Category Archives: Hope

Inauguration Day and that “U” Word Again

So Wednesdays are typically the day I publish a blog post. Today is Wednesday as well as Inauguration Day for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

It’s a big fucking deal.

I published a post not long ago where I pondered the word “unprecedented” in relation to the year 2020. It is a word that is (to use another “u” word) ubiquitous to that year. A multitude of unprecedented shit went down. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has sadly claimed so many lives. Political unrest. Domestic terrorism in our nation’s capital.

Also unprecedented is the diversity of the individuals chosen for the new White House administration. The state of Georgia turning blue is unprecedented. The number of Americans who voted in this past election is unprecedented.

One of my IRL and Facebook friends, Eldree, posted the other day about this word and how it could be used in a positive manner going forward into 2021. This inspired me to think about all the “unprecedented” positive changes that I am hopeful for as a result of the Biden/Harris administration.

Unprecedented bi-partisan support for an economic stimulus package to address the needs of Americans financially struggling due to the pandemic.

Unprecedented job growth

Unprecedented racial reconciliation

Unprecedented access to quality mental health services

Unprecedented care for our global environment

Unprecedented drop in homelessness

Unprecedented levels of civic engagement

Unprecedented investment in our educational system

Unprecedented overhauls in our nation’s police departments

Unprecedented justice for those who lost their lives due to racism and domestic terrorism

Today is a new day. The beginning of something better.

The late great Ray Charles

***Header image courtesy of https://livewallpaperhd.com/american-flag-wallpaper-hd-16110/***

Embracing The Merry

I think for those of us that celebrate Christmas, whether in a secular way, a non-secular way, or a combination of both (like me), we can all agree that this year the holiday season is different.

Obviously, the reason it’s different this year is because of Covid-19. No in-person holiday parties like in years past. Worries about loved ones who may be alone for the holiday. The inability to travel and employment uncertainty.

Out of spite, as in “screw you, Covid-19, I’m not going to let you steal my joy”, I’m embracing this Christmas even more than I have in the past. Like it’s a life boat. Doing this, I think, is a healthy coping mechanism for these times.

We here in this house are gorging on all the Christmas movies. Not so much the cheesy, predictable, brainless Hallmark channel varieties (though they do certainly have their place). I’m talking the classics: “A Christmas Story”, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, “Elf”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Christmas Vacation”, “Love Actually” and more. The ones we all know the best lines to. The ones that fill us with a giddy joy and warm our hearts.

Our little townhome has been properly adorned with all the Christmas decorations inside and soon Hubs will be putting up the lights outside. We’ve even chosen to string multi-colored lights along the periphery of our living room and around the windows. We didn’t do this the previous years we lived here.

All of the Christmas cookies have been made to send to our loved ones in three different states. The presents have been purchased (online) and received. Names have been picked at work for our “Secret Santa” exchange.

Special desserts will be made. A drive through the local holiday light display for charity is happening this year.

One of my blogger friends, Crystal, wrote this lovely post which prompted me to read Luke. I was compelled by the passage in Chapter 3:
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”, to do a quick clean out of my kitchen cupboards to donate to the food pantry I now run. I think it’d be so cool if others did the same.

I’m determined to suck the marrow out of this Christmas season.

Who’s with me?

**Header image circa 1984 posing with a friend as Christmas elves/mannequins in the front window of Bonnie’s Clothes Bar**

How I’m Rolling These Days

I’m in a funk mentally and tired physically. Covid-19 has worn me down. No, I don’t actually have it. Thank God.

Both my eldest and my sister had it though. Both have recovered. Thank God for that too.

Wearing a mask all the time bites the big one. I get overheated and my nose is always itchy beneath it. Working more hours is sapping my energy for all the other things I want and need to do. But I am employed at a place that does amazing things to help those in need and I have wonderful, hard-working co-workers. Thank God for that too.

There are no fun plans on the horizon for me and mine because of Covid-19. But I’m certain there will be fun times further ahead, probably next summer when we have had reasonable adults in the White House for a bit who believe in science and ensure everyone has been vaccinated against this monster. Thank God for that!

