Archive for May, 2010

By Shannon Penrod

When so much is wrong where do you begin to prioritize?  We all know we are in an economic crisis; we all know that there are things that are going to have to be cut.  But can we afford to continue to cut funding to our children’s educations?  Can we afford to continue to cut teachers and funding for books and music programs and other essential services?  Are we really saving money when we cut these things?  Does anyone really think we are saving money when we lay off crossing guards who keep our children safe?  If we are forced to put 35 children in a classroom, do we really think there is dollar savings?  It seems more like mortgaging our children’s future than actually saving money.

Fortunately there is an alternative, but it requires us to use our voices and to use them loudly. We need to be one voice telling Congress to pass the Education Jobs Fund.  This is an amendment to a bill that will prevent drastic cuts to our schools and create government funding to help keep teachers in the classroom. The vote on this bill is scheduled for next Tuesday.  We need to let our congressional representatives know how we feel about children’s education as well as support our teachers! We need to take action now because next week maybe too late!   

Please take action in two ways:

1. Visit  http://www.capwiz.com/nea/issues/alert/?alertid=15045411&type=co to forward a letter directly to your representative to have your voice heard.  

2. Spread the word!  Tell your friends families and colleagues to do the same.  If you are a social networker here is a sample of how to spread the word  in your status:

Tell Congress 2 pass #EducationJobsFund 2 support teachers w/ no cuts in class #education http://bit.ly/8ZBh8M. Vote is next wk. Pls RT!

As Doctor Suess said, “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

Use your voice!  Help our teachers, help our children, help our society.

For more information on this important legislation visit http://www.educationvotes.nea.org.

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles on the HerInsight Network.  She is an author, speaker and coach and most importantly the mother of a six year old recovering from Autism.  You can subscribe to the free podcast of Everyday Autism miracles on iTunes or download it here.  Listen live on Fridays at 2pm EST and 11am PST on Toginet Radio

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by Shannon Penrod

It’s Mother’s Day and now that I am a Mom I have begun to fully appreciate what a great Mom I have.  I know, everyone thinks their Mom is great, especially on Mother’s Day, but my Mom “wins”, because my Mom is a Super Hero.  You might think I’m kidding but I’m not.  My mother was born with two club feet, for most people this would be a devastating disability, for my  Mom it meant that she wore braces on her legs while playing Varsity Basketball and being a cheerleader.  It also meant that she had surgery after surgery.  All my memories of her when I was little are of her with a cast on and using either a wheelchair or a pair of crutches.  It never slowed my Mom down.  She had three kids, she worked as a nurse and later as a school bus driver.  She also co-owned a yarn shop, became the president of her union and managed a New York State Championship Softball team.  Disability was never a term that was used in our family.  My Mom was anything but disabled.  She was and is a super hero.

When I was five I remember sitting outside on a summer day.  My Mom was on crutches.  I remember hearing a lot of screaming and shouting.  I remember distinctly hearing someone cry “Help!”.  My mother sprang up on her crutches and began motoring toward the pleas for help.  They seemed to be coming from the back yard of a house across the street and halfway down the block. My Mom was making good time on her crutches and then she ran into a waist-high hedge.  Without missing a beat my Mom used her crutches to pole vault over the hedge.  She made it to the back yard in time to give mouth to mouth resuscitation to a baby that had fallen into a pool during a birthday party.  The neighborhood was full of able-bodied men and women but it was my mother who saved that baby.  She didn’t stop to find a phone booth and don a pair of shiny tights, but she was still a super hero.

Over the years my mother has continued to pull off super human feats, some of them I noticed as super hero acts, others I admit got by me.  Now that I am the mom I am able to recognize these fearless acts for what they were – amazing.  I thought that making Christmas magical with no money was something that just happened, now I understand that it takes a super hero.  I thought that being happily married for 30 years was an accomplishment, I had no idea it was the result of super human strength. Now I finally get it and my respect for my mother never ceases to grow.

