Have Street Sweepers That Paint As Michelangelo Gone the Way of the Neanderthal?

IMG_0394

I greatly appreciate a job well done. A couple of weeks ago, I made my weekly trip to Costco. It was the usual trip, you know, going in for eggs, milk, apples, and bottled water and, $400 later, leaving with all kinds of things that I didn’t realize were necessary until I was milling about through the maze of new products that weren’t there the last time I was. A table (I couldn’t live without) caught my eye, and, as is typical, I still shop with the mindset that I still have my old Cadillac Escalade ESV (the really big one).

IMG_1296

Now that my step-children are grown and I only have one child to chauffeur, I drive a small SUV. It is accommodating in most instances, but sometimes I get to my car and memories come flooding back of when I was in high school and I would have to lie down on the bed to get into my favorite pair of jeans. At least, I never had to resort to threading a hanger through the zipper tab for extra grip😉…you ladies know who you are. Nowadays, they use the term jeggings (jeans and leggings hybrid). Yes, jeans were that tight in the Eighties, and yes, my hair was crazy big!

As I was walking to my car, a smiling young Costco employee, that I had seen loading my cart on earlier visits, was at the entrance restocking the snake of bascarts that had been sitting in the corrals in the parking lot. I would guess his age to be between nineteen and twenty-two. As I was leaving the store, he saw that I had a full cart and asked if he could be of assistance getting the box into my car. I told him that I might need it, because it will be like putting 10 pounds of sugar in a 5-pound bag.

IMG_0397

Once we got to my car and I lifted the hatch, the sight was even more grim. I may have heard him gasp! In the cargo area sat my daughter’s Michael Phelp’s Pro II swim backpack fully equipped with a solar-powered mini fridge with a backup generator (or at least it looks that big), her swim fins and snorkel in a separate mesh bag, and a large box of books with a destination of the Salvation Army. Oh yeah, AND my 55-pound Portuguese Water Dog, who persistently cries and moans if he is left behind, expectantly sat perched in the back seat. If only he was bilingual and spoke something other than Portuguese Dog-ese…oh, the stories he could tell!

IMG_0395

Now, seeing my predicament, I was really hoping that the nice young man would be kind enough to help me with the box (things always looks smaller in the big box stores than they really are). I quickly, and nervously, moved the contents from the cargo area transferring them to the forward passenger seat. I have only once before needed to dismantle the cargo hold cover, but I must have looked like a deer in the headlights because he said, “Don’t worry, I know this model of car very well.”

IMG_0381

Sure enough, he pulled this latch, that latch, and we were in business. He smiled the whole time and was nothing but enthusiastic and pleasant. Wow, how refreshing and in short supply that is these days! Shortly afterwards, I was on the road and called my mom. I profusely bragged on this kid’s demeanor. I said, “I am going to have to tell a manager next time I go in.”

Sure enough, this week, I was at Costco, again, and he was walking towards me. I stopped him and asked his name. This time, he looked like a deer in the headlights. He hesitantly told me, “Ja-a-a-mes…what is yours?” By the tone of his voice, I could tell that he thought he may be in trouble. I told him I wanted to know so that I could compliment him to his manager. I said his enthusiasm and energy were to be recognized. He lit up.

IMG_0390

I stopped someone that I recognized as a manager and told him about James and asked where I could put it on record. He told me where to go and what to do. He was grateful that I would make the effort, and I told him that it is so unusual to see that level of pride in ones job, much less in someone so young. I told him that people have no problem complaining about being slighted, but so few go out of their way to recognize a superior level of service. Doesn’t positive reinforcement encourage that behavior?

IMG_0392

My husband travelled recently, and he lamented the decline of service with the airlines. Years ago, I used to be a flight attendant for a major airline. I too have noticed a HUGE decline in customer-friendly service. Most, not all, ticketing and gate agents no longer engage with travelers. All those years ago, the Vice-President of Inflight Service for the airline I worked for received a letter from a passenger saying that I was more memorable than the Grand Tetons (get your minds out of the gutter). He and a few of his friends were returning from being out west. I gave them great service, told them jokes, and made their trip home a cheerful one.

For my daughter’s eleventh birthday in mid-November, she wanted a crystal chandelier for her bedroom (yes, she is another princess in the making). We found the one she wanted and purchased it on Amazon. Following the chaos of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my daughter’s participation in the Middle School musical, I was finally getting around to hanging it a couple of weeks ago.

