.  Nope, he had his order right.  We need to start out with the intent to do something more than okay;  we need to set out to do it well, to aim for excellence rather than okay.  Do it well, make it fun.  The order matters.
Right now, at this very moment, I am proof that life can be broken down into series of steps that lead to or away from success.  For the past week, I’ve drifted away from the very steps that have created an environment where excellence could thrive.  I’ve gone backward, toward old familiar patterns that left me getting by but not soaring, away from the steps I know work best for me, when I put out the effort to follow them.  Am back on track – getting up early, greeting the day, doing my series of Namastes, going out on a pre-dawn walking meditation, taking my blood pressure meds with a full glass of water, journaling, playing my Song of the Month (currently Lady Gaga’s La Vie En Rose), reviewing my calendar.  Moving on with the day, aiming for excellence rather than the comfortable mediocrity that never pushed but never pleased, always remembering that “every step in every experience has the potential of being improved and being more fun.”  Sing to me, Ron!
“The past is gone.  It won’t be back.”  When I read those few words, my life shifted.  The books I celebrate in You Come Too are my past, form my foundation.  They’re the solid ground on which I stand.  Do It Well.  Make It Fun. shows how to get those feet dancing, keeping it simple, doing it with unique style, striving for excellence rather than settling for comfy okay.
Each chapter –  infused with Ron’s humor, which is I guess what makes it so singularly HIS & so easy to slip into – ends with the Well-Fun-Now Process, steps for integrating the chapter’s topic into our life.
Ron had me hooked by the end of the second chapter, but it was his third – Have Character, Don’t Be One – that won me over completely.  It is not easy for anyone to talk about their personal values without sounding preachy;  it’s much more difficult to do in static writing – the words extolling values can so easily be read as pompous, even sanctimonious.  Not Ron’s.  He comes through as a man who values the principled life, who openly shares his personal values & work principles, but does so as a prompt for us to look inward & consider our own.  As he says, “Done well, our life & work have more integrity.  And on some level, that’s more fun.”
If sharing values is challenging, talking about faith without coming across as holier-than-thou is almost impossible.  Ron pulls it off.
It seems to me that so much of the confusion we see in today’s society is because so many people seem to lack faith in something Bigger, More Important than themselves.  True faith in something Higher – whatever that faith may be – liberates rather than restricts, empowers rather than demands, enlightens rather than dictates.  Ron gets that across.
Where I fell at Ron’s feet in gratitude was reading Developing the Skill of Skill Development.  Reading that subheading, was certain sure the Universe commissioned Ron to write this book for me, to be read in this Now.
For decades, it’s bothered, perplexed me that I’d missed the core skill of skill development.  Plagues me to this day.  And there it was, in bold print near the top of page 43.  And then he brings in the squirrels, which totally rang all my bells.  I do well with visuals & what better one than a squirrel keeping at something & at something & at something until they ace it.  “Squirrels are skilled.  And they don’t usually give up until they improve their skills enough to get them what they want.  We humans, on the other hand, tend to give up too quickly, often settling for less than we want.  I hate to say it, but we should  learn from the squirrels.  If you had a squirrel’s determination, what would you work on?”  JUST what I needed to hear, a reminder & shove toward completion rather than Great idea!
That brings me to page 49 – It’s All In Your Head… Sort Of.  129 pages to go.  Should I have waited until I’d finished the book to do my review?  Couldn’t wait with Life Is Good & for the same reason – impatient to let others in one a great thing.  I’m 65 years old & life’s taught me not to dawdle, to go with my gut, to share what’s great in my life as soon as I can.  And I  know in my bones that Do It Well. Make It Fun. will be as big a life-shifter as the Jacobs brothers’ guide to living life to the fullest.
Thanks, Universe, for introducing me to Ron & his remarkable book.  I appreciate your bounty & welcome more.  Keep it coming, ’cause this is beyond wonderful.

DAVID & the PHOENIX – You Come Too

One of the most precious titles in my library,  David & the Phoenix was my brother, Ian’s, favorite book.  It was published not long before Ian’s death, but one read & it immediately beat out the 1957 Wild Geese Flying for top honors in his heart.

Both books are in my library – a recent edition of  David… (over the years, his was read & reread to pieces) & Ian’s own copy of Wild Geese…  

It’s the story of a young boy – just around Ian’s age I always imagined – who seeks  adventure & finds more than he could have dreamed in the form of a Phoenix, who lives on the mountain behind David’s new house.  The Phoenix, a very eccentric sort, befriends the lad, swearing him to secrecy about his existence & filling him with a justifiable fear of the bird’s arch-nemesis ~ The Scientist.  The very young boy & the very old (almost 500 years!) bird form a strong bond & embark on all sorts of dandy adventures just right up Ian’s alley – run-ins with a Banshee, an almost tragic encounter with a faun, doing a bit of business with the Sea Monster ~ ~ and always standing a wary watch for The Scientist.

Even writing about it fills my eyes with tears, knowing how short a time Ian had adventuring with David & the Phoenix, no more than a few months.

When I read the Phoenix beginning his preparations for he knows not what other than it’s a “magnificent destiny” toward which he is compelled by instinct rather than inspired by his magnificent intelligence, I think of Ian in those last months, of that last day, Easter Monday, the first day of our school vacation – still see him dashing out from the front door, across the “Top Lawn,” then dropping out of sight as he headed down Rose’s property to Alden Road & up to a friend’s house.  Gone.

SPOILER ALERT!  THE REST REVEALS THE END:  My heart crumples, as David first fights his feathered mentor’s fate, finally coming to a poignant acceptance of his great-in-every-way friend’s destiny, saving the risen-from-the-ashes new incarnation from the returned deadly threat, The Scientist.  A tender end that finishes off with a sense of more than renewal – of triumph of good over forces set on harm.

