People

 
 

The Average Person Awards Show

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From Hallmark.com

I have a very humorous friend on Twitter and Facebook (you should look him up and follow) who posted the following comment last night:

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and then one of his friends said this:


So I said this:

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thinking the idea would catch and spread like fire in an August field of dried weeds. But it didn’t. Weird. I suppose everyone was riveted by whatever particular daily famous people awards show was playing.

But I added another of my own: 

and one other guy added: img_7933

So (thanks to Lourie J Kolar whose brilliant idea it was) I thought I’d write up some more of my own categories for:

The Average Person Awards Show!! 

*Cue annoying music that cuts off mid-measure*

Here to present this year’s categories, wearing Riders Slim Fit She’s Not Kidding Anyone Jeans, with a Kohl’s 30% off three quarter sleeve purple fake sparkly T-shirt highlighted by her plain gold 36 year old wedding band is none other than the woman who everyone mistakes as their long lost aunt, cousin, neighbor or old girlfriend, Kami Tilby.

*Sound of crickets.*

Thank you for holding your applause. Let’s get right to it.

Category 1:

For Outstanding Efforts in Resisting the Call of Social Media when Real Life was More Important.

Category 2:

Working on a College Degree While Holding Down a Full Time Job and Supporting a Family.

Category 3:

For Holding Your Tongue When A Witty Response Would Have Been Stunning But Hurtful

And in the same category for the shorter interest span: Deleting A Scathing Comment Before Posting It and Walking Away From the Electronic Device.

Category 4:

Staying Up All Night With Your Kid/Mom/Spouse/Friend while they Puked/Cried/Seizured/Melted Down and Still Carried On a Full Day after No Sleep

Category 5:

Most Creative Multiple Late Excuse Note Writing for a Junior Or Senior in High School

Category 6:

Fixing Dinner for the Gazillionth Time Without Complaining Outloud

Category 7:

Waking Up and Going Off to Earn a Living for the Trillionth Time With No Recognition or Applause and Not Breaking Windows or Rioting While Having the Government Take Thirty Percent

Category 8:

Speaking Kindly and Forgiving that Sibling Who Still Pushes your Buttons
So The Family Can Be Together in Peace

Category 9:

Stretching a Dollar Past Its Physical Capacity to Feed A Family Well Beyond Reason

Special Semi-Political Category Because It’s My Blog and I Can Do What I Want:

Public School Teachers Who Selflessly Work Well Beyond Their Compensated Time to Meet All Standards Prescribed and to Teach, Cajole, Love, Care For and Protect Children They Aren’t Even Related To While They Get to Hold Down a Second Job to  Pay for the Opportunity to Work the First One.

Category 10:

Single Mothers and Single Fathers Who Do The Work Normally Handled By Two People and Still Raise Nice Kids Who Respect Women, the Elderly and Children

Category 11:

Starting a Small Business on a Feather and a Lot of Sweat and Prayer Against All Odds and In the Face of Economic Ruin

Category 12:

Being Honest and Trustworthy and Maintaining Integrity Even When It Costs You Your Job

A LOT MORE POTENTIAL CATEGORIES

Make up your own category and comment below. Nominate someone. Heck, nominate yourself. A few people need to be recognized for the outstanding everyday effort they put out continually and will never ever be noticed or applauded for it.

And no, this is not some lame, participation award people get just for showing up. There, I said it.

Maybe we just need to hand out compliments to people we know for a job well done. Thank the kid who cleans up after you’ve spilled popcorn while watching that movie. Thank the people who fill in potholes, keep the electricity running, haul off your trash, and clean up the parks. Give a high-five to whoever you think deserves it, because they probably do.

We can all use a little recognition for our efforts, don’t ya think?

This next part is the very important small print but in average size:

Voting for this year’s categories will be accepted until February 28. You can vote if you’re an average person. No famous persons allowed. Sorry. Being Average has its privileges. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Awards, People, Priorities, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments
 
 

Open Letter to That Motorcycle Dude In the Hotel Laundry Room

Dear Motorcycle Dude in the hotel laundry room,

It’s been over a month since I ran into you at that hotel a couple hours outside Yellowstone Park and you’re still on my mind. I thought perhaps if I wrote you a letter it might clear my head, or at least sort out my thoughts.

I don’t normally wash laundry at hotels, in fact, this is the first time ever. I didn’t even know hotels had a laundry room that guests could use. Pretty handy.

Clearly I startled you more than you surprised me. I was just standing there with my laundry bag of whites waiting for the single washing machine to finish its cycle, wondering who else in the fully booked hotel needed to throw in a load. I figured whoever it was would be in shortly and I’d just wait rather than wandering back to the room. You walked in just as the cycle on the washer ended, which was dang good timing, if you ask me.

