A Palate Cleanser: Service

Before I get into today’s topic I want to take a moment to explain how I determine what I’m going to talk about. Once upon a time I was a champion sleeper. I’d go to bed at 10pm, fall immediately to sleep and wake up well rested about 7am. Those days are now very few and very far apart. Now I have what I like to think of as irregular insomnia. Some nights I lay away for an hour or more unable to fall asleep, others I’m awake for a few hours in the middle of the night. And then there are the ones where I wake at 4am and can’t go back to sleep. Whatever time this happens I find my mind turns on and I just think. Lately the thinking has led me to these topics I’ve been discussing. Is it divine inspiration or is it just my brain is overly exhausted? I have no idea. I’m just going with it.

While I was laying awake unable to sleep my mind was processing like it always does. I often think about the past or an issue I’m trying to work out. Many times I can use something from the past to see a way to move forward on an issue I’m trying to work past. Out of nowhere I was reminded of a string of events from my life and my brain put them together in a way I hadn’t thought of before: Service.

There is no greater gift we can give each other than ourselves. I learned that as a child I think during my very short stint in Catholic school or maybe it was my even shorter stint as a Girl Scout. Either way this little lesson which really is a huge thing has rattled around in my brain without me consciously thinking about it. I’ve just been living my life.

When I was in junior high my grandmother (my mother’s mother who’d had an incredibly difficult life: parents died when she was 16, separated from her siblings, brother murdered when she was in her 20’s, husband died young) had a stroke. It was a pretty devastating one. She lost complete use of the right side of her body and much of her ability to speak. My mother and I visited her every day in the hospital and continued to do so when she’d been moved to a rehab facility. While visiting I learned that teenagers were allowed to volunteer and this just hit me as a great thing to do since I was there for hours each week. I took the training class and spent the remaining time my grandmother was a patient volunteering. I don’t know if I had much of an impact on anyone but this had a big impact on me.

As other volunteer opportunities became available I took them. A favorite took place when I was in high school. My psychology class required a few hours of community service. We were given a list of opportunities and I decided to spend time in the special ed contained classroom at the elementary school that was nearby. I had no idea what to expect. The teacher wanted me to work on math with two little girls. I suggested teaching them cribbage as a way to work on addition. She thought this was a great idea. I recruited a friend who had a study at the time and we spent the rest of the semester teaching the girls cribbage. I remember it being something I looked forward to and greatly enjoyed.

I find it surprising how little tiny events from childhood can have a huge impact later. I’m talking about little things that last for a few minutes not something huge and devastating. I can remember watching the baby lift from Vietnam as the war was ending. There was something about that few minutes of tv that stuck in my head. It’s really just a still shot at this point. I remember thinking I could do that. Mind you I didn’t really understand but still my mind was opened at that moment. When The Husband and I met and began talking in ways that mattered. While we were looking at each other’s life plans and goals we talked about adoption. It was a non negotiable for me. He was open to the idea. At that point I knew we could have a life together. 19 years later N arrived at Logan airport. I’ve never thought of adopting as service until today. I’ve always been much more selfish: N is my child. The moment I saw his photo I recognized him from a dream I’d had when I was pregnant with H. I dreamt I was holding a dark haired child with olive skin in my arms. I could only see the back of his head and how his arm hugged my shoulder. When I woke up I thought to myself well, that’s weird because I know that the baby I’m carrying has red hair. I don’t know how I knew but I did.

As an adult my service has been to my family. They’re my life’s work. I cared for my children when they were young. I cared for my parents as they aged. I did all I could so The Husband could provide while he served in the military.

There were other volunteer opportunities too: Teacher’s helper, Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout helper. I’ve knit for children in the hospital and made hats for the homeless even a balaclava for the military.

I guess what I’m trying to say is what matters to me more than anything else is others. Being able to do for someone else, no matter how small an act, matters. I’m going to consciously look for ways to be of service in the future.

