Category: Learning Lessons

What If? (You Were Meant For Something Less)

This is what I’ve been referring to as “The Dark Blog Post.” It’s introspective, negative, and could scare the underoos off family and friends alike. Be at peace, dearhearts – this is not the final word on the matter. “The Medium Blog Post” will follow, as will “The Light Blog Post.” Journey with me, and don’t get freaked out. We’re ok.


“… There was never any other meaning than the obvious one.” – Peter Yarrow, Peter Paul & Mary

What if, in our “find your passion, follow your dreams, look for more, don’t settle for less, live life to the fullest” world, there are those of us who aren’t supposed to do that? What if there are people to whom less will be their more – or even their most? Their world is overflowing with what some of us might call “mundane” or “ordinary.” Work, eat, sleep, serve in church, love family, be faithful. Nothing more. (And for the record, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. For certain people, with certain lives, this is all there is and that’s alright.)

And what if you’ve always been one of those people, but never realized it (or never believed it), so you’ve spent years and years trying to find what your calling is, trying to fill the aching emptiness (or what you think is emptiness) in your lonely life, and trying to find that “something more” or “deeper purpose” that’s out there, when in fact there really isn’t anything else? Not for you, anyway. Read more

What Calbert Learned Lately

"Life, schmife - if I ain't getting doggy bacon strips, something is seriously wrong, my friend."
“Life, schmife – if I ain’t getting doggy bacon strips, something is seriously wrong, my friend.”

You know how life shifts, and suddenly takes over, and you’re left wondering what just hit you, and if it left a mark, and if it matches your shirt or will you have to change, and your wife will ask you why you didn’t come home and pre-treat it, because that blood stain will never come out now?

Or is that just me?… Probably just me.

Anyway,  you realize that the summer just vanished, you’ve not touched your corner of the interthingie since last spring, and you’ve just been moving from point A to point B while getting hit by bus C and recovering in ditch D.


So, here’s a few things Calbert learned along the way… Read more

You Have To Believe

If you create, at some point you have to actually believe in what you create.

A long while ago, a friend asked me to consider writing a post for a blog. And at first, I was totally thrilled that they would ask me, then besieged with all manner of ideas, then actually began writing three different posts from little idea seeds that had sprouted…

And then the whole thing died a lingering, slo-mo death. Read more

I Wonder Why I Wander


Nomadic career path.

That’s perhaps the most eloquent summary of my journey thus far.

It certainly beats the heck out of “Aimlessly searching for purpose,” “Futilely looking for something he’ll never find,” or “Has no idea what he wants to be when he grows up, and shows no signs of ever growing up.”

Yup – nomadic career path. Much nicer. Read more

You – Follow Me


When I have nothing better to crab about, I’ll mutter to my beloved that “I shouldn’t bother with this writing crap, since nobody reads it anyway. Besides, everybody writes, everybody blogs, and everybody and their distant relatives is working on a book. So why bother?”

And I’m finally starting to get it through my thick noggin that all that negativity, spewed out with extreme prejudice, is harmful to my beloved. It may (or may not) provide me some relief, via “venting,” but it’s pretty much a soto voce stream of negative that gathers in her personage and festers.

So it’s all well and good (or not) for me to launch that poopy out there, but it’s not good (or extremely not) for her. And since I really do love my beloved more than myself (or at least am trying to), I need to head that stuff off before it blasts out my pie hole and smacks her.

All of this has nothing to do with anything I’m thinking about in this present post-thingie, but it’s still true… Just not related to this. Read more

A Lesson From 106

Sunrise over Lake Huron. Magnificent.

As in, Psalm 106…

“They traded the Glory for a cheap piece of sculpture—a grass-chewing bull! They forgot God, their very own Savior, who turned things around in Egypt…”
Psalms 106:20-21 (MSG)

“They worshiped their idols, were caught in the trap of idols. They sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altars of demon gods.”
Psalms 106:36-37 (MSG)

