Archive for March 2012

Excerpt From My Book: A Creative Non-Fiction Memoir Essay ~ The Sweet Taste Of Freedom and Domestic Violence   3 comments


                                 The sweet taste of freedom   

It’s hard to look for the light when your lost in darkness ~ Anonymous

Back in the day, I was a lesbian and very proud.  I can remember the feelings of being a lesbian and having a woman touch me in a very sensual manner. The curves of a woman’s body, her sweet scent, lips and eyes would always beckon me. Sparkling Green, translucent blue and seductive deep brown eyes were the colors I once beheld.

Being with a woman had been one of the most spiritual experiences that I had ever known. As I close my eyes, at this very moment, I can envision the women who were a part of my life, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Each woman had their own inner essence which touched my heart. True love always existed in the beginning in my relationships but, with time comes change and well, people change.

I believe in the back of my mind there appeared to be a reflection of the perfect life filled with the perfect lover who would stand by me, always. I don’t believe that I ever asked for too much or maybe I did. All my wants and needs were based on trust, unconditional love, respect and cherishing that special person, me. Fairy tale images danced before my eyes yet, reality crushed each of them, one by one.

One incident in particular is etched in my mind forever. My lover and I lived in Brooklyn between my apartment and her parent’s house. It was a quiet neighborhood except for the sirens that woke us at three in the morning. Houses were lined up like little soldiers guarding their turf. Six months out of the year we house sat for her parent’s two story house and lived in the basement as they were snow birds in Florida. The other six months were spent at my apartment eleven blocks away. I worked as an accountant for a company located in the Empire State Building, in the heart of Manhattan and I had been a college student taking a full load. My commute consisted of two trains and a bus to get home.

It was around 11:30 in the evening when I stepped off the bus. I pulled my gloves out of my pockets from my red fleeced lined coat as the night chill went right through me. The streets were quiet as the moonlight reflected off the parked cars. I slowly made my way home passing houses that were dark and peaceful.

I had just gotten into the house and heard the television in the living room blaring. A Cinnamon broom hung on the brown paneled wall. It intoxicated me, surrounded me, whispering in my ear, Christmas is next week. My lover continued eating popcorn and watching the end of the news broadcast.  I had not eaten dinner and my stomach growled, moving like a freight train. So, I quietly entered the kitchen and made a toasted raisin bagel. The warm bread filled the air with its sweet aroma. I quickly cleaned up my mess, whipping down the beige counter top and I threw the empty container of cream cheese into the large green garbage pail.

“Did you clean up your mess?” she asked. I responded quickly, “Of course I did.” I proceeded to enter our bedroom where the walls reflected baby blue and the five drawer dresser against the back wall resembled a relic with filigreed angels carved into the wood. On the top there were proudly erected black and white family photos of her mom and dad dating back forty some years ago. The curtains were black making sure sunlight never existed in this tomb we called home, and on my pillow laid a small Hershey’s kiss.

I immediately opened the silver wrapper and tossed the candy into my mouth while savoring its melting consistency. I flipped on the small television to catch the end of a comedy before going to bed. We never liked the same shows, but then again I rarely watched television since I had an extremely tight schedule.

While sitting on the bed enjoying my down time, I could hear her voice coming in waves from the kitchen. It was escalating yet, still mumbled. A few moments later, she stood in the doorway. Last week she went to a barber shop and left with an extremely short haircut. I saw an image of a small boy standing before me. She was short just like me. Her eyes were hard and dark like the black hole in our universe. Her feet were bare, her hips were slim, and her jeans were perfectly creased.  Biceps were bulging and donned a white Metallica t-shirt with a small red stain near the hem. Red sauce slid off her fork and nosedived splattering on her shirt when I made an Italian meal three weeks ago.

She was screaming and pointing her finger at me while in the other hand, an empty container of cream cheese. “Didn’t I tell you before to stop wasting money? Every time I turn around it’s my hard earned money I see going down the toilet. I’ve f*cken had it” she said. There had been a thin layer of that dairy product on one side, pretty much empty in my opinion. But to her, I had wasted money “When are you going to listen to me, bitch” she blurted out.

As I stood up slowly, she proceeded to raise her fist above her head. I cried out, “I’m sorry, I swear I won’t do it again. I promise.”  My knees became weak and my heart raced. I could feel my blood surging through my veins a million miles an hour. “You f*cken don’t listen to me” her voice became deeper as words began to burn holes into my being. I could feel the fire of the dragon’s breath upon me. My voice screeched, “I do, I do.”  From that moment on I knew I was in trouble and alone. Even though she was only two inches taller than me, her upperbody strength surpassed mine. She made a direct hit to my chin and I lost my balance falling to the floor. My bagel went flying through the air as if it were a speeding bullet. It landed face down on the carpet, “What a mess, I’m not going to clean that up,” I thought.

The blow was hard enough that I could feel the swelling immediately. She hit me with all her strength. My heart palpitated. I felt a lump in my throat as tears streamed down my cheeks while tasting my own bitter salt. My body began to tremble uncontrollably. As I gathered my thoughts I tried to get up but, I was struck repeatedly. My glasses went flying into the baby blue wall cracking the left lens. I crawled on my hands and knees out of the bedroom listening to the shrieking of a mad woman two feet behind me.  “Where do you think you’re going?” she asked.