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Flaws, Curiosity and My Glass

I am a flawed person. I’m impatient, intolerant, inherently lazy, overly emotional, cheap and dismissive. I have a real hard time when I can’t get my point across. I am unendingly curious. This leads to a lot of lost hours researching things. I tend to question and not just go along. My feelings about truth, justice and the American way are way too strong. Lots of people sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. I value that. I value the Constitution that The Husband (and all military members, congressional members and presidents) swore to protect and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic.

I am almost unceasingly optimistic. My glass is always half full. Even when things start looking dark, I’m the one looking at the bright side. I expect the best of people. I give people a second chance, even a third and fourth if I care about them. I am fiercely loyal. And more than once this has worked out poorly for me. I hold people to a high standard. I hold myself to a higher one.

As we navigate political unrest and a pandemic I am often shaking my head thinking WTF. I’ve seen states shut down for two weeks to flatten the curve. It was the right thing we were told. That two weeks is now 40 something weeks. And we are still being told that the virus is spreading and hospitals are at near capacity. Tik Tok has a good number of videos of hospital employees doing choreographed dances. Is this some sort of mystery medical treatment? We were then told it was ok for people to peacefully protest. Cities were burning, businesses destroyed and people died but the protests which were “mostly peaceful” continued. We held an election that looked like no election I’ve ever seen. People asked questions, filed lawsuits, congress and senate members had questions but we were told there was no fraud. Nothing to see here and yet in recent days there have been arrests for fraud. The Capital was violated. People died, damage was done and we were told it was the president’s fault. We were told Antifa was not involved. It was supporters of the president. I watched congress impeach a president before an investigation has been completed. This seems to be the opposite of what we expect of a trial. People are ordinarily presumed innocent until they are proven guilty, with evidence after an investigation. People also have a right to a rigorous defense. Will this be the new standard when one party has enough votes and they don’t like the sitting president? As days pass there is a trickle of information on who was arrested and the timeline of events. There are photos on the FBI website looking for identification of people involved. Over 100 people have been arrested and charged. They’ll get their due process. Have you seen photos of the Capital and the area around it? There are over 20,000 National Guard members in the area. There is an 8 foot fence with razor wire around the Capital Mall. There is another ring of protect further out. Roads blocked and checkpoints to enter. All said to protect the Capital and the inauguration. Even the inauguration is being changed from what it ordinarily is. The American people have been told they are not to attend. No one is allowed into that area without proof (residence in that area or essential employee) they belong there. The peaceful transition of power is standard operating procedure in the US and ordinarily the people are included in this solemn celebration. All these things leave me completely confused. I’m a trust but verify kind of person. I am worried. Things are not the way they usually are but we aren’t being told why.

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Dynamics And Accountability: Understanding Relationships

As I’ve said I’m an only child and like anyone else I view the world and people from my own perspective. These are my opinions and observations. They may or may not be yours. We are each unique individuals with unique experiences and situations. Consider that a disclaimer if you don’t agree.

Growing up I didn’t get away with much. I learned pretty quickly that it made no sense for me to try to lie my way out of something. The dog didn’t leave the milk on the counter, crumbs on the table or a wet towel on the bathroom floor. I learned to be accountable for my actions. Basically there was no one else to blame. I think this left me with a certain level of intolerance for people who try to get away with stuff. Think of them as rule breakers (not really criminals since they aren’t breaking laws). My truth and justice meter is set pretty high as is my level of compassion. It leaves me outraged more than I probably should be. It also leaves me disappointed in people quite a bit. I work hard to avoid the extremes of all feelings.

The Husband comes from a big family. He is number two of seven children. He and number one are twins. I have spent 35+ years as part of this large group of people which continues to grow as the nephews and nieces marry and have children. The observations I made from the early years still serve me well as I navigate the relationships. My MIL was an only child. She probably could see on my face how overwhelming the chaos of a large, loud family was for me. I quickly learned the different personalities and dynamics of my eventual in-laws. I observed all those things parenting books say about birth order. To this day the dynamics are the same even though everyone (5 siblings- the 6th passed away about 10 years ago) is married with their own children.