When you walked in with your face turned away from me and toward the washer I thought you were a woman with your long wavy hair. But I was wrong. When I caught a glimpse of your face the beard gave it away.

I said something dumb like, “Wow, good timing there.” And you about jumped out of your shorts. Obviously you hadn’t seen me when you walked in. If the situation had been reversed I’d have probably fainted.

800px-yamaha_fzs600_fazer_rj02“Oh, hey,” you said, sounding all cool and collected, as you gathered up your clean wet clothes and tossed them into the only dryer. You threw out a conversation starter with,  “I road my bike up from Cali. There’s a bunch of us. Been up in Yellowstone.” You reached into the washer a little further.  “Man it’s crowded up there.”

“Yeah,” I said, trying to sound cool myself. “I’ve been wanting to get back up to Yellowstone but I figure I’d try to go after the crowds settle out, maybe after Labor Day, in September.” In my head I knew it’d be pretty dang cold already in September, but that’d be the best time to go for someone who doesn’t like traffic and crowds like me. I don’t like the cold either, but it’s the lesser of the three evils.

“It was nice. Glad I went.” You settled your quarters into the coin slots and pushed in the lever, and started up the dryer. “All yours,” you said with a smile.

“Thanks. Nice meeting ya,” I replied.

“Same here,” you replied. And you were out the door and down the hall.

I started my load of washing, adding the miniature box of laundry powder MSH had gotten at the front desk, pushed in my own quarters and levers, and set my phone timer.

Half an hour later, when I went back to the tiny laundry room the washer hadn’t finished its cycle yet. So, once again I stood there waiting. The dryer was still tumbling a load dry, too. A couple minutes later you walked in and said, “hey!” like we were old friends.

“Hey there,” I said back.

electric_clothes_dryerAs you were pulling out your dried clothes you offered up this surprisingly personal information, “I have a couple twenty year old boys. One of em has a baby, dang kid. “

“Sweet!” I said.

“Yeah,” you answered, stopping with your laundry gathering for a moment. Then you added this gem, “I can be standing there at work getting yelled at by some plumber and my phone will ding with a text. “ Then you held your hand up like you’re telling a guy to hold that thought a second. Then you go on. “I’ll look at my text on the phone,” and here you held up an imaginary cell phone, ” and there’s a picture of the baby. Just then I could care less what I’m getting yelled at for. My face breaks into a smile. Man!” And your eyes lit up like how I feel when I’m with my own grand babies.

“Grandkids are the best, aren’t they?” I answered. “Makes it all worthwhile.”

“No kidding!” you said as you gathered your laundry into both arms. I grabbed the door handle and pulled it open for you. “Thanks!” you said as you made your way down the hall.

I gathered my wet laundry from the washer and tossed it into the dryer wondering why you chose to tell me about your sons and a grand baby. I don’t think you mentioned if it was a girl or boy. I wish I’d asked to see a picture. Dang it!

I felt lucky to have heard about this small joy in your life. I have no idea even what your name is or what part of California you’re from. I think the juxtaposition of a “motorcycle dude” as a softhearted dad and grandpa just caught me off guard. It shouldn’t have. After all, my son rides a motorcycle, and he’s one of the nicest guys I know.

I definitely have a tendency of putting people in categories, not as a judgmental thing, just as a way of simplifying life. If I think of every single person as a complicated, intricate puzzle of relationships and feelings I might get overwhelmed by worry, or love or responsibility or concern, but maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d just be happier and more open to possibilities.

Thank you for sharing that tiny bit of information about a huge part of your life. You opened my eyes and heart. Every time I see someone on a motorcycle now, I smile. And I wonder how they are and who they are.

From now on, when I see a motorcyclist, I’d like it to remind me not to box people into categories so quickly. Sure, people can be messy and complicated, but they can also bring such sweetness and light.

motorcycle-safety-signHey, you stay safe out there, especially on those California highways. I wish people in cars would be more careful, y’know, look twice, pay better attention. I’d hate to have anything bad happen to you.

 

With affection,

The lady in the laundry room,

Kami

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Being Human, People, Transportation, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Infamous Beyond Napoleon Dynamite

Today is a historical anniversary of a sad day in the United States. I’ll bet you’ve never heard of it. I’d wager very few people have.

Last month my dad told me that when he was a little boy growing up in a small southern Idaho town, he’d occasionally find himself in the local post office staring at a large painting over a doorway. He told me he’d study that painting and wonder. It drew his attention like nothing else he’d seen.

I’d been in that post office last summer and didn’t notice the painting. To be honest, I’d never heard about it, and I was focused on buying stamps. I should have paid attention to the cool architecture of the old structure, the classic lines, the pillars, the traditional windows for each clerk to stand behind. The old formica square tiles caught my eye that day, but not much else.

