Are We Actually Helping the Terrorists?

I’ve seen so many posts and memes in the last few days of our President Biden, yes the president who was duly elected by a fair and not stolen election, being made to look like a Talib, a member of the Taliban.

I’ve also seen one of them of him made to look like Bin Laden holding ice cream cones. People think it’s funny. It’s not.

And let me explain why. And yes it’s my opinions and you ha e a right to your opinion, like I do. But please listen to what I’m saying.

I do not agree on how Afghanistan was handled. Is being handled. It began when a former president decided to negotiate with the Taliban, a terrorist group not in charge of the Afghan government. He made agreements with them and even invited their high ranking members to Camp David, one of the most private and secure places for our president and his family.

Fortunately that didn’t happen. Can you imagine if it had? That would’ve been opening the door to our country and saying, “Come on in. My home is your home. We’re all friends now! What can I help you with? I’m pulling our troops out like you asked.”

I didn’t see any postings of Trump made to look like a Talib, but I may have missed that.

In my opinion, which is just that, President Biden should have not followed though with the withdrawal when he did. Yes, I believe we needed to leave, but we did not plan well. In fact, it was very poorly planned.

Even worse, people are being killed because of it. Americans and Afghans as well. We are now in a very dangerous position. The Taliban sent suicide bombers to the airport like the threatened.

Thirteen American service members were killed along with Afghan men, women and children. This is an outage.

There are countless posts about

remembering and honoring these service members. About praying for their heartbroken families. Which we should do.

And then some of these same people start posting pictures of our president dressed in Afghan garb and implying he’s Taliban.

Now what do you think the real Taliban think of that? And don’t say they don’t know about it because they do. And I can assure you, they are even more emboldened because of it.

This tells them that the Americans are weak. That we have no respect for our elected leadership, just like the Taliban had no respect for the duly elected Afghan government. Just like they have no respect for women. Nor respect for anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.

People, you’re playing right into their hands. And they love it. You’re weakening our position in the Islamic world. You’re telling them you no more respect our president than they do. And in their mind you’re actually telling them you think they’re in the right.

That world kills people for doing what you’re doing. Literally.

Just because we have the right to make our opinions known doesn’t mean we should do it in this way. And how is this honoring the Americans who were just killed in that bombing? How does it make their families feel?

I know a lot of you will say I’m crazy, I don’t have a sense of humor, or call me a communist Democrat. Call me what you will, because I am not affiliated with either political party.

I don’t care how you feel. I’m just asking you to be careful of what you post during this time. You may think nothing bad can happen here, but it did and it could very well happen again.

I had a teacher in high school who had a number of favorite sayings, one of which was “a word to the wise should be sufficient.” So I close with that thought.

Take Time to Smell the Roses

We’ve all heard this so many times. And we think what a good idea that is. To stop and take time for ourselves. To take a break from our busy lives where we’re constantly pulled in different directions. When we scarcely have time to finish one project before we have another that has to be done immediately. When at the end of the day we have more still to do than we had accomplished during the day.

It gets to be exhausting. And we find ourselves keeping so busy that we forget to take time to do the things we enjoy. The things that make us who we are. That give us that welcome distraction we all need in order to recharge our batteries.

But sometimes we don’t even have the energy for that. But it’s important.

Now for me, smelling the roses has a special meaning. My mother loved roses, and I still remember the two rose bushes she had planted beside our grape arbor when I was growing up, and how I looked forward to their blooming every spring. There was a white one that bloomed and bloomed. Profusely. There were fluffy white blooms everywhere. But there was no fragrance, no smell.

The other was a deep red rose, so deeply red it was almost black. It was gorgeous, with huge velvety blooms, and it smelled absolutely wonderful. As soon as it started blooming, I’d make sure to go outside and smell its beautiful fragrance every day. It just made me feel good.

And since I didn’t want the other bush to feel left out, I always put my nose in the middle of one of its blooms as well, and every so often I smelled that faint sweet rose smell. Or thought I did.

Maybe it was just the act of reaching out to smell those roses. Taking the time to just stop and recharge. To do a little thing that made me feel good. To breathe in a fragrance of peace and beauty that for a few moments made me forget the world around me.

Unfortunately those particular rose bushes are now gone. But I still remember them, special memories of my youth now well into the latter days of adulthood.

But my love of roses isn’t gone. I have several rose bushes around our back yard. In the spring they’re so full of blooms that all you see is a sea of pink. But if I don’t stop to take care of them, they start to lose their beauty, to fade and lose their petals, and they don’t bloom as much.