By nature I’m an observer. I think it comes from not having the distraction of someone to play with when I was young. Or maybe it’s just the way I’m wired. Maybe I’m a little shy in a crowd. Here is a crazy example. When my MIL was going downhill I said to The Husband something about the boxes in the attic at her house. He had no idea what I was talking about. I reminded him of the day nearly 20 years before that we visited and his brother was helping his father put boxes in the attic with a ladder through the opening in the ceiling in the living room. He had no memory of what I was talking about so he asked his brother, the youngest of the boys. He said he had no memory of that but there is an access to the attic in the ceiling in the living room. After my MIL passed he was curious and went to look. There were the boxes for the eldest 14 grandchildren, those who had been born when the boxes were placed up there. My BIL was shocked I remembered this event. He participated and had no memory.

I’ve been observing the things going on in my country for ever. There is a tone set by the leaders that reverberates down through the people. The way they speak to us. The way they act towards each other. The way events play out. It’s all very much like observing a family. They may not be related but they are forced to interact with the dynamics set forth from their position. While I don’t have specific individual memories of the assassinations of John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, I’ve seen too many documentaries so my memories are overwritten, I do remember the palpable feeling of sadness and loss. People who should have continued to make an impact were gone and as a society we had lost a great deal. I do have crystal clear memories of September 11, 2001. The shock, sadness and vulnerability are still right below the surface. It just takes a mention of the date to bring the feelings right back. At the time I said 9/11 was our JFK assassination: we would always remember where we were and how we felt.

The events playing out today feel different. There is no united feeling of the people. Sure there is sadness, indignation, outrage, confusion and nearly every possible feeling but there is no unity. We are like kids whose parents are getting a divorce. We are all confused and unhappy. We’ve picked a side based on the information we’ve been given. Maybe you think from your observations that Dad (democrats) is right and he should be given custody of the kids. Maybe you think Mom (republicans) is right and she should be given custody. No child knows exactly what their parents relationship is. Yes we know how they act in front of us. We hear their arguments. If we’re lucky we see the gentle touch on a shoulder. In the worst case we see fists flying. What we don’t know is how they are when we aren’t around. We don’t know what is influencing them from outside. Does Dad have a girlfriend he’s seeing on the side? Does Mom flirt with the butcher to get better cuts of meat? (I know dumb example but you get the idea.) What we as a people need to realize, just like children whose parents are getting divorced, this isn’t our fault and we need to work together for ourselves. Mom and Dad are too busy with their own agendas to work together in the best interest of the children. They’re much busier with each other and they’ve forgotten to give us our allowance (where are those bigger stimulus checks?). They don’t see the children are suffering. They’re pulling out all the stops to be the one that wins without considering we could all lose. As the children we don’t know their individual motivation. As the children we don’t know if what we see is the whole story. As the children we just have to stand together, no matter which side we’re on, and hope the adults come to their senses and start behaving like adults. In the end everything will work out. But until we get to the end it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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Change is defined as making the form, nature, content, future course… something different from what it would be if it was left alone.

Change is a mixed bag for me. There are types of change I love: the seasons passing, moving house and knitting. Taking a simple skein of yarn and turning it into something else is magic to me. It is giving that simple wooly string its full potential.

We haven’t moved house in nearly 25 years. The Husband who I think has a full on case of wanderlust spends time researching places of interest to him because if I gave the nod we’d move tomorrow and next week and a month after that. What I love about moving is the setting up of the new home. I can satisfy that feeling by rearranging my cabinets or moving the bed to the other side of the room. For now we’re here and the wanderlust will have to be virtual.

The kind of change I’m really bad at is the people kind. When I was a kid I wasn’t a great student. I struggled with reading which just makes learning more difficult. Even though school wasn’t where I wanted to be I still disliked the school year ending because it meant I’d have a new teacher and a different mix of classmates. When my children were young I was proud of them as they moved from stage to stage but I missed the familiar things like them reaching out to hold my hand when crossing the street or coming home excited to tell me about their day at school. The people part of change is hard for me.