I am ridiculously short-sighted. Read more

Cal’s Work Manifesto: It’s All About Me

So, as a newly employed person, I’m a little giddy. Forgive me. I’m working part-time, I’m working at a local retail location, and, although this risks being redundant, I’m WORKING!
So giddy is me.
All souls jaded and weary in the work world are sighing, muttering “newbie” under their breath, and just waiting for the day that I sob over my keyboard, “I HATE my job! I HATE my life! I HATE reality TV!”
Oh weary and jaded souls, don’t hold your breath waiting for that declaration… except for the bit about reality TV, that is. That one’s true, and remains one of the most compelling reasons that we use our television only for DVDs, Netflix, and as a 46″ monitor for the MacBook. (Which totally rocks, for the record.)
And I know – one can see miles and miles of reality TV on Netflix, so really aren’t I being more than a little inconsistent? Yes I am – I never promised to be consistent, just sincere.
And I sincerely mean that.
I’ve been through new employee orientation, I’ve spent my first four hours doing on-line training, learning stuff about hazardous chemicals and cleaning up biohazards, about lifting with my knees and not with my back, and about appropriate ways to interact with customers, especially those who perhaps have had an item or two accidentally fall into their personal possession in a, shall we say, “pre-paid” condition.
I’ve learned about treating my fellow team members with respect, smiling, calling them by name when I can scope out their name tags, and generally annoying the heck out of old jaded souls weary with the daily load of the ol’ grindstone.
In short, I spend the day working and having fun at the same time, which is good for the team, great for the customer, and excellent for the company.
I dig it.
I wear a Red Shirt and I cover a lot of ground, to the tune of thousands of steps a day in hopefully sensible footwear. I get to crawl under checkout lanes sometimes and find out just what kind of stuff you, the shopping public, deposit under there.
(You ought to be ashamed, by the way. Or at least a little embarrassed.)
I scan stuff, I fix stuff, I check the prices you pay for stuff, I print or re-print some of the signs that tell you the prices you can expect to pay for stuff, I make sure that you can pay for your newly acquired stuff, and that you get a little piece of paper that tells you what you paid for your new stuff, in case you discover that you don’t want your stuff to be your stuff anymore and instead want it to become “our” stuff again.
And though I don’t directly work in any department you can walk through, if you ask me a question about the location of stuff you’re looking for, I’ll stop working on the stuff I’m working on and try to help you find the stuff you’re looking for, or at least call someone who knows where that stuff is. Because, after all, I’m wearing a Red Shirt, so you can easily mistake me for someone who actually knows stuff about the stuff you’re interested in.
And I really, really do like it.
Now, for those of you waiting for the other shoe to drop, the grind to start grinding, and the butt to starting dragging, I present a little something that I’ve been thinking through the last day or so, something which gives me a better than average chance to say, “It ain’t gonna happen. The shoe shall not drop, the grind shall not grind, and my butt has dropped about as far as it’s gonna drop, thanks very much.”
Presenting Cal’s Work Manifesto:
It’s All About Me.
Armed guards are now preparing to divest me of my official Red Shirts, snap my name tag in two, and cast me into the “hole in the wall,” to be compacted along with the other trash.
Hold on there, Sarge – lemme ‘splain…
My Work Manifesto does not conflict with core values, expectations, or any other things covered either in my employee handbook or any of the courses I’ve now completed. It isn’t about my behavior toward team members, customers, or supervisors. (Truthfully, most if not all of my supervisors could whip my sad hiney with one price scanner tied behind their backs, so I’m not going to be all up in their grills, if you’re pickin’ up what I’m layin’ down.)
(And if you ARE pickin’ up what I’m layin’ down, could you be givin’ it back to me? ‘Cause I have NO idea what I’m talkin’ about.)
My Work Manifesto is all about internals. It’s about the thoughts and attitudes that shape behavior. It’s the mindful steps that are the precursor to what happens in any given day.
It’s All About Me.
Here’s an addendum in the “It always seems to work this way so why does it surprise me?” file…
It’s now been a week and a half since I wrote everything that precedes the sentence in bold above. And I’ll admit – this week and a half has challenged my resolve, questioned my sanity, and kicked my butt six or seven thousand steps at a time. And yes, I do wear a pedometer to work, so that’s a fairly accurate number. Sort of.
This is why I write – to observe, sort things through, figure stuff out, and make note of how I intend to go on from here. My beloved always knows when the time has come to send me off to Biggby with my iPad and keyboard, to go sort through the cupboard and shovel out a few loads of Mental Hamster droppings. (None of which I found under a checkout lane, for the record.)
I read these words I wrote within the first two days of my new gig, and I do a system check, looking at the doubts that I’ve allowed to grow louder, the weariness that I’ve allowed to cover my eyes, and the overwhelming sense that I have no clue how to do my new job and I’m not making any progress toward learning how.
And I realize that I forgot my manifesto: It’s All About Me.
It’s not about my feelings of inadequacy; it’s not about the thousands of steps through the store; it’s not about leg or foot pain, or figuring out the proper shoes to wear; it’s not about the workload, the number of tasks or all the procedures and details that go along with them…
It’s All About Me.
It’s like what I always say when someone is considering the surgery that saved my life (or someone’s friend or family member is wishing someone would consider the surgery) – you have to see it as a gift, one of the greatest you could ever be given. Sometimes, the surgery is considered the “last resort,” the thing you try when all else has failed, the most drastic measure you can take. You’ve failed at everything else, so you have no choice left but this.
And if you come to it with that frame of mind, then living your new life will become very, very difficult. All the adaptations and restrictions you’ll have to live with the rest of your life will hang like millstones around your neck, and you’ll sink under the weight of them. With your head in that place, your heart will follow and seeing the possibilities of your new life will become very difficult.
IF, though, you see this as a wonderful gift, then everything you have to do to live this new life is a part of a great adventure. The restrictions, the maintenance, the (seemingly endless) supplements and such are simply part of the routine, no big deal, just how life is lived.
(For example, as I’m writing this, I just took two vitamin A capsules, a vitamin D tablet, chomped down a multi-vitamin of which I chomp three a day – and I must say, chewable vitamins aren’t nearly as tasty as they’re made out to be on the ads – and following that all up by chomping two calcium chews, of which I chomp six a day.)
(And, praise Jesu, the chews ARE as tasty as they’re made out to be. Yum.)
See the connection? How I walk through my new life, gracefully or resentfully, joyfully or grudgingly, depends on where my head is at.
It’s All About Me.
So we take the short walk of a few thousand steps from here to work, and connect the dots…
(My little bitty friend DG thinks I’m addicted to ellipses… I’ve thought about it a bit… and considered it… and I don’t really know what I think about that… Hmmm… but I am ok with connecting the dots…)