Like ourselves, roses who are untended begin to lose their beauty, their fragrance of life; they don’t continue to thrive. And unless we stop to smell that special fragrance, we too, begin to lose our beauty and our zest for life. We become untended and don’t stop to take time to care for ourselves. Caring for our inner self; the thing that makes us “us” is important.

Being active is fine, no matter what our age. But we still have to take the time to rest, to relax, and appreciate the world around us. To stop and smell those roses before they’re gone.

I’ve been very guilty of that lately, I must admit. And one night last week, I decided it was time to stop and take time for just me. To do what I enjoyed, and not what other people wanted to do. And I did. And it was refreshing.

There weren’t any real roses around to smell, but I took the time to sit and read and listen to some of the music I really enjoy. And yes, I even sang along with some of it. I took time to finish a jigsaw puzzle and even colored a couple of pictures.

I recharged my batteries. And the next morning when I went out to water a few flowers before going to work. I walked over to my rose bushes. Even though they’re somewhat faded now because it’s fall, there were still a few

blossoms waiting for me to stop and smell.

And I did.

And I’m going to do it more often.

Not always literally, but I’m going to start taking more time to stop and recharge; to do things I really want to do but never seem to find enough time for. I’m going to make that time instead of trying to accomplish a zillion things each week.

And when I see some roses, or other flowers I really like, I’m going to take the time to enjoy them, and take in their beauty.

And I’m going to keep smelling the roses.

I’m Tired of Adulting

For those of you on Facebook, we see this almost daily in someone’s status. We usually laugh it off, make funny comments, or just scroll on by because it’s, well, old news, as the saying goes.

But right now, after a few long and difficult weeks, I think giving up being an adult sounds like a really good thing! I’ve tried it for a lot of years now. The first few were kind of fun. I could sort of do as I wanted and no one told me I couldn’t. Well, that’s not entirely true, because the first few years as an adult I was in college, and I had to do what our instructors said in order to get decent grades, but that’s different.

When we were in high school we couldn’t wait to be 21 and be “adults,” whatever that meant. And yes, back then, you weren’t really an adult til you were 21, although you could get married and serve in the military at 18. And when we graduated from high school at 18, many of us started careers or got married…before we were really “adults.” We couldn’t wait to be grown up, to be adults.

We thought life would suddenly be great when we really became “adults.” Well, that suddenly happened. But it wasn’t the way we expected.

The world we thought we had grown up in, the world that seemed to have so many opportunities and such a bright future, took on a new look of war, social unrest, and rioting. And we realized that maybe being an adult wasn’t quite what it was all rumored to be.

Adulting came with responsibilities, and a lot of them we weren’t ready for. And many of us still aren’t, although we have no choice.

Adulting means making decisions we really don’t want to make; decisions that affect our lives, as well as other people’s, for the rest of our lives. If we make the wrong one, there’s no one around to fix it for us. We have to live with it or work really hard to turn things around.

We thought being an adult would make our lives simple. Instead we had to work for a living; no parents to pay our way any more. We had bills to pay, cars to buy and repair, rent or mortgages to pay. We had to buy our own food, and prepare it, on a daily basis.

Suddenly we became parents, and had responsibilities for our own children. And wondered how our parents ever did it! Raising children was certainly not as easy as we thought.

And then there were the adult problems that came along as we aged. Our health, or our friends’ or loved ones’ health, began to deteriorate. Addictions and rehab became a part of many of our friends’ lives. Serious illnesses attacked many of us or our loved ones, changing our lives forever.

The ones we married and thought would love us forever didn’t. Many of us experienced divorce, and sometimes even more than once. And it was nothing like the breakups we had in high school…the ones we never thought we’d recover from. Until we found someone else the next week.

No, divorce was far worse than that, and we really began to wonder why being an adult was supposed to be so great. Being a child was much easier.

Being an adult is tough. No matter how old we are. It’s a huge responsibility.

So many times we look at our kids, or our grandkids, as the case now is, and for a moment or two we think how wonderful it would be to have that childhood innocence back; to be a child whose biggest concerns are what they’re going to play with next, what their mom or dad is going to fix for dinner, and how they’ll avoid going to bed too early.

And I think back to those long ago times when our own lives were like that. And yes, I get nostalgic and wish I could stop being an adult for awhile and just be a child again. No worries and no responsibilities.

But then, would we want to go through growing up again? Through all it entailed? Would we want to face becoming an adult again and having to go through all the rough times again?

