Who do we want to become? Is it wealth that will make us feel fulfilled and successful? Making sure that those who lie below us in the financial bed either rise and shine to work (because they are all just lazy) and get off public assistance…or be drug tested and continuously reminded that they are less valuable and less deserving of our respect…or tax dollars. While we all know many CEO’s and corporate individuals abuse drugs in abandon yet are handed our $$ without anyone giving a care or asking them to be drug tested. Why I ask?
Who do we want to become? Is it kissing the feet of corporate America, while providing them with millions in tax cuts as we silently wish to be them? Chanting the mantra of capitalism in the hope and dream that we too can reach this peak and look down upon those who have not “made it” as we count our money and feeling “blessed” that our God has given us such a life. Yet fault the less fortunate for not making their life better.
Who do we want to become? Is it stoking the fire of fear and despair and creating a world where we believe first and second amendment rights are ready to be ripped away from us from some unknown force? Where in turn we pack on the guns, (to protect ourselves from ourselves), store survival gear in preparation of Armageddon and ready ourselves to kill our neighbors if necessary.
Who do we want to become? I want none of the above. Yet daily I read of Bills being passed that are leading us down this dangerous, self-righteous slope. Soon to hit a very dark bottom. I have the desire and the will to fight this with compassion, love, and a desperation that our world will not end up this way. I refuse to spit upon those who have not what I have, I refuse to fuel the fire of fear, I refuse to think that one religion is the only way out of here. I refuse to think that more guns are the answer as I watch time and again the young children dying needlessly. I refuse to believe that the little guy does not matter. So I will help you someday, if I see that you need something and I can help. I will give you my hand without asking your religion or political interests. I will share a smile with you without asking if you pay your taxes or have a green card handy. I will not look at your age, race or sexual orientation in determining if you are worthy of my time. I refuse to lose my humanity. Who do you want to become?
Capturing the right words to express my pure love and gratitude for you…well it is much like trying to take hold of the sweet summer breeze that gently brushes my face. A daunting task as I cherish you beyond description.
Life can bring many storms upon my door. I find that you unselfishly provide me with a shelter of warmth, compassion, respect, safety and stability…when the clouds have gathered and the thunder roars.
Life can bring darkness, despair and a chill to my heart. Your love is my sunshine that chases away the bitter cold and brightens my soul.
Life can bring many challenges and obstacles. Difficult days yet with you I feel hope, encouragement and a precious peace. I look towards tomorrow and dare to dream with you by my side.
But not to forget, life can bring laughter, celebration and exquisite joy. This I have found with you. I absolutely could not imagine life any other way. I believe that I have known you forever and a day and I will love you every bit as long…or longer.
It becomes part of our being, hugging us like skin. Not something that you can slip off at night and toss on the floor with the clothing of the day. No, attitude is much deeper and harder to change. Attitude begins to grow within us as babies when we are introduced to the world around us. We learn to love, we learn to hate, we learn to discern as bad and good. Yet somewhere along the journey of life, some of us may find ourselves consumed with the negative…like straining to see in the dark of the night…only making out the bad things around us.
Many times a parent declares, “I don’t like your attitude” or “you need to change your attitude” without understanding how difficult this process of change can be… We are asking one to quickly morph into another… or face our consequences. Yet we as parents have helped define their attitudes. Combine that with the world we currently live in…wow it is a ticking time bomb. Take a moment and consider that children are living in a very complex world today. You and I may have walked a mile to school (I confess I did not) but we never dealt with the intensity and gravity of cyber bullying. We may have had to eat what was on our plate or go hungry ( I hated roast beef) yet we never felt the aggression and severe emotional pressure many kids of today experience. Today for fun, our children occupy their time with a never-ending visual stimulation of violence through our media and high def gaming videos. They kill with a deft handling the game a skill once acquired by playing jacks or marbles. They watch live social media capturing death, destruction, mayhem and violence. Some kids have had siblings, friends, parents die on the streets. Today doomsday preppers are glamorized on tv as they are proudly hording guns and ammunition…life and death, killing and survival concepts discussed as matter of fact like cooking shows and recipes. It has become a harsh world. Attitudes become armor to protect from that which is so difficult to deal with in life. And we are partially responsible as parents. As adults we become blind to the attitudes we carry as we strive to make the dollar, pay the bills and seek our own escape from the craziness. But we all travel with deep feelings and beliefs that keep us separated from each other. And we teach our children to do the same. Attitudes, they are so hard to change…
So what happens to tomorrow if there is not a positive shift in attitude? What happens if the adults do not begin to see that their bigotry, intolerance and closed minds are imprinted upon their children? I do not want to go there. Attitude…while deeply ingrained does carry ability to change. We see an epiphany realized by the family who adamantly declares strong anti-gay attitudes…until a loved one comes out. We see the ability to empathize during a natural catastrophe…as strangers extend a hand or even risk their life for another. Why is it only then that we are willing to see beyond the dark…why is it only then that we feel we are all a part of a larger whole? Those beautiful moments when a connection of respect for life of another is made with no thought of what is to be gained in return- action without attitude.
I often wonder why we wait until desperate times to rise above our attitudes. Why do we join the cause only after we feel personally affected by the war. Cancer, poverty, unemployment, inequality, gun violence, bullying, racism, sexual abuse, domestic violence, addiction…on and on they march in front of us. Our attitudes block us from the fight unless life has chosen to throw us through the ropes. Only then do many of us awaken and see that the fight is worthy. We take up our sword and add cause to our existence. But I ask, why wait?
