A Broken World

Money Puzzle

Another mass shooting. Seventeen+ people dead. Most of them were kids. Others still hospitalized, fighting for their lives. Stories surface of heroes that shielded students as the gunman opened fire. Our TV screens are overflowing with the unimaginable pictures they say aren’t suitable for younger viewers.

A new year just started. Once again, there are students, parents, teachers, first responders, doctors, and nurses trying to pick up the pieces from another mass shooting. Trying to un-see disturbing, haunting pictures they may never be able to erase from their minds.

Another community changed forever by a heartbreaking tragedy, a community that was recently named as one of the safest cities in their state. There is no safe place. It can happen anywhere.

Social media overflows with angry debates, some ranting about the killing; some saying arming teachers is the answer.

People cry. Many pray. Lawmakers again take no action and the incident will be soon forgotten. Nothing ever really changes.

Soon another tragedy will happen; in a church, at a concert, or on a city street. People will once again be massacred by weapons designed for war. And the cycle will start again.

I’m tired of hearing arguments. Tired of listening to the excuses.

I’m tired of reading the tweets and the posts on Facebook.

I’m tired of watching interviews with our elected officials. Party affiliation doesn’t matter; they all say the same thing. We’ve heard it all before, too many times.

  • Insensitive words asking for a moment of silence on the Senate or House floor. An insult to the victims that died; a sick excuse for inaction.
  • Insensitive words referring to the next shooting as another unfortunate happening.
  • Insensitive words that make promises that are never kept. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people in (fill in the blank). We’re always with you. You’re never alone.”
  • Overused words that say now is not the appropriate time to talk about it.

I beg the question. If not now, when will be the appropriate time to talk about it?

How many more innocent people have to die before our leaders find the political courage to stop the slaughter?

NOW IS EXACTLY THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT IT.

It’s time to stop the hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars flowing from the NRA into congressional pockets. Our lawmakers are failing us. They are being paid to keep quiet. To do nothing.

Our problems extend far beyond gun violence, but the fact that people are dying promotes this problem to the top of the heap.

Now is the time for an honest-to-goodness discussion to find viable common sense solutions to mitigate gun violence instead of once again offering condolences and empty words.

The people who die in these senseless mass shootings are real people, with real names, members of real families. They were someone’s child, wife, husband, sister, brother, mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend. They were killed by a weapon of war. No amount of rhetoric, arguing, and indecision will bring them back to life.

Elected officials, in case you all haven’t noticed this country, is a hot mess. It is broken.

We can’t pay our bills. We are trillions of dollars in debt with no plan to repay; operating on a deficit budget, spending Monopoly money. Our infrastructure is literally falling apart.

I live within my budget. 50 states have to balance their budgets. Isn’t it time for the federal government to start living within their budget that includes putting money aside to get us out of debt.

You were elected to serve this country, to make it a better place to live and work. Your job description doesn’t include accumulating personal wealth or personal power. You work for the citizens of the United States. We expect you to DO YOUR JOB!

Congress brags about a recent tax reform bill that benefits the wealthy with never ending tax cuts and gives superficial tax cuts to the middle class for a few years and then takes them away. No real savings realized just trillions of dollars added to an already overwhelming debt.

All of the accusations, the finger pointing, and the ranting accomplishes nothing but ignites more anger and creates more separation. At this point, it really doesn’t matter whose administration created the problems. None of them have done a good job.

All of this is happening right now. It is broken. On. Your. Watch. Stop playing the Blame Game and get to work on finding some solutions that work.

We don’t need another band-aid. We need real change and that requires hard work.

Sit down. Talk with one another not as Republicans or Democrats, but as elected officials that have pledged to do your best for this country.

Roll up your sleeves, talk, listen, respect each other’s opinions, find consensus, and learn to compromise. Don’t quit until you find some real answers.

Do the job you were elected to do. Pass real tax reform, common sense gun laws, laws that serve the majority, make us safer while protecting our Constitutional rights.

Take care of the NEEDS OF THIS NATION; your personal WANTS carry no weight.   

