The hollowing out of public education – no longer teaching civics and good citizenship – and those in power feeding our fears, telling us to fear anyone who does not look, act, or believe as we do.
So much is happening around us it is overwhelming – on purpose.
As one person we cannot possibly hold onto all the terror.
Hitler rose to power and was followed so fervently because he, like Trump, knew how to manipulate and feed into fear. How is 150,000, and counting, dead Americans acceptable? How is taking children and babies from their mothers and families for seeking a better life in America not reviled?
Trump successfully got people to believe “those” people are the rapists, murderers, gang members, looters, lazy grifters – when he is credibly accused, with current court proceedings against him by at least 2 women, backed up by at least 32 other women, of rape and molestation, and several of those he harmed were children. He has robbed people of their wealth, and his wealthy ‘gang’ is wreaking havoc across our nation. I’d rather see a territorial street gang in one city, than a cross-country crime spree USING OUR MONEY!
But that does not bother anyone? That does not disqualify him?
Learned helplessness is a thing. But I am not helpless. There are answers, and they are not easy, and they require dedication and sacrifice – sometimes our lives – but not one movement has changed anything without great disruption to the status quo. My right to vote was granted through spilled blood. Our right to direct representation was a desperate fight.
We are there. Oppressed people, and thankfully their allies, have come to the point where their oppression is so onerous that they would rather die fighting mob and dictatorial rule than be stomped on anymore.
And the resistance to their uprising among other, mostly ignorant, citizens is painful to witness.
We are so good at xenophobic responses when it is the people who look like America’s idea of the “right” color and class status doing the greatest harm.
Yeah, I could calm down and go for a walk or something, and I do step away and recharge, but this is not ending.
Maybe this is what my life has been all about. I have seen the writing on the wall since I was young. I did not witness an assassinated President, and his brother, or Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X, or any other freedom fighters in our nation, but notice how the ones who are killed are fighting oppression.
Other modern presidents have had assassination attempts, such as Reagan, but it was a crazed person, not a coordinated effort to kill his message or movement.
This world is ruled by evil, but good gets to moderate it as best we can. I am sure I contribute to the evil in ways I might not even realize, but I am championing good to win.
Our summer has been hot and humid – and I’ve already heard “Hot enough for ya?” greetings where a nod and a commiserating look suffices in answer.
We have been edging into drought since late May again for the third year in a row. There was no rain for over a month, but then a string of storms descended, like a fire hose on a match, and the town crews got busy removing felled branches and trees in the aftermath, while the electric company restores power, and residents clean up their yards and assess damage to their gardens or land.
We were lucky. Our garden sits to the side of the house, looking like it has no idea what the bother was.
Our neighbor’s weren’t so lucky.
A large tree crashed down, gouging into a long swath of the neighbor’s prized asparagus patch, the tree branches swiping through most of the row of blackberry bushes he planted last fall – sending not-quite-ripe berries scattered through their yard. Their asparagus which had grown tall and spindly with seeds, is no more. The roots are deep though, and next spring will likely see a new crop – and if the neighbors are brave, they’ll plant blackberry bushes again.
We pick ourselves back up and move on, if we haven’t been flattened. Maybe pieces were scattered over our soul’s yard – crumpled, raw, and overwhelming to look at, but we start somewhere. Maybe picking up bigger pieces and try to salvage whatever we can.
The job is too big for a day, and time fills in with other necessary tasks, and days turn to weeks turn to months – but we see it out there. It’s not going anywhere until we do something about it.
After inspecting our oblivious growing garden, I pull on my work gloves and start picking up branches and twigs in the neighbor’s yard and put them on the burn pile for next spring.
My neighbor is pushing bigger limbs with his tractor back into the tangle of vines and poplar trees that line the back of his property. I wave and smile and after he’s through we look at the damage together.
“Could have been worse,” he says with a grimace.
“Could have been better too,” I think, but just give a sympathetic smile and return to picking up some of the debris before heading back into the coolness of my house.
“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom!” I just kept saying it over and over for several days, as if I could conjure you. I was lost. My guttural howls could not take away the emptiness.
I knew I would not be prepared. How could I be?
I thought our relationship was solid and clean, but regret has inched in anyway. Why couldn’t I save you? Did I do enough? Was I a good daughter, Mom? Did you feel loved and cared about?
