The picture of the above sign says it all…or rather, it’s the theme of what I want to write about today. Along with a beautiful book of photographs of beach houses and decorating tips, my friend Connie gave it to me for my birthday/housewarming. That very weekend I placed it in the kitchen window of my little beach bungalow so that I could be reminded of Gandhi’s words. (Later, I’m going to blog about the importance of having like-minded friends who can bring out the best of you).
Back to the plaque. A few months ago at church, someone mentioned that instead of just asking God to be with the “sick and afflicted,” the widows, the poor, etc., that maybe we should DO something to help. It’s easy to pray but not so easy to actually do one’s part to bring about positive change. Although I haven’t actually done much for the poor and needy and sick, I’ve been pondering more of how to help and what to do. Yes, I know that talk is cheap, but I am committed to doing something even if it’s just to write a check or work in a soup kitchen.
What I’d like is for the world I inhabit to be a kinder, gentler place. What am I doing to “be the change?” I can’t change the mindset of the world leaders, single-handedly stop crime, or halt the horrific abuse of children and women, but I can make some changes in my little corner of the world. I can keep annoyance and anger out of my voice. I can do as the Talmud advises and “Be kinder than necessary.” I can give someone the benefit of the doubt. I can smile more often. I can give more hugs…when appropriate.
My aunt and I were chatting the other evening, and she was telling me about a doctor’s office she had visited. Impressed with the personnel and the treatment, she says she’ll be going back there. One big factor was the gentle hug she got from the nurse practitioner. That one act on the part of this employee made a huge impact on my aunt and influenced her decision of where to go for medical help. I think concern and warmth can positively affect the healing process too. The bottom line here is that if this nurse practitioner can “be the change” in her sphere. So can I. And so can you.
Okay, I wasn’t going to jump into the fray, the one about the sense of growing incivility in the United States, but a recent comment from a blogging buddy in Utah has pushed me in. The eyes of the nation are upon us here in South Carolina…and not for the reasons we’d like. Lately we’ve had instances of our elected officials saying and doing embarrassing things. Is it a Southern thing? Is the South racist? That’s what Burl in Utah says many of his acquaintances think.
Where to start? Let’ start at the top with our governor. Not only does he leave the state to fly to South America to visit with his mistress, but he does so without telling anyone where he’s going, not even Jenny. No one. After returning from his trip south, the governor held a press conference in which he rambled pathetically about his woes. Soul mate was used to describe this mysterious Venezuelan beauty, and the lovesick governor said that he was trying to fall back in love with his wife. Huh? Doesn’t he know when to stop talking? I actually thought that maybe we as a state were getting beyond this scandal until watching a short segment on Jay Leno this week in which he and Seinfeld held an entertaining dialogue about Sanford’s behavior.
Fast forward to last week when Joe Wilson yelled, “You lie!” to the President of the United States before both houses of Congress, before the millions of viewers tuned in to hear Obama’s remarks. Appalled at Wilson’s lack of civility, I thought, “Yet another blow to the Palmetto state’s image.” Earlier this week I read an update on the man who threw shoes at President bush. No one said merely, “Tsk tsk.” No. He served prison time in his own country for insulting the leader of another country. According to him, punishment was painful and included electric shock.
Back to Burl’s question about whether the outburst was at least partially motivated by racism. I don’t know. I do know that perhaps an Ivy League white person could be resentful of a black man who is extremely intelligent, erudite, smooth, unruffled, sophisticated, and suave. In fact, as I recall the event, Obama’s cool demeanor was quite a contrast to Wilson’s hot one.
Moving along, I might as well mention Serena Williams and Kanye West. While both of them acted in childish ways, I’m somehow more inclined to overlook Serena’s explosion, probably because it wasn’t typical of her. She was having a bad day, and that’s putting it mildly. Her behavior was unbecoming and as my mother would have pronounced, “uncalled for.” As for Kanye, his deliberate interruption of Taylor Swift’s speech was more than uncalled for. It was extremely rude and bordering on unconscionable.
So at the end of the rambling post, here’s what I think. I think America is the best country in the world to live and work and play and raise children. I also think we’ve forgotten our manners and slipped into serious incivility. We’re so much into freedom of speech and individual rights that we’ve forgotten the golden rule…and the silver one too (don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t want done unto you).
