15 Minutes: A Serendipitous Moment


Recently I was in a Doctor’s office and there was a sign at the receptionist window which read “If you are more than 15 minutes late for your appointment, then you will have to reschedule.”  I began pondering that statement and I thought; Hmmmm, if they can do that why can’t I?  So I created my own policy which states “If I have to wait more than 15 minutes to see the Doctor, then I will leave and maybe or maybe not reschedule.”  Pretty bold I thought, but nonetheless a fair solution to the common problem of waiting to see Doctors.  I do realize of course that emergencies do come up for a Doctor, but I am merely talking about waiting in the waiting room or examining room.

Case in point; last week I had a Doctor’s appointment and arrived 10 minutes early as requested by the staff to do, did my check-in, and sat down.  I sat right next to the entrance to the inner office.  Now, mind you I am not looking for any kind of special treatment, but I would at least expect the Doctor to acknowledge my presence when walking past me (the reception area is accessed by another door in the room, so the Doctor has to go through the waiting room to get to it).  There were only two of us in the room waiting and the Doctor passed through four times, never once looking at us, saying hello, or saying sorry I am running late.  That would have made all the difference in the world but I also realize that Doctors have bad days just like the rest of us.  Nonetheless, courtesy is important.

We have all had these types of experiences.  Had the Doctor spoken to me, I would have told him that I needed to be someplace else in half an hour.  As it turned out, I waited for 45 minutes, just to give him the benefit of the doubt all the while reading outdated magazines. However, I will say that this Doctor is notorious for running late.  The hard part of it all is that the Doctor doesn’t seem to care, but he is an excellent physician.  Sure, I try to be understanding, but you have to draw the line somewhere.  So I did not feel bad when I left. I tried to tell the receptionist I was leaving but she was talking about nothing with someone, so after two minutes, I walked out.  I felt good about putting my own policy into practice for once even though I stretched it 45 minutes; plenty of time I thought.

Later that evening, a fortunate happenstance occurred.  The doctor actually called me and apologized. Wow, talk about a serendipity! He was very gracious and I accepted and rescheduled my appointment.

Life is full of little serendipities!

doctor1 Life is full of little serendipities!

Here is the scoop on ways to shorten your wait time (from Fox News):

Get the scoop on the best times
In general, the first appointment of the day and the one right after lunch have the shortest wait times—but not always.

Choose your day strategically
To get in and get out quickly, avoid Tuesdays and Thursdays: Tuesday is the most popular day to visit the doctor while Thursday sees the longest waits.

Call before you go
This is probably the simplest thing most of us don’t do.  Phone your Doctor’s office, and if you’re told he’s running behind, ask what time you should reasonably arrive.  If you show up and find out there’s still a wait, see if you can leave your cell phone number while you go run errands, or get coffee and come back.

Complain (nicely)
If your Doctor is chronically late, voice your concern to him.
Lead with a compliment, then bring up the long waits. You could say, “You’re an excellent Doctor, but I get really frustrated when it takes 45 minutes or more to see you.  Do you plan on making changes to address that problem?”  Physicians should apologize if they’re late, and if they’re dismissive, consider looking for a new physician—seriously.

Or just skip the visit entirely
A growing number of practices have Nurses on staff who can order prescription refills or answer basic questions—like what to do about seasonal allergies or a cough—by phone.  Some Doctors also respond via e-mail, eliminating the need for in-person visits.

I will add a sixth way to shorten your wait time:

Send your Doctor a bill
Yes, your time is worth something too.  Create an invoice and send a bill to the Doctor for your wasted time, lost wages, fuel to get there, and other arrangements you had to make like hiring a babysitter.  Some Doctors will actually pay it in order to avoid bad publicity and keep you as a patient.

Well, there you have it folks; my ideas for creating a serendipity for yourself and winning the battle with your Doc over whose time is more valuable.  It should be yours!

God bless you!

