Sunday, December 27, 2015

Create Something Better....

The American generosity at Christmas is wonderful to witness. Families are adopted and hearts open to fill needs to ensure a memorable Christmas day. We pull lists from trees and fill them. We throw money in the kettle to help. Hearts open.
No one is asking if the recipients deserve the help. No one is asking if they are lazy. No one is complaining that giving a little extra might take something away from their own celebrations. We open our hearts a little and feel compassion for those who may not have quite as much as we do.
And then many go right back to the same old rhetoric. "You cannot give to people and expect... blah, blah, blah."
Yes there are people who take advantage of other people. Yes there are people who take advantage of the system.
Then let's create some better systems. Let's stop making assumptions and start creating opportunities. We're seeing those better systems slowly growing where assumptions are overcome. In Colorado a city project offers homeless people the opportunity to work cleaning up the community - 8 of 10 offered accept. A woman starts making jackets that double as sleeping bags for the homeless and get scolded by a homeless person because they need jobs. So she starts hiring homeless people to make the sleeping bag jackets.
A woman from Afghanistan comes to the United States for an education - becomes a successful doctor - and returns to Afghanistan to educate her own people - especially the women but also would be Taliban men.
We need to have vision and create systems of hope and generosity that make a difference for years to come. We need to stop making assumptions about those in need and create hope that generates hope. Kindness and generosity create seeds of hope. You will not see it immediately. You need faith to believe in it's possibilities. Love never fails.
Greed, Assumptions, Bitterness, Resentment, Jealousy are the opposites of kindness, generosity and hope. They poison opportunity. They offer no vision - no room for growth. They are killers. You cannot enter into any potential positive outcome for anything if you hold onto bitterness, resentment, jealousy, greed or assumptions. They are faith killers.
You need faith to believe in possibilities. You need vision to create hope. Those are forward thinking acts of love. That's where we create something better.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let's start listening...

Are our perceptions reality?
Through the years, I've thought of Americans as kind and generous people. I've thought that American values were about giving those in need a hand up, providing opportunity to grow, ingenuity, integrity honesty and dreaming big. Is that reality?
We may need a reality check. Perhaps a world performance review. We should have experts in many fields from other countries review our level of performance in their field of expertise. Let's ask government officials - politicians - in other countries to review our Congress and Executive Branch. Let's ask health care professionals in other countries to review our health care system.  Let's choose the major issues we face on any given topic and ask experts from other countries how we rate - Education - human rights - working conditions....
We are quite likely to be very surprised by the results. If we want to be "great" again, we need to be better listeners. We need perception and reality to be pretty close to the same. In our personal lives the people who love and care about us - and the people who don't - provide reality checks. They let us know how we are doing - like it or not.
Anyone who feels America is off track - for whatever reason - should be keenly interested in hearing from those who might have insight about why. I'd rather hear that from people who are succeeding where I might be failing. Anyone can spout about what's wrong. The important people are the ones with answers. Wouldn't you like to learn how people have actually DONE things right? Let's start listening.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The political and personal

This political campaign is quite fascinating. On one hand it's encouraging to see that so many people are engaged and watching the many debates. On the other hand, it's quite discouraging to see how many people focus on and believe sweeping generalizations that contain misinformation and no substantive solutions for the many issues we face.
On one hand, it seems encouraging that someone is beholding to no-one as they finance their campaign for president. On the other hand, that means they have no allegiance to me either. 
I'm the "little gal" who has squeaked along - worked hard - paid my way best I can. I have fought. I have scratched. I have demanded equal rights as a woman - as an "other". I did not have a rich daddy. I have been passed over. I have been paid less. I have fought against dishonesty and corruption. I have served my country.
I want a President and a governing body that understands ME. I want a President and governing body that represents ME.
I am weary of misinformation - sweeping rhetoric - and NO substantive solutions. Let's talk about what needs to be done and how we get it done. Then let's do it. "Trust me, I will" is not cutting it with me. Tell me exactly how. Show me a history of how you have. Then you will get my attention.
I cannot understand why so many people are willing to settle for less than that. Let's get something done. Let's solve something.
Do some fact checking with reliable sources. Set some clear objectives for expected outcomes. Think a little bit. Just a little. Take just a little time to remove yourself from the knee jerk response and think.
Who is really going to do the things you believe need done? Who's really going to work for you?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Memories - Bittersweet - Sweet!

