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Saturday, December 20, 2014

This is how I grieve.

One of my favorite people died today. Grams has been suffering in a hospital a $500 plane trip away for the past week or so. She isn't suffering anymore.

On December 18th, two nights ago, when I found out she was going into hospice, I had a waking dream. My Gramps, Grams' first husband in this lifetime visited me. In this dream, Gramps was hugging Grams. They were both happy and surrounded by a warm light.

Gramps died on December 18, 1998. He visits me when I am most upset. When I wake up from a dream in which Gramps visits me, I always feel better.

It does make me sad (for him) to think that Grams left her new husband (my Grandpa Rich) here on earth, but he has his first wife waiting in heaven for him too. Someday, the four of them will play cards together, like they did so many years ago. 

I don't mean to make Grams' death about me, but death is for the living to relish. Grams was one of my favorite people. She was one person who always wanted me to be nothing more than me. I know one day I'll see her and Gramps again.

Death isn't sad for the person who is dead. You can't be sad when you are dead. You can't feel pain either, which is a blessing. Death is only sad for the people who will miss you.

Death is sad for me today.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Magic Face Threading Lady

Today I sat in an open kiosk in a crowded mall while a woman ripped almost all of the hairs out of my face. At one point I'm pretty sure I felt nostril hairs leaving my nose--or SOMETHING caused an immense ripping pain from my nostril region. I'm not sure how she did it, unless I severely underestimated the length of my nose hairs. If that is the case, I would appreciate it from now on, if you would TELL ME THAT I HAVE NOSTRIL HAIRS HANGING OUT OF MY NOSE. Actually though, I just think that the lady is magic.

I have several reasons for believing in her magic. Number one, she has the ability to coax nostril hairs out of my nose ... with thread ... and I didn't even ask her to.

Number two she is everywhere. There are three threading places in the Omaha-metro area that I know of and no matter when I go to any of them, she is there. How is she everywhere? There is only one explanation ... magic.

Three ... I always go to the kiosk with the intention of JUST getting my eyebrows threaded. However, she always talks me into doing my whole face. And it's not like some high pressure sales situation. She just says, "Should I do your lip?" and then she gives me this look that says, "You, my dear, have a mustache" and I say, without even thinking, "Will you just do my whole face?" She nods, almost imperceptibly as if she knew that this is what I was going to say all along. This is the conversation we have. Every time. Magic, I tell you.

Today when she got ready to thread my side burn region, she said, "It's been a while." Yeah, magic threading lady, it has been. You're going to earn your $35 plus tip today. I'm of German descent. Now, RIP ME.

It hurts. But it's a good hurt. It's similar to (but on a much smaller scale) getting a tattoo. After a while, your adrenaline kicks in and you start to think about how smooth and delicious your skin will look, you say a few swear words (in your head ... you are after all in a public place) and you power through.

Threading. It's not for the weak, but it is for the hairy. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Reflection: Loyalty

Being loyal is good thing, unless you are loyal to a fault (or more specifically, to the detriment of your own well-being). That's just plain stupid.

I have been being plain stupid. 

When I believe in something, I stick with it. I adjust my own life to promote it, even if it isn't easy or convenient. I throw myself into it, sometimes even sacrificing other things that are equally or even more important.

As disturbing and unsettling as it is when you initially discover that the person or the thing or the entity which you have been so loyal does not return the sentiment, there is freedom in this realization as well.

It's jolting, but it wises you up. It causes you to re-evaluate your loyalties.

I was passed over for a promotion recently by a system to which and by people to whom I've been loyal for a long time. I was hurt at first because ... I have an ego, but upon reflecting, I realize that those doing the hiring did me a favor. They opened my eyes. I opened my eyes.

This wasn't about me. This wasn't about loyalty. This was about putting someone who was right for the position in the position. (The person who was hired is going to do a marvelous job and she IS right for the position.) The more I think about the position to which I applied (and was encouraged to do so by one of the people doing the hiring) the more I realize that I was fiercely loyal enough that I would've stretched myself, acrobatically to fit the mold of what the position would've required of me and that I would've been miserable in doing so, and would've made everyone else around me miserable too.

It also forced me to reflect upon to what or to whom I owe my loyalties and the bottom line is--> I owe my loyalties to my students. No one else. A big part of my philosophy of teaching is that if it's not good for students, don't do it or do it enough to satisfy the powers that be and move on with things that ARE good for students.

