In the past three weeks five people I know have had babies. In the next two weeks, several more babies are due. The problem is not that there are so many wonderful babies born, the issue is it is all around the country so potentially more difficult to avoid if it is spread in the water. Be careful. Maybe drink beer or wine instead.
Also in the past couple of weeks several of my friends have been going through difficult times. Loss of jobs, illness, marriage issues, needing to move, you name it.
So I put a light hearted spin on the babies, but in reality, life throws huge curveballs sometimes. And there are times in life that it feels that the issues are all there are to deal with with no “normal” time happening. Lots of issues that will cause a major change. Babies do that also.
So, why is it that just when you need to face a needed adjustment, all you feel like doing is staying in bed? At the time you need to think clearly, all your issues are making your head spin.
You need to forget how it will look and reach for help. If you have a reliable partner, share, talk, hug, cry, plan. If you don’t, call a friend. You and I know that when the going gets tough, only true friends walk with you. The others scatter, as if it is contagious. Better off without them. Note their action but do not spend one iota of energy mourning their loss.
But remember to reach. And if no friends surround you, get thee to a professional. Someone who has expertise in the area where you need the help. Don’t put on your game face. Give an honest picture of where your head is, your heart is, your finances are. Only with honesty, essentially to yourself, can you get on the pathway to healing.
And besides, beer and wine won’t help. You need to take those steps, albeit difficult, to look yourself in the mirror, into your heart, tell yourself you deserve better, and then work for it.
Why? Because you are loved. You are important. I need you in my life.
So, I read once again this morning that it is Obama’s fault. Specifically this morning it was about some unhinged individual who took his gun and travelled to Brooklyn to kill some cops. It’s Obama’s fault.
I really have trouble with the President being blamed with all that is wrong. So, let’s examine our own behavior because it is the collection ALL OF US that makes up American society.
Do you chose to go to the movies and pay $8 or more to watch bloodshed and violence? Do you consider it really cool when someone goes around and starts “making things right” by killing and destroying. Then YOU are contributing to the attitude that supports riots after something happens that angers people.
Do you chose to ignore the advice that artificial sweeteners have been a major reason why there are so many overweight Americans with health issues? When you grab that diet soda, YOU are contributing to your own health decline and the crisis we have in the United States with rising health care costs.
Do you chose to drive your favorite ride whenever you want to go without considering fuel efficiency or planning to run all your errands at one to time to minimize adding emissions to the air? Then YOU are contributing to dependence on oil and poor air quality?
Do you encourage your girl children to be “pretty” and your boy children to be “tough”? Then YOU are contributing to gender role problems and all the issues that lead up to the high level of sexual assault and rape on college campuses, discrimination against gays, ill treatment of anyone who is different.
Do you encourage your children to play with their electronic games to keep them from bothering you? Then YOU are abdicating your parenting to the values others will give them. Don’t blame the schools for not teaching your kids if you are not teaching your kids.
Do you rant and rave when something gets you angry or upset and blame problems on others? Then YOU are demonstrating that anger is justified and you are rolling over and permitting anyone who has power over you to control you.
This meme made the rounds on Facebook and so many people “liked” it. What does it say about us when we enjoy seeing a baby encouraged to pose this way? Worse, what does it say about how this child is going to be raised to demonstrate anger?
WE are society. If you do not like something you need to DO something about it. Yelling, writing a tirade (yeah, even this one) without positive action is only contributing to the anger level.
WE are society. If you see so much is wrong you are at a loss to know where to start, start in your own home first. Teach your children to strive for excellence, not complacency. Don’t do just enough to get by, aim for the best you can do. Teach your children that respect for others is the way to go. Don’t teach them to “screw them before they screw you” as one person quoted his version of the Golden Rule.
WE are society. Get involved. If the concept of contacting your representative in Congress is too hard, go contact your neighbor. The person next door. Help with a chore. Bring them some cookies. Shovel their walk. Offer to take them to the store. Get to know them.
