goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Counting My Blessings (May 2017)

I was doing busy work prepping some veggies for the dehydrator and was musing about my visit today to the new farm where some friends just moved. They are starting their new adventure and are excited about what they can achieve. They have a lot of work in front of them and they have the skills to tackle what needs to be done. I am so happy for them.

I also am humbled by my own lack of knowledge and ability to do what they plan to do. It made me realize that I am very fortunate that I have friends with diverse skill sets. Because I am enriched by those friendships.

I am so very glad I have many friends who are farmers or growers or fishers or hunters or gatherers. They know how to bring food home.

I am so glad I have many friends who are chefs and excellent cooks and others who love to build those skills. They know how to make us food to eat.

I am so glad I have many friends who are healers, either nurses or doctors or acupuncturists or chiropractors or therapists or physical therapists or massage therapists or reiki masters. They know how to help us be healthier.

I am so glad I have many friends who are teachers, either with children or adults, or group leaders, or others who share skills and abilities and are willing and able to share them to teach us to learn.

I am so glad I have many friends who have religious training either as ministers or rabbis or lay leaders or spirit sharers or truth seekers. They show there are many pathways to finding the message.

I am so glad I have many friends around the world of various nationalities. They share their pride of heritage and place and expand my world.

I am so glad I have many friends with sexual identities that differ from mine. They show me there are many ways to love.

I am so glad I have many friends.

My world is better than if everyone in my life was a cookie cutter, all from the place where I was born, all with the same education, the same religion, the same health, the same lifestyle. The diversity I see surrounding me reminds me we each are the star of our movie; we each are striving to make our life good. And the more we reach out to include people with differences, the better our own movie becomes.

Thank you for being part of making my life good….and then better.

 


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What’s the Right Way?

What’s the right way to challenge someone you know…someone you love or respect…when something that person says makes your bullshit meter twinge?  How do you behave when someone you know…someone you love or respect….announces something that you know is based on air and ego?

I once worked for a man, a terrific man, one of the best. I worked for him and saw how capable he is, how truly wonderful. He did great things, the best things. Really. You would be proud to call him your friend.

I knew him to be gentle and caring and smart. Very smart. Went to several of the best schools and got great grades, superior grades. Better than almost everyone else.

But he had this one teeny tiny habit. He made up statistics. And I knew it.

I challenged him once….in private.  He grinned and asked me who would know. I told him I would know. The others who worked with us might know. And he would know.

And he smiled.

Now this man is not self serving and malicious.  On the contrary, he recognizes that he was given chances in life and now, because he is in a position to do so, he wants to help others.

I love this man. Do not misunderstand me.

But I see when good men can also lie, we are in trouble.

We have a President who does not know how to admit he does not know something. We have a President who is so unsure about himself that he must make up information. He lies.

He lies so much that when he is caught and understands it is a lie, he blames it on others.

This man has no moral compass.

So how do we deal with the small lies we hear from people we love and respect?

I don’t know about you, but I will continue to let that person know I recognize what he did.  I will continue to offer a level of privacy….for a time. But if the lies continue, it has to be stopped.

As soon as we as a society get accustom to the level of lying that goes on, it will increase.

Or perhaps, it already has because we let it go. We ourselves lie at times. And when we let it go with people we know, how can we hold people we do not know accountable?  It used to be that a person’s word was what made their reputation. 

It starts with each one of us.  No more embellishing. No more lying by omission. No more painting the picture better than it is.

It means admitting you don’t know. That you need more info. That you need some help.

When I was working my very first job out of college I did not know a lot of what I was doing.  (I suspect many people play act as I did). I tried to carry it off, but I felt there was a big neon sign flashing over my head “fraud”. It took maturity to understand that it is perfectly okay if I do not know something. That level of maturity helped me a lot when I started visiting farms and had no idea of the value or benefits of corn feeding or grass feeding cattle. The rancher was patient and I actually found everyone was patient. They enjoyed talking about something that they knew. And so I learned.

And I also learned that I didn’t need to bullshit any more. 

