A Day in History

Hello All! It has been a very long time since my last post…no real excuse, just life happening. I hope to get back into the habit of posting, but today is a special occasion, but not for the reason you may initially think.

15 years ago today, our country was rocked to its core by a terrible tragedy and the events of that day still seem to shape and color our way of life in ever changing ways. Today I would like to share with you the opinions of one humble writer that may just give us all pause — at least take a moment to think. The opinions expressed may or may not agree with your own, but I ask that you read with an open mind and respond with a respectful post if you choose. As my own personal disclaimer: the humble writer is my son. Andy and I have always tried to teach Justin to be true to himself and have self confidence. Today I am proud to say that his post does just that. Thank you for taking time to read! I will hopefully be posting something from myself in the near future, but for now please enjoy (and think about) the following post from Justin Glover.

I copied and pasted this from his post with his permission. This is the post in its entirety.  Again — Thank you for your respectful attention.

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

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Strap in, folks. This is a long one.
I’m going to start this post with a massive disclaimer. I recognize that on this day, fifteen years ago, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in a series of terrorist attacks on the United States. It was a terrible event, and the surviving victims and their families, as well as those of the policemen and firefighters and EMTs who risked everything to help those who were suffering, are still living with the repercussions of that day. I want to say on the front end that this post is not directed at them, nor is it intended to offend them or those who know them. I admit that I cannot fully comprehend the true depth of loss they experienced that day and still experience even now, which is why I want to ensure that this post is not about those who were killed and injured, at least not directly. For that reason, allow me to restate: This post is in no way intended to attack or belittle the thousands who were killed or injured in the September 11, 2001 attacks, or the thousands upon thousands of others who witnessed the fallout from the attacks.
I also want to make it clear that this isn’t going to be a post trying to relate a wild conspiracy theory or anything of that sort. I’m as sick to death of the “Bush was in on it” and “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” and “false flag” as you probably are. If you’re looking for someone to reinforce your beliefs in said conspiracy theories, or if you want someone who legitimately subscribes to those theories so that you can send them a strongly-worded invective open letter, I suggest you look elsewhere.
Now that that’s out of the way…
On this, the fifteenth anniversary of what is admittedly one of the darkest days of our nation’s history, I’m struggling to understand why we choose today of all days to put on a pedestal above all others.
I know that may anger or offend some of you, but I ask that you hear me out before you inevitably unfollow and/or unfriend me. I understand the concept of remembering the low points in one’s life, so that the high points can be held in greater contrast, making them even better; it’s my belief that this principle is in play here, to an extent. I also understand that the point of observing 9/11 is to remember the day when “everything changed,” and that it marked a turning point in our nation’s history. By no means am I saying it should be forgotten. Indeed, we can’t afford to forget it.
What I don’t get are the people who go around on this day insisting that the things that occurred that day several years ago should still be abundantly fresh in everyone’s mind, and that this day is the single most important day in our history. (Admittedly, I’m probably strawmanning a bit here, but some of the opinions I’ve seen both online and in real life aren’t that far off.) These are the people who treat today as an excuse to parade their citizenship as though it were a badge of honor or of superiority, despite being more than willing to attack and belittle the same country the rest of the year whenever they do something that these people don’t agree with. These are the people who insist that the day be treated as essentially a 12-hour moment of silence, followed by a 12-hour loop of patriotic songs.
The problems with this mindset are twofold. First, and perhaps more importantly, it only serves as a method for justifying the rule of nationalism over rationality. It was this day that justified the war against Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Afghanistan again, and now Syria, conflicts that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties on all sides and a monetary price of $4-6 trillion (according to a 2013 Harvard study). And the end result of those wars? The deposition and execution of two central antagonists in the “War on Terror” (Hussein and bin Laden), and the upheaval of the balance of power in the Middle East. While the first part is at least somewhat noble, it does not justify the human or economic cost, nor does it entirely mitigate the issues caused by the latter consequence.
While I make no argument that bin Laden or Hussein deserved to live, I do make note that during this period, it seemed to me that anything our leaders and military did could be justified by pointing to the flag and saying, “They hit us first.” Even now, there is still a large subsection of the population who believes that we should return even more forces to the Middle East in order to spread our ideology and way of life in order to somehow fix the current problems with the Islamic State and the Syrian civil war. I’ve ranted about American exceptionalism several times before, but it’s precisely this mindset that got us involved in the Middle Eastern conflicts to begin with. The fact of the matter is, whether it’s your intention or not, by going around saying that America is the greatest nation on earth and always has been, you’re implicitly supporting this mindset. And this day in particular is a notable example for this because of its antecedents.
The other, and potentially even more far-reaching, problem I see with celebrating 9/11 as what it is is that it hinders the healing process. Tragedies happen on a daily basis, some more prominent and more harmful than others. But the reason it gets easier to deal with over time is that you eventually move on from it. You don’t forget it by any means, but you also don’t break into tears at the drop of a hat, either. Instead, you remember what happened, quietly acknowledge that it still hurts a little—because the hurt never really goes away—and continue moving on with your day. It’s hard to do at first, but eventually it normalizes. It becomes part of your life, just like anything else.
When my maternal grandmother died on April 23, 2009—almost seven and a half years ago–I was despondent. She’d moved in with us for the last few months of her life, and I was able to connect with her in a way I’d never really been able to before. I never did get to say goodbye that day; to this day I wish I had. It’s one of my biggest regrets. When the next year came, I hugged my mom (needless to say, she’s had it far worse than I did) and cried a little, because she was still on my mind. The next year after that, I thought of her sadly, wishing she were still here, and kept going. The next year after that, I thought about her for a moment and fondly remembered the times we’d spent together. And so on.
I never forgot about my granny, and I hope I never do. I simply recognized that yes, this happened, and it was sad, but there’s no reason to be sad anymore. I certainly wouldn’t like to be forcibly reminded of it by someone else, but there’s no sense treating it as though it happened yesterday. You have to keep moving forward. If you stop to pity yourself at every opportunity, you can never learn to let it go. There is a time for grief, as with anything else. But it should never consume you to the point of it being all you can think about, especially so far removed from the event.
Let’s say you’re walking down the street one day. Suddenly, a man pulls out a gun and shoots you in the chest for no reason. You go to the hospital, have surgery to remove the bullet, and eventually make a full recovery. Would you, from that point forward, go out every year on the anniversary of this happening, walk up to strangers, point to the wound, and say, “This is where I was shot on this day X years ago, isn’t that awful?” Or would you quietly try to adapt to being back in the rhythm of your everyday life? Or, in another example, what if you did want to move on, but the many eyewitnesses who were there and the news crew who just happened to be recording the whole thing reminded you of the incident every year on the anniversary of it happening? What then?
I know I’m comparing apples and oranges here, but I think it should be considered that this constant elevation of September 11 does nothing to help us move forward as a country. If we constantly look back to one day when we were at our lowest, we’re going to miss the future days when we’re at our highest. It’s good to grieve for something that legitimately hurt, and did still have a tangible effect on the nation a few years hence, but to make it such a priority after fifteen years speaks less to the “enduring American spirit” or whatever the propagandists might say, and more to the incessant need for America to be at the center of the global stage, for good or ill.
I hope this rant made sense to someone out there, assuming anyone even bothered to read the whole thing. I’m genuinely sorry if this post expresses views you don’t agree with; I’m more than willing to listen if I got facts wrong, or if I come across as fallacious. I simply feel that we as a nation ought to be above fishing for reassurance at this stage. Please let me know if I said anything that is fundamentally incorrect. If you want to offer a rebuttal, feel free to do that as well; I won’t guarantee that I’ll agree with what you have to say, but I can guarantee that I will at least pay heed to opposing viewpoints, as always.
Thanks for reading.