This town looks like hundreds of others throughout the west, with one main street of businesses, lots of modest homes radiating out from the central part of town, and newer houses encroaching on farm and ranch land. Not much to set it apart from all those others. Although a small film made it semi-famous among teens for a while. You may have heard of “Napoleon Dynamite.” Or, if you didn’t have teenagers at the time you may not have heard of this little comedic gem.

Preston, Idaho has another little known but infamous event tied to it.

Just before Christmas I spent a week with my parents. In spite of the snowy weather we ended up doing some scenic drives. It’s one of Dad’s favorite things to do. He tells me about different places as we drive past, points out curiosities, shares funny stories and sad tales. He grew up in that part of the country and knows the history well, played and fished and worked in the area until his late teens. One story in particular caught his attention in grade school but he could find little information about it beyond the brief  mention of it once.

Driving north out of town he pointed out a little cove off in the distance and casually said, “That’s where the largest massacre of Indians in the United States took place.”

I was sure he couldn’t be correct.

But he knew details and he told me about the painting in the post office and his fascination with it.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. For some reason that story and that painting were on my mind. So I opened my computer and typed in a few search words and found out that Dad did know what he was talking about. In fact, in an odd coincidence, the anniversary of this sad and senseless event took place on January 29, that’s today.

I found out that just after dawn 153 years ago today, in 1863, the Bear River Massacre of the Northwest Band of Shoshone Indians took place. Over 500 men, women and children died at the hands of the U.S. Army that day. That’s more than double those who lost their lives at Wounded Knee.

Why would this be on my mind last night? I’ve never seen the memorial plaque, which is pictured in the link above, along with copious amounts of research and details that will surprise and haunt you. Besides driving past the site and dad’s brief telling of it, and the painting, which I paid serious attention to in December, this hasn’t crossed my mind.

Like my Dad, it caught at my heart and has obviously been tugging away this past month at my subconscious.

