Friday, December 19, 2014

My Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah Gift to You: Hope for the Future of the Sea! by Tina Erwin

Dear Friends,
     This is the last blog that will come out using the RSS feed from this Light Times blog. I have migrated my blog to my newly revamped website:
     If you want to read the blog below with the photographs that go with it, then go ahead and go to the new website, now.
     If you would like to continue to receive these blogs automatically, please send your email to:  Then you will be added to an automatic mailing list if you are not already on it.  Thank you!
     This is supposed to be the season of hope, but all too often it is, at the least, the season of stress and at the worst, the season of depression, grief and despair. But it doesn't have to be. If we look around us, we are going to see innumerable acts of kindness, gentle faces with easy smiles and catch a look at a proud parent, or the delighted smiles of a happy grandparent. Perhaps we expect these things. This season is not only for children.
         What we don’t expect is to see something that gives us hope for tomorrow. Despite the commercialism of this time of year, there are ways that we can give back, not merely to each other, but to the Earth itself. Christ’s message was not merely that of resurrection and life everlasting, it was the hope of the inherent goodness of each person, and their desire to make the world a better place for all of us. Hanukkah is about continuing to see the light in the darkness and hoping for brighter times.
         If we look around us, we see how we, as the human species, have contaminated the planet. My focus is how we have polluted the oceans on levels that should sicken all of us. This does not mean that we have consciously dumped plastic in among the sea life. Tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, shipwrecks and the thoughtless acts of the ships that ply the sea have washed and/or dumped tons of plastics and other debris in the sea.
         The world is not flat as was previously thought and by the same token, we have to change our belief that we have no real way to clean up the sickening level of plastic in the oceans of the world. There is a way.
         This is really a story of how one person can make a difference and absolutely change the world. That one person is a Boyan Slat from Delft, Holland, and to quote him: “While diving in Greece, I became frustrated when coming across more plastic bags than fish and wondered: ‘why can’t we clean this up?” This young man, at the age of 19 years old, figured out a way to clean the plastic out of the 5 massive islands of swirling plastic on this planet.
          But the plastic does not just congregate among these five islands he calls ‘gyres;’ they are all over the world and the concept of cleaning them up looked like an impossibly daunting task. Everyone said it couldn’t be done.
         But it can be done.
         Boyan came up with a concept of “The Ocean Cleanup Array” and to quote his website: “the Ocean Cleanup Array concept is likely a feasible and viable method to remove almost half the plastic from the North Pacific Garbage patch in 10 years, while being an estimated 7900 times faster and 33 times cheaper than conventional methods.”
         So my humble offering to all you is the hope that we can clean this up.  Please check out this uplifting story on his website: 
            Participate in some way.  Believe that the future can be better than it currently is and that we can each be part of it.
            Love to all of you!  Tina


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Work Life Balance Part 3 by Tina Erwin

The Challenge of Working from Home
The Karmic Savings and Loan Chapter 4??:  Work-Life Balance:       Part 3 The Challenge of Working From Home.
       Working from home saves time, gas, and offers the individual a freedom to manage their day. It can be amazing – or it can also be not – so – amazing.
       When you work from home, your day can begin at 5:30am so that you can get something done before the phone rings. You can go through all of your email so that you are completely caught up before the day starts.
       Once your day starts, you can work through lunch, stopping only for a quick bite to eat. You can work into the darkness and then read email again before you pass out in the wee hours of the morning.
       When you work from home, people think you have all the time in the world and they feel freer to impose on your time.
       Your family may be confused on what your work hours are and how you handle them because you don’t ‘leave’ and ‘come home.’ Family members may be frustrated that you aren’t giving them more time – after all, your home all day? They may also be far more demanding of your time because they cannot actually see what you do and you don’t leave for an office so they may or may not offer you the respect you deserve from working from home.
       You may be the one person who is the most confused of all. Working from home may be the ultimate challenge when it comes to setting boundaries of time management.
       You are the CEO of your life here, whether or not you work for someone else. Working from home is perhaps the most challenging work-life balancing act there is.
       If you work from home, and you have family members who are at home during the day with you, whether it is a retired spouse, children of any age, it is ultimate test of setting boundaries to insist that your family respect your ‘work’ day.
       Here are some tips and tools for managing working from home:
·      Have a beginning and an ending for your day.
·      Tell your family what your working hours are.
·      End your day no later than 6pm.
·      Enjoy business lunches like you would in any off site office setting.
·      When you staying home for lunch, stop working. Go to a different room, eat lunch, rest if you must but stop working for a reasonable time, at least an hour.
·      If you have family errands to run, then set aside a time to just do those things.
·      If you are in the middle of a business phone call, demand, don’t ask, demand that your family respect what you are doing and not interrupt you while you are on the phone.
·      Do not let your children answer your business phone. It is unprofessional and it will hurt your business.
·      Make sure you can close off your office.
·      Do not do email on your phone after working hours.
·      Do not have your office in your bedroom because you will be telling your subconscious that your workday never ends. It is also a constant reminder of how much work is left to do. If you worked in a traditional off site office, you wouldn’t be seeing it.
·      Keep your office neat.
·      When you stop your work day, turn off your computer, turn off your lights and if necessary, close the door.
·      Take weekends off. Take holidays off.
·      Do not answer business calls on the weekend.
·      Do not answer business calls after 6pm Monday through Friday.
·      When you are with your family, give them your entire focus.
       When you do these things, you will ultimately find that you are more professional, you garner much more respect from your family and your peers will also respect you as a professional. These are the golden keys to work-life balance. It isn’t easy, but you will be physically healthier for the long term and ultimately enjoy your work life and your home life so much more!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Work LIfe Balance Part Two by Tina Erwin

