The Walk

Yesterday, in an attempt to improve my health, I ventured into unfamiliar territory with my dogs.  It’s a route that I used to walk all the time, but haven’t traveled much in the past year or so.  The homes in our neighborhood are on 1 to 5 acre lots and its got lots of gentle hills…an ideal place to walk.

So, I leashed up Matilda the Basset and Barret the Dog and we started walking. We walked about a mile down the road, hit the dead end, and turned around.  The weather was beautiful and we were just slightly winded…having a good time.  All is well.

On the way back, however…

One of my neighbors, who I had not previously met, had let out (into her fenced yard) three of the biggest, bad-ass looking dogs that I have ever seen.  They may well be the sweetest dogs on the earth.  I try not to judge by appearances.

Matilda is one of those dogs that thinks every human and every dog on the planet is here to be her best friend (and rub her belly).  She is also very vocal.   Barking away, she tries to run up to the fence and say hello.

I try to discourage her.

She does not want to be restrained.

She really wants to meet these dogs.

I am becoming entangled in her leash.

She pulls out of her collar.

I am completely hobbled by her leash.

She is at the fence.

The three dogs go wild.

Matilda is baying.

The three dogs are gnashing their teeth and lunging at the fence.

Spittle is flying.

They are all running up and down the fence.  Matilda is apparently unaware that they want to completely rip her to shreds.

Barret decides to come to her rescue.  Barret is a very, very scary dog when he gets riled up.

The neighbor comes outside screaming.

I am still tangled in the leash and my shoe has become untied.

The dogs are raising holy hell.

I can’t hear what the neighbor is screaming so I think she is yelling at me.

I’m apologizing…we are in her yard and my dog is loose.

Turns out she is yelling at her dogs and not me.

I am trying to get untangled and retrieve Matilda and keep Barret from going over the fence and introduce myself.

At this point, Matilda grows tired of “playing” with the three dogs and catches the scent of a rabbit.

When a Basset catches the scent of a rabbit, what little brain function they have shuts down and pure instinct takes over.  They will run for miles.  This property backs up to over 300 acres of undeveloped cedar and rock.

As I finish the pleasantries with my neighbor (which we are yelling at each other over the chaos of the four dogs trying to kill each other) I manage to free myself from the leash and hand Barret’s leash to my new friend.

“I’ll be right back!”

I take off after Matilda. I can hear her baying as she runs.  The path she has chosen is uncleared , cedar covered, rocky terrain. After climbing and sliding through a 6 foot deep rock ravine about a half mile away, I finally catch up with her.  She has come to a wildlife fence and stopped to rest. She is very pleased with herself and happy as can be.

I pin her in place with one knee and finally tie my shoe.

Then, I hoist up her long, wriggly, loose-skinned 50 pound body and balance her on my shoulder. I’m not trusting the collar again.  We hike back through the ravine and cedar.  Matilda is drooling down my back.

I retrieve Barret from the neighbor and once again apologize for the whole fiasco.

Then begins the long trek home. We still have almost a mile to go.

Today, I think we’ll take another route for our walk.

Happiness and Balance

I woke up tired today and tempted to just go back to sleep.  The bed was warm and the dogs were snuggly.  The house was quiet and I was alone.  Nobody would know that I was being a slug.

But, the to-do list was quietly beckoning me and there are things on said list that I have been ignoring far too long.

I spent two hours in the yard working on bringing it up to the standards of my  Homeowners’ Association  as outlined in the letter that we received at the end of October.  I disagree with their use of the adjective “tremendous” in describing the “debris” around our house, but it was their letter to write.  I have been mentally composing a letter in response, but have exercised tremendous self-control.  I don’t disagree that there was work to be done.  We’ve been working on it.

We’ve also been working on repairs inside and going to work to pay bills and a few other small matters…like trying to get the lawn mower repaired and come up with the money for a dumpster to haul off debris from the repair and improvement projects.  Basically, we’re just trying to find a balance between the expectations of others and a realistic outlay of resources with regards to money and time.  Hopefully, everyone can be reasonably happy.

