April 2010


Unlocking new doors is often a challenge. Sometimes, the lock hasn’t been used much and the key gets stuck. Slowly, patiently, we can oil the lock, turn the key, and open the door. Recently, I had this experience and wondered, “Is this really about the key and lock? Or, is there something bigger here?”

After working hastily with the stubborn lock, I stopped and realized that pressing the key wasn’t working. (Who was stubborn – me or the lock? Me!) Since I couldn’t open the lock, I started thinking about what a stuck lock and an uncooperative key really meant.

We use keys to unlock locks. At times, there are locks that unlock easily with the slight turn of a key. Sometimes there are difficult locks that need patience and/or creative action. Finding employment is like that difficult lock. We need patience, resourceful networking, and creative communication to lead us to the door that will open easily. Deciding a new life direction can also be a challenging lock. Developing patience, endurance, and creativity are critical keys to open the new door.

As I considered these ideas, I took a slow deep breath, leisurely turned the key, and let myself in the door.

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What’s a sign? Why do we use them? How do we use signage and markers? Where do we put up signs? When do we use signs and markers? What is the difference between a sign and a marker?

These are some of the questions floating around my head in the past couple of days. And for good reason. There’s a “for sale” on my property. Simultaneously, we are creating the headstone for Herschel’s grave. Signs. Markers. Is there a difference between the two?

A sign is a symbol. It indicates something significant to us. As soon as we see a red hexagonal sign, we know it means, “stop” – even before we read the word. When we see the words “for sale,” we know the property or item is available for purchase.

It turns out that a marker is a synonym for “sign.” The marker is an indicator, a pointer, or also a symbol. So there’s no difference between the terms. It’s a matter of semantics. We say, “for sale sign,” not, “for sale marker.” Yet, we call a gravestone a “grave marker,” not a “grave sign.” I haven’t researched the etymology. That might be an interesting pursuit at some point. (If you know the history of the terms, feel free to share that in the comments!)

In the spirit of the blog byline, I’m going through another transition and challenge. This time from homeowner to … not sure what. My home is “for sale.” There’s clear signage on the property. It’s startling. It’s exciting. It’s also sad.

We bought this home in November 2006. This house was a dream/vision that came to fruition in a very magical and awesome way. We wanted to live here until retirement. We even had plans to remake a part of the first floor into a master bedroom suite.

The tasteful, colorful realtor’s sign indicates my decision. This choice is enormous, overwhelming, and scary. The sign really symbolizes that I’m parting with the dream.

And there’s another sign to put up – the headstone. This marker isn’t colorful, yet we family members hope it will be tasteful and meaningful. This is our last gift to Herschel – our way of honoring who he was through the words we’ve chosen. The headstone, or grave marker, then, describes the person’s essence.

Both signs are small. Both are poignant. Both show the end of visions. Both point to the end of a chapter in my life. I now get to really live the second part of the blog byline, “and it’s all good.” Yes, it truly is for the good, even if I cannot see it now. There will be new visions, new goals, and new vistas to discover. There will be a new chapter to write.

Signs, markers – they can indicate change, they can point to new directions. Come follow along!

Always

Submit a

Kwestion!

OK – so I took poetic license with the last word. The message stands: ask a question to get clarification on issues, policies, and procedures.

Recently, I had a thorny question for a government agency. I was fairly certain that they would respond negatively. Yet there was that small chance that I’d receive a favorable response. Nervously, I asked the customer service rep my question. She asked me to wait while she checked on the response. To my shock, the answer was in my favor!

Armed with some self-confidence from this experience, I contacted a medical provider’s billing office to discuss my account. (Background: This is a provider error. Initially, the provider submitted the claim to the wrong insurance company. After my repeated attempts, the claim is finally with the correct company.) I wanted the provider to re-set my billing date so that the account would be current. I explained the issue to the representative. She responded, “Sure. Consider it done.”

Lessons learned: ASK. Always Submit a Kwestion.

Where can you apply ASK? Please share your experiences here!