Lessons learned with the harshest consequences are those you never forget. Your best bet is to learn from someone else’s experiences without making the same mistakes.
One thing is sure. There are few “sure things” in life. There are always those curve balls life hurls at you and you didn’t see them coming. When you get struck by one of them, it can knock the wind out of you. When you manage to pick yourself back up, you are a lot wiser at ducking future curves.
My dad was not a gambler. The best bet to have a nest egg, according to my dad, was to work hard, earn your own money, be frugal and save what you could of it. That was the lesson I learned from the older, wiser version of my dad. Little did I know that my dad had once learned that lesson the hard way. There were only a couple of times dad repeated this story. Whenever he did, I could still hear the pain in his voice reflecting the suffering caused in the learning of this valuable lesson.
It was the late 1930’s/early 1940’s in the midst of World War II. My parents married in 1936 and were still newlyweds. They were both in their 20’s and my dad had been working as a coal miner since he was 16. (He had lied about his age and said he was 18 in order to get the job. That is the only lie dad ever openly admitted telling.) Neither of my parents had much to bring to the table in terms of financial security or worldly goods.
A traveling carnival had come to town. In an isolated coal mining community, a carnival in town was a big deal. As a young man in his 20’s, my dad was no doubt fascinated with the novelty. He had just gotten paid when he decided to go to the carnival and had taken a portion of his paycheck with him. Soon he was wooed into some type of gambling game. He never said whether it was a roulette wheel, rolling the dice, or an actual game of Poker. Whatever it was, he was losing. The more he lost, the sicker the feeling in the pit of his stomach. In a very short time, he had lost all the money he brought with him. His best bet would have been not to take more money with him than he could afford to lose.
The truth was, dad couldn’t really afford to lose any of what he lost. Desperate to win back his own money so he could break even, he came back home, got the rest of his paycheck and went back to the carnival to continue playing. I’m sure you can guess how that scenario ended. Dad lost his entire paycheck that day. I cannot even imagine how sick that must have made him. I could still hear the pain in his voice as he remembered the ordeal and retold the story over 30 years later. Dad had learned a valuable lesson at a very high price. He wanted to make sure I learned the same lesson without having to repeat his mistakes.
If you’re going to gamble, your best bet is to be good at it. (How, I wonder, does one learn to be good at gambling without a great deal of financial losses?) What could you afford to pay for an evening of entertainment? Whatever that amount is, you should view the gambling as your entertainment and not have expectations of winning. Otherwise, you’ll be just another sucker and lose what you brought to the table.
What an anti-gambling lesson my dad had taught me! I internalized the pain I heard in his voice more than the money he lost. I never wanted to feel that pain or desperation he had felt.
Over the past 15 years, I have been to Las Vegas 3-4 times to conventions. The motels where I stayed all had large casinos. Up and down the strip were places that would allow you to mortgage your home so you could continue gambling. Plaques near the entrance doorways offered “gambling help” for those addicted to gambling.Every time I walked past those various gambling machines and tables, all packed with people depositing their money in the hope of “beating the house” I could hear my dad’s story over and over again in my head. I could still hear the tone of desperation in his voice each time. The house always wins. Your best bet is to know that in advance. Consequently, feeding my money into those machines was about as much fun as striking a match and watching it burn. Either way, it was going to be gone. Every single time I’ve gone to Vegas, I have “beat the house” by simply refusing to lose.
The same applies to lottery tickets. By one calculation, the odds of winning the Powerball lottery was 1 in 175,223,510. If you’re looking for better odds, the odds of being struck by lightning in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. Essentially you have roughly the same chance of being struck in the head by a cow falling out to the sky than you do of winning the lottery. Who would gamble with odds like that? The deck is already stacked against you. It’s a lesson in both futility and absurdity. Thanks, dad. In your hardest lesson, I truly found an Ace that I could keep.
I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Gambling, Mindset, STORIES, Uncategorized and tagged Gambling by Pam Baker-Redman with no comments yet.
Choosing to love is a decision to be made without expectation of reciprocation. This is a love story from my personal journey.
Most of us have spoken the words “I love you” many times over the course of our lifetime. There are many different types of love . Perhaps we would save ourselves confusion if we simply asked for clarification when we hear those words spoken to us! Love is far more complex than the romance and intimacy version “eros.” Love is ultimately a gift one person chooses to give another, whether or not it is rejected or reciprocated.
