Hit the Publish…button…now!

You Say it Best – When You Say Nothing at All –

Sharing my fave version of that song, by Alison Kraus –

Some 15,000+ written words later that sits in trashed, or saved draft, or ‘needs editing’ mode –

After some weeks, months…. years of frustration? Overall?

Let this suffice to ‘update my blogroll’ and yes, you’re right – when I go quiet it means, overall,

I’m in Exponential Existentialism Crisis Mode –

I’ve survived such things before, no reason to think I won’t this time around –

So here ya go – short quick, easy post for me,

perhaps, I got my internal arguing with meself, done, while writing that which may, never, be published,

but at the end of the day, some string music accompanied by a voice, I personally believe, is gifted by the Angels, is what was needed –

Which is why, it’s inherently easier to share the work of others than put in the effort to say it, play it, create it, yourself (you, me, anyone…..)

This is just where I’m at – – too many other things for dailing living just take way more energy than to leave much to spare over, anymore, to wax personally creative, eloquent or persuasive, overall –

I’ve now hit Rock Bottom – I’m one of the Hoarding, Madding Crowd of Easy Social Media personages –

Sigh –

It occurs to me that, sadly, no one it seems, anymore, is allowed to quietly die from a broken heart or in silent rebellion against the system within which they find themselves – even when they wish to ….be done….

So, perhaps, once again (like many times before) I shall find a reason to once more keep showing up – but the older and tireder I get, the less I desire wading into any new adventures, even online –

…even for reading & researching, for me own edification time that benefits no one but my internal needs, overall….

and I never thought I would live to see such a day, where the very activities that I used to love, and rather enjoyed doing, now?

Rather leave me, anymore, just feeling rather hopeless and useless…..

On some fronts, I’m not totally useless, just yet –

I still work, drink and smoke tobacco, therefore, I’m doing my part to consume and pay taxes in order to keep us all afloat for just a tad longer – – 🙂

Today? That’s about the best gratitude thingee I can really come up with on my place in this world or what I do to earn my ‘keep’ –

Some days, I can be funny –

Somedays, I encourage someone else to laugh, to dance, to sing –

Here and there I say what many were thinking but none risked saying so out loud, but were glad I said so…..

Etc., etc.

I have my gifts, here and there, but overall?

I’m not seeing where or how the application of most of them benefits me, one whit, overall – in the end – or makes navigating the current realities any easier or better, nor have I seen it for a long damn time –

I have no doubts whatsoever that others depend upon me, value me, on various fronts, etc., but I ask you – really – how long does one show up to serve the empire of all that is rotting us all from within?

Not long – in my estimation –

Just a futile effort to believe one’s life really has meaning and welll….

just look at the Romans – and quite frankly, I’m becoming too tired to make the massive effort needed, anymore, to go rogue and kick everyone’s ass – 🙂

But, perhaps next week, there will be more ups than downs – more meaning and less bullshit tempest in a teapot options to choose from- who knows?

Which is why I keep opening my eyes each morning, discover I’m still breathing and say to the Universal All –

“Okay – I woke up…am breathing again….Thanks for saying it all when you say nothing at all…..”

For Beetleypete and anyone else who…

Love the Classic Editor in WordPress? Look no further than ‘Add Post” option from your admin dashboard – yes…I’m late to the party and just discovered – who knows how long it’s been there?

Have you struggled with the Gutenberg block editor – yearn for the Classic editor ?

Guess what I JUST noticed?????

IF one navigates to Dashboard of their site, in the manner I do – well, lookey there! You can choose which editor you want, without upgrading and adding plugins at all – –

Screenshot of the option – I got to the Posts page, via the following standard M.O. of mine –

Log into WordPress>My Sites>WP Admin>All Posts> and there, right there in the “Add New” option at the top of the page is the drop down option:

And yes, Mr. Beetleypete – I could have spent time figuring out how to add an image into your comments OR remembering how to privately email you sans a contact me page, I could have done that – but, que sera, sera, I’m now in a hurry to share the info with you (and others that might benefit or are just as late as I am at realizing this option currently exists!) and well – –

Here, it is Labor Day – and I took a break from “Laboring” in order to write some, read some, etc., and just had to share, before I forgot to – – 🙂

So whatever your daily Labors may be, I do so wish all my bloggy pals and those who visit here, a safe and happy Labor Day and hope your daily labors leave you pleasantly tired, but satisfied, at the end of each day, or at least, more days than not – 🙂