Maybe this painting, and the story will tug at your heart and mind as well. I hope so. Such a thing ought not be so quietly dismissed or forgotten.preston post office

~~~~~

“In Shoshone, there’s a saying. It’s a long one, and it doesn’t have an English equivalent, so bear with me.  Sutummu tukummuinna. It means, I don’t speak your language, and you don’t speak mine. But I still understand you. I don’t need to walk in your footsteps if I can see the footprints you left behind.” ~ Rose Christo, Why the Star Stands Still

 

 

Categories: Death, Holidays, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Turn on the Slow Cooker and Let It Simmer a While

While hanging out at this service thing with a bunch of people a couple of  weekends ago I witnessed tons of hugs, hellos, smiles and general all around friendliness. Maybe even a bit too much chattiness and not enough getting-er’done going on. But that’s okay.

photo-25 copy 9I’m near two women when one leans over to the other and says, “I love how everyone’s so friendly even though we all come from so many different walks of life.”

The other woman replies, “That’s so right! It’s like this place works like a great big crock-pot.”

The other woman agreed wholeheartedly.

I had to perform some mental gymnastics to stop myself from correcting her metaphor. I’m sure she actually meant to say “melting pot” not “crock-pot.”

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say about that metaphor:

melting pot 

1 a place (such as a city or country) where different types of people live together and gradually create one community

2  a place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole

3 a process of blending that often results in invigoration or novelty

That term was first used around 1887 about immigrants to the United States as they assimilated, contributed and became part of the culture here.

To clarify, a crock-pot, or slow cooker, simmers or cooks at a very low temperature over many hours. This process tenderizes meats, rarely burns the food, and simplifies meal preparation and cleanup. It’s one of my favorite appliances.

Can you see why I felt a little queasy at the mixed up metaphor?

Imagine a big pot of melted cheese (with a side of tortilla chips please.) Mmm. I could go for some Queso about now, couldn’t you? That’s how I picture a melting pot. Everything blends together into one big indistinguishable gooey mass of deliciousness. There’s nothing that really stands out or looks different. It’s all good, but it’s all one flavor.

Photo By jeffreyw (mmm...veggie beef soup  Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0

Photo By jeffreyw (mmm…veggie beef soup Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0

I like the crock-pot image better for what my friend observed and tried to put into words.

After a day of simmering, whatever ingredients thrown into the pot in the morning still seem familiar and beckoning in the evening. Carrots, meat, potatoes, onions, peas, celery have spent enough time together enduring the heat that they’ve sort of shared flavors with each other along with the spices and broth in the pot. Lifting the lid on such a concoction sends out such an aroma of comfort.

Or maybe what you throw in the crock-pot is beans, rice, corn, meat, tomatoes, green or red chili peppers, onion and garlic. Ten hours of basking in the heat makes for melt in your mouth, warm up your belly wonderful nuances of shared flavors and mixed tastes. Nothing beats a big bowl of chili this time of year, with autumn singing its promising song.

Isn’t that what we want when interacting with people different from us? A little something of them rubbing off on us and maybe a bit of us making them a bit sweeter or spicier? Spending time together, even if only metaphorically, ought to make everything better.

Expecting a kind of total agreement and sameness sounds so boring and sad. Imagine cheese dip every single day, all year long, every year.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to these wise words:

“Just as the natural environment depends on biodiversity, so the human environment depends on cultural diversity, because no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind.” ~ Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

I love that idea! Pluralism really does define how society naturally works best. In case you were wondering the Oxford English Dictionary defines pluralism this way:

Pluralism

1 A condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority etc. coexist.

2 form of society in which the members of minority groups maintain their independent cultural traditions. 

Reasonable, right? That’s what I think, too!

imagesWhat worries me happens when political correctness or peer pressure or social media onslaught demands conformity from everyone. Seems to me that insisting on complete and total agreement, drowning out differences of opinion actually takes away from the idea of unity that all those louder, bigger voices say they want.

Tension and repression and discord become the norm and actually kill off unity.

Some days I feel like I’m watching this country attempting to force a giant stew into a blender and turn it into baby food. Ick! Nothing delectable there.

Can’t we just simmer down and enjoy each other’s differences and work together somehow for a happy outcome?

The crock-pot’s set on low for a while.

I’ll bring a few loaves of fresh-baked bread, if you’ll bring along some butter.

 

Categories: good ideas, People, Politics? | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A World of #cultureofcharacter

Before the housing bubble implosion, I worked with a real estate appraiser as an apprentice. My boss and I drove in her new hybrid car to Las Vegas for an appraisers convention.

I wouldn’t describe the drive as scenic. Far from it. The one highlight I remember appeared in a yard just on the outskirts of a tiny town that boasted life-sized rusty metal sculptures of animals, a giraffe being the most memorable.

Vegas was meh. I’m not a big fan.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pretty much this was the view. By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

On the way home from Vegas, about forty-five miles either way to a town, in the middle of desert and sagebrush, my boss looked at her gas gauge, gasped and said, “We forgot to get gas before leaving Vegas!” She all but slammed on the brakes mid road.

I leaned over to look at the gauge, thinking she was overreacting and saw the needle pointed solidly at the “Empty” side.