WE are society. Stop blaming the President. We elected him, twice. With large margins. Soon we will be participating in another election process. This time, stretch your own thinking and go to a nonpartisan source to read about all the candidates. A site like procon.org which will present facts, not editorials, about each candidate and even provide a questionnaire to see which candidate is most aligned with your thinking. You may be surprised. Be your own thinker next time.
WE are society. You don’t like the way America has become. Change what YOU are doing and set the pathway on the right course.
The alarm goes off way too early, but you force yourself up. You’re warm and dry, but you grump no one has handed you a cup of coffee in bed. You stumble into the kitchen where your brew is ready, waiting for you. You then settle down with your favorite tool to read your email, your newspaper, watch the morning show.
You fuss with the kids, the spouse, maybe the parentals. Put the dog out, give the cat fresh water. You shower, shave (perhaps, it is no shave November), dress and head out to the car. Drive yourself to work, by yourself, complaining about the traffic but ain’t no way you would take a bus.
You put in your eight hours. The boss is a pain in the butt. He asked you to get some information for him. The work assignment means having to actually talk to other people to get the information. You send an email instead. You didn’t bring lunch so you go grab some fast food. In about a half hour your gut is bothering you; you never make the connection. You check your email to see if the person ever got back to you and since they didn’t, you check your personal email as well. An hour later you notice the work email had dropped in one minute after you got sidetracked. You write a 100-word memo to your boss and check the time again and see you only have 10 minutes to kill. You chat with a co-worker and decide her idea for supper sounds good.
You head home, sitting in traffic for 40 minutes and get so annoyed you decide not to stop at the grocery store. Everyone is fussing at home. You order a pizza. Everyone stuffs their face in ten minutes. No conversation. The television is on. You hear more about what happened in Ferguson overnight.
You righteously decide those people are making bad choices. Everyone in the household agrees but you still yell and get agitated. It’s time for bed but you are pretty steamed so it takes several hours to relax. The alarm goes off way too early….
Things can be different but YOU have to make it so.
Later this week the nation shares a holiday that Abraham Lincoln set aside as a national day of celebration. Take a moment and read his Proclamation. The timing of it is significant.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
Amazing, even in the midst of a war that had torn the country apart, this beleaguered leader was able to express how much we had to appreciate. So, I ask you, how do YOU celebrate Thanksgiving? Many people plan a feast, gorge, and then watch football, with no apparent moment of thought to any of the blessings they have experienced, even in the midst of turmoil.
Several years ago our Thanksgiving table was full. We always make sure to invite others to join our family to add to the celebration. As I tend to do, I asked the people to take a moment to speak of what they felt had happened to them during the year that was noteworthy of appreciation. It was sad for me to hear several adults say “this meal”. Perhaps they were just saying thank you for the fellowship, as it was unlikely that they had not eaten all year. More likely, they were ducking the thought process. As for the child present, she had no idea how to develop the thoughts. This lack I place on the parent, for not teaching values and ethics. Without appreciation for achievements, how do we learn to make the effort in the first place?
Why is this so difficult? For those of us who daily take a moment either in prayer or meditation, this lack of connection with the Universe is a startling absence.
Start thinking now…you have a few days. Think of the entire year, not just the plate in front of you. Remember the hard times, yes. Remember the passage through them. Recognize the stresses do not go away, but recognize the ease that comes at times.
To me, this exercise is not limited to Thanksgiving but is one of the easiest days to express it openly. Tell us what you gained this year.
So many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, stressed to pay all the bills we have and concerned that something may happen to shake your world. Losing your job would do that. Getting seriously ill also would do that. Few of us have enough in savings to ride through months of being unemployed. Taking a minimum wage part time job won’t help.
So then, what happens? You can’t pay your rent or mortgage, your power gets turned off after a few months and you manage to get it paid by going to one of the churches who has a Compassion Fund for things like that. You go to food panties to save on grocery costs and then to soup kitchens to get a warm meal as often as possible.
So then, what happens? You stop answering the phone because you know the calls are from debt collectors. The day comes when you get the eviction notice.
