Life

In a few months, I intend to publish my first children’s book.  It is called “I knew a girl named Buttercup Bloom.”  It is a fact-based story about my struggles with bullying.  “Buttercup Bloom” is a composite character of several people from my childhood and into my adult life.  The first person that the character is based on is my first girlfriend, Marta, that I met at the age of seven.  The most recent person she is based on is someone named Amy, a person who taught me a lot about friendship, probably without her even knowing it.

I hope with the release of this book, I can call attention to the stigma of bullying throughout the lifespan.  It is something that goes on from the playground to the board room and from face-to-face interactions to cyberspace.  I am a staunch anti-bullying advocate, as I hope “I knew a girl named Buttercup Bloom” will prove.

And now, the excerpt.  Be kind, it is still a rough draft!

I knew a girl named Buttercup Bloom.  I met her Once Upon a Time when we were young and I last saw her after we had grown up.  When I met her, summer’s green leaves were changing to the reds, yellows and oranges of fall. She had bright eyes and a smile filled with pretty white teeth. She wore cute yellow dresses that were the color of buttercups, just like her name. 

I let Buttercup Bloom into my life during a very sad time. I met her after my mother had died from a very bad illness. At first, it seemed that Buttercup Bloom didn’t like me. I may have annoyed her at times. But in no time, Buttercup Bloom filled the empty space that my mother’s death left in my life. She could never take Mama’s place, but she didn’t need to either. Talking to Buttercup was very easy and she became almost as good of a friend as my mother had been.

My name is Wes Wormer. I was not well-liked at school. Kids would pick on me because I looked funny to them, especially mean girls and one particular big boy. I didn’t have good eyesight, so I wore thick glasses. I had big ears that stuck out from my head like handles on coffee cups. They thought my last name was funny, and instead of calling me by my right name, they called me “Wes Wormy.” I was smaller than other kids, so the big boys liked to hit me and throw me to the ground.  I had horrible ear infections when I was young, which left me partially deaf in my left ear. This affected my speech, so I talked kind of funny as a kid. The other kids picked on me because of it.  Later, in high school, I was often shoved against or into one of the lockers near the cafeteria.  Yeah, lunchtime was usually quite eventful.

Mama stood by my side and tried to make me feel better.  She couldn’t be with me at school, but she was there for me at home.  Many times she saw me cry and she tried to say the right things to make me feel better.  In some ways, she over protected me.  I couldn’t try out for Little League and I couldn’t join Boy Scouts.  I think Mama was afraid I’d get hurt.

Buttercup Bloom was different than other kids. She didn’t make fun of me. After she got used to me, she spoke to me like I was any other kid. I never had to think about how I looked or about my funny name or my poor health – none of that seemed to matter to Buttercup Bloom.  Buttercup even liked my glasses.  She would take them off of my face and put them on herself, saying they made her look “sophisticated!”

It has been a while since I added any new content here!  I hope to remedy that. Over the past year and a half, my wife and I have been busy being foster parents to two mischievous boys, ages seven and nine.  Well, they have now been back with their biological family for a month and the “empty nest” is starting to become more and more real to me.

Now that I am not playing “Mr. Mom” anymore – at least until a new placement comes into our home – I will have more time for one of my other great loves – writing.  Not that I have been completely dormant as a writer.  I have a few projects that I am working on, namely a children’s book and a sort of memoir, both revolving around the topic of bullying.  I also continue my assignments at Examiner.com as the Rockford (IL) Workplace Issues Examiner.  You can find my work for Examiner here.

As I progress on the books I am writing, I will give updates here. I also plan to post some excerpts as they become available.  I am targeting the middle of 2014 for publication of both books.  They will be available on Smashwords and Amazon.  Until then, keep reading whatever you can get your hands on, even if it’s just for a few minutes per day.  Keep your brain sharp and your heart open!

I recently switched web hosts for this website. I had to do it. I suffered through a year full of issues with the other host. They would suspend my account for excessive bandwidth issues, even though the stats on my account page said no such issues existed. They would suspend me (and others) for not logging into their forums. Silly thing to ding someone for – if I have nothing to say, why should I log into a forum? And why is that a term of service?  Just plain dumb if you ask me – but no one did, so I guess my opinion meant nothing, right?

