In Honor of Administrative Professionals Day - The Man Who Left a Lasting Impression in My Life & Career

Friday, April 27, 2018
Back in the old days........when I was a young working woman, this week was known as Secretary Appreciation Week.  Like everything else in the world today, in order to be fair to everyone, not insult or demean anyone, in order to include everyone and be politically correct.... this week is now appropriately called National Administrative Professionals Week.  National Secretaries Week was organized in 1952.  The name changed in 2000 when the IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) announced the change to keep pace with the changing job titles and expanding responsibilities of the administrative work force. This day of observance always falls during the last full week of April.  Secretaries Day always conjures up memories of one of my favorite bosses in my career, not just because he was thoughtful in observing this day of recognition, but because he, without intention, probably taught me the most valuable lessons in my working career.  Not the least of which was not judging a book by its cover and not letting the opinions of others lead you to the wrong conclusions.  Today I'd like to tell you about a very special man, Dr. Judd T. Gilmour.

 A while after taking the senior stenonographer exam, I received a canvas letter and interviewed for a position as a Senior Stenographer in the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets in Albany.  Both of my parents were State workers, so getting a job with the State was always the recommended career goal.  After working for two years in the Admissions Office of Skidmore College, I took the Civil Service Stenographer test and got my first State job at Wilton Developmental Center where I met my husband, John.  We both began our jobs there on the same day, went through 2 weeks of orientation together but didn't actually get acquainted and start dating until three years later.  We'd been dating for just six months when my promotion opportunity came along. My interview had been with a panel of interviewers, one of which was an aunt of my childhood best friend.   I got accepted for the position of Senior Stenographer to one of the Assistant Directors of Food Inspection Services.

The Food Inspection division was very large.  It employed a lot of folks, both in our office and in the field.  It included a Director, two Assistant Directors, stenos, senior stenos, clerks, inspectors, etc...  I don't remember the exact number of people in the office, but I'd guess there were probably around 30.   My first day on the job my friend's aunt, who was in charge of the clerical staff, brought me around the office to introduce me to everyone.  As each and every person heard that I would be working for Dr. Gilmour, each one took on a look of dread.  Wide eyed and puzzled, one by one, each of them exclaimed, "You're working for Dr. Gilmour?"  He didn't seem scary or intimidating in my interview.  By around the tenth person I met, you can imagine the level of apprehension and concern I was feeling.  What in the world had I gotten myself into??     I remember that day like it was yesterday - the dread I was feeling on my ride home that night and the discouragement I felt telling my parents about my experience.  Of course there was nothing I could do, except face the fire and hope Dr. Gilmour wasn't as awful as everyone seemed to imply.  I knew I had exceptional secretarial skills, so I would just have to prove myself to him--one day at a time.
This is Dr. Gilmour and his wife, Myra, in 1983, three years after he retired.  Emphysema caused his osteoporosis and a significant loss in height.  

Well Dr. Gilmour, it turned out wasn't nearly as bad as everyone made him seem.  In fact, I really came to love him.  He was a brilliant man, a retired veterinarian from Geneva NY who resembled what I would picture as the absent minded professor.  He had straight, white hair that was almost always a little unkept, especially as he hurriedly shuffled into the office each morning.  He was color blind, so he always wore a white shirt, black slacks, and a variety of sport coats. He had an assortment of bow ties which he kept in his sports coat pocket and desk drawer.  It was not uncommon for him to confer with me about whether or not his chosen selection of the day matched his coat.  Dr. Judd T. Gilmour was a business-first kind of guy.  It was clear we were all there to do our job and do it well (perfectly well).  He wasn't much for small talk, not from him and not between the staff.  I quickly became best friends with the steno who sat next to me and Dr. Gilmour scolded us more than a few times for talking too much.  Hard to believe, I know!  In high school I had the highest 3 yr. average in a business major.  I got the award for the highest number of words per minute in shorthand and typing, so when it came to doing my job, I felt pretty competent.  That was a good thing, because Dr. Gilmour accepted nothing, and I mean nothing, less than the best.  He was a stickler for perfection and he got it from me, no matter what it took.  Back then a letter needing multiple copies required several sheets of carbon paper between each copy.  One typographical error wasn't as easy to correct as backspacing is on a modern day computer.  You had to erase the mistake on each copy, making sure you put cardboard or some other hard surface between layers so you wouldn't make smudges when correcting each copy.  I was a fast typist, but not a perfect typist so there was no chance of letting a misplaced comma or typo sneak by.  No, this was not acceptable to this boss. Although there were days that he drove me nuts with his insistence on perfection, I credit him with making me the best secretary I could be and have thanked him many times over the years for giving me the tools I needed to achieve success, not just in the secretarial field, but in life too.
Dr. Gilmour at our wedding in 1978 looking rather fashion forward in his bold jacket, white shirt and mismatched bow tie.  That handsome guy in the blue tuxedo is my handsome groom.