On The Loss Of My Mother


A favorite saint of my Mom’s, St. Therese of Lisieux, once said “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

mamaMy dear Mother lived by these words.  These words began to have a special meaning at a time when difficulty began to present itself in my life.  This is the story of a critical time for me.  It is due to the rich spiritual formation that developed over the years that I have become the person that I am today and ultimately led me to be closer to our Lord Jesus Christ; and it is only through Him that I was able to navigate the travails of this difficult time.

I was at the point in my life where I had been very blessed to not have had to deal with anything as difficult as death in such a personal way.  I learned to rely fully on God and His plan instead of worrying about what I could not control.

My Mom was a very strong woman, and life was good.  Then, almost a year ago, she fell.  After 2 months of hospitalization and rehabilitation therapy, she started to heal.  But that was not God’s plan. This began the final journey of my Mother’s life as her health continued to deteriorate.

When she returned to our home we had therapy and visiting nurses available to us.  Having these services for Mom at home really helped make her life a bit easier as her health declined. Our nurses were absolutely brilliant and I never doubted that Mom was receiving the best care possible.  This was a blessing that I didn’t fully understand how much I needed until that time.  God sent angels to look after Mom when she needed it most.  Of course, these particular angels were not at our home 24/7, so I was blessed with the opportunity to give her care much of the time.  I had all the comfort of knowing that what I was doing was all that could be done at that time to make her time left on earth as peaceful and joyful as possible.blog1

I have heard people in the past say that their Mother’s death was the most difficult thing they have ever experienced.  I didn’t understand that statement until my Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep on the early morning of June 25th of this year.  Having to bury my Mom truly was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in life.  She was 91 years old, and losing her even at my age of 58 was by far the most challenging thing I have ever had to endure in my life.  God does not make bad things happen; but when they do, He will carry you through it and bring you many blessings in the midst of your suffering.  There are countless blessings that have come to me during my Mom’s care and her subsequent death.  Losing my dear beloved Mother does not take away the pain. Instead it makes it possible for me to take up this cross of loss and allow Our Lord Jesus Christ to help me carry it and follow Him (c.f.  Matthew 16:24).  Yes, discipleship is costly, but ultimately, the rewards are great.

I always joked with Mom that I hope she will be sitting on a bench by the water waiting for me in heaven.  I am sure she will be there.  I hope I make it.  Most of all, I hope that I can share some of the love and blessings that God has given me through my dear Mother.anny1022  May she rest in peace.  I love you Mom.  It was my honor and privilege to care for you.  God Bless you.

Here is a link to my Mother’s obituary.  She wrote it herself and insisted that it not be edited:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/toledoblade/obituary.aspx?n=mary-ann-kusner&pid=175161719&fhid=13887

The Demise of the Catholic University


Catholic Education in America historically has been rooted in the study of the Catholic faith and that faith was an integral part of one’s experience at the University level.  However, recently there has been a trend to expeditiously remove any signs of Catholicism from many of these campuses.  

For example, how can a Catholic University remain loyal to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and allow openly homosexual persons to remain on their staff?  How can a Catholic University allow the teaching of abortion?  How can a truly Catholic University allow its professors to continually date students, some half their age?  How can a Catholic University allow a staff member to serve openly as a surrogate Mother?

To answer these questions, one must look at what Catholic Education has become.  In most Catholic Universities, the primary goals are: making money, creating new programs, and increasing enrollment.  All fine and this needs to be done, but the primary focus should be on Catholicism; its tenets, its beliefs, its practices, and the opportunity for the students to receive the Sacraments.  Catholicism itself has taken a back seat to the secularization of the once Catholic University.

Moreover, let’s consider a Franciscan University.  One, I will not mention by name but I believe has become a CINO University (Catholic In Name Only), which describes itself in its Mission and Ministry statement as having

“Franciscan Values as a Community of Learning, a Community of Reverence, a Community of Service”

It has to be noted that there is nothing uniquely Catholic about this statement. Many secular Universities offer the same values, although they would certainly not call themselves Franciscan.  Furthermore, a Catholic University that offers outreach programs to the poor and homeless is very noble, but Secular Universities also do this.  Image

So What does make a University Catholic more than one in name only?  Here are a few points to consider: Does the College offer daily Mass? Is the “Mandatum” adhered to by the Theology Professors?   Any Catholic institution that minimizes or subverts Ex corde Ecclesiae, written by Pope John Paul II and has the force of Canon Law, has serious problems with its Catholic identity.