My dad was the first person who demonstrated the profound meaning of love through action. He was the 10th of 11 children, so his ability to show love had nothing to do with his ability to lavish me with material possessions. Through his story telling, giving of his time, gentle touch and comforting after a childhood injury, piggyback rides, defending and providing for my safety, he showed me a love story in small intangible ways. I always knew I held a special place in his heart. I also knew I could unconditionally trust my daddy with my whole heart. He was my childhood protector and “knight.” My dad exhibited a love story of the natural affection a parent has for their child.
As I grew older and became a young adult, I experienced a disconnect between those outside of my own family who said they loved me, but whose actions failed to demonstrate that love. Suddenly the words “I love you” became twisted into deceptive, hollow words that had no value whatsoever. This deceptive counterfeit love became not only conditional but temporary and revocable.
Real love should never result in brokenness or dishonor of the other person. Love is not a consuming fire that leaves the one who is loved in ashes. Love should not cause pain or result in drama or destructive behavior. Rather love should build up the other up and result in joy.
Sadly, some have spent a lifetime in pursuit of love that seemed to evade them at every turn. What then, does it mean to love and why is it important to be able to extend love to others? I think God’s word demonstrates a love story toward each of us far better than I ever could.
1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I mentioned earlier that love is an action word. “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Do you know someone who would actually die for you regardless of whether your behavior was good or bad? I do. His name is Jesus.
John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Isn’t the insecurity of fear really a lack of trust in the other person? Lack of trust comes from a place of brokenness.
If you truly know how to extend love to another person, then you are bearing fruit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
How is this a love story from my personal journey? “I have been persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:9
On my journey, I have been loved with empty words and actions. I have been “loved” as a consuming fire and left to gather up the broken pieces and sweep up the ashes of what was left. I have given of myself and been left a broken, wounded person afraid to trust and love again. Over a period of many years I finally forgave myself for my own mistakes and errors in judgment. I was angry with myself for choosing to accept crumbs rather than the feast God had prepared for me. I mourned the wasted years and broken trust. Where, I wondered, was this man by God’s own design who knew how to love and to demonstrate love to me? My Daddy had taught me about this kind of love, so surely it still existed!
Do you recall the movie “Forrest Gump?” Remember the day Forrest decided to start running? He ran without a purpose or destination in mind. He amassed a huge following of other people willing to run aimlessly alongside him. Just as suddenly as Forrest decided to stop running, so did I. One day I decided I had run long enough and had lived as a broken person long enough. I finally decided to allow God to reassemble the broken pieces of my heart and restore me to wholeness. It had only taken me 26 years in the healing process!
What happens when love dies or when you realize you were given counterfeit love versus the real deal? Does the love you once freely offered then turn to hate or scorn for the one who rejected your love? The answer is: only if you allow it. We can choose to allow God’s unconditional love to transform and restore us from a place of brokenness to a place of wholeness. First we have to release the crumbs and hurt we are holding onto with clinched fists, give it to God and allow Him to heal us.
I have now made the choice to love—even without reciprocation. When I say “I love you” I truly mean it. My friends hear these words from me and know I mean it through my actions. I have learned to love the person and the heart and soul of the person, rather than the gift wrapping on the exterior. If that person rejects the love I offer (whether it is the love for a friend or something deeper), then that is their choice not to accept the gift I offer them.
I am finally strong enough and confident enough to walk away from any relationship that is not fashioned by God’s design and still remain a whole person. No longer will I leave broken pieces of my heart and my life strewn behind. That is a love story for me, a gift from my Heavenly Daddy whose capacity for love far exceeds anything my Earthly Daddy could ever give. I choose to love, knowing that giving love to another doesn’t diminish me, but enriches my own life in the process.
What about you? Have you ever known someone who simply could not say the words “I love you” and the best they could say is “I care for you”? I’d love to hear your comments!
Pam Baker, RN
Posted in Dating, Dating Relationships, Fear, Seniors Dating, The Journey, Uncategorized by Pam Baker-Redman with no comments yet.