As the years pass, holiday memories can be bittersweet. It's best to treasure the sweet.
One Christmas very long ago, my little brother - 4 year old toe headed Mikey - couldn't keep a secret. "You're getting a typewriter for Christmas", he said. At 7, I was barely aware of what a typewriter was and thought it sounded rather odd. I pondered the idea for weeks.
On Christmas morning, we sat on the stairs staring in the distant below which would remain tradition for many years as we had strict orders not to enter the living room until the Parents granted permission. I could see no typewriter. When we were permitted to make the mad dash of discovery, I found a wonderful little corner store with a cash register. My guess is that Mommy masterfully told Mike that it was a typewriter knowing he might spill the beans but creating a way to keep the gift disguised.
That little corner store generated many hours of fun as cousins reading this are likely to recall. Many of those hours were the last I shared with Mommy. That was our last Christmas together.
I cannot begin to imagine how difficult the next Christmas must have been for our Dad. I cannot remember the tree or excitement of Christmas morning that year. I remember Mr. and Mrs. Frinifrock across the road brought early gifts - pick up sticks for me and a Barrel of Monkey's for Mike. But I remember there was snow that Christmas in 1966 because Dad bought snow ski's for all three of us and we tried them in the yard. They had springs that latched our boots to the skies.
In that year of deep grief, he had found a determination to create adventure. That winter, and for many that followed, we skied with our little ski's and spring bindings. He bought a nice camper that year. We camped more with our aunts and uncles and made our first trip west that next summer.
This year, I mark as the first since Dad's passing. Our last conversations were filled with talking about things he thought I'd like to see. As Mike so eloquently said in a tribute to Dad last April, that is the gift he gave us and our sisters that he adopted as dearly as his own. On that Christmas in 1966, that is the gift he gave us and continued for many years.
I am certain it is the gift he intended that we would pass along.
And perhaps - just perhaps - it wasn't completely a diversion about the typewriter. Perhaps my mother knew, I would be intended to write. And write, I will.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Checking our Perspective

We cannot change everything in this world but we can change our perspective. We can do it by choosing gratitude as a pattern of thought. We can do it by looking for the best - even in bad situations. We can do it by selecting where we focus our attention.
Some years ago I read about a study conducted with a group of similar aged, similar income level people who lived in a rather safe neighborhood. Half of the group read and watched little to no mainstream news coverage. Half of the group followed the mainstream news diligently. The study showed that, over time, those who were diligently following the mainstream news displayed higher levels of anxiety, believed their neighborhood was more dangerous and felt a lower level of trust for strangers. Their belief in the dangers within their neighborhood were higher than the reality of the dangers that were playing out in their neighborhood.
I believe following the news is good but mainstream news may give us a false sense of reality. There are so many things happening in the world that never make the news. We know that to be true in our own home towns. If you are involved in your community at all, you must be keenly aware of the stories that never make the newspaper. We do not see regular reports about volunteers giving countless hours to serve our community. But countless hours are contributed every day in our volunteer fire departments, our scout troops, our non-profit organizations, animal rescues, our churches.... These are the stories of real life. These are the stories that change lives. These are the stories that change perspective.
These stories are happening around the world. These are the sources of real change - meaningful change. We need to hear them more. Look for those. Let those stories become part of your mainstream news. You will find them within sources like or on
When I am seeking a reality check and as I purposefully focus on learning new things, I go to There you will find "Ideas Worth Spreading"!
Last night I watched this TED talk.
Most everything I have heard about Afghanistan has come from mainstream news. And I can think of little that was positive. Here was the voice of a woman who is making a difference. If we are going to make a difference in the world, we need to understand how to empower people like this. We need to take time to hear - to discover - the stories not told in the mainstream media. And I prefer to hear those stories first hand from those living the stories. provides that on a wide range of topics.
Mainstream news focuses mostly on what is wrong in the world - what is not working - conflict.
Let's focus on expanding and growing what IS working. Let's change our perspective. It matters. It's where the world changes.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Can we try? or fixing "stupid"