 

 

 


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Planner or Reactor?

For those of us who are Facebook people, you know there are often small surveys you can complete to find out if you know the slang used in a particular state or the foods eaten in different areas of the country. What would be interesting would be a questionnaire series to determine if an individual is a Planner or a Reactor.

For example, this past Saturday Graham and I participated in the March for Science at the state capitol in Salem, Oregon. Graham asked me early Saturday…what time should we leave?  My mind automatically went into 30 minutes to drive there, 10 to find parking, 10 to walk from where we park and add a 10 minute fudge factor and there we had the time to leave the house. Do you do that? You might be a Planner.

I’m sitting here, past noon, thinking about pizza…..and how can I work it out so we can go to a pizzeria after an evening meeting today when my husband makes a comment about pizza.  So I get off my butt and grab the bread maker and pizza dough will be ready in time for supper. Got the sausage out of the freezer, we have cheese, and there are some assorted other toppings in the frig. We’re set. How about your supper plans? Do you have them in the works early in the day (out of the freezer the night before counts) or does supper prep happen when you get that hunger pang later?  Your typical routine will very much indicate if you are a Planner or a Reactor.

When I lived in Connecticut and my two older kids were elementary school age, I often checked out the camp offerings when there was a fair in February. I couldn’t believe that action needed to be taken that early but found out it sometimes was the case that a special camp with limited spots filled quickly.

Years ago I planned a family trip to Nova Scotia. It was my youngest’s location of choice for his Golden Birthday Trip so he was involved and we started planning the summer trip in February. Good thing for the ferry, because the spots for cars were sold out by March. One of the planned events turned out wonderfully. We all like to cook so on our trips we usually try to fit in a cooking class for something local. When I contacted the chef in charge of the cooking classes I found listed, he did not have his scheduled planned out as far as July.  He asked what I would like to learn. Well, I told him I knew how to boil a lobster but another way to prepare it would be enjoyed. Or perhaps, something from Acadian cooking.  We showed up for the class, held in a teaching kitchen space at a local supermarket chain. The regular attendees had left the front row vacant for us because they had been informed about our trip and the early communication. As the chef announced we would be learning some Acadian recipes everyone cheered and one woman said that they never would have had been offered that if it had not been for us. Now, that isn’t even the end of the story! A couple of years ago, about 6 years after the trip, I received an email from the chef. It was something he had mailed out to everyone on his list that he was changing the direction of his business. I responded that it was great what he was planning to do, told him a little about my business, Can-Do Real Food, and then reminded him who I was. He remembered us and now we can compare local food concepts on Facebook.  Amazing how a bit of planning made the world a friendlier and smaller place.

Nice, but so what?  All these things, being a tad late instead of early to the March, going out for pizza instead making our own, getting the kids into a certain camp, and even making a memory with a chef in Nova Scotia, have only small impact on our day to day life. But there are other more important issues how the contrast between a Planner and a Reactor can influence the lives of many.

The concept of a happy marriage is more than happy bed partners. Yet many people forget to find out if they know how to TALK with one another and can work through disagreements.

The concept of raising healthy and well adjusted children requires a lot of planning. When you react to your child’s antics, you tend to discipline in ways that are not as well thought out if, alternatively, you had planned that lesson before it actually was needed. How would you know the lesson would be needed? You simply remember your own childhood and think how you wish your parents would have handled it. Somewhere between what mom and dad did and what you wanted when you were a kid is the right answer, but merely smacking a butt when angry is NOT what will work long term. 

The concept of leadership for any successful organization usually requires that members of that organization have a way to have their voice heard. It means the leader has to be thoughtful, willing to hear all sides, and be well educated in history, science and more in order to make decisions that are wise and sound for positive long term effect.  Choosing such a leader also requires recognition that bluster does not indicate brains, that speaking his mind does not indicate an ability to get along with others, that being the king of the empire does not translate well to leading a system with others having strong voices. 

