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February 2, 2017

February2

As I sit here binge watching Homeland (and wondering how in the world I didn’t see this show long before now) my mind is wandering to how our country got to where it is today. I’m not one of those brutally political people – I try hard not to shove my beliefs onto other people, and I try to learn from people who think differently than I do. And I am just stunned to discover each day, that there are people who do not feel and act like I do. I don’t really know why that surprises me – but it does.

Over the past few months, the underlying current of negativity and ‘me first’ has gotten really bad. It’s hard to watch, and it’s even harder to hear. When it comes to social media, I haven’t unfriendly anyone – but I have unfollowed people who constantly post and engage in negative behaviors – not because I dislike them – but because I don’t need the constant barrage of negative energies in my life. It is what it is – and I hope that over time, it will get better – but I am not holding out hope that it will completely go away. History repeats itself – far too often.

I’ve been giving some thought to my personal responsibility as a member of our society. What I can do to better the world around me, and make things ‘right’. I don’t have the answers to all the world’s problems, and I don’t pretend to. I know that in some things, I have more questions than I have knowledge, and a lot less knowledge than I really should. It’s time for me to start learning about things – things I thought I didn’t need to worry about – but the past few months have shown me – it’s time to learn about the ‘real’ things.

I watch the news – and cringe – at things that are said by Mr. Trump. (I will not be one of those people who calls him by any of his ‘nicknames’ – although yes, I’ll laugh when others do it!). And at the same time, I wonder, do I sound like him – simply because I’m not educated in the things that matter? And well, that scares the hell out of me. I’d like to think that I’m an ally to those in our society who are marginalized or discounted due to race, origin, orientation, or disability. While I would like to call myself an ally – I know that in each and every situation, I may not act the way that I should – the way that my friends and acquaintances need me to to help them through whatever situation they are dealing with. A lot of that can be resolved by education of myself. Of opening my eyes and watching what is going on around me – by asking questions of the people that I know who ARE marginalized, who are dealing with a lot more than I would ever be able to wrap my brain around. I can learn, and I want to learn.

I used to think that I was a pseudo-expert with regards to healthcare in our country. And while that was the focus of my education, and still is something that is very interesting to me – there are so many things that I don’t know about it. I don’t know how the ACA affects the average American family – good or bad. I don’t know how the coverage mandates affect the average American business – and why there is such an outrage about it. Why people rally for its repeal. Seeing that the industry that I work in can be directly affected by the possible appeal of the ACA, and can be impacted by the changes to drug costs and insurance coverage, it’s important that I know more about them.

A post from a friend today gave me guidance on where to start, on how to find my own anchor in this absolutely crazy world that seems to be getting worse each time the sun comes up. So, I’m going to take her challenge to heart. (The next few bullets are paraphrased from a Facebook post from my friend Beth Witte).

1 – Identify the problems – Unless you are some special brand of genius, you can’t keep up with the dizzying array of issues. Make a list of the things that tempt you to light your hair flame. Then rewrite your list, starting with the most crucial issue, descending in importance.

2 – Pick your battles – Now, pick your top two, and research the hell out of them. Become the expert on just those two issues.

3 – Resist with respect – This is as important as having your facts lined up. You will never win by insulting, judging, condemning, resorting to personal attacks, and name-calling.

4 – Do not expect to convert people – The purpose of engaging people who see things differently is to gain understanding by sharing viewpoints. Take time to learn WHY they hold their beliefs can help you find common ground on which to build.

5 – Don’t assume you know them. Deciding that you know the entirety of a person based on their opinion.

6 – Who do YOU want to be? The only person that you have control over is YOU. It’s not your job to make anyone believe anything – it’s your job to decide exactly what you believe and why.

There are lots of things going on – LOTS of stuff that I am concerned about. If I try to learn about all of it, I’ll drown in it. It will drive me crazy, and well, that’s just never a good thing. (Heck, I’m already more than a little anxious about things that are going on in the world around me – and I don’t want to lose more sleep at night).

The two items that I will be focusing on are:
* Healthcare, Insurance, and the Affordable care act (because they directly affect me as a person with health issues, insurance, and working in an industry that can be affected by the repeal of the ACA)
* Immigration Reform – I have a number of friends who are non citizens. They are here in the US with various alien statuses, and are all hard working good people. The current environment for anyone who is non-white, non-Christian, (and in some cases non-Male) is rather aggressive, and I would like to see it end – that ALL people are given a fair chance to be a productive member of our society, and when it all comes down to it – to be a part of the real American dream.

Time for a Reboot

February2

Wow – it’s been – what years?