All of the above have apologized for their outbursts, hissy-fits, and behavior. Let’s learn from that and all try to be a little kinder, a little more civil…and to rein in our tempers. Please.
Before yesterday, I’d never tasted citrus rice before. Ummm. It was delicious, especially the small chunks of pineapple. On our way back from Atlanta, some friends and I stopped in Madison, GA for lunch and a bit of antique browsing. We ate at the Chop House, a wonderful diner with sage green walls and huge windows overlooking the tree-lined streets. We opted to sit outside on the Chop House Patio where the ambience was even better. Except for the occasional cigarette smoke wafting over from a nearby table, it was what Van Morrison would call fantabulous. The food, the conversation, the temperature, the gentle breeze, our fellow diners, our server, the white china rimmed in black, a small lizard, and the sight of the surrounding trees beginning to change colors all combined to make it memorable. To add the icing on the cake, Nancy regaled us with hilarious tales of her father during her dating years. It’s always good to laugh and talk with friends.
To backtrack a bit, the four of us went to New York together in May and seemed to get along well (except for that business about leaving me at the Brooklyn Bridge, that is). Just kidding, Lisa. Anyway, with one trip behind us, we knew that we traveled well together and that we liked many of the same things. Hence, when I learned that Chicago was playing in Atlanta at the fabulous Fox Theatre, I asked it they’d be interested, and they said YES. We asked some other people if they’d like to accompany us, but they all declined. Maybe next time.
We left Nancy’s around 10:00 a.m. Friday morning, and after a couple of stops along the way, we finally arrived in Atlanta six hours later. Our husbands and families probably won’t be too surprised to learn that we talked pretty much nonstop. As a consequence, we came up with solutions to the nation’s healthcare problems and education issues. We also discussed the economy, SC’s recent embarrassments, and the lack of civility that surrounds and astounds us. We also talked about more down-to-earth and personal topics, but I’ll never tell. Suffice it to say that we all agree on the importance of family, past and present, and relationships.
Before the play on Friday night, we ate at an Italian restaurant near the theatre where the food was good, but the atmosphere was anything but. The acoustics were horrific, and finally the four of us gave up trying to have any semblance of a conversation. After dinner, we walked down the block to the fabulous Fox where we were greeted by a tall, courtly African American man whose hospitality and Southern charm were contagious. Once inside, we admired the atmosphere and décor, especially the star studded ceiling.
I think I speak for the four of us when I say that the production of Chicago was well worth the price of the ticket. The lead roles played by Velma and Roxie were especially riveting. These women are so talented! While we thought that Jerry Springer did an okay job of playing Billy Flynn, we were disappointed that he didn’t dance more. He just seemed to lack the razzle dazzle of Richard Gere who played that part in the movie version. The only “fly in the ointment” that evening was the price of souvenirs. I really really really wanted a tee-shirt that said “Not guilty,” but $35 put it out of my price range.
After the musical, we went back to the Georgian Terrace where we had reservations. It’s a lovely hotel with lots of good feng shui, and I especially liked the marble floors and the sound of mellow, jazzy music in the background. Before retiring to our room, we sauntered through the restaurant that had both inside and outside seating.
Saturday morning, Nancy visited with her son, and Paul and Amanda picked up Lisa, Martha, and me, and we breakfasted together at the Flying Biscuit. Since I got to break bread with two of the people I love most in the world, this event was especially sweet for me. Our round table was beside an open window (literally no pane) and was painted with stars. Stars and flying biscuits adorned the walls of this unique eatery as well. As we dined, we were treated to close up views of walkers, joggers, and dozens of dogs. It was nice to be in midtown Atlanta with its teeming life and variety. If you ever make it to the Flying Biscuit, be sure to sample the cranberry apple butter. Amanda, Martha, and I highly recommend it. Breakfast complete, Paul drove us to see the Margaret Mitchell house. Since Martha teaches literature and Lisa teaches history, seeing it was a fitting way to end our short but exciting trip to the big City.
On the road again, our conversation resumed. As mentioned above, we did a lot of talking about our families, especially those ancestors who have influenced us so much. At this stage of my life, I LOVE that stuff, the links from the past to the present and the consideration of how those links will affect the future. I’d write more about it, but it’s time to do some serious D2L work and some preparation for tomorrow.
