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Archive for the ‘me’ Category

Life can be tough some times.Cliff & Momma Landis

A month ago yesterday, my mother died.  She and I were very close.  I always considered her one of my best friends, which was a blessing to me as I grew up.

Mom was staying with us at my house while she recovered from a back injury.  She had a stroke on Saturday, June 16 and died on Sunday, June 17th, 2012.  I have since given the eulogy at her funeral, helped organize her organ donation with my sister, sent a lot of thank-you cards, begun cleaning out her house, made up a spreadsheet of her financial accounts, paid some of her bills, and started closing down all her online accounts.

I have good days where I find old photos and notes, and remember good times from growing up.  I have bad days where I find things that made her cry, or see where sadness and exhaustion took her willpower away from her.  Some days I just feel numb.  I keep getting the impulse to call her and tell her about little things, or to let her know that I made it back up to Atlanta safely.

So yeah, life has been tough.  Work has been tough.  I spend most of my “off” hours sorting through the remains of her life, trying to organize and clean it up to make some sense of everything and to create a lasting memorial of her for the family to share.  I don’t sleep so well any more.  I try to eat well and exercise, but that’s tough too.  I don’t like to whine or gripe, in general — most of you know that I have a tendency to be “solutions focused” — but this is something that has no solution.  I’m going to miss her forever.

But there’s a lot of good memories to comfort me, and a lot of great folks that have been very supportive through everything.  I haven’t been my normal upbeat, hyperactive, do-ALL-the-things self lately, but everyone’s been pretty understanding of that.  I anticipate it’ll be several more months before things start to return to normal for me.

So yeah.  That’s it.  Life can be tough some times.

The last two weeks have been spent going back and forth between Valdosta, Athens and Atlanta, visiting family, friends, and loved ones.  There were a few surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, and without going into too much detail, here’s what I learned:

  1. Intimacy is much better than fame.
  2. Cultivate your friends carefully — quality is always better than quantity.
  3. There comes a point where we become caretakers to our parents, and our parents become like our children.  It’s terrifying, and yet it allows us to lovingly serve those who helped us become who we are, in a way that truly brings balance to the circle of life.  I hope I have a long, long time to serve my many Mothers (both biological and spiritual) in this way.
  4. We all want the dignity of making our own decisions, without feeling pressured or harassed.
  5. Doctors know a lot about one thing.  But they don’t know everything.
  6. When we’re hurt, scared, and in pain, it’s always best to have an advocate at our side to help.
  7. I am love, and you are too.

Here’s hoping this finds you right where you need to be.  All my love to you and yours!



Hi folks!  The view ain't bad!

I’m settling nicely into Atlanta, and enjoying all the exciting work in my new job as the Web Services Librarian at GSU.  We’re hard at work on a new website, so keep your eyes open for the groovy new features we’ll be rolling out in the next few weeks.

In the mean time, here are some speaking gigs I’ve got lined up for this month:

I’m really looking forward to doing both presentations, and to taking part in the post-talk dialogue with librarians (always my favorite part!).  So sign up, show up, and let’s have a conversation!

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be joining Georgia State University as the new Web Services Librarian starting June 1st! This is a very exciting opportunity, and I’ll be joining a great team.

I’ll still be sad to leave Valdosta, though, since this is my home town & Odum Library is where I “grew up” as a librarian (if I can even call myself a grownup!).

The future looks both adventurous and challenging for libraries, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next chapter in our story together! Wish me luck!!!

I’m 30 years old.  As of last Thursday.  Most of my life has happened in my last 30 years and nine months (Thanks Mom!) traveling around the Sun, and I’ve learned a few things, but one message has been nagging me the last month or two.

The life-changing experience.

I gave a bunch of money to Haiti back in January, and I’ve been sort of quiet since then.  If I could have raised money and awareness for Partners in Health while staying out of the spotlight, I would have, but hey–folks like a “personal interest” story, and I figured any discomfort I felt in front of cameras was nothing compared to what the earthquake victims were suffering.  I may be good at giving a presentation in front of a crowd, but being blind-sided by “thank you”s in restrooms and restaurants makes me feel weird.  But I overcame the squidgy feelings to encourage folks to keep spreading the word about PIH and the people of Haiti, no matter where I was.  Because that’s what you do when the message is important.

As soon as I announced the fundraiser, the immediate reaction from friends and family, beside disbelief, was worry.  “Wait, wait, wait.  That wasn’t *all* your savings, was it?” Or even worse (but adorable), when the earthquake happened in Chile, my niece Tori expressed her worry to her mom, afraid that I’d give away *all* of my money and have nothing left.  After my sister reassured her that other nice people would help take care of the folks in Chile, Tori felt better.  But sure enough, right after singing me her adorable rendition of Happy Birthday over the phone, she quickly asked, “DO YOU HAVE ANY MONEY LEFT, UNCLE CLIFF?”

Yes, sweetheart, I still have money.  I also now have hope, faith, and joy at the generosity of my fellow human beings.

The nagging question…

After it was all over, and things quieted back down for me (if not for the people in Haiti), I thought about the experience I had.  I figured out why people were so concerned when I told them my plan.  I realized that the money I donated represented something to people.  For those that worried for me, my money represented Security.  What happened to my Security?  Years of toil and hard work, gone to someone else.  That’s money that I can’t use to buy a car, a house, or a TV.  It’s money that I can’t spend on emergency medical bills, funeral expenses, or bail.  If things get bad, I don’t have that money to fall back on.

I have plenty of security.  People are my security.  My body and brain won’t last forever, but the love of my friends and family will.  So if I get in an accident, get sick, or any number of other things, I know that I’ll be well taken care of, no matter what happens.  Can I say that same thing for the people of Haiti?  No.  They have nothing.  And when I mean they have nothing, I’m not saying “they don’t have TV and drive-through burgers,” I mean, they have nothing.  I’ve seen pictures of children with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  Parents gone.  Family sick or dead.  In desperate need of food, shelter, and medicine.  That, my friends, is a lack of Security.

So yeah, I don’t regret my donation one bit.  Since I live rather cheaply and save most of my paycheck, I should be able to put all $10,000 back in the bank in a little over two years.  Two years for me, but a lifetime to families who would have died otherwise.

The take-home message:

We should all think about our security in the larger picture.

In the news and in friends’ lives, I’ve seen bank after bank, company after company fail due to corruption.  I’ve seen folks’ money–built up over years of hard labor–evaporate overnight.  I may have all the savings and retirement plans and tax-sheltered this-and-thats that I can get, but I still don’t put my trust in them, or in the system.  I put my trust and energy into loving and serving the people around me.  I know that they would sooner die than forsake my trust; I can’t say that about my bank.