Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Art of The Apology

I think one of the most difficult arts to learn, is the art of the sincere apology.  I'd be a liar if I told you that it's easy to learn, easy to do, and that you'll really look forward to the time(s) when you'll have to practice this hard-earned skill.

Because it's so hard to learn, most of us avoid learning how to do it well for a very long time.  Hell, some people never learn to do it.  For them, it will always be your failing if you took their meaning the wrong way, or you are just too sensitive or whatever...  But, it's not you; it's them.  And, don't worry, they'll have their turn at having their feelings hurt or will happen and hopefully, they'll start to figure it out.

For now though, I want to consider how one acquires the skill of the true apology.  And, honestly I don't know the answer.  I suppose that one day you stop letting your Ego run the show.  You stop listening to it when it says, "Really, what's wrong with them? They need to just get over it.  It's stupid how they feel, and I won't support them in this craziness!"  Yep, Ego keeps you from being able to reach out and humble yourself when an apology is truly required.

The fact is, it's not necessary for you to be able to understand or relate to why an individual has been hurt by anything you've said or done.  You simply need to accept that they feel this way.  And then the next step... being humbled enough to deal with the uncomfortable, itchy feeling you get when you are clearly aware you've hurt someone and need to say the words, "I'm truly sorry if I hurt you."

Once you've done it a few times, while it doesn't come easier, it seems to come quicker.  And, those precious moments that can save a relationship aren't squandered.  When a true apology comes sooner rather than later, you get the chance to start over.

And here's the place where I've finally arrived, thanks to having had to give my share of apologies for being thoughtless or flip or unkind or stupid or fill in the, I think before I open my pie hole.  Now I carefully consider if what I'm about to do or say will contribute in a positive way to the situation.  If not, I'm now old enough to realize it's not always about me and what I want or think.  I'm able to keep my mouth closed.  Even so, I'm still not past the point where I'll never have to apologize again.  But it does seem to be less frequent.

Since I don't like to apologize, and let's face it, none of us does, I've learned that if I keep my thoughts to myself and consider the other person more than I think about myself, I don't have to apologize nearly as much.


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Always Sincere When She Must Offer An Apology

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Step Back or I Swear The Mouse Gets It!!!!!

My Lion says a few months back, "The company trip this year is Disney World. So you're finally going to get to see it!"

 I begin to get twitchy. Any time I'm going some place where every one exclaims, "Oh! You're going to love it," I begin to obsess. I hate feeling like a party-pooper. I don't want to be the only one in the entire known universe who dislikes a spot that everyone else adores. It's too much pressure!

So, yeah, here I am at 56 years old, looking at my first trip to Disney and praying, "Please let me like it...please let me like it....please!" But, I know I hate rides and I don't find amusement parks at all amusing. And crowds?! OMG, I detest crowds.  It's not looking too good...

Michael says, "It's early in the year so it shouldn't be too hot or too crowded. And, there's lots to see and do there besides the rides. You'll be all right; we'll have fun. I'm looking forward to seeing it with you. I haven't been in years."

I begin my research and figure I'd really like to see Epcot and the Animal Kingdom. Michael says, "Great, but we'll begin with the Magic Kingdom because that's where it all started." We set off on our big adventure. Right away Michael surprises me by upgrading our flight to Business Class. I've never flown First Class before, so even though it was only two hours, wow, what a difference being in a seat that was built for an adult and being offered a complimentary cookie can do to cheer up a ride, huh?!

We get there and right away we have lots to do because we have to meet and greet the company guests and connect with all the folks you need to/want to see. We have a great time catching up with everyone at the opening reception. Then we turn in early to get ready for my first time in Disney.

On the advice of  our daughter who is a major Disney fan, we got me a, "It's My First Visit," button so that I could get free treats along the way and be fussed over by the crew members.  We set of into the hot morning. Yeah, no winter anywhere in the United States this year means that Florida is way hotter, earlier...but hey, it's Disney, right?!

Regardless of any worries I had about being there, that morning when I got my first glimpse of the Castle, well, I admit I began to smile big and look forward to my day for the first time.

