Decisions, Decisions — 2016 Edition

Well, here we are in the midst of another long political season leading up to the Presidential election. As you may know, talking politics is not my usual area. Today, however, I am venturing into the waters. And, for full disclosure, I have been registered in all of the 3 major categories at some point in my life — Democrat, Republican and Independent. My voting record is not up for discussion, but let’s just say that I look at the individual candidates and choose the one I feel best fits the need at the time. Yes, I know that for some of you (on both sides of the main aisle) that seems unconscionable, but that is how I have always done it. My purpose is not to convince anyone they are or ever have been wrong. I simply feel the urge to write this today. And, if there is any doubt, my mindset has always been that voting is a vital, integral part of the American culture — I am NOT here to dispute that now– or ever. We live in a country that has afforded us great privilege with the open vote and we need to fully exercise that. I fully expect that as citizens of the United States of America we embrace and participate in the process — even when it crosses over the line into absurdity. But that would NEVER happen, would it?  (please read the sarcasm intended in that…)

That brings me to today’s topic. Before I begin, I just ask that you read with and open mind. I am not asking that you agree with everything that I write, say or believe — I am sure that I would not agree with everything that you write, say or believe either. I just ask that we hear each other respectfully and thoughtfully. If that isn’t possible, you may not want to continue — I completely understand. If you dare continue, thank you for your attention and respect. Here we go!

If you have been around me during any election period, you will know that I am a strong voice in urging everyone to not only register to vote, but to actually follow through and vote in every election — not just the Hot Button ones, or those with candidates that have the chance to make history. (first whatever or only in history to whatever) Voting is what allows us to express ourselves and, as I and many others are quick to remind us, every vote counts. I have a unique challenge this year. For the first time in my life, I am having that conversation with myself — this would be the easy one to sit out. After all, both major candidates give me ZERO warm fuzzies and the trust factor just isn’t there. Yes, I realize that I just admitted to not liking or wanting to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I have had people tell me either “DON’T vote for Trump because…” and others that say “DON”T vote for Hillary because…”  Still other say ” just DON’T vote at all because it doesn’t matter any way because…” ENOUGH!!!!!!!! I get it — trust me, I get it. I don’t respond to them because for me my voting record — and my voting plan — is a very personal issue. I just wish I had a stronger base on which to base my choice.

Please do not take this as an invitation to try to persuade me to vote for the person YOU want — that is not the purpose of this post. I fully respect that you have your reasons and I will not belittle you for whichever way you are leaning. I have asked myself what it would take for me to endorse either candidate and I have come up with a few things, and NONE of them have to do with their party affiliation. To me that is the LEAST persuasive reasons to vote for a candidate. To me that is tantamount to “because that is the way we have always done it.”  To be quite frank, I am tired of that mentality.

This year we have 2 candidates that represent something that could be historic in their election — a female political insider and a wealthy outsider businessman. Both have done things that, frankly, turn me off. Both have backgrounds that I find distasteful and all they want to do is bash each other and argue. I have yet to hear either one present a sound, fact filled statement on what they will do if elected. They seem to say “go check it our for yourself while I bash my opponent.” Neither one has said — I screwed up and I apologize.” They have said — I might have messed up, but not as bad as my opponent. It seems to be about lip service and lying just to see what mud they can throw on anyone that gets in their way.

All I know is that in the midst of one of the most crucial times in our country’s history, we are faced with a choice between what I might describe as 2 of the most disliked and mistrusted candidates we could find. That is my choice — while I can see that each has attributes that make them a political or a business success, I am hard pressed to see anything in them that convinces me that they will be a Presidential success.

I do recognize that there are other parties out there with candidates in this election, and trust me, I have not ruled them out. This post is simply about the major players — and the unsettling realization that we will most likely have either a President Donald Trump or a President Hillary Clinton. Either way, my stomach is turning. Now I guess I need to go away from this and see what I decide.