I’ve not been as consistent as I like to be with writing and publishing blog posts lately because my energy is going elsewhere. But I managed to write this today. Thank God for that?!

I can’t see my church friends I miss in person because of Covid-19. Yet our pastors and talented musicians and volunteer tech support has come a long way with their ability to put together a virtual service over these past several months. I plan on watching the service this morning cuddled up on the couch with Hubs and Radar. Thank God for that.

Despite not spending as much time blogging these days, I’m still getting views, comments, and followers. I am so grateful for that. It’s heartwarming for me. Thank God for each and every one of you.

I wish all of you a blessed day. I hope you are all well and are able to find things to be thankful for in your lives. Even if you have to work through the things you are not so thankful for first.

Please share with me how you are “rolling” these days. You know I love to hear from you!

Sometimes Gems Are Gents

I knew back in February of this godforsaken year when I watched David Byrne and his crew perform on SNL that I wanted more of it.

It wasn’t until I saw another blogger posting about it then read the Esquire interview with Byrne and Spike Lee and realized they collaborated to bring Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” show to the masses via HBO, that I was able to actually get more of it.

I watched it at home with Rabbie and I was enthralled. I hope you all have the good sense to watch it yourselves. I’m not going to even attempt to explain what it was all about, mainly because I know I’d miss something important.

But I will say this: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is weird. In the very best of ways. There’s of course the music, which is so jubilant. There is the oddly intriguing interpretive dance. There are the wonderfully talented, multi-cultural musicians and dancers backing it all up. There is much food for thought. It’s cerebral. But it’s not so cerebral that it’d be over anyone’s heads if that makes sense. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of humanity and community.

This phenomenally cool show along with the uplifting and worthy-of-your-time website David heads up, is part of what makes him a “Gem” to me. A national fucking treasure.

Within the website, https://reasonstobecheerful.world/, you will find well-written, thoughtful, fascinating, and inspiring articles. It’s essentially the good news we all need these days. I’ve known of this website for probably a year now, but hadn’t kept up with it. I allowed myself to instead pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, and NPR to keep current on things. That is going to change, as I’m re-committing myself to reading an article or two daily on this website.

Because of David Byrne, I’m also doubling down on focusing on the positive. The good stuff that will expand my understanding of things and leave me feeling more hopeful. While by nature I am an optimist, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a bit of work to maintain that optimistic outlook, especially with the plethora of bad news and bad attitudes lurking in every corner of the internet and in the news.

I think we need more people in the world like David Byrne. The people who think outside the box. The intelligently quirky ones. The question askers. The forward thinking folks who have a sense of genuine curiousity about the world and the people who inhabit it. The creative problem solvers who generously share their talents and insights to make the world a better place for all of us.

Let me leave you with what is probably my favorite Talking Heads tune.

***Header image art by none other than Mr. Byrne himself courtesy of http://www.davidbyrneart.com/?portfolio=love

What Can We Agree On?

The seed that sparked this post was a comment made recently on one of my blog posts. In that post, I simply stated “Yay-Biden/Harris won”. Now those aren’t fighting words, are they? Yet, another blogger chose to tell me they were glad that I expressed this. Because then they could “block” me.

I found her comment humorous and ridiculous. When I read a blog post and don’t agree with what the blogger is saying, I tend to keep it to myself. Choose in silence to not follow them. It was the first time I can recall that anyone on the interwebs stated they would not follow me because of my political persuasion.

Of course, my response to this blogger was not helpful at all. I said “You do you, Sweetheart!”. That was admittedly snarky of me and later made me feel like a jerk.

But here’s the thing: aren’t we all in this together? Aren’t we all Americans? Aren’t there some basic things we can all agree on?

The extremism is really pissing me off these days.

Yes, I am very pleased that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be our next President and Vice President. I think they are earnest and are going to try their best to unite us and enact policies to put us all on a better path. I’m not going to take that back.

