Getting Political In A Nice Way?

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

ginger ~ coin ~ Kentucky ~ jinn ~ dead ~ shadow

They were submitted by: http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

fullsizeoutput_274

First, let me say that I found these words EXTREMELY difficult.  No worries, I like a challenge.  I’m using my words to get a little political today.  I’ve dipped my toe into the world of political punditry from time to time, but I’ve avoided jumping in altogether.  It’s not that I’m afraid to have difficult conversations, or that I’m short on opinions.  Given the political landscape of our current time, I’ve just decided my approach should be more thoughtful and introspective.  Why do I believe what I believe?  What do I actually believe? Do I understand what I believe? Can I articulate what I believe? Can I articulate what I believe in such a way that it doesn’t close down the conversation, but opens myself and others to meaningful dialogue and an exchange of ideas and knowledge?

I don’t know. I’ve spent the first 6 months of this new administration trying to answer these questions for myself.  Seeking to learn what I didn’t understand, I’ve become a student of all things politics.  Better late than never I suppose.  I’ve always held the opinion, wrongly I believe, that what happens in Washington, what happens at the state and local levels of government really doesn’t affect my life in any real tangible way I can see and identify. I think many people feel this way.  Most of us are just trying to survive the best way we know how, taking care of our families and responsibilities.

I believe that there are groups and individuals on both sides of the political aisle with voices so loud, painting the other side of the fence with broad, sweeping generalizations, dominating the political stage, that most of us feel as if we’ve been left out of the conversation altogether.  Most of us hover in the shadows, staying quiet, out of the fray.

There is a general feeling that civil conversation, debate and discussion are dead.  The cacophony of vitriol, hatred, indignation, malice, anger, self-righteousness, sanctimonious superiority and fear is reverberating across our nation in staccato fashion leaving very little room for anything else, or any other voice.

I’ve never held the expectation that any President was a Jinn, or magical genie, with a magical wand that could cure all that ails us as a nation and as a people.

(I have to stop and take a moment to appreciate how I worked that word “Jinn” into this blog post, I mean…I’m totally patting myself on the back over here!)

I did not vote for Donald Trump but I’ve tried REALLY hard to give him and his administration the benefit of the doubt.  Trump supporters genuinely believe that life is exponentially worse for them now than people just like them 50 years ago.  Hence the “Make America Great Again” slogan that seems to be so popular. I’ll give credit where credit is due, Trump certainly knows how to play to his audience, to his core base.  He knows how to work and manipulate the media.  I can’t help but feel that he’s treating the Presidency as another reality TV or game show, where he is merely starring as the President.  I’m not sure he actually holds any vision or fixed ideology or belief system.  He’s a series of contradictions, and I’m not sure that Trump’s promises of a greater America line up with the rest of his party affiliation, or that even understands what that means.  I’m concerned that so many offices of our federal government, both domestic and international have yet to be filled.  I’m concerned that we seem to have no clear direction, no vision, no plan.

There are idealogical differences between our two main party affiliates that may never be bridged. For example, the idea that health care is a privilege not a right or the role assigned to the federal government and the size of that role.  It seems that we cannot even currently agree on basic facts.  I could never have raised my children under the guise of subjective truth.  I’m not sure I know how to navigate in a world where nothing is ever true or factual.  I believe in a free press, it is essential and necessary to our democracy.  There are principled and ethical bi-partisan news organizations and journalists doing a terrific job despite an ever-increasing hostile environment.  I don’t really care where you get your news, but I believe in your inherent democratic right to get it wherever you want.  My hope would be that people would listen to a variety of sources, seeking knowledge and understanding from all sides of the conversation, but if you want to read things that only support or agree with your current worldview, that is your right and I would never seek to undermine or take that right away from you.

What I’ve really tried to do in the first six months of this administration is understand why people voted for Trump.  I looked specifically at the states where he currently has a solid base and overwhelming support, states like Kentucky.

Historically, Kentucky has been divided politically, at least until the 1950’s. As social issues became more prevalent over national issues, more and more residents of Kentucky began voting Republican.  Kentucky is home to the current Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, the junior senator Rand Paul and the Republican governor, Matt Bevin.  Only four states gave Trump a larger percentage of victory than Kentucky, where he won five out of every eight votes.  Kentucky has been hit very hard economically by the loss of manufacturing jobs.  Kentucky is the number 3 automobile making state, but it’s eastern coalfield has shut down over half it’s mining jobs.  Kentucky is economically depressed, with over 440,000 residents on Medicaid.  Kentucky has also been hit extremely hard in the opioid epidemic, where over 90 people are dying EVERY day.  Pharmacies seem to be thriving in Kentucky.  In one rural county, there are eleven drug stores, mostly independent, scattered around a tiny city of 1,500 people.  Prescription pain killers are one of the best-selling items.  Kentucky is hurting.  They are  a people in abject poverty and pain. Black, brown, white, ginger…they are united in their suffering and distress.

(yeah, I know, not the best use of the word “ginger” but I did the best I could)

Kentucky, under the Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, was considered the main success story for the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Trump’s promise to not cut medicaid and provide affordable insurance to ALL was important to Kentucky voters behind economic concerns.  Is he keeping this campaign promise?