Earlier I mentioned a conversation with myself about voting; please do not misunderstand. NOT voting has never been a viable option — it is simply an opportunity to remind myself WHY I need to vote. This country is in a mess because so many of our citizens voluntarily sacrifice the chance to make a difference, find their voice and change things. This year, more than any other, each and every one of us need to make the decision and follow through to vote. Vote your conscience — even if it is one of the 3rd party candidate options. If we as a people choose that our voice is unimportant or that our vote doesn’t count, then that becomes reality. BUT, when we decide that our voice is just as important as the political insiders in Washington, we start the change. My message now is the same as it has always been, but with a much stronger sense of urgency..

VOTE…VOTE…VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look into ALL of the candidates and then decide — don’t limit yourself to just Trump or Clinton. Once you do your research then vote. When EVERY person that is entitled to vote follows through and actually votes, THAT is when democracy wins. Don’t vote for ANYONE just because you are expected to — for ANY reason. Register, research, decide and then follow through. That is nothing less than you and our country deserve. See you at the polls!

Let’s see what’s next… Thanks for reading!

 

The List

As the 5 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing approaches, my mind goes back to the months following that day. As many of you understand, the first year after the loss of a loved one is full of firsts — firsts days, first weeks, first months and so on. In the midst of this comes the first holidays, birthdays and anniversaries and no clearcut guidelines as to how to approach and deal with these events. Looking back, the first few months are a blur and I really don’t know just how I processed those first few months, especially that first Mothers’ Day — I just know I did. As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approached, I found it to be more difficult than I though it would be — you know what I mean. It had been several months and I was “supposed to” be getting on with my life and starting to heal, but that wasn’t the case. Because of this I knew that I would have to make a concerted effort to bring my focus back to where it needed to be. My Mom would not want me moping around feeling sorry for myself and missing out on the true purpose of these holidays, so I made a plan and, thankfully, I stuck to it. Sometime in October I made my mind up that on November 1st, I would start a list of things I am thankful for and post it to Facebook each and every day the month of November. Looking back, it really did allow me to search for things that were a positive in my life and there were many. I also chose to stop posting them after November 30th; that doesn’t mean that I stopped being thankful, it simply means that I make it a more private endeavor — and the things became more and more personal as Christmas approached, but the habit was in place. For that I am very thankful because I needed the focus for a while longer. For some reason, I kept that paper with my list — I guess it was a symbol of how strong I could be when necessary; then I lost track of that list, or so I thought…

While going through some papers the other day, that list reappeared and at that moment I remembered why I had put it in that place. It was one of those days that I needed a pick-me-up and I was not disappointed. In honor of April 23, 2009, I want to share this list with you. Please keep in mind that the list you are reading is a much condensed version of what I posted each day to Facebook in November of 2009, but I am still thankful for each and every one of them. I hope this list brings positive things to your mind.

I am thankful for:  You, yes you…God is… True Friends… Music… Family… Forgiveness… Freedom… Today… Military… Veterans & their Families… Inspired Writers… Justin… Change of Seasons… Laughter… Andy… Andy’s continued employment… Memories… Random Acts of Kindness… Conversation and Dialogue… Andy’s Contest Entry & win… Another Day… Time with Mom… In-laws… Joy… Thanksgiving… Relationships… Love… Anniversaries… Simple Pleasures…

When originally posted, I expanded on some of these a little, others a great deal and still others were simply left alone — it all depended upon how much I chose to share at  the time. At first sight of this list the other day a smile immediately came to my face and a lot of emotions followed — yes some sad, but mainly happy. While it is true I am a fairly private person, I needed to share this list 5 years ago, but I also need to share this now. Looking back, my list is in no way complete — it doesn’t even come close to covering all that came to my mind while I was doing it. This list helped me through a tough time, but more importantly, it taught me that I could and would make it through a very rough time in my life. I hope those of you that are going through something will be inspired to find your strength to persevere and push forward.