And so now it seems that we must react because so many people did not plan well. Activism in a March for Science is but a drop in the bucket but amazing how many more people showed up to show that TRUTH and FACTS are needed…..more than showed up for the inauguration.  Activism is needed is you feel SOMETHING pro or con about a subject. 

So, essentially, planning will ease your life from some stresses but being able to get moving in reaction to events is also something needed. We must be both.


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Our Heart is Sick

I start my mornings, when I have time, with a cup of coffee and the Internet. First, emails. Then, Facebook. I’m sitting here today in embroidered blue jeans and my tie dyed tee with fringes on its sleeves….about as “hippie” as my attire can get, I guess.  I select something from Pandora and find my attention caught by this music.  It got me thinking.

Thinking about the way our nation, our communities were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We were as split and splintered as perhaps no other time since the Civil War. It was a time, like now, when a person’s political stance fractured families and friendships.  Even in myself, understanding the sense of patriotic pride that pushed some guys I knew to enlist and go off to what was most assuredly a blood bath, I had trouble balancing that sense of pride with the horror of what the war was doing to the people in VietNam and more importantly, the people who came back damaged by their experience.  We were cruel to our veterans who returned and many remain burnt out to this day. Others were proud of their service and resumed life. Still others were angry at the anger and so the split continued.

There has always been a crowd chanting 

and others proclaiming

We talked about a generation gap but no one really worked on healing the other divide. And so we who were teenagers when college students who were peacefully protesting were murdered have now become senior citizens. And the divide seems to be greater than ever.

When I heard the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song Ohio playing on Pandora it made me pause and I then had a very disturbing thought…and that is why I turned here to try to find a pathway through it.

Today, if we had a similar shooting by a government ordered militia of four kids on a college campus who were peacefully demonstrating would it stop the atrocity that they were protesting?

And I don’t think the answer would be yes today. Not any longer.

When a man gets dragged out of his reserved and purchased airline seat and people start posting things that are not perfect about his life as a way to discredit HIM, someone has lost their values.

When grieving parents of a fallen soldier offer the Presidential candidate a copy of the Constitution and then they are attacked for not being perfect, someone has lost their values.

When Congressional Representatives refuse to meet with their Constituents during a recess when time to schedule town halls is normal, someone has lost their values.

When there is growing evidence that our President is focused on personal gain and benefits for his peers in the uber wealthy, and his supporters criticize the messengers, someone has lost their values.

When friends stop talking to long term friends because there are differences of opinion, someone has lost their values.

My mom called the Baby Boomers the “me” generation. From her view she saw a lot of young people who wanted to break with conventional behavior and do “their own thing.” She felt this kind of individualism would move us into a broken community and while there are many benefits for people pursuing their pathway even when unconventional, there is a truism that if the focus is ONLY on the individual, the community loses.

As I drove south last week to go to the Shakespeare Festival held in Ashland, Oregon, I passed through the beautiful green fields of the Willamette Valley. One town, Junction City is a conservative stronghold in this very mixed region. At the southern edge of town in front of  a tire dealership, the owner often posts political statements. This one caught my eye and I laughed. “Snowflakes ahead” referring to the city of Eugene, a very strong liberal community.

Being called a snowflake is a trendy insult used by conservatives generally against anyone who thinks individuals have rights.  They say we are responding this way because our feelings are hurt and so they belittle us.  They don’t understand that it is not our own personal feelings that are hurt but an empathetic response for members in our community who have been hurt.  To me it implies short-term issues and perhaps a lack of intelligence. I tend to feel irritated when someone refers to me as a snowflake because I have been this way for …hmmmmm at least 5 decades that I can claim to my own thinking and reasoning.

The problem, though, is not what my cohort is called, but the fact that people prefer to demean and detract instead of trying to understand.

It gets down to core values.

If you feel people who suggest you read something and think about it makes you feel dumb, you have a self esteem problem.

If you feel people who expect women/Blacks/Latinos/LGBTQ/handicapped to have equal access and equal opportunity are causing you pain, you have a vision problem.

If you feel that there is only one way that is right, you have a navigator problem.

If you feel that people who are not wealthy are better than everyone else who then is worthless and there for you to use, you have a humanity problem.

