Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Not the Lesser of Two Evils

So, I'm going to get this off my chest because it's been sitting there too long. I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I am not voting for her because she's "the lesser of two evils" or simply because I am appalled by everything Donald Trump stands for. I am voting for her because she has inspired me since the first election I was eligible to vote in. You see, when I was young my family did not vote. They rarely talked about politics because they were just busy making ends meet, and they didn't really believe it made a difference. Well...my 6th grade Civics teacher had something to say about that. She set up a mock election, and I was in charge of campaigning for my chosen candidate. All week, we made posters, and even did a small speech about the candidate we supported, and this lit a fire in me. My candidate lost that classroom election, but I did not lose that fire. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change the world.

So, some six years later, it was election time and I was 18 years old. Bill and Hillary Clinton were on the campaign trail, and I heard that they wanted so many of the same things I wanted for my family. I proudly cast my vote for Bill Clinton. And then came Hillary... She was a new kind of First Lady. She was used to contributing and DOING. She was not a trophy wife. She was intelligent and opinionated, and she had a drive to make the world a better place. She started working on healthcare and suddenly everyone was up in arms. "A First LADY should not be involved in such matters", they said. Many people wanted her to just smile and cut ribbons at charity events and be content. Hillary was not that kind of woman, and neither was I. I saw in her the strength and independence I felt. I saw that she could stand up for what she believed in and that she did not back down in the face of all the extreme pressure and criticism. Then came the scandal...and she made up her own mind once again. She decided what to do about her personal life, and she remained steadfast and steady under more pressure and scrutiny than most people could take. And while the country enjoyed some of the best financial times in my lifetime, and some strides toward healthcare were made, she fought these personal battles, and never lost her wits.

After her very difficult time in the White House, she did not do as many would have done and quietly fade from public service. She hit the campaign trail to run for POTUS 8 years ago. I did not vote for her in the primary because I felt that one of her opponents was a little closer to my stance on a couple of issues but it was a tough call. I voted for Joe Biden and I hoped that she would be his Vice Presidential running mate. Well, that didn't work out, but she did serve as Secretary of State and once again endured not just the scrutiny due her office, but also jabs about her clothing, hair, and makeup...something no one in her office had ever endured before...because people love to attack a woman that way and it rarely occurs to anyone to think about what a man wears. Still, she did her job. She built and maintained diplomatic ties in one of the most important offices in the world. And through all the tough times in office she didn't crack.

Now, she's running for president one more time. And I am proud to vote for someone who has always been dedicated to issues that are dear to my heart, especially the issues of children and children in poverty. (For more on that, read It Takes a Village, by Hillary Clinton.) I am proud of her. I am proud that she has continuously struggled to improve the world and stress the fact that it does take a village to raise a child. It takes strong role models and people willing to help. It takes Civics teachers and parents, and yes...even politicians. I want my daughter and my nieces and nephews to see that this woman has what it takes, tries very hard, never gives up, and sacrificed much in order to further the values of family, unity, and equality. I am voting FOR Hillary. I'm with her.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ponder This...Giving Birth to a Teenager

My daughter is about to leave middle school and embark upon the adventure called high school. In recent days, I've been traveling back in my memory to different parts of her childhood, completely against my will. I try to live in the moment, but I keep having to look through old photos for slide shows, which are nothing more than clever devices meant to make me cry. During these forays into her virtual babyhood, I have come to the realization that having a teenager is VERY similar to having a baby. Now, I'm not talking about having one around the house. I am talking about the ACT of HAVING a baby/teenager. Let me explain.

Before you become a parent, you mentally prepare yourself as best you can with stories, books, and advice from other parents. Before you become the parent of a teen, you do the same. In both cases you think you are getting a pretty good handle on it, and then when the process begins, you realize that only about 4% of what you learned applies to your situation, and your time would have been better spent reading fantasy novels. You spend a lot of time and money buying "stuff" that you will "need" for a baby, such as a crib, and diapers, and little gadgets to put in their room so you can hear them if they need you. You spend a lot of time and money on "stuff" you will "need" for a teenager too. But now it's an Ipad, neon socks (which will not be worn as matching sets), and a smart phone so you can hear them if they need you.