So then, what happens? You can’t or won’t turn to family or friends. Either your relationship with them are not healthy or they are as financially stressed as you were. Or you do approach them and they welcome you, for a time, and it becomes a cycle of a few days on the couch and then you move on. Your appearance deteriorates as your emotional health is shaken to the core. It is just about impossible to think clearly to find your way out of this quagmire.
So then, what happens? You retreat. You run and hide. You might be using drugs or alcohol to blunt the pain. You find yourself on the street.
You think it can’t happen? That everyone you see wandering the street pushing shopping carts full of their belongings muttering to themselves can’t be you?
Yes, some of the people on the street have mental illness. Yes, some are using drugs and/or booze to blunt the pain of their situation and the addiction adds to the problem. Yes, some are lost souls. But not all. In fact, not most.
All are people with a need to have some basics: shelter, food, and love….yes love.
We have places that in the name of “family values” are making laws to run the homeless out of town. Those may or may not be the same towns that also had sunset laws mandating that all the “colored help” must leave the town limits by sunset. Fear and bigotry in the new age.
I see a lot of postings on Facebook not to leave pets outside in the winter weather. A good, heartfelt warning to many people who own dogs but keep them tied up outside. A reminder to people who feed stray cats but prefer them outside. We feel for the helpless, the four- legged creatures who rely on us.
Find some compassion for the two-legged homeless.
There are solutions. Salt Lake City, for example, crunched the numbers and it became clear that the cost to the city per homeless person was running about $20,000 a year. When abandoned housing was converted into apartment space for the homeless, the cost dropped to $7,000 per person per year and reduced the number of homeless on the streets by 74% since 2005. New York City and many other cites have program to put housing first. THEN the social assistance programs to help with health issues, job training and more.
Here in McMinnville, there is an organization with the acronym of CWISH: Community Winter Inclement Shelter Help. We heard about it last year but this year Graham has gotten involved as one of the three coordinators. Five area churches open their doors on a schedule to provide warm and dry shelter during the winter.
This morning in Portland, Oregon
The current cold front started two night ago and so, one of the local churches has hosted 12 and then 15 people the last two nights. Families are welcome. Women and men are offered safe, warm and dry shelter. They will continue to host tonight and tomorrow night and then pass the baton on to another of the participating churches. Volunteers are needed to be at the church in four-hour shifts from 8pm to 8am.
This is a band aid but efforts are being made to come up with a better solution. Once again, I am glad we chose to move here. This is a town with a heart.
In the past few months several of my friends, all mature adults, have gotten married. It has been amazing to watch their joy, knowing the pathways they traveled to be able to trust this love will work, this love will abide, this love will be real and lasting. Mature adults know well the stresses of life and especially treasure their partner to make the pathway sweeter.
We grew up with the fairy tale, mostly of some guy rescuing some girl, and “they lived happily ever after.” No explanation. No mess. No kids. No information. Meanwhile, we grew up in our childhood homes, some with loving parents but many of us got mixed messages at best. I know I was told the man is the boss and yet, I saw my dad all so often bend to the wishes of my mom. There is no magic one size fits all method.
Watching my friends decide to marry and then celebrate that with a meaningful ceremony is a blessing. Yesterday about 50 of us gathered in the late afternoon sun along the waterfront of Gig Harbor, Washington. The ceremony, which lasted about an hour, included spiritual and religious references from many sources. It included children of the betrothed, themselves young adults. It included a number of friends who came forward to light another candle to share some symbolic enlightenment of experience.
I think, if the adults have done their work, a mature marriage can work much better than one entered in the hot naivety of youth. Building the foundation: becoming friends that can talk about anything without either party’s ego being bruised helps the new partnership face the normal ebbs and flows of life with all its financial issues, health issues, aging parent issues and more that will arise.
While I was immersed in the joy of the celebration yesterday, I was also feeling my heart pulled far to the east to my friend Carol in Croatia. Her beloved Ivo is dying. After meeting as young adults and living their lives on separate continents, the spark between then revived a few years ago and Carol made a decision to leave California and retire in Croatia. They have been living together, in their 70s, not allowed to marry. There is nothing the heart was missing in the love between them. And now, Ivo is about to move on. My heart is with Carol and Ivo…they found the joy of life together and they will reunite again in time.