What I learned from my experience with Dr. Gilmour was that we mustn't be swayed or discouraged by other people's opinions.  I found out that Dr. Gilmour didn't just have the highest standards and work ethics, he also had the biggest heart.  Days it snowed, Dr. Gilmour would call me at home at night to make sure I'd made it home safely.....even though he knew I took a bus most of the way home.  He remembered me generously on Secretaries Day....even after he retired and I'd left state service to raise my family.  When I got engaged, he gave me a cheese grater -  the old fashioned metal box type and explained that I had to graduate into a Cuisinart because you had to be a seasoned wife and cook for something like a Cuisinart.  He sent me my first Amaryllis one Christmas and a Gardenia one Secretaries Day - both after he retired.  Yes, he had a rough exterior and he sure wasn't a pushover, but except for when he was smoking two cigarettes at a time while I took dictation....I loved him dearly and have so many fond memories of him and his wife, Myra.  Dr. Gilmour moved to Florida when he retired.  He invited us many times, but we never made it.  I left Ag & Mkts on maternity leave just a few months after his retirement.  His smoking caught up with him and he died of emphysema in 1993.  What others perceived as a tough as nails dictator, I viewed as one of my greatest blessings, a fabulous boss and a kind and generous role other words, he was nothing at all like the man everyone's reaction described.

Often when our kids begin a new school year and receive their teacher assignment, parents or older children will volunteer their opinions about that teacher.  Sometimes their opinions are negative and discouraging.  Our little students become filled with dread and apprehension and sometimes they find that they love that teacher and have no problems at all with them.  All that dread and fear was wasted and served only to create unnecessary anxiety.  Just like in many other areas of life, we need to listen to others but draw our own conclusions.  We should not be swayed or have our opinions formed prematurely because we are each unique, and the truth of the matter is that what we put into a relationship affects what we get out of it.  What an individual is like with one person may be completely different than with another.  Do not judge people based on the opinions of others.  Enter relationships with an open mind and an open heart.  Give people the opportunity to show you who they are - firsthand.  You might be surprised with what you find.  I may have only worked for Dr. Gilmour for a couple of years but he left a lasting imprint on my heart and I will be forever grateful for everything I learned from him.  I think God places people in our paths for a reason.  We may not realize it at the time, and sometimes we're too busy to stop and take notice of the lesson(s) waiting to be learned.  My challenge to you is to look at the people around you, the people that haven't accidentally landed in your path but have been carefully placed there, and try to figure out what they have to teach you.  Who in your life left a lasting impression?

Thanks for letting me share this story.  Enjoy your weekend and come back soon for more Life As I See It.

Blue Skies Smiling at Me....Nothing But Blue Skies....Could It Really Be?

Monday, April 23, 2018
Irving Berlin would have been smiling today because those blue skies were spectacular.  Isn't it funny that after a cold and dismal beginning to April, a few days of blue skies and non-frigid temperatures can do so much to brighten everyone's spirits?  It's like a miracle happened!