Click this link for more information from The Cardinal Newman Society on this topic:

http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/TheNewmanGuide/About/FAQsAboutThisGuide.aspx

Lastly, there are about 28 distinctly Catholic Colleges and Universities in America.  The Newman Guide is a free publication and lists them all. They all have great programs, extracurricular activities, and segregated housing.  Mainly they offer what Catholic young people need; growth in their faith!

God Bless You!

 

 

 

 

The Art Of Appreciation


Listen to me, my son, and do not disregard me, and in the end you will appreciate my words. In all your work be industrious, and no sickness will overtake you. Sirach 31:22

Tonight, our car broke down as my Mother and I were leaving the Church.  I was able to nurse it along to the dealership which was not far away.  Since it was closed, we had to leave the car there until Monday and we found ourselves with no way to get home on a Saturday night.  I called a few people, but all had commitments.  So I did something I probably had not done in 20 years; I called a taxi cab.  While we were waiting for the cab, a vicious storm blew over us.  Winds were blowing and rain was pouring, but we sat in the car and waited.  When the taxi arrived, the rain stopped.  One of God ‘s ways I think of telling us everything will be okay.  The cab driver was very friendly as was the dispatcher I spoke with on the phone.  We made it home safely after the storm had passed and I left the driver with a healthy tip and called the cab company back to compliment him.  Thanks to this daring driver, our needs were met, although I am afraid to see the bill for the car!

As one who is working in the field of Catholic Media,  I often times find myself wondering about how my work is perceived by others.  Oh, I guess I do a fair enough job, but then again, that is hard to approximate.  Sometimes, there are those who forget to separate the personal from the professional side of things, but that should not be the case. Image The art of appreciation can go a long way in making someone’s day.  A quick “thanks” is all it might take to lift one’s spirits.  We all have our crosses to carry and our burdens in life.  There is no getting away form that, however I try to invoke the 3 P’s to help me through it: Prayer, Presence, Participation.

It is always important to include a Prayer for others in daily life.  Say a prayer today for someone; maybe one you know well, maybe someone in a service job who helps you, or maybe the cashier at the store who looks worried. 

Our Presence to everyone is important too. Being Present as a way of showing support in the name of Jesus can do wonders for someone who is down. I believe it is important to treat others like they are the only one’s alive at that given moment. Focus directly on them with distraction.

Finally, our Participation in the Gospel message can always make someone’s day. Remember, it is not what you do or say that most people will recall about you, but rather it is the way you treated them  That’s what counts. Image

Lastly, always do what you say you are going to do, rather than say one thing and do another.  If you offer to help someone, make the time to do it.  If you are meeting someone for lunch, be sure to go and show your love and support to them.  If you are chatting on Skype, don’t try to carry on a chat on Facebook with someone else at the same time. 

Give your undivided attention to whoever you are with at any given moment.

Mother Angelica once said “Do not give others authority that they do not possess!” That is important here because sometimes there are tendencies to overrule others with our own selfishness.  One must always separate the personal from the professional and accept others as they are. That means showing support to the downtrodden, listening with an open heart and mind, and helping the poor whatever that need may be; recalling that poor can mean many things, such as mentally poor, spiritually poor, as well as the more common materially poor.  Ministerially speaking, appreciation goes a long way, Let others know how you feel about the good they have done for you.  Support them when they need you.  Most of all, don’t be threatened by anyone else, either personally or professionally.  Appreciation will go a long way in making lasting relationships and earning the respect of others.

Looking for perfection in a person brings too much expectation.  When your expectations are not met, too many disappointments come.  Learn to appreciate a person’s imperfections.  In them, you’ll find perfection.