If you are a “daddy’s girl,” nobody has to tell you are. You know it because your daddy will always be your hero, whether he is still with you or not. Daddies like my dad and my son continually raise the bar for dads everywhere by exhibiting love in action. Through their determination and creativity, their little girls come to believe there is nothing their daddies can’t do (or fix). I am not talking about the kind of daddies who hand over a credit card or who are financially able to buy their children everything their hearts desire (or enable them by bailing them out every time they get in trouble). I am talking about the evidence of love through intangible gifts of time. One such friend is Bryan. He recruits an entire team to join him as he jumps in the chilling waters every winter to support Special Olympics and honor his daughter. My friend Jonathan supports his children in their sports and musical aspirations (even the basic cooking and baking skills). These dads are part coach, part mentor, part hero and each of them exhibits love in action in their own unique way. THIS is the kind of daddies that inspire this story.
As a child, I thought my daddy could do just about anything. My earliest memories of him cannot be confirmed. Apparently a baby of crib age doesn’t remember. The experts can’t disprove the memory I have of my daddy’s smiling face leaning over my crib wearing a red plaid cap. Granted, as an adult I can’t imagine my daddy wearing anything other than a UK blue cap, but that’s a different story altogether.
I remember the tender moments shared by the little girl version of myself and my dad. I remember him teaching me to tie my shoes. I remember the piggyback rides. I remember writing notes back and forth with him when he was on evening shift and gone to work before I got home from school. I remember the storytelling, the banjo playing and his infamous “Bottle Rump Jim” jig he did while playing that banjo. I remember the whistles he made for me from the stalks of Speckled Jewel Weed But of all these, the thing that stands out in my mind as a huge gift of time and love was the hand made swing set.
I grew up in the 1950’s when children still spent a lot of time outdoors playing instead of indoors on electronic devices. My dad had grown up in the early 1900’s when there simply were no toys in a family of 11 children in the rural areas of southeastern Kentucky. As a child, he and his siblings learned to play games and create their own fun. They swung on grapevines and climbed trees. But the 50’s were different. On our playground at school, we actually had a real swing set. Unfortunately, there was also a really long line for those swings at recess. I must have mentioned this to my dad more than once, but I never remember actually asking him to buy me a swing set.
One day, my daddy went into the woods with a double bit axe and came home hours later carrying a huge locust post on his shoulder. I didn’t ask why. I didn’t even get curious when he made several more trips on subsequent days, bringing home still more locust posts. However, I became curious when he started digging holes in our back yard below a huge Mimosa tree. At this point, I began to do what any daddy’s girl would do. I stuck by his side, watching his every move as the poles went in the ground, holes were drilled, boards were cut for the seats and chains were hung suspending 2 swings—one for me and one for my brother. Our swing set was constructed of rough-hewn, unpainted locust posts, but it was so sturdy, nothing could tear it up.My daddy couldn’t afford a store-bought swing set, but he cared enough to use his creativity and take the time and energy to build one for my brother and me. I spent hours every day swinging on that swing set while singing the lyrics of Que Sera Sera. I was a child and I didn’t have a care in the world.
We were the only children in our neighborhood with a swing set and it wasn’t because we were rich. My daddy loved us enough to want to give us the little things he couldn’t afford to buy. As you might imagine, neighborhood kids enjoyed that swing set right along with us for years to come.
Since my own daddy was a stand in dad for my children, I am sure my son learned a lot of those same wonderful attributes from him.
“I’m not a carpenter. I’m a Baker who’s a farmer. But when your little girl begs for a doll bed, you cobble something together.” These were the words of my son, Shad as he began construction of a doll bed. He is that special kind of daddy inspiring yet another little girl (my granddaughter) to become a “daddy’s girl.” With all the doll houses and dolls my eight-year-old granddaughter has to play with, what she lacked was a suitable bed for them. Thanks to a little girl’s “need” for a doll bed and the creativity of two loving parents, my granddaughter now has a doll bed that may one day be handed down to her own daughter.
In writing this, I give due recognition to my wonderful daughter-in-law as well as my son. My daughter-in-law Melanie makes doll clothes, furniture, and even made the mattress, pillows and blankets to complete this doll bed project. She is extremely creative and talented and is inspiring the same in my granddaughter. Together she and my son are a great daddy/mommy team (which is as it should be!)
Are you a daddy’s girl? What special memories do you have of the way your dad showed love in action through the intangible gift of his time and/or talents? Please share in the comments below.
Pam Baker, RN
Children today don’t have to wait for the Christmas catalogs from Sears, Roebuck and Company, Montgomery Ward or J.C. Penney to shop for toys. Children know how to search for the newest and greatest on the internet. They haven’t yet learned about budgets and the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees. Sadly, children are continually the targeted for advertising on television as well as the internet. Advertisers know how persistent children can be when they want something. This is why it is important to teach children the difference between something they actually NEED versus something they WANT. It is important to teach them the value of money and saving their money to buy the things they want most. It is also important to inspire children to be creative.
