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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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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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Déjà Vu

The term déjà vu is French and means, literally, “already seen.” Those who have experienced the feeling describe it as an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that shouldn’t be familiar at all.

Of course you have to educated to recognize the connection when it happens. In other words, those people who do not know history, tend to repeat it.

I know personally how hard it is not to react in anger when something is irritating. I know personally how hard it is to stay calm and analyze a threat before making a decision what action I need to take. I also know personally that the road to a better world is to take a pathway of compassion and reconciliation whenever the personal threat is not imminent.

V0009398 A frontal outline and a profile of faces expressing anger. E Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A frontal outline and a profile of faces expressing anger. Etching by B. Picart, 1713, after C. Le Brun. 1713 By: Charles Le Brunafter: Bernard PicartPublished: [1713] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

I also know that there may come a time (again) in my life when action will be needed. When there will be a risk to my own person with potential injury or even death. I know that there are some things that are so important that a stand must be taken.

Some people also feel that way but their threshold is a whole different place. Their personal arousal is close to the gutter as they react in anger without thought.

Such was the case yesterday when a woman in Kentucky was badly beaten because she looked “butch”. While it is easy to blame Trump for rallying the anger and fear of bigots, it is important to realize that the bigots’ hated and feared before Trump gave them “permission” to act out.

This is the same group of people who scorns the concept of “PC”. Political correctness to them is horrible. Why should they try to understand that people of color, women and people with various sexual orientation and identity want equal protection under the law? Why should they “love their neighbor as themselves”?

This incident in Kentucky yesterday is become a repeated event. What makes this even more remarkable is that people stood around and watched. They did not help. But they did not hinder.

Matthew_Shepard_never_forget_500_350_55Does anyone besides me remember Kitty Genovese?  Nazi Germany where only a small minority of people tried to fight the tide of the horrible discrimination and death camps? Matthew Shepard? holocaustp

Why do people slink back into the shadows? Personal fear. Fear of being hurt and possibly killed themselves for the most part. Maybe also a small part that the people being mistreated deserve it. Maybe not so small a part?

But what happens to a society that decides some people just are really not equal. Not only not equal but they deserve punishment or death?

That society is very sick. That means the people who are that overall society have a horrible flaw in their soul, in their psyche, in their thinking.

Where are you on this? Why?

 


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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


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Journey to Another Land

I went to Texas last week to visit my wonderful sister-in-law and discovered I was definitely not in Oregon any more.

First I want to start by staying Oregon is not the liberal bastion it appears to be from the outside. I learned, once I lived here, that the major cities (Portland and Eugene, for the most part) are liberal, but the rest of the state, including where I live is pretty conservative. So, I am quite used to hearing local discussion about open carry and whatnot and gun ownership in Oregon is only slightly below Texas’s rate.

The first thing that hit me reading the Austin newspaper the next morning was that most people blamed the Oregon girl who was murdered for her own death. Even though the suspect is a troubled youth and he overpowered her and strangled her, the pundits believed if she had carried a gun she would have been able to protect herself. (This is a major difference between Oregon and Texas and not because the victim is from Oregon. It is because Oregon believes you do not blame a victim for a crime.)

And some of you are nodding but she was too young to be carrying. So even if she had an interest in having a personal weapon, it was not yet legal for her to carry one.

To me this stank like blaming the woman for the rape, not the jerk who overpowers her and assaults her.

Why are conservative men so full of doublespeak?  They want to protect their daughters from raping Islamist terrorists but blame other women who get attacked by the boy next door?  One out of six women are victims of rape or attempted rape in this country.  And men?  About 10% of American men are the perps, and over half of them blame the woman. Over two-thirds of all sexual assaults are caused by men known to the woman. Over 50% are white. And over a quarter are married. What is wrong with you guys?sexual-assault

Rape is not sex. Rape is assault. Get it out of your pea-picking brain that a woman who looks attractive is NOT asking for it. Use your self control.

