Is Karma in Charge of Your Future?

Money  I’m sure most of you have heard the rumblings and rage over the comments of Microsoft chief executive, Satya Nadella, when he was asked by an attendee at a women in tech conference, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, about how to ask for a raise, when he replied;

 “It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” 

He went on to imply that it is not good “karma” to ask for a raise. Ok, now I am going to rage for a moment; seriously a CEO of a major corporation is talking about letting karma and the system determine a woman’s future. I am sure that is exactly how he has handled his rise to the top.

That’s good karma. It will come back. That’s the kind of person that I want to trust, that I want to give more responsibility to.”

Hell yes he wants to give more responsibility to those that don’t ask for raises, he can pile more work on them and not have to pay for it. Isn’t that just good CEO economics; getting more, for less and adding to the shareholders value. He has since been backtracking fast and furiously from that statement, but you know the truth now about how he really views his team, no matter how much spin his PR people put on it.

In one of my very early blog posts here at Random and Rhyme I wrote about “Money” and some of my ups and downs with it, but in it I also commented about women and negotiations an excerpt below;

“I read the Get Rich Slowly Blog to keep me focused on paying off those debts and building that emergency fund. But there was an article recently on the site that caught my attention; also about women and money, Money Mythbuster: Women Don’t Negotiate by staff writer April Dykman. She writes about her experience with trying to negotiate and the results she ended up with, as well as provides some links to studies about women and men and their salary disparity. Particularly disturbing was the negative effect on a woman who negotiates her starting salary vs a man who does.”

““If a woman negotiates her starting salary, the employer might hold it against her. According to a 2006 study, when a woman negotiates her salary, both men and women are less likely to want to work with or hire her. The negative effect was more than 5.5 times greater for women who negotiated than for men.””

I learned in my early twenties that I needed to negotiate my starting salary, if for no other reason than, because it affects what you make in the long run. I also know I have lost out on at least one position because of my professional request for a better starting salary. But you know what? Not getting that job, where I wasn’t going to be valued led me to finding a better position, in a better organization and at an even better salary. So keep asking ladies because no one is going to pay you what your worth unless you assert and value yourself. And the organizations or companies that do not value a smart, assertive, contributor who professionally asks to be paid commensurate with what value she is bringing to the organization are going to suffer because they are afraid or too intimidated to hire the person that will likely help them the most.

Do you negotiate your salary or anything else like vacation time or just a better price on that couch you’re buying?



Andy and Grandpa My grandfather! (with my little brother)

I recently spent the day visiting my 86 year old grandfather. He told me about his winter in Arizona, his plans for fishing trips and a cruise to Alaska over the summer and the goings on of my little brother. It was a fun, relaxed conversation until we touched on the subject of my grandmother. I mentioned that I had had a dream about her the night before, likely because I knew I was driving up to see him the next day.  In my dream my grandma was younger, probably the age she was when I was a little girl, younger than I am now. She was giving me advise and telling me what not to do and that she was glad I had visited. His eyes darted away, but he told me that sometimes he dreams she is still there in the house with him on nights when he is in a deep sleep. He seemed a bit sad and changed the subject, but it was a lovely little glimpse behind the man that is always so stoic.


Grandma and Grandpa Land in Hawaii!

We also talked about some of the trips he had taken with grandma. One trip was on a rickety train from Arizona to some resort in Mexico where the train was so rocky and the tracks so poorly maintained that the train rocked and rolled, you had to wear seat belts in the beds and you couldn’t even walk from one train car to another because it was just too dangerous. He also told me about trips to Hawaii in the good old days where you could golf all week for a $100 and all their friends came over with tee-times every day, evening cocktail hours and days spent at the beach.

He told me about some of the work he had done as a young man, advise he was given by his bosses. He told me about his first car, a model T that he suped-up with a new engine that made it go so fast that if you turned the corner too quickly the wheels would come off.

He fixed lunch for me; homemade clam chowder and a tuna sandwich with red velvet cake for dessert. Grandpa is a wonderful cook, his clam chowder and oyster stew are so good and no one in the world smokes a salmon like him.