When I first entered the lion’s den that night I placed my purse on the large two toned hand crafted wooden chest next to the front door. It was a wedding gift for her parents, forty something years ago. The filigree work consisted of inlaid angels and cherubs. But, the angels were not there to protect me or were they?

Gradually I found the courage to stand up again. She stepped towards me with wrath in her eyes as they seemed to glow a blazing red. “I’m going to teach you a lesson and this time you won’t forget it” she said. “Please stop, no more,” I whimpered. She forcefully pushed me against the wall and we struggled. I pleaded, “Please, stop your hurting me.” She shouted, “You stupid bitch, my money, my house you piece of sh*t.” My words fell onto deaf ears. I had knocked hanging family photographs onto the floor as I tried to fight back. Broken wooden frames and shattered pieces of glass lay everywhere.

Then the phone rang. Were the angels looking down upon me? It distracted her for a brief instant. I breathed a small sigh, grateful for the diversion. I grabbed the opportunity to push her away, turn and take hold of my purse. I ran out the door into the midnight hour. “I’m not done with you” she hollered. She didn’t follow me. I was grateful.

Everything was blurry and all I could see was the street lights glistening. Giant stars everywhere. When you are as nearsighted as I am plus crying, it just made matters worse. I stuck my hand into my black purse in search of a tissue. Damn it, there was nothing. The air was bitterly cold as the wind seemed to seep into my bones on that wintery December night. I walked, cried and proceeded to ruffle through my purse again in search of my dark shades. I needed to wear my sun glasses to see as much as I could.

Not a soul was on the streets that morning. I past houses in which families resided. Lights out, everyone comfortable in their beds sound asleep, dreaming. The funny thing was that a song kept racing through my mind about this guy wearing his sunglasses at night. I started to sing the song as loud as I could in hopes to calm my nerves.

“I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can
Forget my name while you collect your claim
And I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can
See the light that’s right before my eyes…”

It was a devastating night that terrified me. The memory will linger in my mind forever.

Every time the physical brutality ended, it was the typical classic case of sudden remorse that would come over her, or was it? I would receive roses and other fragrant smelling flowers, chocolate candy as that was my favorite and love notes saying sorry and I love you. Weeks would go by in which she would not have any eruptions. It was like living with a volcano, you never knew when it would blow. We went back to our daily lives as if those events never happened. But, they always reoccurred.

The finale finally arrived and that day came on July 4th, Independence Day for me and the world. I walked away and never looked back. She felt I was leaving her because of her physical illness of MS and could not see the fear in my eyes or the pain in my heart. She was blind to see the truth.  Our love was long gone. I felt like I was running for my life, to safety wherever that might have been. That commitment lasted for five and a half years.

I know now that I was a statistic in 1985 and not alone as other women traveled down the same traumatic path. I had taken an inward journey as many other women before me, and found the courage to be free from the oppression. I have tasted freedom and it is sweet. I found me and I like me for who I have become. I can close my dark hazel eyes and hear the peaceful silence of a new found woman.

Works Cited

Hart, Corey. “ Sunglasses At Night lyrics.” Elyrics. 2011 http://www.elyrics.net/read/c/corey-hart-lyrics/sunglasses-at-night-lyrics.html

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Excerpt From My Book ~ A Creative Non-Fiction Personal Essay~ My Story Of Easter And The Hate Crime!!   6 comments


It has always been a lifelong dream to be a parent. I was told at an early age it would be impossible for me and to consider adoption. We (my lover and I) were parents for 5 glorious days, two boys, brothers: three and six. 

The adoption would have taken place three weeks from the day of hate the crime. You see, my lover was a transgender, FTM who had decided to transition from a female to male. This is an excerpt from my book that I wanted to share. The event took place at a family gathering on Easter Day:

I can remember that day as if it were yesterday. The air was clean and crisp, the birds were singing and the sky was as blue as an ocean on a clear day. Mother Nature had given the gift of a beautiful March morning to celebrate Easter yet, hidden, waiting behind the trees and rocks were hints of disaster that lingered in the background.

As we walked outside towards our black truck after the Easter Egg Hunt, my son “to be” and I couldn’t help but notice every single member of Peter Marie’s family standing around in a large half circle. Fifty or more people all came out of the lakeside building that was full of food and festivity. The group consisted of all adults as well as children ranging from all ages, starring and anticipating. What was happening? Why did they all congregate at that very moment? For a second I felt as if I had entered the tapping of a horror movie – the scene: a stoning of an innocent individual who was considered the “evil one.”

Her mother and sister were behind us as I hurried and tugged at the child, trying desperately to make it to safety. I had seen them earlier out of the corner of my eye as they began their approach. To the only sanctuary in sight, was Peter Marie’s black, slightly shiny truck that had the colors of the rainbow in metal rings hanging from the rearview mirror. I held his hand with all my might. I just wanted to protect him. My heart was racing. My palms were sweaty.

The air turned into a bath of red mist, her mother began furiously screaming obscenities at me, “You F**cken* B**ch!!!” for one and then it seemed to go on and on like a volcano exploding. This was then followed by her pointing a finger at Peter Marie shouting, “You’re killing my daughter…you’re killing my daughter!” All I wanted was to make it to the truck and get home unharmed with our sons, a young three year old and his brother of six.