Morals Vs. Ethics

In my past work experience, I got rather cynical on what the business world chose to define as moral, legal & ethical –

I had a good grounding in cynicism, given my upbringing by those who pointed out the hypocrisy or cherry-picking examples of things surrounding our family in various venues –

I have recently been gifted with a ‘shared with family’ profile for Netflix – which is really great, as there have long been things on my ‘list’ to re-watch, or see, that are only available at Netflix (sans me purchasing, simply because the entertainment & paid for education budget was ‘gutted’ back in January, given various challenges that showed up in me personal life – 🙂 )

Madam Secretary came on my radar recently…

Suffice to say, after my re-watching of Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing” series, and my revisiting of “NCIS” & Gibbs, what should appear on my ‘intro feed’ but Madam Secretary and after a few episodes, I said, “yup, good pick – for once – on an algorithm – rather nice to see one work!”

Yes, there are many, many algorithms on many fronts (chat bots too!) in my world of work/personal that fail over and over again – 🙂

That said, there was one scene, during which, Madam Secretary’s husband was in interview and answered a call in regarding ‘morals’ and how could he DARE to show up and speak on such a topic when his own daughter had…….(some viral, social media/news outlet frenzy feed)

…and of course, I loved the dialogue written by the story creators – –

Yes, yes, I’ll share it here in a moment!

It spoke to so many things I’ve long pondered in my soul and mind –

It reminded me of my passionate outrage when folks told me, “It’s legal” and I hotly replied, “but is it right? Is this the best we can do for this situation, in this moment, just now? Really?”

Sometimes, what folks chose to see as legal, or ethical, or moral, felt like justification and cherry picking to me, so I simply walked away – refused to be a part of it – I’m not really concerned, nor do I have regrets, still, in walking away…

The only regrets I ever run into, here and there, is my failing to not just walk away, but to do so very, very fast – at a sprint if need be…from support and energy given to those times/places/people I should have walked away from sooner –

And those lessons are the ones I try to remember as I go forward….

Sometimes, since I first learned the gifts of just saying no/walking away, I may be guilty of walking away too soon – perhaps by having some fortitude I could have made a difference if I was willing to hang around for the discourse/conversation –

Sometimes, STILL, I hang around a little too long, instead of simply sticking to my listening to the inner urgency blaring out warning signals – –

For, you know, I might be bumping up against my comfort zone – – I might be a little too stubborn on this – I might be closing the window that opened when a different door slammed shut – –

Yes, being a self-analyzer is no picnic. While I think it can be our greatest gift, it can also be our greatest vulnerability and can lead to stagnation, blocking, and overall, some really not pleasant outcomes…

I get that – and, since I have no problem sitting with my dark side here and there, or sometimes get ‘lost in it’ when I’m under great stress – um…yeah – takes the work of creatives to get me ‘shoved out of the quicksand and onto solid ground’ to move forth in my journey –

The Main Quote I took away from the Scene:

You ask an interesting question, Jeff. And I’d like to start by making a distinction that I usually make on the very first day of my morals and ethics class. A lot of people say that morals are how we treat the people we know, and ethics are how we treat the people we don’t know.

So, morals are what make us a good parent, a good friend, a nice neighbor.

But ethics are how we build a society. That’s the true test of our higher self.

Character Henry McCord, during televised interview, responding to caller’s question, from series, “Madam Secretary” –

Where & How do we choose to draw the boundary lines?

And so, this one little quote reminded me of our duties, individually, to walk the boundary lines that ebb and flow – – as we walk from our moral stance, to our ethical stance – both of which, inform and then create, our legal/regulatory stances – and how we choose to make those ideas into ‘law for everyone’.

Here, for me, in my place in time/space…

It’s a major election year – that got ramped up, then disrupted and became an even bigger field of chaos as COVID-19 made it’s rounds highlighting the long standing issues of many of our systems in place –

Those who are experts or have dove deep in education/work in various topics and fronts, continue to pound their long held pulpit on ‘how it should be’ –

Others, many, many others, are choosing to say, “Okay, we disagree on our personal morals, we glimpse in each other the ethics we hold in common – we are choosing to take part in the discourse, with each other, to find a way forward, before mandating it for everyone….

These folks may not make Headline/Breaking news Or the Viral Social Media Feeds….

