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.

 

 

 

Packaging

  • I’ve struggled with whether to write this post or not.  With how to word it so as not to offend anyone.  Considering all the possibilities of what might go wrong, whether it needs to be said or not, does it matter…

But, the thoughts just keep swirling in my head, refusing to be quieted.  It’s my blog, my little space in the world, and nobody has to read it or like it, but maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Here goes…

What I’d like to say is please don’t package me.  Don’t look at me and make assumptions about who I am and stick me in a box and put a label on me.

I’m a complex person – because I’m a human being.  It just goes with the territory.  I make decisions, I change my mind, I make mistakes, I try to learn from them and I dream of a better world, but live in this one.

I am not a Democrat or a Republican or any other “party” for that matter.  I make my own decisions and prefer not to follow the crowd.  I don’t even know for sure what those party labels mean anymore.  So many issues and so many decisions – how can it all fit under one umbrella.

I guess I’m not a liberal or a conservative either.  I’m uncomfortable choosing one or the other.  Once again, it depends on the issue, the facts, my belief system and how it all fits into the very real world we live in.

I am a follower of Christ although I am not actively involved in a worship community.  I’ve become uncomfortable with the “Christian” label for much the same reason as any other.  So many extremes within the “Christian” community and a lot of directions and movements that don’t appeal to me.  I’ve chosen to go back to the Bible and my understanding of Jesus’ teachings and make my own way from there.

Here’s the tricky one – skin color.  White, black, brown, yellow, red, or whatever.  I’m an artist.  Two of those aren’t even a color and they are all wildly inaccurate depictions anyway.  Millions of people in each group and one label to identify them all?  What the hell?  That’s a pretty simplistic view of the world isn’t it?  White culture.  What does that even mean?  Black culture?  Same issue.  Who made up those categories and made it the standard by which we identify each other?

I suppose that it would make life easier if we could categorize everyone so easily and know what someone believes, thinks and how they will act based on appearance.  I’ve never found it to be true though.

I live in a manufactured home community out in the country in Texas…the South.  I’m a stay-at-home Mom and homeschool.  What assumptions are often made about me?  I’m an uneducated redneck because I live in a “trailer”.  I’m a religious, right-wing zealot because I homeschool.  I’m a back-to-earth, hippy, granola mom because I stay at home with my kids.  Or, my personal favorite, a gun-toting, survivalist, racist because I live in the country, in Texas.  These have all happened, for real.

Maybe it would make more sense to get to know me rather than stick a label on me and call it done.  Let me help you out…

  • I live where I live because it worked out economically and fits in with the lifestyle choices we make.  In short, we’ve got a big-ass house that we can make the payments on.
  • I stay at home because I love my kids, and my husband and I felt that it was the right choice for our family.  No judgment from me if you work outside the home.  Your life, your choices…we all need to make decisions that work for us.
  •  I homeschool for a number or personal reasons…it works for my kids’ learning styles, our family, and fits in with the lifestyle choices we’ve made.
  • I’ve got two Bachelor’s degrees and started on my Master’s.  I’d probably still be in college if I could.
  • I’ve got a garden and we eat a reasonably healthy diet. Nothing extreme though.  I’m not a good enough gardener that we could ever live off the land.  And I’m not sure that I could ever give up Cheetos or Oreos forever.

I could go on, but maybe I’ve made my point.  Let me sum it up for you…

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, please stop by for dinner.  I don’t care what “color” you are, where or who you worship (or if you worship at all), where you come from, what you wear (I prefer some garb of some kind please) your occupation, your life-style choices, your economic level, your political affiliations, your mental health diagnosis, your heritage, your decorating scheme, your gun-carrying status (or lack thereof), or your dietary restrictions (just let me know ahead of time).  If I’ve left anything out, let me know.

I do expect two things:  Respect and kindness for me and everyone else around the table, and lively discussion that does not degenerate into labeling, name-calling, belittling or generalizations.

I don’t hate anybody.  I also don’t love everybody (I know I’m supposed to, but I haven’t gotten there yet).  And honestly, there’s some people I don’t like very much.  I don’t feel the need to apologize for anything someone else has done, but I will empathize with your hurt.  I will try to apologize when I screw up if I realize I did so.  If not, please tell me what’s wrong so we can work it out.

That’s the best place to start…me and you.  One on one.  One discussion and one friendship at a time.  I can’t fix the whole world.  Nobody can.  But we can each work together.  Just don’t stick me in a box and put a label on me…and I’ll try to treat you with the same courtesy.

Unfriended

“Unfriended” – is that even a word?  I suppose it is because it happened to me…on facebook.  Today.

Honestly, I’m the type of person who just wants everyone to like me.  Insecurity?  I don’t know what it is, but I get really upset when I realize that someone doesn’t like me.  I immediately start to question my behavior, my attitude, myself – and conclude that I must have been in the wrong.

This time, that didn’t happen.  Maybe I’ve been making progress in silencing my negative critic. Maybe I’ve changed a bit in the last year and am more confident in who I am.  In looking over what happened to cause this “unfriending”,  I don’t regret what I said.  In fact, I don’t even think that I should have remained silent.