A short time later, the whole experience turned as dark and menacing as Maleficent turning into the fire breathing dragon in Sleeping Beauty.  (By the way, she is my all time favorite bad girl!)

There were people rushing and pushing EVERYWHERE! Did I tell you I hate crowds? I wanted to stop in the tunnel through the castle to enjoy the beautiful wall mosaics but you simply couldn' was like being caught in a white water get carried along and if you want to stop to look at anything, you get bumped into, or sighed at, and stepped on, and.....holy crap!!!  The people were rushing and running like the whole place was going to dissolve at any moment!

Once inside the park, the lines of people waiting to do anything including use the bathrooms were unbelievable! I got momentarily excited when I saw Pluto, who is my favorite old Disney character and said to My Lion, "Oh, I want to get my picture taken with him!" Only to see that it would take about 45 minutes to make it up there to have my 30 seconds of fame with the mutt! SIGH...

I never did see that damned mouse! Not once! Oh, I'm sure he was there some place cowering, or buried in the masses of people, mangled, maimed, twisted in the wreckage, but I can't say that for certain. This topiary of the beloved rodent was the only version I saw!  If I had seen The Mouse, I would have held him hostage in front of me as I screamed, "Back off and step back, or I swear on Walt Disney, I'll hurt him!  One more shove and the Mouse gets it!!!!!"

Even though I didn't get my photo op with Pluto, this topiary by HGTV allowed me to at least take a picture of the pooch of my dreams.

When we dragged back to the hotel, we ran into one of the guys who reports to Michael. His four year old had her face buried in his chest, in that grumpy sleep you can sense from a kid post melt-down. His nine year old was standing quietly next to him with a vacant look on her sweet face. We asked how their day had gone, Adam replied, "This is supposed to be the happiest place on earth and I asked my wife, 'Does it look like there is one happy parent in this whole place?!' the lines were unbelievable and most of the things the girls wanted to do, the wait times were just way too long. We're going go take a bit of a rest." He limped off...

Yeah, that's how it was for the entire time, because as it turns out, our company trip to Disney happened to be, get ready for it, during SPRING BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Are you freaking kidding me?!!!!!

So no one could have cared less about my first time button...well, that's a bit of a fib, two Disney members welcomed me which I really appreciated. But for the most part, my being there for the first time wasn't a priority because any employee of the parks was simply happy if they got through their shift alive! 

 I finished my first day, exceedingly frustrated and not very happy with the Happiest Place On Earth and then I got to thinking, "Shame on me! We're here because of all of Michael's hard work. He's here to congratulate those people who work for and with him for all they've done to contribute to a successful year. We're on our vacation thanks to things he's done and the generosity of his company.  I need to snap the hell out of it!"

And that's when I decided to stop acting like a three year old whose balloon had just popped.  Instead, I started to search out things that were worth remembering and experiencing about my first visit to Disney World.  Things like:
This view from our balcony that I got to see each morning. Beautiful, huh?

The Swan And Dolphin really are quite lovely and the staff welcoming and accommodating. The restaurants and amenities are top notch. We had some fabulous dinners and totally laughed with and enjoyed the company who joined us.

We took in some night life and walked around in the cool and pleasant evenings that were a welcome change from the hot temps of the days in the parks.

I had a great time laughing with Rebecca and Hilary. Becky works with Michael and her BFF, Hilary, is starting with the company in a few days. It was great to be able to give her the 411 on some of the people and tell her some of my experiences. And, it was fabulous to see her realize that, while she did take a risk to change her employers, she chose a great company as her new adventure.  Having the chance to see what great people make up FDLIC, was a terrific first impression.

And thanks to those long wait times in the parks, we had lots of time reconnecting with  friends who we don't get to see as often as we'd like, like Shaun who is Michael's boss and his wife, Kelly. Oh, and if you're ever going on vacation, you need to take Kelly as she's one of those women who does thorough research prior to going any place and knows so much stuff that will make you trip easier, more fun, and informed!  I'm certain she was a Sherpa Guide in a previous life or two.