As I look out into the world I see changes that I do not like. Too many people are self serving. They use cruelty to get their way. They look to their fellow human beings as a thing to manipulate for their own ends. They don’t allow opinions other than their own. Leaders divide their people into factions and work them against each other. Others use portions of their population as virtual slaves.

As a member of the human race I want kindness to be the way. I want leaders to treat their people fairly and with dignity. I want everyone to wish their friends and enemies the best. We can disagree and still get along. Compromise should be the way not intimidation. Honesty should be the norm not a pleasant surprise. The words used should be the words meant.

I believe if we be the change we want to see in the world we can make a difference. If we call out bad behavior we can stop it. If we expect more from people they will bring it. If we don’t tolerate leaders taking advantage of their people we can hold them accountable for their transgressions. If we bring kindness and forgiveness it will return to the norm.

Will you join me? Will you call people out when they behave badly? Will you make wise shopping decisions to avoid rewarding companies who treat their worker’s cruelly? Will you help me be the change you want to see in the world? If we don’t do it who will.

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Inner Strength: That Thing That Keeps Us Going

In 1966 Robert F Kennedy made a speech where he used the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” I didn’t really understand the curse until recently. I thought it was a proverb but no, it’s a curse. We sure are living in an interesting time now.

Growing up I was an only child. I spent way more time with adults than children. I overheard a lot. I was a gatherer of intel. I think my parents thought it would go over my head or I was busy playing and wasn’t paying attention. In some cases I think they were naive about a situation. Here is a short list:

  • I’ve never not known that each of my parents have an uncle who was murdered. The murders were never solved.
  • My fathers brother worked for the C-eye-A (I don’t toy with that organization) in the 1950’s. He was killed while in their employ and my grandparents were told never to discuss it. A large article was placed in their local paper. Other than his name and the fact that he was dead the rest of the article is a lie. His death was an annual Christmas dinner conversation said in hushed tones, usually in the form of an argument. An aside: One of the greatest gifts I ever gave my father, besides his grandchildren, was a letter from one of the last people to see his brother alive. I contacted this agent after seeing my uncle’s name in a book. He wrote a letter telling the real story of what happened. People should never live their life without answers. Truth matters.
  • My grandmother’s brother and sister spent time off and on in the same state mental hospital between about 1960-1980. I can attest that the videos Geraldo Rivera shot in the 70’s showing the horrors of how these poor people lived is true. I saw it with my own eyes. I was about 8. I spent less than 3 minutes inside the building because my mother immediately dragged me out when she realized. Those images are forever in my brain. No one should live like that, not human, not animal.

So as you can see I wasn’t shielded from reality. Rightly or maybe wrongly I did shield my kids from the things I thought they didn’t need to know. We had the usual rules: don’t talk to strangers was a big one. H was a chatty friendly kid. She’d introduce herself to anyone and every kid was invited to play. As she got older and she and her friends got more independent I worried. I was well aware of the dangers in the world. This was the 90’s. So many children were abducted and murdered in the 80’s and 90’s. I was an overprotective mother. When H would push for more freedom to go and do things with her friends along with my stay safe speech I’d begun to add : There are things worse than ending up dead. Of course my comments were brushed off. She had that typical teenage attitude: I’m fine, I’m invincible. When Jaycee Lee Dugard returned after being abducted and held for 18 years in 2009 I said to H who was in college- “See there are worse things than ending up dead.” The look on her face said she finally understood.

When The Husband and I got married we moved 3000 miles away from everything and everyone we knew. It was a jarring experience to go from living at home with your parents to living with my husband and having no support system. I think it was the best thing for us. We had to rely on each other. We had to learn to be a team. I also had to learn to be not only a wife but a military wife.