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The other issue that was apparent was open carry. This is also related to the death of the Oregon student on the University of Texas campus, which, as a public college, has to permit guns on campus as it is the state law. But we saw, walking through areas of Austin and then in more conservative areas a couple of hours away, signs not permitting people to come into the establishment with their weapons. Private stores, colleges and organizations can opt out of the state’s open carry allowance.

The idea of guns in a bar or winery or brewpub just does not make sense. While some people can agree that guns and alcohol don’t mix well, the point is you have no idea of who is carrying and what their anger managament control may be, especially as they begin to be affected by alcohol.

Still, some shops that do not even serve food had the no guns allowed signs posted at the entrance.

 

Who’d a thunk it that some in Texas do not want to see a repeat of the old wild west.  But I still prefer Oregon where pedestrians can cross the street without fear of being hit by a car….because life just seems to be valued in all ways there.


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Getting Dirty in the Gutter

So now we have Presidential candidates comparing hand sizes as an indication of how large their dicks are? What? To put it mildly, if a bit crudely, they are total schmucks. We should not be surprised.schmuck

What had surprised me initially but now I have fallen to a state of dismay, is how many of my fellow citizens are so titillated by this entertainment they do not seem to remember that this contest is not for the biggest jerk in the country but for our President and representative to the rest of the world.  When people say they support Trump because he tells it like it is, it is easy to remind them that they no longer speak to family members who have done the same thing for years. Why is speaking crudely an asset?

As more and more people climb on the Trump bandwagon I am still amazed at those that ignore the fact he has talked about how beautiful his daughter’s body is and he would “date” her….in other words, incest. I am amazed that the photos of his wife with her surgically enhanced breasts exhibited for all of us to see is not a matter of concern over the slutty nature of the woman who could become our First Lady but a gut reaction from men who drool over sexy broads. I would expect the constituency who cuts funding for women’s health clinics and does not want to teach sexual education to kids before their hormones lead them into activities with consequences, that that group of people would be making SOME comment about concern for the gutter level of the Trumps.  (I think this is the same group that scorns the dress code of Muslim women to cover their head or even their entire body.)

But now, we have people who are not really thinking. Maybe this is a horribly true reflection of our education system which teaches for the test and not for the ability to reason. I suppose if you vote for the winner of a Presidential election you might think you won.  You might think you passed the test. But in reality, you may have failed at an important life decision and the consequences of that support may really come back to bite you.

We need to look at those consequences.

For all of you who support Republican candidates who want to bomb the Middle East  because of fear of terrorism, take a moment to think it through. No one seems to take a minute to think who might not like that idea, besides all the innocent people who live there. (I suspect many people here don’t care about them anyway, back to the prior adage that the only dead (fill in the blank) is a dead one.)  But, no one is thinking that if we unleash the bombs, so might anyone else who dislikes us. No one is thinking about how WWIII will start.

For all of you who hate abortion, cutting off access to a legal procedure is not the right choice. Abortions have been going on for millennium. Backstreet procedures have ended up maiming and killing many women. Supporting a candidate who says he will stop all legal abortions is supporting someone who says they will change the law.  You might support that, but realize you are about to kill your sisters. You can start counting dead bodies of adults, I suppose. hanger

For all of you who hate people being on welfare and want to cut programs but look the other way when you notice the homeless in your town, be aware the problem will get worse.  People who say we should have smaller government are usually not active in their communities to work social programs. If we are not going to work on this on a local level, each one of us, then we need some help and that is why the federal government stepped in.

COMPLAINFor all of you who want change but never get off your butts to help make that possible, your comments are not helpful.  Your actions show you really don’t care. You just want what YOU want and are little different from anyone else in that regard. Only if you help work it so the least of us can get more comfortable living and eating and working situation, your bitching and moaning does nothing to help.

For all of you who just buy another gun so you will be ready to join the fight, what are you fighting for? If you think you are going to protect your family, if your mottos include “out of my cold dead hands” then you are not working to building a nation for all of us, but part of what will tear us apart.