Our brokenness is about more than common sense gun laws, but that seems to be the place to start. There isn’t enough room to list all of the problems our country faces. WE ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE.

This is not a game. Lack of leadership has put America at risk and we deserve better.

_________________________________________________

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

— Albert Einstein

 

Advertisements
Posted in Awareness/Action, Do it now, we deserve better, Working together | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Significant Lessons

“Not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever. Sometimes they are only there long enough to teach you the lessons you needed to learn.”

After spending some time in January cleaning out closets, I’m finally getting around to purging the file cabinets in my office. Two legal-sized, four-drawer cabinets filled with bits and pieces of my life. Some organized. Some items crammed into random folders when life was too crazy to sort through.

It is slow going, but I am making progress.

Most of the things landing in the trash should have been tossed years ago. My decisions to keep or toss are coming fairly easy.

I run into trouble when I find the photos, the handwritten notes, or other reminders that take me back in time. Those are the things that bog me down.

Yesterday I unfolded a flyer advertising an appearance by Jane Goodall sponsored by Miami Metrozoo from almost twenty-four years ago. My memories start to fall all over themselves.

In an instant, I see her sitting in the back seat of a Metrozoo golf cart. She sits so quietly with her gray hair pulled back into a casual ponytail. Looking peaceful, just like in her photographs.

I stop, introduce myself, and express my admiration for her, and her work. Ask if I can get her anything.

In a soft voice, she says, “Thank you, a glass of water would be nice.”

Learning I am a member of the staff, she asks what my role is at the zoo. “I’m the director of volunteer services.” I tell her the volunteers are special, giving so generously of their time and energy; doing their part to help with the rebuilding of Metrozoo after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew. “They just want their beautiful zoo back.”

As a colleague steps up to talk to her, I excuse myself to go get her water.

Bringing back a plastic cup filled with ice and cold water, I hand it to her. She calmly says she prefers plain tap water. I quickly go for a replacement, totally embarrassed that I didn’t think about where she lived, spent most of her time. Her years of research observing chimpanzees had been done in the forests of Africa.  No ice cubes there.

I apologized for my ignorance and insensitivity. She smiled saying, “Please don’t concern yourself, it happens all the time.”

After telling her what an honor it had been to meet her, I excused myself and went back to my office to work. I was looking forward to her talk that evening at Florida International University.

Jane Goodall’s presentation was captivating. She talked about her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. Explaining the threats facing chimps and other environmental crises, she spoke with such conviction and urgency of protecting this one planet we all must share. The audience loved her and gave her a much-deserved standing ovation.

Staff members had been assigned to transition the members of the audience as they exited the auditorium. Our job was to direct people to various spots in the lobby; help them obtain more information, learn ways to donate to the Jane Goodall Institute, purchase her latest book, and wait in line to have her personally sign it.

I was to assist with the book signing process. Sitting at the table with Jane (as she had instructed me to call her), I briefed her on the process and we went to work.

Her job was to greet her fans and sign their books.

My role was to politely control the process so the signing wouldn’t last all night. I was to keep the line moving by informing people NICELY we wanted to respect Jane’s time so there would be no pictures and no hugs. Hoping kind words and a smile would keep the people happy and the line moving.

As she interacted with the people in line, I knew she was tired because it had been a long day, and Miami was only one stop on her lengthy U.S. tour.

There seemed to be no end to the line, but she signed the last book just as she had signed the first one. Her warm smile and her graciousness never wavered.

When the last book was signed, I got her a fresh glass of water, room temperature with no ice cubes this time. As she sipped her water, we had an opportunity to talk for a few minutes.

Said she had talked all day about her life, she was curious about me. She was full of questions. Where had I grown up? Did I have children? Was I a Florida native? What was I passionate about?

Tried to keep my answers brief, explaining my early childhood years had been spent on a farm running barefoot and playing outdoors. Recently relocated from the Cincinnati Zoo to my current position, I was homesick for my buddies at the zoo, my friends, and the neighborhood where I had lived for forty years. I was missing my family so much. Moving away from life as I knew it had been very difficult.

