Category Archives: Education

Dear Undecided And Non-Voting Americans

I know some of you personally. That is why I’m writing this letter. Because I care about you. I want good things for you. Sometimes it helps to hear the advice of someone in your life that you didn’t know you needed to hear. The unsolicited variety.

I’m going to cut to the chase here. You need to vote in this election. I know you say you’re not “political”. You tell me that you’re confused. Your ears and eyes pick up bits and pieces of what the candidates are doing and saying but your life so busy you haven’t had time to process it all. You brain is full of other things that feel more important to you. Your kids. Your job (or lack thereof). Your spouse. Trying to follow all the Covid-19 restrictions and maybe worrying about the health of those who are not.

You’re doing the best you can to get through each day. You’ve got a good heart. And you are smart. And you can think for yourself.

But. The man who is elected President in another couple of weeks is going to impact your life. Whether you like it or not.

I know you care about education, for example. You want your kids and your friends kids, and your kids friends and all the kids you don’t even know to have access to a great education.

I also know you care about health care. That’s the number 1 concern in American voters minds right now. You may have have health insurance. Maybe you don’t. If you do, you might think you’re paying too much for your premiums. Or you think your prescriptions or your co-pays are too high. Or maybe, God forbid, you or a loved one were surprised by an astronomically high medical bill because insurance only paid so much. And you have no idea how you’re going to pay that bill. Or you don’t have health insurance at all. So you are not getting the routine care you need. So you have to get yourself to an emergency room and hope it isn’t too late to get the care you need to get better.

I also know you, like the rest of us, want our country’s leaders to do all they can to combat Covid-19. You’re troubled by seeing the cases and the deaths from this monster climb each day. You want to get back to a time where masks are not required everywhere you go. You want this to be dealt with so you and your loved ones can get back to “normal”. You’re just plain sick and tired of it all.

I suspect you also care about our climate. You may not see yourself as educated in scientific matters but maybe you don’t like seeing news coverage of whales dead on the beach from pollution in our waters. You don’t like that this summer was oppressively hot where you live. You don’t think it’s right that big companies pollute our waters to the point where in some places in this country the water is not safe to drink.

I am certain that you worry about how Americans are treating each other these days too. The hatred, the violence, the injustices. The self-righteousness that gets spewed on the daily by extremists on both sides of the political aisle. Everyone thinks they are right but none of us actually are. Everyone seems to be distracted by their own opinions.

I urge each of you to give some serious thought to what you see around you and in this country as a whole and decide what it is you think ought to change for the better. Maybe it’s the topics I mentioned already: education, health care, climate change, violence. Or maybe it’s that and more.

Give yourself the courtesy of thinking about which Presidential candidate is more likely to bring about the changes you believe need to happen going forward. Or the one who you believe will attempt to do so to the best of their ability.

Make a plan. If you’re lucky like I am and live in a state where your ballot is mailed to you, sit down and fill that thing out. Bring it to your nearest drop off place. If you don’t, find out where your nearest polling place is and if and when they are open for early voting. Or look at your calendar and think through what 11/3/20 will look like. When can you get there to vote? After work, before work? Or maybe in the middle of the day, because you are unemployed because of Covid-19?

Then follow through. Don’t let yourself be that person who didn’t exercise their right as an American to vote.

Because I know that you know America is messed up right now. And I hope that you also know, as I do, that the only way to expect anything to change at this point is to vote.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.pine.edu/current-students/student-life/student-senate/get-out-the-vote

Alphabet Soup Challenge: O is for Optimism

Here begins the final entry of my Alphabet Soup Challenge.

There are lots of words that start with the letter “O” that I could have chosen to write about. Like “options”, “objectives”, “opportunities”, “openings”. Which, ironically, all have an optimistic bent-don’t you think?

But this is “Pollyanna’s Path”, right? I chose that title for my blog when I started it about 4 years ago for a reason. Because I am an optimist. And my optimism is what I’ve always aimed to share in this space.

Hey, I’m still publishing posts on this blog despite not having as many followers as oodles of other bloggers, right? I continue in part because I am optimistic that my blogging will get better. I also remain optimistic that this blogging habit will become more interesting with time-with how and what I’m writing and with whom I’m connecting via this platform.

So, for all of us who continue to blog; doesn’t it stand to reason that we are all optimists?

As Noam Chomsky once said: optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.

Doesn’t that make a ton of sense?

It’s important for me that you understand that my optimism is not foolish. I do not shield my eyes and ears from the harsh realities of this world: a warming climate, white nationalists acting upon their (based on fear) hate of the “other” in violent ways, immigrant children held for prolonged periods of time in detention centers, incompetent leadership in the White House. These things and more are happening in real time and it makes me sick; though mostly it makes me angry.