For all of you who want the illegals to go back home, go work in the farm fields for a season.  Hell, work for a week…if you can handle the physical activity. And then live on only what you earned. And please, think back to your own family history and try to really understand the motivation for those ancestors who were willing to leave all that they knew in search of a better life. If your family does not know its history, perhaps it’s because there is something particularly unpleasant they were trying to forget. Or something that did not include an element of pride?  But if you can not find the feeling within you to understand why people come here now, you are not reaching into your soul deeply.nationalities_ethnicities_citizenships

One thing is abundantly clear. Over the past 7 years this nation has been whipped into divisions.  Back in 2007 Obama was elected by most of us in the hope of “change”. His slogan, Be the Change you want to see obviously fell on deaf ears. I think people sat back expecting improvement and their choice of talking heads lead them to believe things like medical coverage for all is a horrible idea. Their choice of talking heads lead them to think things should have been fixed in the first year. Their choice of talking heads has helped them forget what caused the issues President Obama had to deal with.

Who benefits if we are divided? Do you know…or care?  If you don;t, you probably are continuing to support their goal. Is that your goal?

So now, we have a clown show and the world is laughing. For all of you conservatives who believe that President Obama degraded America’s world image, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Worse, you will be contributing to it if you elect Trump or Cruz or Rubio. None are the leadership we need on a world stage let alone to bring our domestic situation to a healthier state.  Several nations are considering banning Trump from ever visiting. From Mexico to Great Britain these are early warning signs that a Trump Presidency will not be respected by the world.Trump pnata

We have had a few great Presidents, many of whom were not very popular during their time in office because of the programs they started that affected people in power to help others.  And we have had some that introduced programs that hurt many people living in this nation. Most Presidents were in the middle, not great statesmen but people who tried to at least do no damage.effective leadership

This election we have choices to elect a person with strong ideas of what is right for this nation. So many are out of touch with what we, the people, really deal with. Oh, they learn snippets from those of us who shout the loudest and have a crowd following. But we, the people need to look at the whole picture not just our favorite issue. Who can lead us in our nation and in the world to bring us together in peace and prosperity? Think people…..use the space between your ears, not just your gut reactions. This is important. There are consequences.

 


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Family Ties

Following the Christmas holiday I don’t need to tell YOU that your family is……..well, challenged.  I have one myself. I had an aunt that my mother disliked so much she never talked to her brother but, because of family dynamics, I needed to allow her to sing her warble of some song I didn’t even know at my wedding.  I had another aunt who, in the 1950s got a (whisper here) divorce and all we ever heard was “don’t come running home to us if you have problems with your husband.” Not exactly a helpful life lesson.

So, we all have less than perfect families, and if we are true to form, we don’t do such a great job at parenting. We do what we know, so unless you have sought out a parenting class, you will have a tendency to teach your children in the same dysfunctional way you were raised.

In the interest of changing that here are TEN RULES TO BETTER FAMILY LIFE:

  1. Recognize that the reason you love your friends more than your family is because your friends let you do the shit your mom and dad won’t. That doesn’t mean that shit is good. It still is shit. Your parents literally cleaned up your shit as a baby and into your childhood, but  now it is time for you to realize that your actions have consequences and you really need to accept responsibility. When you grow up, your relationships with the long term people who are on your life path AKA your family, will improve.Illustration by Nate Powell.
  2. Let go of anger. We want to be RIGHT! We want others to know they are WRONG! Let it go. It is not a helpful manner of communication. If you really feel strongly that your little sister or your second cousin is on the road to perdition, sit down calmly, maybe with a cup of lavender tea (ha ha) and ask why they feel their pathway is going to bring them the life they want. LISTEN.  They probably will not come around, but at least you’ll understand better and maybe they will turn to you when they recognize they need to change their ways.being kind
  3. Look in the mirror. Recognize your own flaws. Now praise your skills realistically. Understand that each of us is made of the entire ability spectrum. You and your buddies are not the only ones who can do things right. Even your parents get it right some of the time.looking-in-the-mirror
  4. Learn from others. Yup, even that warbling aunt of mine probably had something worthwhile to share with me……hard for me to imagine but I am remembering her with a child’s memory. If you are an adult, you can go where I was unable to perceive.learning
  5. Look at your children. We watched Home Alone again this Christmas and a few things were obvious to an outsider that the family members did not perceive. Be fair when you think over your kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Don’t have them do what YOU wish you could have done as a kid if they are not interested. Help them develop their own interests. Help them learn to read and research. Your-Kids-Look-up-to-You-for-Guidance
  6. Look at your children again. Help them learn life skills like cooking, sewing buttons and hems, how to wash laundry and iron to press a shirt to make a good appearance,  and how to swim.  A man who expects his wife or girlfriend to do all the cooking does not realize the stress that constant task causes. More importantly, he never sees her face light up in pleasure when he prepares her a nourishing meal. A man who can cook is sexy.LifeSkills-750
  7. Look at your children again. Teach your kids to change their oil and their tires. You may not be that proficient yourself. Learn it together. Your daughters too.  Watch your tendency for sexism. Let your sons and daughters learn they can access the entire array of  arts and skills.Nike-Voices-Feature
  8. Tell stories to your kids. Turn off the television and the electronic gadgets. Have one evening a month (or more) when you gather to share the stories of your childhood. Keep it as upbeat as possible. Your baggage with your parents need not be their baggage.  Tell about adventures you had when you were tested and succeeded. Tell about times you thought you could do something but failed and how you responded to that experience. Let them tell stories too. Use a talking stick to pass the right to talk around the circle. talking stick
  9. Explore together. Food is an excellent vehicle for exploration. Move away from what you know. I remember when we visited England for the first time and I asked for bangers and mash at a pub because I had read about it in numerous British stories,. The server paused and then said, “You know that is nursery food?” In other words, for little kids. That was okay, since it was a new experience for me, but it is not okay for you to turn to mac and cheese every few days. Time to learn new tricks. You are an adult now. You have control over your gag reflex and will not barf into your plate. Really. Taste new things. You need not repeat if you honestly do not like it. But your world will open when you explore the amazing variety of flavors from all over the world. 11646-learning-culture-through-food-mexico
  10. Realize, if you change your ways, your birth family members may make some snarky comments. That’s when you get to practice your smile and say, yeah! I’m doing great and I’m proud of my kids! And mean it.keepgoing


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They Can’t Win

A friend asked me last night if I would take a Syrian refugee family into my home. It was not a quick answer but I will explain to you:

  1. Refugee resettlement programs do not ask people to take families into their homes. They ask for help being a local friend, a person to help them maneuver in their new world. To help set up the apartment, which the organization finds, with furniture, which the organization helps find. There is some outlay in money, to buy a list of basic toiletries and some groceries to start the pantry, but for the most part the host’s involvement is time.  Time to teach about the neighborhood and town. Time to teach about the United States and its freedoms, something refugees have not experienced. A commitment to help them become Americanized. How do I know this? I was one of two families that helped a Russian Jewish family settle in West Hartford, Connecticut several decades ago. I saw how the family learned English, got jobs, bought a house, had a new baby. I saw them become almost indistinguishable from the thousands of other residents of our town with one exception: their pride in being New Americans was evident. And they practiced it. They took the time to be informed and involved. They voted and they volunteered on community projects.  Why did they do that? Partly it was in their own nature but it also was something I tried hard to nurture in them.091715-naturalization_PIT4057
  2. I am Jewish. Asking me to take in a Muslim family who comes from a nation that promises to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is a ridiculously senseless question. But I paused, and finally said yes. I would help a family get resettled here. I would teach them not only what being an American is like, but what being a Jew is like. I would teach, as I have learned by going to church with my husband, that we have more commonalities than differences and as soon as we all realize that, peace is possible.god-everywhere
  3. I am Jewish. I know my history. He had no recollection of ever hearing about the St. Louis, a ship full of Jewish German refugees in 1939. Most of the passengers had applied for refugee visasto enter the United States. It was well known what atrocities were happening in Europe. But the ship was turned away and ended up returned to Germany, and the passengers went to the death camps. We Americans have this blood on our hands. We righteously stuck to quotas, ignoring the horrific conditions that the refugees were fleeing. This situation was not unique.  Even children, as Chris Christie declared so vehemently today, were not wanted.
  4. 1939 poll
  5. I asked him questions about his own family’s migration to the United States. What had prompted it (famine) and who had some (a young male adult). He brushed away the similarity to the many young men feeling Syria, saying all of his great-grandfather’s family had died of the famine.  Three-ImmigrantsHe said the current situation shows that Muslim men do not value their families. I told him how my maternal grandfather had left the shetl in what is now Poland and made his way to New York City, earning money as a tailor, and then sending for his sisters within the next few years. I pointed out that many women and children are fleeing. He chose not to respond.