IMG_1472

I am pretty handy, so I decided to install it myself. As I was assembling this 75-piece masterpiece, I discovered a cracked-crystal bowl and a decorative crystal arm that had threads that wouldn’t grab ahold of the part that twisted into it. I felt my face flush.

My first thought was, “You ding dong! You should have checked all of the parts when you took delivery.” My second thought was, “Oh, poop! Where is the receipt?” Thirdly, I thought, “Gulp! How do I get ahold of the seller on Amazon that sold it to me more than two months ago?” Well, I am so fortunate to say, the seller has been amazing. His professionalism has been off the charts! He gushed apologies, thanked me for my business, and thoroughly has followed up with ever step of rectifying the situation. These days, it isn’t often that my expectations are met, much less exceeded!

My daughter’s dance team has been doing a routine in which the girls had to stand atop little wrought-iron chairs. The seat had come off of her chair and was therefore unsafe for her to use. Honestly, I didn’t know what the heck I was going to do. I didn’t have a tool to drill holes into the iron, and she had a national dance competition the next day.

IMG_0380

We have all gone into hardware stores with a problem that needed solving, only to leave feeling dejected when they tell us they can’t help us fix whatever needs fixing. I stopped at a hardware store and asked if there was someone in there that was handy. I was referred to an elderly gentleman, Larry, that eagerly accepted the challenge. He told me to give him a couple of hours and call him. I felt such relief! I called him after my daughter finished swim practice and it was finished!!! When I picked it up, it was solidly fixed, and he recommended I replace a missing pad for one of the legs that would make it even more stable and safe! He earned a loyal customer!

It isn’t difficult to take pride in your job. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ ” Though those “brush-wielding street sweepers” seem to be going the way of the Neanderthal, there are still those that take pride in doing their job well. I strongly believe their efforts toward hard work and attention to detail are worthy of recognition and praise.

IMG_0393

Good or Bad, Those We Love Invariably Leave the Most Lasting Impressions

I was reading an article recently when I came across a quote from the Hollywood actor, Michael Douglas. He said, “Sometimes we spend more efforts with people that are strangers, in terms of making an impression, than the person that’s closest to us. And you just have to remember not to take for granted that person that’s closest to you.” We all know this to be true, yet we take for granted our spouses, children, parents and even grandparents day after day, year after year, as though our lives will continue without the effects of time.

2015/01/img_0898.jpg

These past few weeks, I have been busy working on a little project. Two of the bedrooms in our house are those that my two step-children used to occupy when they would come in their younger years to visit us every other weekend. Ten years ago, their paint colors of choice had been shades of brilliant lime green and deep cerulean blue. They are no longer being used, so my husband recommended that I make them into guest bedrooms for our would-be visitors if and when we would ever need them. I found the task to be almost like going through a loved ones belongings after they have passed. Fortunately for me, I haven’t had to endure such agony as of yet.

When I started, the blue room was decorated with rows of colorful felt pennants, bright baseball caps and large, glossy posters depicting then-current MVPs of favorite athletic teams all held securely in place by an army of push pins (which left just as many holes in their absence). Oft-celebrated players of years past were captured mid-play in framed and matted pictures that decorated the expanse of the walls. Prized trophies from old baseball or football seasons now evoke warm and distant memories of years that have flown by in blur. Cluttered book shelves laden with memorabilia from days gone by line one of the walls: hard-fought medals and autographed footballs enclosed in acrylic boxes; old, scuffed ice skates leaning lifelessly against a stack of dusty-smelling books with gently worn, crimped paper covers and dog-eared pages that at one point were required reading. More trophies…Random neon-yellow spots dot the carpet, left behind as a result of our beloved furry family member, Jax, deciding that paintballs look very appetizing and later abandoning them after they tasted differently. Now, the once-dark chambray bedspread and sham have been bleached from years of sunsets. The room sits quietly in its vacancy.

2015/01/img_0372.jpg

The green room was markedly less cluttered. A colorful bulletin board hung on the wall adorned with mementos of a young life’s highlights: pictures and torn concert ticket stubs with a program from a Hannah Montana Concert (throwback from the days when she was a Disney sweetheart) held in place by satin ribbon; a photograph of smiling sweet success in building a well-endowed snowwoman with then-inseparable friends; a picture of a surprise birthday party with feather boas and a crowned birthday girl sitting between her little seven-year-old friends who are now seniors or high school graduates, all of whom no longer associate with one another. On the dresser sat four wax molds of hands that spelled L-O-V-E in sign language that left permanent circular reminders of neon pink in the wood’s washed finish; a dried, moss-covered flower girl basket that was carried down the aisle thirteen years ago when her dad and I got married sat still collecting dust. A Madame Alexander ballerina doll dressed in white satin stood poised on tiptoe next to a revolving carousel that rang chimes. I opened a hand-painted jewelry box filled with those little miscellaneous, prized objects that kids hoard and become meaningless in a little over a week’s time.