I’d love to devote hours and dollars to my yard and home. It does matter to me.  I also want to live harmoniously and realistically with the existing wildlife around me.  Part of my yard will remain “wild” and uncultivated.  The critters were here first.  It’s only fair that I share and cohabitate.  (I am not including the party mice in this scenario).

Moving on…next on the list was a long walk with the dogs.  I’ve slowly gained back a considerable amount of weight that I lost after surgery almost two years ago.  I’m back at risk for a repeat of that same health problem as well as diabetes and uncontrolled hypertension. Several miles a day needs to go back on the list and remain there. I started with today. Healthier eating has to become a routine again also.  The chickens are enjoying some yummy treats today.  I just can’t have some things around the house.  I definitely have an issue with food.

I’ve also decided that decluttering is back on the list.  I thought that I’d gotten stuff under control, but it appears to be a never-ending battle for me.

As this year steadily approaches it’s end, I am thinking about the things that I wanted to change and the progress that I wanted to make.

Overall, I’m happy with my progress.  It would be easy to be discouraged and note that I’m still talking about some of the same issues…my house and yard, my weight and health, an overabundance of stuff, and the challenges of finding balance…but I’m choosing to understand that most of these issues will never be fully resolved.  There are certain things that will always be an issue for me.

I think that identifying them was an important step and that staying aware of my status with regards to them is the continual journey.

Steps forward, steps back, battles won and battles lost…I’ll just keep trying to make progress and most importantly, trying to be kind to myself in the process.

The grass will keep growing, the leaves will keep falling, food will still tempt me, and stuff will keep coming into the house.

I’ll mow some grass, rake a few leaves, work on making better choices and try to live more intentionally.

And be as happy as I possibly can in the process.

Peace.

 

Thankful 365

I try to be thankful all the time…even when it’s challenging to do so.

Especially when it’s hard to do so. because that’s when I get down to the serious business of gratitude.  Being thankful for health, family, and the other obvious stuff is good.  I’m not knocking any of those things.  There are many other things we can be grateful for that come off the top of our head when it comes time to share at Thanksgiving (or any other time). But when the going is tough, looking for the good stuff reminds me that there is always something to be thankful for.  Always.

When you only have two vehicles being shared between four adults (living at two different addresses) and one breaks down at the beginning of a holiday week with a busy schedule…it sucks.  I’m reminding myself, however, to be thankful that one is still running and we have a small emergency fund that we’ve been building for the last year that will help out with the expense.

When the grocery store is crazy busy and filled with more than a few cranky people, I am grateful to live near a grocery store that stocks an amazing array of food and that I am able to purchase what I need and a few things that I want.  I am grateful for the ability to smile at those who aren’t smiling and share conversation with others who are in a good mood.

When I’m tempted to worry and complain that all of my home repairs and projects didn’t get done, and that the house isn’t perfect for the holiday, I’m grateful that I have a home.  And grateful that I have the resources to offer hospitality to family and friends.

When suffering one of the worst anxiety attacks I’ve ever had last night, I’m grateful for a husband who sat silently with me until I was able to fall asleep.  I’m also grateful for this apparently random attack (I’m not sure what triggered it) because it signals that stress has been building for a while and I need to take care of myself and be aware of what might be contributing to it. It was a reminder that I haven’t been making the best possible choices for my health, and my body and mind are the worse for it.

And there’s more, but the day’s work is calling…

My hope for you this week is that you might find something to be grateful for…even if your life is not all you’d like it to be right now.  I am grateful that you have chosen to read this post and thankful for your presence on this planet.  All of our lives have meaning and purpose…

and that is something for all of us to be grateful for.

Amen.

 

Just So You Know

Hello again.

Once again, this is not the first post I’ve written today.  I tried two other topics and several versions of each.  It just doesn’t seem to be the right time for those ideas and words to come together.