No. Probably not. At least I wouldn’t.

But wouldn’t it be nice to just imagine times being so simple again?

At least for a day or two. How about you?

Give Every Day….

…the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life!

What?

How can I do that? After all the awful stuff yesterday that’s going to carry into tomorrow…my whole life is a wreck. Nothing’s going right. I don’t know when it ever will go right again….

Is this you?

Well it’s never too late to become who you might have been.

Think about that for a minute.

You have choices. You can give up and just decide nothing will ever change. That you’ll always be in this same old rut; this same old place that you were in yesterday, and the day before, and you figure you’ll still be there tomorrow.

Well, that’s most likely true. As long as you keep thinking that way and keep making the same choices over and over again. If you don’t give every day the chance to be the best day of your life…if you don’t try to make it the best day of your life, or at least one of the best you’ve ever had, or at least one a lot better than the day before…

How are you ever going to be who you were meant to be?

That takes work, you know. It’s not handed to you without your working to make it happen. Opportunities come to you every day. You may not even recognize them because they’re little things, small steps that you need to take in order to get to where you need to be to take those larger steps.

Someone may ask you to meet them somewhere, and that meeting could possibly lead to something bigger. A new job opportunity. A new chance to get involved in something that’s always interested you. A new love interest that you never expected. A chance to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but didn’t know how you’d ever be able to make it happen.

Yes, things like that happen every day. If we just look for them. If we’re not afraid to say no. If we’re not afraid to say “I can’t because….”

It’s not ever too late to become what you were meant to become.

Sometimes we hold ourselves back because we’re too stuck in yesterday to take advantage of what happens today that will shape our tomorrow.

Read that again.

Did you give yesterday the chance to become the best day you’ve had? Or did you just say, “Here’s another day of the same old stuff. When will it change?” And go about your business the same way you did yesterday.

And you expect today to be different. And it isn’t. Because that’s not how it works.

It’s not ever too late to become what you were meant to become. But unless you do something different, you’re not going to move ahead and into the person you’re supposed to be. We’re not meant to be stationery beings. We’re meant to move, to enjoy, to accomplish, and to make a mark in this world.

But unless you start to do things to make that happen, you’re not going to become who you’re supposed to be.

Who do you want to be?

What do you need to do to make it happen?

And when are you going to start?

There’s no day like today.

What are you waiting for?

I Still Remember. Do You?

I purposely didn’t write this for publication on 9/11. Because we’re all reminded of what happened on that day. We certainly remember it every year on that date. At least those of us who were adults, teenagers, and old enough to watch it unfold before our very eyes.

Almost 3,000 people died suddenly that day. Almost 3,000 people who had waked up that day, prepared for their daily routines and most likely their plans for after work.

And suddenly, within hours, those plans were gone. Because they were, too.

Families were destroyed, never to recover again. Our nation would never be the same again.

Yes, that day was one we should never forget.

But what about the day after?

Because today is the day after 9/11/2001.

That day, most of us went back to our daily lives. Yes, we were still shaken, still in disbelief. We were still thinking about all the lives lost, wondering what, if anything, would happen next. Yes, we kept seeing the pictures on tv, but a lot of them were re-runs of what had happened.

We’d already seen those pictures several times, and already we were getting a little tired of them. After all, we’d already seen, heard about it. And already our initial fears were starting to subside.

That was for those of us who weren’t directly affected. Because it hadn’t actually touched US.

Where we live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia we were a bit more watchful, as this is home to the world’s largest conglomeration of naval bases. Many of friends and neighbors, their families, worked there or were in the military. And we were concerned about them, and for ourselves.

But our day after 9/11 was mostly back to our normal work lives, our normal after work and/or after school activities, with a bit of sadness and apprehension thrown in. But we still had our loved ones.

The day after 9/11 for those personally affected was a continuation of the vast horror that had been inflicted upon them.

It was a realization that no matter what happened from that day forward, their lives would never ever be the same. No amount of time would ever be able to make them forget; to make the horror and anguish disappear.

Nothing could ever make it go away, or make things right again.

The weddings that had been planned would never take place.

The birthday parties that were planned would never be celebrated.

The babies who were waiting to be born died along with their mothers. And fathers who were anticipating the birth of their children would never be there to meet them.

Children would grow up without one or maybe both of their parents.

Thousands of funerals would have to be planned. And attended. And most likely no one knew where to start…

Life for those left behind would continue, but in a new, frightening, and uncertain way. Those left behind were most likely totally unprepared for what they needed to do. Just the sheer stress of dealing with such a horrific death of a loved one, not to

mention the hundreds of details involved in the necessary tasks of finances, insurance, closing apartments and homes….overwhelming doesn’t begin to describe it.