But sometimes, they do – usually in a variety of overlapping areas of concern –

Why? Because those folks manage to find the common ground so many hold in their heart…. and open the discourse with THAT – instead of their ‘idea of how it should be” –

They own their own morals, while still moving into their ethics’ train of thought – and own that train too.

Then they put their shoulder to the wheel to have the tough conversations in many a room with others, who might not hold a single solitary thing in common with them, other than, “this is a problem – let’s brainstorm it and find which way is best to proceed, or what step helps the most, and hurts the fewest” –

These folks are showing up from local levels immediately observable to me, all the way to national print easily found/observed here an there – dependent upon which fronts and ‘forums’ one chooses to peruse –

And then there are the ‘others’

In my mind…who is labeled, “others”? In my whole natural way I’ve not yet quite out grown regarding the dichotomy of ‘us vs. them’ instead of total “need it be either/or? Can we look at both/and?”

Well, to me, currently, anyone that truly thinks a 2.5 second sound byte, or a silver bullet exists to deal with all these challenges coming in waves…. those who think ‘staying the course’ they inherited from what worked ages ago, but hasn’t for many, for a long time, and are being fairly stubborn about even having a conversation about ‘possibilities’….

Yup – local to world stage, I have my little ‘labels’ too – maybe informed, maybe not – but I try hard to hold the space for asking myself, truly, “Now why did you just shut the door on that idea/person? WHY?”

I fail at this, often –

Also, in my ‘labeled as others’ little internal setting

I see those who can do nothing but ensure the conversation is shut down before ever having it or allowing it to happen – because, for me, there are conversations I would rather not have….

with folks I have yet to see or grasp what we may have in common, or hold as sacred ‘ground’ – where we have each chosen to dedicate our energy to, individually –

I am continuing to wax and wane, in and out of my comfort zone – to show up for the conversations that aren’t always pleasant, but if I’m in a good space, personally, I can at least attempt to be brave enough to show up and ask –

I still sit and observe, and I have my own little reactions on various fronts – that are less than open to conversation or generous when I think of others – I’m still working on that part of me….

But, I confess, to secretly….well, now publicly… stating, I really liked the rest of that fictional dialogue written, too:

…But what happens, Jeff, when society is ruled by the subjective morals of say, you and your family, and you choose to project taht onto complete strangers is that all we end up with is a society that’s governed by self-aggrandizement. So, really, by calling to make sure you’re the first little peasant to jump off your chair and teach me a lesson with smug superiority about your own particular moral point of view when you know precisely nothing of the situation, you’ve done your part to contribute to the erosion of our entire social fabric. Pat yourself on the back – Bravo!” [heavy sarcasm inflection]

Sigh – I rather lost it in on Social media some weeks ago – regarding a funny meme that to me, on farming front, was not funny – and I wrote, re-wrote, and posted it – because I was TAGGED in it – and though I didn’t accept for my timeline – GASP! Now anyone searching me/my tags might label me as ‘oblivious to the various challenges that have been facing our food producers for decades! And that’s NOT ME!

Suffice to say – I had to log back in later, apologize for my ardent response, and a family relationship wasn’t totally destroyed and lots of graciousness and forgiveness flew back and forth on that front, though I’m not certain I had done anything EVER to deserve it – – but it reminded me – –

There are times we just need a laugh – we need to try to find humor in the dark chaos that seems to surround us – and we can only do that when we seek it out – and often, not entirely our fault that we don’t understand why it’s not funny to someone else or on other fronts.

We don’t know because their ardent morals, ethics and the legislation they’ve supported is unknown fully to us –

We haven’t walked a mile in their moccasins, as it is said.

And often, even given the opportunity, those moccasins and the path they are walking, is so viscerally negative to us, or fearful to us, it’s easier to shut them up, shut them down, make fun of them, whatever it takes – just to avoid having to hear or contemplate showing up for the conversation….

For me?

Well, I’m spending energy on only showing up for the conversations I really must have now, because they knock at my door, or show up in my front yard – and cannot be avoided, all while trying to better educate myself on what the ‘others’ have to say about various topics –

And trying to remember humility when I show up, ask questions, or say things I feel very strongly about, realizing, I may see as a priority, but it might not be the top challenge for someone else, just now –

I fail often at this, too – and sometimes I go dark, and sometimes I go silent, and sometimes, my brain says, “Not worth wasting your energy on, just now.”