God Bless You My Friends.Image

Being Honorable To One Another


“May God be gracious to us and bless us; may his face shine upon us.” ~ Psalm 67:2

Recently, I was rummaging through some old newspaper articles online and I came across one that was very interesting and a reminder of a more respectable time.  It is something that certainly would not hold true today.  Here in Toledo, Ohio where I hail from, in the Toledo Blade newspaper of April 12, 1965 which was Monday of Holy Week, there was a short blub about a local radio station changing its call letters from WTOL to WCWA.  I remember that well.  What is unique about it was that the change was scheduled to take place on Good Friday that week, but station management decided to wait until the following week to promote it so that the announcement would not conflict with the holiness of Good Friday, according to the news article.

What?  I read that in amazement because, in today’s society, the media does not care if it is Good Friday or not. They promote much more prominent things than this on the holiest days of the year such as basketball games, baseball games, concerts, and circuses. What happened to this kind of consideration that the media once showed to Christians, especially during important times of the year like Christmas and Easter?  I couldn’t help but to admire the station staff for doing this at that time.   Times sure were different. Priorities were different.  It was a time when people mattered more than revenue.  Attending and Promoting the Church were more important than criticizing it.

ImageI compare this to something I see today in our Catholic Churches: the sign of peace.  I remember when Masses first began offering the sign of peace.  The people participated, even though some didn’t like it, but all seemed willing to take the high road and give it a chance.  People shook the hands of those around, smiled courteously, and wished them peace.  At today’s Liturgies, I’ve noticed a change taking place during the sign of peace. Oh, there are still plenty of people who will look at me, shake my hand, and wish me peace. However, there seems to be more and more parishioners who will not even offer a sign of peace. Instead, they will just stand there and not look around while some others will kneel down and cover their face with their hands; some will look at the floor while they shake my hand never making eye contact; still others might shake my hand while looking at the person next to me or behind me.  What happened?  It has been said by some that there should not be a sign of peace during Mass. One can certainly have that opinion but it is not the congregation’s decision to make that call.  It is up to the priest.  Yes, the sign of peace is optional, but for the priest not the congregants.  If the priest calls for the sign of peace, it is up to all of us to comply.  It is a part of the Mass just like the responses, the readings, the homily, and the Eucharist.  No one has the right to shun others.  It is very unchristian-like behavior. Deliberately kneeling down and covering one’s face with one’s hands to avoid offering a sign of peace is rude to those around you.

I have decided that I will do the following at the sign of peace: I will hold onto the hand of  every person who shakes my hand until they make eye-contact with me; I will greet them warmly with a smile and say Peace be with you; and to those who ignore me, I make a special effort to touch them on the shoulder and wish them peace.  All that said, I do understand that there are exceptions, some people are sick and don’t want to spread germs for example.  However, there are ways to handle that.  I had one gentlemen politely smile to me and while not shaking my hand say ” I have a cold, peace be with you” to which I acknowledged “Thank you for telling me, Peace be with you.”

As the title of this blog implies, some people were more honorable in days gone by, and really not so long ago.  Some in our society have become a people of “what I want is right” instead of “how can I help YOU”.  Thankfully, there is still a majority of people today who do not only think of themselves. That number is dwindling however.  Remember this rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated and respect others.  Hopefully that is in an honorable way.

God Bless You.

Professionalism or the Limelight


Work is a crazy thing. It is something most of us have to do daily for much of our lives.  The thought occurred to me that there are different ways to approach our work.  It can be viewed as a drudgery, as pleasant, as insightful, even as glorified, depending on how we portray ourselves.  Some are leaders while some are bosses. Others are followers while there are those who seek recognition.

However, there are those who prefer to seek the limelight. You know the type, they always have to be in the forefront of the operation and be noticed.  Sometimes that can become a hindrance or a distraction.  Take for example, the person who has a behind the scenes role in their organization most of the time.  I have seen where this type of person just slides by, doing what is absolutely necessary until there is a need for exposure to the public.  Suddenly that person wants center stage.  To me this is not professional.  A professional employee (or volunteer) is one who does whatever is needed.  No restrictions, no pettiness, and no questions asked.

