Friday, May 29, 2015

21st Century vs. 20th Century Concert-Goers

Been a while since I caught a concert…sadly at least a decade (likely even longer than that), but mostly “the song remains the same.”  Caught Nelly, TLC, and NKOTB at the #MainEvent in Cincinnati this past week.  Took my two youngest sons, and grown niece, whose first concert was NKOTB in the 20th Century!!!!

21st Century vs. 20th Century Concert-Goers

Same…Skinny and scrawny girls still flirt with road crew and take seats
New…I-phone flashlight app replace Bic lights to “show the love”
Improved…Smart phones revolutionized flash bulb camera, making it possible to take actual photos of bands vs bright lights and blurry shadows.

Same…Bouncers still big and brawny
New…Bar scanned concert tickets
Improved…Said bar codes eliminate seat squatters

Same…Said skinny chics still can’t shake hard enough to avoid being bounced when they touch the band.
New…Crowded networks more challenging than packed parking lots, trying to post on Facebook or Twitter…and Periscope?  Forgetaboutit!
Improved…If you navigate said networks, you don’t have to wait until you get home to talk about the band (and your phone isn’t connected by a cord…and you may not even have a “house” phone).

Same... Nothing better than the silent ringing
after a loud concert, physical proof that a good time was had by all.
New…You don’t have to show up early to save your seats (see bar code above).
Improved…With age, comes children and nieces to reminisce…new “firsts” to share …and I must say that I still like NKOTB…those nice boys can still make a young girl scream…And one last thing… this gal is just as young as she always was.  ‘Nuff said!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Planting Faith for Life


It's nearing a very special one year anniversary in my life...almost a year ago, I published my first book.  The sense of accomplishment is enormous.  I plan to publish my next book in the fall.  In the meantime, I wanted to share again how publishing this book brought something from my childhood full circle and back on track (and yes, I'm still planting!):


I published my story…a book I’ve been living and writing for over twenty years.  I started to consider the brevity of this moment in my life, and as I did so, one early childhood memory rushed into my thoughts...

I was in the first grade, and a bully crushed a much loved and cultivated seedling in a Styrofoam cup.  It was a project from my Catholic CCD classes.  I was so proud of it and the meaning behind it.  All I could do was stare at it lying on the playground, with fresh soil spilling over the top of the crushed cup and the broken plant already beginning to wilt on the hot blacktop of the playground...

Flash forward to today, without really thinking about it, I picked up a pouch of flower seeds from Walgreens.  Repurposing an antique silver-plated cream and sugar set, I planted two new seedlings.  I recognize that the significance of this simple act is lost on anyone else.  But for me, it was a leap of renewed faith to reclaim something I lost as a child.

A busy day working, with a detour to pick-up my two younger boys from school to avoid some stormy weather brought me to the corner sidewalk outside the little elementary school where they attend.  I saw them emerge, running excitedly with all the other children. They were happy to be “car riders” instead of “bus” for a change and were talking loudly to each other as the crossing guard walked them safely to my side of the street.

I was distracted and didn’t immediately join them on the short walk to my truck.  My eyes were fixated on a little girl.  She couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7.  She was wearing a plaid uniform jumper, very similar to the kind I wore as a child.   In her small and delicate hands, she clung tightly to a new seedling sprouting out of a plastic cup.  She proudly showed me her new plant and I told her it was indeed, magnificent.

I am always looking for meaning in life, hidden messages and purpose even in the simplest of encounters.  I think someone shared something special with me today.  And my faith feels renewed and refreshed.  I’ll be watching my new seeds, waiting for the first green sprouts to surface from the moist, rich soil.  And I’ll reclaim yet another moment from a childhood that never seems to end.

If you want to read more, go to Amazon to order a copy of my book 

It’s about late bloomers, flowers, and unending sunshine…in spite of valleys, challenges, and obstacles.