But I’m becoming ever more aware of walking away from those who cannot have the discussion and aligning with those who are, here and there, willing to.

Even when it’s not pleasant for either of us, overall – and, I guess, in the end, that has been the greatest gift to me over the past few months – when my body, spirit and mind hit the wall and could go no further on known fronts, and instead, plopped in my lap various other conversations that I realized,

I’m being called upon to have this conversation OR at the very least, listen to it…

I don’t have to show up for every single conversation going on – in fact, many of the ones taking place on national discourse (via trending stats) are ones I sincerely believe are making a tempest out of a teapot by focusing on the tip of the iceberg, instead of the mass hidden below the water line –

– BUT if I DO show up, either covertly or publicly, well, isn’t it my job to come to it in an exploration set of mind and not personal attachment to me own little “I know” agenda when the conversation isn’t just about me and one other person, but many?

Isn’t that my duty? As a human being?

And what if I can’t?

I figure, Not my job/time just now, to be a part of the discourse, until I get myself better suited up for wading into the fray – – cuz I’ll just bring in more chaos, instead of possibilities – –

Yes, I just blogged for my ‘journal time’ today – to keep a ‘mid day break of something other than plowing through work to-do list’ in every single day –

I had a lunch planned for today – both my work front and my friend’s, who I have seen in person for ever so ever long, both blew up and neither of us could ‘do’ –

Fortunately, for me, she is rather a work ethics person too, and doesn’t diss me for being a ‘poor friend’ because I was the first to say “All heck broke loose here – won’t make it unless you know for sure you can – “

Why did I not fear breaking plans…again?

Cuz she said she would know on her front for the schedule of the day, by 9:30 or so – that came and went – which told me, she hadn’t forgotten, her day had blown up too….

Why? Because we have hard discussions – we don’t baby each other, we tell it as we see it, but also say, “Hmm…never thought to look at it that way – I must ponder for awhile, can we revisit in the future…?”

We hold the space for our very different worlds to converge and for my part, it works – and she indicates it works for her too.

May my public way of doing my inner work not be too filled with typos, errors, and may I have trucked out a glimpse of it that simply shares, rather than hurts.

All in the name of, “Hmm…I have sorta caught up here, and need to update my blog a tad – when last did I write? really?” and have a flying break from my moral, ethical and legal obligations to work through my ‘to-do list’ –

I needed a mid-day break – we shall see if my ‘break from the to-do’ lists breaks others or was just the ‘time-out’ I needed – 🙂

Remains to be seen…. as always…

Two Miles

This past month I’ve been driving a route that I’ve driven often since I first got my driver’s license – many moons ago…

And I’ve found my mind returning over and over to the stories from my past that all occur within a little over 2 miles of roadway out of the 28 total miles.

All while my eyes, today, observe and deliver to my mind to things to contemplate.

Things that change but really, rather stay the same.

From West to East:

As one travels eastward, and enters the 2+ mile stretch – they will find themselves on an apparent flat stretch of 2 lane black ribbon pavement. The young and adventurous or those who believe ‘all is flat and you can see forever’ will take the risk to pass when the yellow highway markings say, “um…not safe yet’.

This is thanks to the illusion of a ‘flat run’ that hides small undulations within the land – where oncoming cars hide and ‘pop’ out just about the time one is racing to pass the slow line of campers, tractor trailers or many are easing around the combine/tractor driving on the shoulder, but not fully out of the travel lane.

While I’m not a geologist, I do believe these undulations are there from the long ago scraping, heaving and deposits left by retreating glaciers.

Within a 10 minute drive, all around where I live, I can gaze upon rolling earth, and rock outcroppings, where little in way of forage grows for ranging livestock, and yet, some of the most beautiful and hardy prairie plants take root and survive in the elements that swing wildly between wintry blustering winds that drive the ‘wind chill’ factor down to well below zero and hotter than hell, dehydrating, furnace blasts that sap and test the spirit of humans, flora and fauna alike, these hardy flowering plants survive among the sharp, unforgiving edges and rubble, once made smooth through pressure and the elements, but now worn into small chips & flakes that nip, or slice, at anything that dares to push too hard or move too fast through their territory.

The plants that survive in these locations often play close to the ground. short stalks, and quick turn around from stem/leaf growth to blossom and going to seed is why they survive here.