When we disagree, the most difficult thing to do is listen. Listening stops when we allow the conversation to become emotionally charged.
In our daily lives we know this is true. We have an argument with a spouse, friend or co-worker and we all need to cool off before we can resolve the issue. The longer we hold onto the emotional charging station, the bigger the problem grows. If we don't find a way to listen - to hear their concerns - to recognize their position, the problem just grows and festers. It takes work on both sides. We have to share a desire to reach agreement. We have to want a solution. We have to share a commitment to resolve the issue.
The beginning of resolution is to discover common ground. That takes real work. And often the most important common ground is a shared commitment to resolving the issue. To get to that point, we have to release ourselves from the emotional charging station. Step back. Think. Build a bridge.
I've started to ask people who seem to be on an opposite side of an issue "What's your solution?"
That's not a rhetorical question. I sincerely want to hear. I don't know everything. We don't get great solutions to huge problems with just one perspective. We get the best solutions when a wide spectrum of educated people make a commitment to solve an issue. We get the best solutions when we collect our resources and really work at it.
Let's work toward solutions. Let's find a way to talk to each other that isn't full of emotionally charged one liners like "You Can't fix stupid." That's a door slammer. You CAN fix "stupid" if you are able to intelligently lay out a plan. It might take a bit of thinking and a lot of work but if it makes sense, it will make sense. In my lifetime, people have even been able to fix my "stupid" with a little bit of reason and care. But it had to be solutions oriented and needed to resonate. It needed to recognize my part of the equation. It needed to offer promise of something better.
I'm not willing to throw people under the bus because they are not like me or do not think like me. I've learned the most from those who are different and had an important message. Let's take some time to build.
It's going to take some work on all of our parts to stop poking one another in the eye. It's real thinking that will get us somewhere. It's really hard as we are bombarded with "gotcha" one liners that are tempting to smack one another with - or to use as a 2x4 we want to smack someone with. Has smacking someone with a 2x4 ever solved anything? It's hard work to quit venting and actually focus on resolution. It can be much easier to vent and draw lines in the sand.
One strategy I'm trying is to truly ask "What's your solution?" I need to hear. I need to listen. I'm trying to watch more Ted Talks with people who are actually doing real things to solve world problems. I'm always looking for resources that are examples of solving issues. I want to think differently - engage differently - create real solutions. Let's try. It's hard work but I believe it's worth it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Listen and learn....Our Lives depend on it!

For many years I've pondered how good and decent people can be swept up in a wave that enables mistreatment of fellow human beings. In our own nation, the Declaration of Independence said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And yet, many of our beloved founders were slave owners. It took a bloody civil war to end that peculiar institution.
Then another hundred years followed with entrenched inequality. The civil rights movement attempted to move us to higher ground but another half century has proven that hearts are difficult to change. We are a clannish species and we have been taught to love hierarchy. If we are fearful of loosing our position or desire a better position, we will step on someone's back. We will oppress others believing we are then lifted or protected.
There's a very good documentary about the KKK that's worth watching. When the KKK was at it's peak, I wondered, why did so many people want to join? Good and decent people were caught up in the KKK. While we think of it as a terribly racist organization, there was and probably is, an underlying message that resonates with people who feel dis-empowered. It's good to understand why. We should not dismiss associations as meaning the people are bad people. There is an important thing we need to understand about why they would go this path.
We need to understand these things.
How did Joseph McCarthy create a powerful committee that trampled civil liberties and destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans? He created the "Red Scare" that generated black lists of proposed communist sympathizers whose careers were decimated. One person is credited with turning the tide of information and the path toward sanity. It was the courageous effort of a journalist in this one broadcast. In our age of emotionally packed soundbites, it's hard to imagine an audience willing to watch and learn.
That's not a new weakness of humanity. Creating messages that grip emotions and lead masses down an ominous path has been done before. Once we become emotionally attached, the connection is hard to break. Good and decent people will follow. We need to understand why. We need to reference history. We need to understand.
We need to understand how an entire nation could be taken down such a terrible path as happened in Nazi Germany. Good and decent people were turned against an entire segment of their own population. They turned a blind eye as neighbors and community members were taken away. They were not bad people but were too easily led down the path of darkness.
We are witnessing the evolution of sweeping darkness. The darkness began in a place few of us can understand, half the world away. We cannot overcome darkness by creating something darker. We need to understand. We need to understand why. We need to shine a light.
Why are people joining ISIL? We need to understand why. Good and decent people can be taken down a very dark path. We need to understand that. That is the only way we will truly turn the tide. We need to create hope of a better path. We need to be the light.
We will never understand if we turn our backs to our Muslim friends and potential allies. We need to hear what they have to say. We need to listen. Our lives depend on it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