My Mom is no longer here with us, but her spirit, her memories and her energy will always be a part of my life. Was my relationship with my Mom perfect? Absolutely not, but there are plenty of good things and pleasant memories I have to keep her alive in my heart. Maybe one day I will write a blog on her, but we will have to see about that.

 

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

The little Things

Well, I am back and hopefully I will be better about the regularity of my posts. As I type this, Justin is less than a month into his second semester at the University of Tennessee at Martin and doing very well! He is now the Assistant Sports Editor at UTM’s paper — not too shabby for a Freshman!  In addition to this, he is set to join the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society in February! Yes, I am more than a little proud of my boy, but I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. There is just something so satisfying about having a son doing so well AND enjoying himself in the process! Yes, I said it — satisfying. Some of you know what I am trying to say, while others of you do not — and that is OK! I am learning that it is all about recognizing and acknowledging the little things — the little things that build the foundation for the bigger and better things yet to come.

One thing I am trying to do is step back and let him take over the reins of his life — not an easy thing for this Mom to do. If you know me at all, you know this to be true. I know this is a learning process for all of us, but it is a necessary thing that must happen. As a Mom, I have always believed my main job is to teach, mold and direct my son in such a way that he is ready to step out into the real world and start down his own path. The thing is — somewhere in the process I forgot to prepare MYSELF for the transition and had to play catch-up. The one question I came up with early into his first semester away at school was this:  Who thought it was a good idea  to take a group of recent high school graduates and put them in a dorm  hours away from home with limited supervision? I mean REALLY?! Some of you really grasp that, others of you have no clue, but many of you WILL!  🙂  When those thoughts creep into my head, I have to take a moment and chuckle and then just take a deep breath to regroup. Then and only then can I take a step forward and remind myself that it is just one more step to his independence. For some of you this is old hat and you have much more experience than I do, but for me it is all a little fresh and new. All I can say is that I too am going through a growing process.

Throughout this process I am learning that tiny steps of progress pave the way for more little steps forward that will lead to full strides. All in all I am doing well — most days. There are still days that I wonder who thought this whole college thing away from home is a good idea, but most days I really do see how it aids maturity. For the first time in his life he has to make day-to-day decisions without his Dad or I there to guide him. Yes, there are always phone calls, emails and other modes of communication, but it is different. Gone are the days that I make all of his meals to make sure he eats his veggies or keep track of his schedule so nothing is forgotten — we are full into the days where he has to learn self-sufficiency. Gone are the days that I control exactly how he spends his money — he must now figure out a budget, priorities and balance. Gone are the days that I  vet his friends and protect him –now he must navigate roommate relationships and all that entails.

I am remiss if I simply dwell on what is no more; I am unfair if I concentrate on what “used to be.” and I fail if I neglect to focus on the good, the positive and the growth that I see. Since moving into his dorm, I see evidence of the flashes of brilliance I longed for as the Mom of a middle schooler — those moments when I can actually say “He gets it!” I see evidence of little things that give me hope. You know what I am talking about, I know you do! After years and years of preaching to Justin about planning ahead and not waiting until the last moment, I actually see evidence that he is starting to do just that. Not only did he plan his classes well, but he did so with forethought into future semesters. Granted, he has the help of the advisors, but he asks the questions and makes the plan! And it goes beyond that — thankfully!

In addition to that, he is dealing with some very real situations involving peer pressure. Yes, I know there are always things in high school, but somehow college roommates up the ante. Thankfully, Justin has been open with both his Dad and me about things he is facing, and that is good. We have told him all of his life that we are here for him — not just for teaching, but also for listening. Without going into detail, I will just say that he as faced some pretty tempting things in his dorm room and has made some good choices. I am not by any means saying ALL his choices have been perfect since moving into his dorm, but I am pretty pleased. There is hope — and I cannot express just HOW thankful I am for that.