The last thing on my mind was any type of altercations. Why would such a thought enter my head on a family get together holiday such as Easter? That particular day was to be a time to enjoy family, holiday food and candy, to laugh and love. It was our first Easter with the boys, their first Easter hunt with us as a family. The countdown had begun, three weeks from that day until the adoption would have become official and finalized.

Prior to that day, Peter Marie had instinctually known her mother would not handle her transition from female to male reasonably or rationally. She described her thoughts, “I knew my mom was going to flip out on me so…maybe she won’t notice if I took my breasts off” stating as matter of fact and then smiled awkwardly.

The next thing I knew, my so called mother-in-law was standing before me about a foot away. She clenched both fists while raising them high above her head. She was in a rage attack mode. The air had changed, thick and dense. The sky became dark and stormy. It was her thunder that was out of control and I tried to brace myself for the explosive outburst that was clearly deep within her eyes.

Within seconds I felt her power, her wrath. Was that a bell I heard, did a boxing match start? I’m in emotional turmoil and suddenly hopped up on adrenaline. I immediately released the child’s hand. Fight or flight? She proceeded to punch the daylights out of me in the face several times while someone was pounding the back of my head with their fists. But whom? I was amazed and even proud for a brief moment of how many times I was struck, and yet still stood my ground. I remained stationary for as long as I could, taking these hard blows until eventually my knees buckled and I fell to the ground. My head was throbbing, maybe from the swelling of my assaulter’s actions or maybe because my face was plastered to the ground. Small rocks and shards of glass pierced my skin. I was kicked at that moment in the head, neck, head, neck, neck and then in the small of my back over and over. I couldn’t tell which individuals were battering me…her mother or sister or who knows…I think it was both, but if felt like more. Were other family members involved? I’ll never know.

Why didn’t I fight back you ask? After the third blow my instinct was to fight back, to show them I was not afraid and to stand up for what I believed to be right. To release my Brooklyn girl attitude in self defense. I looked down and for a brief second and I saw into the three year old’s eyes, heart and soul. These boys had seen enough violence in their short lives and I did not want to be associated with such horror.

I couldn’t see, my glasses went flying after the first punch to my forehead.

Where was my son? I did not know. Everything was a blur. A flash of a time of warmth and love between her family and I. Emotions were flaring. I believe all the rage was triggered by the idea of Peter Marie’s transitioning and the realization that I supported her. Would it be a considered a death in the family when she transitioned?

Peter Marie struggled then yanked her mother causing any more injury. Then her mother and sister turned on my hero, my lover, my friend. It was no holds barred punches and kicks in every direction. She yelled at the top of her lungs, loudly with the sound of her heart breaking, “Get the boys out of here.”

This must have been so traumatizing for them. These children were placed in the adaption system because of the physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse concerning of both their parents and grandparents…and now this. Not understanding what was happening. Come to think about it…I didn’t even know what was happening.

I found my glasses and raced to get help. I ran as fast as I could…stumbling, losing my balance along the way until I reached help or so I thought. Sweating, out of breathe and desperate I pleaded for assistance.  “They are beating Peter Marie up…please help me!” Her father did not seem surprised at my request. Could he have known about the potential of violence before it occurred? Leisurely he walked to the front of the building where Peter Marie was being brutally beaten. It seemed like an eternity had passed.

What I will never understand was that everyone knew Peter Marie had a hysterectomy just two and a half weeks prior to this day. Why would they attack her physically? It could have caused serious damage and possibly internal bleeding. But, I guess they didn’t care about her well being…her physical health.

Come to think about it, even though we were physically assaulted by her family members, neither of us fought back. Peter Marie deep within her heart truly cared about their well being. With every blow that stunned her, the love was still there looming overhead. She had been a black belt in Tai Kwon Do and not once did she use any of her defensive moves for life and death situations.

Finally the beatings were over. The blood had been spilt, a family torn apart. We had to make sure that the boys were returned to us. Peter Marie told our assailants that we were not leaving without our children. After a few minutes that seemed like hours, they brought them out to us.

We got into the truck and headed home. At first there was silence. Slowly we drove down the country road which led to the lake we just came from. Both of us were glancing back to see if we were followed and scared to death. The six year old broke the quiet. He asked Peter Marie why things happened the way they did. She tried her best to explain that there were bad people in this world. Blood trickled down her face as I tried to hold back my tears. This incident was a life altering experience, a shifting point in both our lives.

Our boys ended up back in the shelter for their own protection and we left to another state a week later for our safety with a broken heart.

Timing is everything in one’s life. This experience reinforced what I had already known, that there are bad people in this world and that hatred is everywhere. But, then I remember all the love and good people out there and in my opinion, the good will always outweigh the bad. 

The boys were adopted out two weeks later to a loving couple.

People live by key metaphors…   2 comments


“In all aspects of life, we define our reality in terms of metaphors and then proceed to act            on the basis of the metaphors. We draw inferences, set goals, make commitments, and      execute plans, all on the basis of how we in part structure our experience, consciously     and unconsciously, by means of metaphor”  George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

People live by key metaphors called figures of speech, which means an object or idea is applied to another word or phrase suggesting a similarity between them.[1] Time is money, More is better and Life is a battlefield; are all metaphors that people live by. According to Koiranen (1995), it is our daily language that moves our thoughts but, it’s the metaphors that express relationships such a, A is B, or A is like B. (para Tsoukas, 1993; Easton and Araujo, 1991).[2]  Metaphors are tropes, tools which construct our realities by making our thoughts more intense and even interesting while structuring our own personal perceptions and understanding. Our actions are metaphorical in nature as a means of shaping our conceptual system as seen in everyday activities such as, arguing, solving dilemmas while incorporating what we think, feel and experience (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, para. 104). Metaphors are created to offer a frame of reference to new concepts while grabbing the attention of the audience to see the old or familiar in a new perspective. This in turn, reveals a different way of thinking.

