Tag Archive | leaders

Leaders Among Us

CollageItThere are times in all of our lives that we stop and reflect on our purpose, our families, and our accomplishments. We wonder why we are who we are? How did we get to this point in our lives?

It’s three in the morning, and I am silently listening to the man I married breathe heavily in an exhaustive sleep. The bed does not move, but his raspy breathing is strong and tells a story that only he and I know. Perhaps I do not sleep because his breathing is deafening in this otherwise quiet room. I do not move to adjust the blankets like I sometimes do to quiet him, nor do I punch my pillow a few times, hoping to make him roll over. I realize at this very moment that he deserves this sleep in his own bed, with his own special pillow next to his loving wife. So I stare at the wall and think about him… not my husband, but the leader he has become.

In this world today, news tends to revolve around the leaders of nations far and wide. We watch as each leader is dissected, re-dissected and left out for vultures to do with, as they will. It’s a sad time, to say the least. But the truth is, that each of these leaders are people, just like you and I. They love, they cry, they celebrate, and yes, get their feelings hurt. It is the nature of all mankind to feel emotion; no matter how it rears it’s head. For me, I understand why their sleep is hard, troublesome, and short. Oh, I’m not saying my husband is a world leader… but he is not just the leader of the PTA or neighborhood HOA either. He is a high profile leader of young people destined to change the world… our world.

When I met my husband thirty-six years ago, he was young and ambitious. Well, as ambitious as you can be, as a fresh boot out of basic training. I suppose what I fell in love with, was his humor and his deep blue eyes. He was fun! We were nineteen. When he asked me to marry him, I could not have been happier. In my mind, all we needed to be successful was love. Silly, I know. But it did get us through the first four years of our lives on a tiny remote island in Alaska. We had nothing, no money, hand-me down furniture, and each other.

As the years went on, we both held each other up, supporting our dreams and goals, while planning our future as best we could. We started a family and found that our two beautiful children were, and always will be, the center of our lives. We were just like you, your neighbor… the leaders among us. And then things began to change. For my husband, his jobs got busier, more demanding. He worked his way up the “so called ladder” with me by his side. I did not have to give up my life for his, I would have, but no, he wouldn’t want that. So we became a team, boosting each other up each rung until one day he made it to the top. It was actually a surprise to be at the top. Our lives changed overnight, like a budding pop star that is suddenly thrust into the foreign world of stardom. We were excited but cautious. All eyes were on us, and our every move.

It’s a funny thing being in a fishbowl where everyone is watching and listening. I found that it didn’t matter what was said, what the intention was, our audience gathered their own impressions and views of us, my husband in particular. Much like the press today, those around us seem to think our lives as people no longer mattered. But the truth is, we are people. You know, the ones that laugh, cry, celebrate and yes, get their feelings hurt? Oh, we’ve been lucky so far; our audience has been kind for the most part. But here’s the thing, we are NOT the only couple in the world living in the fishbowl. Look around you and think of all the leaders you know. How do you see them? Are you looking to find a flaws in them? Are you looking to see if they have what it takes to gain your approval? Are you more critical of them, because for the simple reason, you are jealous of his/her life? Stop.

Now look at that leader as a person. What qualities can you find that are positive? Do you know how they got to that leadership position? Have you actually LOOKED at their face, their body, stature? What do you see? If you haven’t truly taken the time to understand and know the leaders around you, then perhaps you should. Perhaps you will find that they are on the PTA Board, the HOA Board, The Trustees Board for theIMG_6068 Betterment of Man, the church hospitality team, and a mentor to a child at school. Perhaps you will find that they attend all their children’s sporting and theatrical events, that they make their own breakfast each morning at 4:30 because they don’t want to put anyone out, or that they travel three-in-a- half weeks out of the month. And then stop once more and think about this, why would this leader put themselves through the ringer to do the job they are in, if it was not to better our world?

Oh, I can hear the naysayers, right now. They look at our President and say, he’s in it for his own ego. Perhaps… but when you truly look at these people as a person, you just have to come to the realization that they honestly believe they can make a positive change. They try to do what is right, WHICH, brings us back to the man now snoring in my ear. He did not take his position because he wanted the fame or glory. He did not take it because he had a higher agenda, or that he wanted more money, on the contrary. He took this job because he thinks he can make positive changes in an already amazing organization made up of young people… our future leaders. And because he has committed himself to lead them in a positive direction, he sleeps four hours a night, he answers two phones, his daily calendars (scheduled for him) are full with meetings and events that have him bouncing in and out of our home like a man on a pogo stick. He would not change his life if you asked him, for he knows that this is his calling…

So, I will not wake him to roll him over. I will not whine that I only saw him for thirty minutes today, nor will I let anyone defame his character because they think it’s cool to do such a thing. No, I will tell him I love him, I will tell him to keep up the good fight, I will remind him of our humble beginnings, and I will tell him I’m proud of him. For if we cannot do this for our leaders, what does that say about us? What does that say about our nation and our future? It’s time to acknowledge the leaders among us in a positive light, so that they as a person, can remind themselves of their purpose and bring forth a brighter future for us all.

photo of author and her husband  The author and her husband.

Photos courtesy of nbcnews, Time, Alchetron, PolitiFact, R. Shimpo, HyperActivz, V. Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hidden Gems of America

Colin Powell’s eyes looked up at me, his youthfulness spoke of another place and time. Beside him, his infantry nametag lay just to the left, made of wood and aged over time. Where was he when he used this carved out simple introduction? I scanned the room of the National Defense University Library and wondered if I had just entered the Colin Powell Room, or was this just another hidden gem that American citizens were unaware existed…

flag of National Defense University

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National Defense University Library

The real Colin Powell was somewhere else. But his life was spread out in front of me on tables and shelves full of photos and artifacts of years gone by. Those around me stood as I did, in awe of the enormity of accolades and achievements that this one person held in his lifetime.