But there are almost half of us that don’t agree with that, which of course is their right. But is it helpful that a percentage of those folks are digging in their heels and refusing to acknowledge that Trump really truly lost this election? Doesn’t it make sense for them to put down their weapons, so to speak, and acknowledge reality?

I sure think it does. I’m hoping that they agree with that before long. It’s in everyone’s best interest, regardless of what particular political party they are aligned with.

For those of us on the other side, many of whom were often spouting re: Trump “well he’s not my President” after he was elected in 2016, they need to stop gloating. It is not helpful. While I was unhappy when he got elected, I didn’t go around saying “well, he’s not my President”, because I did not think it was helpful in any way. And it wasn’t the reality.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this blog is not a political one. It is however, my blog. And since I see my blog as being running commentary of life from my perspective in the here and now, it would not feel right for me to keep my politics completely off the table.

Ultimately, I want to be helpful here. I want to engage with others and lift them up. I want to be radically hospitable and open minded within this blog and in my real day to day life.

So, that leads me to this final question: what do you think we can all, as Americans, agree upon?

I think answering this question is a way to start healing. To start coming together. We have to start somewhere.

I will go first with: I think we can all agree that (more) change is coming in American society, whether we welcome it or not. We are all going to have to accept that. We’re going to have to get off our high horses for the greater good.

You Ought To Know About This Gem

Okay, so here’s the deal: I am anxious as hell right now about what the outcome will be of the Presidential election happening in approximately 48 hours from now.

It’s good that I’ve been busier at work lately, having increased my hours. It was good for my soul to participate in a “Trunk or Treat” event (where everyone wore masks and gloves) yesterday afternoon. Seeing all the kiddos in their costumes really lifted my spirits. Distractions for me right now are a blessing.

Today I am determined to remain positive and share something positive with you all. Maybe it’ll give you some hope for our collective future as it did for me.

I caught this story on the news earlier this week about a 14 year old Indian American girl from Frisco, Texas who just won 3M’s “America’s Top Young Scientist” prize for discovering a key for a possible treatment for Covid-19.

Now, I don’t know what you were doing at 14, but I know I was not winning any contests based on my intelligence. The only “contest” I was trying to win at that time was “girl all the boys want to date”.

This brilliant young woman’s name is Anika Chebrolu and I think she is amazing. She gives me hope for the future. Her parents must be so very proud.

It astounds me that at 14, she has such a massive intellect and she is so well-spoken. So composed and mature beyond her years. She is an example of the kind of “Gem” that we ought to pay attention to and support.

I read a few articles about her and this is the one I found most informative. I’m certain this “Gem” is going places in the scientific world!

***Amazingly perfect header photo courtesy of https://seattleawis.org/awis-events/gems/

After November 3rd 2020

I refer to former Vice President Biden as “The Bridge” because that is how I see him.

Assuming he wins the election, it doesn’t seem likely he will have two terms as POTUS to me, given his age. But I think of him as “The Bridge” that will get us from the shitty place we are in as a country to a better place. He’s going to get the ball rolling, with the help of Kamala and all the other smart and capable people he will put in his cabinet.

Then after his 4 year term is done, the torch will be passed to someone who will continue Joe’s legacy.

Here’s what I’m hoping to see once (fingers and toes crossed) Joe and Kamala are in their new jobs:

Everyone gets masks, hand sanitizer, easy access to free and reliable Covid-19 test kits, a vaccine, and clear health education and guidance (supported by the administration) from the world’s top health experts. Like…Yay Science!

So that’s quite obviously Job #1.

Then we will see them utilize our DNA scientists. To use DNA kits on each one of those over 500 immigrant kids living in detention centers. Get a whole team of smart IT folks to work collaboratively on matching them with the DNA of their relatives. Engage mental health professionals and social workers to be the supports that are needed to reunite the families and guide them through getting set up as a family unit together, whether it be in the U.S. or their home country. Wherever the families choose to begin their lives together anew is where they will land.