Gee whiz. Call me naive, ignorant, misinformed, or uninformed, but I just cannot understand the hoopla about President Obama’s education speech yesterday. I heard it and felt like saying, “Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for telling the young people of America that education is important AND that it takes a lot of hard work. “ How can the parents of the nation’s children be opposed to that? Don’t they know that education is the ticket to a better life for their little darlings and that it comes with a price?
From teaching Human Growth and Development, I’ve learned that accountability is BIG today. From reading the newspaper and online sources, I’ve learned that most people think that accountability rests with the teachers and administrators, not with the students. To solve these shortcomings and problems, homeschooling, private schools, charter schools, and all kinds of other options have become available. Are they successful? Not always. Not if the parents don’t get involved with the education of their children. Do they check their homework? Take an interest in their courses? Go to parent/teacher conferences?
Last week I read an article in The State by Dr. Steve Millies, a professor at one of SC’s colleges, and I found myself thinking, “You’re so right!” I could identify with his experiences completely. He sometimes asks his students if they think he should be accountable for making sure that they learn, and they always say yes. He then asks them how many completed the reading for the day’s class, and perhaps two or three hands remain up. What a glaring disconnect between what students expect from their teachers and what they are willing to do on their own! Folks, I see this attitude in my classes every day.
I agree with Dr. Millies in his assertion that we indeed have a problem with public education in America. I also agree that that the problem doesn’t rest solely with the schools and teachers but also with the parents and students. Turn off the television set and read a book. Listen to our president. He knows what he’s talking about
I just have to get my two cents’ worth in about Judge Sotomayor and her confirmation hearings. Not only is she accomplished and smart, but she’s also cool, calm, and collected. She has the kind of mind and training that thoroughly qualifies her for this high office. The number one concern that I’ve heard voiced over and over and over again (yes, that many times) is that she just might let her Hispanic (make that Latina) background interfere with her decision making.
Get real, folks. Don’t you think the WASP background of much of the current Supreme Court continues to influence decision making? Do you hear many concerns about how a white male mentality might prejudice someone when interpreting the law? Um, maybe some but not that much. I’m fully aware that the Court is comprised of both genders and other races now. I haven’t been asleep all these years. It’s just that there seems to be such a big hullabaloo being made over this particular lady’s qualifications. One columnist even characterized the proceedings as “blood sport.” Gee whiz.
We all see the world as we are, not as it really is…or so says Anais Nin, and I believe that to be true. At the same time, fortunately for us, Judge Sotomayor is experienced, savvy, and smart enough to earnestly see beyond some of the prejudiced types of thinking that many of us “regular” people are guilty of. The very fact that people are so much up in arms demonstrates their own narrow-mindedness…perhaps even out and out bigotry. It’s just that they can’t see it.
Here’s an example. Several years ago, my employer held cultural diversity training for its employees on a yearly basis, and in the midst of one such session, a middle-aged white guy got into some heavy sighing and rude eye rolling. Clearly annoyed that he had to attend such a meeting, he let his displeasure be known. One of the facilitators asked him if he had something he’d like to share, and this is pretty much verbatim what his response was. “Yeah, I got a problem. I got a problem with being here listening to this silly stuff when I could be doing my job instead of sitting around looking at movies and doing useless activities…or whatever you call that stuff we have to do.”
In exasperation, he then said, “Look, I wake up every morning, get dressed, and drive to work. I never think about the fact that I’m a white guy. That’s stupid to say that people actually think about gender or race or even age on a continuing basis.” Little did he know that he had fallen right into the facilitator’s hands. After a few moments of silence, she said, “Exactly. You are a white male. It’s your world, and you’ve never been denied admittance to anything or anywhere because of your gender or race.”
That might not have been the best example in the world, but it’s one that has stuck with me for 15 years or more. And you know, I feel certain that it stayed with that middle-aged white guy, an Air Force retiree who had waltzed right into another position that might not have been even offered to a woman, a person of color, or a Buddhist. In fact, I doubt if they’d even have been considered for an interview.