I am limited, and I wish with all my heart I could have made your life better. I never got beyond thinking about how to do that, and everything we talked about doing felt like moving a mountain.
I imagine you’re free and flying around in the spirit world – or have you reincarnated (which was your fervent desire)?
It breaks my heart to think you might have stepped into another life – abandoning me again. I was too much for you – your children were too much – so you left, even if not physically. I was a child and needed you Mom. All your children needed you. I still feel like I need you.
I can understand how difficult your life was, and I know you loved us, but love is also a verb.
I forgave you as life went on, and I thought we got whole. I guess the onion metaphor is apt, but how many damn layers are there?
You did make living amends when I had my son, your only grandson. You were such a great grandmother. You helped heal so many of my childhood wounds, but your passing opened them again.
I wanted you to be here my whole life, as unrealistic as that is. I would have kept you suffering in your painful body for my selfish desire to have you near me, like I owned you or something. Like you somehow belonged to me – and I think that’s a trauma bit from when I was so very little, and so much terribleness was happening in our family, and in the world – just like it is again.
You’re lucky Mom. You got out. You’re not suffering anymore.
Do you miss being here though? Or is it better “there”? Where is“there”? Are you conscious? Is consciousness outside of the body, and we just believe it’s in the brain, or are you completely gone?
Please forgive me for my lack, Mom. Please forgive what I couldn’t manage. I don’t know if it was my job to make life the best it could be for you, but it feels like I failed you.
I liked our conversations and our mostly shared values and morals. I am grateful for the time I got with you. I am so glad I was close enough physically and emotionally to help you and spend time with you regularly.
I had wanted to do a “Tuesdays with Morrie” thing with you, but never got it together. I was going to call it “Wednesdays with Mom.” I have never been accused of being original.
Today is Wednesday, so, I guess I’ve begun. If you’re answering me, I’m too dull to hear it. I keep waiting for a sign that you’re still around, but I would doubt whatever you would send me anyway – and you probably know that – so why waste your energy?
Energy is something I absolutely know you still have because of the first law of thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed. It can only change form or increase. Physicist I am not. I don’t even understand much of it beyond the simplest of terms. Not that I don’t try. I blame my love of standing in front of Dad’s Lincoln Continental and breathing in the leaded gas fumes coming out of the car’s grill for my intelligence deficits. Sweet Jesus, why didn’t anyone stop me? I was 5? Did you even know about that, Mom? I doubt it.
Now, of course, we know that the leaded gas was spewing toxic lead into the air and landing everywhere, especially into my tender lungs and organs and bones as I stood there breathing deeply.
You wanted to make it to 103 years to best your Dad’s 102 years on earth, but you missed 90 by two months instead. Still, not a bad stretch.
I believed you though. My whole life you repeated that like a mantra. You were going to live to 103. It was just a fact we all accepted. You seemed to know, but obviously it was just hope.
And maybe you would have made that milestone if you didn’t drink so much, or if you had let us clean up your mildewing/ moldy stuff trailer while you lived – or if I was able to follow through on getting you a new-to-you trailer, or a tiny house that could have given you those 13 more years?
I know that what I was able to do was worthwhile. I have some sweet memories to savor. My job now is to keep the bitterness from spoiling them.
The article talks about a locale that has just ‘opened up’ and how everyone is feeling so chipper, and alive, and connected – and holy shit, isn’t that wonderful?
I get it. I do. But if/when they’re sucking air on a ventilator, or their loved-ones are, whom they blithely exposed to a deadly virus, will they feel the same?
I read with envy and despair. A moment of pleasure means more to them than coping with hardship. They would totally eat the first marshmallow in the marshmallow challenge.
So, no amount of dead is too much for them. Some were quoted as how much this has been ‘overblown’. Did they see any fucking news for the last few months? Overblown?
Under-counted is the reality – but hey, whatever you need to tell yourself! Just stay the hell away from me and my family and friends. Cool? Cool.
The commune/cult I was in was fond of talking about Earth changes. They weren’t the prognosticator of such views/predictions, but they championed them. I see how they were on the right path in that instance. Even a broken clock is right twice a day…
The Earth has been ravaged by the worst among us – for years – and we’re finally paying the price.
I have been complicit too. I like my car. I like the open road, but not the pollution.
I don’t know what can be done about it. I weep for the Earth. A dear friend of mine says she weeps because “we could have made the Earth a paradise”. That makes me weep too.