If you feel that the homeless have done something bad and deserve their hard times, you have a cardiac illness.

As a society, as a community, we are sick and most of all, it is our heart that needs to repair.

Can we do it?

All I know is that if something horrendous like Kent State happens today, I wonder if will we react as a unified community, realizing we ALL must move off our spots to work together?

The short answer is….no. We did not act unified about Standing Rock. We did not act unified about Flint. We did not act unified about how Congress is dismantling laws that hold corporations responsible to make sure the water they spill into and the air they emit into stay clean. We have not acted unified about the idea that our government has been influenced by anther country over an election (as we have influenced countless other countries’ elections). We did band together pretty well a few weeks ago about health insurance but the power mongers are still wanting more more more and this fight is not over yet.  We have not acted united about how this President ignores rules and conventions of his office.

The longer answer is……perhaps we can. If we don’t lose our way even more first.

What do you think? Your comments show you are thinking…a very good sign.


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The Disvalue of Money

In an earlier chapter of my life I was married to a man whose parents had met in high school. Like many teens, their libidos ruled and there was no easy access to birth control in those days. Eventually they learned she was pregnant and their families supported them by permitting them to marry. In those days pregnant girls(even if married) did not attend school, so she earned her GED while he went on to graduate. The cards were stacked against them but they managed and both went to college, even as their family grew to include three kids by the mid 1950s.

They earned decent money and once all their kids had gone on to their own adult lives, they celebrated by buying a large house for huge family gatherings and they also got to travel. They were, by all measures, successful and living the American Dream.

I married one of those kids and found my in-laws to be a bundle of contradictions. They were surface loving and underneath judgmental.  Once, my mother-in-law asked me if I wanted this or that for dinner and not being a fan of one, I said I would enjoy the other. I got a sour face and was told she wanted to make the first. I thought, but didn’t ask, why she had bothered to ask me my opinion. Okay, you get the picture.

But they were very giving. They purchased tons of things for their children and grandchildren. If it was needed, or even just whined for, it was soon made available.

Money was easy

Ethical behavior was not.no-right-way

So, we all probably know someone like that. They give a gift…with strings attached. They do a favor for you once and you hear about it for years.  If they are an acquaintance, you can distance yourself. If they are family, you can’t.

And if it is your President Elect, you certainly can not turn a blind eye hoping things will improve. The man is who he is. It is easier for him to pay out 25 million dollars than admit he has been part of a fraudulent activity to take people’s money by offering them less than promised and purchased.

Think about it: 25 million dollars is chump change.calvin_ethics

We’re only starting here, folks. Be vigilant…and ready to act.

By the way, I am NOT saying all people who have money are unethical. There are poor people who are unethical. Middle income people who are unethical. All kinds of people with all kinds of money have all kinds of ethics.

I’m just saying I have seen this before, and it never improves. You’ve seen it too.

 

 


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You Too?

Trump has a really well put together video out for his last ad spot. One part patriotic, flags waving, smiling faces one and all. Part hateful and bigoted.

No getting around that.

At this point we have 2 days until the polls close. I suppose no one’s mind is going to be changed. That’s not even the point of this effort.

If you know me, if you have read my blogs for a while, you know I have spoken often about the way I think Trump’s hateful speech to people about others different from them has encouraged a lot of emoted passionate hatred. Not quiet and contained by social mores; the disdain for being politically correct was never appreciated or desired. The crudeness gutter talk is entertainment…and titillating. How fun to be naughty…and then if everyone is naughty, is it normal?

NO.  Not in any sense of the word. Psychologically. Politically. Culturally. Socially. Religiously.

Except for bigots. Extreme right wing skin heads, Aryan nation, KKK types. It’s their normal.

The rest of the people who seem to be enamored with Trump are, probably, okay people. I know some and love some. But I sure am confused.

