The World

 
 

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

Hey, Where Ya’ Going?

photo-33It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful for toilets, indoor plumbing, sanitation systems and privacy! When the classic white porcelain seat isn’t available there’s almost always a portapotty nearby, at the fair, at an outdoor concert, out camping, at a family reunion. It’s been something I take for granted. It’s something I’m very thankful for.

Tomorrow, November 19 is World Toilet Day I think we need to celebrate in a big way. Seriously! But first, let’s start here.

Hot pink at a construction site.

Yup, Hot pink!

A couple years ago I started noticing port a potties. I shot a few photos of them when I’d see them in random spots. The first one to catch my eye? Pink. Yup. Pink at a construction site. I got a chuckle out of that one.

At the cell phone lot.

At the cell phone lot.

Not long after that I noticed an oversized blue “honey wagon” at the airport near the cell phone lot. I wasn’t sure if that was for people waiting for incoming flights, or for construction workers who needed a little extra room. Personally, I’d have to be really desperate to sidle over to that place, slip inside and get my work done. Airplanes overhead, traffic on either side, cars filled with people just sitting there bored.

Going on the go?

Going on the go?

Which brings up this one I saw, and others like it, that get towed along for road construction jobs. Cars whizzing past at fifty-five or sixty-five miles an hour and you sitting down roadside. I just don’t see it happening. But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do when you gotta do it. Right?

Speechless.

Speechless.

I wondered about this other moveable “honey bucket” as it rode on the back of a regular pickup truck. How did it get there? And how, pray tell, does one get it down off of there once it’s, um, filled the measure of its creation? Some things are just difficult to think about.

Grape scented, maybe?

Grape scented, maybe?

This newish looking purple portapotty stood sentry as a crew set up for some outdoor weekend event in downtown Phoenix. I wondered if they included grape scented air fresheners with that one. It’d be a nice touch, don’t you think?

Blue and orange dominate the color spectrum for these things. I never saw any yellow ones, which I find really really surprising. And red. Nada. Maybe because it’s too much like a big stop sign. No one needs that kind of mental blockage. You’d think green would get the go ahead but I never saw a green one either.

A little tipsy.

A little tipsy.

People get creative with naming these icons of regularity and sanitation. I liked these company logos: Port a John, Johnny on the Spot, Porta Loo, Sani Privy, Butt Hut, Outhouse, Moon Hut, Doodie Calls. And my favorite has a french sounding name, Oui Oui. (For you non-french speakers, that’s wee wee.)

Quite a variety of nomenclature for identifying toilets exists as well. Surely you’ve heard most of these: lavatory, bathroom, the little boy’s room, powder room, commode, restroom, facilities, latrine, ladies room, little girl’s room, washroom, the loo, men’s room, the reading room, WC, water closet, the john, urinal, the throne room, the head, comfort station, can, potty, privy and the porcelain throne.

A nice soothing blue.

A nice soothing blue.

On a wilderness trek we had a japanese style latrine. I felt bad for the guy who had to explain how to use it to us newbies. A couple people dug a deep narrow hole one could easily straddle,  leaving a pile of dirt and a shovel next to it. Turns out that it worked really well. But generally, going au natural, sheets to the wind and all, ain’t much fun. It’s most people’s least favorite part about camping or hunting.

That gratitude I feel about my indoor plumbing increased a few weeks ago when I read about World Toilet Day. Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it? It is! And it isn’t. It’s one of those subjects that people aren’t comfortable discussing except in a humorous way. Which gets in the way of solutions to big problems. For instance, this strange fact:

“Did you know that more people own a mobile phone than have access to a toilet?” ~ worldtoilet.org

What the heck? How is this possible? Yup. One third, yes, ONE THIRD of the world’s population still lack access to adequate sanitation. That’s over two billion people! That’s not a small problem. That’s a huge problem. Two billion people without a pot to squat on, a private place to go, a sanitized way to dispose of a daily necessity. Two billion!

How about this little known fact?

“1,000 children died per day from diarrheal diseases due to poor sanitation in 2013.”~worldtoilet.org

There’s nothing funny there. Not a single thing. The CDC puts those numbers even higher, in fact they estimate 2200 children under the age of five die each day. That’s 803,000 children per year dying because they and the people they live among have inadequate access to toilets and sanitation.

What a relief!

What a relief!

Surely there’s something we can do as people living in first world countries!

Good news. There is something we can do!

Please click over to worldtoilet.org and find a quick list of ten things you can do that will make a difference in the health and safety of men, women and children who lack this most fundamental of needs.

There’s lots of stupid stuff we spend our time on. Can’t we take a few minutes and pay attention to something of critical importance? Tweet or Facebook about this important issue using these hashtags:

#wecantwait #worldtoiletday #opendefecation #sanitation

What a convenience and a necessity!