This year is barely half over and it has sucked like few other years have sucked in living memory.
I love my friends and I am grateful for the chance to try to help. Emphasis on “try”. I have been selfish too. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had been one of those born with others as my raison d’être, but I’m trying – and I applaud all others who have that as part of their being.
I cannot abide what is happening in the country I love – so I rise.
I will be named among those who sought to stop the kleptocracy and cons, the users and abusers.
Our teeth are so important to full functioning, and well-being. Mouth health is an important indicator of our overall health.
A dental revolution is important – worldwide. While hampered by circumstances like disease, accidents, disasters, drought, poverty, war, and greed, or other reasons for lack of access to good nutrition and care to keep their natural teeth, either full implants or implant-supported dentures is the way to go.
It’s currently prohibitively expensive for most, but that’s due to price setting. It’s inexpensive to make durable implants and caps, but skilled dentistry is needed for placement, and then good health practices while jawbones heal and continuing.
Or you can just get all your rotten teeth pulled and have to suffer with no dentures or dentures that won’t respond as your mouth changes over time (which is why my preference for all is permanent implants over implant-supported dentures).
Maybe there is bone disease or other illness that makes implants impossible, but a good friend who really wants to eat has dentures she hates, can’t taste her food with them in, and already has trouble feeling hungry due to multiple bouts of cancer and how that, plus radiation and chemotherapy, ravaged her body. She’d love a good steak. She can’t bite into it, and can’t really taste it with her dentures in.
The sooner an implant is placed – like immediately after a tooth removal if possible – the better the prognosis. Sometimes there isn’t enough bone, so a bone graft is needed before the implant body can be placed. It takes another six months or so to heal and set so that the implant can then be placed, and then more special care while that heals before the cap is finally placed.
However, those costs are wildly variable depending on where you get them, and what dental insurance covers. Besides that, with education and lobbying, there is enough tax-money that could be diverted and used to help defray the costs of permanent teeth for all – at least in the U.S. Foundations and charities also exist to help with costs not covered by insurance, or could be set-up to help cover costs.
Proper nutrition and keeping our natural teeth our whole life is best, of course, but humans chronically lack consistent good care for a myriad of reasons, and keeping teeth is more valuable than is currently recognized. Not only does it increase self-esteem to have proper teeth, but our communication and even our facial structures change when we lose our teeth and jawbone anatomy.
Medicine is constantly improving and evolving, and there may be further dental care improvements with 3-D printing, and laser surgery, but until those are perfected, life-long teeth, with its associated less suffering, is achievable. We just have to have the will to see it through.
The numbers were coming in for voting and the Democrats were winning big. We were going to be okay. There would be a lot of damage to undo or repair, but we weren’t succumbing to dictatorship. The worst elements among us were shown the door. You want a theocracy? Why don’t you move to Saudi Arabia, or any of the desert nations that control their populations under the only version of belief allowed. What if your religion is banned? You think dictators have it right? Move to your beloved Russia where they routinely kill, poison, or maim those who disagree with the party line. What if YOU were against their policies and practices? Better get a food taster, or keep your opinions to yourself…
We can co-exist, and it will be an uneasy alliance, but it will work because while we don’t all get all of what we want, we will get most of what we need. We will shore up our Constitution, and follow it. We can be a better version of Democracy, or we can vanish with something you will not want in its place, but it will be too late to do anything about it then, so I hope it’s to your liking – and that you’ll remember you did it to yourself. To those of good will: Vote Democrats, all the way!
Fourth of July parades, honoring those fighting, allegedly keeping America ‘safe’, or trying to topple the powerful of other nations committing atrocities.
At least we always said they were atrocities.
Now we’re doing it, and the administration wants it to be as heinous as possible so we’ll capitulate to their demands, and to satisfy their base.
What kind of people their base must be if that satisfies them? They’re a cabal of bullies, and America thinks that’s a good fit for us?
Nursing mothers having their babies taken from them. That makes you glad? That makes you proud? That makes you think America is strong, and won’t be fucked with?
This is no country our ancestors would recognize. We had the idea that we would be the ‘shining city on the hill’. We would stand for goodness, compassion, fairness, negotiating, inclusion – help!
We all came from elsewhere, and now we’re all: “I’ve got mine, too bad for you.”