2015/01/img_0371.jpg

I sorted through the closets and drawers. As I emptied them, it made me think about how our lives become so busy with our own chaotic schedules that we often don’t fully consider what kind of an impression we leave on those we love the most dearly. As a stay at home mom, I can assure you that I have longed for solitude, especially as I was finishing up the last two weeks of the holidays. Instead of enjoying Christmas, oftentimes, I get to the end feeling depleted and thinking to myself, “What happened to Christmas?” At least this year, I made cookies. The drawback? I had deadlines to meet so I didn’t get to enjoy making them with my daughter. The same goes for our lives. Before I know it, I will be thinking, “What happened to my life?” Have I tried to impress upon those that I hold dearest the best version of myself? We are all flawed, but will it be a lasting impression that is good or, even better, GREAT? When they see the all-too-real version, they still love us. If we showed that same “genuine” version we present to our families to those who are merely acquaintances, i.e. professional or personal associates…those that we all too eagerly strive to impress…would they still be around? Would they try to avoid interacting with us? My guess is a resounding yes. So, with that said, why do we make more of an effort with them?

2015/01/img_0353.jpg

2015/01/mobile-pics-284.jpg

2015/01/img_0199.jpg

If those impressions were measureable, do we give the loftiest to those who aren’t seeing our flaws but only a snapshot of us putting our best foot forward? Shouldn’t we reserve that energy, charm and vivacity for those who have seen us through our darkest and most difficult moments? It reminds me of seeing pictures on social media. The pictures are taken, retaken and/or edited to make the impression that everything in that person’s life is going splendidly, without a hitch. Very rarely do we see the struggle or feel the pain of what someone is going through. Starting today, I am going to be intentional with leaving my best impressions to those who matter most. They will be the ones to whom it will be the most lasting.

2015/01/img_0232.jpg

Contrary to the Incessant Negative Propaganda, WE ARE AMERICA!!!!

Anymore, the headlines are filled with sensationalized stories about weaknesses in our country and around the world. The tension among different factions of our culture is almost palpable: Atheists vs. Believers; Homosexuals vs. Heterosexuals; Pro-Gay Marriage vs. Anti-Gay Marriage; Gun Rights vs. Gun Control; Pro-Amnesty vs. Seal the Borders; Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life…and the list goes on and on. These endless schisms are NOT unintentional. As Americans, if we peel back the cloak of propaganda, I think we will find a commonality: the blood that runs through our collective veins is RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.

IMG_0323.JPG

As a nation being steered by leaders that profit by focusing our attentions on our differences, we sometimes miss how similar we are because we are nefariously encouraged through our politicians, educational system, and mainstream media to focus on that which will make us choose sides. To keep us stirred up gives them more power. These wrongly-trusted advisors are negligent in their fiduciary responsibility to be honest with the American people. They will even go as far as promoting falsehoods such as the “war on women” or comparing racism today with the days of Jim Crow Laws.

IMG_0325.GIF

Sadly, the uninformed and apathetic fall victim to these fabrications instead of doing their own research. They don’t use their own anecdotal evidence or experience to make their judgements; they are told what they are to think and they accept it without question. They are merely lemmings ready to follow their often un-vetted leader off the proverbial cliff. What we are told is twisted and shaped to promote their agendas. I was in church yesterday and saw a video that flipped this propaganda on its ear and it prompted me to write this post.

I became relatively interested in the news during the 2000 Presidential Election. I had my candidate, “my team”, and I wanted him to win. The suspense of the recount following the election prompted conversations and I started watching the news hoping to see my choice for the next President of the United States be victorious.  I was spending a good part of the year in Sarasota, Florida at the time, and it all boiled down to the Secretary of State in Florida making the state’s results official and giving the win to George W. Bush. I had voted in every election after turning 18, but as publicized as that election was, I found that I, too, was holding my breath over the hanging chads.