When a reporter asked a Trump supporter at a recent rally what they thought about the current healthcare bill, they gave what is probably my favorite quote of all-time: “I don’t like that Obamacare at all, now that ACA care, that’s good stuff, we need to keep that but make it better.”  I’m not judging.  But I do think it illustrates my point about educating ourselves.

I’ve read the mere 142 page Senate Republican Health Care Bill.  I’d encourage you to read it as well.  I’m still trying to understand most of it, legal jargon not a language I speak fluently or even passably, but it read more like a tax reformation bill than a healthcare bill.  I would also encourage you not to discount or ignore the CBO or the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the healthcare bill currently on the floor of the Senate.  The CBO is a non-partisan agency in the legislative branch of the United States government.  It provides INDEPENDENT analyses of budgetary and economic issues facing our federal government.  Despite the aspersions cast upon the agency from our current administration, historically even when senators disagree with the CBO scoring, they respect its expertise.  Again, I would encourage you to read the bill for yourself, and research and analyze the portions you do not understand before forming a concrete opinion of it’s merits or pitfalls.

Trump’s big campaign promise was to not cut Medicaid and to provide affordable health insurance for every American. I’m honestly not sure he understands the difference between Medicare and Medicaid or if he’s even read the bill he’s claims to now support.

The most pressing issue for the residents of Kentucky is the economy and more specifically, jobs.  Mitch McConnell has a long history of blaming Obama for the “war on coal”.  Trump has promised to revitalize and reinstate the coal and manufacturing industries by severing “bad” trade deals, bringing back manufacturing jobs moved overseas, removing our country from the Paris Agreement, repealing environmental protections introduced under the Obama administration and cracking down on immigration.

Sure all those promises SOUND good (to some voters), but are they realistic?  Using emotional rhetoric to illicit a visceral reaction is easy and may give you results in the short term, but do any of these “promises” actually do anything to help not only the people of Kentucky but the American people as a whole?  Blaming immigrants for stealing “American” jobs gives a better sound bite to a divided country than pictures of robots sneaking across the border.  Automation has certainly helped creat the jobs crisis, and as far as I can tell has yet to be addressed by either party.  For every coal job lost, new jobs were created in solar and wind energy.  Progress is leaving people behind, not policy nor ideology.  The cost of manufacturing in the United States drives up the cost of goods.  Manufacturing our goods in foreign countries is cheaper, making our products more affordable.  Are people really going to pay substantially more for the “Made in America” label when they could get it cheaper somewhere else? The rising popularity of Amazon and other online retailers would suggest a resounding no to that question.  Mining jobs have been lost not only because of the environmental regulations but in larger part due to the competition of its cheaper counterpart, natural gas.  How do Trump’s promises seriously address any of these actual issues, other than to incite emotional responses to very real and tangible problems and concerns?

I didn’t even touch on other key and critical areas of concern, but I mean it’s a blog post not a novel, so I focused on touching not only two primary concerns for the nation, but also specifically for the great state of Kentucky.  Obviously, I have strong feelings and opinions and could write for days, but in the interest of the standard reader’s attention span…I’m trying to keep it simple and concise.

Personally, I am concerned about social issues.  I need to broaden my scope and understanding of economic issues, such as budget and taxation, but I’m learning…slowly gaining in knowledge.  I believe in some hybrid form of a single-payer healthcare system.  No system is perfect or without its problems but I do believe healthcare is a right not a privilege.  I believe strongly that taking care of the poor and the marginalized is a very clear Christian mandate.  Jesus wasn’t selective about who he invited to the table.  The table was open for EVERYONE. I believe knowledge is power and truth is vital to our democracy.  I’m not going to be fed information or told what to believe. I’m invested in investigating and seeking out information from a variety of sources. I personally use the following:

The New York Times, the WSJ, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg and Politico, just to name a few.

I’m certainly open to suggestions.  I’m not big on conspiracy theories, so there are certain news organizations that I will never frequent.  I won’t list them here.

I am a huge fan of the podcast.  (#friendofthepod) I love the Crooked Media podcasts: Lovett or Leave It, Pod Save America, With Friends Like These, Pod Save the World and Pod Save the People are my faves.  These particular podcasts are definitely in the #nevertrump camp so you’ve been warned.

I also love true crime podcasts but that doesn’t really fit the scope of this blog post, so I’ll leave that discussion for another day :=)

I would label myself a progressive, and I do have a certain set of ideological perspectives that I consider non-negotiables. I’m not ruled by the almighty coin.  I care about people.  My passion is for social injustice, the problems of mass incarceration and our broken criminal justice system, women’s issues and social issues concerning race and sexual preference.  I’m learning the difference between cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation and my role in the conversation.

I’m currently reading two really remarkable books right now that specifically address issues I’m concerned about in today’s political and national landscape:

“Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America” by Jeff Chu

and

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

I’ll have much more to say about both books when I’ve finished them, but boy have they changed my perspective, challenged what I thought I knew and shined a spotlight on the deepest darkest parts of me and my personal fears and biases.