Even as a very little girl – I would have been around seven when Ian read it aloud to his baby sister – I equated Ian with the illustrations of David.  With his death at 11, the book was immediately enshrined in our hearts.

But the tie goes beyond a much-missed brother’s favorite book.  From the start, it showed that we find friends in the most unexpected places, that just because someone is an Expert & is seeking to do something “in the public interest” does not make it right, that sometimes things beckon yet it’s folly to follow.

As I grew older, the concept of having a “magnificent destiny” unfold only with years became a beloved theme, as did the Phoenix taking the steps that were laid out for him by his nature, culminating in his ultimate renewal, a new life emerging from the old.

The closing paragraph brings up memories of my young self, heartbroken for David but feeling triumphant for the glorious new creature risen from the “traditional cinnamon pyre of the Phoenix, celebrated in song & story” – – “Understanding dawned in the amber eyes at last. The bird, with one clear, defiant cry, leaped to an out-jutting boulder. The golden wings spread, the golden neck curved back, the golden talons pushed against the rock. The bird launched itself into the air and soared out over the valley, sparkling, flashing, shimmering; a flame, large as a sunburst, a meteor, a diamond, a star, diminishing at last to a speck of gold dust, which glimmered twice in the distance before it was gone altogether.”

As a child, that was my favorite passage, imprinting my heart soul mind with a still-powerful image of renewal, a bold new beginning born from the ashes of what was.

More even than The Bird’s Christmas Carol, Edward Ormondroyd’s  David & the Phoenix taught my young self how to grieve, braving separation & loss, knowing that something new was born out of the ashes of sorrow.  It helped during the shattered years, having David to hold onto – he knew my sadness.

For someone in a family that did not open up about what was felt most deeply, having that other – even if found in the pages of a book – helped keep me standing up.

Which brings me to my favorite passage, starting in my teens, is still enshrined in my heart & hopes -~ ~ “Besides, my boy, we shall see each other again. I do not know how or where, but I am positive of it.”


CANBERRA – Mindwalker1910

Mom made seven (7) trips to Australia to visit my brother, Mike & his family!   She was 65 when she first flew down, 85 when she last flew back.  It was Mom’s 2nd home, filled with people & places she loved.

At “Nan’s” request, Advance Australia Fair was part of the prelude music to her 2001 memorial celebration.

Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 23:58:38 EDT
Subject: Canberra
As I was writing about Williamsburg, my thoughts kept turning to the capital of Australia, Canberra. (Whenever he saw my notes, John would joke that I was misspelling cranbury. That John, he is a cheeky one.)

Kerry and Mike took myself and the kids to Canberra to visit Barry & Christine Ridgeway (Gretchen, I believe she is a relative of Ruth’s) and to show off their capital.

It is impossible to describe Canberra, which did not even exist at the beginning of the century. I was surprised to find out that it was designed by an American. It has a beautiful location. Unlike Sydney, Canberra is surrounded on all sides by land, land and more land. It somehow feels like it was carved out of nature. Magical. Like Sydney, it has a unique energy and, like Sydney, Canberra is unlike any other place on earth.

The architecture ranges from very, very modern Government House to the Williamsburg-inspired US Embassy. It is fitting to have Williamsburg’s Georgian style as an embassy, since late colonial Wiliamsburg and early colonial Australia were contemporaries.

Mike had picked up three loaves of sourdough bread back in Sydney – one for the ambassador, one for his secretary, and one for us to nibble on the way. We had the honor of meeting the ambassador and his wife. I do not remember his name, but her first name was Elkin – very unusual. This was during Jimmy Carter’s presidency and as I recall the ambassador was a southerner and you know how those southerners can make you feel pretty special.

We had a wonderful time. At night, Mike and Kerry would go off for a quiet dinner on their own while I kept an eye on Scott and Karen. After they got home, it was my turn to go out to dinner. By that time, I was ready for a little piece and quiet and did not feel the bit ill used by eating by myself. The silence was golden.

Silence brings to mind the Hall of Memory – the war memorial – which is what I remember best of all. To stand in that graced place that honored those who fell in Australia’s wars – there was a feeling of awe unlike anything I had felt before or since.. I felt close to the other world and the tears came. Everyone there was silent.

Love to you all from a suddenly hushed KRL.

With special thoughts and love to Carolyn, who loves Canberra – Grandma L.


So, doing the face-off the TWO David Richo books vying for space on my list of 25 books that got me to Now showed me how to introduce the rest of them.  Except I’m totally bustin’ up that template for this remarkable book by Charles Foster.  Taking the super easy way to give its intro – share the Amazon review I wrote some 12+ years after first reading it:

This book was published the same year I totally mangled a sensitive conversation with someone who really mattered in my life. Reading Dr. Foster’s book a couple years later, winced every time I saw one of the mistakes I’d made.

His book lifted up my spirits – I hadn’t been as dumb & thoughtless & ham-fisted as I’d thought, only a typical human making the typical mistakes around a delicate conversation.

By delaying talking about it, by bringing it up in precisely the worst way at precisely the worst time in precisely the wrong place, I turned what should have been an uncomfortable but reasonable request into throwing a Molotov Cocktail into our relationship, blowing up any semblance of friendship between us & creating an emotional crisis that remains to this day.

It was a shock to me, but hardly news to Dr. Foster – the scenario is described, almost moment to moment. And a better way is provided.

I completely agree with the reviewer who wrote that There’s Something I Have To Tell You helps develop better communication & social skills. It changed my life, helping learn when where & how to communicate more effectively.  Should be required reading for every human!