So yeah, I didn't get to see everything I hoped in terms of  classic Disney, and I couldn't find souvenirs of characters I like...but I did get the chance to see sites like these orchids dangling like confetti from the trees.

And, see flowers I've not seen before growing in profusion.... tell me, aren't they more beautiful than any Disney Princess you may see?

And, where else than Disney can you find a street performer who hundreds must have walked past as she clung to a tree, moving sloth-like. I was thoroughly mesmerized...

...when this 'vine' began moving off the tree and then slowly onto the path where people began to gather.

I think she is the thing I will remember most about my trip.  Isn't she beautiful and look at that makeup!!!!

I also learned that Disney, thank goodness hasn't completely gone over to the dark side of Political Correctness...
...and just had to have a photo with Brer Rabbit!  Yep, we don't even allow children to know those old folk tales any longer considered correct...but I love him and the Tar Baby and all the lessons we learned from that fable.  It's a shame we've stopped allowing fairy tales and fables to teach as well as entertain.

I enjoyed Epcot and the International Village.  The views were glorious and the crowds much less thick.

Thanks to Disney, I got to visit England once more...

And, visited romantic Italy with my beloved...

I enjoyed beautiful animals, real...

...and beautifully imagined.

And, although I looked high and low for a Jock to take home, I didn't find him as he's only a 'minor' character and well, I guess the old Scot isn't in high demand.  FASH!

But, I did find this great Scot in the topiary garden and the trip wasn't a complete loss!

Because, even though there is a lot that I can't say I loved, there was a great deal to be happy to have experienced.  And, the best moment was being there to applaud My Lion as he was inducted into FDLIC's new President's Club.  I'm so proud of him for all he's accomplished in his career.

 And, yes, you know me by now...I did it.  Of course I did...I mean really what else would one wear to an important award dinner in Disney World?  Silver Sequence Minnie Ears are just the right touch.  Don't you agree?

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Has Seen Disney World And Came Home To These Scotties!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Silent Sermon Sunday

Spring has arrived. May you feel your heart awakening, opening.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
The view from my back yard

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thanks for NOTHING U.S Air!!!

By now you all know I'm a marketing genius, even if it is only in my own mind where it is sunny all the time and things run with precision, fairness, and customer service is a top priority.

So give me a minute while I take this company name and change it immediately to U.S. Unfairways. And, make certain you know we will never again book with this outfit of "you are just a little person and we don't have to help you because we are the big air line and you need us more than we need you." Okay U.S Air, have it your way, but just remember you asked for this.

You may recall that, last September, my family vacation to the Outer Banks was canceled when a hurricane decided to not only cause damage to buildings, it actually took out the road to Hatteras Island. I was totally bummed because it has been years since my family was able to vacation together and it would have been the first time to vacation with Laura's babies. Sigh...

Luckily, we took the insurance out on the rental so all of us got most of our money back, minus the insurance fee. So the rest of the family was okay, but Michael and I had booked flights into a nearby airport and rented a car to drive to the beach house instead of spending close to 12 hours in the car. Getting that part of our expenses back proved difficult straight off the mark.

Because the hurricane caused such wide, multi-state damage, the airlines and other businesses offered refunds on travel plans that got canceled. When we learned about this, we contacted U.S Air about a refund, and that's when all the 'fun' started. Somehow, according to them, we weren't eligible because the airline determined that the airport wasn't in the "hurricane circle." So, NO we weren't eligible for a refund. With exceeding patience, Michael suggested they look at a map because we were booked to fly into the airport closest to our destination which was smack in the path of the hurricane. There was a great deal of back and forth until finally, they agreed to give us a voucher for the almost $550 we had invested.

I needed to tell you the amount so you understand I'm not whining about just a $69 fair that used to be offered when South-West Air used to make it possible for us to be "Now free to move about the country!" So, after that major back and forth, we had until April 19, 2012 to rebook a flight. We didn't get our money back but at least it was something.