Ivo spending one on one time with Sam
Life is short. Spent with the wrong person it seems to be everlasting hell. Spent with the right person, time flies and joy abounds.
My youngest, Sam, is now 20. Wow…where did the time go? He was born when I was 40 and no, he was not an “accident”. Mature but still active hormone production was partly the cause for a two-year effort but I also miscarried (1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage and I fit that statistic) and he actually was conceived one month after the D&C. I suggested to my OB-GYN that perhaps older women have more “gunk” (no, not a medical term) inside and maybe zygotes have more trouble attaching to the uterine wall. She thought it an interesting concept and was planning to review the literature.
Anyway, life with a baby and toddler and young munchkin can be full of excitement but when Sam’s dad, Dave, was diagnosed with brain cancer before Sam’s 2nd birthday, that additional factor added a new dimension. Dave swore to my mom he would live long enough so the baby would remember him. And he told me to keep life as “normal” as possible, so there was Cub Scouts, and family trips, and singing with the Nashville Boy Choir, and so much more.
Flight attendants borrowed the kids’ Disney hats to present the safety talk-said it was the first time everyone actually was watching,
What was a 3-5 year life expectancy crashed 10 years later. Dave died in his sleep the night after Sam’s 11th birthday. My daughter Lisa demonstrated some wisdom telling Sam how my father had died the day after her 14th birthday. She said she believed he had waited until she was old enough to understand it was his time to go and while she would miss him, she would carry him in her heart forever. While Sam did not find complete solace in her words, they struck a chord and helped.
A year later my mom’s struggle with post-surgery complications ended three days after Sam’s birthday. (Doctor, the surgery was a success but the patient died.) And a year after that, two days before Sam’s birthday, Dave’s older brother also ended his fight against cancer.
This one week in October is powerful. At the time of Dave’s death I was very careful to help Sam see that his birthday was not ruined at all. In fact, the timing helps us remember and memorialize these special people. We light a yahrzeit candle and spend a few minutes sharing memories….celebrating life in its best continued form.
We chose this pathway instead of focusing on the pain of the losses. After all, in many ways, they are still with us.
This past weekend was Graham’s 50th high school reunion. I promised to go when he went to my 40th last year in New Jersey and I fully planned on it but a couple of things were obstacles. One by one they fell, and so, we purchased the tickets and the die was cast. We were on our way to Dallas.
The attitude I had about my own reunion is we really should be over high school pain by now. No one is who they were at age 18. I had a good time.
My attitude about Graham’s reunion is I could really have fun and I did.
I went up to about 5 or maybe 6 or 7 people (well, maybe 10) and greeted them enthusiastically. I gushed, calling them by name because of the name tag “Oh XXXX, I haven’t seen you in FOREVER!!!!” They looked at me, puzzling my name on my tag (without a high school yearbook photo) and 100% slowly said, “I recognize your face but I don’t remember your name.” It was funny but I let them off the hook after that.
I really did have a good time, though. I searched out people sitting off to the side or maybe with someone else with a photo-less name tag. That clued me in that they were also a “married into” the school family and they, perhaps, were not as gregarious as I am.
I learned a lot: that carrying a handgun in a purse while shopping at the grocery store is necessary-but that person could not answer why. That there is no way small farms can compete with large industrial farms because of the economies of scale-but that person could not address the issues of animals fed hormones and antibiotics so he changed the subject. That there is no reason to expect anyone to give service back to their community-and anyone who thinks it is a good idea is a commie liberal.
Graham did warn me that most people were ultra conservative there.
I met some of his old friends and I think we made a number of new ones. Two class members that he did not know offered us hospitality and we stayed with them two nights and they drove us to the Saturday event in a 1931 Ford Model A. Very very nice! We hope they will visit here so we can reciprocate. They were terrific!