It doesn't matter where I teach; it is the students who matter. I am loyal to the profession. It is an honor to teach the young. Put me anywhere and I will be loyal to the people sitting in my classroom whether the system that employs me is loyal to me or not.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

On Being Productive

Do you ever not start a project or job because you know there is a high probability that you will be interrupted throughout the process of it? How can one combat that problem? It's silly to not doing something because of something that might or might not happen ... but sometimes that is what stops me from being productive.

Sometimes my lack of initiative makes me feel like a frumpy pink plastic electric poodle.

When I am involved in a project, if I am interrupted, it not only stops me from proceeding, but it causes me to backtrack and recover and a project that might normally take a mere hour winds up taking me five. Stopping and starting makes me feel like punching a wall, so I'd rather just not doing something until I know I can be somewhere where no one will insert themselves into my workspace.

I need to solve this problem, but it's something that has plagued me since I was around 12 years old. Knowing that I can't doing something in one fell swoop stifles me from proceeding. Knowing that I can't do something perfectly, often makes me give up before I've even started.

This is how I wind up binge-watching Netflix and posting too much information on social media outlets. I need the human equivalent of horse blinders. I need to train my 38-year-old brain to focus.

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Happiness

I just found this little snippet in the book A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. This excerpt from an essay (printed in an unknown newspaper, according to Nasar's footnotes) by educator, Angelo Patri was discovered in a scrapbook Virginia Nash (mother to mathematical genius, John Nash) kept for her children.
Queer little twists and quirks go into the making of an individual. To suppress them all and follow clock and calendar and creed until the individual is lost in the neutral gray of the host is to be less than true to our inheritance ... Life, that gorgeous quality of life, is not accomplished by following another man's rules. It is true we have the same hungers and same thirsts, but they are for different things and in different ways and in different seasons ... Lay down your own day, follow it to its noon, your own noon, or you will sit in an outer hall listening to the chimes but never reaching high enough to strike your own.
One of the most tragic things I can think of is that some people live their entire lives and never experience who they truly are. They are busy keeping up appearances, worrying what others will think of them, and attempting to achieve goals that others have set for them. Really the only way to guarantee that you leave a first-hand mark on this world is to march to the beat of your own drum (to borrow a cliche) or better yet, to stop marching altogether and do your own thang. I believe that a person can only experience pure happiness, when she truly experiences what it feels like to be her and no one else.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

An Outsider to Ferguson

My thoughts on what happened in Ferguson:

I wasn't there.

All I can rely on is the media and the opinions of people who know parts of what happened.

The media is biased. No matter the source ... there is bias. As long as human beings run media, there will be bias.

I don't know how Mike Brown behaved that night. I don't deny that he was a nice boy, who was loved, who loved, who had a bright future ahead of him. If he was behaving in a manner that suggested he might have a weapon, if I had been the law enforcement officer at the scene, I may have reacted the same way Darren Wilson did. Darren Wilson was the trained expert on the scene -- not me ... not you. I doubt he relishes in what happened ... but I don't know because I'm not Darren Wilson. But I will go on record as stating that I doubt he likes it. I highly doubt that Darren Wilson is a "thug cop," but I know that thug cops exist and that they make good cops' job a lot harder, because once someone encounters a bad cop, I can only imagine that it's hard for that person (and then that person's children, and that person's children's children -- and thus a cultural belief is formed) to NOT view every single man or woman in a uniform as the enemy.

Luckily, I've not encountered any bad cops in my lifetime, but I carry a privilege with me, on my face and in my mind. My face is white, and so is my mind -- I don't ever have to think about IT ("it" being that someone might suspect me of something of which I am not guilty, simply because of the color or my skin) -- that's my privilege. I was born with it. I didn't ask for it, but it's there. To deny it is naive. To deny it is disrespectful to everyone who wasn't born with it. I can't give that privilege away, nor, in all honesty would I want to. I don't know that I'm strong enough to live without that privilege.

No matter what -- the powerful response to Mike Brown's death indicates that Ferguson, PRIOR to the shooting of Mike Brown was at a tipping point. To deny there is a problem, with the relationship that law enforcement has with the Ferguson public would just be plain naive. There is a lack of trust. There is a lack of respect. There have obviously been other incidents that caused the reaction to Mike Brown's shooting. It was not Mike Brown's shooting alone that caused these riots.