So, my answer to my friend was yes, I would help resettle a Syrian family. That’s what a good American citizen who loves this nation does. That’s what someone who refuses to be terrorized decides to do.  That’s what someone who understands that they have an inherent ability to help teach new ways. That is what someone who is willing to take the time and make the effort to move off my own comfort a bit does to help ease pain and suffering in the world.

Is there potential danger? Oh yes. There are ways to minimize it that people trained to work with immigration and terrorism have experience and expertise to propose. It is beyond the scope of what I personally can do. But I also know this: I have more risk of being hurt or killed by someone angered by my opinion who is home-grown here in the United States, than I have a chance of being hurt or killed by a terrorist.  The angry people in this country who seem to be unable to work to a common goal need some help. That solution is harder than the one dealing with refugees.journey-to-resettlement-in-the-united-states

 


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Does it Matter if it is not True or Accurate?

In the past week there has been a lot of controversy over one Presidential candidate’s life story, especially what has been touted as being offered as a full ride to West Point. I will consider that if General Westmoreland did chat with Ben Carson he MIGHT have said “you should consider applying to West Point….it is free, you know” or some such.  However, it is unknown if there was even a direct meeting. The big question is WHY did this story get fabricated and why don’t people who like Carson see it as an indication of a potential issue with the man owning his responsibility.

WHAT??????????????

WHAT??????????????

Also in the last week we have seem an absolutely ridiculous reaction by the Christian right because Starbucks decided their holiday cups would be plain red.  As an attack on Christianity this is pretty weak. I wonder if the penny counters at Starbucks considered they could use the same red cups for Valentine’s Day.  But it is amazing that this “attack” is the removal of snowflakes or snowmen or penguins. These are NOT symbols of Christmas and if the Conservatives believe it so, they need to get to church more.truth-new-hate-speech1

On a less widespread scale I have seen the proliferation on Facebook of quotes from our Founding Fathers to illustrate a significant point. These quotes are very easy to check for accuracy. What ensued recently after I pointed out an error to one poster was challenging-he said it STILL was a good quote. When I mentioned that people tend to put more credence on a statement depending on who says it, he deleted my posts.053014_Gullibility_Blog-230x300

Another reaction happened when I posted a statement that three Republican candidates recently attended a Christian conference and said NOTHING when one of the speakers called for killing all gay people. When I pointed out that anyone who supports these candidates are either of the same mindset or are not thinking at all, I was chided that the Democratic candidates have flaws. NO kidding. THAT was not the point though.  The issue is that we have some people commanding national attention who are so scared about homosexuality that they want to kill them all. Sounds like Nazi Germany…and they also were very Conservative.

The erroneous issues are not just from the Republicans. And that is important to understand.  Hold yourself up to a standard where YOUR word is true, your comments are based on truth and accuracy and THEN expect our leadership to do the same.