When labor begins, it starts with a pain. This pain is usually centered in your abdomen and radiates out to the other parts. It comes on with little or no warning, and it changes who you are...until a moment later, when the pain disappears as if it never happened. This process of alternating earth-shattering pain and complete lack thereof progresses until the little person inside your body is finally pushed out into the world...the real world, where you can only do so much to protect them from harm besides love them and offer them the shelter of your arms.

When teendom begins, it starts with a pain. This pain centers around your heart and radiates out to all the other parts. It's usually in the form of a rude comment, a friendship breakup that you can't fix, or the fact that your little sweetheart wants to do anything that doesn't involve you. It comes with little or no warning, and it changes who you are...until a moment later, when you are joking and laughing, and your kid gives you a hug, and the pain disappears as if it never happened. This process of mind-numbing pain, and complete lack thereof continues until your child is finally pushed out into the world...THE world....the REAL world...where you can barely do anything to protect them besides love them, and offer them the shelter of your arms.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ponder This...Naked Graves

It's Memorial Day and I am probably going to get roasted for this blog post. I'm just going to put that out there right now. I have decided to go public with what may be a very unpopular statement. I don't decorate graves. I understand that people like to show their appreciation for our soldiers. I am deeply appreciative of them (and their families) myself. But I do not understand decorating graves. Now, let me just say that I am not bashing people who want to do this. Everyone deals with death differently, and I respect that, so if it fills you with joy or completes you in some way, then by all means don't let me stand in your way, but I have never participated in this ritual, and here is why:

Dead people don't care what their graves look like. I'd rather buy someone living a lovely bouquet with that money than spend it on someone who is probably enjoying more flowers than you can even imagine in Heaven.

A decorated grave can't express what a person meant to me. It simply cannot. Only my private memories and shared memories which involve that person can do that.

Cemeteries are not full of memories, (unless you and the dearly departed used to hang out in cemeteries, in which case I stand corrected), so if I want to remember someone I have lost, that is the last place I would go.

I feel that honoring a person's life should be more than a trip to the cemetery each Memorial Day. Maybe it would be nice to donate the flower cash to a cause, or even a person the departed person would have supported in life.

Two days after Memorial Day, the flowers are blown all over the place, and it all looks a mess, and has to be repeatedly straightened by family/staff, which are the only people who are seeing it anyway. (See my first point.)

So, ponder this...I love people. I have lost people I love. I support our military. I support naked graves.

P.S. If I happen to be wrong about dead people looking at their graves, please don't feel bad if you never decorate mine. In fact, I'd be fine if I didn't even have one. Just remember me when you hear a song I like, or when something makes you think of a great inside joke we shared, and remember I love ya. ;-)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ponder This....Stand for the Silent

Ugly! Dog! Bitch! Nerd! Slut!



Unusual way to start a blog, isn't it? But, it wasn't an unusual way to start the day...not for me. I grew up in a very small town. I had about 27 classmates, most of whom had been in classes with me since the first grade. You would think with such a small group, we'd all be friends, that we'd have each other's backs, that we would be like a family. That was not my reality. Several of those kids bullied me on a daily basis, starting late in elementary school. One of the favored taunts was to simply bark at me as I walked down the hall. Another was to tell me to "speak English" when I used "big words" I had learned from reading so many books.

For years, I tried mostly to ignore them...That was the advice my mother gave me, and it seemed to be the most effective thing I could do. It did not make them stop, and it did not stop the pain. Intellectually, I knew the words were not true, but that didn't stop the pain either. It wore on me day after day, tainting my days and nights. I could not understand why these kids...people whom I had grown up with, would be so mean to me. It was devastating, and alot of the time I suffered through it alone. Most of the time I was silent, and so were the ones who could have made a difference, because we were not empowered. No one told us that we had a right, and the POWER to end the abuse that a lot of us faced, or at least soften the blows by encouraging each other with kind words and deeds.

I grew up, left that town, and I didn't look back for many years. I had a couple of close friends that I stayed in touch with, but that was it. Not much thought did I give to those years...after all, I had come into my own in the adult world. I was successful, well respected, and liked by most of my adult peers. Not until my own child started approaching her school years, did I re-visit that dark place in the past. I started seeing more and more reports on the news of suicides, and even homicides that were attributed to bullying. It broke my heart. Every time I hear a story about how a child has been hurt inside or out by classmates, and even teachers, I am saddened to my core.