In short, she posted an inflammatory comment and I responded.  She was offended. She suggested that I unfriend her.  I replied that I don’t unfriend friends because we don’t agree 100% on something.  She unfriended me.

I don’t want to turn this blog into a rant on controversial topics.  I try my best to be a kind, considerate individual who respects everyone.  I may not agree with you.  There may be subjects we agree to disagree on.  There may even be topics that we mutually agree to never broach.

Am I perfect? Hell No!  Do I have my share of prejudices?  Yes.  We all do.   I love this quote from Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast Ireland for that very reason:

If we had been born where they were born and taught what they were taught we would believe what they believe.

I try to be open-minded and think (and re-think) through issues.  There are times I find it necessary to redefine what I believe and there are some things that I stand by steadfastly.

I believe we live in a scary world where bad shit happens.  Sad, tragic events that leave me afraid, depressed and weary.

And I firmly believe that the journalists (and their corporations) can be biased and exploitive.  Bad news sells better than good news.  They are in a rush to break a story and by the time all the facts emerge, it’s old news and we never hear of it.

I also know that we live in a world where good is happening…all the time.  Change is occurring.  Slowly.  But, we’ll rarely see it featured in the media.

People are complex, glorious creations.  We will never agree on everything…and we shouldn’t.  I wouldn’t care to live in a world where individuality was sacrificed on the altar of conformity.

I believe in human rights.  There are some things that all should have…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come to mind.  But…you can’t provide someone their human rights by taking away the rights of someone else.  That would be like building up someone by criticizing someone else.  Equality is equality.  It must be balanced and fair for all involved.

I believe in the American dream.  But that was founded on the precept that you work for what you get.  No one handed those first pioneers anything.  They struggled and worked for it.  Some succeeded.  Some didn’t.  Life isn’t fair.  Bad shit happens.  To all.  There are good times…and bad.  If you’re looking for perfect…being a human being may have been the wrong choice.

I believe in one race.  The human race.  It’s what I write on every form I fill out.  Race?  Human.  I’ve had a clerk tell me that’s an incorrect answer.  I replied that it was the only answer.

I could go on and on citing specific situations and offering my opinion, but I think I’ve said enough.  In short, we all have our opinions and there are going to be differences in our thinking.  Sometimes it’s a good thing to keep our mouth shut.  Sometimes it’s important to stand up for what we believe in.

My opinion will occasionally be expressed here.  That’s probable.  I hope it will always be well thought out and rational.  But…I have been know to mess up…a lot.

I don’t want to live in a bubble where everyone around thinks the same way I think and believes the same way I believe.  Diversity is a beautiful thing.

Let’s agree to this…if something is ever written here that bothers you or that you disagree with strongly…let’s discuss it.  Let’s see if we can meet in the middle or agree to disagree.  The world needs more friendship, more conversation, more civilized debate, more open-mindedness, more positive interactions…

“Unfriending” is not the answer.

a race vs. a steady pace

I shared that last week was crazy around here…like a race, with Sunday night being the finish line.  It isn’t a bad thing to live life like that once in awhile.  Especially if some of the running is with folks you like to be around and you’re doing stuff you want to be doing.

However, I draw the line at that fast pace being a regular occurrence.  There was a time in my life when that was the norm, but I don’t live there anymore.  I once read somewhere that some people are “rabbits” and some are “turtles”.  Some thrive on a hectic, event-filled life and others just like to go along at a steady pace.

I don’t mind being a turtle.  I’m giving up multi-tasking.  I feel like I miss out on too much detail and joy when I’m not giving something (or someone) my full attention.

I don’t enjoy moving towards a finish line and the next item on an agenda, instead of enjoying the progress along the way.  I am definitely evolving into a journey rather than the destination sort of individual.  It’s been a process (a journey), but I’m working on it with intention.

This week has been an event full, but uneventful time. I’ve been busy with part-time jobs and home-life.  There hasn’t been a lot of rest, but I’ve made sure to schedule some in.  I’m trying to maintain a marathoner’s steady pace that will result in long term change rather than the sprint of last week.

I’m taking a large load of clutter to share with our library thrift shop.  The trash can was full of discarded items, but an equal amount is going to the recycling center today.  It isn’t enough to save the world, but it’s a lot from one household that just started recycling again.  The new recycling center I set up is working out alright.  Not perfect, but adequate.

Our financial situation is looking up.  I’ve acquired some part-time income and we are trying a variation of Dave Ramsey’s Snowball plan to get out of debt.  I’m optimistic about working it all out for the first time in a looooong time.  Being out of debt would be such a relief.

We’ve simplified our lifestyle and spending quite a bit,  but there are still some things I’d like to do in the future.  Baby-steps…a steady pace…too much change, too fast is not a realistic solution.

Sometimes, it’s hard to trod along slowly when I see others racing past me. “Keeping up with the Jones” is one of the reasons I’m not where I’d like to be in life in the first place.

I dream of a simple, contented lifestyle.  A tidy, comfortable home that we can be a family in.  A steady income.  No debts.  The freedom to enjoy a few things…an occasional movie at the theater, art supplies, a steak for my husband now and again, and the things we need without doing without in other areas.

But overall, life is good around here.  I’m a pretty happy turtle…I mean person!