“Oh, crap,” I replied. Or something along those lines.

Nowadays, you’d just whip out your smart phone, find the nearest gas station and turn around or head forward. Or your car tells you how many miles you have left before you run out of gas.

All we had eight years ago was a map book, a cell phone and no cell coverage. We weren’t really sure where on the map we were. We’d also, apparently brought along some overconfidence it had just flown out the window.

My boss wanted to turn around and go back. I voted we keep moving forward. Either way we were surely going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, in the heat. And when we ran out of gas we’d be on a two lane road with almost no shoulder.

Windblown

A few miles ahead we pulled into a sad excuse for a rest area. “Better to stop here, than be stuck on the side of the road,” my boss explained. There was one other car parked there. “I’m going to go have a chat with the person in that car,” she said as she climbed out.

My boss never shied away from a situation, but I thought she might be pushing her luck. She talked for about five minutes. When she got back in the car here’s the story she told me.

The person in the car was a younger woman. She was at the rest area because it was a half-way point between where her ex-husband dropped off her son at her Dad’s place and her home near Vegas. Her Dad drove her son to the rest area and that’s where mom and child reunited.

The young woman said her Dad owned a tow-truck but he’d probably be just in his regular car and that he could go get gas and bring it back to us after he dropped her son off.

That’s doable. We’d survive. Yay!

Still it’d be a long time waiting in the car in the desert. I got out, wandered around. Sitting in the partial shade on a rickety over-painted picnic table, the wind sucking the moisture out of my skin, I wished for Star Trek transporter technology and wondered what my kids were doing.

We sat waiting another half-hour or so when in pulls a tow-truck.

Not the actual tow truck, just a photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Not the actual tow truck, just a photo from Wikimedia Commons.

JACKPOT!!

The truck pulled up next to the other car and the young woman hops out, gets a huge hug from a cute little blond boy and then hefts him on her hip as she chats with the guy behind the steering wheel. She points over at us, talks a bit more and then puts her son in her car. As the tow-truck pulls past us she walks over and says, “That’s my Dad. He decided to drive the tow-truck today. Lucky, huh? He’s just going to turn around and back in, then you can just drive up to the ramp, he’ll winch the car on, lock ‘er down and he’ll give you a ride to the gas station.”

Wow!

Lucky, huh?

Felt like more than luck. Felt like hitting the jackpot.

Apparently, we’d stopped about sixty miles from the nearest gas station. Glad my boss had pulled over. Turned out she wasn’t nuts, just inspired.

And the tow-truck driver? Nice guy, pleasant to chat with. He hadn’t had a lot of business lately and thought maybe if he drove the truck, even though it cost more in gas to drive it without a call to respond to, he might get lucky and run into someone who needed a tow or get a call while on the road. “Every little bit helps,” he said.

And yet, as he dropped us off right in front of a gas pump, he refused to accept the money my boss offered him. “I was in the area and I’m just glad I could help you ladies out today.” And off he drove, into the sunset, every bit a knight in shining armor. It wasn’t really sunset, but that’s how I chose to remember it anyway.

A person of character and class? Absolutely.

People like that restore my faith in the human race. It happens more often than we hear about.

I’d like to hear about it more.

What do they call that? Random Acts of Kindness? Tender Mercies? Karma? Grace? Charity? Selflessness?

Whatever name you give it the effect remains the same. Troubles alleviated, hearts lifted, humanity redeemed a little more.

#cultureofcharacter

I have a friend who tweets #cultureofcharacter followed by a description of kind acts and observations. I’d love for that to go viral. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t it be something to log on and see a massive list at the end of every day of things people saw or did or heard about that showed class and character in the actions and words of the people around them?

Small moves, tiny acts, they make all the difference in a world run amok.

It’s certainly works that way in my world.

How about yours?

I’ll be watching for your tweets.

This book will surprise you. It's where the phrase "culture of character" originated.

This is where the phrase “culture of character” originated.

#cultureofcharacter: an idea from the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Categories: good ideas, Hope, People, The World | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I’d Agree With You But Then We’d Both Be Wrong.”

I’ve debated off and on over the past six months about disconnecting from most social media. There’s plenty of reasons out there for doing so, and you’ve heard them all and perhaps even considered doing so yourself.

Plenty of great reasons remain for staying connected; improved distant family communication, getting to know other people outside my normal sphere, information to learn and share, great laughs, instant news.

Lately the scale tips more toward the disconnect side.

What’s the tipping point?

image by Smurfy.

image by Smurfy.

Fierce, unchecked, unscreened, hate-filled anger.

I’ve been surprised by the anger expressed about certain issues. Oh sure, I expect to run into differing opinions as my online social circle expands. I’m not talking about simple differences. I’m referring to vehemence, vitriol, spite, meanness, wrath and fury.

Those sorts of emotions aren’t directed at some mass murderer, nor at people who traffic in slavery. Surprisingly, even terrorists and child killers aren’t catching this kind of heat.

Just your average Jane or Joe are catching heck for expressing an opinion. Or attempting to live their religion. Or for making a choice. Or for a simple mistake.

It doesn’t seem to matter which side of which issue anyone is on, the predominate response can only be described as furious. Both sides respond with a frenzy likened to sharks with blood in the water.

Crazed, illogical, uncaring.

People I thought I knew and shared basic common beliefs with suddenly appear as strangers to me.

I don’t comment. I simply read, my mouth hanging open in shock, disbelief and horror.

