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!

 

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 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 Storm before the Calm

Well, believe it or not — I AM BAAAAAAACK!!!!  When I started this blog I had plans to write something every week or two; in fact I did pretty well in the beginning, but I have not done so well over the last few months. I ask that you bear with me as I pick this up again and venture into my new reality…my new adventure if you will.

To say that a couple of things have happened and changed in the several months since my last post would definitely be an understatement! Between Senior Prom on April 26th, emptying the house on May 26th and finally making the final move to Nashville on June 4th, we had just a few things to juggle. A few of the highlights include college registration, family visits, graduation, graduation party, packing, moving, cleaning and a trip to Texas. This doesn’t even take into account the regular day-to-day stuff involved with daily life and having a Senior in the house and a husband 3 hours away, but I think you get the general idea — I was BUSY!  Oh, and did I mention that we made another move on June 15th into our current place? Well, yeah, we did that too. I think I am due for a season of not moving for a while.

There were times in the midst of this maddening chaos that I really did want to throw my hands up and just scream; I needed an outlet for everything that was being pent-up because of the seemingly unending list that I needed to accomplish. In addition to this I had my new “normal” reality pressing in on me too — Andy was 3 hours away and we had only brief contact daily and the occasional face to face visit when it worked out. I felt alone and at times all I could do was to stop, cry it out and start over. Those times weren’t often, nor did they last for an extended time, but they served as an emotional reset of sorts and allowed me to reset and begin again. Ultimately it all worked and I managed NOT to maim or murder anyone or anything! See — self-control really does pay off!

Throughout the storm of circumstances swirling about me I knew that it would ultimately be worth it — our family would be back together in the same city and under the same roof!!! I was SO ready for that! All in all that, along with my Faith was what brought me through and kept me going even when it seemed that all was lost and I would fail. Never have I ever been more grateful for friends, family and Faith as I have over the last little bit. Without a doubt– even in the darkest of my days — did I ever lose sight of that or my goal. Now that we have made it through this storm we can set sail into the open waters and see just what the future holds.

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

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!