Be Like the Bee

busy-bee-meme

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The Will To Live

Does all life have value and purpose, even the not so shiny ones? I sure believe it does and so thankfully does Bill from Unshakable Hope, who writes the most inspiring and thought provoking posts from the perspective of a devout Christian and long term ALS suffer. Give it a read, it’s well worth your time.

Unshakable Hope

I almost made it through a whole year without being hospitalized or having any additional health problems. Almost. Then, with just a few days left in 2016, I caught a cold. The “commoncold” is not much more than an annoyance for otherwise healthy people, but for someone like me with weakened breathing muscles and only 30% of my lungs functioning, the common cold is much more than an annoyance.

On the morning of the last day of the year, I was having an extremely difficult time breathing even wearing my breathing mask. In addition to that, I couldn’t keep anything down. I was a mess, more than usual. Mary and I both assumed it was pneumonia again so she called 911 and within minutes we were in an ambulance en route to the hospital. ALS has brought us one adventure after another over the last 20 years.

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Off With Her Head!

bird-of-paradise

“Oh you can’t help that”, said the cat, “we’re all mad here.”

Today I thought a lot about the beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers that are flocking like mad in my backyard.  Why, you ask?  As a distraction from my Facebook feed, which is blowing up right now over a 59 year old grandmother from Michigan who just got confirmed as the new Secretary of Education.  Once the virtual mob had moved on from tar and feathers and started calling for the guillotine, I’d had enough, so off to the backyard I went.  Ahhhhh, such pretty flowers, they really do look an awful lot like birds too.

So who is this person and what’s all the kerfuffle about? Her name is Betsy DeVos and apparently she has some scary ideas about giving low income parents more control over which schools their children can attend.  DeVos has been involved in education reform for decades and in 2010 created an organization called the American Federation for Children that backs politicians on board with expanding voucher programs and charter schools.

Outraged yet?  Well get this, she also feels that public schools have become an ineffective monopoly, where too many decisions get made for the benefit of the unions that control them over the needs of students.  These schools of course end up in the poorest of neighborhoods, trapping families in a rotten system that has little incentive to change.

Ms. Devos thinks offering parents a choice by way of private school vouchers gives kids a shot at a good education, while at the same time bringing much needed competition to failing schools who are forced to reform.  In her own words, “Above all, I believe every child, no matter their ZIP code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.”

I know, crazy talk, right? Where’s my pitchfork?

Yes, I’ve read the negative reports on Betsy DeVos’s record of charter school and voucher programs in Michigan and these concerns are not invalid, but nothing I’ve seen provides justification for the devil horns and tail she’s being smeared with.

There are  positive reports  too that show marked improvement from her efforts, which also should not be overlooked.  And here is a more balanced view; long, but nuanced and  it provides a detailed look in to Ms. Davos and the complex issues that ensconce education reform.

I’ve been reading off and on about Betsy Devos for the past 20 years and quite honestly I’ve always been impressed.  She has a strong passion for helping kids and a hard core dedication for fighting the bloated, change resistant  bureaucracy blob that is our education system. She believes in private sector efforts though and a more decentralized process that empowers families instead of the federal government and unions.

Oh the horror, it’s just shocking, because everyone knows what public education in America needs is more bureaucracy, right?

Anyway, back to the garden I go…..just love those flowers!

 

Posted in fear mongering, Political, Uncategorized, Women's Empowerment | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments

Gotta Represent…..

pats

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The Calcified Mind

barnacles

“Tolerance implies a respect for another person, not because he is wrong or even because he is right, but because he is human.”-John Cogley

Did you know that a barnacle spends its entire life stuck in one place?  Yes, there a barnacle sits, with each year adding layer upon layer of calcification to cement it in place. They don’t exactly sit however, as their forehead glands contain the glue, so they fix themselves upside down to a solid surface and survive by using  feathery limbs to pull in passing plankton for nutrients.

The common barnacle reminds me of our  politicized culture, the way so many people seem permanently stuck to a fixed narrative way of thinking, with their heads planted firmly in the sand to protect against outside views. There they remain, asses up and arms flailing about to catch any and all news/information that confirms their views and hardens their positions.

It’s  not surprising then that our political discourse has reached endemic levels of nastiness, the question is what’s to be done about it?  Probably not much, as each side literally speaks a different language than the other and their differences too great.  Some have hearts so hardened that those others can’t merely be human beings who want what’s best for society but have other ideas on how to get there, they must be morally deficient, evil, stupid, etc….

Beneath all the churn though lies the age old debate over the proper role of government in our society and the values we want it to represent. It’s been brewing for years and is finally coming to a head and thus we are only doing what Americans have always done, which is battle out differences of opinion via democratic means.

Admittedly this can be exhilarating.  It’s exhausting though too because now EVERYTHING is political and thanks to social media, we are always in crisis mode. And Facebook has devolved in to a partisan swampland of half true “news” stories, preachy shaming essays (ha, this one kinda is too!) and snarky political memes.  What happened to all the funny cat videos anyway?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good spirited political debate and am a big believer in people expressing their views, if for no other reason than it helps shatter the cartoon character stereotype people hold about their “enemies”.  Easy to do with a politician you abhor but don’t know personally, much harder if it’s your sweet uncle Joe or your super smart co-worker Shannon that supports that politician and his views.