Okay, you don’t like Mexicans. You believe they have stolen good American jobs. Here in Oregon many are professionals: lawyers, doctors, accountants, heads of companies. Others are in commerce with stores and restaurants. Others are in service industries, like landscaping, hairdressing, house cleaning. And the others….legal and illegal, they work in the fields, in the kitchens, on construction sites.  If you feel one has a job that you want, please be realistic about your own experience and expertise.  Don’t generalize about a group without facts that are verified or your own experience.

Okay, you don’t like Muslims. You believe they are all radical terrorists. You have been lead to believe they are perhaps sleeper agents.  Do you personally know any, I mean work with and interact with daily in a responsible work environment or have invited one to your home for a meal?  Does the concept of the white supremacist groups concern you? It should. There is more risk of a terrorist event in the USA by a homegrown group of white people than anyone from the Middle East or Pakistan.

Okay, you’re uncomfortable around handicapped people who are not young and cute. Even if they work and contribute to society. You can’t help it, their physical or mental situation irritates you?  Sounds like time to find out why? Why irritation instead of a sense of compassion or even, more self-centered, a sense of appreciation for your own health?

Okay, you think women really should not be working in jobs like men.  Even if a woman, you might not like carrying the kind of responsibility some of our sisters have gladly grown into and others have been forced to assume.  Are we going to encourage a society that sounds totalitarian to me…one where someone’s future job is determined by their birth-the location of their birth, the income status of the family of birth, the visible genitalia at birth.  When you restrict the learning capabilities of girls, when you limit the income earnings of women, you are  as culpable as the most narrow minded third World male elder making a child marry a man two or three decades older.

Okay, you think newspaper reporters are crooked and the news is twisted. But you believe what you read in headlines and don’t bother to read the article. You don’t search the web for articles about the same subject from across the spectrum to pull out the truth. Yes, we are fed what “they” want us to know. But because of social media with an open internet, we have access to much more. If you agree the journalists need to be constrained, please realize that this Internet permitting you to read this is also protected by the First Amendment. All your arguments about “slippery slope” apply equality to all parts of the Constitution.

Finally, the Jews. You really don’t like them and you have good reason. They are all rich. Not. They are all smart. Not.  They all are…what? You have read this because you like my writing and either enjoy it and agree or at times are aggravated because I bring up topics that nag at you. Like me or hate me but if you say it is because I am Jewish, you are a bigot.

Trump has appealed to the baseness in that he has called to the bottom and they have responded. And then, some of you generally above that have responded too. You’re not in good company, but you are known by your associates.

A warning to you. You’re next on the list. first-they-came

And despite the fact that no one will come to take your guns (another way you have been played), your arsenal will not keep them out when they want in.

So much better for us to nip this in the bud, recognize we have healing to do, and start talking to each other.

One way people who consider themselves a friend of mine is to explain how you can join in the Antisemitism. I am taking that one personally.

And if you do happened to have any Latino, handicapped, female,  LGBTQ or Jewish friends, they also are wondering how you REALLY feel.cropped-tolerance.jpg


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The Road Ahead

We have a choice, as we do every time we elect a President. We can uphold the United States as a wonderful example of a democratic republic that can change heads of state calmly and smoothly,Image result for smooth transition of leadership or we can have tantrums wanting our own way and fall down into a despotic third world nation experience where the people who perceive a loss of power fight anyone who they believe thinks differently from them.

In the last few weeks there has been an escalation of threats of a “revolution” if Trump loses the election. Organizations and individuals who have publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton have received death threats. A gun shop in Las Vegas is advertising a sale on guns before Hillary is elected. There just is a lot of anger and threats.

Republcian Congressional leadership who have publicly indicated their dismay with their candidate are now promising to block Clinton is she wins the Presidency.  They are promising to freeze, not to work through the things that need work, but to do nothing. That is not leadership in a sane direction.

It could happen. We did it once before. Civil war. This time, though, there is nothing organized or goal for the people who are losing their emotional stability. And yes, if you decide my words and actions are worthy of killing me, you have lost your mind. Is this kind of activity like in Aleppo what will make us great? Image result for aleppo

This nation was established to better the situation in the Old World, where power was held by very few. For hundreds of years people in this country could achieve much, change their lifestyle, improve upon what their parents had. Only recently has this reversed and there are clear signs why.