I’ve decided that this is my thought for the day.

I don’t know if the world as we know it is on the verge of imminent collapse…the very fabric of our society torn beyond redemption.  I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week or…..

I do know that I choose to live in hope.  That may seem like denial or avoidance to some.  I don’t really need to know either way.  Please don’t feel a need to comment on my failure as a human being because I’m not “taking action” right this minute.  I’m okay with my choice for today.  There are things about me that I would like to improve…I work at it every day.  That’s why there is an “intentional life” tag on my blog sidebar.

Today, I am choosing to be optimistic.  I am done with listening to rhetoric about the impending rise of a Hitleresque society.  And yes, I do know a little something about that period in history.  As a matter of fact, I did know someone who was there…pretty well as a matter of fact.  I just feel that the terms are being tossed about lightly and without a true understanding of their meaning by some.

I’m not an idiot.  I know things aren’t great right now.  They also weren’t “great” 6 weeks ago or a year ago.  I understand that it’s about more than happiness or contentment.  There are real issues.

I’m just not choosing to live in fear over everything that might happen or could happen. In my opinion, that’s sort of a crazy way to live.  It would make me crazier anyway.

So, unless you have some inside information from a reliable source…God, for instance, I’m going to go continue my life with it’s laundry, dishes, art projects, and dog hair.

And for my evening entertainment (since I am home alone and the TV remote is mine) I shall watch a cheesy movie about “the” big earthquake that takes out California. Then maybe a good zombie move.   I find it helpful to pick up life survival tips with this type of research.

And just in case, everybody else is right and the world is ending, I’m going to eat the last donut in the box because my weight won’t matter.

Party in the Pantry

This is my second post of the day.  The first one got caught up somewhere in virtual, computer-land  and totally disappeared.  It turned out to be a good thing.  This re-write shares some of the same content, but in a less tolerant and more self-care sort of way.

The other post was about some critters that I’m sharing my environment with right now and the ways that I am attempting to co-exist in an environmentally friendly and cooperative way.  I do have my limits though.  Some things I just can’t tolerate at the risk of personal harm.  As I clicked on the publish button, I started thinking about the way my writing could also be construed to have an undertone of frustration with some friends and acquaintances here on social media.

Here’s the rewrite:

We’re still having warm weather in my part of Texas.  I’ve heard a rumor that cold weather is coming. I’m hopeful. Meanwhile, my neighbor’s bees are having a good old time in my yard and in my kitchen.  I’ve stepped on a couple and come uncomfortably close to others.  I like bees.  I appreciate their value and the work that they do.  We need bees.  I, however, do not need bees in my kitchen or underfoot.  Out they go.  Some die in the process.  I try to avoid that.

I have a banana spider that took up residence on my back porch.  I have to leave my back door open at night because Barret the dog is back on steroids and needs to pee about a hundred times a night.  The banana spider, who should be named by now, moves it’s web in every night.  Every morning, I relocate it to the back porch.  We have mutually agreed to disagree.   There has been no violence yet.

Fire ants.  Well, I’m not negotiating that .  Death.  Preferably, slow and painful…for them. I am using diatomaceous earth though.  I’m not unreasonable.  I just want the damn ants to die.

Last night as I was cleaning out the pantry, I discovered that a mouse had taken up residence there.  It does not appear to be just the one.  I think he invited a lot of his friends.  It looks like there was a party in the pantry.    I don’t dislike mice.  I’m just not interested in cohabitating.  He is being encouraged to leave.  It will probably not end well for him.  I’m not going to apologize for my decision.  Sometimes you just have to draw a line that meets with your convictions.  Then you have to defend that line.

I’ve made the decision to unfriend some folks today on facebook.  I’ve tried to be patient with their postings.  I’ve tried to understand and listen. I’ve given it time.