They will get “BidenCare” up and running. They will make sure that health insurance does not have to be tied to employment. But if you have health insurance via your employment and you’re happy with your plan and your health care providers, you can keep it. Additionally, our new administration will make sure our out of pocket costs for medical care (including mental health and those complementary services like chiropractic care) are as low as they can possibly be. Whether we keep our health insurance through our employment or we choose the public option.

The new administration will incentivize Americans to pay more attention to climate change. To accept it as fact. To make it easier to recycle, standardizing the process across the whole country. It will bring jobs, man! As will switching to solar energy!

The Biden/Harris administration will address racial injustice and reform how we do policing in this nation. Cops will be partnered w/social work and/or mental health professionals for the majority of calls. President Biden will install a “pit bull” as AG to oversee this.

These are the things I pray for on the daily. You can call me a bleeding heart liberal, a snowflake, whatever. That is not going to stop me from hoping and praying for a better future for all Americans.

****Header image courtesy of https://fourseasons.teleioscn.org/blog/good-grief-1-0-1-0-0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

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/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: U is for Unexpected

Don’t you think that with age many of us handle the unexpected circumstances in our lives better? I think it’s a result of having more time here on earth than others. We’ve simply had a larger number of unexpected things occur in our lives. We’re wiser.

And I think that is awesome.

Not that when a curve ball presents itself we don’t freak out a little. We’re still human after all.

It’s just that we’ve got experiences behind us that tells us we’ve gotten through some shit. We’ve survived. Heck, sometimes we have even thrived after the unexpected invades our realities.

I had two unexpected pregnancies. In the span of two years. I feel like an idiot when I tell people this, but it’s true. And I wouldn’t change a thing about how it all played out.

I was on the pill when I got pregnant both times. First pregnancy was a pleasant surprise. Sure, we (as my mom would say), didn’t have a pot to piss in; but we were newlyweds in love. We made enough money between the two of us to pay our rent and buy groceries and we had the love and emotional support of both sets of parents.

Then, after living in Texas with our baby girl Amanda while Hubs took graduate courses in meteorology and did some student teaching for a few months, I missed my period. Scared out of my mind, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. As Clark Griswold would say, I was more shocked than if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.

Decisions had to be made. Staying in Texas would have meant that Hubs would have finished his Masters and put himself in a position to work at his (then) dream job: Professor of Meteorology at a major university. With people, the guy has the patience of Job, so I was confident he would rock that career path. The flip side, however, is that I would have to apply for Medicaid (we were poor, young,and dumb and had no health insurance at the time) for myself and baby Amanda. Then we’d be there in Texas, knowing only a small handful of people (and not very well), raising two babies under 2.

The decision we made was to move back to Minnesota. Where we’d have the support of two loving sets of grandparents to cope with this unexpected turn of events. The guilt I felt (in hindsight, this was wasted energy as it does take two to create new life) for “making” Hubs quit grad school to move back to Minnesota and find employment in his field lasted for years.

However…

While the three of us bunked with his folks and his teenage sister in (thankfully) a 3 bedroom apartment for a month or so, Hubs managed to get a job with a private weather forecasting company and we found ourselves a nice two bedroom apartment.

After Rabbie made their arrival during that hot as hell summer, Hubs got connected with a supervisor in the National Weather Service who hired him as an “intern” (a position that no longer exists) making $18,000 per year. This was sooo exciting! At the time. $18,000 to us in the early 90’s felt like a pretty good darn chunk of change. Only thing was, we had to move to International Falls, Minnesota. The “Icebox of the Nation”. Another unwelcome and unexpected thing.

Nevertheless, we made the best of it. Struggled, stressed out, but we pressed on as a team. As a family.

And now, here we are, married for over 30 years with two great kids in their 20’s and a smart as heck 6 year old grandson. Living in Colorado and as ready as we can be for whatever unexpected thing comes next.

What unexpected circumstances have happened in the course of your lives that changed everything? Please share in the comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://designpress.com/inspiration/32-fascinating-greys-anatomy-quotes/