They propagate fast and pass on their heritage to the coming years landscape without having to survive dying of thirst or high winds.

Often they hide or sport spines, stickers or burrs – they, too, must protect themselves.

Sometimes they are so tender, so prone to injury or damage by the careless foot, that one wonders how they even dare to survive in this landscape without some further measure of defense?


Because they Insist

And I’m reminded of a line from Benjamin Capp’s, A Woman of the People:

“Clouds are like flowers that burst out from nothing. Flowers have that same thing. They are too tender and sudden, as if they didn’t belong. How could they live, or even be there? How could they last? How could they dare to be so weak? And bright?”

His good eye was not on the earth, nor the sky, but on her.

“They insist that they belong, beyond all reason. And I insist, too.”

Story Teller, Chapter: Mountains that Wander Away

The False Straightaway

That long seemingly flat stretch is also where I long ago observed a classmate attempt to pass a string of cars at high speed, swerve back in when oncoming traffic surprised him, and watched as he careened out of control and the car rolled umpteen times into the vast flat pasture to the south.

How he and his passenger survived that, and walked away from it, I shall never know, but they did.

He’s been gone from this plane for awhile now. Gone well before the time he could fully share his love of hot cars AND his tale of caution when his children became old enough to drive.

Not because he was brash, or reckless or any of the thousand and one things one thinks of, but merely because his heart decided to stop, earlier than expected or given statistics, while he worked in the yard of his own home.

Next comes the curve….

With the ranch that lays along side of it. The place where a house, barn & indoor arena stands.

I went to work with Dad there sometimes. He did the plumbing there. And the repairs. And the remodels.

That is the same curve where another friend managed to ‘miss it’ and rolled his car deep into the pasture one night, though I didn’t observe it. He, too, walked away, though his car wasn’t as lucky. It got towed home and rebuilt from the frame up.

I know, because I helped here and there, as I was allowed to/smart enough to do what was needed. And I remember the first night it was put back together enough, with working lights and doors, and how the three of us piled into it and drove for the pure pleasure of it. Me and the two friends who had classic cars and who both wrecked along those two miles….

That night, they listened to me sing the old cowboy ballads, because there was no radio back in it yet, and well…it was a moonlit night and the prairie at night time makes me want to burst into song.

The engine rumbled along, playing the drums and the bass.

Ahh…what a car that was….

And what friends they were….

Next comes the long, long hill – with a passing lane…

The hill that defies all logic for many bigger vehicles. It starts it’s incline overall, in the curve – hard to get one’s speed up for taking that hill at a good clip, and the big boys move over to the right, to let the impatient zippy cars and pickups move on around them.

At the crest, when the line of clustered traffic is long, there comes the time where someone has to brake, someone has to speed up and everyone has to get merged back down to one lane, and they’d best get ‘er done fast, or else be ready to take the ditch, because, well, another one of those little undulations lies just beyond where you thought the crest actually was.

That’s the hill where time, rain, wind, sound – – well, in short, the Universe itself, came to a stand still, one night, long ago, when I was driving through what felt like a typhoon, hurricane and waterfall, on my way to work.

My small car was in second gear and straining to keep from dying, as it pushed through the wall of wind and water. And then it all just stopped.

The sheets of water, the shrieking & roar of the wind – all stopped.

The car surged forward and I’m lucky I didn’t redline the tach and blow the engine, given my amazement and slower than I should have realization, I needed to shift up to 3rd, then quickly to 4th.

For that moment in time, it felt as if me and my car were the only things moving. Moving through space and time while they stood absolutely still – unchanging, never changing…..

And then, before me, stretched the grey, misty wall – and I dove into the waterfall of chaos once more –

Downshifted. Downshifted again.

Settled in for another few miles of pedal to the medal, in 2nd gear, and going maybe 35 mph.

That was the night of the June 6, 1990.

A date known to local history as the Limon tornado.

I gave birth to my firstborn son the next day.

Had I realized what I was actually driving THROUGH at the time, I most likely would have given birth right there on the highway.

Ignorance is bliss, sometimes.

Since those long ago times…

There have been many other accidents – in that area where a State Trooper made one last stop for the night to let a traveler know their tail light was out – and got shot for his temerity at stopping them to let them know, “Hey! Hard to see you – check your fuse or lights….”

I worked with one of his son’s for awhile.