The use of metaphors is developed from people’s concerns in life. If one were to alter these key metaphors the outcome would be significant as it would change the individual’s views which governed their lives. In our lecture Lakoff & Johnson (1980) discussed the connection of changing a metaphor and its outcome, “…is to point out the importance of realizing that by changing metaphors, one may change in subtle and striking ways the ways people orient toward the phenomena they metaphorize.[3]

An example of this would be the metaphors, “Life is a symphony” compared to “Life is the pits”. An individual who uses one or the other will have completely different outlooks on life itself. For instance, the first gives the imagery of music, energy and rhythm with its crescendos and a positive attitude whereas, the second is a more pessimistic view and negative suggesting no hope. When these metaphors are changed: “Is life the pits” it now revealed to have a more profound effect and philosophical questioning. “A symphony is life” symbolizes the joy of the music that is brought to others. By changing their key metaphors an individual’s perspective can change too by structuring their own personal perceptions and understandings.

References

Koiranen, M. (1995). Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 1995 Edition. Retrieved February         22, 2011, from http://www.babson.edu/entrep/fer/papers95/koiranen.htm

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Retrieved February 22, 2011             http://www.pineforge.com/upm-data/6031_Chapter_10_O’Brien_I_Proof_5.pdf


[1]How to study. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from http://www.how-to-study.com/study-skills/en/language-arts/7/metaphors/

[2] Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 1995 Edition:  Retrieved February 21, 2011 from, http://www.babson.edu/entrep/fer/papers95/koiranen.htm

[3]Mini Lecture: Retrieved February 22, 2011, from https://esc.angellearning.com/section/default.asp?id=EMPU%2D8BVRG6

Cross-Training Organizational Style ~ The Only Way To Go!!!   Leave a comment


“It’s not my job” has been a prevalent comment made in company’s through out the organizational structure of history. I have heard this numerous times when employed by CIT which implemented a cross-training program for operating units. In the cash control department ten individuals performed diverse functions. In order to open the lines of communication and expand the comprehension of other areas to those who worked within the division this training theory was a success. All who were educated in every aspect of the unit’s work had the capacity to move to many other positions as required. The New Oxford American Dictionary meaning of cross training defines it as a way to, “Learn another skill, especially one related to one’s current job.”(1) This technique benefited employees to assume roles that are more diverse and they were expected to make decisions that are more educated in their occupation. It increases individual and organizational capability to achieve the mission of the company and team performance. Consequently, it made the business run more efficiently and amplified productivity from the employees.

While increasing comprehension, skills and occupational presentation this learning opportunity improves overall motivation. Cross-training offers the wisdom and professional development opportunity for an individual who contributes to enhanced coordination and collaboration. This theory leads to the sharing of organizational goals and objectives as it diminishes differences, hostility and detrimental opposition between employees. Individuals benefit from the additional vocational opportunities and potential job security due to business accomplishments. Kevin Hillstrom described this program as, “Perhaps the most important benefit that accrues to companies that implement cross-training programs, however, is greater job satisfaction among employees.” (2) The benefits are equally positive because of this mutual decision among management and employees. Programs such as these can result in more satisfied and multitalented employees, a greater opportunity for organizational cross-functional learning, and an improved environment for advancement. Thus, the increased knowledge develops not only toward better productivity but also for the potential of job enlargement and enrichment.

Job enlargement is the horizontal expansion of a job and additional tasks are on the same level of skill and responsibility. Therefore, cross-training on this plane would make their position slightly different yet more challenging. Whereas, job enrichment entails a vertical expansion of the job, the accumulation of new tasks that give the employee more control or more responsibility. The additional control would make the transition easier for an employee when subbing for an employee. This knowledge attained by employees is being referred to as interpositional comprehension. An article written by Catherine E. Volpe , Janis A. Cannon-Bowers and Eduardo Salas describes this training as it, “…also includes context-dependent information pertaining to both temporal relationships and cause-and-effect associations within the task.”(3) It is also recognized as the role knowledge of a workforce. However, this theory carries some indecisive conclusions with individuals who are opposed to this change within an organization.

There are certain concerns regarding cross-training pertaining to the maintenance of multiple skill competencies including scheduling, coordinating among team members and managing accountability issues. Some of the hesitation toward this philosophy is apparent since it challenges traditional thinking on specialization and scopes of performance among employees. Claire Belilos discusses the adverse effect of the cross-training theory as, “… managers sometimes implement job enrichment in a misguided manner, adding unrewarded responsibilities on the shoulders of their supervisors and employees. This results in a feeling of exploitation and has the reverse of the intended effect.”(4) This concept creates fear over the deterioration of professional roles, practice standards and specialized independence; as well as raising concerns for a specific task delegation by professionals to unqualified non-professionals. Kevin Hillstrom outlined potential pitfalls including “…failure to include employees in planning the program, trying to coerce the participation of reluctant employees…, penalizing employees who take part in cross-training by not reducing their workload accordingly, and not recognizing the value of new skills with appropriate changes in compensation.”(5)