Email invades our homes. We have it on our work computer, our ipads/tablets, our phones and our home computers. We are tremendously connected, or tethered, or chained or imprisoned – but only if we allow ourselves to be treated this way.
       Email may not be the problem. The real issue is boundaries. We need to be able to say no I won’t do this or that. This is my time. Sometimes you have to force other people to respect your time, and your standards of work excellence, and you have to respect yourself.
       In a time when so many people are worried about keeping their jobs or having enough money to cover bills, there is a new paradigm that seems to be emerging that demands that our work day never end.
       This new paradigm that has slipped into our very bedrooms is making us sick, physically sick. The tension is never turned off. Our bodies never get a day off, to have fun, to laugh out loud, take a hike, sit and veg in front of a good movie or football game.
       Our busyness from work has taken over our lives like some creeping mold that is beginning to cover us, overtaking us in our waking and sleeping moments. It’s so subtle, most of us have no idea when or how this even happened, but it did, it’s there.
       Perhaps the issue is that we feel that we have all of these timesaving, instant tools that propel us into faster and faster communications scenarios and the expectation is that we will get it done faster and faster until, really, what’s the point? If everything is a fire drill, why care?
       The truth is that people cannot be on the professional firing line 24/7 and expect to work at peak efficiency. It’s like never letting a race horse leave the track and then when he does get an hour or two, you only feed him the bare minimum and then you send the poor beast out to run again until he can’t run anymore.
       There’s an old Navy saying that there will be no leave until morale improves. The irony is that you need leave, vacation time, days off to be able to come back to work fresh, ready for the week ahead, especially if the work you do doesn’t demand that you are constantly making life and death decisions.  So, let’s return to our three scenarios.
       Scenario One
       The woman who was expected to read her email on Sunday afternoon and show up to an 8am meeting Monday morning may want to take her boss aside and ask for a clarification of working hours. The executive has no need to apologize for missing the email. Work parameters should be clearly defined. She can also tell her boss that she does not work seven days a week and that she does not read email seven days a week, especially on weekends. If there is an emergency, she can ask her boss to please call her. She can also ask that if this is required, will she receive overtime for working over the normal working hours.
       This sounds gutsy, but at some point, you have to establish boundaries for yourself, your job, your family and your sanity. Actually, the executive in Scenario One did just that and does not read work email to this day at home. There are also no more ‘flash meetings’ Monday morning. Everyone benefited from one person putting the brakes on insanity, and the constant obsessive control of her boss. Boundaries have to be set and enforced. Also, she didn’t lose her job. She’s still there and now she fully enjoys her weekends.
       Scenario Two
       You decide to handle the email from this demanding group by keeping it professional. You kindly explain to the boss who hosted the group, on Monday morning, that you have a deep and profound respect for the work-life balance of your entire staff and that none of you read email on Sundays or weekends. You thank him for understanding and promise to get him the edited power point by close of business on Monday. Actually you get it to him by 11am. 
       The outcome of this true-life situation is that the host of this group was not professional. He never responded to a single email, not the first one, nor the second one where the power point presentation was provided. This man was rude. Perhaps he was miffed that someone stood up to him. Ultimately, it is his loss.
       Organizations work with, for and among other organizations, including other companies who may have extremely abusive policies. Each CEO, Manager, Supervisor and Executive has a moral duty to their staff to make sure that no one else abuses their people. People are your most critical resource. It is important that management stand up for them.
       Scenario Three
       Lets go back to our demanding boss who never takes a moment off and is chronically ill. This is another scenario where it is critical to set your personal boundaries. While it is easy to suggest to all who read this that you have to stand up for yourself and set your boundaries, it is quite another to decide to do this if you are worried about your job. However the bottom line is that you simply cannot keep up the pace of work if you never rest your body.
       Ultimately, you won’t be able to keep your job if you are constantly out sick. Remember, if your subconscious thinks that you need time off and you are not taking it, your subconscious will make you sick to ensure you can finally have ‘legally sanctioned’ down time, meaning you get to take a sick day.
       It is interesting to note that France has passed a new law that prohibits after-hours emails.  Check out this link: