Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tidbits of Wisdom

Here are some tidbits of wisdom that I imparted to the Laramie County Community College graduates this past week

Graduation 2009
“Tidbits of Wisdom”

Tidbit #1: Be consistent—People know you by the choices you make, no matter what they are. My counsel to you is to be consistent in making good choices. Yes, I know it is difficult to make the right choice all the time. But your consistency will ultimately define you.

Tidbit #2: Practice constant vigilance—Mad-Eye Moody consistently said to Harry Potter, “Constant vigilance, Potter.” Tonight I say, “Constant vigilance, graduates.” You have to be constantly vigilant and watchful that you might avoid the pitfalls that people tend to place, inadvertently or advertently, in your way. When we are not vigilant, we tend to be the reed that blows constantly in the wind, not knowing where we are being blown.

Tidbit #3: Seek good friends and colleagues—One of the most important decisions you will ever make is to seek good friends and colleagues, the ones that will help you rise above the challenges that you face and then help you move forward along a successful career. So-called friends who continually tear you down tell you that you cannot ever succeed, or create a contentious environment are not your friends and probably never will be your friends. Good friends will buoy you up, strive to help you when in need, and will create an environment where you will succeed.

Tidbit # 4: Be kind, gracious, and understanding—Somehow over the past several decades, the ability to be kind, gracious, and/or understanding has become submerged in the “mean-girls-and-mean-boys” syndrome. People seem to want to destroy others in order to gain some semblance of something. Those who espouse this philosophy ultimately end up alone, estranged from all those who loved them, estranged from their jobs, and, unfortunately, estranged from themselves. But being kind and gracious to others will create the environment wherein all succeed.

Tidbit #5: Rise above the froth of life and don’t become entangled in the underbrush—In today’s ever-more negative society, it is easy to be sucked into doing and saying things you never intended on saying and doing and being someone that you never planned on being. To stay above the froth of life, you must have the vision and the character to do the right thing at the right time and eschew that which does not uplift, enhance, or create an environment of positive change.

Tidbit #6: Celebrate successes, no matter how big or small—We need to celebrate even the tiniest success. We are here to celebrate success; we are here to celebrate life and all of its trappings, good and bad; we are here to celebrate learning; we are here to celebrate your bright futures; we are here to celebrate your choice to be here and to have accomplished what you have accomplished. A positive celebration now and then is not a bad thing.

Tidbit #7: Learn something new every day—Ah, yes, you have earned your degree. Now what? Learning never stops unless you choose to let it stop. Lifelong learning should become one thing that remains active in your arsenal for living large. Remember: You either progress or retrogress. There is no such thing as stagnation.

Tidbit #8: Do your homework—Yes, school is done—at least for now anyway. But doing your homework should never end. Before opining about this or that, be sure to research both sides of the issue. Just because so and so said X does not mean that what so and so said is totally and completely true. Jumping to conclusions without all of the facts will ultimately damage your reputation for having integrity.

Tidbit #9: Understand you are the puppeteer of your own life—One of the largest challenges in life is finally understanding that you control your life. You make the choices; you are accountable for what you do. When you allow someone else to dangle your strings, you will never be free, you will never accept total responsibility, and your life will never be yours. Ultimately, your life depends on the choices you make.

Tidbit #10: Always stay focused on the goal and the mission—I was reminded the other day by a former Base Commander that we will have fewer problems, encounter fewer challenges, and be more successful if we stay the course and focus constantly on our goals and mission. Yes, there will be the 10% to 30%--and maybe even more, maybe less—who will attempt to throw you off by placing varying sizes of problematic boulders/ problems in your path. But if you focus on your goals and mission and plow forward to meet them, you will be able to push or pulverize the boulders that lie menacingly along the path.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ode to Graduating Nurses

Ode to Graduating Nurses

Today you sit quietly, dressed in the garb of nurses,
poised to participate in poignant pinnings,
and poised, one more time, to listen,
to tidbits of wisdom from those who soon will be
your peers and colleagues.
For those of us whose parents, in-laws, sons,
daughters, grandparents, neighbors, cousins,
acquaintances, and dear friends you serve and will serve,
we salute you, pay homage to your care,
your kindness, your concern, whether early morning,
midday, midnight, around the clock.
You amble through soft-lit halls,
step cautiously into darkened rooms
whose only noise stems from machines,
the rhythmic beating of heart monitors,
breathing apparatuses, and sometimes
the straggly breathing of the sick and the wounded;
yet, you still step in, confident, ready
to the handle any situation, not really knowing
whether Death has swooped in
surreptitiously or waits patiently.
You are there to stem the tide, to relegate Death
to another time, perhaps another place,
mostly by your positive attitude, attention to detail,
and knowing exactly what to do.
You are constantly cognizant of your duty
to mend minds and bodies and often souls.
Many of us watch from perches to the side of the bed,
magazines or books or computers
in hand, pretending to read them or do work,
but we watch you do your thing,
marvel at the deft and depth
of your care of those in your care.
Each day, emotions run rampant in those rooms
with monitors, tubes, and things; yet, you seem to assuage
the emotions, part the thickness of sickness
like Moses did the Red Sea, and salve healing
on your patients and their loved ones.
Yes, you have been trained to wear
the appropriately colored pull-string scrubs
and cushioned shoes or crocs, monitor vital signs,
give medications, raise beds
up and down, place extra pillows and blankets,
take blood pressure, and care
for those who are sick and afflicted,
our kin, our loved ones.
Yes, we know that you have been trained well,
learned at the feet of gifted nurses.
We salute you for spending the time to learn
both from books and practical experience;
and we pray that you will continue your journey
and be there again tomorrow,
whether for our own or someone else’s,
it is still the same.
May you go forth and remember
this day and past days.
May you remember who you are
and why you are,
for you are nurses, who love,
who heal, and who understand.
The sun will set later this evening;
the sun will set tomorrow.
and the sun will set
every evening for eternity;
yet, the sun will never set
on nurses helping those most in need.
Thank you from the families and friends
of those for whom you care.

Darrel L. Hammon
May 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunset and Sunrise

Here are a few sunsets and sunrises from Red Sky Loop in Cheyenne, Wyoming:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother Taught Me

For all of the mothers out there:

My Mother Taught Me

When I was young and learning things,
I kneeled in prayer beside my bed.
My mother stood in the shadows,
listening while some words I said:

Oh, Dear Father who art in Heaven
My mother tells me thou art true.
But I don't know just what to think
for all of this is still too new.

But before I turn old like my friends
wilt thou just lean beyond thy cloudless veil
and whisper from thy throne on high
and cause my spirit to softly swell?

If thou doest this I promise all—
I will be thy obedient son
just as my Mother thinks of me
And thy will shall all be done.

Then I climbed up into my bed,
waited for my mother's love.
Then on bended knee she bowed
and poured out her heart to thee above.

I listened to the words she spoke.
They settled on her lips like dew.
I wondered where she learned to speak
such words of love—all true.

To her humble words, I carefully listened:
“Oh, My Father, this night I plea
for my children....please keep them safe...”
finally showed me how to talk to Thee.

Sunday, May 3, 2009



Fall sneaks in like mice at night.
One day, the trees are green;
flowers bloom; tomatoes still produce.

Yet, next morning, summer’s elegance
flees at 32 degrees and below.
The first freeze is always the toughest, most brutal.

I try to cover the vegetables,
anticipating the initial freeze.
But the day before, that gorgeous 72

and no wind lulled us into a false security.
Even at midnight, when I rise, a bit blurry-eyed,
to relieve the one glass of water too many

before bed, the temperature still hovers around 40.
Not feeling the mercury drop outside, I climb back
under the red sheets, now cold from my absence,

fall to sleep, thinking nothing of the frost
that surreptitiously creeps in around 2:00 a.m.,
delicately kissing each tomato, each colored flower.

Frost is no respecter of flowers or vegetables
or anything that might be dainty and vulnerable.
He is clandestine, yet sometimes blatant, and then lingers

for his big brother—winter’s snow—cheating
everything beautiful, yet simultaneously creating beauty
in his own wonderfully white, fresh way.

And spring, their sister, waits her turn, patiently.