We can do better. Our immigration policy can evolve. Hint, it won’t be a wall. Ever hear of tunnels? Air travel? A wall is symbolic, and in history, walls have never stood for justice.
Dictators, autocrats, heinous deeds done in our name, are not inevitable. They’re allowed through apathy, disengagement, and complicity.
Ben Franklin retorted: “A republic, if you can keep it”, when asked what the founders had wrought after our bitterly hard-fought sovereignty and our Constitution’s creation.
We are always negotiating who we are, what we stand for, and how we wish the world to see us.
That light we carried – that hope we offered – is nearly out.
It’s up to us citizens to keep our Republic, to shore up our ideals, and to pull the reins on the powerful factions ever trying to re-make us in their own image.
We were never perfect, and we’re never going to be perfect, but we’ve had a pretty great template for a relatively balanced society and country.
Oppressing people works for a while, but we eventually rise up when the burden becomes too onerous. I think we’re at that time, and I hope America puts down this latest attempt to change our fundamental ideals.
Only those who want to take your power tell you voting doesn’t matter.
Don’t let them, and if you’re too cynical to believe that, then don’t make it easy for them.
Thinner skin, and that’s not a metaphor. Droopy, collagen-lacking, dull skin. Eyes receding into my skull as the muscles grow lax. The free ride was over a decade or more ago, but I didn’t do all the work necessary to keep up appearances (I also didn’t & don’t have the money for restoration).
Even if I did have the money for body reconstruction, who knows how I’d end up looking. Is a circus-freak look better than looking old? For some, that’s a resounding yes, for others, there’s no going back once you head down that rabbit hole no matter the regret.
What am I chasing? Eternal youth? No, just the appearance. Relevance, inclusion, and respect are my aims – and self needs to go in front of those words. Why do I feel less worthy of notice? Advertising and youth culture are certainly a part of that, but loss is the main theme, along with fear.
I can’t hear you, or see you as well as I used to, and my joints make exercise slower going, but I’m still doing it. Use it or lose it isn’t some far away mantra anymore.
We are pure biology – and maybe there’s a spirit or soul that animates us and gives us individuality – but there’s no stopping the facts of life. Once the baby-making years are over, and menopause is in full swing, libido nose-dives, vaginal skin thins and makes sex painful. The good news is that the E-String & Estrace work wonders for that. The bad news is increased cancer risk. Aye yi yi.
I finally have a good man with a great bod who loves me & sex won’t lead to kids, and my desire is more for reading a good book by a warm fire no matter how much I psyche myself up. Sex is rumored to be 99% mental – the fuck you say! Nope, it’s biological. Of course mood & circumstances come in to play, but when you are right there, doing all you can to feel sexy & have a willing partner who’s totally sexified, and your bod says, ‘meh’ – that’s just bullshit.
I guess there’s Viagra for women now, but the fact we need these pills and potions to fight nature’s course just sucks. We face death by a thousand cuts long before we succumb to whatever it is that’s going to get us.
I will NOT go gentle into that good night, and I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
The way forward has become clearer in the last few months. Becoming an organizer, public policy maker, lawyer, or other community leader has become attractive. I’ve always cared about social & economic justice, but I’ve not had much personal power.
As I’m boycotting Amazon, I suggest streaming online using iTunes, or Hulu, or borrowing the books and film through your local library. Amazon has become a predatory company with abysmal working conditions and unfair pay for many, if not most, workers.
The Woman’s March was affirming, and there are more planned marches in the works as the new authoritarian regime takes shape and we stand to lose ever more of our Constitutional rights.
Democracy requires participation, and while subtle stripping of our rights over the last few decades in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ quieted many, we can no longer complain from the sidelines as we see bolder disassembling of our republic by those elected who follow their own agendas rather than the majority’s consent.
We can’t have everything, and we do need to compromise and find common ground where possible, but we resist attempts by the monied class and other interests to ruin our environment, or remove our Constitutional guarantees to seek redress for wrongs, to peaceably assemble, and for free speech.
“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The rise of Donald Trump has been budding for some time. As odious as he is, he speaks to bullies and miscreants everywhere, as well as those who were able to overlook his maladaptive behavior, or precisely because of that behavior, to vote for him.
He also had help from Russia, but it was homegrown hate that put him in the White House.
I won’t normalize his Presidency, and he cannot act ‘Presidential’. He has no couth, and cannot stop using his Twitter account like a sulky five-year old.
