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Reflections ~ On the Changing of the Year

I recently read an article by Melinda Gates that talked about goals and New Year resolutions. She wrote something that resonated with me. She does not make resolutions or goals for the new year, she has been trying something different. She chooses a word. Last year she chose the word grace. She reminds herself of her chosen word throughout the year in situations great and small, triumphant and trying. It is a touch stone that guides, rather than defines, her goals for the coming year. I love that idea, so I thought I would give it a try.

There are oh so many marvelous words in the world, choosing one can be rather daunting, but it is worth the effort. My word for 2019 is “seasoned.” Season is both a noun, and a verb. As such, it can describe an accomplished goal, or the process. Common synonyms include, experienced, accustomed, toughened, inured, and habituated. Or, it can mean the fullness of time for the seasonal cycles of the earth, or the perfect moment to consume a fruit or vegetable. Season gives balance, flavor, a richness to things when properly applied. Season, and its related forms, can bring to mind a hint of a flavor, a powerful storm, the aging of fine wood, the smiling face of a wise old mentor, or the face of a storied warrior. Seasoning is how we become.

This word will serve me well, I believe. There are some areas of my life and my developed personal philosophy that have come to fullness. There will always be more to learn, but I feel settled in the direction that learning should take me. Let’s say I have found a distant star and know that it exists. Now I wish to know all about that star, what it is made of, when it was born, when it will die, and what depends on its existence. There are always amazing things to learn even if you feel settled in the path from which you explore them.

I’m not sure I can claim maturity in the full sense of the word. Yes, I am more mellow and more understanding than when I was younger. I am better at leaving well enough alone and at walking away when I believe my presence will cause more harm than good. However, I’m also rather uncompromising when it comes to core values. There are actions my heart has no room for and if people try to convince me there is no solution, then I believe we are looking at the problem incorrectly. There is a solution, but to find it we must first be willing to understand all aspects, all points of view. We need to look deeper to better understand while acknowledging that we are not the metric by which the whole world must be measured.

Consequently, in this coming year, I want to remind myself of the investment in time and knowledge required to mature to fullness; and that it can be a rocky road. I want to find the knee-jerk in my mind and mellow it a bit more so that I am able to frame alternatives in the manner needed for the audience. I want to work on the rough edges of my personality and learn to be a bit more tolerant of the perceived foibles of others. I want to season my presence in the world.

There is one other aspect of “seasoned” that resonates with me. Not only does season refer to experience or flavor, it also refers to cycles and timeliness. This, too, is a critical piece of any decision or goal. Is it time? Is it time for here, but not there? Sometimes we are in such a hurry to make sure our thoughts, our goals, our beliefs are known, that we miss the perfect moment for reception. Communication does not occur unless there is a confirmed receipt of the message. I want to be more mindful of the time and place for sharing. I want to hone my skills like those of a surfer that knows the moment to accept the wave. I want to be more aware of when the piece I have to share will do the most good. My door is always open, I want to get better at knowing when to start the tea.

There are many songs that speak to my heart when it comes to finding the better way, or to reminding me that even the smallest of contributions can make a difference. Recently, I have been reminded of this one. Somewhere in the vast ocean there are many small boats sending big waves, and with one match…

boat-clouds-cloudy-611328

Photo by Matheus Guimarães from Pexels

Fight Song – Dave Bassett / Rachel Platten
Fight Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believe

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

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The Scandal of the (White American) Cross

Much food for thought in these trying times.

Leaning Out

I was raised at the cross. It stood atop steeples high in the sky and marked the front of every church I attended — the only symbol allowed in our iconoclastic faith. We sang about it and talked about it, preached about it in every sermon and invited people to come to it at every altar call. We cherished the cross, embraced the cross, and “took up our cross” every day. 

The instrument of the worst torture the Roman Empire could devise, the cross,  had been transformed into the symbol of a life devoted to God.

And I was taught that cross was a scandal — offensive to all those who wouldn’t believe and didn’t belong. A scandal to liberals who were “squeamish” about blood. A scandal to secular minds and hearts that didn’t like the idea of personal sin and guilt. A scandal to the self-satisfied who…

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A Letter to Mumsy

Hi, Mum. We haven’t talked in a while and there is so much to catch up on. It has been such a crazy year filled with really great things, and things that worry and terrify me. I miss our chats. We didn’t always agree, but we could always talk. Well, at least once we had sorted our roles out and found a space we could share.

You didn’t know, last year, but I had lost my job. I didn’t want you to know because, well, you didn’t need the worry. Things worked out, I was able to cobble things together, keep the bills paid, and find my way to you. I think you knew something was stressing me because, even though I asked repeatedly if you wanted me there, you wouldn’t say yes. I am told that you made sure our customary teddy bear was with you constantly in those last days. So many people had so many wonderful things to say about you. I treasure those thoughts even now.

I’ve missed our talks. So, this Christmas Day, well, I’ll write you a letter.