There have been many other close calls, horrific carnage and miraculous saves – so many I’m sure I don’t even know about.

You wouldn’t know it….

Just speeding through those two miles to get from here to there –

Sure, there is a house here, the remains of a homestead there – but overall, what most people see, if they even look, is prairie stretching out on all sides of them – soapweeds, grazing cattle maybe a horse or alpaca or two.

Today the cattle were grazing pretty far from each other – it’s been a very hot, dry summer thus far, though perhaps, our traditional August monsoon (as much of a monsoon as we actually get, here) is finally showing up.

The horses grazing in the pasture when I headed out this morning, are instead, standing head to tail, patiently swishing the flies off each other with their tails when I make my way back home, mid-day. It’s hot now and they stoically stand, heads down and swish the pests from each other’s eyes & face.

It pays to have a buddy standing next to ya, out here.

But, for the most part, the hurry, scurry of summer traffic seems to have returned to it’s pre-COVID standard, albeit, there are times the flow seems a little more harried, a little more edgy, a little more impatient, a little more aggressive on some fronts.

Since this state highway is also an artery for a main trucking route, there are more trucks out and about than tourists, it seems, as they work to move supplies from one place to another.

The wheat has been harvested. It’s reported to me that the bushel per acre for many of my neighbors was as good as last year. They don’t know why or how, with the dry late winter/early & late , and the dog days of summer showing up fast & early, but are thankful.

The dryland corn is putting on tassles, though it’s not as tall as it has been in years past.

I haven’t been out to where the beans and sunflowers are in rotation this year. I simply must carve out time to take a road trip down the dusty, dirt arteries that criss-cross this area in blocks – with a curve or jaunt here and there for boundary lines, or to avoid a low spot that used to be a flash flood area.

The ranchers are hoping their fields get some rain – that they’ve rotated their pastures well enough in the past, to keep their stock fed this summer of less quick growing grass.

Hay will most likely be at a premium this coming winter. The disruptions to the centralized meat packing plant industry AND it’s whole distribution chain means high prices for consumers, low/no prices for the ranchers and everyone is praying they don’t have to destroy any of their herd in waste or watch them starve to death.

Small local businesses are running ragged trying to keep up with local needs OR are hoping they can survive the forced closures they endured for COVID.

If you want to work out here, there is no shortage of work to be done.

There have been many times, during my years on this planet and in this space on the planet, I’ve watched the forces of nature & events swirl around me and mine in one fashion or another.

I’ve watched for a long, long time as the national conversations and centralized systems business model do their concentrated best to break the spirit of many around me.

In lean years, hot years, dry years, everything here hunkers close to the ground – to conserve moisture, avoid the winds and keep their nose to ground and push on one more step in front of them on what needs be done.

In the abundant years? They stand taller, more upright, but woe to those who get a big head on spindly stalk, for it’s harder to get back up after the wind has blown you down, if your head is big and out here, if you can’t sway with the storms, you will break.

Despite the storms, the whiteouts, the tornados, the cold, the heat, the hardships, etc., I stand in awe of this land and all who inhabit it.

Over and over again, in this space where time flies by and yet, stands still when need be.

I’m sure you have your Two Miles too

Those places that transcend current events, current woes, challenges or even have a hand in delivering the challenges to you, but where you also, at times, stand in quiet awe of the very temerity of those things that insist they belong, and continue to survive and stand strong, no matter what Mother Nature or man’s inhumanity to man chooses to mete out.

And, for all those who are staying close to the ground to dare to survive while the winds of fortune whirl around them; while they balance as best they can on the sharp, hot, shifting rocks full of spines, stickers and flaked edges that slice the feet and the heart –

Well, I have my two miles, you have yours.

But, I stand beside you in spirit and if I had a tail, I’d do my best to swish the pests from your eyes and face.

Always have a Red File

An inquiry from a colleague recently, regarding processes, checklists, etc., took me back to the first time I heard the words “Red File”

It was 1992, and I had just started in a new career of being a police/EMS dispatcher.

While there were many skills and personal traits I had brought to the new career from my past, overall, there was still much for me to learn before I might take my place in rotation by working shifts alone.

One of the easiest new things to learn/remember was….

The Red File

During a training shift with one of my favorite new co-workers, we were making our way through the last portions of the standard training checklist, and we arrived at the bullet point “Railroads”

And very short list of my duties when things involving a train went horribly wrong.