You may not agree with me and that’s okay.  I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I’m encouraging people to stay informed, seek out knowledge and stay open to civil discourse and dialogue.  Don’t let anyone tell you what to believe.  Truth should never be the enemy.  Be thoughtful.  Be introspective.  Be respectful.  My hope would be that with increased knowledge comes increased action and with action comes change.  We all want a better world for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren.

I would take it one step further though.  I would propose that instead of wishing and waiting for the world to change to fit our individual perspectives, circumstances, or worldview, that perhaps we seek to instead transform ourselves, change the way we think, the way we interact, the way we feel.  Challenge ourselves.  Be open to change.  Be available to the presence of transformation and new ideas.  Ghandi said it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Whatever that means for you.  Embrace it.

There is so much more I feel I could write about, but I’ve used my words, hopefully in a considerate and thoughtful way and hope to share more as I learn and grow.

Love one another ❤

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Cognitive Script                         https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com/blog

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                  http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen                  http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom         http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Climaxed                                        http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

 

Summer Lovin’

fullsizeoutput_80f

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Summertime! Lake, River or Salt Water?

It was submitted by: http://www.southernbellecharm.com

summer-1403071__480

 

Let me start by saying that winter is my favorite season.  Let’s be honest, the bulky sweaters, sweat pants, coats, scarves, hats, etc… cover many faults.  Summer clothing, summer activities, don’t leave much to the imagination and for some of us, this is terrifying.  Just the thought of trying on bathing suits, sends me into a panic induced anxiety attack.  My idea of a perfect day is spent lounging on the couch, under a comfy blanket, wearing pajamas, fuzzy socks or house slippers, sipping a cup of coffee and delving into a good book.  Not exactly summertime friendly.  In the heat of the summer, you’re more likely to find me standing naked in front of a fan…panting, sweating and cursing.

frog-1079978__480

You know those goo-filled toys that kids play with, where you squeeze one side and the other side pops out bigger?  I forget what they are called, but that’s how I feel trying on bathing suits.  I shimmy that lycra/polyester blend over my thighs, hips and stomach, past the boobs, which I have to lift and set into each elastic bordered cup.  I pull the bottoms as far over my butt cheeks as possible, noting that the winter bush looked smaller and better maintained in my granny panties.

IMG_2605

If I wore this swimsuit would I still need to shave?

I peer down critically at myself, feeling not that bad, why my stomach looks almost flat from this angle…then I look up.  At first I think, omg who is standing in my dressing room and how the heck did they get in here!

frog-1499068__480

Then I realize it’s me, and not the me I envisioned when I was looking down at myself feeling kinda body positive, even almost on the thinnish side of the overweight curve.  I feel that maybe I’ve been punked by Ashton Kutcher (is that still a show?) and he’s replaced my dressing room mirror with one of the carnival fun house mirrors.  Don’t even get me started on the harsh fluorescent lighting!  I mean seriously, don’t retailers realize I’d buy a ton more clothes with a little mood lighting and a skinny mirror?  Instead of smoothing out my bumps and curves, the small piece of lycra horror has just pushed everything down, out and to the side.  Seriously, in addition to the uniboob, I also have tremendous side boob, underboob and back cleavage.  I don’t even know where to look.  Epic disaster.  I feel the need to dive into some ice-cream head first.  Or cry.  Or both.  Summertime…ugh.

They say fat looks better tanned.  Which brings me to the actual secret subject question I received.  Lake, river or salt water?  So, now that I’ve horrified all of you with mental visuals of me in a bathing suit, let’s break this down.  Careful, you’re about to experience the full brunt of my neuroses, and it’s not pretty.  You’ve been warned.

water-1525008__480

Lake?  No.  If I’m forced to frolic around in lake water, I’d prefer to do it on the back of an inner tube or jet ski or from the safety of a big boat.  I’m not a fan of swimming around in murky, dank water where I can’t see what exactly is swimming with me, and I’m terrified of getting nibbled by fishy friends.

fullsizeoutput_26f

I feel like my pale, ghostly white skin looks fairly luminescent bobbing just under the surface of the lake, and that to marine life, I might look a bit like a fat worm being dangled enticingly before them, not a mere snack but a full on 6 course meal.  The bottom of the lake floor just feels kinda gross to me, slimy and strange, forcing me to wear swim shoes which gives me a weird foot tan.  The idea of me bouncing around on a inner tube doesn’t exactly feel me with excitement either.  Frankly, I’m not sure my swimsuit would even hold up.  I have visions of sausage casing erupting, spreading out over the surface of the lake and then being gobbled down by the fish or other strange lake creatures I can’t identify.  As I accidentally inhale gulps of lake water in my frantic dash to pull myself back up into the boat or on the inner tube, it occurs to me how many kids/adults have used this very lake as their own personal bathroom. Or dumping ground (pun intended). I can almost feel the unnamed, unidentified bacteria moving towards me in rapid pace as I huff and puff myself back into relative safety.

monster-426994__480

How I imagine the bacteria to look as it’s coming for me!

So yeah…no lake for me.

River? I picture rivers as something you walk across during a hike, or stop to let your dog play in while you bandage up your blisters from the new hiking shoes you bought because they were cute, and the color matched your hiking outfit, not because they were practical or even comfortable and appropriate for actual hiking.  A river is where you might stop to let your horse drink, if you’re into horseback riding or where you might splash water on your red, sweaty and puffy hiking exerted face.  I guess people float down rivers and stuff on inner tubes but I’d have the same concerns listed above under lake.  So probably no river for me either.