Who says such things about other human beings?

I feel such dismay.

MSH pointed out that I get that way when I’m behind the wheel of a car. Hmmm. Let’s say he’s correct about that, even if I don’t completely agree. I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment.

If the behavior I exhibit while I drive mimics the comments and rants I read on social media and elsewhere then:

  • I’d be throwing angry hand gestures out my open window. I definitely don’t do that.
  • I’d yell out loud through an open window at the person whose driving irritated me. I wouldn’t dream of doing that.
  • I’d pull up as close to their bumper as I could without actually touching the “Vote for” stickers. Do you think I’m crazy? No way would I do that.

What I do instead

What I do instead is talk out loud with the windows up and tightly closed. “Dude!! What are you thinking?” Or perhaps, “Had a little too much beer with your burger earlier I see.” And more frequently, “Get off the phone and drive, lady!” and more, “Hello! Texting and driving don’t mix.” And the infamous, “I know I’m desirable and all, but get off my butt.”

If other people ride along with me they definitely hear what I’m saying. It’s as automatic as signaling, or putting my foot on the break to slow down.

I’m a hypocrite

I’m not proud of it. I could do better. It isn’t nice. It’s not consistent with one of my core beliefs of being kind to others.

I like myself better when I treat others with respect. I’m happier when I think the best of others. “They’re doing the best they can in their circumstances which I know nothing about,” should always underscore my thoughts about the behavior I see around me.

Point taken. Resolved to do better.

But there’s still this thing out there I just don’t understand.

Verbal and literary pummeling everywhere I read. Image by Giulio del Torre Zwei raufende Buben 1927Public Domain Giulio del Torre (1856–1932)

Verbal and literary anger and pummeling everywhere I read. Image by Giulio del Torre.  Zwei raufende Buben.

I suppose what’s most upsetting about much of the anger I’m reading and hearing falls into that same category. Hypocritical. The hate and vitriol seem so out of line with these people I’m hearing it from. People I thought I shared values with. People I thought employed compassion and caring as their central tenants.

The rest of it is simply unsettling and scary. Why are so many so angry?

Do they see how out of proportion and vicious they sound? Do they care?

What happened to reasoned debate? What’s happened to compromise? What happened to agreeing to disagree without hate as part of the equation?

Maybe that never really existed. Maybe I imaged it was once that way.

Can we disagree without being disagreeable? 

Do you have any insight for me? Can you explain what’s going on? Should I move to the wilderness and erect thirty-foot high razor wire fencing with attack dogs to protect myself?

Should I pretend it all away and disconnect from social media and the internet?

Pretty tempting to adopt a hermit’s way of life.

 *~*

“In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”  ~Buddha

Categories: People, The World, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

We Get By with a Little Help from our Friends

My sister-in-law, Cheri Mitchell, a super-star woman with incredible energy and optimism who’s also a nurse, took off for Nairobi, Kenya a month ago to see what she could do to help lighten the load and smooth the path for a few people there.

The photos she’s sent and the status updates she’s posted have added perspective and angst to my life. I feel so decadent here in America when I see and read about life in the orphanage where she’s volunteering.

Today, I’m sharing a tiny part of what she’s experienced so far, gleaned with her permission, from her Facebook page.

 

 

“Some of the very happy sweet kids at the KCC Slum project. Also a pic of their water supply. Volunteers built a filtration system to clean it. Some previous volunteers started a school there and are doing amazing work. Living conditions are below poverty level yet they are all smiling. I don’t think I have a thing to complain about…Feeling grateful.” 
tents“Same day Thursday, we also visited an IDP camp (internally displaced persons), they live in “tents” made of what ever they can find, old rice bags, plastic sacks, sticks, cardboard, tin, etc. It was truly heartbreaking for me. Overwhelmed with the cycle of poverty, yet again, smiling. The children were so happy to see volunteers and have new people to play with. We played soccer, and some of them taught us some songs.”

“We brought flour with us for the families, bagged it and distributed it to them. They were very grateful and appreciative, some of them did little dances of joy.  Wish we could have brought more… Very humbling day.”
“A clean pit latrine…”
pit latrine

“First day at Wakimai children home.. with Jorge. They need lots of love and play time…there was also puppies and kittens, and baby chickens.”

mortuary sign“Today was the funeral service and burial for a baby boy from the orphanage we are at, he died on Tuesday at the hospital. Somber experience, and very close to home. Heaven has another Angel — feeling sad.”

 

“Today we did some good.  Yesterday we bought cleaning supplies, blankets, diapers and baby goods and we went back to the house today to clean and organize. We swept and mopped and got rid of all the broken and destroyed shoes that didn’t have mates and reorganize their shoe shelves. Folded laundry, hung laundry, fed and played with the kids. Then we went to market… what an awesome experience. Purchased huge bags of corn, beans and an enormous bag of potatoes for the orphanage. It is pictured in the back of the truck.”

“Water tank project..gutters on, tank plot cleared, now waiting on tank..hmmm. african standard time.”

 

doctors and clinic workers“Another help for the wonderful people who selflessly serve at the Uthiru dispensary. They were in need of a foetal heart Doppler. Thanks to donations, the doctor, nurses as well as the expectant mothers can now hear their babies heartbeats in utero. This will help them feel closer to their newborns and encourage them to seek proper prenatal care. God bless contributors. And THANK YOU!!!”

 

Dr. Ester and the wonderful staff at Uthiru dispensary free clinic, with the fetal heart doppler that donations paid for, and medications received from NVS. Thank you so much contributors. God Bless you.”