IMG_0324.JPG

In the months to follow, I kept myself pretty well abreast of what was in the news, but September 11, 2001 changed all that. As a result, to say that I listen to Conservative Talk Radio/ News a lot is an understatement. I want to be in-the-know so that I can inform others. I feel that as a stay-at-home mom, it is the least I can do, and I feel a certain sense of civic responsibility. Between the radio, emails, television, and internet, I know almost everything that is going on in real time. Thus, what I saw in church yesterday had me perplexed.

IMG_0326.JPG

The church I attend has themes that last 4-5 weeks, and this week kicked off the theme “We Are (Fill in the Blank)”. At the end of the message, a video was shown of the 9/11 Boatlift rescue. After being summoned by the U.S. Coast Guard, boats of all shapes and sizes transported 500,000 stranded people from Manhattan to safety as the World Trade Center buildings were toppled in a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people…IN NINE HOURS!!!!!! It was a colossally successful mission!

I sat there watching the video as it rekindled the feelings that I had on that horrific day. As the video progressed and I heard the accounts of those involved, I began to feel such an inspirational pride that I hadn’t felt in quite a while. It was like steak to a starving man!!!! As it ended, I thought, “Why have I never seen this? Why isn’t this story told over and over again?” This film shows who we are as Americans. The fabric of our nation’s DNA was so obviously knitted into each of these heroic boat captains! Instead of our politicians, educators (it goes without saying this does not apply to all of them), and mainstream media cultivating disdain and divisiveness in our country, why not promote the amazing triumphs in her history? Are we flawed? Yes! Are we fabulous? Absolutely!!!! After all, WE ARE AMERICA!!!! Now, let’s start acting like it!

“I BELIEVE WITH ALL MY HEART THAT STANDING UP FOR AMERICA MEANS STANDING UP FOR THE GOD WHO HAS SO BLESS OUR LAND.” -RONALD REAGAN

IMG_0322.JPG(This amatuer photograph was taken on the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11. Amazing!)

Note to Self-Proclaimed Feminists: Go Ahead and Devalue Yourselves but DON’T EXPLOIT YOUR CHILDREN

Every morning during the school year, I drop my daughter off at the front door of her Middle School and ask Siri, on my iPhone, to call my mom. I sometimes check in with her again in the afternoon or evening. We have a very close relationship…it’s what we do. I talk with her about dilemmas either of us may have (I admit, it is usually me that has the dilemma), current events, recipes (we both have a passion for culinary creativity) and a host of other things that might come up.

Last night, while waiting for my daughter to finish her dance class, I sat in the car and decided to call Mother to check in. She asked me if I had seen the commercial with 6-year-old girls dropping the “F-bomb”. I told her that I hadn’t seen it. When I phoned her again this morning, I could hear the news in the background, and twice during our 15-minute conversation, the subject regarding the ad was brought up. My mom was appalled to say the least. I could hear some of the discussion on the news which wasn’t very positive. I decided to check it out myself. I mean, REALLY, just how bad could it be?

WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC LANGUAGE

IT IS THAT BAD!!! At least, it is to me. The commercial in question is a pro-feminism ad about women’s inequality featuring little young girls, rumored to be around six years of age, and one boy, dressed in princess dresses. Hat tip to the cross dressers! After all, in our current culture, we must be diverse and tolerant of everyone and everything! I can’t imagine where a mother’s mind is that commends exploiting her child and glorifying the use of language like is on display in this ad. Do they really think it furthers the cause of equality for women? I think the “geniuses” behind this marketing campaign look like nothing more than ugly, trashy, and desperate women with no taste or sensibilities. To what end are they creating a video showing their children using such potty language? For posterity’s sake? Have they even given it any thought? If these classless women, who clearly lack any discernment, would like to humiliate themselves and it be put into the annals of internet history, go right ahead! Don’t exploit children! It is the unspoken rule of decency!

Thirty-two years ago this fall, I started my freshman year at the University of Georgia…GO DAWGS! My roommate and I were late getting in our application for dorm selection, so we were relegated to live in a co-ed dorm named Creswell, known more familiarly as “The Well”. Being from a small intimate town on the south side of Atlanta, I lived a pretty sheltered life. My roommate, from the same hometown, and I were both what I would consider “protected” in our upbringings. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the “F-bomb” for the very first time.

IMG_0317.JPG

Her name was Edna…Edna from New Jersey. She was drunk (again) and walking through the dorm hallway shouting something. She continued on her rant and my roommate and I were in our dorm room sitting on our beds looking at each other over the tops of our studying material. We both agreed that Edna was “at it again”. After she shouted out what we thought was a resounding, “SHOW YOUR BALLS!”, Shelly and I bolted from our bunks to look out in the hallway. It was anyones guess what was taking place! Seiously, we were living in a co-ed dorm! After we two Southern Belles figured out what she was saying, we realized that her enthusiasm for the upcoming home football game “between the hedges” was uncontainable. She was actually shouting “Shug-ah Bowl!” That is how out of place profanity was back then. It certainly hadn’t become a cliched part of our everyday language!