Back to the judge. Yes, she’s a woman of Hispanic heritage but she’s no different from the other judges in that they all have unique backgrounds that make them the people they are and influence the decisions they make. All of the justices differ from us, however, in that they’re acutely aware of these forces and make a conscientious effort to “rise above them” in defending the law of the land.
No travelogue tonight Friends. I just have a couple of things on my mind that I feel like sharing before getting ready for book club.
Earlier this week I was reading the newspaper and came across two interesting articles on the same page, and while both had to do with money, the stories were totally different. One was about how more women are getting into the Avon and Tupperware businesses on the side. Why? To make extra money to supplement the family income. I then saw a short piece about a man who didn’t understand all the hoopla about his bonus. After all, he deserved it, by golly! The thing is, his company has lost BILLIONS, and he got a 75 MILLION dollar bonus. Huh? Here are moms peddling plastic while this guy is raking in millions. I’ve read that the income gap is widening, but this is ridiculous. By the way, I can’t remember the name of his company, but I’m not making this up. Really.
I’m picking up mssc54’s lament about the number of mothers having babies out of wedlock. It’s astounding to realize that 40 percent of America’s babies are born to single mothers. Don’t take my word for it; check it out for yourself. I just do not understand this. Call me an old fogey or whatever else you want to throw my way. But before you do, check out the research on child development, and you’ll learn that study after study confirms that children with two parents in the home fare better in every way: emotionally, socially, psychologically, physically, and financially. Yes, I know there are two-parent homes where abuse and neglect are regular happenings, but still….Don’t take my word for it. The studies are easy to find, and they all say the same thing; babies raised by single mothers (and it’s usually the mom who’s raising the child) are more likely to live in poverty and suffer the consequences (often long-term) that go along with that.
This phenomenon (single mothers), long a concern in psychology and sociology circles, has now captured the attention of the media. A couple of weeks ago I happened to catch part of the evening news, and an interviewer was asking a young single mother WHY. Why did you opt to have this baby out of wedlock and keep him? She said that it (motherhood) was something she purposely sought and that the reason she didn’t want to get married was because she didn’t want to be cumbered with a husband. She, however, wanted to have a full life, one in which she experienced all sorts of things, including motherhood. The baby was looking at the camera in big-eyed curiosity. I wonder when his daddy-ache will begin or how he’ll react when he begins school and gets asked/teased about his father. But hey, does that really matter as long as his mother feels fulfilled?
Only one more thing. I’m wondering why so many people feel that it’s necessary to take potshots at President Obama. Lately some columnists have been giving him a hard time for having what they perceive to be a condescending attitude towards Americas and perhaps too much of an empathic one with some of the folks he’s been visiting overseas. President Bush got bashed for having too much of an ethnocentric, “we’re #1” attitude. Can any high profile person avoid getting slammed by the cynics?
My next post will be more upbeat. I just had to get this stuff off my chest. Does anyone have any answers to the above???
Although there are many, many things I could write about today, I’m going to settle for something short but pithy. It’s some insight I picked up about a specific scripture in Sacrament meeting this morning. The speaker was talking about how often the little decisions we make can have a big impact on our lives and on the lives of others. He went on to tell how although we all knew about David’s sins of sleeping with Bathsheba and then sending Uriah, her husband, to the battlefront to be killed, we don’t’ always think of the “little” decision that preceded this.
However, in 2 Samuel 11:1, we read, “And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”
Aren’t kings supposed to go into battle with their men? Why did David tarry still at Jerusalem? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I do know that in the second verse of that chapter, we see David eyeing Bathsheba as she bathes on a nearby rooftop. He finds her beautiful to look upon, and before we know it, he has lain with her and she is “with child.”David summons Uriah home so that he will lie with Bathsheba, thus hoping to extricate himself from this sticky dilemma by claiming Uriah to be the father of the child. It doesn’t work; Uriah is too noble to “do this thing.”Consequently, David sends him to the forefront of the battle where he is killed. David then marries Bathsheba.
The sins are pretty big ones, adultery and murder, and this morning’s speaker made me wonder if they would have occurred had David gone off to battle instead of sending Uriah and others while he tarried.A small decision had major consequences for several people’s lives, including innocent ones.