Posted in Leaving a legacy, Mindset, STORIES, The Journey, Uncategorized by Pam Baker-Redman with no comments yet.
Representative Willard Duncan Vandiver was credited as coining the famous “show me” comment about the virtues of his home State of Missouri in a speech at a Naval banquet in 1899. He commented that since he was from Missouri, others had to show him something, rather than just saying something without anything tangible behind it. After having been a nurse for 26 years (and counting), I could make the case that all nurses are from Missouri as well.
Nurses are from Missouri. After all, we are taught through stringent training, to question and to look for scientific evidence. We are taught to insist on actual proof of any and all claims regarding health care products and treatments rather than rely on information presented to us by third parties (who may have a profit to gain by our endorsement of those products). We are taught to make certain those claims are scientifically valid and factual before sharing that information with others.
We are trained skeptics, but because of this, we maintain a very high level of trust and credibility with our patients and the public. Nurses are from Missouri in that we must be shown before we will believe and accept information as truth. As nursing professionals, we will do the “research” to make sure the information we give you is true.
Nurses I’ve been closely associated with are focused on the quest for evidence in other areas of their lives as well—even their personal lives. *A statement is not true just because someone says it is true. As nurses, we conclude that the statement is true because we have done the research to make certain beyond a reasonable doubt. It is true because we have seen the proper evidence and determined those claims to be valid.
We search for facts and solutions for our patients every single day. We do it for our families, and if our friends ask us for our professional opinions, we will do it for them as well. We will not officially offer medical advice, because we have been wisely trained for legal purposes not to do so.
This may explain why the 2013 Gallup Poll revealed that nursing is (once again) the most trustworthy profession. You may be surprised to learn that the nursing profession ranked higher for trustworthiness than the following professionals:
- Grade school teachers
- Medical doctors
- Military officers
- Police officers
- Day care providers
- Members of congress
- Newspaper reporters
And the list goes on. Why is that? In addition to our quest for scientific evidence in the information we share, we generally have the best interest of our patients at heart. We are not motivated by profit, secondary gain, status or power.
This quest for evidence spills over into our personal lives as well. Whatever you say to a nurse, you may be asked to back up with facts proving that it is indeed true. We’re not purposely trying to give our family, friends and significant others a hard time, we just naturally continue to need to be shown what is true. (Remember nurses are from Missouri!)
For this reason, in personal relationships, trust may be something that has to be earned over time with a nurse. We need to know beyond a reasonable doubt that we can trust. We need to be shown through actions. Actions speak much louder than words. Nurses are from Missouri. It is just that simple.
The biggest professional challenge in extending trust comes for nurses who work in the correctional environment and are surrounded by convicted felons. Correctional nurses are confronted daily by inmates trying to manipulate them in order to gain special favors. We learn quickly (if we are to continue to work in this environment) to say “no.” On a daily basis, we hear the grandiose claims of status and wealth possessed prior to incarceration. We are neither impressed or amused. It is then that we roll our eyes silently thinking ‘You can be anything you want to be 25 miles from home.’ Remember, nurses are from Missouri.
Each of us in the correctional environment is constantly under scrutiny by our peers (as it should be). It is one way we keep each other safe in our environment.
Each nurse in the correctional environment has had to submit to background checks. We were asked a barrage of intensely personal questions that spanned our lifetime and included our relationships with family, previous employers, ex-spouses and close contacts. The answers we gave an investigator were then validated through a very intense background check. Lying under oath to an investigator over the simplest things would have made us guilty of a felony.
Correctional nurses would like to know we are surrounded by those could pass the same scrutiny. We all make mistakes, convicted felons or not. The thing you should remember is …“you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) Be honest if you’ve made mistakes and don’t try to hide them. When you are honest about your mistakes, you will gain trustworthiness through your willingness to be transparent.
Regardless of your profession, somebody somewhere will always want to see the evidence to support any claims you make. Somebody somewhere is always going to say “show me” and so nurses are already prepared through training to do just that. Maybe it’s a really positive thing that nurses are from Missouri. We ask no less of you than we are willing to give of ourselves.
