Put It Away - Organization at Work or Home


This is a collaboration of educational, business, and home management principles. I have taught at colleges, have been a manager, restaurant owner, entrepreneur, and mother of nine for many years. I have tried to find the best of the best in each field and then bring all these ideas together to make life more efficient, productive, and to SAVE effort and time.

 Forty-one years ago I climbed into the driver’s seat of an 18-wheel semi-truck with my beautiful wife, Jan, and our infant son, Scotty. We were taking a heavy load of construction materials across several states.

In those days there were no seat-belt restrictions or infant car seats. My wife held our precious son in her arms. Her comment “We sure are high off the ground” should have given me a clue about her feelings of apprehension.

As we made our descent over historic Donner Pass, a steep section of highway, the cab of the semi suddenly and unexpectedly filled with thick smoke. It was difficult to see, and we could hardly breathe.

With a heavy rig, brakes alone are not enough to rapidly decrease speed. Using the engine brakes and gearing down, I frantically attempted to stop.

Just as I was pulling to the side of the road, but before we had come to a full stop, my wife opened the door of the cab and jumped out with our baby in her arms. I watched helplessly as they tumbled in the dirt.

As soon as I had the semi stopped, I bolted from the smoking cab. With adrenaline pumping, I ran through the rocks and weeds and held them in my arms. Jan’s forearms and elbows were battered and bleeding, but thankfully she and our son were both breathing.

I just held them close as the dust settled there on the side of the highway. As my heartbeat normalized and I caught my breath, I blurted out, “What in the world were you thinking? Do you know how dangerous that was? You could have been killed!”

She looked back at me, with tears running down her smoke-smudged cheeks, and said something that pierced my heart and still rings in my ears: “I was just trying to save our son.”

I realized in that moment she thought the engine was on fire, fearing the truck would explode and we would die. I, however, knew it was an electrical failure—hazardous but not fatal. I looked at my precious wife, softly rubbing the head of our infant son, and wondered what kind of woman would do something so courageous.

This situation could have been as emotionally hazardous as our literal engine failure. Gratefully, after enduring the silent treatment for a reasonable amount of time, each of us believing the other person was at fault, we finally expressed the emotions that were churning beneath our heated outbursts. Shared feelings of love and fear for the other’s safety kept the hazardous incident from proving fatal to our cherished marriage.

We all regularly experience highly charged feelings of anger—our own and others’. We have seen unchecked anger erupt in public places. We have experienced it as a sort of emotional “electrical short” at sporting events, in the political arena, and even in our own homes.

Children sometimes speak to beloved parents with tongues as sharp as blades. Spouses, who have shared some of life’s richest and most tender experiences, lose vision and patience with each other and raise their voices. All of us have regretted jumping headlong from the high seat of self-righteous judgment and have spoken with abrasive words before we understood a situation from another’s perspective. We have all had the opportunity to learn how destructive words can take a situation from hazardous to fatal.

However, to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree is powerful and sorely needed in today’s world. We can and should participate in continuing civil dialogue, especially when we view the world from differing perspectives.

The writer of Proverbs counsels, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). A “soft answer” consists of a reasoned response—disciplined words from a kind heart. It does not mean we never speak directly or that we compromise truth. Words that may be firm in information can be soft in delivery.

Too many time, though, the language of anger and doubt and blame is used—a language in which the entire human race seems to be surprisingly proficient.

There exists today a great need for men and women to cultivate respect for each other across wide distances of belief and behavior and across deep canyons of conflicting agendas. It is impossible to know all that informs our minds and hearts or even to fully understand the context for the trials and choices we each face.

Fully owning the limits of my own imperfections and rough edges, I plead with you to practice asking this question, with understanding regard for another’s experience: “What are you thinking?”

When our truck cab filled with smoke, my wife acted in the bravest manner she could imagine to protect our son. I too acted as a protector when I questioned her choice. Shockingly, it did not matter who was more right. What mattered was listening to each other and understanding the other’s perspective.

The willingness to see through each other’s eyes will transform a misunderstanding into true communication. Each of us can experience this, too. It may not change or solve the problem, but the more important possibility may be whether true understanding can change us.

As we practice decency and professionalism through compassionate language by having empathy for the feelings and context of others; It enables us to transform hazardous situations into learning moments.


Adapted from an article by w. Craig Zwick
Self-employed consultant to businesses and individuals. I work with clients to improve business efficiencies, set up innovative resource strategies, simplify and refine processes, systematize, train employees, coach executives, and so forth.
I have a PhD in Organization and Management.  
I have an MBA and a BA in Human Resource and business. I am the mother of 10 children, nine living, ages 13 through 32.(Yes, they are all mine and with one husband, HA!)
Cambridge's Who's Who Registry of Executives, Professionals, and Entrepreneurs.
Phi Beta Kappa
As a family, we lived on our food storage for more than one month...go to food storage to see the whole story and learn more on how you can prepare your family and/or business.
Teach each child to take a wad of toilet paper and wipe around the toilet seat each time they go to the bathroom. This little habit will make cleaning so much easier as it prevents messes from building up in the first place.

Make it part of potty training so they grow up thinking it is just a normal everyday task.


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