What was I passionate about? Words tumbled out of my mouth, “Always wanted to be a mom, be a teacher, and volunteer to make a difference. I’m just not sure I’ve figured out how I am to make a difference.  Still trying to discover my purpose.”

Even though I knew her story, I didn’t really understand her world so what was I to say to her other than I admired her for making such an impact on the world? However, curiosity made me ask when she knew studying chimpanzees was to become her life’s work. Her answer was simple, “One day I just had a feeling that this was what I was meant to do.”

After signing my book and one for my animal-loving, book-loving daughter, I helped her pack up. Knew meeting her had been a once in a lifetime encounter. One that would not be repeated, but we had shared a brief connection. One I would never forget.

We wished each other well, said our goodbyes and she was gone.

Even though it was late when I got home, I called Tom who was still trying to get our house sold before he joined me in Florida. I told him of my experience and the dynamite Christmas gift for Sherry. Two nights before, he and Sherry had gone to see her speak in Cincinnati and had been blown away by her talk.

Meeting this amazing woman is still one of the coolest things that ever happened to me. I was inspired by her example. Learned so much from one brief conversation, looking into her eyes and knowing she was truly listening.

She taught significant lessons about the importance of being present, calm, peaceful, and living a commitment to creating good in the world.

Ending on a Positive Note: We learn from everyone we meet. Some of the lessons we learn to stay with us for a lifetime because of their significance.

Posted in home, values, friendship, memories, Inspirational, Life Changes, Life Lessons, Significance | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Choices

Last year at this time, I chose to resume writing my simple blog about my everyday life. I committed to taking what came my way and promised myself to accept what I couldn’t control. 2017 was filled with lots of new challenges but overall proved to be a pretty good year.

Although I’m not sure it would have been a good year without the ten years that preceded it. Living through ten of the hardest years of my life; when I suffered the pain of losing my precious daughter, two brothers, and several life-long friends, plus battling several strokes, bouts of cancer, and other illnesses and physical issues had taught me to look at life in a different light.

In the middle of every difficulty comes opportunity – Albert Einstein

Life hands everybody struggles with illness and painful times, the loss of people they love, and has them dealing with all sorts of challenging situations. Every year has its ups and downs; bad days, good days. Life isn’t always fair, but it constantly offers us opportunities to make choices.

Those choices are what keep us going, putting one foot in front of the other, day after day. My choices are slowly teaching me to simplify, live more intentionally, prioritize my life, not my stuff, and to keep my faith more childlike and simple, like my life. To appreciate those who have touched and changed my life for the better.

I keep standing, keep hoping, and keep believing that God is at work in my life. I remember the past but choose to concentrate on the journey before me. I choose to take one day at a time, focus on the important things, stay positive, try to give more than I receive, love those in my life who matter the most, and never forget who is truly in charge helping me make it through the difficult and changing times, and giving me more blessings than I am sure I deserve.

Ending on a Positive Note: 2018 offers a clean slate for all of us. Our lives today are what our choices have made it. We are always just one choice away from changing our life. Life is truly what we make it. Happy New Year!

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Posted in Choices, Faith/God, Life Changes, Life Lessons | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Simple Moments in Life

Yesterday, a friend was venting about their cable being out last week, and I was reminded of the last time my husband and I had a similar experience.  Losing power or access to any of life’s conveniences can be so frustrating.

May 2017, on a Friday night about 7:30 p.m. our TV shut down. Like so many others our TV is bundled with our internet and phone service. When we finally got through to technical support, we were informed there was a serious outage in the Greater Cincinnati area. It was indefinite as to when service would be restored.

Our biggest problem was not having an internet connection. Our youngest granddaughter was performing at a national dance competition in Tennessee. We had been able to see her solo and duet performances earlier in the day via the streaming connection.

It soon became evident we weren’t going to catch her group dances on Saturday or Sunday. I stayed close to my cell phone for text messages as to scoring results. The girls were doing well and had even been selected to perform in the Big Show on Monday. But, by 10 p.m. on Sunday night it didn’t look too promising we would see that performance either.