Pam Baker, RN
Footnote: ‘A statement is not true just because someone says it is true.’ If you happen to love a nurse, you will need to show evidence through action (in addition to saying the words). You may think this is unnecessary, but you already know nurses are from Missouri!
Feel free to share your comments!
Posted in Uncategorized by Pam Baker-Redman with 4 comments.
Have you ever been a little too overconfident in your own ability to perform a task? Discovery that you weren’t quite as knowledgeable or skilled as you thought is a very humbling experience. You might find a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
In the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, I was enrolled in the Mining Technology program at Pikeville College. (They no longer have this program since the decline of the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky.) One of the required classes, along with mining law, coal preparation, mine safety, rescue and first aid was mining electricity. Adjunct faculty for this course was a very successful electrical engineer.
As a class we studied schematics of circuits and I learned the meaning of such terms as ohms, resistance, voltage drop, circuits, etc. Prior to this course, my brain had never been “wired” to think about such complex concepts. I struggled in this class and I was not alone. Fortunately, due to some group effort by those with the real aptitude and a lot of grace from my instructor, I managed to pass the course. If you quizzed me today on what I learned, it would be a short quiz. The most profound thing I took away from this course would not be realized until about 3 years later. I can personally vouch for the fact that “A little bit of knowledge is dangerous!” 🙂 Read on for my personal moment of revelation.
I’m a self-proclaimed connoisseur of good coffee and as you may know, all really good coffee must be brewed at an optimal water temperature of 195 – 205 F. Life is far too short to accept cold, stale, or substandard coffee! I happened to have a Bunn coffeemaker at the time and it was not keeping my reservoir tank hot enough for that perfect brew. I thought this must be due to lime deposits on the inside element. I decided I’d just repair it myself. After all, I had taken a class in electricity. I knew how to do this. It would be a piece of cake!
I slowly disassembled the coffeemaker, trying to make sure I’d remember where each screw and part should be. I recognized the problem immediately (or so I thought). I spent the next 2 hours scraping “lime” deposits off the heating coil. No wonder the coffeemaker wasn’t working! The heating element/coil looked to me like the spring inside a ballpoint pen. Only it wasn’t connected continuously. This must also be a reason my reservoir tank was not hot enough. It simply wasn’t getting a good connection. So I “fixed” that too. I made sure the coils were all connected to each other in a continual loop.
More than two hours later, when I finally reassembled, I had only a few extra screws left over. The moment of truth always happens when you reconnect an appliance to the power source. I extended my hand toward the outlet, cautiously drawing back the rest of my body and turning my face away as I did so. At the moment the plug made contact with the outlet, there was a huge blue flash from the outlet. No breaker was tripped, but I’m certain my heart skipped several beats! I should have had a ground fault breaker. (Thank God I didn’t attempt to “fix” that too! Otherwise my story might have made the evening news.) My heart continued to pound as I imagined I had just narrowly escaped electrocuting myself!
I immediately gathered up the remains of my seriously defunct coffeemaker (& the left over screws) and walked next door to ask my neighbor for help. He was an old retired coal miner with a lot of common sense and I thought he might tell me what I had done wrong). I watched him slowly take it back apart, then suddenly he started getting a smug little smile on his face. He looked up at me and asked in a low voice that I’m sure was struggling to hold back laughter.
“Pam, do you know what they use porcelain for in electrical work?”
‘Yes, I sure do,’ I replied. ‘It’s an insulator.’
“That’s right.” He said.
“Do you know what all that white stuff was that you thought was “lime” on the heating coil? It was porcelain!” What you have here is a dead ground.
I learned two valuable lessons that day (after discarding my coffeemaker and investing in a new one):
1) A little bit of knowledge is dangerous
2) Leave all electrical work to the real expert electricians & electrical engineers!
The best stories are made when you learn to laugh at yourself! Confession is a good thing too. Surely I’m not the only one who has acted on “a little bit of knowledge.” There’s another story I haven’t shared about the time I watched a video on installation of laminate flooring and thought I could do that myself too. (After all, the woman in the video didn’t seem to be having a problem.) Fortunately I realized I needed a real carpenter. Feel free to (admit to) and share your own stories under the comments section.
Pam Baker, RN
The quote “A little bit of knowledge is dangerous” is attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744). The reference is found in An Essay on Criticism, written in 1709. Lengthy as his essay was, the content is just as relevant today as it was over 300 years ago.
Posted in HUMOR, STORIES by Pam Baker-Redman with 2 comments.