We were the lucky few that would silently move among tables of curio cabinets that provided a glimpse into this distinguished general’s life. Most Americans would never see the gifts bestowed upon this great man, as we were seeing them now. There were so many.

I moved on, noticing that the room housed more objects of interests from other famous leaders of our nation. Behind me, there were oohs and awws, and discussions of the treasures housed in this quiet library room that only the leaders of America were allowed to tread…and their spouses, of course. This was just another hidden pearl of a room that most American’s had no clue existed. And why is that? What are these treasures?

gold statue

Found in the National Defense University Library

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NDU

A set of ivory swords, a castle made of gold, a set of ancient Chinese books, statues, paintings… they all are gifts bestowed on leaders of America. Leaders, who represent the United States of America, and can’t personally keep treasures from other nations and leaders. The gifts are graciously accepted on behalf of our nation, are turned over to lawyers, and then over to curators or historians to be cataloged and housed somewhere in one of the many national buildings across our country. There are hallways and office spaces that contain collections of priceless artifacts from around the world. It is said that the Department of State has one of the finest collections of gifts any nation as ever seen…Yet, no one visits this collection unless they have a top secret security clearance. It’s a shame really, so many remarkable relics to take in and enjoy.

So, what did I do while I was attending a conference in this beautiful university? You guessed it. I began to take photos of these wonderful and unique gifts that Americans have not seen. Photos that show the unique friendship we have with nations like China, Mayasia, Australia, Germany, Russia…You get the picture. I wanted to show Americans that through these many wonderful gifts given to us, we are a nation valued and appreciated. The gifts are there to remind us of the friendships and treaties we have made with others to bring peace to our world… And every time a leader passes by one of these overfilled cabinets, he or she, will know there is hope….because we too have given gifts as well…and they are housed in capitols all over the world, as a reminder to foreign leaders that together we can make a difference. One day, perhaps all Americans will stand where I have stood, and be proud that we have rooms and rooms of such gifts.

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Hallways of National Defense University

Hallway of the Courthouse where Lincoln’s conspirators were tried.IMG_4242

Logan’s Run, The Giver and Life

Logan's Run

Logan’s Run

When I was young I watched a movie called Logan’s Run. I’m not sure where I saw it or even when, but it embedded itself into my memory like one of those happy moments from childhood that returns unexpectedly as an adult. It was my first introduction to the world of Utopian societies. At the time of the viewing, it was just another movie that was exciting and weird all at the same time. I got to thinking about it ….again, the other day as I drove towards northern Virginia. As the Kudzo overgrowth loomed over the highway, I had a flashback of the protagonists as they saw Washington DC for the first time. It was the scene in the movie that would come back over and over again throughout my life. I never knew why, nor do I know now why it should surface in my memory, but the other day I smiled just thinking about it. In the movie the protagonists come across our nation’s capitol after hundreds of years of abandonment…it is covered in Kudzo and canopies of trees and shrubs.

courtesey regulus-starnotes.blogspot.com

courtesey regulus-starnotes.blogspot.com

I remember thinking how odd the scene was in the movie… like, how would the director or set designer know what DC would look like if it were abandoned for years? Now that I live in Virginia, I can fully see how they got the idea that the capitol would turn out to be an overgrown mess with monuments peeking through the greenery. Today the vegetation  near the city is already overtaking nearby deserted structures…it’s quite beautiful actually. The closer I got to the city, I found the whole idea of the movie to be deeper than I once thought. Strange that the writer should take two people from a youth-only-society and unleash them into what is now anything BUT utopian and one that probably has the make up of more young adults than anything else. Strange but very cool….very thought provoking.

fahrenheit litstack.comAs I grew older I was lucky to have some incredible teachers and professors who forced almost every bravenewworld  amazonUtopian/Dystopian society book, story, or movie on me.  One of the earliest was Animal Farm. Imagine my shock when I realized it wasn’t about a bunch of pigs that lived on a farm…it wasn’t Charlotte’s Web! Then it was off to read 1984, and then  off to watch all of the Charlton Heston’s Planet of the Apes movies. Still, by then it really hadn’t hit me that there was this big political theme going on…but I would figure it out when I had to tear apart Brave New World, Utopia, Fahrenheit 451, and Plato’s Republic! HOLY COW… I finally got what everyone was writing about… a perfect world with no hate, war, or pain. Could there be such a thing? Apparently not…

Now as an adult, I am enjoying a new generation of Utopian stories that have our youth engaged and eager to read; The Hunger Games, Harry Potter (yes, there is some discussion as to the type of society the wizards live in) and my favorite…The Giver and all of Lois Lowery’s sequels. Ironically, unlike the previous books and movies mentioned earlier, with the exception of Logan’s Run,  the latest manuscripts depict worlds where the young are the future of the world. At the moment I find that odd and a bit scary since I am NOT the youth of the world. But then I got to thinking….uh oh…

The Giver goodreads.com

Shouldn’t these new books be aimed at our youth so that they actually learn from them? Us old geezers already got the message and know that there is no world of “perfection.” WE want the generations below us to know what happens when leaders force rules and regulations that take away our personal rights and ideas. WE want these young people to realize that they should never walk blindly into a world that appears to be perfect, that they must be prepared  to see the world as it truly is… and that they  must cherish the old and learn from them, for they have the answers they seek if they are willing to listen. Jonas, in The Giver, got it. He asks, “What’s the point.” If everything is taken away, all feelings, emotions, love…than what is left? IF our youth can’t figure it out…then our world will surely be ruined beyond recognition. To this I say…Thank God for authors, teachers, leaders, and yes…crazy bloggers like me, that continue to bring these things to light for the next generation…