There are a multitude of reasons to consider the implementation of cross training to increase performance within an organization. This theory fills a critical role as employees assume roles that are more diverse and expected to make decisions more informed in their work. While improving productivity employees are motivated as a team that instilling commitment which enables employees to recognize organizational goals and objectives. Cross-training initiates the promotion of two-way communications and enhances intra-departmental understanding of work processes. This preparation can promote production systems by enhancing the making of earnings and compensating the probable loss of production. However, the decision to cross train should be considered carefully because there are many multifaceted and tentative factors including labor dynamics and cost.

siness must take into consideration cross-training needs to evaluate the monetary aspects and employee time allotment for the agenda. Employees selected for this program are required to organize their time to not only maintain a productive environment, but also integrate preparation and prospective meetings to their daily routine. The foundation for their knowledge may take from a one day to one month depending on the department. Margot Fraser, Founder of Birkenstock USA stated, “Despite the costs of such training, proponents say the benefits are numerous.”(6) Wherein, cross-training may lower existing production effectiveness temporarily as workers become less specialized during this process but have later advantages in meeting demand for the future of the organization.

Management’s motivation for employees is crucial to have a successful program for the entire organization. Cross-training is positive for managers, for the reason that it provides more flexibility in managing the workforce to perform properly. The purpose is to increase individual and organizational capability to achieve the company’s mission while leading to better coordination and teamwork. This in turn, creates a more flexible and versatile workforce. Training creates an environment that enables employees to grow and sharpen their skills while providing opportunities to be recognized and rewarded for their initiative making staff members more marketable, internally and externally. Supporting the desire for new learning keeps an individuals work interesting while developing self-esteem. As a business grows, it becomes apparent teambuilding is essential for the progression of success. Linda Eve Diamond and Harriet Diamond stated it is imperative to, “Recognize when the cost of not having a solid team is greater than the cost of hiring.”(7) The atmosphere of organizational traditions has changed to such an extent that teamwork is not simply a catchphrase for industry performance but rather a practical commodity with which businesses are realizing significant achievement.

Consequently, clear communication and information sharing among employees displays optimal performance within the group. Utilizing the communication process to set and achieve goals within the team contributes to learning and practicing active listening skills to listen objectively. Therefore, secondly the most important interface within a team is listening. Michael S. Dobson wrote, “Listening has a number of advantages….it relaxes the other person and makes them more inclined to trust you. It gives you an opportunity to learn.”(8) A team leader creates a supportive atmosphere where problem solving and decision making is incorporated. Thirdly, a significant acknowledgment to the interaction for a growing organization is feedback. Performing developmental feedback increases performance and improves follow-up requirements. The combination of these features motivates employees to encourage overall team membership improvement and growth within the company.

Diversity and teamwork are two themes that characterize the future of organizational teambuilding. Many factors effect group dynamics such as, age, tenure, sex, race and ethnicity. For example, reports state a higher level of teamwork is common within a more ethnically diverse group. Dan Zandra summarizes this opinion with a quote in his book from Gil Atkinson, “The great companies and teams are those that celebrate the differences. They seek harmony not uniformity. They hire talent not color. They strive for oneness not sameness.”(9) Careful analysis suggests that the often reported negative effect of diversity on teamwork depends importantly on the composition of the group and that being a minority whether it is one of color, race or sexual gender may be a function of the group’s context. Combining diversity and aspects such as goals, leadership, direction, and commitment are excellent for creating a good team working environment.

Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith describe a team as, “A team is a small group of people(typically fewer than twenty) with complimentary skills committed to a common purpose and set of specific performance goals.”(10) Teamwork inspires and improves a team to achieve; but collaboration alone does not build a team. There are trouble areas that could be detrimental to teambuilding and employee performance. Lack of conviction of staff members is potentially harmful while hindering the progression of productively. Individuals who portray weak principles and personal uneasiness within the group will not benefit the organization.

Organizational structure plays an immense role in influencing the result of the desired output. During the 19th century, management theorists realized that employee output largely depended on the labor procedure rather than the staff. Factors like skills, atmosphere and machineries were considered secondary to efficiency. However, with the emergence of technical management skills advanced supervisors to realize that they play a critical role in achieving a company’s goals. The reasons were that organizations developed the socio-economic perception of the employees as well as the psychological factors such as motivation, personal goals and careers. The 20th century brought changes in occupational managerial staffing due to the small owner operated establishments being replaced by larger corporations operated by salaried managers. The shift from the workforce composed primarily of manual laborers to one of comprising mostly of white-collar workers. In recent years, more organizations have progressed from the traditional supervisor-subordinate composition to a team type atmosphere in which the team leader is a facilitator, not a boss, where all team members contribute. The managerial concepts in the late 20th century began changing to include systems thinking, cross-functional teams, learning organization and diversity. By the 21st century, old philosophies were being replaced with approaches that began taking advantage of the innovative technologies and contemporary managerial concepts.

The industrial world began to departmentalize businesses and this process transformed managers into leaders within companies. Thus, as a result, the changes in the staffing patterns affected managerial techniques within the business world. Teamwork and team building altered the theory of organizational structure. Teams are essential to a company in view of the fact that these individuals are significant for productivity and who collaborate working toward a common goal. Teamwork builds upon the synergy of teams focusing on the effect of a combined staff’s input within the organization.