Which brings me to salt…

I noticed pool wasn’t an option, and I have a whole rant on public pools and swim parks, but since it wasn’t part of the question, I’ll spare you.  You’re welcome.

I’ll be traveling to Puerto Rico in two short weeks where all my deepest fears and insecurities will be put out on display for better or worse.  I love the beach, except for the sand part and I love the ocean except for the salt/shark/jelly fish part.  I love the idea of the beach/ocean combo.  I love the sounds.  I love the natural beauty to be found there. It’s the practical side of nature I struggle with and the beach is no exception. I don’t relish the thought of washing sand out of my hoohah every day or feeling the sting of salt slapping against my razor burns/cuts.  As much as I criticize and poke fun of my various body parts, I’m kinda partial to them and would hate to lose them to a shark.  If I worry that I look like yummy bait to little lake fishies, imagine what a shark would think!??!  All you can eat buffet anyone?

fullsizeoutput_260

So I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be definitely be salt, but more in a lounge chair by the ocean with a delicious umbrella adorned beverage while I delve into the latest fiction craze on my kindle, lathered up with sunscreen, shielded under the world’s largest hat/umbrella combo, feeling a little bit like a movie star but hoping there isn’t any paparazzi hovering around to take gnarly close-ups, and zoom in on my white, cellulite covered thighs and back cleavage.

photographer-1080016__480

Cheers to summer ya’ll ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Cognitive Script                     https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com/blog

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

The Angrivated Mom                    http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Not That Sarah Michelle                 http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen                  http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom           http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Climaxed                                           http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

 

When I Wish Upon A STAAR

moon-478982__480

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

My words are: Intense~ Lovingly~ Growth spurt~ In the blink of an eye~ Bottle~ Blue

They were submitted by: http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

When a star is born
They possess a gift or two
One of them is this
They have the power to make a wish come true
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true
It seems like just yesterday…
1914162_1165676228225_4362184_n

In the blink of an eye, this little munchkin is now halfway thru his 11th year, moving on up to 6th grade!  Where did the time go!?!?!

IMG_2530

It’s been a very intense year, full of highs and lows, ups and downs.  Enough to make a girl wanna turn to the bottle!

kermit-1651615__480

I feel like every time I turn around, man-child has experienced another growth spurt. Pajamas, jeans, shirts I swear I just purchased, already too small.  I can’t keep up.  He’s my baby and I want to hold on to every precious moment because I know all too soon he’ll be fleeing the coop, leaving my little nest empty.

As many of you know, we made the decision to homeschool man-child in January, after much prayer and thought.  I’m a big fan of public school and I have a fierce admiration for teachers.  Our decision wasn’t based on any perceived failure of his school. Our decision wasn’t religious in nature either.  It was a decision based upon the perfect storm of many factors.  It was a scary leap.  I’ve learned so much over the last few months, and it’s been such a rewarding experience and journey.  My son and I have never been closer.  I’ve watched him bloom, grow in ways I never imagined.  There is no better feeling than the moment when you watch a child begin to believe in themselves, comprehend their own potential and learn the benefits of hard work and perseverance.  It was unbelievably heartbreaking to know that our son didn’t believe he was smart, no matter how many times we tried to convince him otherwise.

The hardest part about our homeschool journey thus far is learning when to shut up.  I want so bad to always jump in and answer for him or help him navigate a problem.  Teaching myself to stop, let him figure things out on his own, let him be wrong, has been achingly difficult.  The growth I’ve seen in him on every level in these few short months has validated every agonizing decision that led us here, to this place.  I’m just so unbelievably proud of him.  The most important aspect of our journey has been watching him bloom under his own confidence, witnessing how proud he is of himself, and watching him discover the excitement and joy to be found in the act of learning.

We’ve learned so much about each other.  He’s learned that mommy is a terrible loser.  I’m not sure this was really a big secret, but I don’t think he’s every witnessed it firsthand.  They play this game in some of his classes called Kahoot.  It’s an app they log in and answer questions based on the subject material they’ve learned that day.  They are awarded points for every correct answer based on time.  So the quicker they answer correctly, the more points they are awarded.  Unfortunately, man-child witnessed some mommy meltdowns during some tough losses.  At one point, he pats me on the hand, gives me a hug and says “mom, it’s just a game.”

“It’s NOT a game!  IT’s LIFE!!!!!” I yell…screaming very unkind things about the other 11 year old’s playing.

Yeah, not one of my finer moments.  But there it is.  Perfect I’ve never claimed to be.

The homeschool we chose is still part of the public education system, so passing the STAAR test still needed to happen to progress to 6th grade.  Waiting to get his scores back was definitely torture. It was difficult to balance being positive about the outcome and realistic.  I wasn’t sure the few months we had together in this homeschool one on one environment would be enough.  I knew he had progressed leaps and bounds in those few short months, but was it enough?  I was terrified that if he didn’t pass, it would unravel all the confidence and growth we had witnessed over the past few weeks.  I clumsily navigated that tightrope of realistic expectation versus hopeful anticipation.  I wanted to prepare him for the worst possible outcome while at the same time lovingly encouraging him to believe in himself and the hard work and effort he had put forth regardless of what might happen.