The convenience of watching the competition via the internet streaming option had worked perfectly for four or five years. As grandparents, we had come to rely on the accessibility. Want to upset me, come between me and watching my granddaughters do anything.

Tom and I told ourselves we could get through this. I finally admitted defeat and decided to finish the book I was reading. I felt bad for Tom. He was lost without his TV, so in an effort to cheer him up, I reminded him we could still watch our DVDs without cable.

Our habits regarding DVDs had changed over the years. We used to rent them from the video stores. Remember when going to Blockbuster was a weekend necessity? Then renting them from the cable provider became the latest craze.

For the last few years, a little gadget called Fire TV had kept us entertained. It is incredible how many ways there are to view a movie these days. Thinking about it, I realized we hadn’t watched any of our DVDs since we moved two years ago.

Tom headed off to peruse our limited collection. Returning with a handful of selections from the shelves in my office, he remarked, “Had trouble finding anything decent. Too much animation, science fiction. Too many musicals, and movies I’ve never heard of.”

Laughing, I reminded him of purging our collection before we moved, merging our DVDs with an assortment of our daughter’s eclectic DVDs. Sherry loved movies of all kinds, but she especially loved documentaries. Her thirst for learning never ceased to amaze me and she had won me over throughout the years, but Tom had been a hard sell. So naturally, he skipped right past her documentaries. In his mind, they were just movies he had never heard of. But I did find one capable of holding his interest and added it to his chosen stack of DVDs.

For two days, we watched a bunch of movies; some were okay, some we had seen countless times before, and a few were eliminated from our little collection. The two we liked best included an old favorite and a documentary we had never heard of. (Thank you, Sherry).

Our old favorite had been around for a while. The Last of the Dogmen, starring Tom Berenger and Barbara Hershey was set in the mountains of Montana. The movie paired a modern-day bounty hunter with a female Native Indian history professor. Together they stumble on a Native American Indian settlement thought to have been wiped out by white settlers a century earlier. Together, they fight to prevent the outside world from discovering the existence of the tribe and their way of life. We enjoyed seeing it again.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown was a documentary about the uncredited studio musicians that created the sound behind the Motown music. In 1959, Berry Gordy hand-picked the Funk Brothers as the house band to record and perform on Motown’s’ recordings from 1959 to 1972. We were quickly drawn into the captivating story told via interviews with surviving band members, old music footage and still photos. We were astonished to learn the group’s music had produced more hits than The Beatles, Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones combined, their distinctive sound providing the brilliance behind the Motown sound. The documentary was fascinating. I absolutely loved it.

Tom’s comment, “The documentary was definitely better suited for you and Sherry, but I have to admit it was really good.” Sherry would probably have laughed and yelled, “Score!”

Although we were bummed about missing our granddaughter’s dance performances, we survived. Life has a way of reminding us, no matter how hard we try; we can’t always control every situation.

Sometimes we just have to go with the flow. Without the electronics we are so dependent on, we spent a weekend just relaxing and watching an unexpected movie marathon; talking, laughing, just enjoying each other’s company and even some popcorn. It was fun.

Growing old with each other isn’t always exciting, but it never ever gets boring. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of how lucky we really are.

Ending on a Positive Note: Life is what we make it. After fifty years, we have learned the simple, ordinary moments are the best, the most significant. Those moments are where we find the love and the joy!

 

Posted in home, values, friendship, memories, Life Lessons, Relationships, Significance | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Happy New Year

Anyone on Facebook is used to seeing those posts that tell us how concerned Facebook is about us. Telling us Facebook thinks we would appreciate seeing a memory from some forgotten past date. The memories are usually happy ones; showing a photo of someone we love smiling or laughing. We’re always suckers for any photo of our children or grandkids when they were much younger. I don’t share memory posts very often because people sometimes don’t realize they are memories and get confused, or maybe it’s just me. My excuse is the same one I always use, old age.