Then there are those who lead by example.  Thirty years ago, I worked for a man who did just that.  He was a wonderful man, nothing special really.  He came to work everyday and in his supervisory position, he knew how to treat people.  He was a great leader, a quiet but real presence of Christ.  When some people were late for work, he understood and would not reprimand them.  If someone got into trouble, he supported them, even if he knew they were wrong.  In other words, he used his life and work to always try and teach a lesson about life.  He is no longer with us now, God rest his soul, but I will never forget the kindness, humility, and non-judgmental attitude he exhibited in his leadership style-a true professional in every way and always very respected by his peers.

That is the art of appreciation.  So remember to  thank your co-workers, your leaders, or your employees and volunteers.  Others are not there to threaten anybody or take your job away (usually), they just want to do their work and get through the day, and through life.  Show your professionalism and appreciate everyone, especially those you do not like.  There is no need to be threatened by anyone else’s presence nor is there a need to be in the limelight.

There is a book called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It is a very prophetic and practical approach to the meaning of life.  In essence, Ruiz lists four points to make the most out of life:

Be impeccable with your word: that is, live without sin, always honor what you say and do what you say you are going to do.Live honestly.

Don’t make assumptions: as much as we think we know someone, we really don’t.  So never assume someone’s action’s are about you because those actions actually say much more about them.

Don’t take things personally: many times we are hurt by someone, when in reality, that person doesn’t even know they hurt us.  Again, it is about them, not you.

Always do your best: live the best way you can always focused on others in your work, at home, and in life.

Living by these four points will certainly help one to focus on their own life and not on the behaviors of others. That is what Professionalism is all about.

God Bless You!

35>55=Wisdom?


It has been said that “With Age Comes Wisdom” but I always liked to think of it as “With Wisdom Comes Age!” All kidding aside, Wisdom is something that one learns over the years. At age 35, I thought I knew everything about anything, but as I grew older, I realized that I actually knew very little about a lot of things and am still learning as I travel along the road of life. 

For example, what ever happened to common courtesy is our society? Everyone is in such a hurry these days, and for whatever reasons, we neglect to show love and respect to those around us and even to those who we deal with everyday.  Many times, emails, text messages, and voice mail messages go unanswered. Are we really that busy that we cannot take a few seconds to politely respond to someone who calls us or asks us a simple question via email or text? I am not talking about all the spam we all now receive, I am talking about messages from those who we know, love, and work. Many of us on our voice mail will say something like “Leave me a message and I will get right back to you,” but do we? There are so many times when we might just shrug off a message and think it is not important, so we do not bother to respond. However, the person on the other end obviously thought it was important or they would not have contacted us. So the point here is to do what you say you are going to do. If your voice mail says that you will call the person back, then do it, or change your voice mail to say “I might call you back if I feel like it.” None of us should be so busy as to not give respect and dignity to our fellow human beings. Ignoring someone only creates bitter feelings among friends and co-workers. Remember, as Jesus Himself said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34)

Moreover, if you are friends with someone on Facebook, then engage with them by Liking and Commenting on their posts once in a while. Facebook isn’t about seeing who can have the most friends. It is a form of friendship that you and everyone you are connected to should take seriously. Furthermore, your own posts on Facebook should be enlightening enough to entice others to want to engage with you. Simply posting “It’s raining outside” is not an engaging post. The same is true for Twitter and Linked In. If you connect with someone, read their tweets, or endorse them and read their profile on Linked In. Be supportive to those you have connected with on any form of social media. Friendships are something I take very seriously as I think everyone should.

Some may say that what I have just said here is so basic that it should not even need to be said. However, I would disagree. I think it needs to be said more than ever these days as our society and culture tend to lead us in the wrong direction; that our life is all about me, and who cares about the other guy. Common courtesy is lacking so much these days. Even though most of us are overworked in our lives, we need to set our priorities: God, Family, Others.

Wisdom is something that is an oncoming formation in each one of us. What I have learned through life is that I need to learn much more. Simple things like I have mentioned here are merely a small beginning. We all have so much further to go. So live your life with the fullest amount of greatness you can, but don’t forget the little guy who may need a dose of kindness from you. Live that greatness by being a model that everyone can follow; a model of respect, courtesy, compassion, and sincerity. That, my friends, is the tiny bit of wisdom I have to impart with you today.

God Bless You!

Image