Being part of the military family is different than being a civilian. Even the spouse who isn’t serving is part of the overall mission. When the service member goes off to do their job the spouse has to handle all the at home jobs while stressing over the work that their spouse does. Very quickly I learned to look to the other spouses for support, guidance and example. The most important lessons I learned was flexibility and resilience.

When The Husband finished his training (he was now a real B-52 navigator) we moved another 3000+ miles to our new home away from the support of our first group of military friends. This is where real military life started. I had to get used to monthly alert where The Husband would live in a bunker on the other side of the base for a week where they were ready to respond immediately to any need. FYI if a B-52 is needed immediately that isn’t good. I had to get used to schedules changing for any reason from illness to weather. More times than I can count The Husband went off for a simple day at work and I got a phone call later saying he was states away and would be home in a day or two. This is all the tougher when you have to explain to a child that Daddy won’t be home until later.,

A military spouse has to get used to hearing “I can’t tell you that or I’ll have to kill you”. Yes, it’s a joke of sorts but it’s true. There are a lot of secrets. The Husband had a top secret clearance. His job as a B-52 navigator involved bombing. It was the 80’s and 90’s. Yes. He was trained to drop nuclear weapons. On more than one occasion I was told something like I’m going away. I can’t tell you where. I’ll be gone for 24 hours. You’ll know where I was before I get back. Those times involved a lot of watching the news and hoping that everything went well. Once (thank God only once) on the weekend we were moving from one home to another on base The Husband learned he was leaving for an unknown amount of time and he couldn’t tell me where he was going. I knew things were ramping up in the Middle East. The Husband left me, a nearly 2 year old H in a new home full of boxes with furniture just dumped in any room. My mother jumped on a plane to come help. Mother’s just know when they’re needed. The Husband was gone for 7 months. A few weeks in I learned where he was on the cover of Time magazine. He could not confirm the information to me when I spoke to him on the phone.

After those big events in the early years of our marriage I felt strong. We had endured whatever came our way and we were enjoying our life. Yes there were difficult events but we survived and thrived. Then The Husband lost his job, a reduction in force. We moved in with my parents while The Husband looked for a job. The civilian world doesn’t have a need for his specialty so he had to change career field and start over. Through serendipity (I love that word-some might say through God’s guidance) when he started his new career at the post office he met someone who helped him reignite his old job, this time with the Air Force Reserve.

There have been lots of bumps in the road: cancer, 9/11, the death of our parents, and this pandemic. But with each challenge has come the lesson that I am strong. I may struggle. And I have struggled greatly- like the day my neighbor told me a plane from our base had crashed in Canada. Both of our husbands were flying at the time. We were lucky. Our husbands came home. Others didn’t.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. When we are tried we learn just how strong we can be. When we need help we just need to ask. When we see someone struggling we should offer help. Always remember that we are a culmination of everything that got us to where we are, we have endured and we are just getting stronger.

We can gain strength from each other. How are you strong? Please share in the comments what makes you the strong person that you are.

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Are You There God? It’s Me Karen

Yup. After a few days of talking about one of the subjects considered taboo for mixed company I’m tackling another. I won’t hit that third topic, sex, unless I’m divinely inspired. I promise.

I was born a lapsed Catholic. My parents were both raised in Catholic families. My father’s was quite devout. He had three aunts who were nuns, sisters on his father’s side. I think by the time I came along in the 60’s they were distracted by other things and had a bit of bad taste after being forced into church. My grandmother always asked my father if he’d done his duty. Sure doesn’t sound welcoming and joyful to me if it’s a duty. I participated in the sacraments, attended CCD and even did a few years of Catholic school. My early years were the time when the church went from masses in Latin to singing folk music hymns. When I was in high school I attended church regularly with a friend whose mother required that he go. We weren’t angels at that age but we knew church wasn’t the place for shenanigans. I’ll never forget the impossibility hot Sunday noon mass when the priest started bellowing because people were walking out the doors after communion and the mass was not over. I’m proud to say I was kneeling in the pew at the time.