What I’ve discovered is that some have not relented in the content of their posting and their words have continued to be divisive, hostile and increasingly biased in support of their viewpoint.  I’m discovering that it is harder to “like” anything that they post even if  I agree with it.  We do have some common ground, after all.   I’ve tried to cling to that commonality.  I just don’t want to join the club.

I want to maintain my conscious ability to think through issues and make independent decisions based on research and my own core values.

I am also just plain tired of being clumped into a category because it fits someone else’s version of the truth.

My personality is such that I tend to seek the approval of others to help contribute to my own self-worth.  This need for validation led me towards ordained ministry for example.  I was not comfortable enough with the value of my own “ministry”.  I needed to make it “official”.  I came to terms with who I am and chose another path.  It’s all good.

This post is a declaration of independence of sorts.  I am learning not to cling to friends that reinforce an image of who I would like to be.  I don’t need a liberal friend to reassure me that I am not a racist or homophobe or whatever label is popular at the  moment.  I don’t need a clan of artists that tell me I can make art.  I don’t need a governing body to tell me that I am a good Christian. That’s not friendship.  It’s a crutch. My identity lies in my actions.  Those actions tell the story of who I am and what I believe.

I also don’t need “friends” who dismiss me and my feelings in pursuit of their own interests.  I don’t need to cling to friendships that heighten my anxiety and threaten my self-worth.

Perhaps some of these friendships weren’t really friendships at all.  Some are individuals from another part of my life.  Maybe the time has come for me to move on.  Maybe the friendship has served it’s purpose and it’s time to cut ties. None of my decisions were made lightly or without thought.

I do need friends that respect, challenge, and care for me.  A good friendship can transcend any difference in thought, belief and tradition.  It fosters sharing, debate and growth.

I do need friends.

I don’t need folks that feel a need to denigrate my views or choices because it differs from theirs.

I don’t need friends that continually tell me that I should feel guilty for being born white in America.  I am a descendent of indentured servants and if you believe the story you heard in  school about that simply being a great opportunity for a trip to America, you might want to do some research. They worked hard and overcame discrimination.  I am proud of who they are, but they do not define me.  I am responsible for my life and my choices.  I don’t lay that at their feet.   I carry a great burden of guilt for many things that I have done that have caused harm for others, but being born isn’t one of them.

I don’t need friends telling me that my vote endorses any negative or down-right horrifying behavior by others.  It’s called personal responsibility, folks.  You can’t blame me for the actions of thousands of other people.  I don’t have that kind of power.

I do have the power to care for myself.  In doing so, I am choosing to have the ability to care for others around me.  I must not forget to battle my own demons.  Then I have the energy and courage to work for good.

And last, my call  to action may not look like yours.  Just because I don’t choose to fight the battle you are fighting doesn’t make me wrong.  There are plenty of wrongs to right and more than enough problems to fight.  Quit wasting time and energy telling me that I’m not caring enough or doing enough because it doesn’t look like the work you are doing.

It is not my place to judge my friends.  And I am choosing friends that don’t judge me.

On the Fence

I staged my first organized protest against “injustice” when I was 16.  It had significant ramifications  that I have carried with me and used as guide when I feel righteous anger against anything, anywhere.

I was a leader in our church youth group and a member of our congregation invited us to their neighborhood pool for a swim party.  This was in the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1970’s.  There was another pool in our town…a city pool.  It was in a part of town that my father refused to let me go into to.  “That” part of town.  My father is a story unto himself.  We won’t get into that right now.  Getting invited to go to that pool was a big deal.

Then I found out that this pool was for only certain people.  People who were white. Remember this was the 1970’s  And the Rio Grande Valley.  Be outraged if you like, but please finish reading this.  Understand that I was outraged too.

Our pastor and his wife at the time had adopted a little girl from Bolivia.  In my mind, because she was not “white” she would be excluded from this swim party.  Unacceptable!

I started talking…loudly.  I demanded justice.  I canceled the pool party.    I interrupted a church service to stand up for her rights and the rights of everyone else who were being denied the right to swim in that pool.  I felt pretty good about myself.  I was working for social justice.  That’s what my church taught.