Thankfully he has the lowest approval ratings of any incoming United States President, which gives me hope for the work ahead to boot his ass & his republican shysters in Congress out.
Voters were angry – especially old, white men, and single issue women, i.e., those who want abortion rights repealed. I don’t think a clump of cells are a human and I never will. The bullshit emotive argument that fetuses have as much or more rights as the mother is why I will always fight that ignorance.
If you’re religious, don’t have an abortion. I think your ‘god’ is a fable. I think the ‘bible’ is fiction mixed with historical events, attempting to give it legitimacy, but it fails. It succeeds through inculcation and fear-mongering, so yeah, a bunch of lies because anything that has to bully to get its way knows it has no actual power or validity.
Digression aside, Trump is an albatross on our Republic’s neck, and more closely resembles Ferdinand Marcos, or Slobodan Milošević. I hope America will be rid of him sooner than not as his unconstitutional conflicts of interest, and his treasonous relationship with Russia are impeachable offenses, and his self-aggrandizing makes him best suited for reality television, not reality.
Nope. I really wanted to find it. I tried to start at the sisterhood, right?! The SISTERHOOD! We know what it’s like being harassed. I have no idea what my black & brown sisters go through because I’m white & privileged to only have been sexually harassed & abused, not subjugated to having race enter into my humiliation & defilement, but trust me, I know what the fuck it’s like to be abused.
I am so angry there is race & culture that enter into it too – like Dante’s circles of hell.
I’m tired of reading intellectuals spout bullshit at each other, especially those who sit back as though they’re so much better than everyone else they deign to engage with. Step. the. fuck. OFF.
America is in dire straits. Not the band, the actuality. We are entering the totalitarian zone with the rise of drumph, the admitted sexual predator, and narcissistic sociopath, whom a sibling, and at least one close friend voted for. WOMEN I know voted for that cretin. I understand men voting for him, but women? I guess I can fathom, in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, why women would have thought he’d be – nope, can’t do it. Stepford Wives comes closer to an explanation, or being drugged, or deluded.
Well, I can move abroad, right? I don’t have to stay for the shit show. I have friends & relatives in Canada & Australia. Being a refugee sucks, but it depends on what you’re leaving behind.
Good luck folks – I hope you like your new dictatorship. You all get what you deserve!
Oh no, this is not a new ‘reality’. This is not acquiescing to ‘what is’, or any other platitude. We are in horrific times, pergatorious times – and yes – I just made up a word because that’s the kind of times we are now experiencing.
A joke is our President-elect. Make no mistake, an unqualified hack will be the leader of this quickly sinking country – perhaps a harbinger of the fabled ‘end times’. Yeah, I know I’m giving legitimacy to fiction by naming it as a thing I believe we’re approaching, if not already in, but, hey, ya gotta start somewhere…
The end times described in antiquitious texts is when the current system, way of life – whatev – is abandoned and a ‘new way’ implemented. Or it’s when all the ‘worthy’ people will be ‘taken’ and the rest of us – most of us – will be left with the stinking cesspool those assholes helped create.
God looks the other way while Rome burns – or America and the European Union – at any rate.
Thankfully there are many, MANY, folks not burdened by fictional works who are left scrambling to hold onto the tattered remains of honorable, inclusive, compassionate society.
It sucks that it takes a horror show to jolt the fighters among us, but enlivened we are.
I imagined you as out-of-touch with the real needs of impoverished and middle-class Americans, and I was wrong. I’m sorry. I believed you untrustworthy, and in league with those who feed your coffers – the Wall Street ilk – and how you’re indebted to them, at the 98%’s expense, and I hope I am wrong about that too.
You don’t struggle over what food you can buy, or how to pay a medical bill, or afford living, but I think you’ve witnessed enough of life’s misery to understand those challenges without experiencing them.
I believe you have compassion, and strength, and wisdom.
Watching you in the first debate with Mr. Trump, I was so impressed with your composure against his bullying, lies, and abusiveness, and I appreciate your ideas to help guide our country.
You won me over with your competence, regardless of your flaws and missteps, and I know you’ll make a stellar President.
I believe you’ll fight for justice, for all of us, as much as you can – and I understand that the Presidency is beholden to the Congress – so we need a Congress that will uphold its Constitutional duty, and work together on our many serious problems, domestic and foreign.