Today’s memory caught me off guard with the reminder of how quickly life can change. Everyone I made reference to in the following post is gone. I don’t need a Facebook message to remind me they are no longer here. I still miss them every day, so bad it hurts. I still cry.  Just have to accept that life goes on even when we don’t want it too.

12-31-10 All the Christmas decorations are packed in bins (and back in the garage). Condo is returned to normal and my cleaning is done for this week, or should I say for the year. My daughter is coming for lunch and we going to make appetizers. Then on to a small get together with good friends. Great way to end 2010! Wishing everyone a healthy and Happy New Year!

This little post also is a prompt that life seldom allows us to truly forget the unhappy memories, but we do have the option of focusing on what is worth remembering. The people we loved so dearly. The wonderful times we shared together.

Since we no longer have a garage, our Christmas decorations are now stored in a closet. Most of the bins have been eliminated because we simplified where and how we live. I hope the folks utilizing my discarded furniture, my junk, my stuff, and my Christmas decorations enjoy it as much as I did. Our decisions to eliminate and simplify were good ones. We were ready to let it all go. Seldom even think about it anymore.

Our bins are accessible and only hold what I chose to keep. The only decision facing me now is whether to remove the ornaments from our little 2-foot tree or Saran Wrap it. If I can get Tom to hold the tree while I wrap it, the Saran Wrap may win out.

Every year is generally filled with ups and downs for all of us. We all face challenges, but hopefully, there will always be more happy times than sad ones.

2017 had some bad days, but it also was a year of learning, growth, and a new understanding. We celebrated happy times with family and old friends while making room to connect with a few new ones. Our lives have been blessed by the number of people who have touched our lives. Those are the moments worth remembering.

My wish for 2018 is still the same as the one from 2010 with a few additions. Don’t let life get too busy. Slow down long enough to show people how much you appreciate them, how much you love them. Take time to check on them (even if it’s only a brief call or visit). Life is really pretty short and most of it flies by so quickly until sometimes those we love are gone.

May the New Year bring you good times and good health. Don’t be so hard on yourself or others. I hope 2018 is a year when we all smile more, laugh more, forgive more, hug more, love more, be kinder, fill our hearts with gratitude, and create moments that are worth remembering.

Happy New Year!

Ending on a Positive Note: I don’t know what 2018 will bring, but I am resolving to take the New Year one day at a time. To continue to simplify, live more intentionally, give more than I receive, and focus on the people who matter most.

Posted in Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays, Life Changes | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Christmas Poem

 

What is Christmas? What can it be?
Can I feel it or is it something I can see?
Is it in the air? Is it something I can hear?
Is it magic? Is it really everywhere?

Is Christmas tall, green, scented trees of pine?
Is it tinsel and stars that twinkle and shine?
Is it snowy streets all blanketed in white?
Is it church bells ringing in the still of the night?

Is Christmas the songs that the carolers sing?
Is it the silver bells on city streets that ring?
Is it candles all aglow with flickering light?
Is it warm hearths glowing with fires crackling bright?

Is Christmas each heart that is filled with cheer?
By greeting cards and phone calls sent far and near?
Is it visiting old friends, or somehow finding a way
To be home with your family if only for a day.

Or is Christmas quite simply the happiness and joy,
Found on the faces of each small girl or boy?
Faces filled with both eagerness and glee
While opening gifts beneath their Christmas tree.

Is Christmas just a holiday celebrated once a year?
Do we only seek its spirit as the season draws near?
Is it really only a star on a tree, a wreath on a door?
Maybe! But, something tells me it is so much more!

Christmas is shepherds and wise men traveling far.
Guided on their journey by a bright Bethlehem star.
Christmas is a tiny baby lying on a humble bed of hay.
His birth the true reason we celebrate Christmas Day!

Agnes Spurlock – December 1985

A friend called Thursday asking for another copy of this little poem I wrote over thirty years ago.  She wanted to use in a Christmas program. “Aggie, I’m so embarrassed. I’ve lost the poem again; can’t find it anywhere. Please post it on your blog so I’ll always know where to find it.” I sent her a new copy for her Christmas program, but am posting it here, as well. She wishes to remain anonymous.