The people who have made these changes include, among many others, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. His claim he has never held public office does not mean he had no influence. He is one of the players of power and has been for years. So, right now, regardless of who wins the Presidency, not much is really going to improve for many of us and for some of us, things will get a lot worse. The only winners, the same ones as the last few decades, the very top.

Now, I remember my parents complaining about how things were going downhill back in the 1970s. They did not like the attitudes of the “hippies” and protesters against the war in Vietnam. My parents longed for much of what they knew in their younger days. But they also were active in the civil rights movement, clearly recognizing not only that the treatment of African-Americans had long been bad, but actually doing something about it.

So, now, I am carrying the mantle of service. I call out unethical and unequal treatment when I see it. I remind my friends on Facebook that if something appeals to their sense of greed (free something fantastical that is too good to be true) or anger (Hillary did this or that or Donald said this now) that they really should verify before jumping on a bandwagon that will later prove to have flat tires. Image result for first they came for the socialists

And I don’t just sit here bitching and moaning. I am involved. I volunteer in a number of community activities including helping a local candidate in his run for the state legislature.  If we want a better world we each need to be involved. Think globally. Act locally.Image result for doing instead of talking

And, I suppose, I have said enough to irritate the most unstable of people who might be making a list of who they need to take down. A friend told me to back down and stop being so vocal. Nope, I’m sorry. If we don’t speak out early and often, the snowball grows. I will not be quiet.  Another friend told me to arm myself. And I wonder, how much bigger a weapon can I get and use before someone else uses theirs. If that is to be, it will be. I will not live my life in fear.

I will continue to try to appeal to your brain, your intellect, your heart, your conscience. I will try to get into conversation with you to understand your viewpoint and share mine. Image result for buy guns now

I just don’t see many people willing to do the same. That is sad, and yes, a bit frightening.

 


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My Real Job

I graduated from Rutgers College in 1976 and was already working for the Tennessee Supreme Court’s office of administration. They had started a judicial PLANNING office and since I had a degree in urban PLANNING, it made sense to them. I was happy for the job and my kids are now amused that my starting salary was $6,000.  That’s a year, not a month.

Tennessee-SealI enjoyed the work for the Supreme Court.  I did lots of tasks that often fall to the newest/youngest on staff but finally one piece of my education was useful and I got to be in charge of a project!  I had taken a year of computer programming in high school. I had managed to talk my dad out of the more typical college prep physics class for this newfangled concept. We learned a Fortran language and used the computer across town at the university since the high school only had a card sorter. This fantastic skill was useful to the Supreme Court because it was miles ahead of everyone else on staff and we were implementing a new court information system that was going to use key punch cards. It is pretty funny now.  But I loved it, other than not fully knowing all the court related vocabulary I needed, because I got to travel to all 95 counties in Tennessee and let me tell you, that is one beautiful state.

But a few years into that work experience I realized I was getting further and further from my education and applied for and won a job at an engineering and planning consulting firm. That one also included travel. Some to places like Little Rock, Arkansas and Bossier City, Louisiana, but I also got to spend a winter in Miami and then six months in Europe. Not bad. However, I got laid off when Reagan because President and cut funding for environmental issues as part of his economic program. I will not make a political statement here but it is tempting.ronald-reagan-24-11-82

The next few years during that recession were difficult. Planners with a masters degree could not get work so I switched gears and started in real estate. I sold houses for a few months and did okay but I never loved it. My broker suggested I start an appraisal division for him, and within two years I bought out his interest and had 12 people working for me in the booming real estate market of the 1980s.

AppraisalReportsI loved that job..half in the office writing the reports and half out and about in the beautiful northern part of Connecticut. I learned quickly that the emotional appeal many people feel about their house could be achieved in many properties for me. I also learned that many people react to the way things LOOK, not the way things ARE and pretty finishing hides a lot of shoddy workmanship.  Loved what I did. And it was in the mid 1980s that I deeply learned that THAT was NOT my true job.