My mentor said in her quiet, lady like voice…

Don’t try to remember this list. You may never have to do this. Just grab the red file and work down the list if it does happen on your shift.

Suffice to say, I heard the words “Red File” and I was on alert, thinking,

Whoa!! This must be really, really important

Well, yes and no.

Yes, it was important and there were extra things that needed to be done, by me, PDQ*, should an accident happen, or derailment, etc., that weren’t part of my normal duties.

*Pretty Durn Quick

The normal duties I would, sadly, through pure repetition, soon be able to do automatically without having to think about it, just then.

Accidents happen and life seems to get ugly often, when it’s your job to show up and serve others during one or more of the ‘worst day’ of their lives.

Furiously writing notes in my steno pad, to revisit and commit to my memory later, I scrawled out the words and for good effect, placed 3 bold lines under “R.E.D. File”, added some stars to each side, and then asked,

“What does the R.E.D. acronym stand for?”

I tend to remember things better if it’s ‘attached’ to something else in my brain – a story, what portion of the overall process such a thing makes possible, whatever – I need an anchor and connections in order to quickly retrieve the info.

She laughed, reached to the shelf above the radio console, pulled down a red binder, and said,

“Not an acronym this time. We call it that because the binder is red.”

She then ‘educated me’ on what the Red File contained.

Basically, the Red File held the checklists/procedures that were rarely used, but very important to do, if/when the unexpected actually happened.

To this day, there are still times I provide clients with information, processes or short checklists and tell them,

“This needs to be in your Red File.”

Most of them have heard the story and know what I’m saying. Sometimes they ask why, but mostly, I can just say Red File and they get it.

What is a Red File?

A Red file doesn’t have to be red – it can be any color you want and doesn’t have to be a binder either.

What is does need to be is:

  • Easily Accessible and not easily covered up or lost in among other items in the file cabinet, on the shelf or lost beneath other papers on the ‘notice board’
  • Updated as soon as something changes in that particular process
  • Small and well organized and quick to leaf through
  • Separate from your regular daily processes or operational & procedural manuals

What Do you Put into your Red File?

Any process you need to do, that meets more one or more of the following criteria:

  • Only needs done once a year, or once every 5 years…etc.
  • Events that only rarely, if ever, actually occur
  • Processes you rarely, if ever, actually have to do
  • Extremely important in nature
  • Has multiple steps that spells doom for you or others if you don’t get them right, or do them in the correct order.
  • Cascading points of external failures/links of failure, if not done promptly and properly

Work & Personal Red Files

I have 2 Red Files going (and neither are actually red) – One is for Work and one is Personal, and holds my stuff, and the stuff other’s need to get put on duty list for someone else, now that I’m gone.

If I’m working more than one job, I usually end up ‘in charge’ of keeping a whole bunch of red files updated, current, assessed or annually ‘checked’.

Therefore, I dub myself, not only the Queen of Caulking, but also self-appoint me to be Red File authority – 😀

Examples from my Personal Red File

  • Checklist of items to have in GoBag and annual check of contents to have in it should events require evacuation or cowering in the cellar while the house is blown off its’ foundation above us.
  • Legacy options in place for various online accounts I use that provide such options. I check once a year whether I need to or not, update as needed, add new ones to the ‘checklist’ as legacy options become available.
  • Wishes from family members on their medical directives, DNR preferences, obituary, funeral/burial preferences they figure I’ll be in charge of making the decisions/arrangements. My history and personality means, if someone needs support at the ER, ICU or Funeral Home, yup, I’m the one they think of to call…
  • List of assets/household goods for insurance purposes. Updated as needed, checked once a year to ensure current.
  • List of medical directives, DNR wishes, insurance, benefits, etc., I hold, along with my wishes for getting my body properly taken care of if I’m not able to discuss such things. Updated as needed, checked once a year to ensure still true for me.

Does this list make you cringe?

It’s okay if it does.

It makes a lot of my friends & family cringe too.

Clients don’t tend to cringe as much when I tell them about work Red Files and the one I keep for my business that supports them. They like that I’m thinking ahead for them, in case my little one man show is interrupted.

But for many, they would prefer not to have to think about it, wonder about or talk about it.

Some fear even a hint of discussion about such things like death and what might happen if one is not prepared or here anymore, might actually invite disaster in, so why take such a risk?