We say we hate lies. We’ve been lied to many times before. That is why you MUST take the time to research and know the backstory yourself. If you rely on anyone else to tell you what to think, you are culpable. fool Kierkegaard

 


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Let’s Do It Better

Each year, the second Halloween is over, we get bombarded for 6 weeks with the need to be big consumers. The commercials on tv explode, teasing us into believing we just NEED that thing we never thought about five minutes before. The printed ads in the local newspaper or mailed to us via bulk rate paper our house  with colorful pleas to spend spend spend.christmas-shopping-chaos-560x360

If you believe them, Christmas is just not complete without the latest gadgets including technology for toddlers, more boots and clothes for the ladies, more tools for the guys, more makeup and perfume, more ties, more more more.

This year, do it different…..and do it better.

First of all, know your budget and stick to it.

Secondly, make a list of the people you want to purchase for.  Think about their interests, their hobbies, the things that make them happy. Start listening to them NOW if you haven’t been paying attention all year.  And be wise….the latest in fashion accessory for your fashionista may be out of style in a few weeks. Aim for classic to provide long term value.Stress-Free-Christmas-Gift-Master-List

Third, aim for the best quality you can afford. Better to buy ONE gift and one small stocking stuffer than a large volume of junk.  Let’s start teaching about the value of gift-giving as the living symbol of the three wise men.

Finally, buy local. Yes, I know,  it is less expensive to hit the major big box stores. But this year, let’s think about the effect of where we spend our dollars.  Big box stores are national chains with corporate headquarters unlikely to be in your town. So the only employment benefits are probably low paying, possibly minimum wage and maybe also part-time to avoid paying benefits to full time employees.  Many big box stores have corporate deliveries of items from a regional warehouse that does not typically make purchases in your town, so basically for each dollar you spend in that store, only 5-15 cents stays in the local economy.local this holiday

Meanwhile, down on Main Street and in small neighborhood shops you have stores owned by your neighbors. They’ve been there maybe for decades, but probably not.  Our shopping choices killed many downtown stores as we shoppers opted to head to the mall instead.  Many shops are small with eager entrepreneurs who lost their jobs in the recession and are trying to find a way to make a living. The dollar spent there basically gets spent almost in full in your community. shop craft fairIn addition, there are numerous holiday markets and bazaars at this time of year. If you are lucky, you have one in your area that features artist, artisans and craftspeople who produce all the items they sell by hand. Their skill, their talent provides you an unique gift of high value, one of a kind, for that special person on your gift list.  The prices at these markets range from $1 to over $500. I know, I run a holiday market and I see eager craftspeople work hard all year to produce their love in a tangible way. My job is to tease the shoppers to at least come take a look. 

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Unique might scare you. If you want to be just like everyone else, unique is not for you. But if you are your own person, walk your own walkway, want to stand out from the crowd, this is the place for you.excellence of a gift

 

 

Lessons

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A few years ago I took care of a 10-year-old while the mom worked Fridays through Mondays.  So after school on Fridays and Mondays and during the weekend, the girl would spend time with us. She wanted to do what she did at home, park in front of the television all day. What we did was involve her in all the things we normally did including food shopping and meal preparation, sewing, some light cleaning, and other normal activities including going to church.  We chatted at the dinner table and shared stories about things we had done that day.

We read together and played games and yes, we worked on homework also. She hated that.  She was not used to being accountable for doing her work.

One day the mom was also with us as we went somewhere in the car.  I was driving and I pointed to a road sign, one of those orangey-yellow ones that showed a curve coming up. I asked the girl if she knew why the sign was yellow.

Now this was the kind of question I had been throwing at my children since they were little to get them thinking, so I did not think it was particularly difficult.

Not only did the girl have no idea but neither did the mom. So I stepped them through the logic, asking the colors of the traffic lights and what the green, yellow and red mean. Once we got through the typical giggle that yellow means go faster and agreed it was a caution color, I figured they would get the connection. It didn’t happen so I simply said “yellow signs are warnings. Not hard rules but strong suggestions for safety.  So when you are driving and see a yellow sign, know there is a caution there, something to be careful about.”