Everyone who knows my Mom loves her.  She is an incredibly loyal friend who would and has given the shirt off of her back when she thought that someone needed it.  Maya Angelou says that courage is being willing to do what’s right even when it’s not easy.  Man, does that describe my mother!  My Mom is the woman in a crowd who will intervene when a screaming child is being dragged by a parent to a car.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have watched embarrassed parents have to prove to the police that their child is in fact their child and not someone they are abducting.  There is never a dull moment with my Mom.

Over the years my mom has taught me many things, too numerous to mention but some of the highlights are to treat everyone with dignity, especially children and the elderly and to accept people who are different than me because I cannot know what it is like to walk in their shoes.  My Mom has taught me that there is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it.  Most importantly my Mom has always taught me that laughter is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

I’m not a super hero like my Mom.  I’m not able to leap small buildings even without crutches.  But I am able to be a good Mom because of the lessons my mother taught me.  My father may have taught me to edit, but my mother taught me how to handle being differently abled.  I can’t imagine how much harder parenting a special needs child would have been without her tutelage. Life is short, and while I hope I have my mother for a long time I am aware that the odds are not necessarily with us.  While she is here I would like her to know, and the world as well, that she is my hero, my personal Mom Super Hero, and that I am so grateful to have her as my mother.

Thank you Mom for all the love, the laughter and the lessons.  They will live in my forever.  I love you!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles of the Her Insight Network.  Everyday Autism Miracles airs every Friday at 2pm EST and 11am PST.  Free podcasts of the show can be downloaded here, or you can subscribe to the free podcast on iTunes,

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By Shannon Penrod

Have you ever felt like the top of your head was going to explode like an overripe Halloween pumpkin?  Of course you have, because at some point in the last decade you’ve attempted to have a conversation on the phone with a customer service rep who SPEAKS enough English to pick up a paycheck but does not UNDERSTAND enough English to actually serve any customer.  Let me just say that I have nothing but respect for people who have gained enough of a second or third language to even attempt to speak it.  I respect that absolutely, but that doesn’t mean they are qualified to hold a job which requires a full, functional knowledge of that language.  And there is the rub, because companies have decided that it is ACCEPTABLE to cut costs by outsourcing their customer service to other countries, knowing full well that their customers needs will not be met.  They know it, and they don’t care.  I just spent the last 45 minutes on the phone with GMAC trying to find anyone who not only spoke English, but who could actually understand it.  Good Luck!

My favorite thing (total sarcasm) is when you ask to be transferred to someone who does speak English and they very quickly start reading from a script explaining that they are trying to fulfill your needs but will just need some more information.  You get the strong sense that if they are forced to transfer your phone call that at the very least they will be fired and at the most that their family may be relocated to a work camp. 

Something that I have learned along the way is to tell the person what I want and then ask them to explain to me what I just asked for.  More often than not it ends up playing out like a bad episode of I Love Lucy.  There’s only so much “Splainin” you can do if there is a true language barrier.  The entire process makes me so mad and resentful that I want to move to India and get a job with the power company so I can answer phones all day and have no earthly idea what the customer on the other end is saying.  I long to sit all day and read random words off of a card knowing that the person on the other end of the line is hitting unchartered territory on the blood pressure scale.  Bad customer service doesn’t bring out my finer qualities.

I wish that GMAC and companies like them, who are outsourcing their customer service needs, would get the message that they really aren’t saving any money.  I appreciate that GMAC has been able to repay their government bailout early, but have they stopped to consider why they needed the bailout to begin with?  Listen up GMAC!  I am not going to buy another car from you while you continue to outscource your call centers to Non-English understanding locales.  If you value my customer service needs so little that you don’t even feel obligated to hire people who understand my language then you have told me clearly how interested you are in retaining my future business.  And that goes for the rest of you large companies with call centers around the world.  Who’s with me?

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles on the HerInsight Network.  She is an author, speaker and coach and most importantly the mother of a six year old recovering from Autism.  You can subscribe to the free podcast of Everyday Autism miracles on iTunes or download it here.

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