About this same time my father had a conversation with a Catholic monk who he knew through friends. They talked about things my father didn’t like about the church. Confession was a big one. The Brother told my father that just because you don’t agree with parts of the church doesn’t mean you have to have no relationship with God.

I’m not someone who says the Our Father and Hail Mary everyday. I don’t pray the rosary. I do have conversations with God. I think of it like the movie Bruce Almighty where Bruce is hearing everyone’s prayers at once. I thank God for all the good in my life. When I’m overwhelmed I’ll ask him to carry one or two of my worries for a while. Often this is enough to help me calm down and work towards a solution. Right now I’m asking God to show me the light. My people, the entire world if you consider the pandemic, governments posturing in the Middle East, power going out in Pakistan and the strict Covid lockdowns in Quebec, are in trouble. I’m asking God to provide peace to those who are troubled, wisdom to those in power and grace to those that need it. For you reading this I hope you will feel calm as all around you is crazy. Would you join me in sending positive thoughts into the world. If you pray please do so. If don’t can you send good vibes and caring thoughts. Thank you.

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A Palate Cleanser

We’ve been talking about weighty subjects here of late. Thank you for being kind and respectful. Today I think we’ll talk about something a little lighter. Maybe it will be a peek into who I am and why I’m the person I am. Don’t forget: I’m still always weird.

When I was a kid of about 7 years old one Sunday I was reading the funnies (comics- I don’t know the word you’d use). At that time it was a stand alone section that wrapped around the whole paper that was so heavy I could barely carry it in from the front steps. I excitedly read through all my favorites: Peanuts, Family Circus and others I can’t remember. At that time there was a small section each week that changed. Sometimes it was puzzles or information about animals. It was kind of the education section of the funnies. This particular week there was a picture of letters with international postage stamps on them and a paragraph talking about pen pals. There was even information about a company who would match you to an international pen pal. I haunted my mother for the rest of the day. I had to get a pen pal. I had to have a friend from a faraway land. My mother knew me all too well. I wasn’t going to be quiet and go to bed until she had helped me fill out the form. I suspect she also knew this would help with my reading and writing. A good student I was not.

A few weeks passed and to be honest I’d probably forgotten about the whole event. But little did I know things were happening. My name and address had been sent off just about as far away from my house as it could get. One day my mother met me after school with an envelope in her hand. It was a letter from my new pen pal who lived in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia! Immediately when I got home I sat down and wrote my reply. My first question was to ask if she had a koala or a kangaroo. Of course she did not.

This was a pivotal event in my life. She was a live human being I had contact with who lived in another country on the other side of the world. She told me about her school and her family and friends, books she liked to read and what she did in her free time. We were so much alike even though she lived in a foreign place. We exchanged photos and eventually a cassette tape so we could hear each other’s voice. I have no idea what she was saying but I heard her voice!

I don’t remember what the conversation was that I’d had with my father but whatever it was it spurred him to buy me a big poster sized map for my bedroom wall. He was probably trying to make the point that my new friend couldn’t come over to play on Saturday afternoon.

Over time we lost touch. Her mother had died when she was very young and her dad when she was a teenager. She was sent to live with relatives. I never heard from her again. Glenda if you recognize this story leave me a comment. I’d love to reconnect.

Over time I added more pen pals, a couple in England, one in Belgium, one from France. Getting to know these people taught me that inside we are really very much the same. We love our families. We go to school. We do hobbies. We take vacations or holidays as they say some places. The differences are minor and have more to do with geography and experience.

Did you have a pen pal when you were a child? Was it as eye opening for you as it was for me?

This one thing changed my view on people. No longer did I think of those who live in other lands as strange. They were just strangers I hadn’t met yet and I really hope to meet as many people as I can. We are all unique and we have so much to offer to one another if we can just see beyond the differences. Know that whoever you are, wherever you may be I wish the very best for you and yours.

