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Author Archive for Russell Trahan

Step by Step, Celebrate Putting it Together


There’s a wonderful short play titled “One Monkey, More or Less” by Rod McFadden in which one of the infinite monkeys trying to randomly type out Shakespeare wants to give up.  There’s a touching scene in the play where one of the monkeys sites his inability to complete a play, yet another monkey tries to encourage him by pointing out that the first monkey has randomly typed a Sonnet.  “But it’s not a play,” counters the first monkey, “it doesn’t count.” 

This made me sad.  So many times you see people give up on their goals when progress is being made, but the final outcome isn’t being achieved.  You must learn to celebrate the victories along the way.  I was talking to a speaker the other day who was telling me they’d had $50,000 worth of scheduled business cancel on them back in April.  They did admit that $30,000 of it had re-booked, but it wasn’t the full $50,000 so they didn’t feel as if they were reaching their goals. 

We’ve all seen the cartoon where a person is digging for diamonds and they give up, but we can see they’re an inch away from a huge diamond.  They can’t see it, they only see all the earth they’ve toiled through.  You never know when the next phone call, or the next email, or the time you reach out in any way will accomplish your goal.  Even if it doesn’t, celebrate that you made a call or sent an email that day!  You’re a step ahead of the person who didn’t. 

When I’m out for my evening walk and a jogger passes me I don’t get discouraged because I’m not keeping up their pace, I think to myself, “I’m doing better than the person just sitting on the couch!” 

So, celebrate your victories along the way to winning the war!  These days, everyone might be taking a little longer to get to their goals, so recognizing the steps achieved is even more important! 

Hello…Just a Moment, I’ll Connect You…

As Google announces its employees will probably be working from home until next summer, at least, it reminded me of a recent situation.  I was trying to get a hold of a vendor.  I’d email, she’d said she’d called, but I never heard from her.  I know there’s a spam filter for emails, but I couldn’t figure out how I’d missed her phone call while I was sitting at my desk all afternoon.  Finally the light shown through, she emailed me that since she was working from home her number did not come up as the company, but rather ‘private caller,’ (and, like a lot of other people, I don’t answer those).  The next time she called I saw the ‘private caller’ and picked up and solved the issue in 10 minutes.  Just another minor adjustment in our current situation.

While relaying this story to my sister, she told me something similar had happened to her!  A distant relative of our father’s is using the quarantine time to do some genealogy.  My sister received a package with a letter and some old family photos in it.  The letter contained the [third-cousin-twice-removed]’s phone number and my sister recognized it as a call she’d gotten a couple of days earlier but did not answer because she didn’t recognize the number.  Well, now the two have talked, in fact they talk weekly, and we have a new branch of our family tree we’re looking forward to a face-to-face visit as soon as we can.

So, maybe there’s another silver lining to all this. The element of surprise and anticipation is back.  I remember as a kid when the phone would ring everyone would jump up to see who could answer it first.  There was a sense of excitement and mystery:  who was calling us?  We could all use a little more wonder in our lives.  The silver linings are there, we only need to be hopeful and look for them.

Read This, You’ll Learn Something…

My mother would often come into my room while I was doing homework and turn the radio down.  She’d say, “How can you learn anything with all that noise?!”  My response was always that I learn better with music, that it helps me recall what I’ve read, I play the tune in my head and the information comes back to me.  She always left the room muttering, “I wish I could set your math homework to music; you’d be a rocket scientist!”

As it turns out, mom wasn’t wrong.  No, I’m obviously not a rocket scientist, but it is known that some people are visual learners (they need to see it), some people are audio learners (they need to hear it) and some people need to learn by writing it down for themselves.  All of these methods may have worked well way back when I was in school, but with today’s bombardment of material, new ways of helping people retain and recall information are necessary.

A recent column on put it best:  We need to provide the learner with a GPS instead of an atlas to navigate the learning process with constant feedback. The article goes on to confirm that if the student reaches their goal of remembering and recalling information it will give them the confidence to continue learning.  In essence, the student will learn to love learning!

With the current debate raging about when, how, or if to open our public schools, maybe it’s time we looked longer and harder at how a student learns rather than where they learn it. 

Now, if only someone could explain to me how to “look it up” (as my mother always told me when I asked her how to spell a word) when you don’t know how to spell it! 

I’ll Be Seeing You…really, I mean it!

Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra – these are all very big names in the music industry.  If you were a songwriter/record producer in the last century and you could have had even one of them record your song, you would’ve had a hit on your hands.  These are just three of the dozens of artists who recorded Sammy Fain’s and Irving Kahal’s popular song:  I’ll Be Seeing You

Most people think of this song as a World War II nostalgia piece, (even though it was first published in 1938).  It evokes scenes of soldiers saying good-bye to their gals in train stations and on ship docks.  Not knowing when, or if, they’ll be coming home to them.  It’s not a great stretch to think we’re in a similar situation now.  We may not be going overseas to fight fascism, but with COVID quarantine we don’t know when, or if, we’ll be able to see in-person and hug our loved ones again. 

This is where the silver lining comes in.  We are lucky (it may not seem like it, but we are) because we have technology that obviously didn’t exist during WWII and we can see each other.  If not in-person, at least on a screen.  We can hear each other, and pick up on the tone in our voices without having to interpret the meaning of a phrase used in a letter.  Inflection is highly under-rated.

So, whether it’s a Zoom call, a Facebook group chat, or WhatsApp, or Google Play, when we say I’ll Be Seeing You we can actually mean “seeing” you. Which is something I’ll bet our grandparents would have been very thankful for.  We are very fortunate to be able to count our blessings, virtually!

Oh, and by the way, Billie Holiday’s 1944 recording of the song was the final transmission sent by NASA to the Opportunity rover on Mars when its mission ended in February 2019. 


No Bad Dogs, Only Sad Looks

In the many great debates in society, fortunately, there is still one that isn’t polarizing.  You can’t talk religion or politics, but you can still talk dogs vs cats!  Both are wonderful!

Personally, I’m a dog person.  Cats are great, don’t get me wrong, and the cat my parents had when they retired was very special to us all.  However, I just prefer dogs.  We had two twin cock-a-poos while I was in school and as an adult, I’ve had golden retrievers and yellow labs.  I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t know his neighbors’ names, but I know the name of every dog when they get walked past my house. 

That’s why I love stories about dogs.  Recently, a news item caught my attention.  In the world we live in today, it’s nice to have some distractions to remind us of what our priorities will be again once this is all over.

The story was on the facial expressions of dogs.  There’s no debating puppies and dogs are cute and can look at you just so to melt your heart, but the theory now is that they do it on purpose.  I read an article years ago that puppies are like babies, in that since they can’t speak you have to watch their body language to make sure they’re being treated well at day care/the veterinarian.  Now that we know facial expressions are on purpose, we can watch those too for fear or excitement as we drop them off for a puppy play group.

What struck me the most about the articles is how much we value our dogs.  If we didn’t, they wouldn’t be spending time or money to study them.  So, find a dog to pet (it will lower your blood pressure, among other things), and stay safe, and wear your mask!