Change Begins With Us

This blog has never been a forum for politics, and it won’t be today. I only want us to remember that change ultimately begins with us. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and what I think may be wrong or right may not work for you. But that’s what freedom means; we have the right to our own opinions and beliefs.

In America, we have rights that not every country enjoys, and these rights didn’t come without a huge price. I may not agree with you about something, and you may not agree with me, but hopefully we can allow each other our separate opinions. We can certainly agree to disagree.

That said, real change begins with us; all of us. For example, we all may not agree on our new President Elect, but again—in America we don’t all have to agree. As one newscaster remarked this morning, “if you truly believe in the Democratic process of our country, then you can’t get upset about not getting your own way.” That’s how the process works; in one electoral year your horse may come in first. In another such year, mine may win.

We can look at this new development as an opportunity to embrace change and work with it. We can also continue to dislike and not support the change. We can try to find peace with the change, or we can work to make the change more palatable for us. Again, we are fortunate enough to live in a country that gives all citizens rights that many countries will never have.

My hope and prayer for us all today is that we can keep remembering who we are, and what we have as American citizens. Change happens, and will keep on happening. The test of it is how we choose to deal with it, and ultimately, make our own peace with it.

 

Reflections on Overdoing It

Back in college, I and my friends did a fair amount of drinking. We sometimes went to parties at fraternities and sororities, but the best fun was when we gathered at a friend’s house just off campus. She and her husband weren’t much older than we were, and we had some good times there.

We would bring spaghetti and sauce and garlic bread, and they would supply the salad, drinks, and dessert. We listened to our favorite records, danced, told jokes, and had a lot of fun.

At one memorable party around Halloween, our hosts invented a new drink sensation called Green Machines. Basically it was the cheapest vodka they could find, lime soda, and at least four gallons of lime sherbet floating on top like lost islands.

All of this mix went into a brand new clean (and green) plastic garbage bin. (Note: any drinks made in a garbage bin, no matter how new or how clean, means that you are going to drink far more than you need to, and wake up with a pounding headache.)

There was also a big plastic dipper hanging off the side of the bin. You could either drink from the dipper, or pour yourself a cup; either way, we always drank too much.

One morning after, when my friends and I were moaning about our headaches and chewing aspirin, we came across the following song, which still cracks me up to this day:

“*One evening in October

When I was five fifths sober

Taking home a load with manly pride,

My poor feet began to stutter

So I lay down in the gutter,

And a pig come up and lay down by my side.

Then we sang it’s all fair weather

When good fellers get together,

Till a lady passing by was heard to say,

‘You can tell a man who boozes

By the company he chooses,’

So the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Yes, the pig got up and slowly walked away

Yes, the pig got up and without a word to say.

He looked at me and thought

That he would leave me where I lay

And that same old pig a lesson taught to me,

And that was not to be a bigger pig than he

So I hopped next day on the water cart to stay

Since the pig got up and slowly walked away!”

I have always remembered this song, and have never had a drink out of a garbage bin since.

You have been warned.

*As recorded by JOHNNY BOND

Voting Day

Well, here we are again—ready to elect a new president. It’s never an easy process, and I’m sure that everyone is as tired as I am about all the mud-slinging, political ads, phone calls from all over the country, and mailboxes stuffed with political flyers. The media goes wild, and predictably, we all become so weary of it that we all just want to get it over with.

That said, voting is a singular right we Americans have, thanks to the sacrifice of many. I often wonder what our founding fathers would say if they could see us now. Would they be glad or appalled?

Just recently, I went through my dad’s tattered *books containing the histories of WWI and WWII. My grandfather fought in WWI, and my dad in WWII. The old pictures in these books jump out at me, and I wonder about how the lives of all those young boys turned out. How many of them were lost before they had the chance to really live? How many were wounded so badly that it affected the rest of their lives? How many lived to have families?

When the war in Vietnam was going on, I was in college. I was in the Admin building when the loudspeaker came on to inform us of the results of the draft lottery. I saw the faces of the young men who were called out; it was as if all the color and life drained from them at that moment. Selfishly I was glad to be female, knowing that I wouldn’t have to fight in a war.

We are lucky to live in America, and lucky to have the freedoms and privileges we have. On a day like today, where we have the privilege to vote for our president, this is a day to remember how we got here and all those who fought to preserve our freedom.

Things may have changed dramatically since all these young and strong men and women went to war, but the essential truths are still as important as ever. Our freedom to vote and all our other freedoms did not come cheaply. There may be a whole lot wrong with America, but thankfully, there is also a whole lot right with America too.

No matter how tired we are of all the political rhetoric, it’s time to step up and vote today. As we used to say, ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ Let’s not waste this freedom.