Then there was the wondering of what actually happened to their loved ones in those final seconds. Did they know what was happening? Did they have time to think? Some were fortunate enough to receive a last phone call. Most weren’t. And they are still left to wonder about the unimaginable.

They just wanted to go back in time to 9/10/2001. And let time stop.

But it doesn’t work like that. Unfortunately. Because reality intervenes.

We all remember the haunting photos of the buildings being hit, crumbling down. The wreckage of a plane in a Pennsylvania field. A gaping hole in the Pentagon.

But I also remember the faces of those desperately searching for a loved one who may have somehow made it, hope quickly fading as realization set in.

And the pictures of loved ones plastered on fences, light poles, building walls; the flowers and notes; a grim reminder of the lost.

So today, the day after the remembering of 9/11, let’s remember what so many were going through that day AFTER 9/11. And are still going through; still remembering.

They deserve to stay in our hearts as well. Because for them, the horror will never be far away.

We remember what happened, but we should also never forget those who were left behind to carry on by themselves.

Do you agree?

I’m Just Not Ready!

A lot of my friends are, though. And I really don’t know why. Our daughter certainly isn’t. Not a summer lover like her! She even wears flip flops in the winter!

No, I’m not ready for summer to end. I’m not ready for those weekends in the pool, with the sun shining bright and the dragonflies flitting around us, to end. I don’t want to not be able to rush home from work, throw on a swimsuit, grab a float, and enjoy an hour of peaceful tranquility, floating around in that nice blue water, a cold drink in one hand, and a good book in the other.

I really love summer. Even when it’s sweltering hot. I love the sunshine and blue skies. The long days that only end at 8:30 as we’re sitting on the porch listening to the frogs and the crickets. I love wearing swimsuits and flip flops and the smell of sunblock and buying more flamingos to hang around the pool with us. I like ice cream on a hot summer night and sharing it with our Yorkies. The scent of flowers happily blooming in the garden.

But sometimes I think I’m in the minority.

My friends are posting “welcome fall” pictures. They’re talking about pumpkin spice everything. Coffee, cookies, pumpkin pie, even pumpkin spice Oreos and donuts!

No. Not me. Where’s the key lime pie and strawberry shortcake? Fresh fruit sangria? Sitting by the beach or the inlet at a favorite restaurant eating fresh steamed shrimp and watching the sea gulls.

No. I’m not ready for fall. I’ve not had enough summer yet. Not enough beach or pool time.

As much as I enjoy it, I’m not ready for football yet; baseball is still going strong and one of our teams has a chance for the playoffs.

I’m not ready for heavy sweaters and boots, as much as I like them, because I still have my flip flops and tank tops to wear!

I’m being slowly dragged kicking and screaming into another season where I’m just not ready to be, because I’m not ready to let summer go.

Can’t we just have another month or so???

Who’s with me??

The Calm Before the Storm

How many times have we said that? How many times have we really thought about what it means?

The other night as we were outside in the pool for perhaps the last time of the summer, I started thinking how calm everything was.

How much clearer the sky suddenly seemed. How the clouds looked so

much more defined. The air itself even felt different. Like something was changing. And it wouldn’t go back to the way it was for quite a while.

Yes, a storm is coming. We know that. Hurricane Dorian is making her way slowly up the coast, after leaving a trail of devastation and destruction that is unimaginable to most of us.

We know it’s coming. We don’t really know exactly what and how bad, but we do know it’s on the way. Most of us are prepared, at least as much as possible, but we’re still wondering what’s really going to happen. Part of us says we’re imagining it, but that other part of us knows we’re not.

The calm before the storm is definitely real. You can actually feel the difference in the air. Sense it around us. The nighttime insects sound different. Our pets are acting different, like they’re sensing something coming…something they don’t like. The birds seem to have suddenly disappeared. The squirrels, actively running around the yard a few days ago grabbing food wherever they found it, are all of a sudden nowhere to be found. The lizards that were crawling around in the flower beds just yesterday are gone.

The air is different. There’s a strange coolness with just a hint of humidity. You can’t determine what’s caused it; you just know something is coming.

You can feel it coming. Something that probably isn’t good. But we also know it’s something we can’t prevent.