  It seemed that most folks took advantage of this phenomenon we refer to as 'sunshine' and got outside to do some long overdue yard work.  But retirement is a wonderful thing and unlike the masses who were hard at work, we had ours done and were able to escape for some road trips.  Saturday we headed to Hagaman with friends, Paul & Jeanne, for another great meal at C.P.'s Family Restaurant.  While I didn't stop for any photos, we did enjoy some great company and delicious food.  You really have to check it out!
Yesterday we headed to Grafton Lakes State Park, one of my Top 10 favorite destinations.  We tried going a few weeks ago but the winter entrance was still closed and covered with snow.  About 90% of the snow is melted now so the road was clear and mostly dry albeit riddled with more pot holes than usual.  We weren't the only ones who took advantage of the beautiful day so our normally quiet drive into the park was not quiet.  It was difficult stopping for photos along the road but so worth the trip.

Look at these buds...filled with promise!
Today, after enjoying a summer-style lunch at DeVoe's Rainbow Orchard with our besties, Chuck and Ann Marie, John and I headed to the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve to walk off our pistacio ice cream cones.   You can't get better ice cream for a great price anywhere and I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure I didn't walk enough to negate the calories of my baby-sized cone.  But the weather was ridiculously wonderful and we did have a nice chat with some professionally equipped bird watchers.  The Preserve is really lovely in the spring!

This of my favorites!!

Look closely and find all the sunbathing turtles...

Mama on her nest!

It's a turtle retreat.......

And since blue is beautiful beyond the's a little more blue to brighten your day!

Now if I could just convince these beauties to take up residence in the nifty bluebird house we put up....C'mon birdies, you know you won't get a better meal anywhere! I hope you got a chance to enjoy this string of great and overdue spring weather. I hear we've got one more just like it coming tomorrow. I'll take it and enjoy it and maybe even share it here on the blog.  If you want to see more posts featuring the Preserve or Grafton Lakes State Park, just check out my Directory under the category, New York.   You can find many more backyard bird posts under the Animal Friends category!  Thanks for stopping by. I hope you come back soon for more Life As I See It.

Part II -Do You See the World In Color or Maybe A More Monochromatic View?

Monday, April 16, 2018
So....after looking at the photos in my previous post....have you figured out yet if you see the world in color or black and white?  I'm imagining some of you are thinking I've lost my marbles because even if you're color blind, you still see in color, right?  So how can I ask if you see the world in monochrome?  Well, don't worry....I'll explain.....right after you look at the color version of the photos from yesterday's blog post.
Is this not the most beautiful scene?

Look close and you'll see a cemetery at the top of the hill.
This one was actually a different day.
So, what do you think?  Do you like the color better or the black and white?  Hard to choose for me because they're both pleasing in their own way.  For me, the color photos are warm and inviting, bright and happy.   The monochromatic ones are dramatic and bold, sometimes sad and dark.  They make a statement, but have an artistic feeling rather than an inviting message.  So what does all this have to do with how we see the world around us?
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to always view the world and their circumstances in the worst possible light?  These people are unable to see past their troubles to see their blessings.  Sometimes the people who view the world in the darkest light are not necessarily as hopeless or troubled as they believe and consequently portray.  Sometimes they're just negative, unhappy people.  On the flip side of that theory, sometimes the people living in the most dire of circumstances, the worst chronic pain, or the most difficult challenges are often the people we meet who are the most optimistic and cheerful.  I think that sometimes how we feel about our life directly affects and alters how we see the world around us.  It clouds our ability to see things in a positive light, and fills our view with shadows and darkness.  Of these two road....which one do you feel would be more appealing to travel on?