I am not going to sit on any high horse and act like a swear word is totally foreign to me, but I must say it did give me a warm fuzzy recently when my daughter was in utter disbelief when I spontaneously let “Shit!” slip when someone almost T-boned me while going through an intersection. “MOM!!!!!!” When my daughter hears profanity, I try to explain to her that they are merely words. It is OUR choice to use DIFFERENT words. I explain that anyone can use those words but they are ugly and trashy and make the person speaking it look similar. Why would these crass feminists use little kids as a means of pushing their agenda? Why not cultivate a child’s innocence instead of promoting vulgarity? To encourage young children to profusely use profanity that will be viewed by millions to promote something they have yet to experience is beyond despicable.

IMG_0318.JPG

In the offensive video, its message is to denounce inequality of women. Does repeating the “F-bomb” make us more equal? Does having little girls using words like f@#*, penis, and ass stop women from being raped and victimized by violence? This commercial is a disgrace to our gender and will not further the feminist agenda. It simply trashes them. I don’t know if the two crude loud-mouths in the video are mothers of these children or not, but if they are, they are the antithesis of a good parent, and I wouldn’t consider them worthy of equality in the parenting realm.  I wonder if they behave in the work place like they asked of these children. If so, they don’t deserve equality!  Nice work, Ladies!

IMG_0319.JPG

Ladies…oh yeah, I forgot that you amazingly find the moniker offensive UNLIKE you deem the language in your advertisement…Women, your absurd attempt at promoting equality is so unimpressive. But then again, feminism has worked so well for these two ladies:

IMG_0321.JPG

What’s Next…Is Godzilla Going To Do a Flyover????.

IMG_0293.JPG

Anymore, life is getting pretty bizarre. Our thoughts and conversations are being inundated with haunting images and screaming headlines that vie for our attentions so much that we are becoming almost immune to the sensationalism.

IMG_0295.JPG

Being a self-admitted Conservative radio junkie, I wrestle with whether or not to tune out like everyone else so that I, too, can enjoy a childlike oblivion, or to keep myself informed in order that I might help to educate others. I have been using social media as a platform to keep my acquaintances apprised of what is going on. I post it, and they can choose whether or not to look at it or skip over it. At times, I try to entice them, or even total strangers for that matter, into conversation with a question about what is most likely the currently trending story on the internet. It isn’t that I like to incessantly hear about the declining state of our culture and country, but it feels like I’m watching a train wreck and I want others to know they might not want to step out on the track right now! I can’t pull myself away.

IMG_0307.JPG

Even if I want to enjoy a respite from radio and television, I feel surrounded by media of all sorts that broadcasts just how whacko things have become. My frequent comparison of our most recent culture is to the very popular dystopian novel The Hunger Games. Though it could just be in my imagination, I do congratulate Suzanne Collins and the movie’s producers on taming the gore down in the second film, Catching Fire, to suit a more diverse audience. Honestly, in the first movie, I could hardly shake the image of blood slinging at the camera as the District 2 tribute, Cato, used a machete to slash open the chest of his opponent. At that point in the movie, I remember questioning my judgement as a parent to have allowed my daughter to see it.

IMG_0296.JPG

Everywhere you turn these days, there are piercings and tattoos that must have cost a small fortune. Some of these people look like they can’t afford a meal, but their bodies are emblazoned with people’s and pet’s faces, names, and a plethora of other pictures or verses. Good thing they last a hundred years…at least they will get their money’s worth! Really, who wants earlobes with holes in them big enough to hold a roll of paper towels? Okay, I have to admit, there is some practicality in it. After all, who doesn’t hate using a public restroom, then washing ones hands, only to find an empty paper towel dispenser? I mean, it’s okay if you’re wearing jeans, but…

IMG_0300.JPG

I understand the desire for individuality, yet it has gotten so extreme that a little tattoo doesn’t cut it. People have to have their entire limbs done, their backs and necks, even resorting to their faces! People like this used to be a main event at the circus, and now it is no longer considered the fringe!