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The Elephant & Donkey In The Room

I know I have said I don’t like politics on my front page but when I see things I don’t understand I ask questions. We should all be asking questions at this point because what’s going on in the United States will have repercussions all over the world.

Just so you understand where I’m coming from, I’m a somewhat right of center independent (unenrolled my state calls it). I am fiscally very conservative and that is the thing that slides me to the right of center. Where I live is the bluest of blue states. Even our governor with an R after his name is a democrat by ideology and practice. I do believe in the Constitution 100%. I’ve lived my life believing that the most important rules to live by are love your neighbor as yourself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Currently there is a major divide in our country. People no longer love their neighbor unless their neighbor shares the same ideology. People have been cancelling (what a cruel word to use) those that don’t agree with them. We have seen it twice on Ravelry when they first removed Trump supporters and again when designers who wouldn’t make a statement they were asked to make were purged. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites have begun purging conservatives. They removed the POTUS. As I said I don’t use social media except this blog (Myles has a Twitter but requires I type his messages because his spelling and typing skills aren’t up to par) and Ravelry. My experience with social media has been limited intentionally. I don’t need the grief that comes with it.

The biggest problem I see is a lack of caring about others and a lack of accepting that people can have different opinions.

Nearly half the voting population questions what happened in the November presidential election. Let’s be honest there were weird things that happened. Maybe there are innocent explanations. I have never seen an election count stop in the middle of the night. I’ve never seen poll watchers be locked out of the counting room. I’ve never seen poll watchers use binoculars in an attempt to see what’s going on. I thought voting machines didn’t connect to the internet. These things happened this time according to reports online. I’ve seen photos and videos. I have never seen it take so long to count votes. Last I knew there was a down ballot race that still hasn’t been called. Everyone should be concerned if there are questions. We all lose if there is not a smooth transition of power.

Some countries have independent poll watchers come and monitor their elections. Who could be an independent poll watcher for the United States? The US presidential election has worldwide ramifications. Everyone has an interest in who becomes the leader of the free world. The winner of the election sets the tone for policies that effect world safety and aid. These are huge things which takes away objectivity. Do we need aliens from outer space to monitor our elections? I suspect even they would be unable to remain objective.

So I ask, what do we do? How do we bridge this divide? How do we come together as a society when we are required due to Covid to be apart and the 21st century town squares are eliminating half of the conversation? I have studied enough history to see that I don’t like the path we are heading down. The dark forbidding forest I see in front of me doesn’t look like a friendly place. I think it’s time to turn around.

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My Mind Reels

As I sit on my couch, as I’ve been told I should what with there being a pandemic, I watch an obscene amount of TV while playing games on my phone or surfing the internet. My brain hasn’t been able to knit. Don’t get me wrong, I want to knit but my mind tends to think when I knit and watching what’s going on in the world I don’t want to spend too much time over thinking what I see. I do have questions though. I’ve taught my children to always ask questions if you don’t understand. So here are some questions.

We live in a post 9/11 world. The rules changed then. We have given up some of our freedoms for security. While I haven’t been on a plane in eons I have been to the airport where you can’t park near the terminals. You can’t pass through security without a boarding pass and an ID that must match that boarding pass. Don’t even think of leaving an unattended bag. There are security cameras everywhere. My town has cameras on all public buildings. My neighbors have cameras on their houses in the form of Ring doorbells. I’ve entered federal buildings since 9/11. I’ve gone through metal detectors and had my bag x-rayed. I’ve had to explain why I was there. Could you tell me how people got into the Capital building? This was not one person who snuck in a side door. This was 50+ people, some who looked like they were dressed up for an extras part in Dances With Wolves, who moved through the building as if they knew where they were going. They entered chambers and offices. 5 people are dead. Now we’ve been told that things were stolen. All the while cameras were filming the entire thing so we can see clips repeatedly on the news. Who is responsible for the lack of security at the Capital? It should be among the most secure locations in our country. The clips I’ve seen didn’t satisfy me so I looked at some longer versions that are available online. I don’t want to think that this was allowed to happen. I do not believe the narrative as it is being sold though. Someone allowed the security to be too light. I’d like to hear who and why. The chief of the Capital police resigned. Why is he not being held accountable? Does the security of this building not fall on his shoulders? Why have they (senate & congress) not called for an investigation into the security of their workplace? Why do I feel like I’m not being told the whole truth? Why do I feel like I’m being fed a narrative? Where is the logical questioning? Why am I being told that if these were BLM protesters they’d have been treated differently? I would hope that the security rules at the Capital building would be applied to all. What do you think? Are you as confused as I am?