“They could really benefit from some more donations, quickly. There are some incredible stories here, some miraculous, mostly sad tho. The kids range from 2 months to 14 yrs. There’s 62 kids and one sweet woman with a helper to run the place. It isn’t funded by government and relies on volunteer help and donations.”

Cheri and Stephi

Cheri and Stefi

“We have done some things here to greatly increase the quality of life for these children.”

“So much more can be done. Winter is here and not all children have blankets. Our donations even helped get a little boy, who was hit by an angry neighbor, a CT Scan. He has been ill since the incident.”
“Thank you again for all who have donated and if you still want to, and can, here is the site again. God bless you, we only have a couple more weeks here and I really want to make a difference for these sweet children.”
I hope you can help her to help these sweet children. 
Maybe we could skip one morning’s latte’ this week, or go without an afternoon smoothie, forego tomorrow’s burger and fries and brown bag it, or rent a movie instead of going out and send the difference. Just that much can go so far. Every bit helps Cheri to help them immediately and directly.

 

 

Categories: Love, People, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What’s Your Superpower?

It’s Gratituesday! I’m blessed to rub shoulders with a huge variety of women.

There’s something you should know about them that I suspect they don’t know about themselves. Most of the women I know wear a secret clothing item.

It’s an invisible cape.

Yes. A superpowers cape.

You can't always see the Wonder Woman logo, but the wonderful is always in the woman!

You can’t always see the Wonder Woman logo, but the wonderful is always in the woman!

Some of them don’t notice that they daily fly, soar, leap tall buildings with a single bound, stop bullets, prevent disasters, keep the peace. It’s just what they do every day. They don’t notice the cape flapping in the breeze as they rush about doing their every day amazing things. Naturally, inherently creative and innovative, women rarely stop to really look into the mirror and see that cape, or see the determination in their own eyes. They don’t see how they create something from almost nothing, pull rabbits out of hats, make magical things happen.

You can hardly expect them to admit to having any superpowers.

A little known code word for superpowers is the word CREATIVITY.

Creativity expresses itself in phenomenal ways and places. It’s not merely the painters, the writers and the musicians that produce work worthy of adulation and honor. My mouth hangs open in astonishment at times at some of the things women create, at the superpowers they quite unknowingly display.

For instance:

  • A single working woman I know puts in a full forty hours or more all week at a difficult job and then comes home each night to care for her aging father. Someday, she hopes to have time to write her novels. In the meantime, she creates a real-life story of love, patience and sacrifice.
  • DSC03027[1]My daughter crafted this poem, then painted a background and the words to hang beside a priceless photo of her daughter sleeping. Those naps, however rare, give her time to replenish her superpowers and use her creativity in many other ways.
  • My sister has a unique relationship with her daughter, chiseled out of moments in a breathlessly busy single-mom teachers life of twelve-hour days and etched in during a few brief weeks of summer.
  • My cousin captured the beauty and serenity of Arches and Canyonlands in a home redecorating project, most of it done on her own or with the help of other women. What a peaceful place to visit, rest and rejuvenate.
  • An inner city high school teacher creates relationships with her students whose only personal contact with a stable adult might be herself or one of her collegues.
  • An artistic blog by another woman features her artwork, recipes, photographs, book reviews and personal stories, providing fun, inspiration and beauty.
  • A young woman cares for her siblings as surrogate mother, meanwhile holding down a job, attending university fulltime, remodeling, running a household with her dad and making furniture just for fun.
  • A tutor/parental support person for special needs children, who also cares for her own special needs child at home.
  • On Mother’s Day a friend of mine honored countless women in her life with praise and personalized hashtag shoutouts on Facebook.
  • Another woman I know writes masterful stories from history snippets she reads about.
  • A widowed young mom helped another woman with a major renovation project, going shopping, giving advice, adding just-so touches that make all the difference.

The women I know daily surprise me with their stamina and cheerfulness, and examples of endurance, creativity and grace. I could heap praises on many women I know and admire; nurses, dispatchers, teachers, mothers, musicians, grandmothers, volunteers, caterers and bartenders, sisters, saleswomen, den mothers, girl scout moms, coaches, accountants, students, online business owners, seamstresses, mentors, hair stylists, aunts, engineers, receptionists, caregivers, friends, musicians, and mentors.

From a running tshirt my daughter gave me.

From a running tshirt my daughter gave me.

From the relentless demands of every kind of work women do, from stay at home mothers, to those who work outside the home, to those who earn a living at home, I’m privileged to know and rub shoulders with superstars. Cradle rocking, impact making, non-quitters who give of themselves, produce smiles, provide compassion and meals and hugs, pay bills, exercise creativity, work miracles, dig deep and make the world stunning, wonderful and worthwhile.

You all take my breath away!

If you don’t know what your superpowers are, ask someone who knows you. You might be surprised at what they see in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, People, self-image | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Now Trending: Not Trending.

I’m not much for following trends. The term “trending” makes me want to turn and run the other direction. I’m not big on crowds or trying to fit in.

I couldn’t tell you about “in” styles, name brands, car models, or the cool songs or shows.

 

 

Variety equals energy, joy and fun.

Variety equals energy, joy and fun.

Clothes consist of shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, shoes, socks. Vehicles are cars, vans, SUVs, trucks and big rigs. Any name associated with any of them escapes me.

