One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for November 2017

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

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Chicago TARDIS - Finally Realizing What I Wanted to Do at 13 Years Old
There’s really not much to write about this week, since I’m prepping for the Chicago TARDIS charity auction. However, in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, allow me to present this guest post on gratitude for You Know Neen.

Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving holiday, everyone.


Written by gordondym

November 22, 2017 at 6:17 am

Thoughts About “Thoughts & Prayers”

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Beverly Unitarian - Exterior Angle“Thoughts and prayers” have become a frequent refrain during community crises, with people attempting to offer comfort and empathy during very traumatic events. Usually, the conversation about “thoughts and prayers” centers around three variations on a theme:

  1. This is a tough event for anyone to handle, and we offer our thoughts and prayers to the community dealing with this recent event;
  2. Never mind “thoughts and prayers”; how about actually doing something – changing policy,  making donations, or taking positive action; and
  3. Don’t knock anyone for offering “thoughts and prayers”, because meditation and prayer are often the only things that people can offer. 

On many levels, I can speak to this, since this past year has been particularly eventful in how I allow people to comfort me. Even despite some potential burnout and “compassion fatigue”, I think I can provide some perspective that might clarify things…if only for my friends and colleagues.

As I’ve stated before in this blog, my mother had been hospitalized in late February due to a foot infection. During the health crisis (and resulting rehabilitation), many of my friends offered to keep me in their “thoughts and prayers.” I found it extremely comforting…after all, knowing people were pulling for me to succeed. Yet, “thoughts and prayers” were often used in a wide variety of situations. So since I’ve been looking for freelance work while caregiving, people would keep me in their “thoughts and prayers”…0902171913

…but many of those people were in positions to offer me potential leads. Some offered unsolicited,  inappropriate feedback and advice (like telling me not to send my mother to a skilled nursing facility to rehab because of the odor), others provided what sounded like assistance but felt defeatist (like telling me to consider receiving training to become a paid caregiver for Mom; I’ve investigated and it’s not workable). Worse, many of my colleagues offer “thoughts and prayers” as a casual afterthought like saying “bless you” after someone sneezes. Rather than find comfort, it sounds like an excuse…and becomes increasingly annoying.

In light of recent events such as storms in Houston and Puerto Rico, the riots in Charlottesville, and the latest shooting…” thoughts and prayers” have been an easy excuse to avoid action and drive social change. And that’s the problem.

We live in very challenging times, and many people find comfort in pursuits like meditation and contemplation. (And yes, I am including atheists as well as more religious people). For many of us, the importance of being kind to each other has diminished in recent months, and that lack of kindness takes its toll psychologically and spiritually. When I take inventory of my actions over recent months, some of my behavior embarrasses me…but I also know that my own “thoughts and prayers” towards others won’t matter unless I change my behavior. Otherwise, I am only making an empty promise and never have to make positive changes. (Although I must admit that I have to laugh at myself in order to stay grounded.)

We all can’t donate to causes, but we can support. We can contact our legislators when key bills are being considered on the state and federal. We can provide support to our colleagues at marches and events. Because no matter what your particular political stance, positive action always take precedence over “thoughts and prayers.”

Please share your thoughts via our Facebook page or in the comments section below. If you want to contact me privately, you can find that information via this blog’s About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

November 16, 2017 at 1:35 pm

The Thrill of It All: Five Years of Blogging

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C Now Blogiversary HeaderI’ll be honest, I’ve been so involved in the thrill of it all, I missed celebrating an important milestone: five years ago in August, I posted for the first time on this blog.

When I started co-writing Chicago Now’s Job Stalker blog, I saw it as a way to build upon my personal blog. I wanted to establish “thought leadership”, and after several months….well, I didn’t want to be “the blogger who’s always looking for a job”. However, thanks to my then-recent work with Netsquared Chicago (the thrill of it all had ended due to work and other issues), I decided that having my own Chicago Now blog focusing on technology and social change would be wiser, smarter, and more strategic.

And for five years, this blog has seen several changes in its scope. Early on, it served as a mishmash of posts about social media (one based on a Sherlock Holmes-themed presentation; the other earned a Twitter harassment campaign from a PR firm who used a sock puppet for comments), book reviews (the most popular of which was this review of The Little Book of Big PR), and “Meet Your Neighbor” highlights of local organizations. As I integrated social enterprise and mission-driven businesses into the blogging mix, I had to admit that this blog took on an identity of its own. Yes, technology and social change in Chicago are still the primary focus….but it’s not the only focus.

C Now - John Oliver

Sure, I wasn’t writing about the Chicago Cubs or the Blackhawks, or even general life-in-Chicago posts. Admittedly, I was the geeky, obscure blog amongst the crowd of more crowd-pleasing, popular blogs that might get cut-and-pasted by the Huffington Post. (And I have no desire to ever write for the Huffington Post; I have a strong desire to get paid for my writing.) My posts tended to focus on my secret past in tobacco prevention or working as an election judge. In an open letter, I asked John Oliver for an interview (and John, I’m still waiting to hear from your people). I realized the frustration of knowing that I can have anything I want, I just can’t have everything I want. Even when I’m writing about the thrill of it all in my professional career as a freelance marketing consultant/copywriter, or deciding to temporarily move in and care for my mother, there’s still something about all that which “fits” this blog.

(It helps that a conversation with one of my closest friends helped me decide that this blog could also focus on the experiences of a former social service professional as a client. After all, living under Governor Bruce Rauner means that there are plenty of concerns about Illinois’ economy. And let’s not forget that we’re also living in the Trump presidency….and it hurts me to have to type that. )

Yet I’m proud that five years of blogging has provided some personal high marks. For example, two posts in the past month – one focused on cybersecurity, the other on fundraising efforts towards Puerto Rico relief – have seen huge amounts of traffic. (And participating in Blogapalooz-Hour has allowed me to get away with writing posts like my desire to hang out with the Leverage crew, or how my sense of humor has saved my sanity. I’ve managed to carve out a small reputation as a New Pulp writer and have even added this blog to my LinkedIn profile. (In fact, some of my recent experiences as an author have sparked a desire to write more posts about digital piracy and how such crimes affect nonprofits…and thanks to this blog, I have the freedom to pursue that topic.)

Comics Code

Five years of blogging for Chicago Now (at least, with my own blog) has provided me with numerous rewards. Many of them have been tangible or professional, like review copies of books or complimentary passes to events like Cyber Security Chicago. But more have been emotional: the joy of sharing great community efforts to drive social change or the satisfaction of helping like-minded organizations get the word out. Even the challenge of writing a weekly post has its rewards…although that discipline took an extremely long time to cultivate.

The thrill of it all is apparent when I think of what this blog has accomplished: getting me to build a body of work as a writer. And although yes, I’m still seeking consistent freelance work, there is something to be said for being persistent in sharing my thoughts and perceptions.

And ironically, I’m looking forward to continuing for another five years.

Have any highlights? Questions or comments? Please feel free to leave them below or join the conversation via our Facebook page. (All comments are moderated). If you wish to reach out to me privately, please use this convenient contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

November 7, 2017 at 9:54 am