Past experiences tell me this is normal. I’ve gone through it many times before, right before a hurricane approaches; before it strikes. One day it’s calm and clear; within 24 hours it’s blustery, rainy, and feels like we’ll not get through the storm in one piece. And sadly, in many areas, they don’t.

But the next day the storm has passed; the skies are once again clear, the sun is shining; the air is back to normal. The storm has left behind piles of destruction and ruined many things. But we pick up and begin rebuilding.

The calm before the storm becomes the calm after the storm.

And in most cases we’re thankful it was no worse than it was.

With this hurricane we’ve seen some of the worst destruction from such storms in many years. People have lost all their belongings, their homes; many lost their lives. For them, the calm after the storm becomes a stark reflection of a harsh reality; and the beginning of starting over from scratch.

It’s frightening.

This morning, count your blessings. Embrace the calm before the storm, and appreciate the here and now. Look at your piece of the world around you. Study it. Remember it.

This is life. This is real. We can experience many things while going through the storms of life, but we come through them. Not always unscathed, but we come through, knowing there’s a tomorrow filled with another time of calm before the next storm.

No Parent Should Ever…

….ever, not ever, have to bury a child.

It has to be their worst nightmare; one that never ends. One that demolishes your life.

I seriously cannot imagine, nor do I ever want to. I pray daily to keep my daughter and son-in-law and their children healthy and safe.

Over the years I have known people who have lost children. One woman, the daughter of a very good friend of ours, lost her baby girl to SIDS at the age of only 3 months. I remember it as if it were yesterday. How she walked into the nursery and found a blue, unresponsive infant, and frantically began doing CPR as she shouted to her oldest son to call the ambulance.

No warning. No indication of any problems. Suddenly she was gone. And nothing could bring her back.

A devastated family. A life cut far too short. I remember this mom saying how she felt going out to buy her daughter the most beautiful dress she could find to bury her in, because she’d never be buying her a prom gown, or enjoy the very special time of going with her to pick out her wedding dress.

A few weeks ago we attended the funeral of a 28 year old man, the eldest child and only son of a co-worker. The young man had been an exceptional student, an athlete, and had everything to live for…until he was diagnosed with a rare and extremely deadly form of bone cancer.

He fought hard and went through procedures and surgeries which we cannot imagine, even losing a leg. He fought to the end, his family alongside him, including his fiancée and love of his life, who he had proposed to only a few months before he passed away.

Once again, a devastated family. A life cut far too short. As his father said as he gave his son’s eulogy (and I have no idea how he managed to get through it) he left behind all that he still wanted to do. He left behind the love of his life, and the life they never had a chance to establish.

But he ended with this reminder…”the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I am also reminded of the mass shooting victims over the past several weeks as well as the past several years. Too many to count. Families lost children; some lost more than one. Suddenly life as they knew it ended, and will never be the same again. The grief will never stop. It doesn’t matter whether you know your child has a terminal disease and you have time to say goodbye. Because you’re still clinging to that tiny piece of hope that there will suddenly be a miracle. A child’s death is still something that should never happen.

Time heals, but there are certain things that not even time can completely heal. And all we can do is cling to our faith.

Parents should not have to bury their children.

Parents, the next time you’re awakened at 3 am by a screaming infant be happy that child is there crying, breathing, and calling out for you. What if your nursery were suddenly forever silent?

The next time your toddler has meltdown #20 of the day, imagine what it would be like to never hear that again because your toddler is no longer there to have a meltdown.

The next time your middle schooler refuses to do what you ask him to do, talks back to you, and runs to his room and slams the door, imagine what your life would be like without any other episodes ever taking place again, because he’s no longer there.

The next time your high school student defies you, lies to you, or gets in trouble, before punishing her, imagine what life would be like if she were no longer there. Tell her you love her, and then deal with the problem.

The next time your adult child makes you crazy with worry, forgets to call, or tells you he doesn’t need your help any more because he’s grown, as you’re dealing with your hurt feelings, and trying to decide what to do, think about what it would be like to no longer have that adult child alive and well.

Parents, go hug your children. Tell them how much you love them. If they’re grown and living away from you, call them or face time them. Tell them how you feel.

Because tomorrow is not promised. We only have today. And today doesn’t last forever.

Why?

And when will it stop?

Sunday morning I was bombarded with news stories about the two horrendous mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Countless lives destroyed; forever changed. Senseless and uncalled for.

My first thought when I heard the first news reports were “why”? “Not again.” “Whats it going to take to stop these senseless acts of murder?”

And I have no idea.

But suddenly everywhere you turn, everyone has their answer. In some form or other.

