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!

 

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

Enough

Christmas — the most wonderful time of the year! At least that is what the song says, right? It’s the time for us to run out, make snow angels, smile all the time and just generally make merry and walk around with tons of boxes wrapped just so– right? So, what’s up with that?  Hmmm…

The reality of it all is that for many, maybe you, it is a great deal less than ideal. What should be a magical and festive time of the year has become a stressful, debt inducing, socially crazy and out of control monster. For others, it is simply a reminder of how things used to be, but cannot be anymore. Maybe due to the loss of a special loved one, lack of employment, sickness or a whole myriad of other reasons, Christmas just isn’t quite so joyous for you this year. I get it — I really do. Sometimes life just gets in the way and it is difficult if not impossible to overcome “stuff.” No matter how many times we are told to keep in mind the real reason for the season, we just can’t get there.

Even for those of us that absolutely adore Christmas it can seem that society has hijacked our perfectly good Christmas with a spirit of over-commercialization and grandeur that only the most wealthy are able to maintain. We feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones’ or the Smith’s or whoever; then for some reason, instead of joy and peace in our lives we are left with a sense of guilt and shame that we “couldn’t do more.” Too often we are left just wanting the whole Holiday season to be done so we can go back to our normal lives and not worry about this stuff anymore.

Still others concentrate so intently on the baby that the man he became is lost somewhere in the shuffle.

I know some reading this will be able to say that they don’t fall into any of the above situations, and I say that is FANTASTIC!!! I just ask that you think about those around you that do.

Regardless of how you feel about Christmas — love it, loathe it or just don’t care at all — I want to encourage you to take a fresh look at the Season this year. I hope that you will find something — just one thing to start with — that makes you smile. It might be an ornament, lights or just the smiles on the faces around you — ANYTHING — Just choose! Once you do, you can go back to it in your mind’s eye when the negative “stuff” comes rushing in. You might just find that it is your anchor, your oasis. Because when we get down to it, at its most basic, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the tree or even the lights and songs. Christmas isn’t even about a baby — it is about relationships; the true spirit of Christmas is not to brag about how much you love Christmas,or its true meaning — it is about showing how much you love people. Christmas is about giving — giving from the heart; sometimes that doesn’t involve any money at all. Christmas is about love…Christmas is a chance to make a difference.

Some time ago I read a story by Bob Perks in one of the Chicken Soup books. Part of the story included the following passage:

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye.”

For Christmas this year, I wish you Enough!

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