As much as I love to read I resist reading the latest and greatest. I avoid the NYT bestseller list until multiple friends insist I’m missing out on an astounding book, then I’ll put it off six months or longer.

If Oprah suggests it, I’ll avoid it. If some sitcom or Dr. Phil or Judge Judy or whoever on a late night talk show recommends it, I won’t do it. If it’s something I’m already doing and I hear they’ve touted its benefits, I’ll probably stop.

Does that make me antisocial? 

Probably.

Oh well.

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs

I went for a walk today in Old North End of Colorado Springs. Most of the houses here came into existence in the nineteen fifties. At the time, I suppose, they probably all kind of looked alike, two or three basic house plans, two or three basic paint colors. Today, over sixty years later every house’s personality sings out.

Some have enclosed front porches, others sprout wings toward the back or side, and some have lovely balconies. Still others boast art glass windows and meticulous yards, while others choose to let vines ramble and allow nature to dictate direction and style. And the colors! Oh my! I saw lovely grays, blues, violets, periwinkles, pinks, stonework, yellows, brickwork, lilac, tans, creams, and white, ivory, apricot.

I loved the variety.

I pictured people of all sorts gathered inside, prepping for a lovely Sunday dinner, family and friends visiting, kids out back loving the spring weather.

Love this cheery home.

Love this cheery home.

The thought of going back to my twenty-year old neighborhood with the same stucco cream-pink cracker boxes saddened me. And to think homeowner associations exist to guarantee such sameness and boring identical identities.

I suppose I’m just an old house, metaphorically speaking. I’ve evolved into something other. I’m a periwinkle siding, open front porch, extra bedroom and bath added, a few upgrades, real wood floors, rambling garden yard with laundry on the line in back kind of place.

Don’t expect me to fit in. It’s not in my blueprints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: People, self-image, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Many People Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

It’s Gratituesday! I’m sure you know a few “how many people does it take to change a lightbulb” jokes. I actually found a website that has them listed alphabetically by profession.  My favorite is this one:

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but it has to really want to change.

What do lightbulb jokes have to do with Gratitude? You’d be surprised at the answer. If you were to seriously ask how many people are involved in the actual process of changing a lightbulb, you’d be surprised. Really. Stay with me here.

I remember sitting in the theater after the movie “Apollo 13” as the credits scrolled by. Astounded by how many people it took to put this movie together, I then naturally wondered how many people it took to put even one actual Apollo mission up into space.

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Japanese calligraphy meaning Gratitude.

From there, for days, even weeks afterwards, I wondered about all the background people we seldom see, pay attention to, or know about that make different things work.

At a restaurant I see a greeter, a server and maybe a food runner, occasionally a manager makes the rounds. Yet, there are cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, bussers, cleaning crews after hours, delivery truck drivers, garbage truck drivers, food processors and handlers at a factory, sellers, buyers, equipment manufacturers, harvesters, growers, farmers, ranchers, dairymen, water purification workers, just to name a few obvious ones. I haven’t even touched on who made the aprons, napkins, plates, lights, the building or the tables and chairs.

And that’s just a restaurant. What about a college or university or an elementary school?

My simple trip to the grocery store or to the corner drug store involves thousands and thousands of people working to create, produce, package, order, process, sell, ship, inventory, stock, price, and then finally run the store.  All that, just so I can pop in, choose a four pack of lightbulbs and take them home to replace the burned out ones. I’m sure I missed a few steps in there.

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? We may never know.

My youngest sister posted this as her Gratituesday Facebook status last week. (She’s the one who got me started doing Gratituesdays a few years ago. She’s a smart one! Thanks Becky! )

“Naikan therapy reminds people to be thankful for everything. If you are sitting in a chair, you need to realize that someone made that chair, and someone sold it and someone delivered it – and you are the beneficiary of all that. Just because they didn’t do it especially for you doesn’t mean you aren’t blessed to be using it and enjoying it. Life becomes a series of small miracles, and you may start to notice everything that goes right in a typical life and not the few things that go wrong. ~― Will SchwalbeThe End of Your Life Book Club

I love this expansive way of thinking about the world. I feel more connected, more aware, and more thankful. When I eat my breakfast, a part of my brain thinks briefly of the many people that made my simple meal of yogurt and granola possible. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Just a thought here and there about all that goes into making everything in my world exist, work, run smoothly, and my life easier leaves me feeling more blessed than ever today!

Another rock find!

Another rock find!

I’ve decided to get back to my daily practice of a gratitude journal. I’ve run across some slick smartphone gratitude apps. Debating if I want to try one, or if I’m going old school and pulling out a blank book to write in every evening before lights out. Either way, I know, from experiences going back over twenty years, it can and will make a difference in my outlook, my focus and my life. I’ve written a little about it previously in this post if you’re curious.

I’d be interested to know if any of you have tried gratitude journaling, on your phone or in a traditional notebook. Has it made a difference? Or is it just another thing on your to-do list that weighs you down?

Oh, and if you have a favorite lightbulb joke, I’d love it if you shared in the comments. Thanks!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, People | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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