Here’s what really got me this morning. Almost as an afterthought, the speaker said (paraphrase), “Don’t send your family off to fight the battle without you. Don’t send them to church while you tarry at home.” Wow. That seemed profound to me.I looked around at all of the people sitting without spouses and all of the children sitting with just one parent and wondered if the spouses/parents who sent them realize the big and long lasting ramifications of that decision.
Has the world gone mad? That’s a question I find myself asking DH a lot lately. He’s used to it by now and knows that there’s no easy answer. He probably thinks that I read the “wrong” things and that I think too much. Is that possible? I don’t know. Below, in no particular order, are some things that are stressing me out today.
I’m not going to go into a long diatribe about Octomom today, but I’m still wondering how a single welfare mother of 14 children can take care of all of the physical, emotional, social, and financial needs of her family. A person’s thinking has got to be somewhat “twisted” to even consider bringing another child into the world when you already have six that you aren’t able to provide for, without assistance from the government, that is. It also strikes me as funny that she’s decided to pursue a Master’s degree in counseling. Counseling. Wonder who her clients will be and what kind of help she will provide.
Also on my list are the employees at Clemson and USC who have received big bonuses and raises while those on the lower echelons have not. To add insult to injury, tuition has soared, supposedly because of “costs.” Costs of what? The raises and bonuses of a select few? While I’m on the subject, why does a college education cost more in SC than in any other southern state?
Moving along, I read a great editorial last week about the legislators in SC who can draw pensions that are nearly 50 percent more than their salary for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, state employees who retire after 30 years of service can expect to receive a pension equal to 43 percent of their former salaries. Huh??
Then there’s the guy (Madoff) who bilked people out of millions of dollars, leaving many of them penniless, who is still considering how to keep his family fortune solvent. He’s deeply sorry for the pain he’s caused. Hmmm. He’s 70, so maybe he can spend the rest of his life in prison pondering just how severely his actions have hurt others.
A couple of weeks ago, a child in Sumter died of starvation. He was 18 months old and weighed nearly nine pounds.I saw a photo of his parents in the newspaper and couldn’t help but notice that his mother had a weave in her beautifully coiffed hair. When my grandson was born a month ago, he weighed in at 9 lbs. and 9 oz., big in terms of a newborn, pathetically small for an 18 month old.
While some children are starving, America also has a huge (pun intended) problem with obesity. According to Feldman in Development across the Lifespan, 15% of American children are obese, a rate that has tripled since the 1960s.
Lest we forget, there’s Darfur. No, I can’t go there today. I find my throat closing up just thinking about the horror of life there.
Should I mention the AIG “issue” or let it pass for today? Think I’ll wait on that one until after I see what happens in Washington this morning.
I can’t resist mentioning that some folks are gravely concerned that Michelle Obama has been baring her arms in public. “It’s simply not done,” they exclaim. Well, apparently it IS done. She’s the first lady and she can go sleeveless wherever and whenever she pleases.Quite frankly, I’d probably follow her lead if I had arms like hers. But I digress. What I want to know is why people zero in on something like her arms when people are being slaughtered in Darfur, bilked out of the fortunes by preying vultures, and starved by their own parents?
Is it just me, or has the world gone mad? Has it always been this way, or am I just awakening to the vileness of some of my fellow humans?
I heard a couple of great talks at church Sunday, and I’ve been thinking about them off and on ever since. From reading blogs this week, it seems that the speakers, many sister bloggers, and I are all thinking along the same lines: We all need to do more to help our fellowman. It’s important all the time, but there’s something about our current economic situation that makes it seem even more imperative. Carl gave $20 to someone in the grocery store, and Hayden is filling and giving away backpacks to the homeless. In our ward, the Relief Society is collecting toothpaste and toothbrushes to help fill 72-hour kits for those less fortunate. What are you doing? Yes, you.
Time prohibits me from going into everything that was mentioned in the two talks that impressed me so much, Carol’s and Travis’s, so I’ll give the brief version. Carol included remarks from two of Elder Bednar’s recent conference addresses, both of which were about prayer. She emphasized the “pray AND act” aspects of the process.When you pray for the missionary program around the world, does it stop there, or do you ACT to assist in the missionary effort? It’s not as hard as it seems; you could contribute to the missionary fund, sign up to feed the missionaries, write missionaries serving from your home ward, or perhaps help the missionaries find someone to teach.