Many people say it’s Trump’s fault because he uses so much hate speech. (And he does. Sorry, but if you disagree, tell me why so many of the things he says aren’t hate speech.) I demand more dignity and respect from the president of the United States.

But I do not put the blame on him alone, although he has contributed to this growing theme of hatred and intolerance in this country. Because others are playing into it as well.

Many politicians say the problem is access to guns, and we need more gun control laws. One presidential candidate basically said the heck with the second amendment [to the Constitution] and that we need gun control immediately. This is not the time to try and use this for a campaign nor is it time to jump and scream for things that may not be able to be done. Or should not be done.

Maybe these people need to read the Constitution, understand what it takes to change it, and then look into ways to pass legitimate laws to control assault weapons, buying and owning firearms, and realizing that guns are used by PEOPLE to do this. People who I believe have mental issues, because of their intense hatred for others. And these individuals will find a way somehow to get around the laws.

Maybe we need to actually enforce the laws that are already in place. What an idea.

One person even went so far as to put down another for speaking out by calling this individual a terrible defamatory name for a gay person, adding “he’s even married to a guy – what do you expect?”

What do I expect? I expect civility. Dignity. Respect for other people who are different from you and I and who have a right to their own life without being maligned by others who have a right to their own lives as well.

I expect individuals to be allowed to speak out without our president telling them they should go back where they came from! This further incites those who have no empathy and no compassion for others, who think those individuals have no right to live and need to be eradicated.

I am appalled that our president makes obnoxious and derogatory remarks about the plight of a certain city because the representative of that district is not of his political party, and then goes on to make sarcastic comments about that representative’s home being robbed. “Too bad!” That’s further contributing to the discontent and hate in this nation.

What next?

I hope and pray for no more mass shootings. But I will not be surprised, because unless we all work together to stop the hate speech, the intolerance for those who have differing views than we do, the acceptance of those who spout intolerance for those who disagree with them, the violence will continue.

Why?

Because we are too busy being offended by things which should not offend us. We are too busy turning a blind eye to injustice and the plights of others who are not in the same economic and social strata as ourselves. Whose skin color is different from ours. Who don’t have the same religious viewpoints that we do. Who don’t have the same sexual preferences that we do.

We are too busy being better than everyone else and ignoring the underlying problems that are slowly tearing this nation apart.

We are too busy being on one side or the other and refusing to sit down and negotiate with wisdom, cool heads, and common sense. And refusing to stand up to those who make comments designed to put down others and incite them to anger. Too blind to recognize and speak out against the words of hatred and insult coming from the side they’re on because to deviate from such blind loyalty would mean that maybe…just maybe…they’ve been wrong about certain things. And we can’t have that!

Now, I’m sure I’m already being de-friended by some people because I have voiced my opinion. But it’s my opinion, and I’m still entitled to it. Just as you are to yours. Until someone decides to try and figure out a way to take away that right in our Constitution.

Don’t think there’s not someone out there who might try.

I have no solution to these disasters, these horrible mass killings, but stopping the hate speech might be a good place to start. Understanding other points of view would be good also. Enforcing our existing laws might help as well!

I don’t want to hear about another mass shooting. But I’m afraid I will….

And all the finger pointing will start again. And the arguing. And the accusations.

Until we all decide to work together to solve these problems, and stop putting other people down who aren’t like us, whoever “us” may be, it’s not going to end.

How many lives will be lost, how many families destroyed, before we finally understand?

Are You Settling or Choosing?

Sometimes you hear a phrase that speaks volumes to you. That really makes you stop and think. That makes you pause and reflect and say to yourself…”I need to think about this…”

The other morning that happened to me.

What was that phrase?

“10 years from now, make sure you can say you chose your life. Not that you settled for it.”

That’s a tough one to think about, isn’t it? Because in all honesty, most of our lives are a combination of both.

Sometimes we make good decisions, good plans. And sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we think carefully about our plans and decisions, talk them over with friends or family, weigh the pros and cons, and come up with what we think is the best plan. Sometimes it is; sometimes we find out years later it really wasn’t.

Sometimes we make long term

plans based on spur of the moment decisions, jumping into something because at the time it sounds perfect, almost too good to be true. And then find out we made a terrible mistake and have no good way to get out of it.

Many times we all look back at times in our lives and realize the plans we made, the decisions we made, were the wrong ones and wish we could undo them and start again.

Sometimes we make decisions because we don’t think we have a choice, don’t think a better opportunity will come along, and decide to make that step, even though we know deep down inside it’s not the right thing to do.