What a convenience and a necessity!

Sometimes you have to laugh or else you’ll cry. Maybe we can do a little of both to get the ball rolling and get some people the help and facilities they need.

You could also watch and share the video below. Get people talking, break the code of silence and let’s get things moving!

“Clean and safe toilets are fundamental for health, dignity, privacy, equality and education.” ~worldtoilet.org

The next time you sit down to take care of your business, I hope you feel more than relieved, I hope you feel grateful. I know I do. Hopefully with a little help and attention from you and I, more people around the world can experience a cleaner, safer world.

~~~*~~~

Please, watch and share this video.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Humor, The World | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s Missing?

I wrote this post on Tuesday. Specifically for Gratituesday. And then I couldn’t make myself finish it, or push the publish button. I suppose because it’s the kind of irritating writing I don’t like to read, especially when my day-to-day life seems composed of nothing but uphill struggles and crap to muck through.

Let’s be honest here, shall we?

It’s not always easy to see past difficulties and troubles in life and count blessings or feel grateful. Why is that? Lack of perspective? Lack of sleep? Lack of understanding?

The inability to feel gratitude, to notice and appreciate the good and great things about my life occasionally overtakes me and then I feel miserable.

Sometimes, on Tuesdays I feel almost like I’m bragging, although I don’t mean to. Sometimes on Tuesdays I feel embarrassed by the abundance I have in my life.

And then sometimes on Tuesdays I struggle to find something I feel grateful for. And then I feel ashamed that I could feel that way.

Just one tiny spot on the planet where poverty thrives.

One tiny spot on the planet where poverty thrives.

By any measure, particularly on a global scale, my life is one of riches, comfort, ease, wonders and glorious blessings. Even the poorest person in my city is better off than most of the world. Compared to eighty percent of the people on this planet I am a wealthy person.

Maybe I need to convince myself when I’m having a bad day, when the bills pile up, when the troubles I face feel extra daunting. If that’s the case maybe I should look at what’s missing and what’s not missing in my life.

Missing:

  • I’m not homeless.
  • I’m not hungry.
  • I don’t wonder about fuel to cook with or light at night.
  • I don’t fear reprisals if I voice my opinions or disagree with authority.
  • The air I breathe isn’t contaminated or polluted or making me ill.
  • Little restricts me if I choose to travel.
  • No major disease riddles my body or challenges my health or life.
  • Access to all sorts of information isn’t restricted or filtered.
  • I’m not persecuted for my religious beliefs.

Not Missing:

  •  I have food in the pantry.
  • Clothing choices abound, as do shoes.
  • Clean running water comes into my house with ease.
  • I’m safe in my neighborhood and in my city.
  • A variety of transportation is readily available.
  • If I really need medical care I can find a way to get it.
  • I’m able to communicate with extended family easily and quickly.
  • I can read and write, and so can my children.
  • Growing up I had two parents and siblings and everything I needed.
Not my neighborhood.

Not my neighborhood.

All of that reads like fairly basic, and almost silly stuff that just seems commonplace and ordinary. It’s only basic in some limited parts of the world, and even then only in some parts of some cities. The whole world isn’t like where I live and work and play and write. Hardly. I live in a utopia, a wonderland, a bubble.

I’ve heard people say things like, “Oh, real poverty could never happen here in America, not now, not anymore.”

I cringe when I hear such isolated and naïve talk.

To those who think such thoughts I say this:

Drop by a food pantry sometime. Volunteer for a day or two. Talk to a few of the people who come in for help. Open your eyes.

Google this term: “Countries at War.” Enjoy that reading. Or look up “Global Poverty” then look around you. Want a more realistic comparison? Then just ask your search engine to look at  “Poverty in the U.S.”

Sometimes we just don’t see the gloriously green forest all around us because the tree we’re banging our sad little head on gets in the way of our view. I’m one of those most guilty of such behavior.

Blessed beyond measure. That’s me!

Grateful for it all? You’re dang right!

I hope your view turns out as spectacular or better than mine.

~~~~~

“May our effort, confidence and concern for others be the altar from which we pray for personal abundance.” ~Laura Teresa Marquez

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 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

A Brief Pause in the Dawn’s Early Light

Every school morning there’s a bit of extra traffic in front of my house. Foot traffic, bicycle traffic, car traffic. It’s spread out over forty-five minutes of drop-off time, so it doesn’t seem like that much. When that traffic clears and school starts what follows has made living so close to the school a sweet daily reminder of how charmed a life I lead.

English: Flag of the United States of America....

The American National Anthem plays on the loudspeaker system every school morning. It’s broadcast outdoors apparently, not just indoors. It’s loud enough that I can hear it inside my house.