Last fall, I had patched together an arrangement of contract work, tax returns, and part time work to get me through to another permanent position. As sometimes happens, the timing was impeccable, and I found a new job that I love dearly. It is challenging, but not stressful. Although I’m still the number cruncher, my work contributes to an organization that helps a lot of folks manage and recover from mental health issues and substance abuse. The team I work with is amazing and, although the salary started lower than where I had been, the benefits are quite juicy. I’m doing some of that doctor stuff I was always hounding you about. Oh, and I have a raise coming in a month, and a retirement account starts growing in two. Sigh, such a journey I’ve been on to reach this point. I’ve even started the renovations on the house

I do so miss our talks about what is happening in the world. Again, we didn’t always agree, and you were often more forgiving than me. Well, sometimes not so much. As we often discussed, the things happening in my country are crushing my heart. It’s not that I don’t understand that we need to protect ourselves and that we need to make sure that agreements are advantageous. I just don’t get the venom. It hurts. So very much.

Even you would be angered by the constant re-writing of history, of the seeming unwillingness to check on the most basic of facts. We allow ourselves to be influenced by the waves of social angst and rarely stop to question, to research, to make a choice anchored somewhere in reality. So, we accuse people fleeing a disaster we helped create of being terrorists. We talk about mowing down populations simply because they represent something we were taught to hate. Although for months I have been talking about the instability of the markets – I was told the economy was the best it had been in years. Farmers are going bankrupt, there’s barely a place in the country where minimum wage can provide decent shelter, food, and clothing. The money so graciously given to our largest companies was spent reacquiring stock, rather than investing in people and material growth. Our infrastructure is collapsing, and we want to build a wall – a wall where one already exists where it is feasible. Border patrol wants technology, yet there are those that are pushing to give them a monument.

Health care is going through the roof and people are dying because they cannot access drugs that have been around for decades. You were diabetic. I have no idea what your drug costs would have been had you survived. Even if your cancer treatments were still working, could we have afforded them? That is a heartbreak I’m not sure I could have handled. You, in your stoic way, would have trudged on through. We seem to have no will in this country to care for people in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The whole system is a mess. Thank God I have a job that provides the coverage I need. I am one of the lucky ones.

The international scene is a mad man’s ball. We have no idea from day to day who our allies will be, or who is now our enemy or competitor. Yes, I know we were in a place where we needed to push back and rearrange some of our agreements – but kicking the whole world in the balls was probably not the best idea. And the people we have always known were not our friends – well, evidently now they are. They can do no wrong. No friend is a true friend if there is no room for accountability. I hope our boat can float long enough to survive this storm. I honestly do not believe we are in a position to respond to another Pearl Harbor or 9-11. Many of the folks that could have guided us have left or been excused. I know from experience that no matter what your intentions and other skills may be, learning the job in the middle of a critical event is not the best idea.

I do have hope. I really do. Each day I meet people who, like me, continue to work toward the best moment for now. I find people who are kind, who believe in the underlying ethics of seeing the best in folks whatever their gender, sexual intent, faith, race, or personal quirks. I see people who genuinely care without being naive. I have no notion of what the next 20 years will bring. Thanks to you and my maternal genes I have a pretty good chance of finding out. I do know that when things appear to be heading into a catastrophic train wreck, I hear the voices of two people I know and care for the most. Two people who managed through depression and war. Two people I love. You, and my beloved husband.

Merry Christmas and sleep well, Mum. You’ve earned the rest.

Mumsy Memorial

Memorial for Delores Troxell, December 2017.

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Afternoons playing with numbers. Well, it is what I do.

geometry-1044090_640

Hello again.

I’ve seen a great deal of huffing and puffing of late over which state is richer and whether that state has a lot of immigrants, or voted for which party. Statistics are wonderful tools, but they are easily manipulated by those with a specific mind set, or agenda. Consequently, I thought I would spend a bit of time poking around for source numbers. These are just a few of the things I found, the chart I developed to pull these numbers is included, along with links to my sources.

I chose some very simple comparison points. GDP per state as compared to the GDP of foreign countries. Given that production, what do the polls show about party make up of the state. Interesting enough, the average difference between those claiming affiliation with one party or the other is 12.5%. Only nine states can claim that either party is declared more than 50% of the time. Perhaps now you understand a bit of how hard it is for a campaign to keep the pulse of the country during large elections. One of the serious impacts on this rather balanced political landscape is the practice of gerrymandering. It’s a bit like playing with weighted dice. So, on to some more comparisons.

The 25 states that produce the most GDP kick out 85% of the total US GDP. That total is $15 trillion (with a T) in US dollars. Actual number is $15,150,520 million.  The 25 states that produce the least economic output kick out a total GDP of $2 trillion, or $2,678,647 million. If California (the top producer at $2.44 trillion) was a separate country, it would have the 6th largest economy in the world. Texas is second at $1.64 trillion, New York is third at $1.45. Now, how does that play out in the political arena?

Watch carefully, I’d offer to let you hold my beer but I drink wine.