You’re faced with economic and social injustice and unrest, and I don’t envy you in trying to create harmony and peace in our nation, while also attending to good relations in the world, and trying to right the injustices we’ve helped create abroad.
I hope my faith in you and your leadership won’t leave me wanting.
Thank you for your lifetime of public service, and please keep defining why we should vote for your Presidency, and not focus on your opposition as a horror show we know he is.
So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.
Are you happy? Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?
If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life. Balance is key. Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.
I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear. Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.
My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you. For sure, ‘love’ is a big word. It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.
Life is learning. That never stops, so I’m still learning too. My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.
Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.
In the time that’s gone by, I tried to see a reason for us, but ‘it’s one of those things’ is said, and ‘be glad you found it before you’re dead’, and I am.
Thousands of songs and poems say why: ‘it’s not the colors in his eyes, or the way he wears his clothes, or how he knows the things he knows, but it’s in how he thinks of and looks at me.’ It’s how he loves me so thoroughly – it’s so new.
I keep deciding to pull away, to leave and find my life another way, but I’ve started asking what I’m running for, because I truly know that there’s no better than this.
But this is not all there is, I know, and we don’t live to make the best in show; we have found happiness and joy, a port in a storm, a bond I won’t destroy – again.
So settle down I tell myself, this love we’ve found is real and precious.
You are the compass that points true, you are everything I needed but never knew, and if I tell the fear to leave me be, then it will always be you and me, together.
This is my song to you – to us – to love – to life’s joyful expression amidst life’s agony.
Thank you for your love, for your steadfast care and hope, and for giving me a chance to truly love you too.
The pain center in our brain lights up when we’re faced with something we’d rather not do, so your brain experiences procrastination as a form of pain. Staying in the process of what you’re working on, rather than focusing on the finish, or result, helps eliminate the ‘pain’ associated with what needs doing.
A great technique described in the course is setting a timer for 25 minutes, or perhaps a reasonable amount of time to complete, or make good progress, on the task, and rewarding yourself. Maybe it’s a nap, a walk, or some other, healthy, bonus for working through your allotted time. Known as, the Pomodoro Technique, this helps to focus on working, as well as setting a limit, while knowing you’ll give yourself a treat for work well done.
Another important aspect of the Learning How To Learn course, was understanding our two modes of thinking and learning. We all know about the focused mode, but I didn’t know about the diffuse mode of learning and thinking. This relaxed mode occurs when your attention is on other things like when you’re walking, or other exercise, or when you’re taking a shower, or just ‘spacing out’, as well as during sleep – as long as you were focusing on the problem(s) before going to sleep. Your brain works on problems when you’re not consciously focusing on them.
We sometimes gain insight into a difficult problem, or come up with seemingly random solutions, by letting go of our focused mode of attack, and giving our free-form, unconscious mind a chance to work on it.
Spaced-practice, or spaced-repetition, is another concept I learned that helped me a lot. In learning how to play my guitar, I began by practicing for hours, going over notes, chords, theory, and playing, which got me bleeding fingers and not really much gelling in my head. When my fingers healed, I applied spaced learning by taking a break for a day, then returning to practicing no more than a half-hour a day (understand that it was super tough for me to let go of trying to master the guitar in a month…), and to my delight, I’ve begun understanding more, and next week I’ll be at Carnegie Hall!
OK, I’ll be cleaning Carnegie Hall, but one day I could be playing there!
There is so much more I gained through this course that this could be the longest blog post I’ve ever written, but I suggest Dr. Oakley’s wonderful book:
A Mind For Numbers, as well as taking Learning How To Learn, Dr. Oakley, and Dr. Sejnowski’s, 4-week MOOC, where they include lots of excellent guest-speaker videos that further illuminate their subject.
I keep remembering what Fred Rogers, (Mr. Rogers), said about times of trouble – to look for the helpers. There are so many helpers everywhere. We should take in all the refugees we can – they are desperate to leave their homeland.
There is nothing there for them but desperation, sickness, torture, and death. They want to live.
Will they bite the hand that feeds them? Would you? Maybe someone will, but that’s a sick soul, and maybe those sick souls will find healing instead of more ways to hurt. We have many sick souls born here – children killing children, men and women shooting up schools, theaters, restaurants – all seemingly random – or told to them by terrible voices in their head.
We’re not going to rid the world of evil, but we can minimize it with goodness. It’s the only advantage in the face of evil – our way to ‘light a candle instead of cursing the darkness’.