I remember hurrying across campus at college to get inside a building before the National Anthem and flag raising started so I wouldn’t have to stop and stand with my hand over my heart, freezing, for those interminable minutes while it played. What a dweeb! I was young and shallow and clearly didn’t appreciate what that really meant. Decades later I get it and will stop and listen and pay respect with my hand over my heart.

One of the parents in the neighborhood walks his kid to school and brings the family dog along. When the anthem plays the dog “sings” along. I kid you not. The dog barks and yowls in this high-pitched singalong dog falsetto that is something crazy to behold. I like to think the dog gets it. I know that’s stretching it a bit, but it makes me smile to imagine that a dog knows what a charmed life it lives, too.

US Navy 041217-N-3236B-022 A World War II U.S....

A World War II U.S. Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, salutes the American flag during the playing of the National Anthem.

It surely makes me pause every single time I hear it. It’s not the words and it’s not the music. It’s what it represents; a daily memoir of thousands and thousands of lives shared, lived, changed and lost. Today, September 20, the third Friday in September, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Is there an appropriate way to remember and honor people like this? Gratitude for  their sacrifice, mindful of the price of the freedom I enjoy. I can start there.

The National Anthem is also a daily question: “Can you see?”

And so I ask myself. Can I see? Can I see what abundance lies before me? Can I share that somehow today?

I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant. That’s the last message I’d want to convey here. I guess I just want to acknowledge that I feel lucky, grateful, humbled. I don’t want to take any of this for granted.

I’ve included all four stanzas of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key. Read it with the tune in your head, or read it as a poem.

But please, read mindfully and see what it says to you today.

Can you see?

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Categories: Gratitude, Poetry, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Watching as The World Folds in On Itself

Television

Television (Photo credit: videocrab)

In 1989 we lived in the Seattle area in Washington state. MSH was working out-of-town in Oakland, California. He called me unexpectedly from his office phone.

“Turn on your TV.”

It was late afternoon, just after 5:00 actually.

I turned on the television and he said, “That’s me. That’s here. I’m under a table in an office building that’s swaying back and forth.”

It took a minute for me to understand what was going on. An earthquake in the Oakland area. A big one from the looks of things.

We didn’t talk for long. I hung on the TV for the rest of the night. Hungry for news, afraid of the news. Finally a phone call came through from MSH. The power was out in his hotel, but he was fine. He called from the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile  in front of his hotel. He chuckled.

What? I shook myself from the daze I’d fallen into.

All I cared about was that he was okay. Hearing his voice took the weight off my heart. I could breathe again.

English: Image taken by NOAA's Cessna Citation...

Ground Zero Image taken by NOAA’s Cessna Citation Jet on Sept. 23, 2001 from an altitude of 3,300 feet  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast forward twelve years. MSH is working in the midwest. Iowa, although I don’t remember the city.

I was getting the kids ready for school and trying to get myself ready for work at the same time. The phone rang, far too early in the morning for an ordinary call.

It was MSH. “Turn on your TV!”

My stomach lurched.

Why? What?

“Just turn on your TV!!”

What I saw seemed unreal, nightmarish, horrifying. The kids stopped what they were doing and stood motionless, breathless,  staring at the screen. We watched, stunned,  as a towering building folded in on itself and disappeared and then another followed.

The world folded in on itself that morning. Lots of things folded under and changed with the horrific quaking that happened that early September morning. The world continues to crumple, morph and become unrecognizable.

I’m not sure I’ve caught my breath since then.

I’m not turning on the TV today.

I don’t want to remember.

But I will.

In my own quiet way.

Categories: The World | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No News is Good News, Right?

Newspapers B&W (5)

(Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

I’m thinking of going on a news fast.

Some of the stuff that passes as newsworthy boggles my tired brain. And some of the other stuff hurts my heart. And even more of it sends my blood pressure off the charts. Surely my health would improve without CNN, ABC, CNBC, Reuters, AP, NPR, Fox and every other related acronym out there.

I know, I know, I can hear it now. “You need to be informed.” “You can’t bury your head in the sand.” “Pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it go away.” And on and on and  on.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it really make a sound?

I’d like to find out.

Like the world is going to stop because I stop watching or reading about it in shocked, jaw-dropping disbelief. Ha.

Hardly.

But maybe I can purge my heart and soul and mind a little of all those toxins.

I know people who have sworn off gluten even though they aren’t allergic to it. I know people who’ve gone cold turkey off sugar and survived and thrived. I know people who won’t eat anything processed, which is  difficult to do, and they are well and happy. I even know people who abstain completely from alcohol and they’re surprisingly a load of fun to hang out with. Amazingly, there are people who eschew caffeine in all its various forms and they get through life quite well, and they sleep fairly well too.

If all those people can eliminate entire food groups surely I can get by without an onslaught of news in my daily life.

English: Macro photograph of a pile of sugar (...