The cornerstone of running a successful organization is utilizing management and enhancing strategic capabilities. This framework lays the foundation that leads the organization forward with the ability to learn and grow. It is crucial that a team has a leader who understands the group dynamics and strategy goals of the business. Management relies on strong leadership to increase the effectiveness of their employees. John C. Maxwell describes this accomplishment as, “Successful leaders are learners and the learning process is ongoing, a result of self-disciple and perseverance.”(11) Some individuals within organizations will have more leadership accountability than others, but everyone has the potential to learn from each other in today’s work place.

Numerous foundational characteristics comprise of being a superior professional team leader. It is essential that an individual be trustworthy, supportive, motivating, and enthusiastic regarding their work since employees respond more openly to a person who portrays passion and commitment. A leader requires confidence within their position in order to achieve organizational goals and inspire self-assurance to create optimal performance of a team. A good facilitator is able to think analytically and view a situation as a whole while breaking it down into manageable steps and produce a positive progression of decision making for the company. A qualified individual maintains high principles and is proactive in order to achieve excellence in areas of communication while focusing on organizational effectiveness. Robert G. Cooper discussed this topic by stating, “Best performing businesses (72.4%) provide for open communication among employees across functions, departments and locations.” (12) This interaction encourages constructive exchanges of ideas between individuals within the team. Major components of being a highly effective team leader are innovation, developing employees, and setting high expectation levels that advance the creating of positive standards within a company. These leaders set the foundations and maintain a balanced working relationship within the group to accomplish organizational goals in a constructive manner while empowering training and teambuilding.

 There are numerous influences that determine leadership distinctions for a team including interpersonal dynamics, time allotment and delegation styles. Many feasible options are available to manage a group. A team that works well together and is proficient can chose to expand the strategy incorporating leadership within the team. Potentially, individuals may advance with a sense of accomplishment towards their goals within the organization. An additional preference to optimize performance is empowering a group member with leadership responsibilities placing the facilitator in the position of a team leader advisor.

A team leader recognizes the strength of an organizations foundation is based on the contribution of the abilities of its employees. By creating an environment where individuals can learn from one another a facilitator can enhance the talents and skills necessary to prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow. John Baldoni touched on this concept in his book by quoting Ralph Nader, “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” (13)

In conclusion, every company has a mission or shared vision, a collaboration determining the concept for the future. Therefore, a company providing cross-training to individuals promotes competent people and creates new opportunities for employees to pursue while cultivating teamwork. Management provides a facilitator to guide and empower employees in this type of program and as a result, the responsibility of a team leader is to generate ideas, set expectations and guide individuals to their highest potential. The fundamental philosophy in today’s contemporary workforce is based on the acronym for the word team and summarizes cross-training, teamwork as well as teambuilding: Together Everyone Achieves More.

Final Bibliography

1. McKean, Erin. The New Oxford American Dictionary. 2nd ed. 2005.

2. Hillstrom, Kevin, Laurie Collier. Encyclopedia of Small Business. Vol. 1 2nd ed. 2002.

3. Volpe, Catherine E., Janis A. Cannon-Bowers, and Eduardo Salas. “The Impact of Cross- Training on Team Functioning: An Empirical Investigation.” Human Factors 38 (1996)

4. Belilos, Claire. “Cross-Training as a Motivational and Problem-Solving Technique.” EasyTraining. 12 Dec. 2003 <http://www.easytraining.com/crosstrain.htm&gt;

5. Hillstrom, Kevin, Laurie Collier. Encyclopedia of Small Business. Vol. 1 2nd ed. 2002.

6. Fraser, Margot. ”The Aspiring Entrepreneur.” Inc. Magazine Oct. 1999
http://www.inc.com/partners/eweek/#audio&gt;.

7. Diamond, Eve, and Harriet Diamond. Teambuilding That Get Results. Illinois:Sourcebooks, 2007: pp 7

8. Dobson, Michael S. Project Management. Massachusetts: Streetwise, 2003: pp. 87

9. Zandra, Dan. Teamwork. Washington: Compendium, 2004: pp. 52

10. Katzenbach, Jon R., and Douglas K. Smith. The Wisdom of Teams. New York: HarperCollins, 2003: pp21

11. Maxwell, John C. Leadership 101. Tennessee: Maxwell Motivation, 2002: pp.14

12. Cooper, Robert G. Product Leadership. 2nd ed. New York: Perseus, 2005: pp. 252

13. John Baldoni. 180 Ways to Walk the Leadership Talk. Texas: The Walk The Talk Company, 2000: pp.35

Figures of Speech: Metaphors ~ The pen is mightier than the sword/War is not healthy for children and other living things   Leave a comment


Lorraine Schneider wrote:  War is not healthy for children and other living things

            This metaphor induced its presence through the theme of the negative aspects of war. Its  tone reflected enthusiasm, concern and controversy while projecting intelligence and awareness as Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) stated, “…by this we mean the oratorical development of a theme, irrespective of the exaggeration that the people generally associate with it” (p. 175). The result was a link between the orator and the audience to a common cause. In this instance, the audience associated their own personal experiences and knowledge and drew from their own conceptual system.