Only it turned out that nobody had any intention of keeping that little girl out of that pool. And if I had initiated a conversation about my concerns, it could all have been worked out peacefully…and I would not have made a complete jackass of myself.

That pool was not actually a neighborhood pool.  It had been built by a few residents in the neighborhood with their own money and they shared it with others who owned house in the neighborhood.  Because they were neighbors.  So it was a private pool.  It was “their” pool and they could do with it as they wished.

Was it “right”?  That’s a really big question.  Was it legal?  Yes.

Was I wrong to be on the lookout for injustice and all things unfair?  Nope.

Did I handle it incorrectly with extremism and a total lack of concern for everyone around me?  Absolutely.

I was forgiven by most.  There was a lot of head-shaking by quite a few.  After all, I was young and “didn’t really understand how the world worked”.  At the church’s senior luncheon, I was voted as the most likely to end up in jail as a result of a demonstration or protest of some kind.

I don’t regret this incident.  It’s contributed greatly to who I am.  I believe in fairness and equality.  I also believe in peaceful protest.  I believe in honoring the law.  I believe in making a decision about a person by the character he exhibits and I understand that we are all flawed and make mistakes…sometimes big mistakes…in our efforts to make things better.

I condemn violence and hate speech and the harassment of anyone who disagrees with you.  I can also understand some of it.  That doesn’t mean I endorse it.

I tend to sit on the fence and watch.  There’s a good view from there.  I’m not so far on one side of the pasture or the other that I can’t see far enough.  Sitting on the fence doesn’t mean I don’t ever get off of it.  I’ve gone left and I’ve gone right. I just try to sit on the fence and get a good lay of the land before I go running off in any direction.

When I was 16, I learned that I didn’t know everything.  I learned that listening and asking questions and initiating rational discussion is important.  I learned it the hard way.

I am 55 now.  I still don’t know everything.  I still believe in trying to make things right.

I do know that I’m as sick of the fear-mongering by some who are fighting for social justice as I am of the hateful speech and violence being promoted by some on the other side.

The view from the fence right now is unpleasant no matter which way I turn.  And the fence is getting pretty damn crowded as an increasing number of folks are speaking up and saying the extremists are not speaking for them. Being the loudest is not always the best.

I learned that when I was 16.

Sunday Lunch

Disclaimer:  I am not trying to be provocative, argumentative, divisive or dismissive.

Oh, and for my non-U.S.A. readers, my apologies.  I don’t mean to drag our mess onto your doorsteps, but this blog is about my life and this post is about my personal experience during Sunday lunch with some family and friends.  Also included is a personal observation which relates to it.  You may even be able to relate to some of it.  Please bear with me.

First, the observation.  In reading the news and social media posts over the past few days, one would start to believe that these United States of America are in total chaos and turmoil.  I am not saying that people aren’t emotional or hurt, or afraid, or that things are business as usual.  These are troubling times.  The melting pot has definitely been stirred. Lots and lots is going on.  I’m aware of it.  I recognize it.  I acknowledge it.

The thing I’ve noticed is that the news is a big part of the problem.   “News” is a business and there is big money in it.  Their goal is quite simply to attract our attention with whatever works.  The powers that be in the news industry aren’t interested in making this a better country or in improving our lives.  They are a business.

I know that there are acts of violence and harassment taking place right now, as I am typing this.  I know that discrimination and intimidation exists.  There are assholes of all colors, sizes, genders, and whatever else, committing heinous acts right this second…and last month and last year.  Maybe the acts are increasing.  I don’t know.  The news isn’t really sharing that information.

The news is just working overtime to report every single bad thing that is happening. They are busy throwing fuel on the fire of our fears.

It’s in their best interest.

Violence sells,  Atrocities sell.  Protest sells.  I don’t put a lot of faith in the major news sources.

