A Special Day – Saturday

Posted in Uncategorized on August 10th, 2013 by Kay Hamner – Be the first to comment

Some habits die hard.  I retired early seven years ago.  But after seven years when any day could be like Saturday I still wake up on Saturday mornings with a sense of freedom different from other days.  Especially one like today.  The young lady who helps me at home has left the apartment clean, the laundry done, and groceries stocked for the week-end.  I have no appointments scheduled, e-mails to and from boards/committees I serve on and a few business matters were handled yesterday, and today there is not even a social or family occasion in the works.  A good mystery by an Australian author whose works are new to me awaits.  French Roast coffee made, wine cooler holding bottles of both red and white wines to choose from later.  Ready to tune into Easy Listening or light classical music stations on Comcast and let the music flow through the speakers I have throughout my condo while I dive into that new mystery book.  Any other day I would feel a little twinge of guilt about not doing at least one productive thing today.  But its Saturday.  Freedom Day.

Another Word on The Queen’s Jubilee

Posted in Uncategorized on June 11th, 2012 by Kay Hamner – 2 Comments

This past week the whole world has been British.  Millions of us around the world watched millions of dollars worth of celebrations marking the fact that one 86 year old woman had lived long enough to occupy a primarily ceremonial position for sixty years.  Why?

Those of us living in republics with an elected head of state often maintain we cannot understand how the people’s relationship with their monarch is considered the ultimate expression of patriotism.

But then I changed channels and picked up that day’s poltical shenangans of our American politicans.  Then I turned the channel again to see on the screen this little 86 year old woman, standing there on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, not only above the throngs of her subjects but also above the current politcal fray of all the commonwealth countries of which she is the head.  A living symbol not only of the best of Britain and the Commonwealth, but a symbol of the traits of character all of us can admire and salute.

My sister and I were children when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.  1953, it was, and film of the coronation was flown across the Atlantic and shown on American television.  My sister, Tracy, and I got an old bathrobe of our mother’s and for days and days played “coronation”.  That began my life long career as a British royal family groupie.  As an older child I read books that extolled the sense of duty of Elizabeth and her parents and grandparents, and of other members of the royal family.  They never gave up, never complained, never disappointed others even if they were unwell, and worked at royal duties for hours, even when they were difficult or boring.  Of course they were also glamerous, but unlike Hollywood celebrities, the example they set was quite different.  Whenever I didn’t want to study for a test, or go to a church event, or visit an elderly relative or church member, I thought of Queen Elizabeth, who did what she had to do without complaint and cheerfully, and always made others feel better.  I really wanted to be like that.

So, she may be Queen of the United Kingdom and 16 other countries, and Head of the Commonwealth, not the least bit American, but she has had a great influence on me personally.  I truly believe without that example that I watched from afar with secret adulation and admiration, I would not have acquired some of my better traits.

So–God Save the Queen, Long May She Reign.

That “Crazy Shot He Saw in His Head”

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2012 by Kay Hamner – 2 Comments

April 8, 2012.  The Masters Golf Tournament, Augusta, Georgia. The fourth and final round ends in a tie between Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen. The first tie breaker, a sudden death play off at the eighteenth hole, also results in a tie. Now the two walk to the 10th hole to begin playing another tie breaker. Bubba Watson hits his ball into the woods. Some media commentators are saying,  “This is it. It’s over for Bubba.” But Bubba hits that ball from the woods in an amazing shot that lands ten feet from the hole. He goes on to make the putt and win the Masters.

Later he tells reporters, “I got in those trees and hit a crazy shot that I SAW IN MY HEAD …”.(capital letters mine).

For years I’ve heard that successful athletes play this way. They see the shot, the basket, the perfect pole vault in their mind before they take any action. Some people call this “Visualization” and it is a powerful tool. What that really means is intense focus. Intensely focusing on and picturing in your mind what you want to happen.  Bubba’s extraordinary shot was the result of intense focus and visualization for only a moment or two, but without a doubt he had practiced the technique for perhaps years.

I  have been told by people who have had outstanding results using this technique that it works especially well for longer term goals.  When you focus intensely on a desired goal for days or weeks, the mind begins generating ways of achieving the goal that you had never thought of before.

Ironically, the same technique can wreak havoc in your life.  Focusing on what you fear , for example, can produce a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Have you ever experienced one of those “crazy shots you see in your head”, either for a long term goal or a momentary but unforgettable incident?  I would love to hear from readers about your experience with this phenomenon.

Yes, They Could Say “I told you so.”

Posted in Uncategorized on December 14th, 2010 by Kay Hamner – 3 Comments

My dad, Jimmy Townsend, was a collector of quips.  I was looking through some of them the other day when I ran across this one:  “If pessimists aren’t happy today, they never will be.”