It takes logistics, money, volunteers – or paid workers – to help house, feed, clothe, and educate refugees – so much that is beyond my abilities – but that will be good use of government. Accepting refugees will put more people to work, give more people purpose, and certainly give those tired, hungry, and poor, some hope.
What type are you? Like to throw lavish parties, or perhaps a more intimate gathering? Whatever your festivity profile is, here are some simple steps to make this Halloween fabulously fun!
If you like lavish costume parties, or unhooked dance-a-thons, you’re a planner, so you have nearly everything ready; but, if you’re like me, it seems party day comes up all too soon.
Don’t have that scarecrow you were going to have made yet? Neither do I! Dig out some balloons, if you can find them, or if you have them – or go buy a package at a dollar store. Long skinny balloons fill the arms and legs nicely, and round balloons will fill the body. * Tip: Bigger balloons are better to fill the main body, but you might like a variety of sizes – experiment!
If you don’t fill the balloons too much, they’ll be less likely to pop when you’re stuffing, or moving your scarecrow into position. You can use a pumpkin-shaped bucket with a straw hat for the head, decorate a large balloon, and tie a hat on it, or sew a head-shaped pattern, draw your scarecrow’s face, put a balloon in the opening you left for stuffing, and then blow the balloon up, or stuff your scarecrow’s head with fiber-fill or some other suitable material, and add some straw coming out of the hat, as well as straw sticking out from the cuffs of the sleeves and the pant legs.
This year, I shoved a bunch of cornstalks up against the garage, meaning to make an artistic arrangement later, but I never got to that either, so putting a pumpkin next to it makes it look rustic – and I saved myself a bunch of time!
Making your home festive is a snap too! Press a few vinyl clings on your window, or glass door, get a Halloween or fall-themed dish towel, some pumpkins, gourds, and a few pots of mums, and you’re done!
Now for the invites. If you’re a planner, you’ve already sent them, and because your parties are always fab, you’ve gotten RSVP’s too. However, if you’re like me, you’ll have to contact everyone by phone, email, and social media to alert them of your event.
Of course, they all already have plans, so they won’t make it, but I can freeze my Harvest Pumpkin Soup, my Cinnamon-Nutmeg Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and my roasted Brussels’ sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes, for another day.
The pumpkin pie, and meticulously made (ordered) graveyard cake will last forever in pictures, even though the scent of the hot-buttered rum cider can’t be captured, and it will be drunk – and I’ll be drunk – by myself, as my S. O. rarely drinks, and doesn’t like rum. Yo, ho, ho…
It’s too bad I ran out of time to carve the pumpkin, it really was the perfect shape.
August is the beginning of Druid autumn, I found out several years ago when telling a friend that I feel mournful in August, even though it’s still summer. Learning that the Druids considered August the beginning of autumn resonated with me, and gave me a place for my sadness this time of year.
It’s now September, and the physical signs of change are showing. Red and yellow veined green leaves began spotting the road under the maples about a week ago. Some are fully red now, and although a harbinger of the coming cold season, they are so pretty.
I picked up several of my favorites, and as my mother showed me when I was little, I placed them between sheets of waxed paper and ironed them together. I put a rag underneath and on top of the waxed paper, and kept checking to make sure it was working.
My S.O. wasn’t all that impressed when I showed him later, but its a simple craft helping me ease into autumn. I’m sure I could have created something more sophisticated, but I also enjoyed its childhood link.
As the earth has moved in its orbit, the garden is now burgeoning with tomatoes, green beans, squash, carrots, and late corn – harvest time well under way. Maybe I’ll learn to can food this year, but it feels too much like work… 🙂
I suppose we could dry the tomatoes, freeze some of the corn, carrots, and green beans, as well as what we’re doing, which is making as many recipes possible with all the fresh food.
It’s also nice to know where and how our food was grown, and I feel more connected to our land than before I started gardening.
The cooler breezes are more welcome than the humid dog days we’re leaving behind, and sleep is more restful with cooler air too.
I’m not ready to give up summer, and wish it lasted at least another month, but I’ll savor all the warm days ahead, and do my best to accept rather than resist – or figure out how to move to warmer climes!
Tomorrow is my birthday. Birthdays were so exciting when I was younger. Getting older was somehow an achievement, and I suppose it was, depending on how many risks were taken, or accidents met and survived the previous year.