See you at the voting booths!

*”The 401st Telegraph Battalion in the World War, 1917 – 1918,” “T.A.D. R-78 Completion Report, Company “C” 843 Engr. Av. BN./IX. E. C., 1945,” and “843rd. Engineer Aviation Battalion.”

Time is ALL We Have

If you are lucky enough to have come across Pam Kirst’s blog, “Catching My Drift”, you will know what a wonderful and heartfelt writer she is. I re-read her post from last October called “Under Heaven.” It is all about time and what we do with it.

Time—that steadily ticking clock that marks our stay on this earth—is finite for each of us. Like Pam, I too have looked down at my 65-year old feet and wonder how in the world they began as baby-pink and perfect to the gnarled, horn-nailed and bunioned hooves I now have. Time has made its mark on me, as it does on us all.

My time began with a care-free childhood, then grade school, junior high school (as we called it then; now it’s “middle school”), then high school. Following that came leaving home to go to college, then graduating, then finding my first job, first apartment, and other “firsts.” I seemed busy all the time, which seems strange now that I am definitely not busy, having retired a year ago.

As much as I loved and adored all the people and cats in my life, so many are gone now. I have happy memories of them, and think of them often. What new memories, people and pets are ahead?

What have I done with my time? What next will I do with the rest of my time? And how much time do I have? We all wonder these things from time to time (no pun intended).

So, with more time behind me than in front of me, how do I best fill that precious bit of time I still have? Do I listen to the steady exclamation in my head that says, ‘oh, for Heaven’s sake, just get involved in something! Do some good while you have time!’ If my heart isn’t in it, should I anyway?

I think that the answers to the above are “yes,” “yes,” and “yes!” It’s hard to shake ourselves out of our routines. But as I am finding out, it’s harder still to make excuses for ourselves.

Speaking just for me, I have plenty to do around the house. I also make jewelry, and now that I am recovering so well from my knee replacement surgery, I can go for walks again, which I have missed dearly. Then there is this blog, visiting my dad each week, having the occasional lunch with friends, and so on. All of these are wonderful, and I am grateful for them all.

However, I feel I should be doing more. So that’s going to be my goal in the coming weeks; to find the “more.” After all, time IS all we have.

 

Kindness – Changing Lives Everywhere, Especially Ours

Couldn’t we all use a little more kindness in our lives? It has become sort of a rare commodity these days. Often our go-to response to many situations has become mean-spirited, belligerent, aggressive, angry or just plain rude. Just look at all the road rage we hear about these days—it’s frightening.

Most of the ‘stand-out’ people in my life have been those who have been and are kind. Kindness does not equate weakness; actually, it’s strength. That old Bible quote, “blessed are the peace-makers” is as real today as it ever was. I have seen situations shift from anger to calmness by just a bit of kindness.

I have to wonder what’s going on in some people’s lives that makes them react with anger; usually it has nothing to do with anyone but themselves and how they feel about themselves. I know that when I am anxious, fearful, sad or worried, I am snappish and easily offended. Most of the time, this is all about me and has nothing to do with anyone else.

The trick of it is to realize that I am just having a bad day, and then realize that I have the skills to turn it around. Whether or not I do this is up to me and me alone. Knowing this keeps me humble; I’m human and therefore fallible. But most of all, I don’t have to feel bad.

So on days like that, I make kindness my priority. Once we decide that we do not want to stay angry or resentful, we have the power to change. When I am struggling to get back to kindness, I think about what my amazing step-daughter used to say to Ava (my first granddaughter) when she got upset and angry over something.

She would smile at Ava and say, “how about we go upstairs and change out of your Cranky Pants into your Happy Pants?”

Just the thought of that cracks me up. And yes, it actually is easy to change our attitudes from cranky to happy. It is just another decision that only we can make for ourselves.

The days when we wake up feeling bad or just off-center, we can choose to lift ourselves up. I picture the process as “up-shifting;” that is, manually shift from cranky to happy. We can decide, just like that, that we want to be happy. We can decide to be grateful and see all that is good in our lives.

How do we do this? It’s as easy as saying out loud, “I am going to be happy and grateful today. I am leaving this bad mood by the side of the road, and I am going to start by being kind to the first person I see.” Just these thoughts and saying the words out loud make a chemical shift in our brains so that we actually can become happy.

By all means we can be kind to others. But why not be kind to ourselves? It’s a win-win; good for us and good for those around us. Even if we extend kindness to another person by simply smiling at them, it changes us and it changes them. They might not even smile back, BUT it makes a difference; believe it.

Kindness is the ultimate life-changer. Let’s all “up-shift!”