IMG_0297.JPG

Globally, our world is on fire. Christians in other countries are being persecuted and not a word in the Mainstream Media. In the Middle East, young Christian girls are being snatched from their families and being forced to convert to Muslim. Their families have no recourse, because Sharia Law overrules civil law in the land. Where is the outrage? Does anybody care? Can you imagine someone overtly abducting your own child and not being able to fight it?

Even if one isn’t interested in the images of barbaric decapitations, they are all over Facebook, Twitter, the nightly news and even casually mixed in with Southern Living and Good Housekeeping in the magazine rack at the grocery store. As one flips through the “Best Tailgate Recipes”, it is really hard to imagine the flavor or “Chipotle Sliders with Pepper Jack Cheese” when ones eyes are riveted toward the kneeling, shaved, handcuffed, helpless man in an orange jumpsuit and the terrifying black-robed executioner wielding a machete. It is everywhere. It feels surreal. It is horrific. But, to our “selfie” society, that was so last week.

Meanwhile, we have a former Vice President and celebrity protesters flying into New York to protest Global Warming on their private jets committing the unpardonable sin of spewing CO2 (just as did the flatulent cows they flew over that were grazing in the countless pastures 30,000 feet below them).

IMG_0314.JPG

Professional, paid protesters, consuming tons of diesel fuel, were bussed to New York City hailing cabs to transport them all over the city being led by Leonardo DiCaprio, who lives in fairyland surrounded by a number of other celebrities who believe in a Utopia that does not exist. The best part? How ironic that these tree huggers left the biggest mess of litter and debris in their wake!

IMG_0301.JPG

Hellur…why don’t they go protest on the streets of China, which is the largest consumer of energy in the world, or some other Communist country with whom they align their beliefs? Don’t have an affinity for hard labor camps??? I am sure they will be treated swimmingly just like the brilliant American who decided to fly to North Korea where he tore up his visa, shouting he wanted to seek asylum. Guess what? After being delivered a six-year sentence for “hostile acts” and being thrown into a hard labor camp, he has the audacity to be pleading with the U.S. to do something to go and save his little butt! Imagine that! How foolish!!

IMG_0309.JPG

Meanwhile, Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, an honorable, former Marine, having served two tours in Afghanistan and suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, easily made a wrong turn from San Diego, California into Mexico, and has, since March 31st, been imprisoned in El Hongo Prison, a Mexican penitentiary controlled by notorious drug lords. Pleas for his release, i.e. phone calls from his mother, petitions signed by hundreds of thousands of American citizens, requests from certain Congressmen, coverage on social media and the news, are falling on deaf ears in the State Department!

IMG_0311.JPG

Our country’s southern border is mostly wide open and, Lord only knows who/what is coming across. Some of these illegals crossing are possibly carrying diseases that aren’t indigenous to the U.S. so our immune systems aren’t used to fighting these maladies. Not only is our current administration not enforcing our borders, President Obama is transporting the illegals to various cities across our nation’s interior. As if that isn’t enough, Obama is giving the illegal children “HOMELESS” status which exempts them from the vaccinations that are required of other U.S. school children. I believe it is no small coincidence that a “strange and severe respiratory virus affecting children” has spread across two dozen states in recent weeks.

IMG_0308.JPG

My mother is coming to visit me soon, and she asked me if she should carry a mask and gloves to wear on the airplane. She lives a retired life with her husband and isn’t exposed to the petri dish environment that is the interior of a commercial airplane. She has always been healthy and she would like to keep it that way.

IMG_0302-0.PNG

We’ve all seen videos and photos in the news of Asian citizens that wear masks riding the subway system, walking in congested city streets, etcetera…”Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea”, I said. She nervously asked, “Do you think people will be staring at me?” She is of Hispanic descent and has almond-shaped eyes. I suggested that she put on some heavy eyeliner, wear her mask, and if someone tries to speak to her, she say, “Ni Hao!”

IMG_0312.JPG

The craziest yet, is that the United States has had some of her citizens being beheaded in recent weeks with threats of more bloodshed, Mexican drug cartels are threatening and warning American protesters of a bloodbath if they demonstrate against illegal immigration at the border, and President Obama engages our military men and women to go fight Ebola??????

IMG_0292.JPG

It has become as absurd as the old b-rated black and white horror film with masses of screaming people running from some unknown threat only to find out it is a huge, obviously fake reptile. Is that what we have been reduced to? Are we going to look up one day and see Godzilla flying overhead? Stop the insanity!

IMG_0289.JPG

Live Your Life…Like a Boss!