            Its timeliness as well as presence reminded the listeners of the global phrase donned from the Vietnam War that was created by an artist and mother. The connections of marches on Washington in the 1960’s could also be perceived as well as, the allusion to an important historical event which created emotions aroused by memories and pride.[1]  It revealed a glimmer of hope in despairing times, a need for peace/social justice, and was written as a protest to the war itself. It utilized a negative to achieve intensity: war, while expressing a strong positive: healthy children and other living things.

            As the litotes recites, War is not healthy for children and other living things[2] meaning that people who participate in war should consider the consequences regarding the health and welfare of children and all living things. These are resources for everyday life, for children, women, and men including all living creatures. In a state of war, children and women are killed just as easily as men. The repercussions of war effect children, men and woman physically, mentally and emotionally along with hurting of the environment including its creatures. War has real costs to human life and other living things as this metaphor communicated to the listener and appealed to their personal values and beliefs. According to Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) who commented on the perception of values, “The existence of values, as objects of agreement that make possible a communion with regard to particular ways of acting, is connected with the idea of multiplicity of groups” (p.74).

            Therefore, the speaker recognized a sense of communion as he/she spoke of values the audience recognized and understood. The amplification intensified its message to the listeners while increasing the validity of the idea. As Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) commented, “The speaker tries to establish a sense of communion centered around particular values recognized by the audience… he uses the whole range of means available to the rhetorician for the purposes of amplification and enhancement” (p. 51).

            A reorientation could be strategically employed by incorporating Onomatopoeia, which would evoke an actual noise where the only thing that matters is the intention to imitate. (para. Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 174). For example bombs exploding, guns being shot and screams of anguish. The audience would see a large screen depicting the faces of war in the background of the speech taking place. The men and women soldiers, the aftermath of bloodshed, the dead (innocent children, women and men) as well as the body bags of those being carried off American planes to their final resting place. It is possible that a metaphor can change the thoughts of many people about their own actions.

            This metaphor enabled reorientation toward the phenomena over war and life itself exploring it in a new light. The ramifications and consequences of what it meant to be at war for every son, daughter and our planet are echoed in these words. The bottom line is war is hell as people die, innocent people and it is up to us not forget what war really means to the children and their future’s natural environment.


[1] Retrieved February 23, 2011, from http://www.jacweb.org/Archived_volumes/Text_articles/V4_Long.htm

[2] Retrieved February 24, 2011, from http://www.uky.edu/AS/Classics/rhetoric.html#26

Thomas Paine wrote: The pen is mightier than the sword

            This synecdoche induced its presence by connecting the audience and speaker with the concept of The Pen being mightier than a sword[1] as the pen symbolized freedom of expression and the sword represented power of authority. The feeling was applied to the development of theme as the inanimate objects were portrayed as being powerful and influential while amplifying and describing the whole and its constituent parts.[2] The metonymy relied on the expectation that people would understand the reference as its technique utilizing imagery to make the abstract concept more accessible and understandable to the audience. The message was geared toward solving problems more effectively with words than by violence. In other words, it was more practical to resolve a conflict by the use of communication rather than by confrontation. The pen was associated with a writer and the power of the printed word (who had the ability of producing public views and opinions) whereas, the sword was associated with a fighter and had the traits of oppression, violence, military force/action and war.

            In persuading the audience and establishing presence a connection was made on an emotional level as it reached the listener’s conceptual perceptions. Figure of communion was used through the common culture to relay the message. The result was dialogue due to the values shared by the audience by referring to its concrete or abstract values. (para. Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 74). As a result of the argumentative technique, this periphrases figure of speech was not related to a choice as Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) remarked, “…such figures as synecdoche or metonymy, whose function is not essentially that of choice, though they may serve that function. (p. 173).

            The reorientation could be strategically employed by renaming the power of names since changing the way we look at old things are never more important than when new names are used.[3]  For instance, The Pen is mightier than the sword becomes Words transcend action or Communication is greater than a weapon. This metaphor enabled reorientation toward the phenomena over the written word versus authoritative power. History and science have proven that the pen is mightier than the sword through knowledge and wisdom and it has been said that the effects of action by a sword can be faster and greater over communication but, it is through time that words will always win out.

            In conclusion, figures of speech can bring excitement and interest to our daily language and convey meaning. In giving a speech, speakers utilize metaphors for many reasons such as, their message can be stated in few words with an understanding of the idea or object as well as incorporating meaning and interest. It piques the audience’s interest to see the old in a new perspective but, the golden rule must be followed as I have read, for all to keep harmony within the character, purpose and composition of any speech given in front of an audience.


[1] Ibid.

[3]Retrieved February 26, 2011, from http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~jklumpp/comm401/lectures/style.html

References

Perelman, C. & Olbrechts-Tyteca, L. (2008). The new rhetoric: a treatise on argumentation. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

Follow your heart ~Commencement Speech for the Class of 2011~Empire State College   Leave a comment


I wrote this speech for a class.

 Follow your heart

Commencement Speech for the Class of 2011

Empire State College

March 29, 2011

Speaker: Danelle Wolfe

Thank you for inviting me to this glorious occasion. Graduates, proud parents, esteemed faculty, friends and family I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from the best university in the world.

Wow.

Look at you.

You made it.

Congratulations! (Pause) (Clap Hands)

You have PROVEN yourselves as students who searched for knowledge.

And today we celebrate that hunger and drive.   

As I look out on this crowd,

it is both humbling and inspiring.

I see the future before me in your eyes. (Point to audience)

You are one step closer to your dreams,

to your career moves

and new lives.