For those states that are the top 25 producers of GDP:

Party winning vote for: Republican Democrat Variance
Presidential Election 13 12 4%
Both Presidential & Governor 10 9 4%

For those states that are the least 25 producers of GDP:

  Republican Democrat Variance
Presidential Election 17 9 30.76%
Both Presidential & Governor 15 3 46.15%

Now, look carefully, please. Those states that produce the greatest amount of economic output in our country are actually pretty evenly divided. I chose 25 as an arbitrary dividing mark. If I chose, say, the top three, California and New York were both Democratic all the way, while Texas was Republican. But that’s the point. How the numbers are parsed, what they are compared to, what the time period of collection on each data point might be, all contribute to the outcome.

The moral of this story is that statistics presented in meme-form rarely convey information that is valuable in making decisions. They are, however, great for arousing emotions and starting arguments. A single data point taken out of context and used to “prove” a selected agenda or position cannot be trusted. Dig, do the research, or stay out of the debate.

As promised, table I used to formulate the above conclusions is here..

These are the links I used for gathering that information.

 

http://www.newsweek.com/economic-output-if-states-were-countries-california-would-be-france-467614

http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/compare/party-affiliation/by/state/

https://www.politico.com/mapdata-2016/2016-election/results/map/president/

https://www.politico.com/mapdata-2016/2016-election/results/map/president/

https://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/directories/GovernorsList.pdf

This site included information that I found fascinating about immigration and economic impact throughout the US. Many folks seem to forget that even if an immigrant is undocumented, as a whole they contribute $11.74 billion to state and local treasuries in sales and excise, personal income, and property taxes.

https://wallethub.com/edu/economic-impact-of-immigration-by-state/32248/

 

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People Finding People – Nominated for Blog Awards!

Celebrating being found AND liked!

I have just been nominated for the “Inspiring Blog Award” and the “One Lovely Blog Award!”  The fascinating thing about this nomination is that is comes from Jane, the author of In My Mother’s Room.  Jane found my blog most likely due to the recent publication of my own care giving experience, “Who I Am Yesterday.”  I am honored.  Jane is a graduate from Ohio State University with a degree in journalism.  She is among those new friends that I have found since hanging my “author” shingle out in cyberspace.   I encourage you to visit her blog where she has written about her experience with her mother, as well as her blog describing the adventures of an empty nester.  Both are hyper-linked above. So, according to those who pass the torch, there is a protocol that must be followed by each nominee.

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you (check)
  2. Post the award image to your page (working on it)
  3. Tell seven facts about yourself (check)
  4. Nominate 15 other blogs (check)
  5. Let them know they are nominated (next task)

So, Jane, here I go:

Seven things about myself.

  1. I am older than Jane but younger than the Queen of England.
  2. Beer is okay, but I prefer wine (see Jane’s page for more detail)!
  3. I am married to the love of my life and my soul mate.  Although his current mental state has driven the man I met far away from me, I still cherish every moment I can share.  We still find humor in life and we still find joy.
  4. I love music of all shapes and sizes, as long as I can understand the words and if the words have some vague meaning (if there are any).  I also don’t care to walk away with ringing in my ears or have my heart pounding at escape velocity.  I do like form so, well, heavy metal is off the plate.  I have, however, heard some rap that impressed me.
  5. I am a stepmother and step-grandmother.  My husband’s offspring are very bright and a joy to know.  I myself have never had children.
  6. I graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a BA in Business Administration and have never stopped “going to school.”  This means I have accumulated a number of miscellaneous licenses, professional certifications and courses relevant to real estate and accounting careers.
  7. I love writing.  I was hooked the moment I held that first published copy of a book I had written in my hands.  I love the community of artists and creative people I have found in the process of growing into my new career.  This nomination makes me feel as though I have found a home.

Next….

Now I get to nominate 15 blogs that I enjoy or that inspire me.  Some of these people have been unknowing mentors; some are relevant to my diverse interests and searching mouse.  THIS is going to be fun! (Even if it did take me forever).

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/

http://wonderworld-variety.blogspot.fr/

http://alwaysupward.com/blog/

http://virginiajennings.webs.com/apps/blog/

http://pdmipublishing.blogspot.com/

http://dragontargeseries.blogspot.com/

http://levinewrites.com/

http://usualfoolishness.com/

http://writersandauthors.blogspot.com/

http://thewritingmama.blogspot.com/

http://notesfromthecampground.tumblr.com/

http://momentslikethis.de/

http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/

http://writerunboxed.com/

http://piperbayard.wordpress.com/

Notifications to will be delivered this evening.

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Other Contact Points

Just for the sake of expanding networks, Victoria’s Reading Alcove is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/readingalcove

 

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Welcome to the Reading Alcove ~ A Place on the Window Seat

This is the official blog of Victoria Adams, a published author.  It has been established as the contact point between the readers and the author and as a “window seat” where we can talk about the books and subjects that we find of interest.  The primary interests here are Caregiving Backstage (because I am one), Humanities for the Unbound Mind (because I love all related subjects), and Natural Science from the Observation Deck (because I am an amateur Natural Scientist whose heroes spend a lot of time thinking). It is the type of place where you can imagine grabbing a cup of tea, a comfy thing to sit or sprawl on and a warm place in the sun (or a quiet place to listen to the rain).  It is a place where we will explore the world of the word together.

Courtesy WANA Commons, Rebecca Burray

Courtesy WANA Commons, Rebecca Burray

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