My REAL job was to raise my tiny children to be healthy functioning adults.  At that time it was a challenge because my husband was a troubled person. I’ll keep it simple and just say he blamed me for red lights and the rain. I did not buy it, and the time came when I told him, for the sake of the kids, we MUST live apart. He filed for a divorce soon after. Fine.

I have always been a nice person. (There are a few that would argue about that, including him, but all those people have, like he does, a perverted view of reality and the responsibility they have for their life choices.) I listened to the question one counselor posed, “Is it important for your children to know their father?” and decided it was. And that, my friends, was probably where I should not have been so nice. But I am who I am.   So we had numerous wrestling matches over the years and now, we have some major fallout.

I wrote a blog a couple of months ago when I found out my ex had made a choice that is socially reprehensible. He is ostracized and yet, our children are torn. They do not approve of his behavior, but he is their father. And so, they feel a need to be there for him.

Yes, they had good times with him. And he helped them with challenges. But that is nothing above and beyond the scope of normal parenting. We can and should celebrate he had some normal motivations and abilities.  But we need not exaggerate it.estranged

I see the homeless here in our town and have gotten to know many as they hang out on the church grounds where my commercial kitchen is located. Without knowing any of their stories, I recognize that they have made life choices that have left them estranged from their families. And so, I understand that we have many people, operating at all levels of functionality in society, who are isolated and confused why. Few recognize that the choices made in their own behavior and the ways they treated people who once loved them and trusted them caused alienation.  Many blame it on others; it is easier to do that than recognize one’s own place in the divergent pathway.

So, I recognized, over 30 years ago that my REAL job was not what paid for the bacon, but to nurture and continue to help feed the lives of my three children.  All adults now, they are amazing young people and I am super proud of them. They have not been fault-free; that is some fairy tale not based in reality. But they are thinking and caring people who are facing their responsibilities and enjoying their pathways with close and dear friends.an nlanders

I am not ready to retire, but I love basking in the glow.

 

 


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Pursuit of Happiness

Long ago I knew a man who wanted things, and so he would arrange to take them. Secretly. Sometimes other people would get blamed and he would not care. His pursuit of happiness was severely flawed as it not only did not take into effect the feelings of the owners of those stolen things, but the restricted freedom or life changing events that affected those that took the blame. He didn’t care. The Declaration of Independence provided him an inalienable right to pursue happiness and damn everyone else. Him first. Only him.

He’s not alone. There are many other flawed people who have “me first, the hell with all of you” attitudes.pursuit-of-happiness-2-728

And so, here we are, a nation that has been driven to division based on religious expression, women’s rights, the rights of people of color and sexual identity and expression and so much more.

The fundamentalist mindset is that anything else but their expressed beliefs are evil and must be stopped.  Al Qaeda and ISIS are doing that by murdering thousands. So far, it has not come to that here in the United States with our own citizens. But the time seems to be coming and not from Middle Eastern terrorists. This will be home grown.

Are we in for a civil war because some people believe THEIR pursuit of happiness depends on others being subordinate? Am I to be murdered because I have posted about my food preservation business and they want my stored food? Am I to be murdered because I have been outspoken about equal access to rights for all?  Am I to be murdered because I am a Jew?

There are a lot of challenged people in our communities. People who want what they want and have no ability to work out a plan to achieve it. They may be the poor, the people who are on public assistance and eat at soup kitchens. They may be the homeless with problems that are rooted in drug abuse or mental instability. But most likely the ones who have the largest problems are people who are living a life of struggle and they don’t know why.Pause Pursuit-Of-Happiness

These people are inhibited by their inability to self educate, their inability to develop a plan of action, their inability to consider the effects and consequences of their actions. These challenged people are our neighbors, our friends on Facebook, our childhood friends. These struggling people are angry and listen to the voices of Trump and other conservative talking heads that fuel that anger.