Now here's where it gets complicated:

What with the arrival of Argyle into our clan, Michael's work schedule, and life getting in the way, it became obvious that we wouldn't be able to use the voucher before the time ran out. We talked it over and decided it would be a really nice gift for Melissa so she could go to Florida and visit with Evan. She's been through so much in the past year and she adores her little brother. We just wanted to give them some time together.

But U.S. UNFAIR says, "NO!!!" The voucher is not transferable, even to a child. NO!!!!! Even though we called to see if someone, somewhere could help. NO! was their answer. Okay, that was a long shot, but we can understand; everyone has rules and the airlines are struggling so we understand.

Next, Michael suggested, "Look, I'll stay home with the dogs and you use it to go down to Matlacha, (which is pronounced Matt La Shay, who knew?!,) and spend a few days with cousin, Val. In all the years since Val and Tom moved to Florida, I've never had the chance to visit with her. I thought, "Wow, wouldn't it be nice to spend time with her outside of the tragic, hard times we see each other when she comes north to take care of family funerals, etc?"

But, it didn't work out because she and Tom were traveling when I could use the voucher to come for a visit. Sigh.

Then one night recently I said to My Lion, "Hey, why don't you call Evan and see if he has any leave time and you go down and visit with him and I'll stay here with the dogs!" Yes, I do want to go see my Boychic, but we just can't ask the neighbors to watch the dogs again what with just getting home from the business trip AND because Argyle really is a fist-full at 5 months AND he still has trouble with the whole no potty in the house thing...

"You and Evan haven't had guy time alone in so long, it might be fun to just spend some time with him!" So that's that, right? WRONG.

We checked with Evan; he couldn't get leave but he does have his days off during a week, so he and Michael decide on dates and set the plan in motion. Immediately after that it went straight down hill...

...because when he contacted U.S UNFAIR, they will NOT let him use the voucher by himself because the original flight was booked for two people and could only be used by two people! WTF?!!!! They've had our money for an entire year...they could sell the second seat again and make additional money. The amount would cover a round trip for a father to spend a few days with his son in the military and NO, we can't use the voucher for him to do that?!

NO! They did offer to 'peel off,' (their nasty term not mine,) the second person and allow Michael to use a one person portion. BUT, that would cost us $300 additional to make it a round trip. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!!!!

Michael asked to speak with someone higher up the chain and when that person got on the phone, he explained the entire situation, and that the "PEEL OFF" would end up costing him money when all he wants to do is use the $550 which they have had for over a year, to go and see his son in the Air Force before he is possibly re-deployed. Why is it so hard for them to allow us to use what we already purchased?!

"Well, Mr. Frock these very special deals we offer on air fairs (really, he acts like $550 is a pittance,) come with significant restrictions. I'm afraid our computer will not allow us to change it so you can use it as a single fair. The best I can do for you is give you the email address of our customer service center that handles these cases and perhaps they can extend the voucher further so that you and your wife can book a future flight."

All right, not what we wanted to hear but at least he was the only person in the long stream of NAY SAYERS who offered us a glimmer of hope. Michael thanked him for his time, and after hanging up, he sends off an extensive email explaining the entire issue and, as directed, asking for an extension.

This morning, the terse reply is NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, we're out $550 of our money. Thanks to the intractable, unreasonable, impersonal U.S Unfair, Melissa couldn't go see her brother, Michael can't go see his son, and as it turns out, even if my cousin had been available for me to visit, I would have run into the same issue of being a sole traveler and wouldn't have been allowed to use it either.

We promised U.S. Air that we will NEVER book a flight with them again. And, we promised U.S UNFAIR that we would tell all we know about this major cluster F**K of attempting to deal with them to use OUR money.

U.S UNFAIRWAYS, let me make sure you can hear me:
NO! You are not nice to work with and,
NO! I won't use you again and,
NO! I wasn't kidding when I told you I'd make certain I tell everyone how you all have behaved. YES, I am a Woman of My Word!

U.S. UNFAIR, you SUCK!!!!!!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Has Been Ripped Off & Is PISSED!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Silent Sermon Sunday

Sit. Breathe. Be.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Image a gift from Toni Brown

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