My parents grew up during the Depression of the 1930’s and the memories of that time influenced the way they lived all their lives.  Mother spread her savings among several banks, not just to make sure not to exceed the amount covered by FDIC insurance at any one bank, but because she felt that not all of them would fail at the same time.  Of course, my sister and I smiled tolerantly at this “peculiar” behavior.  Growing up when we did the idea of a bank failing seemed to us about as possible as dinosaurs reappearing on earth.  Mother was aware that we laughed at her, albeit with love.  But she stubbornly kept to her ways.  And she insisted that the time would come when “you”ll see.”

Mother passed away five years ago.  As I have watched bank after bank after bank in Georgia, my home state, fail over the last couple of years,  I am deeply sad that she isn’t here to say, “I told you so.”

All her life  mother extolled the virtues of “making do” and being satisfied with what you had.  She didn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to improve your lot in life, but she believed that you should live within your means and not be unhappy about what you couldn’t have at the moment.  She finally got a credit card in her later years but I am suprised she used it enough to prevent its being cancelled for nonuse.  To her, debt was for two things only:  a house and a car, both to be paid off as quickly as possible.  Mother and daddy built a house while I was in high school.  They took out a ten year mortgage.  Imagine anyone asking for a ten year mortgage these days.  Mother believed my generation, the baby boomers, were living dangerously, with the belief that good times would last forever.

I hate to say it, but I think Mother would actually be happy right now.  Her savings weren’t in the stock market.  They were spread around too many banks for her to lose all her money so she would still be comfortable living in her mortgage-free home.  And her lifelong predicition that “hard times are coming” has come true.  I am sure that she would at last feel vindicated.

Oh, the Joy of a Good Mystery

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27th, 2010 by Kay Hamner – 2 Comments

We’ve had a nasty winter for Atlanta this year. But there are compensations. When the wind blows, the snow falls, the temperature drops, there is nothing like sitting with a warm blanket over my knees, a cup of really good coffee, or a glass of favored wine a hand’s reach away, and a new mystery to savor.

In fact, if truth be told, I’m addicted to mysteries.  Judging from the size of the Mystery Book department in book stores, not to mention the dozens of popular television mysteries, it’s an addiction shared by many.  By why?  What is the irresitable allure of the mystery story?

Is it curiosity, the human need to see “what’s over the next hill” or on the next page?  Do we enjoy exercising the little gray cells as we try to figure out “who done it?”  Do we imagine ourselves the super sleuth who sees what others miss and whose powers of reasoning win him or her admiration?  Is it a form of escapism in a way that other fiction genres that appeal to our intellect or touch our emotions cannot provide? 

I’d really like to hear from others who share my addiction.  Why do you think we are so drawn to the mystery story?

Presidential Libraries – Are They Worth a Visit

Posted in Uncategorized on October 12th, 2009 by Kay Hamner – 1 Comment

     The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum reopened October 1, 2009, after a major renovation.  Presidential libraries are usually updated periodically to include new historical insights made possible by the passage of time and new technology that enhances the visitor’s experience. These changes are made with private funds, not the taxpayer’s money, although, in my opinion, it would be a worthy use of my tax money.  The new Jimmy Carter museum has to rank among the best such historical museums.  It is beautiful, it is informative, it is easy to navigate, and an altogether pleasant and worthwhile way to spend an afternoon.

     I have visited several presidential libraries and have a goal to visit them all.  I have visited nuseums of both Democratic and Republican presidents, and in all of them I have been struck by the seriousness of the issues facing each of them in their time.  The exhibits tell us of  the background of the men who have held the office, providing some insight into the development of their values and thinking.  And they tell us about the women who were their partners and who shared their triumphs and burdens of office.

      As I viewed the exhibits on the major issues facing each of the presidents during their terms of office I have been surprised by how much recent history I have forgotten.  It is true that the exhibits point out the positive accomplishments of each administration, but these museums are so much more than a public relations vehicle for the president and his administration.  They are a showcase for what we, as a people have faced and experienced.  Not only are they superb educational tools for our children, a visit to any one of them is a wonderful way for adults to become reacquainted with our country and those who have led it.

     One thing different about the Carter Library is a section devoted to President and Mrs. Carter’s work since leaving Washington.  Even though I worked for years for the The Carter Center, I was taken aback to see the visual documentation of some extraordinary accomplishments.  Don’t miss this section.

Lodging Staff Can Make Travel Pleasant for Anyone

Posted in Travel on August 30th, 2009 by Kay Hamner – 3 Comments

I love to travel by car in this country.   There are so many different cultures and landscapes to experience, all within the borders of the good old USA.  But I have some challenges when I travel alone by car.

I have a medical condition that requires the use of oxygen for some of the day, and always at night.  It is difficult to walk up stairs, although I can walk on fairly level ground for a considerable time.  Therefore, I can tour most sites I want to see. I can carry light luggage but heavier items present some difficulty.

I often stay in smaller hotels and motels.  In places where I have just stopped for the night, with no reservation, I have discovered a few secrets.

