Friday, November 22, 2013

Because of Them

Robin Byrd

John Byrd
Helena 1860's

Whenever I think life is a little too tough and I can't stand it one more day, I hang on because of all those that came before me. I owe it to their name to be courageous, honest, and decent.  I remember Emeline Owens organizing a wagon train and leaving war-torn Missouri for the gold fields of Montana.  I remind myself that I am her descendant.  I have those genes.  She expects me to be courageous, honest, and decent too.

There are times I feel anxious, even terrified because the economy. I wonder how the income from our business, struggling the past five years, will ever pay for things such as our skyrocketing health insurance costs.  When life seems too precarious to handle, I remember Emeline driving an ox team west with only her children to accompany her.  She passed a burned out wagon train that had been attacked by Indians, but she couldn't go back.  I must press forward too.

When I lost my oldest grandchild to a brain tumor, I had the example of those that came before to lean on. Maude Brodock, my grandmother, watched her baby die slowly through several months from a bowel problem that could probably be cured with pro-biotics now.  She got on with her life, so I knew I could get on with mine.

When I worry about what others think of me, I remember Robin Byrd.  He ranched, he explored, he mined, and he put in a stint as a Federal Marshall.  He was busy living his life. I imagine he made his mistakes.  All people do. He had no time to wallow in chagrin from his mistakes.  From what I've heard of him, I'd bet money he didn't give a hoot what anyone else thought either. I don't want to disappoint Uncle Robin by cowering before public opinion.

When today's influential people want me to shift my values to conform to whatever popular philosophy they have decided is now correct, I cannot do it.  I have too many people behind me who paid too high a price to worship as they please and live the values they knew in their hearts and minds were right. Leaving behind family, home, and property, my Puritan and Mormon ancestors sent God, and me, a message that they weren't joking when they determined to follow His course. They trusted Him. Can I do less?

Whenever I think of my children, I know sometimes their lives are going to be tough. Our family stories  remind us of those who went before.  They were courageous, honest, and decent. They are part of us and we are part of them. We owe it to them to honor their names.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Entrepreneurs Are Safe

Sometimes I worry about the small entrepreneurs in the business world.  I wonder how they can possibly compete with the big retail corporations.  Then I think about some of my experiences with some chain stores, and I know the entrepreneurs will survive without any problem.

There must be something about a business becoming huge that makes logical human thought and feeling seem unimportant.  Here's a question a CEO might want to consider before approving the next plan to get us all to spend at the store:  “Would I, as a normal human being, like to be treated this way?”  From experience, I’m pretty sure promotions people for large companies must think customers are about as smart as earthworms and expect ethics on par with horse traders from Dodge City.

For example both Scheels, a sporting goods store, and Appleseeds, a clothing catalog store, have offered me significant discounts on my purchases if I would sign up for their credit cards.  After taking my time and personal information (including my Social Security Number), both companies informed me my application was pending.  A pending application meant I could not have the promised discounts.   Instead, they very generously offer me a handful of coupons for the next time I shop in the store.  Like there is going to be a next time.

I’m sorry to say I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.  Still, since I have great credit, it seems plausible to me that the Corporation President’s wife is probably one of the few people whose application will not be “pending”  and qualify for the discounts.  Now after this experience of gathering my sensitive information and tricking me by offering discounts they evidently never intended to give me, why would I want to shop there again?  My appearance in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated is more likely. I sent the Scheels credit card they mailed me (even though I told them to forget the whole thing) through the shredder and every Appleseeds Catalog adorns the trash before I even enter the house.

Note to large companies:  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A Novel Idea

Even though it is November, I have a novel idea:  Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving -  at least until  Black Friday.  It seems the retailers cannot wait to get our minds thinking about buying from them.  Since our major Thanksgiving purchase is only a turkey, Thanksgiving doesn't exist in the retail world.  Retailers and Advertisers jump from Halloween directly to Christmas.  I'm not jumping with them. I want to make the most of this month of prayer and thanksgiving.

 A whole month devoted to gratitude.  Think of it!  I want to celebrate Thanksgiving with all my heart.  I want to remember a courageous people who boarded a small vessel, braved the fall storms on the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in a new land all because they were determined to worship in their own way.  They didn't want a monarchy to shove the state religion down their throats any longer. They were truth seekers and seekers of God.  They proved their commitment with their lives. Half of them died the first winter of starvation and sickness.  And they didn't go back to England when the first winter turned out to be a pretty rough hop.  They stayed here and stuck it out.  For us.  They wanted us to have freedom too, and many of them were looking toward building Zion, even though their concept of what Zion was might not have been very clear at the time.  They laid the groundwork for the restoration of the full gospel.  

Here was a people who lost half their number the first winter.  Instead of whining or giving up, they established a day of Thanksgiving.  I want to be like them.  As a talented whiner, I want to replace complaining with thanksgiving.

I also want to remember the Indians.  They stepped in to save a people that had no notion of how to survive away from civilization.  They rescued a people who had no clue about hardships to be endured establishing a civilization from almost scratch.  I like the Indians' smarts about hunting, farming, tracking and surviving without leaning on other civilizations.  I am astounded at their willingness to help a people they could have just as easily exterminated. I was excited to learn of clues that point toward having First American ancestry on the Brodock side of the family.  (And, no, I'm not calling them Native Americans.  I've heard too many Indians make fun of that term.)

I might need to think a little about shopping and Christmas this month, but  for me 90% of November will be about giving thanks and being thankful for those who sacrificed everything so that we would have so much to be thankful for.