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The Helpers & The Pandemic and More Homework

I’m sure those of you with children have told them when they were small if they should get lost they should look for the helpers. In different situations these mean different people. If you’re lost in a store you look for an employee or a security guard. If you’re on the street look for police or firefighters. We all find that we need helpers at some point in our life.

In the 90’s my then primary care doctor found a lump on my thyroid. He sent me to an endocrinologist (the horrors I could tell you about him! He’s dead now so he’s not hurting anyone.) who suggested a surgeon. The surgeon removed half my thyroid. Then the craziness began: 4 pathologists could not agree on what they were seeing. No one would make the call. Through serendipity I found my thyroid specialist who in a moment after slipping the slide of my sample into his microscope said I had cancer. Then came more tests and surgery and follow ups. Because of him I am cancer free living my best thyroid-free life. You’d be stunned to know just how many things that tiny gland does and what not having one is like. Add in being dosed with what is now considered a very very large dose of radioactive iodine, half again what is recommended now. You never feel like yourself again. But beyond that there were so many lessons to learn.

It took me 11 doctors to get to where I am today. Those 11 doctors offered different opinions on the right way to do whatever should be done if anything should be done at all. This was when I learned that the field of medicine is not black and white. It is gray. It is a living thing that grows and changes based on current beliefs. Once upon a time people were bleed with leeches. Then we thought that was a bad idea so we stopped. And more recently we’ve rediscovered that leeches are beneficial so we’re using them again.

Not that long ago opioids were the rage. Every doctor was handing them out for any sort of injury. Then it was discovered that they’re highly addictive so the rules on prescribing them were tightened up. This left people with chronic pain unable to get the medication they need to make life livable. Either extreme turned out to be bad.

So now we’re living in a pandemic. How are you holding up? Do you feel that we are being served well by the helpers? The narrative (that word again from yesterday) has changed repeatedly since March. The loudest voices, those making the decisions to shut down states, businesses and schools aren’t always following the rules they make. We need to look to the helpers who are qualified to make the decisions.

This is a medical emergency. It should be the medical professionals making the recommendations. These recommendations should balance what is necessary for each individual based on their unique situation. Just as a primary care doctor would do for their patients. There is more to consider than just physical well-being. Doctors make these decisions every day for their patients.

Now the homework. Read this declaration. These are medical professionals from all over the world. They are making recommendations based on the whole person and the risks of the individuals. They are seriously concerned about the mental health of adults and children. They are concerned about the increase in suicide. The increase in childhood depression. The increase in the isolation of the elderly.

Finally what are you seeing in your community? Are people still limiting their time outside their home? Or is everyone just out and about? I personally limit my time out in public. I avoid crowds. I still do my grocery shopping in person. But when I’m out I see lots of people outside interacting with others. Are the schools in your area open? In my town the private schools are open, the special education students and preschool are attending school in person. All others are full remote. Does your community alert you to the current infection rate? I have received text messages from my state before the holidays saying to celebrate at home with just the people you live with. Our school sends a daily email informing us of the cases diagnosed that day and they keep a dashboard online with all the case information. Think about this: Why if cases are increasing and it is too dangerous to open businesses and eat in restaurants are the public schools open for preschool and special education students? Is their health not valued or are schools afraid of the lawsuits and the loss of funding they receive for these students? The mixed messages are a big problem with the narrative if you ask me.

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