I do, however know what happened during our lunch on Sunday.

We went to eat Chinese food.  We went to a Chinese buffet.  It was new to me, but my kiddos have eaten there before so we went.  It was crowded.  We waited in line for 10 minutes to pay and over 20 minutes to eat.  There was probably a good 200 people there. It’s a big, big place.

As we were waiting, I was looking around and doing what I normally do – people watching. After a bit, I noticed that there were 6 white folks there. Yep, we were definitely in the minority.

The minority as far as color went, that is.  The main thing I noticed is that we were just a bunch of people, families mainly, that were there to eat some Chinese food (and chicken tenders of course, because you can’t have a Chinese buffet without chicken tenders.  Oh, and donuts)

Nobody looked frightened or sad or fearful for their very life.  Nobody was crying or angry, or waving a sign.  Honestly, there was a bit of high emotion whenever the shrimp ran out, but they brought out some more so it all worked out just fine.

“We” said hello and thank you and excuse me and “they” said hello and thank you and excuse me right back.  It was just fine.

It was more than fine.  It was Sunday and we all sat at our tables and shared a meal.  It was  as fine a Communion meal as I’ve ever shared.

It’s not all doom and gloom.

There’s good stuff happening too.

I’m not saying that there isn’t work to be done and that everything is just fine because I had a nice lunch.

I’m not saying that there aren’t horrible things going on and that there is nothing to worry about.

I am trying to say that it might be better to quit relying on the news industry for all our information about what is going on in America.  Maybe we should be spending more time getting out there and venturing outside of our comfort zone.  Maybe it would be a good idea to actually talk to someone face to face who has a different viewpoint or opinion than we do.  Even better, maybe just listen to them.

 

 

The Sun Came Up

The sun did come up to day.  It’s not shining brightly, but it’s there.  I am grateful.  I can’t say that I spent any amount of time as I went to bed last night worrying about whether the sun would rise or not.   It’s just not helpful for me to worry about stuff that’s out of my control.  There is nothing I can do to assure that the sunrise will occur.  I’m just grateful that is has so far.  And optimistic enough to plan on it happening again tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not doing “enough” to make the world a better place.  I admire a number of people that I believe are doing a great job of it.  I try to emulate some of their behavior.  I’m sure that I fall short.

I think a lot about what I am doing and what I should be doing. I worry about being “enough” and doing “enough”.

Is it selfish of me to buy a new art journal or should I donate the funds to the local food bank?

Do I need a new pair of shoes when there are people in the world doing without?

Is it right to complain when my air-conditioning goes out when much of the world will never even have that luxury?

Am I a horrible person to be resentful at times when I feel that I have less than someone else…or turn a blind eye to the fact that I have so much more than many?

There is much wrong in this world.  That has always been the case.  It would be easy to fall into the pattern of just not caring at all.  To turn a blind eye to all of it. To give up, or not to try at all because it seems hopeless.

To be sure, there are many problems to be solved.  I think that it is unlikely that we, as members of the human race, can easily even identify what all of the problems are, much less prioritize and figure out how to solve them.  It’s just not that simple.

I’m a reasonably intelligent and fairly well educated individual.  This all makes my head and heart ache.

There is so much anger and hurt in this country right now. So much name-calling and hurtful rhetoric.  So much reactionary thinking and actions.

We are all affected.

“Win” and “Lose” are inadequate words to use in this situation.  They don’t appropriately describe anything about this situation at all.  Nothing is finished.  The work is not beginning or ending…it is continuing.  It’s not a race in a straight line and not really a race at all.  I don’t expect a finish line to be crossed in my lifetime or that of my children.

The race we should be concerning ourselves with is the human race.  The people that we know, those we have yet to meet and those that will remain strangers to us.

To acknowledge that one groups’ fears, anxieties and needs cannot take priority over another..  That we all have value and are important.

We must all dream of and work towards a better world…a world where me must do the work we are called to do.

