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Reflections ~ On the Season

The sentiments expressed in Max Ermann’s timeless words never cease to touch me – may your holiday season bring some ray of light, some moment of peace, while we prepare ourselves for what the new year brings.

Victoria Adams' Reading Alcove

Each holiday season I tend to spend a bit more time than usual reflecting on our world.  Where we are, where we appear to be going, things mankind might strive to do, if only…  It is a time when I experience joy, and sadness.  It is a time when I wish for our world a true sense of brotherhood for all our differences.  For whatever creed, nation, tribe, geographic location, gender (of whatever persuasion) or station in life; we all, each one, contribute something miraculous to the universe.  The existence of the human spirit.

I want to challenge you this season to look at one thing – just one – that bugs you.  Something that you don’t like.  A person, a place, a thing, an idea, a group of people.  Find a way to see that “thing” in a different light.  Not necessarily to change your mind or your convictions…

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Voting ~ and what it means to you

This is NOT a blog about who to vote for. I do NOT expect to change people’s minds on whether or not they should vote for any specific candidate. What I DO wish to accomplish is to provide food for thought. If there are races in which you feel compelled to withhold your vote, I want you to find the ones you can commit to. Somewhere, there is a race that you can research, that you can determine a choice, I don’t care if it is the local dog-catcher. It’s a long term plan, people. But if we don’t start now…

I have been wanting to write a blog about voting for some time now. Problem is, the history of voting might require something of a tome and that is not what blogs are for. The best way to say what I feel is important is to choose some aspect of that history and go from there. I chose the movie Suffragette as a starting point for a number of reasons that will become clear.

Suffragette

According to the Washington Post, the movie is based on some of the historical elements of the struggle British women faced in and about 1912-1913. Definitions are in order, a Suffragette is a member of the suffrage movement that advocated action, often involving violence of some kind. A Suffragist was a member of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and they advocated using the political and social system to achieve their goal. Although the Suffragettes brought much needed attention to the issue, it was the latter organization that finally won the vote for British women in 1918. The Union’s membership included men who were of the opinion that it was far past time to involve the other half of humanity in the process of governing the people. Why?

In the early 1900s a woman in British society rarely had the barest of rights. Her employer controlled her from the time she began work (usually in her teens) until she died. It was not uncommon for these men to demand personal service as well as that required in the factory. A woman had no right of consent over her children. Should her husband dismiss her, their children were his to do with as he pleased, including surrendering them for adoption. Many women were abused. They had no avenue of regress. On the other side of the coin, persons who hold the right to define government have difficulty equating those who don’t as equals: whether the difference is gender, or race. Women were, in large part, merely possessions; whatever made them think they had the cognitive ability to vote?

It was not until August 18, 1920, that the United States followed Britain by ratifying the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. This was a long battle that became a more organized effort as early as 1848 when women’s suffrage was organized at the national level by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucrecia Mott. Included in their platform (as it was in Britain) was the right to better opportunities for women in education and employment. This was no light undertaking. Women, and men, died to support the effort. Some in prison, some in riots or protests. Some women were simply beaten by the men in their lives.

After a great deal of sacrifice, the movement began to have success at the state level as Alaska (Territory), Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington all established suffrage for women between 1910 and 1918.

Another long battle ensued in the United States over the voting rights of blacks. It was not until the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the right to vote was secured by law. There are still legal battles that include practices such as gerrymandering, various levels of testing, and onerous forms of identification. Voting is not a settled matter in this country; those who wish to take responsibility for the selection of the government and the manner in which they govern still have a fight.

Why is this all so terribly important? There are many forms of the thought that a people deserves the government they receive. In some ways this is not true. Once a ruling class is established, the fee to join the club is usually beyond the common person and, therefore, not as easily changed by those with vision. However, there is a piece of the puzzle that does fall within the control of every-day folk. It starts at the local level.

The people we see in power today did not start there. In most cases, their career started at the local level as a council-person, a mayor, a local representative, a state elected official. Rarely does a candidate come out of the clear blue with no public service background. The way to change the available choices is to begin at that level where you can have a personal connection with the individual and truly assess what they can contribute to the community as a whole. It comes from watching how they handle what is happening in your community and how they represent the interests of those that depend on them.

I sincerely want people to vote their conscience – really. But I also want them involved. If you don’t like the way your preferred party selects candidates: be part of the change. If you are frustrated with the choices: think about being one yourself, or banding with others to encourage someone you think would be a good choice. Become involved in your destiny; participate in the process that impacts your life. Too many people have given too much for the privilege; don’t throw it away.

I have attached a document with a link to the voting information for voting and elections in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is for your convenience so you can look up who is running in your state for what. Don’t go with the Facebook version of the campaign, research those that interest you. Make an effort to be a contributing member in the process.

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The Art of Subtle Communication

Something different today, primarily because I promised a dear friend of mine, Stacy J. Garrett, to support her project, “The Door.” Stacy has an amazing talent to draw her audience into the magic she sees through her camera lens. The Door is a project that shows us the hidden world, the one we forget as we grow older; even though we may need it even more.

Door

Stacy has created a game as part of her fundraiser. A scavenger hunt, if you will, where words are tucked away on various blogs which, once found, may lead you to the password that unlocks a secret door on her website. You can also find the location of the other clues for this week’s contest there.

As for my part, the clue is fairly obvious within this bit of prose, but here’s another hint; the whole piece can help you figure out what mischief she’s up to this week.

Recent fanfare on social media has led me to ponder a bit on the art of communication. More specifically, how we communicate when we think that saying things plainly will not be, well, fully communicated. When plain speech does not penetrate the white noise, we resort to methods that can be effective, or total disasters. This, of course, was part of the fanfare. As it happens, I suffer from a rather dry sense of humor. I find it soothing, and it works a bit like a code. Not everyone “gets it,” so they leave you alone. This is sad, however, because being able to get your point across without executing a direct hit, so to speak, can have a more lasting effect. Let’s start with a couple definitions.

Sarcasm: the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny. (remember the funny part)

Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Ah, there it is, in order to expose and criticize people’s, um, well, you get the picture. I call this form of communication an art for a very good reason. In most of human history, speaking to power required subterfuge; it required things like the plays of Voltaire, the traveling minstrels of the middle ages, the stereo-typical parts that any audience would recognize, saying things no one dared to say “in plain text.”

One excellent example of the development of this art form was the Commedia dell’arte, or the full name translated from the Italian: Comedy of the craft of improvisation. The characters of the commedia were fixed characters, roles every audience would know and recognize. However, the actors would improvise freely within that character. Some of the players became so famous in their ability to move within the role, that they became the representation of that role.

One of the favorites, if you will, was a joker of sorts. A fellow that seemed to always be derailing the plans of his master, falling in love with his master’s maid, and making a general mess of things. But, while everyone was laughing at his antics, he delivered solid satire on the people, places, and foibles of the world he lived in.

This is the art, the ability to draw people out so that, while they are laughing, something of import slips into the thinking side of the brain. The art of delivering food for thought to an audience laughing, perhaps, because they do not want to accept that the actor is truly serious, whatever his, or her, expression or attitude.

For a taste of some masters at the art try a few of these:

A Modest Proposal, Jonathon Swift
The Lottery, Susan Jackson
Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
Candide, Voltaire
Tartuffe, Moliere

Go visit Stacy – you’ll be glad you did.

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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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