So it was with bated breath we waited…

HE DID IT!

So proud of this boy and can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us, cheered us on, encouraged and supported us, we couldn’t do it without you ❤

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom       http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch

The Global Dig                                  http://theglobaldig.blogspot.com

Climaxed                                          http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Something To Talk About

fullsizeoutput_80f

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

If you know people are talking about a friend of yours behind her back, do you tell her?  Or do you talk to the people who are gossiping or….both?

It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

“Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everybody enjoys.” Joseph Conrad

Whenever I think of the word “gossip”, I always picture in my mind Mrs. Oleson from Little House on the Prairie.

It didn’t always carry such a negative connotation. The word gossip began use as a noun, meaning “god sibling, or intimate friend.” Shakespeare actually began using the word as a derogatory verb to describe mostly female behavior and the word has evolved from there to the way we think of and use it today.

I think my answer to this particular question depends on a wide variety of circumstances.  I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer here.  Maybe I’m complicating it unnecessarily and for many of you, it’s very simple.  Or maybe, like me, you can think of hundred scenarios in which you would react differently depending on many factors/reasons.

I remember talking with a friend and for some reason she decided to divulge an extremely sensitive secret about not only a co-worker, but this person also happened to be my boss.  They were friends, good friends, before she became “the boss.” She shared many personal details about her life with the friend sitting in front of me on this day.  Why she decided to blurt out this particular secret to me, I still don’t understand to this day. I immediately felt extremely uncomfortable.  This wasn’t the idle chitchat of two bored co-workers. This wasn’t one friend venting to another or seeking advice.  I felt like a bomb had been detonated.  I didn’t respond.  The silence stretched on.  I knew she regretted her outburst almost immediately.  Her red face leaning in to whisper that of course, I can’t tell ANYONE about the truth bomb she lit underneath me. I felt off-kilter. I felt guilty for even knowing this tidbit of information about my boss.  I hurt for her.  I felt the violation deeply in my soul.  I continued to let my friend fill the silence with nervous pratting. My mind racing, trying to wrap my head around this newfound knowledge.

I agonized over this information for days.  It changed, not the way I felt for my boss, I didn’t lose respect for her, if anything my respect for her had grown, I just felt so uneasy knowing this facet of her personal life that I know she would never have told me voluntarily, that it did affect the way I interacted with her.  It wasn’t my business but I couldn’t unknow it.  Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I had to tell her.  If the situation were reversed, I would want to know that this piece of information was floating around out there.  If this “friend” had told me, then it was certainly possible she had told others.  I wasn’t sure what she could do about it, but I felt very convicted that telling her was the right thing to do.  Right or wrong, I took her to lunch one day, and I told her.  She handled the whole situation with so much grace.  She admitted that while it wasn’t something for which she felt ashamed, it was deeply personal and not something she necessarily wanted out there in her work environment.  She was extremely disappointed and hurt by our mutual friend.  If she ever confronted her, I don’t know.  It wasn’t something I ever discussed again with either of them.

It brought into sharp focus the inherent danger in gossip.  How quickly it can take an ugly turn.  I don’t understand the motive behind telling me this particular secret on this particular day.  It seemed she was hoping to undermine my respect for my boss, but I really don’t understand why and when it comes down to it, the why doesn’t really matter.  She was wrong for sharing it.  It was a confidence she shared with another, a confidence she betrayed, a bond she destroyed and a friendship and working relationship irrevocably changed in a negative way.  My heart hurt for my boss.  Did I do the right thing in telling her?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  At the very least, I thought it would make her think twice before sharing information with this particular person again.

A serious trust was violated that day.  I’m always very careful about what I share with others.  Only a very few special people deserve the title, “heart friend”.  You know, that person that would help you bury the body and carry the secret to his/her grave.  I think gossip can be a very natural and healthy way to communicate among friends, but we must tread carefully and respectfully.  Words spoken aloud can’t be undone.  Words are powerful.  As women particularly, we are quick to tear each other down instead of lift each other up.  Gossip can be positive.  It can be used to describe the ways in which people communicate in community with one another.  It can promote bonding between friends. I believe it is a necessary part of our humanity, bringing us closer, helping to identify and set up moral boundaries.  Gossip becomes dangerous when it turns into theft of another’s reputation.  Gossip can be neutral and positive, but it can also be malicious and hurtful.  Typically, we know the difference when we hear it or when we speak it.

There is a Jewish proverb that says, “And your speech is like the feathers scattered on the wind. Once your words have left your lips, they, too, cannot be gathered again. From now on, be careful of what you say.”

Words to certainly live by ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope               http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom       http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch

Climaxed                                          http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’?

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

mother ~ bike ~ photo ~ hamburger ~ salad ~ blood pressure

They were submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/               

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

soup-1006694__480

I am a terrible cook.

I don’t enjoy cooking. It actually gives me anxiety.

When I embarked on my weight loss journey, I knew one of the bad habits I was going to HAVE to change was the amount of times per month we were eating out. I needed to cook more if this was going to stick.

Ugh.