I am so thankful for his good health and his positive attitude. I feel lucky for everyday I get to spend with him. It’s sad that I waited this long, but I am trying to ask those questions that are sometimes hard to ask and to talk about those things we share even when it can be a difficult conversation.

Have you been waiting to have those conversations?  Are you figuring there will always be tomorrow?


Maya Angelou passed away yesterday and sadness fell over my soul. I wanted to write something or offer a poem to honor her but all my drafts seemed unworthy. She was such a singular human being with an amazing voice and a full life lived.

A friend of mine shared this from author James Baldwin’s Facebook page and it blew me away.


Photo: Maya Angelou and James Baldwin in the 1960s (From James Baldwin Facebook Page)

Maya wrote the poem “When Great Trees Fall” when James Baldwin died, and read the poem at his funeral.


Photo: Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison at James Baldwin’s funeral, December 1987

“When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

She existed and we can be and be better for she existed.


Thank you to Random House for maintaining a Facebook Page for the wonderful James Baldwin.

My First Real Job

My first real job was as a berry picker in the Skagit Valley In Washington state. I started when I was 9 years old picking raspberries for a husband and wife that had a small farm that was just about a half-mile from our home. I was one of the few white kids in the field picking berries to make a little money for school clothes hanging out with my sister and having some fun.

But after the second half-assed day on the job, not picking my row thoroughly, Darrel the owner walked down my row before assigning another one to me and taught be a very important lesson. He spoke to me like an adult and explained how my low quality work impacted his life and the life of his family as well as took money out of the pockets of other adults working in the field along side of me to support their families. He told me I needed to decide if I wanted to be a quality worker and stay employed as a picker in his field or if I wanted to go home.

I decided I wanted to stay. I also believe I worked harder for him because he had treated me with respect, told me my options and let me choose. I worked in the fields for him for three more summers, each year getting better at the job and earning more. I would leave the strawberry fields of Sakuma Brothers as soon as the raspberries in Darrels fields were ready to pick.

A recent report on NPR about Anthropologist, Seth Holmes, who spend a year and a half working with migrant berry pickers had this to say about the work in his new book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies, Migrant Farmworkers in the United States.

Picking Berries At Speed, Duration Required Hurts The Body

Holmes says he often felt a lot of pain in his knees, hips and back while picking.

“It always seemed like whichever position felt the best, I was the slowest at picking, so I always felt like I had to pick in the most painful position, bent over with both knees as far as I could, in order to be as fast as I could,” Holmes said. “And at one point, I wrote in my journal, ‘This feels like pure torture.’”

It was very hard work, sore back, sore knees, sunburns, scratches from the needles on the bushes, I still have scars. My three summers of hard field work turned into 3 more seasons working in his small processing plant, standing on the line picking out the bad ones, dumping flats in to the clear freezing cold water to clean them for the line, preparing berries for jam by adding the exact right amount of sugar to the berries to get the ratio correct, packing the perfect berries for shipment overseas in special little boxes.

Every summer started with a stomach ache too, because the first day I would eat so many of the perfect, yummy berries that inevitably I ended up with a belly ache by the end of the day. But, oh it was so worth it. There is still nothing like a fresh Washington state strawberry or raspberry, no sugar needed.

My work paid for my school clothes each year, my first car (a used 1973 VW 412), school fees, band camp and any fun I had. Those summer jobs helped me in so many ways: it gave me a work ethic, helped me understand the economy of money and helped me appreciate people from other cultures. The migrant Mexican workers were the first foreigners I ever met and all of them that I worked beside over those six summers were kind, funny, hardworking and an inspiration to a young impressionable kid about taking care of your family, working hard and enjoying your life.

A summer job and responsibility should be on every kids resume before they graduate highschool.

Did you have a summer job as a kid? Do you expect your kids to work in the summer?


What I’ve Learned

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Cal Fussman wrote his dream “interview” for his What I’ve Learned column in Esquire. He pulled quotes and attributions to the wonderful author Gabriel Garcia Marquez who passed away last week. Here are a few of my favorites from the “interview”

Then the writing became so fluid that I sometimes felt as if I were writing for the sheer pleasure of telling a story, which may be the human condition that most resembles levitation.”