To my wonderful friend and to all my readers. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2018!

Posted in Christmas, Faith/God, Friendship | Tagged | 8 Comments

The Right Moves

Tom and I attended a Holiday Dance Recital on Saturday afternoon. We thought we were going to watch our youngest granddaughter dance, but Jess explained the recital had a different focus than usual.

It was going to be a fun afternoon with the spotlight shining on some of the smallest dancers, tiny little kids brand new to dancing. They were a joy to watch. No two were in sync with each other. In the spotlight, some froze, shyly looking out at the audience. Some swayed from side to side, trying to move their feet in time with the music. One little girl spent the entire recital in danger of losing the tutu around her waist. She was adorable.

Another little girl with hair askew dancing with every fiber of her being showed no concern she wasn’t in time with the music. Simply didn’t care she was on the wrong foot most of the time. As her group finished their dance, she ran back on stage. Obviously, she was having a blast and wanted more. An older dancer came and led her off stage, but she didn’t leave without a giant smile and one more enthusiastic wave to the audience. Her exuberance brought smiles, laughs, and a big round of applause.

The audience enjoyed the lively, toe-tapping Christmas music. They snapped lots of pictures to preserve their kids’ performances on film, clapped along with the music, and applauded enthusiastically for the sweet, precious, little kids performing for the first time on center stage.

The music was loud and featured fun selections like I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas; Do You Want to Build a Snowman, All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, Jingle Bell Rock, and Let it Go.

Sandwiched in between the younger kids’ dance numbers, the older girls performed a few lyrical and ballet numbers, but mostly their role was to assist the younger dancers. The day belonged to the little ones.

We are used to attending competitions; where there is a more serious attitude in the air. As the snow fell outside on Saturday, the air inside the auditorium was filled with a bright holiday spirit. This dance recital was more about fun than being flawless. It was a delightful way to spend a cold, snowy December afternoon finding that the spirit of Christmas was alive and thriving.

We’ve been watching our granddaughter dance since she was three. She’s pretty good, works hard at her craft. She simply loves to dance and it shows in her every move.

I love it when she and her friends dance together, exhibiting such graceful, elegant movements that create beautiful, stunning performances. A close-knit group of hard-working young ladies that love to dance together, like to act silly, goof around before and after performances, take a million selfies. But hitting the stage as a duet, trio, or in various groups they become serious, their bodies performing in perfect harmony.  Arms, legs, feet all move in sync with one another.

They didn’t start out in sync. It took years to perfect their craft. Each of them has put hours of work into their dance moves, splits, cartwheels, backflips and unbelievable jumps. Practicing and rehearsing until the moves and the jumps became like second nature.

Funny, it’s the same in life; we spend years trying to land on the right foot. To dance in time with the music and learn all the right moves. We learn to take the good with the bad. We fall down and learn the importance of getting back up.

There are so many lessons to learn along the way. We face each test without answers being provided at the end of the book. We just begin to figure it all out, when our hair turns white and our bones start to creak when we walk.

We’ve perfected our routines, grown accustomed to doing the right moves. Just in time to realize we are once again out of step. A new generation is hard at work, practicing and rehearsing their moves until they become like second nature.

As they take center stage, I wish them good luck on their journey. I leave the stage with gratitude in my heart, a smile on my face, and one last enthusiastic wave to the audience. It was a great show. I had a good time.

My high kicks and jumps are safely stored in my memories. I have found a new stage where I don’t have to perform much anymore.

Life doesn’t slow down for any of us. Getting old is a commonplace experience, it happens to all of us. We learn to play the hand we have been dealt.

I find this stage to be a place of contentment that only requires an appreciation for life, an acceptance of the ailments this age brings and learning to be comfortable just being me.

Ending on a Positive Note: Life is a cycle. There is always someone entering and exiting the stage. Our job is to work hard and accept our proper place in the cycle. Try to be happy and live the best we can.

Posted in Awareness/Action, Choices, Christmas, Gratitude, Holidays, Letting Go, Life Changes, Life Lessons | 8 Comments