There are many anti-bullying programs in the schools now, because so many children have died as a result of cruelty on the part of their peers. I have seen some of the efforts the schools make...anti-bullying signs in the hallways and the like. I don't think much of them, because they are empty words that don't empower anyone. There is one organization that I have seen recently who seems to have a better approach. It is called Stand for the Silent. It was started by the parents of a boy in Perkins, OK who took his own life recently, after being suspended from school for fighting with a bully. After this father explains the devastation a family feels after a child commits suicide, (a very emotional journey for the entire audience), they give out pledge cards that really make a person think. It is not aimed only at people who are being bullies, it is aimed at ALL people. I strongly believe in the message, and it is my hope that you will pass it on, and even support their mission, ask to have them speak at your school or event. Lives can and MUST be changed, for the sake of all of the children who are being bruised...on the inside or out by bullying.

I Pledge
From this day forward, I promise to respect those around me as well as respect myself. I am somebody, and I can make a difference. I can make another feel loved. I can be the helping hand that leads another back to a path of hope and aspiration. I will not stand silent as others try to spread hatred through my community. Insdead, I pledge to lift up these victims and show them that their life matters. I will be the change, because I am somebody.

There are wristbands you can purchase that say "I am somebody." on them. We bought some as Christmas gifts for kids we believe in, and as a reminder that we are all "somebody" who can make a difference.

Please visit www.standforthesilent.org.

Ponder this...if you don't Stand for the Silent, who will?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ponder this....RoadTrip Honeymoon Adventure


Eighteen years ago this November, I married the man of my dreams, and we set off on one of the most memorable honeymoon adventures ever.

Yes, our honeymoon was to be a night at a beautiful, upscale honeymoon hotel suite, with room service...and then a 5 hour road trip to my favorite mountain in Arkansas, where my grandparents had paid for a two night stay in a cozy cabin.

We arrived at our posh hotel exhausted from all the festivities, and from staying up late the night before to decorate for the reception. We were ravenous from only having cake since breakfast, and picked the fanciest, most expensive food we could order from room service, and waited for our meal....and waited.....and waited...after an hour, we called to see what the hold up was...and were told it would be up in just a moment. ANOTHER hour later, our food arrived, stone cold.

We gave up on food, but noticed that it was getting rather chilly in the room, and turned up the heat....which promptly failed to come on. A call to guest services, and maintenence was sent up. They had a new guy and were having trouble figuring out how to turn on the heat in that unit. Since it was the end of November, we were really hoping to have a HEATED hotel room, but it was not to be. The heat NEVER came on. No matter, we could just take a hot bath in the fabulous jacuzzi....except that the heat was not on to the water tank either.

The next morning, after battling hypothermia all night, we went to the appartment to have a nice hot shower and thaw out before what was sure to be a magical two days of honeymoon bliss.

We got to the cabin without a glitch in our tiny 10 year old Honda Civic, even though the engine was a more than a little taxed by climbing the mountain. We hiked all over the place in the crisp Autumn air, and took photos of EVERYTHING we saw with my 110 camera. (It mostly all looked like brown blobs in the end.) We planned to dine out at the lodge for our evening meal, and arrived at 7:00 for dinner. The dinning room closed at 6. Our cabin did not have a mircowave, just a mini fridge and a fireplace, so we decided to find something to eat in "town". Tim, against my better judgment (see his blog for more details on how he should pay attention to my better judgement), decides to drive down the far side of the mountain.

We are now lost in a strange rural area where there is an erie smoke/fog in the air. I am not kidding, it looked straight out of a horror flick. The smoke was coming from hundreds of tiny smouldering fires where residents had decided to burn all their fall leaves while it was damp and calm out. We finally found a convenience store...and there are no cafes, or anything else anywhere near us, says the clerk. We grab what supplies we can find and drive back up the mountain. Our first WARM romantic dinner is.......hotdogs and marshmallows, roasted on sticks, over the fire in our cabin. Not gourmet, but somehow very satisfying after a long day of hiking, taking photos, getting lost, and falling more in love.