One - I am, You are, We are - One

I believe in One.
I believe I am One.
I believe you are One.
I believe we are One.
I believe our spirits are One.
I believe all are part of One.
I believe your pain is my pain.
I believe your joy is my joy.
It does not matter what you believe.
It does not matter what I believe.
We are one.
We are part of one.
I believe if we all could understand that,
we could act as one.
In that One, we become fully connected
with God - as God - ONE.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Growing level of Insanity

When we are talking about solutions to issues, it's good to consider how a solution could play out. Do a "what if" exercise.
One of the solutions to our increased massive gun violence problem proposes that more guns would solve it. In this scenario it's proposed that more "good guys" carrying weapons would increase the likelihood that a "bad guy" could be stopped before they could do massive damage.
So, I try to imagine how this might play out in a real situation. Let's pretend a situation breaks out in a very large store, shopping mall or heavily populated street with 5000 people. 500 of the people are carrying weapons. Suddenly gun fire breaks out. All 500 draw their weapons and turn to - head toward the gun fire. Now what?
Are all 500 people going to hold fire until they know who the "bad guy" is? Is it possible some will just start shooting? Even if just one starts shooting, it's likely to cause mass chaos.
The police arrive and find hundreds of people with guns. Now what?
There is a reason police and military personnel train extensively. It goes far beyond being able to handle a weapon. It's about making good decisions in very bad, confusing situations.
As well meaning as I'm sure many gun packing folks are, they are assuming a huge responsibility that they can make good decisions. I don't have nearly as much confidence that they can as they would expect. More guns out and about in our communities creates greater danger and liability. Guns don't come with "good guy - bad guy" detectors. There have to better answers. This one is not rational or reasonable. 
After the horror of 9/11, we were willing to concede to airports having strict screening for all flights. We take off our shoes, remove our laptops and limit what we carry onto a plane. We go to the airport extra early knowing we will wait in possible long lines for pre-flight screening. We are willing to do that because some knucklehead might want to cause horrible destruction. We sacrifice millions of dollars in an effort to prevent such things.
Meanwhile gun ownership is considered, by a very powerful minority, to be so sacred that nothing can be done to curtail it any way. Last week a bill was voted down in Congress. It would have prevented anyone on the terrorist watch list from legally purchasing a gun. It would have limited the sale of assault weapons. It would have required a background check for anyone to purchase a gun.  Those sound very rational and reasonable to me.
Some argue that these restrictions will not stop bad guys from getting guns. That is true. Drunk driving laws don't stop everyone from driving drunk. Taking away someone's driver's license doesn't guarantee that they won't drive. Would anyone propose that we eliminate these attempts to curb it?
We have a huge gun violence problem in this country. It's getting worse and worse. To those arguing against any efforts to try to DO something, what's your solution? Certainly you don't believe we need to just accept it and all arm ourselves in a heroic belief that we can become a protective militia.
Maybe we spent too much of our childhoods watching wild west movies.
Misguided fears are driving this country to a very frightening level of insanity. The underlying fear seems to be that someone is in the shadows trying to take away your guns. That fear is so great that any attempt to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them is a threat. The crazy part is that most of these people are law abiding gun owners who passed a background check to purchase their guns.
Am I missing something? Are there more people than I believe who have guns that are not registered or feel a need to stockpile unregistered weapons including assault weapons? If so, that's a frightening thought. Those are the people I fear. A bunch of paranoid, trigger happy people with stockpiles of unregistered weapons poses a more real and present danger than a potential secret government plot to confiscate weapons. That would be a sign of a growing level of insanity.
We need to change our mindset. We need to get a grip and learn to distinguish between real threats and fear based hysteria. Until we do, nothing will be solved. We'll just keep talking about what can't be done. There's a pile of CAN'T and WON'T going on in this country and it's destroying us.