Speaking of opinions meaning nothing, it seems that complaining about said issues was a no-no. I had the guts to complain about the lousy service they provided. Apparently, I was in the wrong for complaining since I use their free hosting service. My answer from them for complaining was to get a very surly response to my surliness and also receiving a form to terminate my account. The not-so-customer-friendly-customer-service person said if I didn’t appreciate their free service to please leave. After all, they were all volunteers and I should know better than to complain about their free service and to insult their company.

It’s true – I did tell them I thought their service sucked. I was angry. I was ignored after several requests for them to explain why they were taking me offline for bogus issues about bandwidth usage, why things went to hell in a bucket for days or weeks at a time during their countless attempts to upgrade their servers and their hair-brained policy of wasting time to log into their forums (run by their nifty customer service agents, BTW). So yes – in a word, I was PI$$ED! Free or not, I have a right to expect that the company will buck up and show some level of accountability.

This is the same company that would send me emails asking me to upgrade to their premium paid service. Now why in God’s name would I do that? I would think they would be jumping thru their a$$es to give free users great service so that they would feel welcome and would want to upgrade. Does a used car salesman get testy when a test drive goes bad? I can hear it now. “You mean you don’t want to buy this wonderful car, even though the brakes squeal at 100 decibels? Well screw you then – don’t come back!”

So – here’s the lesson that I hope those idiots learn. If a customer files a complaint, do what you can to make things right! In my case, I filed a complaint ticket asking why they kept suspending my account for no good reason. I got offered the door. That is NOT a good practice! Even people who are not very good at business can tell you that you are probably not the only game in town and that unhappy customers (or free users) will go elsewhere. Just like me – I parked my happy butt and my website somewhere else. And who knows, maybe I’ll buy their premium service if I feel the test drive is worthy of the gamble.

As for the customer service agent that acted like such a jerk to me – I hope that he learns a thing or two about service and the fact that even free users deserve to be treated fairly. It is also a great practice to treat free users as paying customers so that they actually WANT to become a paying customer. In over 25 years of jobs involving customer service, I can honestly tell you that I have dealt with irate customers. Maybe they didn’t always drive away happy, but I knew better than to tell them where to go!

Word of mouth is either a company’s best friend or their worst nightmare. And a bad reputation is usually completely preventable.

 

We have all failed. I’m not even going to ask for a show of hands. You’ve done it; don’t try to kid yourself otherwise. Even if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and you have had the world handed to you on a golden platter, you have failed. It happens to the best and worst of us.

To me, strength is defined in how you cope with failing. Are you a whiner? Do you feel as if the world handed you a raw deal? Is it always someone else’s fault? True, others may contribute to your failures, but in the end, you own them. The secret is to not let them own you.

My wife will think this is all really weird coming from me. I’m still fighting the demons that emerged because of past negative events in my life. Meeting those demons led me to, at best, questionable choices. I could have reacted differently and there would have been markedly different outcomes. I could have walked away silently, leaving the effect of those situations to the the imaginations of those in left in my wake .

Then there is the whole concept of reaction. Maybe the lesson was that I shouldn’t have been in a position to react at all. Failure may come no matter how proactive a person is, but then you go into situations with eyes wide open instead of wandering into a quagmire that requires a major fight to evade.

Take failure for what it is – a lesson. We learn when we fail. We learn what NOT to do in the future. Remember what is said about doing something over and over and expecting a different result. That is truly nuts. Been there. Done that.

Take ownership for the failures in your life. It is never too late. Learn from them and build on the lessons you learn. Learn that there is one person under your control and that you should never allow others to take that power from you.

Being defeated is only a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent. Marilyn vos Savant

Everyone fails, but it’s only fatal when people fail to learn from it. Unknown

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the World are the ones who do.  Jack Kerouac

In life you are either a passenger or a pilot, it’s your choice.  Unknown

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.  David Brinkley