The pursuit of happiness is an “unalienable” right. That means it is the desire to be happy that is natural. The Decalration of Independence does not say “happiness”. It says “the pursuit of happiness.”   We are born with minds and talents that we may use to pursue happiness.  Many of us have had our minds and talents squashed and skewed in ways that make it hard to recognize that a path to happiness is one we must make on our own and together. Not through divisiveness but with cohesion and community. And it is not instant gratification but the actual working towards that goal that brings the greatest happiness.pursuit-of-happiness work


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A story within a story and a concept to consider

Years ago my maternal grandfather would preside over the Passover Seder. For hours and hours and hours he would intone the readings and prayers in Hebrew while my cousin Nancy and I would compare the levels in our glasses of diluted wine and water. It was all but a meaningless process and once Grandpa died and my father started to preside, I asked my mom if we could perhaps use another Haggadah.

“Oh no!” she replied with shock that I would suggest such blasphemy. “This is the ONLY one.”

(unsaid) Really, Mom? This wine-stained freebie from the liquor store where we buy the Manischewitz?

I tried again when Dan and Lisa were really young. “Mom,” I pleaded, ” Can I revise the Haggadah to reduce it to 20 minutes so the kids really understand and participate?”

“Oh no!”, she replied. (Repeat with me) “This is the ONLY one!” More wine stained than ever.

So, when Graham and I got married and we decided to host a Seder I told him a bit more emphatically than I needed to that I would be finding one that worked better for us. He didn’t care, of course. There are literally over 1000 versions of the Haggadah, each very much following the prescribed order, as Seder means “order”, and telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

That’s the first story. The second is next:

The story we share at the Seder is not simply what Cecile B. DeMille’s movie with Charlton Heston shows. We talk about what went on in the minds and hearts of the people affected there and then. And then we try to make it into something we can relate to.

IMG_1033I don’t know about you, but I can not relate to working my entire life building the pyramids or other structures.  I’ve done some physical work and I work pretty hard at the food processing business, even when my body hurts, but to FEEL like a slave takes a stretch of imagination. Growing up here in the United States in the 50s, 60s and 70s, my freedoms expanded and my opportunities were ahead, ready for the taking.

And yet, each of us are enslaved to something that we know we would be healthier without. Me, it is easily sugar. Someone else maybe their tobacco. Someone else their wine or beer or pot or whatever. We can identify people in public life enslaved to the concept of power and how that has warped their view of what is healthy.

Once we can recognize that item for ourselves we can begin to think about how it feels to get rid of it. And not by our own choice. That freedom from slavery in Egypt was not desired by many. Afterall, there is some peace found in a routine that is not desired but has no responsibility. To become free means to take on a huge change. And we know most people do not like change.

In the Seders I host I try to get the people attending to recognize their own enslavement and how they (and I) fight the change that provides freedom.

So that’s the second story. And now, to the concept I hope you will consider.

In the news today one of the issues is the brouhaha about transsexual individuals using the public restroom for the sex they feel is their identity. There is so much fear about perverts attacking children.  There is so much condemnation for the wrongness of these people. There is not the loving (supposedly Christian) acceptance that they have a difference we might not understand but can respect.

We also have grave concern, all of us, about ISIS and other terrorist groups and how they seem to be difficult to stop.  It is horrible how a few people continue to flow to those groups from western society here and in the UK. Why? But the more difficult concept for me is the hatred of ALL Muslims based on these extreme groups. The people I hear who are so afraid seem not to recognize that all fundamental ends of all religions have their extreme and narrow definition of what is acceptable and believe all others who profess to practice the same religion but in different ways are NOT that religion. And need to be changed. It is true in Islam. It is true in Judaism. It is true in Christianity. Meanwhile, it seems hate of the others is easier than acceptance of the other.

I wrote a blog a few months ago in answer to a friend about whether I would welcome a Syrian refugee family into my home. You can read it here.  That issue, as well as a myriad of others supporting people who have had incredibly horrible events occur simply because they were both where and how they were are not hard for me.

I merely remember that I was once a slave in Egypt and was delivered out of bondage. It is my modern role to help others who desire to, escape their slavery.freedom