The Small Stuff

Scrolling through my Facebook feed the past few weeks and months, I understand completely why  people sign off social media never to return. Today I’m feeling nostolgic for the fun vacation pics, cute pet photos and those first day of school smiles. Lately it seems it’s filled more with stories of devastating natural disasters, political diatribes and name-calling.

I know these conversations are important to have.  The world is full of strife and unfairness. People are mean. People are judgemental and cruel. People want to be right and which means others have to be wrong (but does it really?). Injustice is real.  I’m not immune to that. Pretending these issues don’t exist or abstaining from the conversation does not make them go away.  Life is not a sun-shiney highlight reel.  Yet, people are also compassionate and empathetic. People are generous and kind. People can compromise and right wrongs.  All of this is true.

I am blessed and lucky to live in a country where these converstations can happen. We are free to disrespect and disagree with each other as much as we want. Our military protects our freedom to do just that.  Freedom is what makes America, America. The Bill of Rights guarantees these freedoms.  However, tonight I am tired of reading about people bitching about how others are exercising their freedoms in away that disrespects their freedoms. It’s a Catch 22. It seems we want to exercise freedom and label ourselves the land of the free so long as everyone expresses that freedom the way we want them to.

So tonight I am exercising my freedom to take a break from the heaviness and bleakness  from the contradictions and hypocracies and focus on the small stuff that made me smile today instead.

  1. A foggy sunrise as I took the trash to the curb.
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  2. I hot cup of coffee from the corner gas station (where all the clerks know my name).
  3. A text, an email, a tag, a like and a walk around the block with good friends (far and near).
  4. Creating chalk drawings on the driveway with my girls.20170925_230836663_ios.jpg
  5. Watching my daughter’s face light up as she put together her new clarinet and showed me how she can play a few notes.
  6. Noodle soup. Mmmm.
  7. Throwing popcorn in the air and laughing as my dogs take turns catching it in their mouths.
  8. Piles of folded clean laundry (that I didn’t have to fold!)
  9. Whimiscal clouds scattered across the sky as I drug the empty trash can back to the garage.
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I once read the key to happiness is focusing on what you are thankful for and those simple gifts that make you smile.  Serendipty those little surprises in life are right in front of your eyes if only you open them wide enough to see them. That’s what this blog is all about.

I think I might be on to something.

 

 

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Home of the Brave?

flag-dayFear. Four letters. Fear doesn’t look so scary as word on a page. Manifested in real-life though fear can be very scary indeed. Fear can drive us and paralyze us. Fight or flight, fear causes that adrenaline rush to run away or fight the peril or freeze into a state of doing nothing. Fear shuts out love and amplifies hate. Fear manipulates and controls us. Fear urges me to say “yes” when I really should say “no.” It causes me to say “no” when what I really want to say is “yes.”  It causes me to doubt and second guess. It inhibits me and holds me back.  What do I fear? Being judged by others as not good enough? Thin enough? Smart enough? Kind enough? Not having enough? Loneliness? Emptiness? Not being able to provide for my children? Spiders and snakes?  All. Of. The. Above.  But why?

I don’t consider myself to be a religious zealot or a political fanatic. I don’t align as a pure conservative or pure liberal. On a dating profile (yet another interesting topic, but I digress), I once listed myself as a “free thinker” and I think that is apt. Typically I stay away from topics of politics and religion as conflict is not my comfort zone. However, after reading this article, “Love Thy Neighbor,” I found I could not remain silent. The words and thoughts on this subject won’t let me rest. The keep playing over and over in my head, compelling me to release them and send them out into the cyber world. So here they are, these words and ideas that are mine, but are not me. As I am no more my hand or my foot or my face than I am my thoughts and words or opinions. This is my opinion. And so, I let go of that fear and write.

When I hear or read the words, “America First” or “Make America Great Again” I feel ill. My stomach turns and I feel sad.  When hasn’t America been first? Do we as Americans really need to be afraid of being second? Seriously. When hasn’t America been great?  Isn’t it the reason why people from other countries want to come here? To follow the American dream? Who would want to come to a place that isn’t great? I am a truly blessed woman.  I was lucky enough to be born in the United States of America to two caring parents that took me to church on Sundays and provided a loving home for me. I graduated from high school. I went to college. I have food on my table. I have a roof over my head. I have a car that I drive to work every morning. If I get sick, I call the doctor. I have a wonderful family and good friends. The only way I could have been luckier would have been if I’d been born with a penis. That’s reality. My reality. Not everyone is so lucky. I know this. I could just as easily of been born in Syria or Cambodia or North Korea.

Fear has led America to put a man in power who is probably even more fearful than I. (Why else would he lash out at those who disagree with him on such a personal level.  He wants everyone to like him. Who doesn’t want that?) What do Americans fear?  Losing their rights? The right to own a gun? The right to freedom of speech? The right to have more? When I hear the excuse “lessor of two evils” for why people voted for him, I feel angry. Would you want “Crooked Hillary” in the White House instead? No I would not, nor did I vote for her either. If every American who voted for Trump or Clinton that uttered the words “lessor of two evils” as the reason for their vote had instead voted for a third-party candidate maybe we would have someone in the White House my children could look up to. How did the DNC and RNC vet the candidates they put before us in primaries?

I remember sitting in history class growing up learning about American History. I learned about the lynchings of Black Americans in the 60’s, the Red Scare in the 50’s, the Japanese American internment camps during War World War II.  My professor talking about how people were afraid and it led to hysteria. I can vividly remember feeling ashamed I was an American and so grateful I was born during a time when that couldn’t happen again.  I mean we learned our lessons, right? Yet, as I read hateful diatribes between friends on “fake news” and “sore losers,” I find myself questioning whether or not history is yet again repeating itself. Trump has used fear to make Americans distrust their neighbor that doesn’t look like them or practice the same religion we do. We are afraid of terrorists? Of people stealing our jobs? Of not getting our fair share?  Yes, yes and yes. Me too. I get it.  But I don’t like it.

Trump uses fear to isolate our nation by building walls and shutting our borders. Why can’t our vetting process for letting refugees and people from countries not as great as ours into the U.S. be reviewed and improved without shutting our borders and instilling hate and fear. From the time, he announced the executive order until the courts finally allowed it, the new processes could have been completed. I worry one day my grandchildren will look at me after reading about this time period in history ask me how this could have happened. What will I say?  I’m sorry, people were afraid of not being first.

America is a mosaic. We need each other. Our differences are what makes us great.  People make us great. Not policies and politics and religion. We need to set aside our fears. I need to set aside my fear. Come on, we are the “Home of the Brave” aren’t we?