In all of this I do keep reminding myself to stay focussed on the big picture. My newborn infant is no more; he is growing and developing into a smart, independent and capable young man. That being said, he will ALWAYS by my baby, and he has resigned himself to this — much to his chagrin!  As his Mom, it is up to me to set the example, and I am trying. I would be doing him, and me a disservice to neglect to see the progress he is making. I have found that when I look for the good or positive, I usually find it, or the opportunity for it to blossom. I can spend my time lamenting the fact that my son is not a baby any more or I can just be overjoyed that he is growing physically, mentally and emotionally enough to be away at school. I can dwell on the fact that he is no longer under my roof and my protection or I can celebrate the fact that he is no longer under my roof and protection.  Think about that one for a moment. 🙂

On that note, and with a very happy heart, I will leave you for now. I will keep trying to look for the positive and I hope that you can too. If that sound familiar, I hope that means that you have read some of my previous posts. I can only share with you my experiences — and I hope that I can at least encourage you to try to take one step at a time into the world of looking for the good and positive. Don’t worry — I am right there with you. We can take the steps together and as always…

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Just a Number

We are a society of numbers — Social Security Number, telephone number, license number, address, weight, height, credit score, GPA, age, clothing size, shoe size, employee number, income, debt, ACT, SAT, school ID, password…the list goes on. Add to it as you wish. We are surrounded by numbers and there is no escape from them! Numbers are an integral and inextricable part of our lives; we have no life without a number somewhere, period. Some are in our control and others are not; that is a fact of life and I see no chance of that changing anytime soon. Yes, like it or not, our lives boil down to a series of numbers and the list is continually growing, so get used to it! (Doesn’t that sound all rosebuds and sweetness?!  haha)

Ok, Ok, Ok, so it is not all that bad and the numbers aren’t really out to get us…BUT how much power do they have OVER us? Think about it. I would chance to say that at least one — probably several — of the numbers I listed above send a you screaming or cringing in horror…Yeah, that one in particular… Perhaps another one — or two — fill you with immense pride and happiness for whatever reason. If I am like most of you, (and for this I believe I am) we have a few that we wish were bigger, longer or stronger and we have others that we really want to be smaller, shorter or weaker.Others, we just want to be DIFFERENT! The specifics vary for each of us, but the emotions run the same; we cower in fear of what the numbers tell us or rejoice with how good we look through their eyes.

For some reason our society has taken this necessity for numbers and turned it into an emotionally packed mine field that even the most confident and accomplished among us cower to their authority; numbers have come to symbolize WHO we are and not just stats about us. For whatever reason, society has convinced us that if our numbers aren’t in line with a predetermined mold we are less than worthy of respect or lower on the totem pole than what “everyone” expects. My question of the day is, Who in the world decided that one set of numbers (whatever category you like) is better than another set of numbers? Think about it – in our society we cater to the rich, famous and powerful. Why? Because their numbers fit what we have been told are the “ideal” and that is what we should be emulating. Well, if you dug into their lives or their head you would find that they too are striving for a certain set of numbers and they feel the pressure too! Guarantee it! Continue reading

Merry Christmas — and a day full of Peace!

Ah Christmas — that free-flowing, relaxed, pressure free time that we can just put out feet up and enjoy those around us!! Those around us are those that we hold most dear and just enjoy having around all year-long; no pressure, no stress and of course no guilt!  Such a wonderful time of the year!

Wait — What?  You think I am crazy? Well, the jury is still out on that, but you may have a point about my opening statement. Most of us, myself included have had the exact opposite of the peaceful, joy filled experience referenced above at least once in our lives. We live in a time where there is much pressure in place to make the Holidays “just so,” throw the “perfect party,” or simply find “the” gift; we feel the need to match someone else’s idea of Holiday cheer or be labeled a failure by others, or even worse, by ourselves. If for some reason we don’t spend enough, look long enough or labor hard enough, our Holiday is a complete disaster and we may as well have just thrown in the towel to begin with because we knew from the outset that we were just not up to snuff, so why did we even try?!  WHY oh WHY can’t Christmas just be over already!!???