Nothing I make every looks like the picture. If I’m lucky, it’s edible. Feel free to question my daughter about the “Green Shrimp Soup” fiasco of 2004.  I think I may have blogged about it, but I’m too lazy to go search my archives. I suck at timing. By the time my main course is ready, everything else is cold and congealed. I often leave out important ingredients or steps, not on purpose, I’m just not good at following direction. I’m bad to buy the ingredients without reading the recipe and then find out when I set out to prepare dinner that the chicken was supposed to marinate overnight… So I wing it, often with disastrous results. Do you see what I did there? 😀 “Wing it…” “chicken…” Yeah, okay I’ll stop.

My husband is a much better cook. I don’t cook because I’m the mother, I cook because my husband works 2 jobs and goes to school full-time. No gender specific roles being assigned up in this house. I’m sure there is a small part of him (a very tiny, minuscule part) that sometimes wishes he was the stay-at-home dad, homeschooling our son and cooking dinners, doing laundry, meal planning, cleaning…oh wait, he does a lot of the cleaning actually.  In truth, I’m the worst housewife ever. But I try. I get an E for effort.

I’ve been wanting to try these new food delivery companies that seem to be flooding the marketplace. Places like Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Green Chef, Home Chef, etc… There seem to be a billion of them. A friend of mine was giving out 2 free meals through the Blue Apron company, and my favorite thing in the world is free anything, so I jumped all over that opportunity.

Despite the fact that my husband spends HOURS at the gym, on the exercise bike, lifting weights, sweating it up in the sauna, staring at himself in the myriad of mirrors and reflective surfaces…genetically speaking, he is still at risk for High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol. His strict exercise and diet regime don’t so much lower his risk for those factors as they lower the risk for the side effects…like death.  As I kind of like having him around, I’ve recently switched us over to a more pescatarianesque diet, more salad and fish less hamburger and chicken. Basically, trying to lower his exposure to animal fats.

For someone who doesn’t cook well and doesn’t enjoy it, getting creative with fish dishes is extremely difficult. It can also be expensive.  We can’t eat salmon every night, and not just because I have a tendency to dry it out so it resembles something more along the lines of salmon jerky. I refuse to buy tilapia. If it can’t be found in nature and it’s breathing, I’m wary. We have to avoid the high mercury fishes like Ahi Tuna, Orange Roughy, King Mackerel, etc. Not because I’m pregnant! Don’t want to start any rumors…

Anyway, back to my Blue Apron experience.

I ordered the “fried” Catfish with spinach and sweet potato fries and the black bean and quinoa burritos. I thought both options were pretty safe, both for me in the kitchen and to satisfy my son’s picky palate. The kid LOVES beans. I haven’t been able to sell either my son or my husband on the benefits of quinoa. They just don’t like it, so I was a little nervous about the burritos, but I thought if you smother enough cheese and beans on it and cover it with a tortilla, maybe they won’t notice. I will admit that I don’t find quinoa all that aesthetically pleasing either. It looks like bugs.

quinoa-743045__480

Having never used one of these meal services before, I didn’t really have expectations, but I thought it would be more prepared I guess.

For example, I had to grate my own cheese… Luckily, we had a cheese grater. I wasn’t sure if that particular kitchen utensil made our recent move. I was throwing out everything. Yes, I know the benefits of grating your own cheese versus buying the packaged grated cheese. I like to live dangerously. And lazily.

On the upside, I finally know what a shallot is and what it looks like! Whenever a recipe asked for a shallot, I could never find it in the grocery store, so I always just bought green onions instead.  Same thing right? I think you’re maybe starting to understand why I’m so terrible in the kitchen.

vegetables-2202502__480

THIS is a shallot, if you didn’t know!

By the looks and smell of it, I’m thinking a red onion might be a better substitute. Yes? No? Anyway…

There was a ton more prep than I expected.

I laugh at the instructions they sent allotting a 10 minute prep time for each dish.  It took me that long to find the cheese grater. I grated like half the cheese block, got tired and cut the rest in chunks…I mean it’s gonna melt, who will know?

I apologize for the stock photo‘s. I completely forgot to document my Blue Apron cooking journey in pictures, which is too bad, because the burritos actually turned out kinda pretty. You’ll just have to take my word for it this time.  Next time, I’ll remember to take those important Instagram moments!

Despite the amount of prep and cook time, both meals turned out pretty good. There were clean plates all around, and even the KEENWAAAAH went down the hatches! It was nice to not have to grocery shop or meal plan for those 2 days. The convenience alone would be worth the price. I think both meals were around $60 and are supposed to feed a family of four. My husband eats for two or three, so there wasn’t much in the way of leftovers which sucked because I use leftovers for lunches.  I could probably duplicate both recipes on my own for cheaper but it was fun to try it out.

I’ll definitely order again, just to spice things up.  If you’ve used any of these types of services and have recommendations, send them my way.  Especially if they have a “free to try” option 😀

Grab that mug, pull up a chair and read how my friends used their particular words this week ❤

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                       http://theblogging911.com

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom         http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Climaxed                                       http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Warning: Instructions Not Included

fullsizeoutput_80f

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

How are you most like your parents? How are your most different from them?