But here’s the thing: I think by and large we Americans are smart. There has been much we have overcome and changed for the better since the establishment of this country. We are problem solvers. My fellow optimists surely see it this way too.

But we have farther to go. We just have to be willing to step it up, imagine something better, and work towards creating that reality.

Because the glass for me is always half full. Key word there is “half”. We need to work collectively to fill that “glass” up to the brim with the good stuff that we all can benefit from: cleaner air, a robust education system, compassionate and smart policing among other things. We must do better and I believe we can and that we will.

Because, as Jennifer Mara Gumer puts it in this article (which I highly encourage you to read), optimism is “the truly rational viewpoint”.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.magiccrate.in/blog/parenting-tips-toddler/teach-child-optimism/

This Was Supposed to Be My Post About Our Florida Vacation

Joke’s on me!

We are not in Florida at the moment. We cancelled our trip, as I know many have had to do because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The uninvited scourge on the world that has led beaches to be closed. Along with restaurants, bars, and a head spinning amount of other events.

We are all adjusting to this new normal, right?

The other evening, I was in a mood. Found myself sitting in front of my computer in our home office, searching for some good news. Something uplifting. And I found this:

I’m going to trust that you took the time (you know, the free time that has increased for every one of us because Covid-19 has got us stuck at home for the forseeable future) to watch this.

Several of Tom’s insights got my attention. Like how it’s beneficial to not dwell on the negative and focus instead on the task at hand. Like how if we are honest about our weaknesses we can take advantage of them. How we are forced to be students when adapting to new situations (we are all students now). Like how we are merely a “blip on the timeline in the universe” and we should “act accordingly”.

A lot of food for thought here, right, people? If ever there was a time to encourage interaction between people (virtually of course at the moment), I think now is it.

So please share in the comments your take-aways on this TED talk. It is filled with “truisms” I think, but which ones resonated most with you?

Wannabe intern

In the way back of my life, I was a college student working on a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As part of obtaining my degree, I was required to complete an internship.

This of course is not uncommon. I’m sure many of you readers have had your own experiences with internships.

I’d always been an eager student. Full of curiosity. Ready to soak up any knowledge there for the taking to better myself. I chose to intern at the local Children’s Home.

Working with intellectually disabled children was not necessarily my end goal, career-wise. As I recall, my decision to take that internship was guided more by the limited amount of choices before me. The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that managing these children’s erratic, peculiar, and sometimes explosive behaviors was not something I had an instinct or talent for.

And that was and is perfectly okay with me. The point is, I learned from that experience the track I didn’t want to pursue in my future career in social work.

Here’s the thing, though: while approximately 30 plus years have passed since this internship, I’m still as hungry as ever to learn something new. Expand my horizons. Both career-wise and for my own personal satisfaction.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the Esteemed Wizard of General Adult Education has presented me with an opportunity to be an intern again, at the age of 52. With no restrictions or guidelines. Just whatever kind of internship I can dream up. She is a wizard after all, so she can make that happen for me, right?

I believe that 99.9% of internships are unpaid, so I would have zero expectation of any financial compensation. But since this is my own customized internship opportunity, I would require that I 1) have the ability to set my own hours and 2) if the internship location was not in the north Denver metro area (where I currently live, if you didn’t know this already), that I would have free housing and a modest daily stipend for culinary sustenance.

Here’s one possibility:

Interning at Saturday Night Live. I am a life-long, hard-core fan of this show. From Gilda Radner’s “Rosana Rosana-dana” to Chris Farley’s “motivational” speaker sketch (I live in a van down by the river!) to Debbie Downer, all the incarnations of “Weekend Update” and most of everything in between, this show has amused me for over 40 years.

I imagine I’d be hanging out in the writer’s room while the writers spitball ideas for scenes, dialogue, or sketches. I’d have pen and notebook at the ready to jot down the best ideas and expand upon them. I’d have opportunities to interview the writers, asking them questions about their journeys to becoming the writers they are. I’d get to hang out with celebrities and learn a bit about what makes them tick.

I wouldn’t be just a taker in this scenario either. I’d provide sketch ideas, like this one:

Heidi Gardner, playing Brie Bacardi opposite Mikey Day’s Nico, is interviewed by the newbie entertainment reporter with a ridiculous name, played of course by Kenan Thompson. At Coachella. He asks her how she got her name. She explains that “years ago” (2017) at a “low key ” late evening soiree with her besties sitting by a fire on the beach, she drank this:

Image result for image of bacardi drink for women

For reference, here’s one of the sketches featuring these two doofuses:

Once Brie realizes that Nico has been behind her photobombing the live interview, she loses her shit (because this interview was supposed to be all about her) and a ridiculous fight ensues, which ends when he hands her a new puppy he has named “Breezer”.

What do you think-do I have a shot?

More importantly, however: if you, imaginative and curious readers, could be an intern right now, where would it be and why? I would love to hear what you come up with!