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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

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

Almost There

For so long Justin has been the center of my life — as it should be. But lately the realization that my focus will shift in the not too distant future has been weighing on me. Don’t get me wrong, as he has grown up over the years I have done my best to foster independence and self-reliance, but somehow as the time approaches to put all of that into real life action, I find myself wondering, hoping and praying that I did the very best for him. Some will say that I have been too strict, others will say I have been too indulgent, and still others will say I was somewhere in the middle; the truth is — I did the best I could and that will have to be enough.

In many ways, the very essence of my job has been to prepare him to be able to live on his own without me or his Dad; that is something we have been praying for, literally, since before he was in our arms. As parents we are not given a book of any kind to help us navigate this amazing miracle thrust upon us. Oh, sure there are books out there on every topic under the sun, but none of them can be so specific as to apply to any one baby all the time. Sometimes you just have to wing it. Well, that is exactly what we did, but I am not going to sit here and pretend that we did everything right, or even close to it. I will tell you, however that we did everything the best way we thought we should. Over the years there have been some (sometimes many) that disagreed with how or what we did with our son — sometimes even family members. One thing I think everyone was clear on, however, was that we loved him and wanted the best for him. In the end that is what really mattered.

As we approach his 18th birthday and subsequent high school graduation, I am suddenly a little overwhelmed. Ok, maybe not the exact word I am looking for, but somewhat accurate nonetheless. Anyway, as that day approaches I am hit square in the face with many questions and wonderings; at times I question if I did enough to make sure he will thrive and not just survive on his own — other times I wonder if I did enough to foster a sense of independence that will push him to be his very best. The list goes on and on… Then all of a sudden out of the blue he will say or do something that speaks directly to these things and I am assured that he will indeed be ok. He still has a lot to learn, but don’t we all, really? After all, none of us know everything, so we are all still students of life. Right?

Now, before you start to think that I am wallowing in grief, self-pity or something else similar, I will tell  you that I am not — not at all. There are just as many days, probably more, that I sit and wonder at how well he has turned out and marvel at the future that awaits him. Because of (or in spite of) his upbringing he is an intelligent, strong, capable and engaging young man who truly enjoys helping others. Somehow, that helpless newborn with whom we were blessed is set to venture out on his own and put his mark on this world; he is almost an adult and headed off to college. Wow! Where has the time gone?! I think, for me, the simple answer is — it has gone into his life — every second — every tear — every smile — every moment — has gone into his life so that he can one day make a difference. He has already made a difference in my life, as well as many others, but now it is time for him to find his own path and seek his own destiny. Armed with what he has been taught, what he has seen and what he has felt; the good and bad together have created this wonderful young man ready to stretch his wings and fly. Now, the real test begins…

Now, the big question remains — when do I plan the BIG party? Hmmm… What? oh, no, not his graduation party thing. I mean the real party — you know the one — the one where Mom and Dad celebrate the fact that they not are no longer dealing with teenage high school drama.  YES — the one that comes the day AFTER he leaves for college.  After all — we deserve it, right?!  🙂

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

At Last

From the time our children come into our lives, we start the process of teaching them to grow up, mature and take care of themselves. That is, after all, our main mission as parents; however no one tells you exactly what to do it so it is all done by trial and error. Their lives are filled with Firsts that begin at birth and continue throughout their life. The Firsts are the things we tend to remember or make note of somewhere– good and bad. Whether it be the first time they roll over, say their first word, take their first step, get their first boo-boo or their first heartbreak. We are there helping them celebrate or console their pain. That is just what we do as parents. As they grow and mature more Firsts come and go and they grow up right before out eyes. Continue reading