Does this resonate with any of you?

We may not have necessarily chosen the life we have right now. It may be the way it is because some one or some people made it the way it is. It was not our choice.

But….

We can choose how we handle today in order to make tomorrow more of our choice than settling for something else. Something easy. Something we know isn’t right for us, but we don’t think we have any other choice.

But let me tell you, we always have a choice. We can settle for status quo, decide that where we are now is where we’re always going to be. We can decide to just say “I’m done” and stop striving for more. And settle for what we have.

We can remain in the same place and give up trying to achieve what we know we want, because we’ve lost our hope.

Or…we can say to ourselves “I’m not settling for second best. Or third best. I’m not settling until I have what I know I deserve, and I’m choosing right now to make it happen. Somehow.”

You may not know how you’re going to do it, but just by making that determination, you’ve already started making it happen.

Yes, realizing our hopes and dreams, making our choices a reality, isn’t always easy. There are bumps along that road, but in the end, it’s worth it.

It won’t happen overnight. Anything worth waiting for never does.

But do you want to say in 10 years you settled, or do you want to say you gave it your best shot, and made your best choices?

You’re too old, you say? My friends, we’re never too old to make choices that we will live with the rest of our lives.

It’s your choice, and it’s up to you to make it. Do you settle or take a chance?

I know which one I’m taking.b

Are You an Ostrich?

We’ve all heard the stories about ostriches hiding their heads in the sand. It’s associated with people trying to avoid dealing with problems by ignoring them. That way, they just hope they’ll go away.

Well, listen to this story and see what you think.

One day a wise older flamingo out for a stroll on a warm summer day happened to walk past an ostrich whose head was obviously buried down a hole in the sand.

“Curious,” thought the flamingo. “Why hide your head in the sand on a beautiful day like today?” So he asked the larger bird that question.

“Excuse me, Ostrich, but why is your head buried down in the sand? It’s a glorious day and the sun is shining, and I even hear other birds singing as they splash around in the water. You’re missing out on all the fun!”

“Fun?” Said the ostrich. “Fun?! How can I have any fun? You don’t know what I’m going through. There’s no fun around me. Everywhere I look there are problems. My family’s a mess. My job doesn’t pay enough. I have bills I can’t begin to pay. There’s no fun in my life! None!”

Puzzled, the flamingo replied, cocking his head at the ostrich, “So what are you trying to accomplish by standing here and sticking your head in the sand? You can’t see anything around you, and I’m even surprised you can hear me speaking to you.”

“Ahhh,” replied the ostrich, “that’s simple. If I can’t see the problems, I can forget they’re there. And they go away. It makes me much happier.”

“But that’s ridiculous,” said the flamingo, “ignoring your problems doesn’t make them go away. They just get worse the longer they’re ignored.”

“But I don’t totally ignore them. I pull my head out of the sand once in awhile. I have to eat and breathe, you know. But the problems are still there. And I really think they’re getting bigger. It’s really much easier to live with my head here in the sand. It’s actually cool here. And quiet.”

The flamingo shook his head. And looked around. He saw sea gulls flying over the water and dipping down every so often to grab a bite to eat. He saw groups of pelicans flying over the waves, obviously with fish in their pouches. He saw sandpipers scurrying across the beach, occasionally dipping their beaks in the sand to pull out a tasty insect.

Some of the birds even came up to the ostrich as if attempting to make friends, and have him pull his head out of the sand. But to no avail.

Once again, the flamingo tried to reason with the ostrich. “Do you hear all of the other birds flying and splashing around? I’m sure they have problems, too, but they’re obviously dealing with them. They don’t have their heads stuck in the sand all day. They’re living their life, making things work. They’re going places. You’re just stuck here, with your head in the sand. You’re going nowhere and accomplishing nothing. Is that fair to your family? Your friends? Are you happy?”

The ostrich pulled his head out for a moment. He looked around, and simply replied. “If I don’t see problems, don’t think about them, or don’t worry about them, they just don’t exist for me. So I’m happy. Why deal with something that upsets me when I can ignore it?”

And he put his head back in the sand.

And the wise older flamingo just looked at him sadly.

“One day,” said the flamingo quietly, shaking his head sadly. “One day you’ll understand. And hopefully it won’t be too late.” And he walked away.

Sometimes it’s a lot easier being an ostrich. It’s sometimes a lot easier to bury your head in the sand and not deal with problems that come up. But they unfortunately don’t go away by doing that. They usually get worse, and actually become so much harder to fix the longer you ignore them.