#feeling blessed

Friday, May 15, 2015

Short and Sweet...Sharing some golden goodness

For anyone in need of a rainbow, sharing showed up this morning hanging over our house.
Rainbow...pot of gold TBD
 It's been missed and absent too long.  Great to see it back where it belongs.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#Firstjobs, workplace productivity, and enjoying the view! 1986

This is what one of the machines looked like


I landed my first real job starting out in the cliché “mailroom” working part time, after dropping out of college at 19.

I loved my part time job running two big #Xerox copy machines, printing large batches of copy jobs for an insurance company.  Starting pay was $4.25 an hour and after six months, I earned a fifty cent per hour raise.  It might not sound like much now, but it was enough to raise my standard of living to afford $25.00 a week for groceries instead of $20.00 and the increased debt potential to take on a used car payment.

I timed the two machines just right throughout the day, collating sets on one side, while collecting copies from the other.  Kind of funny to think I was an early adopter of workplace productivity. J It was much simpler then, leaning on the tried and true model “common sense.”  I like to stay busy…makes the time go by faster.  I found a system that utilized every spare minute of my work shift, keep both machines running at all times.

Entry -level job benefits were much greater than I could appreciate at the time.  The chance to look out a 9th floor window at a bustling downtown community on a sunny day, the ability to “clock in” and “clock out” without having to check in later from home.  And there was a finite amount of work each day, clearly measurable by the output of my machines.

These days I am no less busy, salaried and no longer hourly, and feel fulfilled in the work I deliver every day.  But it’s a rare occasion that I take the opportunity to look outside and enjoy a beautiful skyline…and even rarer still when I don’t “check-in” at the end of the day.

I can appreciate both now.  Regardless of where we travel in life, we should always remember to look back and enjoy the view of where we’ve been.


Friday, May 8, 2015

#FFF Fast Forward Friday - Let's Start a Movement!

Let's start Fast Forward Friday...I'll 20 years, I'll be writing in an English garden, outside our rambling Victorian home, watching a few grandchildren run across the grass and surprising me with a kiss on the cheek. George likes to tinker in the garage and there is a bright and shiny red Corvette I think he loves more than me. My oldest, Alex, lives in LA, having broke into the music industry with his own label, Pete has his own reality show "American Pickers 4.0" and lives nearby, and Christian....ah Christian, my wild card. He's likely still finding his way...I don't know what his day job will be, but I know he's a starving artist, writing and waiting to be discovered. Okay, now you: Go!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cheers to Blue Collar Roots: Robert J. Niehaus III

A special blog nephew is graduating from UC tomorrow!

To celebrate Robert J. Niehaus III, and his relentless pursuit of an elusive dream, the hard fought
journey to get there, and ultimately, success at the end of a long road.  Congratulations on earning your degree from #UC!

Your Grandpa Niehaus, for whom you were named, spent his life as a blue collar worker, with six day work weeks...putting in overtime just to make ends meet.  He liked to listen to the #Reds on the radio and enjoyed drinking #PabstBlueRibbon from a can, with a little salt on top to keep the foam down.

His uniform was plain, blue shirt and work pants, with a patch on the pocket, and his name, "Bob." He could fix anything at the local factory, #MiamiMargarine, where he worked.  And better still, always seemed to be able to fix anything that went wrong in any of our lives as well.

Our chosen career paths are a long way from the gravel road leading up to that old warehouse, now long gone and demolished.  But the tread in his tires paved the way for all of us from the start, pushing us to embrace life and go after our dreams, no matter how long it took...instilling in us that anything was possible if we worked hard enough.

He taught us the importance of being who you say you are, the value of your word, and the capacity to love and equally important, to forgive.  

I like to think those blue collar stitches are what made us all who we are today.  And that our own thinking is well grounded in the basics of what it means to work hard and stand proud.  

Over the years, we've held fast to his rugged wisdom, smoothing over some of the rough edges along the way.  Those stitches reinforce every area of our lives and began with a brilliant man.  He could have done anything...been anyone...but thankfully, chose to be a dad and then grandfather and to share his passion for learning with us all.

Enjoy this moment and know that your journey and every success comes without surprise, but with deep admiration and respect for the accomplished young man you have become.

Aunt Mary aka godmother

Robert James Niehaus Senior