When it was time to pack up and go back to Oklahoma, we were sorry to leave the mountain, but ready to go start our "regular" life together. We hit the road at a good pace, and were moving along quite nicely, but after a bit we noticed that it was getting cold in the car, but the heater was on...So, we cranked up the heat...and the air came colder still. Then, in a puff of smoke, our Honda's engine died, never to be started again. (Cracked block, blown head gasket.) We were two hundred miles from home. There were no cell phones. I honestly do not remember how we called a tow truck, but what I do remember was sitting between my new husband and "Greasy Bob", the tow truck driver, all the way home from my honeymoon.

That's my story...it's full of ridiculousness, just like a lot of the rest of my life. But, it's also one of the best stories I ever get to tell. :0)
The cozy cabin, and the Honda that died

Mel in a cave

Tim holding up a massive rock

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ponder This... Pit Delivery

I just had to share a little story with you. I have been anxiously awaiting my E-town magazine this month, because my friend Eric, of FollowEric.com has written an article in it. This morning, I see a new mail carrier bringing my mail about 6 hours earlier than usual, and after he threw my magazine into the mailbox, I had to hastily chase him down to give him my outgoing mail. This is where it gets gross....

I see that my E-town magazine is here!...only now I don't want to touch it. This is because I have just noticed that the edges and the spine are WET and curling up, and some of the ink is running. It is BONE dry weather this morning, so my mind flashes back to the mail carrier....carrying my magazine....in his armpit!!! I know it is hot, and believe me, I respect the U.S. mail service for their hard and unpleasant work in this weather, but sweaty pit mail is just too much!

At my own personal peril, I plan to go ahead and read the article I was anticipating, after this thing dries off and I have located some disposable gloves. I expect the writing to be excellent, but I'm afraid this magazine stinks. ;0/ Boo. Postal Worker, boo. I appreciate the delivery...without the pits.

.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ponder This...Independence Days

Once again, a fellow blogger at www.followeric.com asked some poingnant questions in his blog, and I decided to make them my topic today.

First Question: Can you relate to the dependent/independent struggle?

I'm pretty sure that most people who know me are aware that I am independent to a fault. It has always been somewhat of a struggle for me to let someone else "take the wheel" in my life. This is a difficulty in personal relationships, but even more so in a spiritual one. You see, I know that God has things under control, that he can get me through anything, open doors for me, that his love and desire to bless me is beyond what I can imagine. But, I'm not very good at waiting on Him. I many times feel that God will work things out, but in the meantime, I need to be doing THIS/THAT to make things work. I am not good at being still and letting things go and surrendering it all. I find that each time I manage to do it, struggles melt so much faster. So, I'm learning to work on that, and even to let people open doors for me if they are so inclined. ;0)

Question 2: When do you feel most vulnerable or defensive?

Here we could simply insert the above paragraph about when I have to let go of something and let someone else help me out. This comes I'm sure from not feeling that others are capable of taking care of things. I promise you that this has nothing to do with a big ego. It has to do with not feeling safe. When I was young, some of the adults that were in control of my life were not making good decisions. I had NO control over this, and it made me determined that when I was able to make my own decisions, I would take care of myself and those around me. I would do whatever it took to make sure things were RIGHT. (No human can do this 100 percent of the time, but it does not stop me from trying.) This means that I naturaly do not want to "Follow" anyone. (Sorry, Eric ;0) I will almost knee jerk against the crowd if I let myself, because I want to be the one who decides. Bless my husband who had no idea what he was getting into when he married me. But, over the years, I am trying to excersise my trust in others. Letting others lead me has brought me great joy in recent times. I let some random girl (Leslee http://freshcutflowers.blogspot.com) at church tell me that we were gonna go out for coffee and be friends, and I ended up with a whole group of wonderful new ladies to love (my GNO girls). I listened to a friend who was offering me some space in her cafe for my clothing/jewelry creations, and I'm starting a business I love. I'm learning to let my 12 year old make her own decisions, and I'm trying to learn not to cringe while we see how they work out. Like everything in life, it's a process. One thing is for sure, I have learned that I could use a little less independence in my days.