It was submitted by: http://thelieberfamily.com    

Reading my secret subject this month literally made me cringe. I procrastinated writing for days, when I finally did write, I wrote…I deleted…I wrote again…I deleted again. Now here I am at the last minute trying to throw something together. The thing is I’ve been estranged from my parents for almost 6 years. This topic hit me hard, it took me back to places I’d rather not visit, emotions I thought I’d gotten in control, feelings I positively believed I’d handled. I’ve always prided myself on my transparency. What you see is what you get, and I’ve strived to always be honest about my struggles in pretty much every area of my life, except this one. It hurts too much. I don’t know that it will ever not hurt. Has what I’ve been through and experienced changed the way I parent or view parenting?  Absolutely. Someday I might be ready and willing to talk about familial estrangement and how it not only changed my life, but changed the way I think and feel as a parent.  I’m just not there yet, and I can’t figure out how to write about this subject without going there, and I’m just not ready to go there. Forgiveness is a tricky thing. I’ve learned it’s not something you do just once and all is forgotten. Forgiveness is a daily practice.  Some days I’m better at it than others. Today is not that day.

So, I decided to focus instead on questioning whether parenting is harder today than it was when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I saw this meme on Facebook and it made me laugh and gave me this idea for a spin on my secret subject this month.

IMG_2505

Can you relate?

It’s enough to make your head spin.

Is parenting harder today? The short answer is no. Parenting IS hard, regardless of decade or century, time or place. In my opinion, the biggest difference that exists today that makes parenting seem so much harder is the judgment. Everyone has an opinion about how YOU should raise YOUR kids and they aren’t shying away from feeling they have the right to tell you all about it.

I remember riding my bike to the local 7-11 with my allowance money and buying all the candy I could afford. My sister would ration hers out so that it lasted a long time, but not me. I ate all that candy in pretty much one sitting and then plotted and schemed to figure out how to get into my sister’s stash. I saw a mom on Facebook get absolutely reamed as a bad mother because she bought her daughter the infamous unicorn Frappuccino at Starbucks. Because it was her daughter’s birthday. Because her daughter loved unicorns. This poor mom was forever stamped and labeled by strangers as winning the title for Worst Mom Of The Year award. Clearly she doesn’t love her kid, otherwise she would NEVER let her have a beverage filled with so much sugar and artificial ingredients and colors.

Everyone is an expert on how to raise YOUR kids, except you.

I’m sure everyone remembers the tragic death of the gorilla, Harambe, in the Cincinnati Zoo that was killed after a 3 year old climbed into his enclosure. The mother that took her eye off of her child for probably 2 seconds, received death threats and screams of outrage that her children be taken away from her.

We are so quick to jump on the parenting fail bandwagon. Is it because it makes us feel better about our own parenting? When did we become so unforgiving and harsh to each other? Certainly there are bad parents out there that probably deserve condemnation, censure, critical and harsh judgment and shouldn’t be allowed in the presence of children ever. I’m not talking about those parents and I think most of us know the difference. It’s become almost an olympic sport to publicly eviscerate any parenting style that differs from our own or what has been acknowledged as politically correct.

I don’t know about you, but I fail as a parent ALL THE TIME.  Like many other parents, I’ve felt the sting of judgment from my peers, the looks, the “well-intentioned” advice and opinions. I’ve somehow resisted the strong urge to punch all of them in the face. I feel that entitles me to an award of some kind! I don’t need you to tell me how I’ve failed, there are hundreds of articles published daily all over the internet to ensure I never feel good about the decisions I’ve made as a parent, how I’ve failed my kids on some level and how messed up they are in general.  I mean I’ve raised three millennials, and apparently they are the WORST generation EVER. (insert sarcasm)

I think most of us are doing the best we can. I believe two basic things as a parent.

  1. I neither deserve all the credit nor all the blame for how my adult children have turned out, the decisions they make, the people they’ve become.  They are autonomous creatures unto themselves navigating the same murky waters, making similar mistakes or inventing new ones all on their own. They are human. I am human. We are perfectly imperfect and made in His image, meant to be loved, cherished, protected, accepted and embraced for not only our similarities but also for the things that make us beautifully unique and different.
  2. Forgiveness. Unfortunately parenting is a learn as you go type of education, and it’s not one-size fits all. Forgive yourself. As a parent, show your kids you can admit when you are wrong. You can own your mistakes. The words “I’m sorry” go both ways.  They will fail you as children, and you will fail them as parents. Forgiveness. It’s one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. There needs to be more of it in the world today. We are quick to judge, slow to forgive. We need to turn that concept on its head, judge less and forgive more. No one has it all figured out. No one.