So, sharing opinions is good and much needed for a healthy democracy to remain open and free, but there are helpful and unhelpful ways to go about doing this.

For example,  while obsessively posting divisive political  links/memes on Facebook may seem like just the right thing to do, (they will finally see the light!), you’re really only preaching to the choir, while the rest think it’s time for you to get help with your passive aggressive issues. Not helpful.

ALSO NOT HELPFUL:

  • Responding to a politician’s obnoxious, disrespectful and crude behavior, by being obnoxious, disrespectful and crude.
  • Dropping someone as a friend a because of their political positions.
  • Continually posting insulting remarks about a political party/person without concern for the 50% of your friends/family that are supporters of that party/person
  • Making comments on line that you would never say to someone in person.
  • Succumbing to herd mentality outrage over the latest issue de jour instead of taking the time to objectively research things and form your own opinion.
  • Comparisons of today’s political situation to Hitler, Nazism, etc…
  • Demonizing a person’s political views so you can dismiss them instead of having to think critically and form a rational response.
  • Blindly sharing “news” that blatantly serves a political agenda without vetting for accuracy.
  • Only watching, reading and following news outlets that align with your political views and then lecturing others that don’t on how intolerant they are to outside ideas.
  • Assuming negative character traits about someone (or groups of people) because of their political affiliation.

HELPFUL:

Keeping in mind the humanity of other people you disagree with. That the beliefs they hold and which you find so repulsive does not make them monsters or mindless simpletons, because truthfully you know nothing about them and why they think the way they do. Keep your heart soft and your mind open and you may even learn a thing or two.

And remember, you are not a barnacle, you are free to change your position, to think differently and, gasp, even  be wrong about things!

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”-Confucius

 

 

 

Posted in fear mongering, Personal growth, Political, Uncategorized, Women's Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , | 39 Comments

One Nation

clinton-trump.jpg

My sentiments today are the same as when Barack Obama took office. Whether you like the new President or not, you have to respect the peaceful transfer of power our nation goes through; a process that in many other countries is still decided by the barrel of a gun. We live in an exceptional country, whose government is designed around protecting the individual citizen over the power of the state and where the freedoms we enjoy are the envy of the world.

To many, this is a hopeful time of renewal and expectant change, to many others a time of fear and discouragement on what the future may bring. This is exactly where we were at in 2012 mind you, but with the players having switched sides. So whether you are up in arms and protesting the new administration or dancing with joy, just remember to always respect your fellow citizens, even if, or maybe especially if you don’t agree with them.

Together we conquer, divided we fall.

Posted in Personal growth, Political, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

An American Tale

Hidden Figures Day 17              Photo Credit Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox

Have you seen the movie Hidden Figures yet? If not, make sure to treat yourself to it soon. It’s an extremely enjoyable tale from a remarkable period in history when three brilliant young African American women helped NASA launch the country’s first space mission.

And please don’t be fooled in to thinking it’s a black movie, or a chick flick or a civil rights thing. Yes, the movie touches on all of this but its central focus was so much more and it really struck a chord deep inside me. Honestly, I’ve been unable to stop thinking about the movie since seeing it several days ago. Continue reading

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A Very Strange & Interesting Day

Today was a  very strange and interesting day. Unexpected phone calls, bizarre conversations as if I was speaking Mandarin (had I known how) and some eerily timed electrical failures had my head spinning by noon. The weirdness kept going from there.

So strange and interesting was my day that I was not at all surprised to open my front door later and find fish swimming in the trees.  Continue reading

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Home is Where the Paper Plates Are

home-7

It is a plain and simple fact that my house will never be mistaken for Martha Stewart’s.  My wall art comes from the Internet, my room “themes” are determined by fit and affordability and the thought of a DIY embroidering project makes me break out in hives. Oh and things are a little messy at times too.  No, my house is not designer ready, but I’ve done my best to make it a home that welcomes. Continue reading

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2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 3

Some very good words here by Citizen Tom on the importance of being a good citizen and what key traits are necessary to prevent a country’s inevitable slide in to tyranny as history suggests will happen if not continually fought against.

Citizen Tom

Conflict in narrative comes in many forms. "Man versus man", such as is depicted here in the battle between King Arthur and Mordred, is particularly common in traditional literature, fairy tales and myths. (from here) Conflict in narrative comes in many forms. “Man versus man”, such as is depicted here in the battle between King Arthur and Mordred, is particularly common in traditional literature, fairy tales and myths. (from here)

In PART 1 of this series, I spoke of a personal goal for government, a stable and efficient government that allows us to fulfill The Great Commission Jesus gave us, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In PART 2, we considered the fundamental obstacle to such a goal, we are sinners. We need a government to protect our rights from each other. Yet, we cannot be trusted not to abuse the powers of our government. Therefore, to protect our family, friends, neighbors and countrymen, each of us must take part as citizens in the governing of this nation as best we can.  How? We need a strategy.

Whether that strategy is of God…

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