If you’re like that ostrich and keep burying your head in the sand, you’ll never solve any of your problems. Face them head on. Deal with them. Don’t rely on a friendly flamingo to try and convince you to do the right thing, because flamingos, like people, get tired of giving advice that isn’t acted upon.

What are you hiding from today? And why?

What’s it going to take to face it head on and fix it?

Believe me, you’ll be a lot happier when you do.

P.S. Ostriches don’t really hide their heads in the sand for long periods of time. They couldn’t, or they wouldn’t be able to breathe. Since they lay their eggs in the sand, because they can’t fly into the trees to make their nests, they actually do that to keep their eggs warm. Or they’ll sometimes do it for camouflage because their enemies can mistake that huge body for a big bush and move on. They’re actually very intelligent birds, even though they can’t fly. And they’re a lot more likely to face a problem head-on then run away or hide. Take a moment to read about them. You may be surprised.

Too Many Lemons

We’ve all heard the saying about when life gives us lemons, it’s time to make lemonade.

But did you ever feel like you’re getting so many lemons that you have to find other things to do with them?

Sure summertime is great for making lemonade, and so far this summer I’ve had to make more than my share of it. So much of it, we just can’t use it all. And when we try to share it with others, they have all they can use as well, and don’t need any of ours.

We’ve even found ourselves adding strawberries to that lemonade to try and give us a break, a change from everything going on, but even that isn’t enough. Because the strawberries don’t last that long, and we still end up ankle deep in lemons and lemonade.

In fact recently we’ve had so many lemons thrown at us, I’ve resorted to
making other things with them.

Lemon meringue pie takes a bit more time to make than lemonade, but the end result is a bit sweeter, and you can actually envision yourself throwing said pie at someone who may have given you a lot of those lemons. Not that I’m advocating such a thing, especially not violence, but let’s face it, it is fun to think about. And it would be a safer – and tastier – way to get even….

I’ve even used some of those lemons to bake lemon cookies to go with that lemonade. However, many of my friends actually prefer tea with their cookies, and of course tea is very often served with…you guessed it…thin slices of lemon!

But we still have a lot more of those lemons. Just when we think they’re about gone, all of a sudden we get another delivery of them, or, like a few days ago, it seemed like a car load full of them! And there aren’t enough friends to take them all off our hands.

So we’ve now made lemon dessert bars, lemon pound cake, and lemon muffins. We’ve used them as garnishes. We’ve used them in table decorations. We’ve used them to season poached shrimp, which was delicious, I might add, and in a lemon wine sauce with grilled chicken.

And I’ve even seriously thought about cutting them in thin slices and floating them on top of the pool. Now that would be interesting and make for a great photo op, but then we’d still have to figure out what to do with them!

Now you all do realize I’m not talking about real lemons…the ones you buy in the store or garnish your meals with, or use to make real lemonade or pie. I’m of course referring to those proverbial lemons we all get from time to time, the ones that bring bad news, medical issues, financial and emotional problems…those parts of life that seem to hit us randomly from out of the blue, from places we’re not expecting, and even sometimes from people who disappoint us or make decisions that completely turn our lives around.

Yes. Those lemons. And we’ve certainly had our share of them. More than our share, if you want to know the truth.

Just like you.

Like the proverbial lemons I wrote about being used for lemonade and lemon meringue pie, lemon cookies, and other creative uses, although it’s difficult, and certainly at times more difficult than others, those lemons that come at us still have to be dealt with.

And you have a choice.

You can turn those lemons, those unfortunate and sometimes almost devastating circumstances into something new. Something positive. You can refuse to deal with the news and either drown in depression and misery, feel sorry for yourself, and let the lemons pile up around you, or you can turn the situation around and change it.

And no, you can’t change things back to the way they were right before the situation happened, but like using those lemons to make something new, you can decide to take those circumstances, no matter how bad, and find something positive to do with what happened. Find something good to come out of it, even though it may be a really long stretch to find that positive angle. But it will be there. Eventually.

Life doesn’t remain static; it constantly moves, constantly changes. Like stirring that lemonade you made, it goes around and morphs into something different. And to go a step further, lemonade is much easier to drink when it’s flavored with a little extra sugar.

And maybe in some of these circumstances a little extra sugar, a little extra sweetener, might be needed to help the situation. Note I didn’t say make it right, but help it. Not all of these situations can be made right, but with the help of family and friends they can be turned around to become bearable.

Lemons, lemonade, or lemon meringue pie.

Which are you going to have today?