Most lodging staff in the travel and hospitality industry are among the most helpful people on earth.  Even if I stay at lodging that does not have bell hops, I have discovered that if I stop by 4:00 or 4:30 p.m., there are usually housekeeping or maintenance staff still on the site.  Later than that you take your chances.  When I check in at the desk I explain my situation.  Generally the desk clerks go out of their way to give me the most convenient room and summon someone from housekeeping or maintenance.  Of course, I tip the staff who help me get my luggage in.  I ask the desk clerk to leave a message for the next clerk who will come on duty to tell him that I am willing to pay one of the housekeeping staff to help me get my luggage and oxygen back into the car the next morning. I may need to adjust my departure time slightly to accommodate them, but that is easy enough to do. It is amazing how often these wonderful people don’t want to accept any payment, but I always insist.

So, you see, with a sense of adventure and a willingness to be flexible, it is possible to enjoy travel even with special requirements. I will be doing more travel over the coming months, sometimes with a companion and sometimes alone. I will be compiling notes on the places I stay, attractions I visit, restaurants I enjoy, and I will then pass on to you dear readers information about where I have received the best help, and, if I should run into less helpful staff, I will tell you about that as well.  I’ll also pass on other tips about ways I have found to make travel with special needs fun and easy, and about products I use while traveling.  So pack your bags, get out your maps, and check in with me frequently.

Anti-Aging or Aging Gracefully?

Posted in Aging Gracefully on July 24th, 2009 by Kay Hamner – Be the first to comment

I was just watching another one of those late night infomercials making fantastic claims for a product that claims to take years off our appearance. We baby boomers are really into health and fitness and anti-aging and we are pushing the market for those products toward the one trillion dollar mark annually

“Aging gracefully” use to mean simply accepting all the limitations that the passing years brought.  But today medical and scientific advances have not only made it possible to live longer, but also to keep looking and feeling really good for many years. But what do we choose from the hundreds of products and how much money do we spend on all this before we cross the line from taking care of ourselves to being obsessed with it all?

For me “aging gracefully” today means taking advantage of the scientific advances but without getting ridiculous about it. My version of “aging gracefully.” is to recognize the aging process as natural and inevitable, but to do a few reasonable things to slow the process and continue looking and feeling great.  I can make a few life-style changes and, I can add a few products to my table, my bathroom shelf, my vanity top that help me to look and feel my best .  Products that don’t over promise, but deliver on what they do promise, and don’t break the bank.  In future blogs I will share some information about products I have found that meet this criteria. But I don’t stop with useful products. I can challenge my mind with good books, experience the sense of adventure that goes with new experiences, and celebrate the insights my life experience can contribute to people I care about and groups I support.  I would love to hear what others think of my version of “aging gracefully” or anti-aging.  Let me hear from you

Ordinary People – Extraordinary People

Posted in People on July 24th, 2009 by Kay Hamner – 1 Comment

I was not with President Carter in Washington.  But as a director of The Carter Center, the humanitarian not-for-profit he founded, I sat in on discussions with powerful and influential people gathered around a conference table in a room that looked as though it belonged in the White House.

I listened as plans were made for combating centuries old diseases, fighting ignorance, promoting democracy in countries not acquainted with democratic processes, bringing hope to the lives of millions of people. It was a heady experience.

Gradually I came to have a great appreciation for the courage and resiliency of those millions of “ordinary” people around the world.  Despite everything, they go on surviving, day by day, loving their families, worshiping, experiencing the pain but also all the joy of life. Each of their lives is a story.  The lives of ordinary people everywhere fascinate me and inspire me.  Usually their stories show that ordinary people are really quite extraordinary.

Why I hired some help

Posted in Business on July 8th, 2009 by Kay Hamner – Be the first to comment

Technology seems to change faster than we can keep up with it.  Who had ever heard of Blogs 15 years ago?  And think of how recently Twitter, and FaceBook and all the other social media took off!

It is possible for anyone to build her own web site, set herself up on social media, start blogging, etc.  My hat is off to those who do it all themselves.

But I discovered that the time it would take for me to learn all that, and put it all together into a plan for how to use various technological tools, was time I could better spend elsewhere in my business. And in my life.  If you are putting together a team of people in your business, you must spend some time with them. If you are selling products, you have to learn about those products. If you are writing and publishing you must allow time for research and drafting material.  If you need to be creating a presence in your community, developing a business image through participation in various business organizations, writing blogs, doing conference presentations on line, all of that takes your time. Besides all that, we must tend to our friends and families and take care of our health and do some recreating! 

We have to decide where we can best put our time and where to seek help.  I have decided to use some of my budget to contract with a consultant to handle, or at least teach me how to handle, the technological side of my business.  Not only that, but to help me put together a plan for making the best use of all the communication tools available.  This allows me to put my strengths to work where they will do the most good.  I consider this a very good use of a limited budget.