“If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference.” -Vincent “Vince” Lombardi

Every year, when my daughter starts school, I look for motivational quotes to write on her pencil box, planner or accordion file. For example, last year’s “It’s not how good you are that is important; it’s how good you want to be” was replaced with this year’s “Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”-Vince Lombardi. I am not sure who said the first quote, but the second was spoken by a legendary and iconic coach who masterfully motivated his players to be “in it to win it” (source unknown;-)).

IMG_0285.JPG

In my search, I came across the aforementioned quote, “If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference” and thought, am I making an impact? In church the last three weeks, the theme has been titled “Like a Boss”. The pastor spoke of how our culture has gotten away from the idea of work being a good thing. He went as far as to quote a Gallup poll that was quite startling. He said, as recently as 2012, those polled here in the U.S. that were 18 and over and in the work force were either a.) 29% engaged, b.) 54% disengaged, or c.) 18% ACTIVELY DISENGAGED, meaning those actively disengaged actually work toward the demise of the company who employs them! What is the root of this malaise?

IMG_0286.JPG

My pastor went on to quote Scripture regarding mankind’s responsibility to work. The pastor said to work “like a boss”…at EVERYTHING you do… including resting on the Sabbath. His list included marriage, parenting, employment, employing, studying, cooking, serving others, et al. His messages the past three weeks have truly resonated with me. In my own journey of the Bible, through the book of Proverbs and now into Ecclesiastes, I feel like I have had an epiphany! It is ALL ABOUT WORK! God’s Word is directing us to work “LIKE A BOSS”! It is up to us to choose to do our very best in all things. We must be intentional in our life here on earth. Amazingly, I feel that the tasks that I have formerly found to be repetitious and mundane have somehow become less tedious or wearisome. I am consciously looking at ironing uniforms (yes, I really do iron), making breakfast, and packing lunch through a completely different lens. What a difference it makes!

IMG_0288.JPG

As my daughter’s crazy schedule is now in full swing, it is easy to get caught up in feeling like I am on a hamster wheel as I drive the same routes over and over to school, swimming, voice, piano, dance, and a plethora of other activities in which she participates. Obviously, Vince Lombardi is not with us any more, but his legacy and passion for pursuit of excellence is still very present and is oft-quoted to motivate us to our highest level of performance. I now realize it is all up to me to motivate myself! I am hoping to be more deliberate in living my life like a boss so that I leave an impactful example and legacy for my daughter to follow. I wonder how my husband is going to like it when I tell him, “Honey, there’s a new boss in town.”;-)

IMG_1015.JPG

Rose-Colored Gifts of The Good Ol’ Days

Having described myself as a night owl for years, I have never been a fan of mornings. Oddly enough, since my daughter has started back to school this year, I have awakened between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. without an alarm. When this had happened in the past, my usual choice had been to try to force myself back to sleep resulting in frustration if I was unsuccessful. If I was lucky enough to doze off, inevitably, I’d slip back into a near-comatose slumber. It seemed like mere seconds before the alarm jolted me back to life reminding me a little bit of defibrillator paddles. I would then experience a certain amount of sleep inertia and agonizing grogginess as I would grumblingly haul my body out of bed and heavily trudge my way to my work station in the kitchen. UGH!!!

IMG_0282.JPG

I have been opting, instead, to open my eyes and start allowing myself to go through a mental checklist about what I have on my agenda for the day. My mother and husband have both been on me for years to make a list. My response: “That’s not how I roll!” I now submit to the list! Though I see the merit in routine, I would never have described myself as being regimented. Just between you and me, I am enjoying going to the kitchen, starting a pot of coffee, and while it is gurgling, reading my daily devotional, two chapters in the Bible, and spending a little time with God.

IMG_0284.JPG

I once heard, that years ago, you weren’t considered educated if you hadn’t read the Bible. I thought, “I profess my Christianity, but how well do I know the Bible?” Soooo… I started with Genesis. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” I have made it to Ecclesiastes which is believed to be written by the wise King Solomon as he gets into the twilight of his years and reflects upon human existence. This morning a particular verse gave me pause in which I, too, was reflective. ‘Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions…When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about your future.’ Ecclesiastes 7:10,14

Wow. I thought about all the times recently that I find myself lamenting the current state of affairs in our world, and, even closer to home, our country. The verse’s associated devotional suggested that we look for today’s gifts instead of our very selective rose-colored memories of the past. In my close circle of influence, I recognize a multitude of gifts: my family and friends, my health, my faith, etc. Technology has bestowed upon us Skype and FaceTime with which we are able to see our loved ones in real time. We have portable all-in-one computer/camera/phones the size of a deck of cards that we can easily slip into our pockets. They store thousands of our favorite songs, photos, and videos that can be uploaded to FaceBook and a host of other social media websites to be instantly shared with family and friends, some of which we haven’t seen in 30-40 years. That is really cool stuff! I get that.