There are few topics I really am rather a stickler on

Then, there are some topics, I’m a hard-arse on…

“Yes, we need to have this conversation. I’m sorry not pleasant for you, but it needs to happen. Maybe it’s for me, maybe it’s for you, I suspect it’s for both of us.”

The Red File Conversation, here and there, is one that shows up fairly consistently.

Perhaps I’m just ‘projecting’.

Come now – we all know that’s a huge possibility given my history and work experience!

I’ve personally learned the hard way when rare or unexpected events occur that I really don’t want to be trying to ‘think rationally’ and I might not even be able to think at all, just then, if I am emotionally in a state of disbelief, panic, grief, or scrambling to stem the tide of personal impacts rolling over me due to decisions made by others.

And for many in my circle of influence, I suspect they don’t want to be doing that either.

They may not personally know it yet, for perhaps they haven’t had many or any opportunities to say to themselves:

“Self, I really, really I say! I am okay with never riding in [that] rodeo, ever again!

Therefore, I tell them and now I’m telling you, too, should such things befall you at some point:

  • You probably just want a list that you feel fairly confident has been updated recently, can grab quickly and simply start working the checklist – step-by-step.
  • You want a list that doesn’t require you to be with it, focused, well rested, or pain free.
  • Once you have your Red File(s) compiled and get used to updating it, checking in with it once a year – life just becomes easier.

Why is life easier after slogging through that horrible inner landscape?

Well, it is, because now….

You’ve thought about it, assessed, prepared best as you can and now, only once in awhile, do you even have to ‘think’ about it!

  • If the worst DOES happen, you don’t have to be at your best – you grab & go to work.
  • If the worst never happens, okey dokey then.
    • You have, however, spent some time examining your inner landscape of fears, anxieties & doubts…
    • You addressed them, dealt with them and came out on the other side with a sparkly pretty pink binder with butterflies on it (because that’s your style) and now…
  • You are renewed with a sense of inner peace and courage, because you’ve faced the demons within, got them named, exorcised and turned them into something pretty on the shelf, to boot.
  • Perhaps someday, some ‘thing’ you didn’t think about shows up along with stuff you have prepared for – now you only have to spend your ‘frazzled panicked mind trying to work’ on the one you hadn’t prepared for – the rest, you know by rote or have a checklist to follow.

See? Win-Win-Win, overall.

And if you’re not a butterflies/rhinestone personage, that’s okay – a beautiful leather journal that increases in beauty as it ages, works too…..

Red Files for Work may be lighter in nature

A list of examples from many ‘red files’ over the years – mine, help files for clients and various other work places:

  • How to change DNS records to different service providers, on your domain , that you set up for auto-billing and never logged back in – and how to make changes without losing access to your website or email.
    • How to discover where your domain was registered if so long ago, you don’t even remember now, or lost the sticky note you wrote 3 years ago….
  • How to archive your accounting files and carry over your starting balances to the new year, because you are stubborn and refuse to move back to the more pricey accounting option, just for the ease of automatically doing that operation once a year….
  • How to reconnect the current year staff csv file to the form template made to make laminated passes for the year, because you only do this once a year.
  • List of required reports/report compilations that only have to be done annually, or every 5 years and what tools are used to bring them all together from diverse external systems without retyping them by hand, because someone didn’t update their version and you can’t just open the report and push the ‘fetch’ button…
  • Annual archiving of various items to storage/or into digital format and where those files are to be sent for storage or ‘oversight’ committees – with first option that reads: “Distribution list last updated on [date]

But those same work red files, here and there, also hold the very things you hope you never have experience:

  • Disaster Emergency checklist(s)/notifications
  • Fire/Tornado/Blizzard response
  • Active Shooter checklist/scenarios

Red Files & Checklists Aren’t Just for Pilots, Medical or Emergency Response folks

They are for you, your loved ones, your team, your co-workers, your employees/employers, your clients, too.

Don’t be that lead who kept everything in his head and sadly, died from a massive heart attack at work one day, and no one could figure out which project was at what stage, for months.

Just Get ‘er done, update as needed and then, when the annual operations time arrives or the unexpected occurs and you just aren’t at your best right now – well you only have remember one thing:

I need my Red File

Grab it, open to the page/section, and just start working that list, step by step.

*Featured Image for this post courtesy of openclipart.org