If you see a mom or dad struggling with their kids today, give him/her a word of encouragement. Even a smile. A sympathetic nod. Let them know and feel that they are not in this parenting thing alone, they are not doing it all wrong, and that you’ve got their back. Remember that golden rule we learned in Kindergarten? If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all. Resist that urge to make a snap judgment about a parenting style you witnessed at your kids school or in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant and then post about it on Facebook so all your friends can jump on the parenting fail bandwagon making you feel justified and vindicated, confident in the knowledge that you are at least better than one parent out there. If you’re like most parents, you beat yourself up all the time about the mistakes you’ve made, you don’t need someone else swinging that bat for you. You need someone to take the bat away and give you a hug instead. Tell you it’s going to be okay. You are not alone. You are not a failure. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. Together.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                   http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom            http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Not That Sarah Michelle                    http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Climaxed                                    http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

 

Momma Got Schooled

fullsizeoutput_b8

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

Office ~ great ~ pillows ~ cat ~ hat

They were submitted by: http://www.southernbellecharm.com

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

If you’ve been following my blog at all then you know that we recently decided to homeschool our son.  We’ve only been doing it since feels like forever January and it’s definitely taken some getting used to on both our parts.  I would definitely say it’s been very positive and I’ve seen so much growth in him already.  I just miss my free time.  A little.  Or maybe a lottle.

I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.  We’ve definitely bonded over this experience and I’m proud to be such a positive influence in my son’s daily learning environment.  The confidence he’s exhibited in his abilities and the leaps and bounds he’s growing both emotionally and mentally just can’t be measured, but…

I am never alone.  NEVER.  Like ever.

And we downsized so now there is even less space for me to never be alone in.  Sometimes, if I’m being honest, it’s a little claustrophobic.  I long for the days when I could walk around the house stark naked eating ice-cream and watching soap operas with absolutely no one around to judge me.  Not that any of those things actually happened…that you can prove anyway…but you get my point.  I knew that sacrifices would be made, and apparently spontaneous nudity and ice-cream bingeing are the proverbial lambs in this scenario.  Anyway, this blog isn’t about my nudity (thank goodness!), it’s about using words in a sentence or a collection of sentences that form, in this case, a blog post.  Words I don’t get to choose.  Much like my son’s weekly spelling assignments in which he has to make sentences out of a few of his spelling words.  This has got to be the worst segue ever but I really struggled with how I was going to use these words, and then this week my son had a spelling assignment and suddenly I knew exactly how I was going to use the words I’d been given!

In his “brick and mortar” school (I’m so down with the home-school lingo), my little man HATED writing.  And reading.  And math.  Ok pretty much everything but recess and lunch.  Now, one of his favorite assignments are turning his spelling words into a paragraphical work of art (his words).  He is supposed to write individual sentences for each word choice, but he’s taken liberties with this assignment and turned his spelling words into a mini 1 to 4 sentence story paragraph.  I let him go with it, because he’s never been this creative when it comes to writing.  He loves to read to me what he comes up with and it’s fun to see him excited about writing and spelling.

In this weeks assignment the words were: trustworthy, desert, competition, dessert, qualify and flame.

“The trustworthy kids were in the desert in a competition for dessert but you had to qualify by putting your foot in a flame!”

I mean genius right?!?!

Ok, here’s another!

The words were: handsome, accountant, minimum, adjectives, blindfold and gentleman

“Once on a dark cold winter day, there was a very handsome gentleman named Lazy Larry.  Lazy Larry was an accountant making minimum wage, even though he also studies the art of amazing, awesome adjectives and before he sleeps each night he puts on a blindfold and that is the end of the story of Lazy Larry.”

And my personal favorite!

The words were: muscle, muscular, customary, quest, principal and principle (spelling danger words (homographs) are so fun!)

“Once there was a very muscular man and even his muscles had muscle and his name was Man, which was customary back then.  He lived in a cave.  He was a caveman on a quest to be the best caveman with the principle to never hurt anyone, either large or small.  Unfortunately, Man served a principal named Guy, also customary. Guy was mean, but Man got to leave on this amazing adventure and was never seen again because there was a meteor.  The end.”

I asked for his help on my words and he respectfully declined.  Apparently, he’s done HIS work for the day and he can’t be responsible for MY work and I shouldn’t have procrastinated.  It really sucks when your kids use your own words against you.

So, in the spirit of channeling my inner 5th grade boy, I present to you my most magnificent paragraphical work of USE MY WORDS art!

My words again are:  Office ~ great ~ pillows ~ cat ~ hat

“In the office of the land’s great seat of power sits a cat, on a stack of pillows because he’s a cat and otherwise wouldn’t be able to see over the desk without it, wearing a hat so tall they had to build a special skylight above the desk to accommodate it’s great size which is fitting for the cat’s great responsibility in the office of the land’s great seat of power.”

Clearly, my son comes by his gifts naturally.  So I read my work of genius to him and I got…silence.  Nothing but silence.  Then he says, maybe I should help you.  And pats me gently on the back, shaking his head sadly.

He tells me to sit and he’ll show me how it’s done…

Here is his contribution:

“The amazing office with the great pillows had a grand cat but an odd cat.  This cat was wearing a hat and this cat was called the cat with the hat.”

I mean…  There is a very clear winner here.  Right?

Dr. Seuss either of us are not.  Obviously.

But I still think we both make the grade and the best part of my day is when we get to be silly like this and laugh with each other.  Way better than spontaneous nudity and alone time is overrated.  I’ll cherish these moments forever and ever.  Amen.

(maybe I can join a senior retirement nudist camp in my twilight years…so there’s that)

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                        http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Bookworm in the Kitchen             http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Simply Shannon                           http://shannonbutler.org

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated Mom                      http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                      http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Not That Sarah Michelle                 http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com