What I am wondering about in my reflection? Are my memories rose-colored and selective? In the “good ol’ days”, our music was less vulgar and more discreet in its sexual innuendoes. For example, “Mama’s got her squeezebox, Daddy never sleeps at night” were lyrics of implied sexuality but it wasn’t as in your face as are the licentious lyrics of many contemporary artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and even some Katy Perry. Thank heavens for a little Taylor Swift for our kids to listen to! I fondly recall Motown, Barry Manilow, Glenn Campbell, Disco, The Bay City Rollers, The Little River Band, Lynard Skynard, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Classic Rock, Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Toto…am I wrongly remembering a time of better melodies with acceptable lyrics? Popular music has devolved into harsh rhythms and gutter-speak that comes with a warning about explicit content. Where is the musical quality?

Years ago, I purchased a CD by Outkast that had a song “Hey Ya”…”Shake it like a polaroid picture”. Driving in my convertible, I was listening to the rest of the CD. I was sitting at a traffic light next to a minivan with its windows open that was loaded with children. The lyrics got so vile, I turned it off! What is the purpose? I haven’t listened to it since. Songs by Eminem, Beyonce, Lil Wayne, include lyrics that are overtly sexual or openly dropping the “F” bomb! Is it really music or is it profanity accompanied by an overzealous mixer that has a fondness for a heart-pounding, thundering subwoofer? Is it a contest to see how repugnant one can get?

When I was young, our sitcoms included The Andy Griffin Show, Gomer Pyle, Hogan’s Heroes, McCale’s Navy, Gilligan’s Island, Mr. Ed, The Munsters, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, and Growing Pains. The shows were decent, AND some had parents, and even grandparents, around giving the children guidance. Today’s sitcoms such as iCarly, Good Luck Charlie, Victorious and Sam and Cat either have no parents on the show and they are being raised and influenced by peers, or the mother wears the pants in the family and the father is a blundering boob.

Who doesn’t prefer the nostalgic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy or…wait for it…The Year Without a Santa Claus…”I’m Mr. Heat Miser! I’m Mr. Hundred-and-One!”?

IMG_0280.PNG

Even though we have the movies in DVD, I still look for these classics in the newspaper to find their showtimes. Only now, I have to search amongst a calendar starting Thanksgiving week that has 30 days of Christmas shows that are shown and repeated over the month. Nope…it isn’t as special as it was back in the “good ol’ days”, because then, we were only able to see them one time every December. In recent years, we have a twenty-four hour marathon of A Christmas Story  on TBS on Christmas Day. Who doesn’t love it when Ralphie escapes getting his eye shot out with the BB gun only because he is wearing glasses? Will we eventually be subjected to twenty-four hours of Shrek the Halls???

IMG_0283.JPG

Recently, my mom recommended that I get my daughter to come up with one meal per week: I will get the ingredients, and then she will cook it. We have now done it three times. It takes a lot of patience on my part, because I want to get it done as quickly as possible. Growing up, I remember my mom appointing me as her personal sous chef, so it is only fitting, that I have my own. I must say, she LOVES it. She enjoys taking ownership and is learning that the food doesn’t just show up on the plate. The memories that I have spending that time in the kitchen sure beat going to a restaurant or drive-thru which seems to be the preference these days. I even think some people that eat out all the time have adapted palates that would rather have a Chipotle Burrito then home cooking…not me! It is a labor of love that makes the house smell like a home. I think spending time as a family in preparing the meal is something that is going the way of the dinosaurs.

Perhaps, traditions are part of those rose-colored memories. Aren’t they what make us who we are? With the holidays quickly approaching, most of us look forward to rekindling those time-honored rituals that make us feel warm and fuzzy. Every year over the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom, daughter and I ice gingerbread cookies and take them to the firefighters and/or policemen to show our gratitude to those who are working over the holiday weekend. Due to the gift of technology, I greatly appreciate that I will be able to have a face-to-face conversation with my brother and sister-in-law on Thanksgiving Day! Better yet, standing in the kitchen slicing and dicing, basting and tasting alongside my mom and daughter will be most assuredly a timeless joy…just like “the good ol’ days”!