We must all live in this world…the world that the sun rose upon today.

We must do this together in our own small or large way.

We must be thoughtful and kind.

There is not just an “us” and a “them”.  That is divisive thinking.

There is me and you.

With a big job to do.

I don’t have any glib answer.

If only it were that easy.

I do know that my thoughts and study in the upcoming days will be about the definition and meaning of words like “rights” and “needs”.

What are my rights?  What are our rights?

What do I need?

What happens when my perceived rights infringe upon the rights of others?

What is fair in that case?

How often do I take someone else’s word for what is right and fair and just?

 

Am I sensitive to the needs of others and what impact my choices and decisions have upon them?

Am I being selfish or uncaring, or am I standing up for what is good and just and fair – for myself and for others?  Where is that line, and is is static or fluid?

For now, I am going to talk to my daughter about what is going on in this country today for just a little bit and then…

we are going to get back to work doing the things we need to do in anticipation of tomorrow’s sunrise.

 

 

 

Not an Easy Day

To be more forthright, it was a damn hard day.

I should have stayed off of facebook, but I didn’t.  I got sucked into reading post after post and comment after comment.

I resisted commenting for the most part.  I did not contribute to the inflammatory and reactionary rhetoric.  I “liked” a couple of things that people said and I typed “peace” a few times.

Honestly, I didn’t recognize a couple of my friends from the comments they were typing.  If I didn’t know them, I would consider it unlikely that we could be friends based on some of their comments today..  But, I do know them.  I’ve shared meals, cares, concerns and prayers with them.  I’ve had lively conversations and faced change with them. I care for them and have history and memories with them.  They are my friends.  I understand their fear and apprehension.  I did not expect the blanket condemnation of anyone who disagreed with their vote.

But, we humans are complex creatures.  We all carry our history, our family, our experience and our secrets.

To try and categorize anyone with a word or label is unrealistic.  It is unfair.  It is short-sighted.   We, as human beings, defy classification on such a simple level.

I am not the person I was yesterday and am not yet the person I will be tomorrow.  I make mistakes.  I try to learn from them.  My actions may not always live up to the hope I have for myself.  I talk a good game.  I try to love others, but honestly, I’m still trying to figure out how to love myself.  I fall short.  I fall down.  I get up although sometimes it takes a while.  I try to listen to others and be respectful of their opinions even if I don’t agree.  I change my mind.  I grow.

There are, however, some things I hold to be true.  The most important thing being that we are nothing more and nothing less than children of God.

We are born to be unique, creative and loving people.  We are different from one another in many ways, and rightly so.  We are human.  We will not always agree.  We have different vocations and battles to fight. We are also alike in many ways.  We are complicated.  This all weaves together to create this world.

The differences are easy.  Living together in harmony, not so much.

Change is hard.  Change is more than hard.  It is frightening.  It also happens whether we like it or not.

Change is happening.  It happened four years ago.  It happened yesterday.  It will happen tomorrow.

Here’s the hard part for me…

for I have a deep-seated need to be liked – to have the positive affirmation of others…

Nevertheless, this is what I believe:

  • That I am damn lucky to have been born in these United States of America.  I am privileged to live here and to enjoy the freedoms that I have.
  • I believe in peace.  I also firmly believe that peace does not just happen.  Sometimes it must be fought for.  I deplore violence and war.  I support the armed forces of this country and the sacrifices that they have made and continue to make.  We are free and enjoy the rights that we have because of their service.
  • I will always recognize and honor the American flag, the pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem regardless of who holds office in this country.  These symbols represent the citizens of this land and the history behind it.There is no country on earth that I wish to move to.  This is my home.
  • Peaceful protest is an important part of our country’s history and legacy. The destruction of property, looting, burning and violence are in no way peaceful.
  • Generalities are an ignorant way to group people.  We should be careful of the way we label and categorize others that do not agree with us or that we do not understand. Furthermore, unless you can see into the heart and mind of another, do not presume to know who they are or to understand their actions.