*excuse me while I go give Steve the Mental Hamster’s wheel a swift kick to see if I can get it back on track…*


*that’s better…*
If I see my new gig as the last resort, the only thing I can do, putting in my time for minimum wage, or any other view that tries to justify a major attitude and minimum effort, then every day with all the steps and tasks becomes another millstone around my neck, grinding me down into a mundane work existence.
If I see my new gig as what it is – a gift, then all the things that go along with it are just part of the great adventure my Father has in store for me. He made it very, very clear that at this time, this is where I’m supposed to be. Regardless of if I’m in school, being taught some new lessons, or if I’ve been deployed to be His hands and feet in this place, I’m here because He’s asked me to be here. He’s invited me on the adventure, so now I get to ride along.
When I walk through the door, in my Red Shirt, name tag hanging gracefully from my collar, attired in my black pants and hopefully sensible footwear, I’m in for a lot of hurt. I’m going to be pulled in many directions, some of which involve places that are enough to make Mike Rowe say, “thanks, I’ll pass.” I’ll be asked to do things that I have no clue how to accomplish, people will probably roll their eyes at the newbie (internally, at least), and wish a “real” team member was around to handle their issue.
Yup, I know all this. But just because I “know” it doesn’t mean that’s how things actually are…
– The hurt comes from a 52-year-old body complete with abused and arthritic legs that carried way too much weight for way too many years.
– The pulling in many directions comes from the nature of my job – I go fix stuff, care for stuff, maintain stuff. The stuff doesn’t take a number or make an appointment – it goes woolly when and where it wants to, laughing and living the life of the carefree (to steal part of a line from Dave Barry). When it goes south, I go north to try and shove it east into happily-ever-after land.
– The cluelessness comes from the simple fact that I’ve been doing this less than two weeks.
– And the attitude of my co-workers comes pretty much from my own head and imagination. Folks are really kind and patient with the newbie, especially if it’s obvious that I’m trying to figure it out, albeit at a snail’s pace. So were we all when first learning stuff.
See the common thread? Good – so do I.
It’s All About Me.
MY attitude. MY perception. MY extension of grace to others. MY acceptance of grace extended to me. MY joy at getting to do all kinds of stuff wrapped up in one job, thus giving the ADD side of me all kinds of happy feelings. MY thanksgiving at having a way to bring some resources into our household.
And MY acceptance of and firm belief in this truth:
Everything we do is (or should be) a way to give glory to God – even when crawling around underneath a checkout lane, finding the layers of ancient civilizations of shoppers who left all sorts of grody things behind.
(Did I mention that you ought to be ashamed? Or at least embarrassed? I did? Alrighty then.)
I don’t HAVE to go to work – I GET to go to work.
I don’t HAVE to do what my employer says – I GET to give them my best effort and attention.
I don’t HAVE to be all smiling and friendly to customers – I GET to do my part to make this day a little brighter and a bit more pleasant for our guests.
I don’t HAVE to be civil to my co-workers – I GET to be a positive influence in their lives, to help make their walk a little easier.
I don’t HAVE to drag my sagging hiney off to punch a clock, do my job, shuffle through my shift, or watch the time drag byI GET to go to the store, be there on time, make my work today better than the day before, interact with all kinds of people, care for the resources of my employer, respond to the trust they’ve placed in me, give my best efforts, make my legs stronger with a few thousand steps…
And shine like a star in the universe, living out the words of truth by the way I do my stuff. No need to talk about the faith that drives me to do it – I shine brightest when I live and move and have my being in Him.
Like I said, it’s all about me.
Actually, it’s all about me remembering that it’s all about Him.
“Thanks for coming to ______ today,” says the smiling man in the bright Red Shirt, black pants and hopefully sensible (and comfortable) shoes. “How can I help you?”
After all, It’s All About Me.