Instead of the “oh” acknowledgement I expected, the mom got angry and shouted “Is everything a teaching opportunity for you?”

Yes.

I make enough dumb moves in my life. If I can avoid a repeat bad performance, I will. But there has to be some brain involvement to think about why things went less than smoothly. Otherwise, rinse and repeat will be the life activity, not the life lesson.

As a parent, I have the responsibility to raise my kids to be healthy functioning adults. To help them develop their own skills to be able to do what they need to do and to make decisions as wisely as they can. To love them enough to not always do what is easiest.  To love them despite their own stumbles in their choices. To love them enough to expect they will succeed, knowing I have done what I can to teach them life skills.traffic sign

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A friend of mine moved to Croatia after retirement. Her parents were from there and she had fallen in love with the country whenever she visited family. She knew her small retirement funds would stretch farther in that economy and so made the move.

Much of her experience is joyful. Much of it is similar to the life she would have had she stayed in California. But there are differences.

She often says that the Adriatic nation’s male dominant culture is where the US was about 50 years ago. Little boys seem to be raised that they are the correct ones, and she often sees adult women deferring to their 10-year-old sons.  She sees young women who feel they are unable to do what they want because of the roles society has given them.  What amazes her is that women are the ones who perpetuate this situation. They often are very angry and domineering to other women, trying to maneuver for a small bit of power in their restricted world.

When I hear this current contrast I remember the way I felt growing up wishing I was a boy not because of gender confusion but because I recognized, even as a 5-year-old, that boys could chose to do whatever they wanted but girls had to comply with more rules. I knew that was not fair, not equal. I wanted to be able to chose my own pathway.

And when I hear woman friends talk about statements their boys make that put women down and laugh because they think it is funny, I see we have not come so very far after all.equality-of-sexes-8-728~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Facebook has a lot of nonsense and a few bits of wisdom, I have seen a theme more and more recently, mostly posted by adults in the 50-70 age bracket. Generally it is a list of all the things we did as kids that kids today can’t/don’t do. We rode bikes without helmets.  Sat in cars without seat belts.  Got spanked. Had chores. Were respectful to our teachers.  Went to church.

The punchline: we turned out all right.

The concept: Kids today are not well behaved and as nice or respectful as we were.

What is missing is the understanding that we are the current kids’ parents. We raised them to be the way they are.

So either we didn’t like the rules we had as kids and changed our parenting methods in reaction or we just abdicated our responsibility without any thought.  We wanted to do what we wanted to do without any thought to the consequences down the road.responsible parenting

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Also on Facebook I get into some conversations with people who are strongly anti-abortion but do not want any sex education in the schools. They feel that this is the family’s responsibility and yes,  I agree, information about the maturation of the body is part of what parents should be discussing with their kids.

Age appropriate discussions should start when the kids are toddlers about touching and move on to making responsible decisions about all things through childhood. Before age 10 the understanding that their body will be going through a normal change needs to be started. Before age 12 kids need to learn that their body may get some feelings they never have had before and there are responsibilities to take on, things to know, so they don’t have unwanted consequences. They need to know about pregnancy and disease.

But many parents don’t have these discussions. Many feel it is “not the right time yet”. Many deny their own sexual feelings as a part of the human body’s system. Not discussed, it is secret and forbidden. Normal feelings are understood to be dirty and should be hidden.

And so, unless we empower the schools to step in, we have a problem. We have 12-year-olds who are sexually experimenting. We have 14-years-olds having babies. We have 18-year-olds with sexually transmitted diseases that will affect them the rest of their lives.

Abortion is a horrible choice. No question about it. But without education and availability of birth control, it is going to be a part of this culture with all its ethical and biological issues.sex ed~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Consequences. Life happens. You can’t control all of it. But with a brain attached, you can think through your options and develop strategies to avoid unpleasant repercussions. Learn your lessons early to avoid rinse and repeat.Rules of life

 

 

 

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