I voted yesterday.

I did not vote for Clinton.

How I voted is not the sum total of who I am.  It does not define me.  It was a difficult decision.  My vote was not cast without a great deal of research, thought, and prayer.  In a perfect world, I would have had different choices.  I don’t get to live in perfect.  I am aware that my vote has the potential to impact some people that I care about in a negative manner.   I made a choice. There was no option that would please or serve everyone. I believe that both of the major parties failed the American people.  I hope for a better future where everyone is heard and where everyone matters.

I am not a racist.  I try to walk with love in my heart for all.  I try to get to know people before I make a decision about who they are.  There are people in this world that I don’t particularly like.  It’s not because of what they look like.  It’s because of who they are. I was not really raised to be open-minded. It is a choice I make.  Sometimes I mess up.  Most times, I don’t.  I am hopeful.

I am a women.  I have been sexually assaulted. I believe that life is sacred.  I also believe that sometimes women have to make hard choices.  Those choices should not be taken lightly.  I am not qualified to tell someone else what they should do.  I have made the hard choice to carry on with a pregnancy that could very well have killed me and left my family without me.  I made that decision.  It was mine to make.  I would not judge any woman who chose a different path.  Their journey is not mine.

I believe in love.  I believe that finding someone in this world that loves you, makes you feel safe and cares for you, is the greatest gift ever. I found that person. I would hope it to happen for everyone that seeks such a relationship.  I believe in being true to who you are. It is not my right or my desire to tell anyone who to love or who to be.  I would simply hope that you find love and happiness and are free to be true to yourself.  I support you.

I believe that we have an obligation to help and support each other.  To feed the hungry, shelter those in need and support those in crisis. I don’t always live into this belief as much as I should, but I am trying.  My table is an open table.  All are welcome.  We’ve had some good times around our table.  The gatherings have been comprised of many diverse individuals.  I hope that tradition continues.

After the facebook postings I have read today, I am afraid that I will lose friends with this admission.  I have been the recipient of hurtful words today even though they were unintentional.  That’s the problem with social media. It is so easy to send out words without a clear understanding of where they might end up.

I am fearful for the future.  I have been fearful in the past.  Nothing has changed with recent events.  My husband and I have worked hard.  We have an uncertain financial future.  We have done our best to raise our children to be good people.  I am proud of them all.  I am fearful for the future that they travel into.

I believe that change is necessary.

Politics as usual has got to stop.

The government can’t keep spending money it doesn’t have.   That’s not the way it works. It doesn’t work in my house and it shouldn’t be tolerated in The White House.

We are living in a dangerous world.  We must be realistic about the threats to our safety. Rational steps must be taken to keep our country safe.

We lived without health insurance for years.  For most of my children’s childhood.  We have insurance now through my husband’s employer.  It is not cheap.  It requires a significant portion of our income.  And, we have significant medical debt that was not covered by that insurance.  Health insurance is not the only issue.  Out of control medical expenses, a lack of access to medical care for many, and an awareness of the importance of mental health care are just as important.

I believe all lives matter.  All lives.  That doesn’t mean that I value any one group over another.  It means that… all lives matter. All. Lives.

There are so many issues facing this country and the world. That’s not new.  There are problems to be solved.  It’s obvious that we don’t even all agree on what issues are the most important, much less, how to solve any of them.

We need to quit relying on the government for everything.  We need to care for each other. Listen to each other.  Really listen.  Try to be understanding.  Exercise patience.  Comfort one another.  Respect diversity.  Practice tolerance.  Neighbor to neighbor.  One on one. You and me.  Different and yet the same.

Tomorrow morning, I will get up and go about my business.  I will live into the needs of my day, the needs of my family, and those that I care about.  I will attempt to reach out, in my own small way, to make a difference in the lives of those that I can.

I will live my little life in the best way possible, think hopeful thoughts, pray for guidance, and hopefully continue to share this journey with my friends.