Celebrating someone for their birthday is a wonderful time for connection, reflection, and, especially, festivity!
Time’s passage is tough the older I get because I want to keep the problems of the relatively young and not get any problems of aging. Too bad, I know. Perspective is a perk as time moves on, as well as caring less about how I’m received, but this ship of life I’m sailing leaves a wider berth the further I get from port, leaving some things smaller, although not less significant, as they recede and I travel on.
Even though I often feel that I’ve not accomplished anything, or much of what I wish I had done, I have traveled. I won a ten-day tour of Switzerland, with a side trip to Liechtenstein. I made it to Australia, where I stayed with my childhood pen-pal, and her family, and we met each other’s children (child in my case), and saw lots of Victoria, including a day in Melbourne, hiking in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges, a rain forest walk in the Yarra ranges, and a gorgeous trip down the Great Ocean Road, ending in Warrnembool, and the site of the Twelve Apostles rock formations, during our stay.
I’ve driven through or visited at least half of the United States, including Hawaii, but not Alaska. I’ve been to Canada, and Mexico, though not extensively in either country. I brought my son to Ireland for his high school graduation present, but really because I’d wanted to go my whole life and that justified the expense well enough – or at least, it did – until I just wrote that.
Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, was the last big journey I took, a gift that I’ve not well repaid seeing as I’m now an atheistic-leaning agnostic.
I’ve climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, back when you could do that, and have been on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, when it was free. (It’s hard to believe that anyone would pay $57 for the dubious privilege nowadays).
Contentment with my lot is the message I try to embrace, but my adventurous spirit doesn’t understand that sentiment. There are so many more places to see, things to do, and the beautiful aspects of life on Earth that I’ll never have again.
As long as I can get through the rough patches, the pain, suffering, and challenges we all endure, and hopefully, surmount, I will add more sweet than bitter to each year that I’m graced with, have more meaningful time with those I like and love, and be glad for what’s been given.
How many years has it been? Twenty-five, no, thirty! I’ve been going to the Down Home Agricultural County Fair since I was seven or eight, and now it’s canceled. Sure, there are other fairs, I suppose – other fairs that are not the Down Home!
I had my first kiss underneath the bleachers next to where Frank’s Fabulous Pigs raced. I had turned thirteen the previous September, and Jimmy Reynolds, my friend and secret crush since third grade, grabbed a hold of my hand and pulled me under the bleachers. At first I thought we were just going where we shouldn’t be, maybe to look for lost money, him beaming that ten-megawatt smile at me, and me awaiting further instruction, when he leaned in and kissed me. My heart pounded and my hands were instantly sweaty as I kissed him back, and we stood there until the sound of feet stomping above us broke the spell.
We held hands the rest of the night, and although it was usually hard to shut me up, I couldn’t think of a thing to say – and neither could he. We just kept riding the rides, playing the carnival games, and sharing fried dough, and a fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Jimmy moved to Florida at the end of the summer, and we wrote letters back and forth for a while, promising to visit, which we never managed, and after a year went by the letters slowed, and by the next summer, I stopped hoping for a response to my last few letters.
The Down Home County Agricultural Fair was a near guarantee to see everyone I knew – and the chance to eat my fill of french fries with vinegar, fried dough, and over-priced lemonade, that I enjoyed watching the vendor make for me. “You like it sweet or tart, honey?” Sweet for me, tart for Jimmy.
Time wore on, and every year the events that attracted me changed from thrill rides to animal shows, and after my son was born I went with friends who had children, and we’d meet year after year, first riding with our children on the kiddie rides, our knees scrunched up, or wider hips not quite fitting into the tot-sized cars, and when they were big enough, putting our children on the kiddie rides alone, and watching with happy trepidation as they thrilled or freaked-out, and when they were older, bidding them farewell with instructions to meet later by the front gate, and having them pretend they didn’t see us whenever they’d pass by.
With my son in college, and friends scattered around, I went to the Down Home by myself last year, and spent most of my time looking at prize-winning quilts, home-made clothing, garden and preserve entrants’ displays, and shook my head at the carnies luring game players to win prizes not worth the two dollars to play one game. Back in my day, I find myself thinking, it was a quarter, and the prizes were bigger, and better quality too. I might as well start yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. I catch myself and laugh, I don’t want to be in the ‘old coot’ category – not now, not ever.