Macro photograph of a pile of sugar. Looks dangerous and unhealthy, no? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Certainly fasting from the news will challenge me.  It’s paraded at you in multiple ways. News crawlers inch across your screen as you’re trying to read a scholarly article. Flashy “news” about the latest shenanigans of some rock star jump out in three-dimensional horror as I catch up with my friends and family online. The car radio blares headlines of ridiculousness and horror at the end of a perky tune. The newspaper lands on the driveway and practically screams “read me, read me!” FB status updates copy and paste news and nastiness in the world at an alarming rate.

I want to live in a dugout in the side of a creek bed  a la Laura Ingalls Wilder for a few weeks, figure out the weather report by looking at the sky and noticing the caterpillars, find out what’s happening by chatting with the “neighbor” from twenty miles away. I want my world to shrink down to something manageable and easy and simple.

Not possible, I suppose.

I’ll probably go into withdrawals. Or something I can’t ignore will happen somewhere (please no) and I’ll have to check in. Orfor whatever reason I just won’t be able to stop myself from finding out what’s happening out there in the world at large or nearby.

But I can try for a week or two to avoid most of it, can’t I?

Yes, I can try.

What can it hurt?

We’ll see how it goes.

Categories: Mental Health, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Weather, I Like It or Not

Tornado sirens keep going off in my head.

Nope, I don’t live in Oklahoma anymore.

All the noise and turmoil jostles me from the inside, mostly in my head, but my stomach seems involved as well. This happens sometimes in the summer, at least it does here in the desert.

Maybe my body and brain attempt to hibernate like those frogs from around here that emerge for a brief season and then burrow underground until the next wet season. Unfortunately that’s not an option for we humanoids.

English: cloud and rain, weather forecast symbol

Cloud and rain, weather forecast symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hibernating sounds delightful doesn’t it? Sleep for three to five months while the land bakes, crackles, pulls away from the edges and curls up in tight little fists. I’m certain this climate wasn’t intended for human consumption. Look at how many hoops we have to jump through to make it habitable. Miles of canals, cavernous wells, refrigerated air, draining a river dry before it reaches its final destination.

Clearly the heat plays its games with my neurons, my electrolytes, my sense of well-being. Surely I’m a snow bird with a need to fly north with the spring winds, then waft back on southern breezes during the winter months. Can someone please tell my bank account about my true nature and needs? Being stuck here in 110 plus degrees turns me into a pillar of salt as I look back at all the moderate, temperate, reasonable places we’ve lived. Even twenty below winters sound mild in comparison to this silliness.

I recently spent three weeks up north in cooler country, admittedly mostly indoors. But, it was still gloriously cool in the evenings, reasonable in the daytime, tolerable any time. So, coming back to the desert has thrown my body into conniptions.

I’d forgotten that taking a walk any later than eight in the morning might result in a daylong headache. It had slipped my mind that stepping outdoors for a breath of fresh air might not smell the least bit fresh. Burnt and over baked and ozonated, yes, but fresh, no. I had easily let the hard truth of endless summer filter out of my consciousness.

Stepping off the plane into the physical onslaught of oppressive heat, even in the relative shelter of the temporary hallway from plane to terminal, left me feeling drained of energy and instantly tired. My very cell remembered, even if my head forgot, that desert summers suck the life out of a person. Literally and figuratively.

Sorry for being such a downer today. The transition has been a brutal one. And that’s WITH a great air conditioning system.

This time of year the seven-day forecast teasingly shows pictures of clouds with raindrops. Then, in the fine print below the cloud something like “10%” or “20%” shows up. They call that a chance of rain. I call it teasing. I call that false advertising. In fact, it’s downright mean.

English: A example of Cumulus congestus which ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many mornings I wake to billowing cloud formations tinged in pinks and corals with a promise of moisture in the air. I’ve learned not to fall for the ploy. Late afternoons do something similar with huge plumes of clouds over the distant mountains taunting and laughing with the potential of a downpour. The clouds lift to dizzying heights, establish an anvil shape and collapse into a dry, hot wind and then disappear.

I think straight blue sky is easier to take than those pretender clouds. At least with blue you know where you stand. Heat, all day, no matter what.

Sure, someday the cool weather will arrive. Someday after Halloween usually. And by cool I mean high temperatures that don’t breach the one hundred degree Fahrenheit mark.

Kids come out of the woodwork on a day where the temps are under one hundred. It’s the jackpot, the lalapalooza, the signaling of the end of cabin fever days stuck inside with recirculated air and inactivity. I can hardly wait to see frisbees soaring, lacrosse sticks flying, children on the playground, night games in the park and pickup football scrimmages.

Even more I look forward to planting my fall/winter garden.

It’ll happen. Eventually.

Until then I watch.

I wait.

I hope for rain.

Categories: Mental Health, Nature, Outdoors, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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