I am an outsider ... BIG TIME ... I don't watch enough of the news to even be a vicarious insider ... I am a white lady not too far away (geographically) from Ferguson, but nevertheless, my perspective is nothing more than that of a total outsider -- Ferguson is broken. Racism IS an issue there (and other places) in 2014. The relationship between law enforcement and the general public is broken there (and other places). And YES my race is relevant. And YES so is Mike Brown's. To say it is not is just a plain ostrich with its head in the sand response.

No matter what happened between Darren Wilson and Mike Brown ... no matter who was and was not at fault ... there is a problem that needs fixing and unfortunately someone had to die in order for that to become apparent enough to get national (and international) attention. You wouldn't think it would take that. But. It. Did. And that's just plain tragic.

My prayer is that everyone involved in this horrible tragedy -- even we outsiders -- take steps to right this wrong. At the very least, acknowledge that everyone involved -- even outsiders -- are responsible for making it right. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Do What You Want, but Get Out of Your Armchair.

A business should be a representation of the people who own it and run it.

If the people who own and run a business are Christian, then I would expect that that company's mission and way of doing business would reflect Christian values. Not unlike, if a business were run or owned by a Hindu family, I would expect that business's mission and vision to demonstrate Hindu values. Not unlike if a business were owned and run by devout cultists, said business would reflect the beliefs and practices of said cult. (That link is to one of the best pieces of satire I've seen in a long time.)

In other words, our religion or lack thereof does affect everything we do. I'm not going to get into the hypocrisy of how some people claim to be Christians but then do unChristian things ... or how some people claim to be Atheists but then go to church on Christmas ... or how ... WE'RE ALL HYPOCRITES on SOME LEVEL. Because we are. I am. You are. EVERYONE. That's the one damn thing we all have in common. Some of us are bigger hypocrites than others, but we all make decisions that go against our core beliefs from time to time.

My business is a reflection of me and a big part of me is my spirituality and belief in GOD and love for JESUS and for LIFE and the UNIVERSE and for LOVE itself. One of my favorite book on leadership is Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. The teachings in this book can be applied in the classroom and in business, without proselytizing or turning people off to my faith because essentially it promotes leading through serving. Leading by example is pretty much the only evangelizing I'm comfortable with giving AND receiving. I can tell much more by what you do than by what you say.

So, OF COURSE, I believe that business owners CAN make decisions based on their beliefs. It is when businesses make decisions and use their religion as an EXCUSE to do something unethical that it really gets under my skin. If Hobby Lobby wants to NOT fund certain forms of its female employees' healthcare, then that is their choice, but don't make it about religion. (They know they HAVE to make it about religion because it's the only loophole they could find.)

They are claiming it's because the four types of birth control that they are choosing to not cover cause abortions--something that most Christian organizations generally oppose. However, THAT'S NOT TRUE: Three of the four types of birth control that they are NOT covering stop ovulation, which makes fertilization impossible. One of the types of birth control, if implanted after fertilization, stops a fertilized egg from implanting. That does not fit the medical definition of abortion. It doesn't fit my personal definition either. All that IUD does is prevent a pregnancy from occurring.

Medical definitions aside, I realize that some people view a fertilized egg as a baby and so therefore they may view that type of device as abortifacient. Let's venture into the realm of the hypothetical.

Your beloved female someone (aunt, mom, daughter, sister, friend) is employed by Hobby Lobby (or the hundreds of other businesses who will use the recent decision to remove certain healthcare options--mostly from women) and she is raped. TERRIBLE. HORRIBLE. SITUATION. She is potentially pregnant. She doesn't know. Hormones do bad things to her. She knows this from experience. Because of this, she opts for the non-hormonal copper IUD, which will make it impossible for the potentially fertilized egg that she is carrying inside of her (made up of 50% rapist's DNA) to implant. She should have this option. There are some fates worse than death. Then again, maybe she chooses to wait and see if she is pregnant. Maybe she ends up being pregnant and goes through with the pregnancy. The point is--it's HER choice--not her employer's.

And the idea that vasectomies and Viagra (Vi-GAG-ra) are still covered is just ... gross, and I'm sure that there are some religious implications here, but bottom line: If it's good for the goose; it's good for the gander.

If you want to make decisions based on your religion, then do, but don't cherry pick what you will and will not do in the name of your religion and DON'T use your religion to hurt women. Know that just like you ... you corporate "person" you ... I (flesh and blood person, here!) have the ability to make my own decisions based on my own personal beliefs, and I plan on exercising those rights when I choose where to shop. I plan on voicing my opinion via social media and in correspondence with my representatives.

I encourage anyone who believes in something to get out of your armchair and do something about it.