I met one woman who said she enjoys my blog (thanks Karen!) and one who my husband excitingly told me was the first woman he kissed. He introduced me to all his friends, male and female.
We headed to Austin the next day to visit Graham’s sister and enjoyed our time with her also. We met a new friend of hers and she told us she appreciated us coming out of our way as the drive was 3.5 hours each way but I told her from Oregon, Dallas and Austin are the same neighborhood.
When I made phone calls to ask people to attend my reunion last year I heard a lot of people say they didn’t have good memories from high school. Others said they had nothing in common with “those people”. Well, if given a chance to attend, especially if you have moved away and never really see old friends, try to go. As I said before, we are not the same person we were as a teenager. There have been a lot of living and hopefully learning since then. You may be surprised who you see and how you feel about them.
As children it was easy…how many valentines did you receive. Oh, wait, that really wasn’t true friendship, was it?
In high school , did you eye the popular kids and wonder why you were so out of step? Do you refuse to go to high school reunions because you had nothing in common with those people then and would not find anything worth talking about to them now?
Get over it. No one is the same as they were then. A high school reunion, particularly once you get to 25 years and more, can be very interesting. At my 40th reunion last year I asked people to tell me one thing that had happened that they never expected. The answers were revealing: Only one person talked about his job and it was more about the travel he was able to do than the work itself. A couple of people told me how a significant illness made them realize what was truly important. And many people told me about family relationships, good and bad, but mostly about how they never expected close connections to people to be so important.
Friendships are rare. You know I am not talking about the number of people you connect to on Facebook. I am also not talking about the number of people you actually say hello to when you see them. (If you don’t say hello to anyone, that may be a sign of the reason you might not have friends.)
I’m talking about the kind of friendship where you can call someone to help celebrate joys and to help hold your hand in times that are difficult. To come to a meal, whether it is steaks on the grill or a delivered pizza. To share photos of a trip. To complain about the kids or the spouse and know it will stay private. To drive you when you have a scary doctor’s appointment. To pick you up at the airport to save you the parking fees.
You have these friends because you are an equivalent friend to them. You accept people for who they are. You listen to their stories and understand, because you felt that way in the same situation. You connect.
If you don’t have this kind of connection with one or several people, let me make a suggestion. Change your routine. Instead of spending time at home alone, check out what groups meet in your area. Chances are there will be one or more that appeal to an interest you have. Volunteer to help somewhere. Groups like soup kitchens, art museums, libraries, elementary schools, community recreational sport leagues all need volunteers.
Once you get out of your cocoon, you will begin to connect with people. Having something in common is the way a friendship grows. Go for coffee. Explore the farmers’ market together. Ask the other person questions abotu their family or their interests to get them talking. Be a listener. Accept them for who they are.
Unless we make an effort, we do what we have seen as kids. It’s one reason I took parenting classes, but that’s another story. I did not want to be the kind of host my mother patterned. She was so nervous that things would not be perfect enough that life was a bit intolerable in our house the day of a dinner party.
In my prior marriage with Sam’s daddy, his best way to pitch in was to help clean the house and then take the kiddos out for a couple of hours so I could do the food prep without any “Mommy, I need you” kind of distractions. That worked for us.
With Graham, we split the tasks nicely. We clean first, often to music. The house is straightened and cleaned, altho perhaps not to my mother’s standard. It is clean enough that our guests will not contract any disease or illness eating at our table. He is a pretty darn good cook, so he tends to do the entree and side while I prepare another side and the dessert. Today I am also preparing the appetizer.
The ham is in the oven. The sides (baked tomatoes and a corn strata) and appetizer (baked brie with smoked blueberry jam I canned) are prepped and ready to pop into the oven at the right time. The dessert (strawberry-rhubarb pie with strawberry ice cream) was prepared yesterday.
It is a truly wonderful thing to break bread with friends. Try it sometime. Pizza works just as well as this home-cooked meal. Do not let your concern over your cooking skills keep you from entertaining your friends at home. It is a lovely gift of friendship.