I could bore you all with the regular excuses of being busy – of not having stuff to talk about – of not feeling like writing – but I won’t – your time and my time are far too important for that.

It has gotten, well, a little – indescribable – in our world lately – and I am finding a need to write about some of it to deal with the feelings that I have after reading/watching our news, watching my friends struggle with things I really am not able to understand for numerous reasons, and things that frankly terrify me.

I write in my journal, but some of the things I will be researching and working through I think could be helpful to someone else – and I thought I’d resurrect my blog and share my thoughts, if it helps one person, it will be worth the effort.

My goal is to write one post a week – feel free to hold me to it – and call me out if it goes radio silent.  It’s far too important to get information out there for people.

The one with the Christmas Explanation

December18

So often lately, you hear people saying that there is a ‘war on Christmas’ – or that people are trying to lessen the importance of the Christian holiday season.  What a lot of people don’t understand is that the Holiday season itself – is a combination of multiple pagan celebrations and traditions that were co-opted by the early Catholic/Christian church in order to convert pagan believers to the Christian faith.

In my opinion, it’s truly important for people to understand what it is that they’re celebrating, in order to fully be able to say there are many different beliefs that celebrate during this season – and none of them are ‘right’, none of them are ‘wrong’ – they just are.  And people have as much of a right to celebrate what they believe as you have to celebrate what you believe.

So, let’s start off – why do we celebrate Christmas in December?

Christmas was not an official ‘celebration’ until after 350AD (nearly 350 years after the birth of Christ and 325ish years after his death)   During this time period, there were a number of pagan festivals that were also celebrated around the Winter Solstice.  These festivals (such as Saturnalia, Juvenailia, and Mithra) were celebrated to recognize that days were starting to grow longer.

There is no definite date as to when Jesus was born, however, scholars have indicated that it is most likely in April due to the fact that Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem to register for the census and pay their taxes.  Additionally, given other clues from documentation within the Bible, the likelihood that the birth was in December (or near the Solstice since December didn’t exist) was minimal.

During the growth of the Christian church after the death of Jesus,  Pope Julius I, noted that the pagan celebrations were popular among the people who were not yet Christians.   In order to co-opt the popularity of those celebrations – he declared that December 25th would be a celebration to honor the birth of Christ.    Therefore, days that were already used to celebrate the lengthening of the days after the winter solstice as well as honoring old gods and belief systems were not originally Christian.

Sunny Mornings…

May13

It’s been a beautiful few days here in Raleigh – spring has started to give way to summer – so the sun is a little bit hotter, but it’s offset by the breeze – which sometimes feels like velvet against your skin.  It’s this time of year that you’re already starting to day dream about spending time doing ‘fun’ stuff, but also partly dreading the heat and humidity that you know is right around the corner.

I’m trying to give up the dread of that – and accept that it’s part of the beauty that is North Carolina.   Goes back to that whole ‘awareness’ and living in the moment thing that I”m working towards.  I’ve noticed some changes in myself – which I’m happy with – and I know that by no means am I perfect just yet – but that’s part of the process – you live in each moment fully – THAT moment – not one that hasn’t happened yet – or one that hasn’t been around for a while.  Just focus on NOW, and be the best soul you can be.

I mentioned in yesterday’s vlog about the bookmark that I found – and how it inspired me to address topics each week.  This week’s topic (number one on the list) is Balance.  I talked a little bit about it in the vlog – but there’s a lot more that can be said about it.    At least from my perspective.    The flip side of the bookmark has some journaling prompts on it, so I’ll write about those today – and talk more about balance in the days to come.  (I have made a commitment to myself to blog more than I have been – so these prompts help greatly).

Balance

Balance

In today’s world, we are all SO dang busy.   We go to work, we go home, we have to cook, to clean, to interact with family, with distant family, take care of bills, entertain friends, study, read, improve ourselves, make time to go to the gym, do our lawnwork, perhaps take care of children – or pets, and on and on and on.  It’s not easy to fall behind with things – and for some things to take precedence over others.  It’s not hard at all to get out of balance – to spend more time on one thing, and end up neglecting others.  Work blows up and you have urgent projects that need your full attention, so you cancel lunch with a friend, or you are so tired from working on that project, that you don’t go to the gym, or you’re busy catching up with housework that you cancel dinner with friends, or just a million other things that could possibly happen because you are too dang busy.

We lose balance.  And like a gymnast, when we lose balance, we can stumble, we can wobble, or in the worse case scenarios, we can fall.  Life doesn’t hand us demerits per se, but they do hand us things that make it a little more difficult to get out of the ‘hole’ we dig ourselves into when we’re out of balance.   It’s important – to keep everything in perspective.  To put things in the right light so they get the attention that they need.  Work will still be here tomorrow if you go home and spend time with your spouse.  The games that you play will wait, if you do a little bit more than the ‘bare minimum’ of housework that needs done.  Your friends will understand if you tell them that you need to spend a little time at the gym to stay healthy – heck, go the extra mile and invite them along.