OK  — STOP!!!  Breathe… good.  Inhale…Exhale…good. Repeat as necessary — I’ll wait for you!  🙂 Continue reading

Choosing Thankfulness

Three years ago, facing my first Holiday season without my Mom and a few other difficult situations, I was at one of the lowest points I can remember; I was having a difficult time finding myself. It was at that time that I knew that if I was to have a chance to move forward I would have to do so intentionally and on purpose — it wasn’t happening spontaneously. Somewhere during that October I decided to make November a month of thankfulness; instead of having one Thanksgiving Day, I would have 30 days of it. I purposed to start on November 1st and post something for which I was thankful on Facebook and I did it. Some days were easier than others but I did not give up and I not only made it through the Holiday season, I found a way to enjoy it — I had been able to move forward. My Mom was still gone and my difficult situations had not improved, but I had changed my focus.

Every year since, I have continued to do the same thing and I am finding that it is refreshing to stop and find something positive in each day. I am faced again with circumstances that could easily distract me and sap my joy, but I am again determined to keep my focus on the blessings in my life — and there are many. I have been reminded many times over the last 3 years that it is not always about the big, boisterous resounding events; it is often as simple as seeing my favorite Fall tree turn into a blazing crimson torch letting me know I am almost home. It is about stopping to notice the random acts of kindness going on around me each and every day. And it is in the great joy that a phone call can bring at the most unexpected moment. Life is our gift and it is up to us to choose how we focus our energy.

Since this is the first day of November, I want to start off my Thanksgiving month in this blog. So, to kick it off, I want to say that I am thankful for you, the reader of this blog. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read what I have to say! I greatly appreciate you and hope that you will share this with those you think would enjoy reading it too.

Now, while I won’t promise a blog every day — I can actually promise there won’t be 30 blogs this month — I can promise that I will keep looking for, AND FINDING things that bring positive to my life.

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Right, Left and Somewhere in Between

Well, here it comes — my political side emerges!  LOL  Don’t get too worried, I don’t go off on anyone; this is just a little bit of stuff that churns in my head that I finally let out.

I am an American and I vote. Simple, to the point and true; the problem is that it is not all that simple. I realize that some of what I am about to say may not sit well with some of the people who read it, but I can’t help that. I have friends throughout the political spectrum — far right, far left, middle and various combinations are all there. As for me, I am somewhere in the middle and always have been. If I were to share all of my political views, some would be shocked and others would be amazed, but that is not what you will read here. I am a firm believer in keeping that stuff private. When asked, I will tell you that I voted, but you will not know for whom I voted. If you don’t like that, I can’t help it — that is how I have always been. If you choose to share that information, well, that is absolutely your choice and I will not think less of you for doing so. I simply ask that you respect others enough to let them think, vote, feel and choose differently than you do. After all, that is the principle on which this great country was founded. NO ONE has the right to bully, belittle or discount others simply because they choose to exercise their right to believe, vote and live differently than they do. Once we start that, we are no better than the countries that stifle and hinder their people and their liberties. That goes for both sides of the aisle and whole range of the spectrum! I will defend your right to vote, believe and live how you choose, even if it is diametrically opposed to me — that is just how it is. We don’t have to agree on anything, political or otherwise to be respectful!

The voting process is not something I take lightly and hope that you don’t either. Our founding fathers set into motion a process and set of procedures that not only allows us as citizens to express ourselves, but provides protections for us when we do so. They were very wise men with a bright broad vision for what they expected our country to become; it is up to us to help fulfill our country’s destiny. Yes, I am quite aware that the system is less than perfect, but it is SO much better than many things they could have done. We have this system so we must operate within it and make changes; that can only happen if we vote and make our voices known. I have voted regularly since I was 18 and can say that my ballot has been cast in every Presidential race since then; not all of my choices agreed with the outcome, but not all went against either. I firmly believe that if I choose not to vote, I surrender my right to criticize the outcome. Harsh? I don’t think so — it is as simple as this — if something is a priority it will find a way into your life and into your schedule. Simple, yet not always easy. Continue reading