The problem in public life is learning to overcome terror; the problem in married life is learning to overcome boredom.

The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.

All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.

To all, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love..

Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.”

I wasn’t introduced to the works of the 1982 Nobel prize winner until later in life, but enjoyed them more as an adult, with a bit of perspective, I think.

There is another great “What I’ve Learned” column from Mr. Fussman with Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield that I really enjoyed as well.

These columns got me thinking about what I’ve learned, so here it is my collected wisdom;

With a little time nothing is as terrible, upsetting or maddening as it seems.

Work hard and things will work out.

I am not as smart as I would like nor as dumb as I feel.

If you find someone you love who truly loves you back; never let go, no matter how bad things seem in the moment.

Always take care of your teeth. (this was one of the last pieces of advise from my Grandma Buddy and it’s good advice)

If the question is: Get a puppy? or Not get a puppy? Always get a puppy!

Never stop searching for what you love to do in work, in life and in love.

Never take your good fortune for granted for fortune comes along very infrequently.

What have you learned?

Clear Lake

Shari and andy clear lake My little brother and me sitting outside in the sun at my grandparents home in Clear Lake, Washington

So much has changed about the beautiful area where I was lucky enough to grow up. But parts of it have stayed very close to the same, like the sleepy little town where my grandfather still lives, Clear Lake, Washington, current population 1,002.  There is still one tavern, one tiny grocery store, one gas station, the post office, the grade school  and the church. And one of my favorite memories from my child hood the local swimming spot on the lake. The entrance has been fixed up, in my day it was a little wooden hut that you passed through and paid your quarter to swim for the day. Now it is a cinderblock building with a fancy sign. I have no idea what the fee for the day is – $5 bucks? But kids still swim in the lake for now, play in the sand and eat popsicle to cool off.

My grandfathers shake mill is still standing, well most of it is still standing, but it is now a small industrial park with a couple of mechanical and welding shops. It doesn’t have the wonderful sweet smell of cedar chips that used to fill the air as you drove by, just the humming of machines. Whenever I smell cedar I always think of my grandfather.

Mr. Parker, the old owner of the Clear Lake Market, has retired now. So all the fresh meat and fish that he either butchered himself or had brought in from local fishermen has been replaced by a little cold bin with a few plastic wrapped packages of ground beef, sad little steaks and some chicken pieces and a huge selection of beer and wine. There are bars on the front windows now too. That makes me sad. I remember my grandparents going on vacation for three weeks each spring and never bothering locking the doors to the place. Now my grandfather locks it up tight and has the neighbor keep an eye on the place when ever he is out of town.

But the tiny grade-school is still there where I attended first grade. It still has a funny two story building with the cafeteria on the first floor and the gym on the second floor. Parents still watch their children play sports or perform in plays and adults still use the basketball court in the evenings to keep fit.

The first home I ever owned is in the town too on School Drive. That house was also the first home my grandparents ever owned as well. There were three other owners and nearly 40 years between us, but still a funny coincidence I think.

Clear Lake still has a volunteer fire department that responds to residence in need for fires, health concerns, car wrecks and other emergencies. Almost every home with an able bodied adult used to have a scanner/radio in their home so they could respond to calls for help. I hope that is still true today.

I had some of the best times of my life in this tiny town; swimming at the lake, Christmas parties filled with gifts and treats, yummy salmon bar-b-q’s on the 4th of July and other family celebrations. I learned to ride a horse, swim, mail my first letter, ride a bike, play cribbage and gin and to mix my first gin and tonic too.

Some of the biggest losses of my life have come here too. The passing of my beloved great-grandmother Kate who taught me to enjoy music and dancing and who always had a little sweet treat for me. My dad passed away at a very young age while I was living in this town. I lost my grandma here too after she and my grandfather moved back to the farm after living by the golf course for nearly 20 years. And not too long ago I lost my sweet uncle who lived here too.

A tiny place with a very big influence on my life. I am so thankful that it is still here and that so many people I love are here still too!

Is there a place that has had a big impact on your life?