Today really is the FIRST day of the REST of your life.

 

I too am a graduate of Empire State College as was my mother.

That is,

the one person who was and always will be very dear to me,

my mother,

who passed away.

My mom taught me the value of love, (Slow down)

strength,

goals and a good education.

Growing up my mother did not push me

for the “good” grades. (Quote using gesture)

I took it upon myself to strive for A’s.

I WATCHED my mother,

a single parent,

holding down a job while going to school in the evenings

pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work from where else? (Pause)

Empire State College.

You guessed it.

Her struggles and courage inspired me to follow my dreams.

One of the happiest days I spent was on mom’s graduation day.

When they called Sheila Jobe,

I had a great sense of pride.

Chills ran down my arms.

Her PERSEVERENCE had paid off,

she did not give up.

Just as you look around at your fellow classmates

who did not give up. (Pause)

I am not sure what the time frame was for you beginning

your studies at Empire and ending with today’s

graduation ceremony.

Each of you will be different I know this to be true.  

It took me TWELVE years to receive

my first Bachelor’s degree.

I am going for a second presently.

The years were filled with taking courses and dropping courses

to be a primary care taker for my ill mother.

It seemed like I dropped more courses

than I was taking.

Then,

FINALLY I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was brilliant and blinding

as I basked in the glory of graduation.

I know my mom would have been proud.

I am a distance learning student

and I missed the opportunity to join my commencement. 

To have a speaker praise me

for the hard work, dedication, sweat and tears.

To say, ok now go out there and kick some butt!  (Point up)

Today, I am your speaker.

And I am here to give you some advice. (Speed up)

First, Life is not fair.

Who ever said life was fair?

I am still searching for that person.

If you are out there,

my e-mail address

is on the commencement handouts. (Look around)

No matter what people tell you it can go either way.

Lessons to be learned in this life.

There are many lessons to be learned in life.  

Which one will you choose?

Which path will you take?

Life is what you make of it.

Is it a bowl of cherries or do you see the pits?

I still hear my mother’s voice as she taught these truths

and instilled all of this wisdom into me.

Second, as you weave in

and out of situations,

meet forks in the crossroads of life

and dead ends

remember this, follow your heart. 

Three simple words that mean so much.

You have already followed your by heart by

reading all the required course assignments

and writing papers.

For some it meant staying up past midnight

only to get up at six to get ready for work

or feed the family. 

But,

it goes much deeper than that.

Following your heart means

being in pursuit of happiness.

Now is the time to be truthful with yourself.

Asking the philosophical questions

Where does my happiness lie?

Who am I?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?

I encourage you to take an eagle’s eye view.

 You have already begun

the foundation of your dreams.

The time is here and now

and you are in control of your destiny. 

Socrates believed that there were different kinds of

knowledge,

important

and trivial.

But, the most important of all

was the knowledge of how best to live.

I wish for you the class of 2011

to never stop searching for knowledge

and to Follow your dreams, Follow your Hopes and Desires, Follow your Heart.  

Now go out there and kick some butt!  (Point towards audience)

Thank you all very much. (Throw cap into air)

Help me, help me. I’m lost in information overload!!! I need Concept Mapping   3 comments


I have visited blogs that tried to deliver too much information in one glance. It can be confusing to experience information overload when trying to gather data of your own.

I have incorporated elements of Concept Mapping into my blog to guide the user. Really I have, and to prove it let’s put it to the test. For the next five minutes you will test my theory. You will decide if my design is a result of Concept Mapping. Ready, set, but wait a minute. What is Concept Mapping anyway? That’s an easy one.

Concept mapping is a pictorial way of constructing, gathering, sharing and organizing information through a graphical tool. It is a strategy that consists of nodes that represent concepts, cross links that are labeled and directional arrows. This type of mapping is an explanation about concepts with nodes, crosslinks and labels. A concept map is structured, simple-to-read and graphically displays a message.

Get the picture? Simple right? Dan Roam commented, “The heart of any system connects to all the main components…” (184). One characteristic of Concept Mapping is that the concepts are represented in a hierarchical fashion. OK. Let’s go with that.

So, in reviewing my blog, context is the first step towards the Focus Question? “Does My Blog Contain Concept Mapping?” Now you can identify and list key concepts:

The next step is to rank the order of the concepts:

Are you ready? You can now construct an initial Concept Mapping of my blog….drum roll please:

All of the concepts are in some way related to one another. The Concept Mapping now has links to concepts and additional concepts have been added. Cross links are described by Joseph D. Novak & Alberto J. Cañas, “These are links between concepts in different segments or domains of knowledge on the map that help to illustrate how these domains are related to one another. Cross-links are key to show that the learner understands the relationships between the sub-domains in the map.”

As you can see I have incorporated one tool into my blog called Concept Mapping. It is depicted in the design by illustrating key aspects that inform the user through highlighting links, labels and crosslinks that are connected and seen by arrows to bring the context into a clearer view making it easier to understand. In my blog the links, categories, images, videos, etc. all connect to one another. In a sense it avoids information overload by its presentation.

Do you see what I see? Concept Mapping!!!

Works cited

Novak, Joseph D., and Alberto J. Cañas. The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them. 2006. 19 Mar. 2012 <http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/TheoryCmaps/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.htm&gt;.

Roam, D. (2009). The back of the napkin: Solving problems and selling ideas with pictures. New York: Penguin Group.