Have you ever seen the quote that says, 'Don't make a bad day make you believe you have a bad life'?  If you think about that for a minute, you'll probably realize that we all fall into that trap on occasion.  We have a bad day, a day where it seems nothing is going right.  It feels like the world is against us and Murphy's Law is in full effect.  Unless we're careful, we get caught in the web of our despair and suddenly find ourselves sitting proudly on our pity potty full of a hefty dose of 'Woe is Me'.  We are so overwhelmed by our temporary circumstances, we find ourselves viewing life through dark glasses, unable to find any ray of light - or hope.  Suddenly we're viewing everything in dark, dull, monochrome.  For most of us, that is a temporary state.  We wake up the next day and approach the new day with fresh eyes and a better outlook.  For others, each day begins and ends the same...shaded with darkness because they legitimately can't find that ray of hope or they are just so accustomed to living in the shadows, they don't even realize that life can look any different.  How we feel on the inside directly impacts how we see the world around us.  It's so important that we realize that and take control over our inner voice, our demons, and remove our dark glasses so  that we can view the world in color.  When we view the world with optimism, even the most worn out structures, the most barren landscapes become beautiful and appealing.

How we see ourselves influences how we see the world.
    -Gail Lynne Goodwin
The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.
-Barry Neil Kaufman

Stephen Covey once said, "We see the world, not as it is, but as we are - or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms."  We don't even have to open our mouths sometimes for people to see whether or not we view the world in color or black and white.  Sometimes it is obvious in our attitude, our approach to life, our acceptance of other human beings, just how bright or shadowed our view is.  Certainly we've all gone through storms in our life, times when it was impossible to see the sunshine.  We're regularly faced with obstacles that challenge our inner strength, our tenacity, our ability to see life as anything but utter devastation.  The idea here is not that these times won't occur, but it's to remind ourselves not to get stuck there forever.  This week I hope you'll think about this post and think about the people in your life who have difficulty seeing the world in color.  If you're one of those people, I hope this post will inspire you to readjust your lens and focus on your blessings more than your problems.  So many of you cast bright, beautiful light into my world, often in ways and at times you may not even be aware.  Thank you for that.  I hope my photos and inspirational posts help do the same for you.  Wishing you all a colorful, hopeful week!

Do You See The World in Color or Maybe a More Monochromatic View? Finding the Beauty In Both!

Sunday, April 15, 2018
I've often heard people talk about dreaming in color or black & white, but I can't honestly say which I dream in, can you?  Along that same line, I often notice whether the people I meet and get to know see the world in color or black and white.  I'm not talking about race here, I'm talking about peoples' perspectives.  I posted a few photos this week on my Facebook photography page (, all photos of the same view but with different color values.  One was black & white, one was the natural colors seen by eye and one a more dramatic, but cloudy representation all taken with different settings on my camera.  The drastic difference in these images got me thinking.....about how we see things, and how we color our own perspectives.

When thinking about what I might blog about today, and going through recent road trip photos, a bunch of black and white photos caught my eye.  About a month ago we were driving through Buskirk, Eagle Bridge and Cambridge - favorite back roads dotted mostly with old, worn barns, the type that lend themselves well to black and white photography.  That day I took shots of the same scenes in both color and black and white - mostly for comparison purposes.  I didn't notice anything dramatic when I did my initial editing, but today when looking at the thumbnails of the group, something jumped out at me. A message, an analogy of sorts.  If you are a regular of the blog, you know I often use analogies in my messages.  So, today I'm going to share just the black and white versions of our discoveries that day, and in a day or so I'll share the color versions.  I'm curious to see what conclusion you come up with when comparing the two and I'll share my thoughts in the next post.  So come along the back, dusty, dirt roads of  rural Rensselaer and Washington County and enjoy the monochromatic views!

I adore the natural beauty of color photos, but there's something striking and stark about black and white too.  I think most folks have their favorites. There's something natural about seeing old, worn, broken down barns in black and white, perhaps because photos of the old days were in black and white so these shots feel normal to me......that is, until I see their color comparisons.  Here's a sneak peak of one of them.....

See what I mean?  The color version has a completely different feel than the black and white counterpart above.  Stay tuned for Part II of this post when we'll examine the more colorful versions of these views and talk about how our view affects our attitude and perspective.  In the meantime, while it's not very colorful outside, it is temporarily precipitation free so take advantage of it and trust that warm temps and bright, blue skies will eventually replace this rainy, icy day!  Thanks for stopping by Life As I See It!
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