But take some time to be quiet – to quiet your mind – the world around you – and find your balance.  Some folks call it prayer, some call it meditation, some call it contemplation.    Whatever you call it, it’s important to spend time with yourself.  Get to know YOU.  What are the things that you struggle with – what are the things that are taking your focus.  What are you afraid of that is possibly keeping you from balancing out yourself and making sure that each part of your spirit is taken care of?  Where are you right in this moment – and what can you begin to shift in order to get to where you want to be?   Make note of that – you’ll work on it later – but it will come back – and it’s important to take care of these little things before they are neglected long enough that they then become those big things.  You need to take care of YOU – you’re the only you you’ll have.

For me – balancing is being able to juggle all the balls you’re thrown.  Even if you’re not able to resolve each of them – you’re able to pay them some attention and keep moving them forward.   I’ve always been able to multi task fairly well – doing multiple things at once, and getting them all done when they’re supposed to be done – sometimes working with my candle burning at both ends in order to make it happen.  However, I’ve found, that I just can’t do it anymore – Not sure if it’s because I’ve done it too long – or because I’ve worked too hard – or because I’m just tired.  But when I stop the grind – the high speed press going forward – I get sick.  My body tells me – okay – time to slow down, so I’m going to MAKE you do it.  I realize that it happens on EACH of my vacations, any time I take ‘time off’, I get sick.  And wow, that just sucks (especially when I’m at Disney!)  So, this is where I’m really trying to get ahead of it – to not push myself to the point of exhaustion, and then fall apart when I have a chance to be restoring myself.  I’ve cut back on the projects that I’m juggling – I’ve stopped saying ‘yes’ so much.  I’ve pulled back from being ‘out there’.   That may change in the future, but right now, it’s what I need.  I’m listening to that ‘little voice’ – who’s so hoarse from screaming, she needs the time to recover.

So – balance.  Embrace your inner gymnast, and give her the chance to be a rockstar.

Love to you all  – see you tomorrow!

Dispelling Misconceptions #1 – The Obama Phone

October7

There have been a number of comments and discussions on Facebook recently about the Affordable Care Act,  funding for ACA, and other social programs that people don’t completely understand or agree with.  Sometimes, the discussions reveal that people do not fully understand the program that they are railing against.  So, as an attempt to try and clear the air and clarify some things, I am going to do what I do best, research and write.

I’m open for discussion – all that I ask is that you prepare your arguments accordingly.  Read and review NEUTRAL fact-based information.   I’ll respect you and your opinion if you respect mine.

First topic – “The Obama Phone”

While it’s not a part of the Affordable Care Act, it’s something that garners a lot of attention and commentary.  (And not many of them positive).

So, what is the ‘Obama Phone’ program?    It’s a program that assists low income families get access to phone service.   Pretty generous of the Obama administration, right?  Well, let’s take a look at some facts.

  • These programs have been in effect for over a decade.  The first programs, allowing for access to landline services, were started in 1996.  (President Clinton).  The programs were continued throughout the 90’s and 2000’s (Clinton and Bush).  The mobile phone programs first went into effect in 2008 – three months before President Obama was elected, that makes it President Bush’s control.
  • These programs are not funded by tax dollars.  The programs are funded by the telecommunications companies.  They are federally regulated, and must have all fees approved by the FCC before they are charged to customers, but they are technically NOT taxes, and have no regulation by the President or Congress.    Take a look at your phone bill – that Universal Service Fee?  That’s what funds the program.
  • Not just anyone can get one of these phones.  Only those individuals who can prove that they are at or below 135% of the federal poverty line  or are enrolled in certain government benefit programs such as Medicaid are eligible for this program.

The name ‘Obama Phone’ is very much a misnomer in this case.   News pundits, opponents, and recipients alike use the phrase to describe the program, and in most cases, without a true understanding of the program itself.  This program is based on concepts that were put into motion by Presidents FDR and Wilson, in order to provide the ability for people to communicate, and to encourage telecommunications companies to expand into areas where it was more difficult to build telecommunication infrastructure.

Calling it an ‘Obama Phone’ negates all of the positive impact of this program. (which is the purpose of it)  The true names, SafeLink and LifeLine shed a true light on the programs, intents and outcomes.

 

By the way – Factcheck.org is a great source for non partisan information on political topics that are easily skewed in the news.  I highly suggest you check it out.

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