When we pray for the sick and afflicted, the poor and the needy, is that where it ends, or do we actually DO something to help these people? When we pray for a sound, loving marriage, is that where the effort end, or do we get up off of our knees and actively strive to do things for our spouse? It’s the same with our children, our friends, and our parents; we want healthy relationships, but we’re not always willing to sacrifice time, thought, effort, and even money to make it happen.
Travis reminded us that we’re all brothers and sisters and that our obligations extend toward the human family and not just those within the walls of our home. Yes, of course, family comes first, but when what we have is “enough,” perhaps we can consider extending ourselves a bit beyond the immediate family. Regardless of skin color, checking account, profession, address, language, social status, religion, appearance, or hygiene, these people share the same Heavenly Father, and we’reexpected to help them.
This is getting a bit lengthy, but I just have to include a phrase that I picked up years ago around the Christmas holiday season: the seasonal belch of philanthropy. For a short few weeks toward the end of the year, even Scrooges are more generous, but it doesn’t last very long.The soup kitchen volunteers and the Salvation Army bell ringers are often right back into their “real lives” by January. I’m not being judgmental here. After all, I’m like that too.
However, starting Sunday, I’m making a conscious and ongoing effort to do something good for someone every single day. So far, what I’ve done is minimal, but I’m truly and sincerely on the lookout for ways to help a sister or brother along the way. Will you join me?
I don’t understand Octomom. I really don’t. How in the name of heaven does she think that one person can take care of eight infants and six other children without a job, a home, a husband (or helpmate), or any means of stable support?
My daughter Carrie has four children ranging in age from three weeks to nearly 5 years old, and she is busy from sunup to sundown…and in-between those times too. She and her husband are excellent, caring parents who take their parenting responsibilities seriously, and both will tell you that it’s hard, hard work. Between food preparation, story time, daily baths, laundry, ball practice, dance lessons, and breastfeeding the newborn, Carrie is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to the max. How can Ms. Suleman feed eight at the same time? And while she’s feeding them, who will be taking care of the other six children?
And speaking of feeding the children, how will she manage this with no job? Formula, diapers, wipes, car seats, clothing, bottles, blankets and all of the other paraphernalia that go along with babies are quite expensive. Where will she and the children stay when they leave the hospital? Admittedly, I haven’t kept up with this situation, but the last time I read about it, she was living in one of her mother’s rental homes that was nearing foreclosure. Is this where Ms. Suleman will take the children when they go “home from the hospital?” I shudder to think about their tiny bodies and psyches and what might lie ahead for them.
Back to the money issue, my son-in-law’s insurance didn’t cover all of the doctor and hospital costs, so Rich and Carrie ended up being responsible for $2500.00 out of their own pocket. They’ve been budgeting very carefully and hope to have this obligation behind them this month. Who’s paying for the extended care of the octuplets? I can’t even imagine the staggering cost of their intensive, round-the-clock care. Though I’m ignorant about such things, I’m guessing that the state of California is footing the bill. I’m also thinking that there may be some special needs among the octuplets that will require $$$.
Octomom says she plans to go to graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in counseling. I was incredulous when I heard this. Who in the world will be minding her 14 children while she sits in class? How will she have time to study, conduct research, and write papers? I teach adults, many of whom are young mothers. Believe me when I say that they struggle just to be in class on time. Heck, between ear infections and stomach viruses, sometimes they struggle to attend period. Then, there’s the cost of tuition and books to consider.
Ms. Suleman says she missed having siblings when she was a child. Poor baby. Does she honestly think that these 14 children are going to feel happy, loved, and valued? I can’t see it. I see rivalry, tons of it. Neglect too. Saturday, my 23-month-old granddaughter was lying on her father’s chest enjoying a special moment with her dad who had been gone much of the week. Her four-year-old sister came into the room and began talking to her father, and Emma actually became downright hostile. How dare Brooke talk to “her daddy?” And this is a family in which there are only four children, all of whom get plenty of TLC from two parents.
In my opinion, these precious children deserve better. There are surely couples who would willingly adopt and provide love, nurturance, and stability to each of them. It’s my hope, no, it’s my prayer, that this young woman will love her babies enough to grant them a better life.