New Year’s Resolutions….too often equated with a silly annual attempt to make some drastic life change. Why does this have to be a half-hearted thought complete with a nod and wink to defeat. I vow that this year…it will be different for me. Oh I may try to eat healthier…sleep more…and cut out some of the wine (maybe). But these are not resolutions about my life, they are mere attempts I will make now and again to get my body back on track. My resolutions- declarations as they are- will encompass my life as a human being and not what society determines through mass commercials of dream diets and exotic exercise equipment.
As you sit and ponder your New Year’s Resolutions…I ask you to consider this to be the year of your personal declaration of who you are and strive to be each day. There will be moments of regression (much like eating cake on a diet) but overall…the awareness and focus of being a better person within our souls regardless of our body shapes and sizes.
So here I write my life resolutions….
I resolve to be a better listener to others- for when one speaks they do so with the desire to be heard. One of the greatest gifts we can give another is letting their voice speak their thoughts. Wars have been fought over the right to be heard and many have died trying. It is a basic human right to have a voice, to be seen and noted. Yet, this is difficult…very difficult especially when the words do not connect with my own. I realize this and desire to make a better effort to open my ears and close my mouth more.
I resolve to be a better steward to the planet earth. I am concerned about the future of the earth and our impact upon what life holds for our children and grandchildren. Nature’s beauty and our wonderful planet has been taken for granted way too long and I must do my part to respect this world that I live upon. I have so long been a taker and cluttered the world with my garbage. I hope to explore ways to change, be kinder in my consumption.
I resolve to live more in the present. It is truly a gift from the universe and one I never fully unwrap as I throw back the covers and begin my day. I have lists of things to do, lists of things undone and lists of things yet to be completed. Lists upon lists filling up my tomorrows before I ever get there. I am clearing them from my head and paper. Today I will do what seems to fit into my day and no more or less. I will find contentment in this day and when it is done…be grateful for it. I will enjoy each season as it comes – unique that it is and full of the unexpected. I will breathe deep the crisp, cool winter air and amaze myself with the world outside as it rests in wait of spring. I will marvel at the new spring buds and blossoms as they unabashedly abound with a desire to survive. I will warm my bones and my soul in the summer sunshine and welcome the sweat of the summer heat. I will watch the beauty of fall, walking in the woods and sitting by a fire as the world gets painted in warmth of reds, oranges and yellows. Knowing that soon winter will be back and change will circle around again.
I resolve to spread kindness…pay it forward if you will. It can be free to give and anyone who receives unfettered compassion from another will tell you- it is priceless. To keep myself mindful of this, I will each month have at least one anonymous act of unexpected kindness completed…maybe more. Each day is filled with possibilities…and honestly should result in at least one simple act of kindness on a daily basis. If you have never done this before, try it. The unexpected thoughtfulness may really make an impression on someone who needs to again believe in this world. Unfortunately, we see mainly that which is dark, depressing and violent in our world as we watch the news. It makes us scared, defensive and builds walls of insecurity that separates us from each other. I do not want to live in such a world that fills me with fear and the utter belief that I have no control. Actually, I refuse to believe it. So I will take control of my world, resolve to live in the present, effectively listen to others, be kinder to my planet and sprinkle a bit of kindness, compassion with others and see what grows. I invite you to join me and see what we can do over the next year. We can make change and it is time to do so. I resolve to try.
Some thoughts on what I am thankful for….I have limited myself to those random thoughts that immediately flooded my head…the ones that rushed in as I opened the gates. They seemed most eager to express themselves…yet know there are many more unwritten that I have not pulled from my heart and painted with words.
I am thankful for the wonderful yellow sun…warming me from inside out and making me squint into a wrinkled smile – I can not imagine life without it
I am thankful for the summer breeze that cools my skin when I think I can barely take the sweltering heat of the sun for one more minute
I am thankful for spring which is the earth’s promise to me that new life is forthcoming and once again I will be captivated by rows of exquisite flowers for sale with lush shades of color coaxing me to once more try my hand at gardening
I am thankful for the autumn change of leaves, the beauty of which astounds me and takes away my sadness at my gardening failures now withering before me
I am thankful for the brisk winter cold, for without it I don’t know if I would fully appreciate the ongoing heat of the summer
I am thankful for the courtesy of others, strangers who hold the door open when my hands are full- I hope to return the favor by instinct and not obligation
I am thankful for the kindness of others, who are willing to acknowledge my presence with a smile or a hello, as I hope to do in return
I am thankful for color…..what would life be like in black and white…never to look at the sunset or sunrise with the amazing glows of pinks, reds and purples…the green grass after a rain…and the blue sky above me….oh I could go on about color which is one of my favorite things in life
I am thankful for love…the feeling of completeness that it gives me…purpose…and connection with others. My friends and my family, loved ones here and gone- so important to my past and imprinted onto my future and always present
I am thankful for those who have taught me about the hardships of life: pain, fear, suffering. For without their courage, my life would not be the same. Showing me that life is so much more and coaxing me to think outside of the box time and time again.
I am so thankful for those who encourage my dreams and hopes and love me for who I am. Laughing with me at life and holding me when I cry. They accept my quirks, my off track thoughts and liberal values.
I am thankful for awakening the ability to feel compassion and empathy for others- I truly feel connected to a life truth in some way as I witness another’s life with a semblance of understanding. A gift so to speak that we all have – yet many never opened. I love this particular awakening and encourage anyone else to seek it.
I am thankful for my breath- for the ability to draw upon it at those moments when stress and emotions take hostage of my body, a deep intoxicating breath that grounds my feet and clears my head. Always there to the end, breath gets me through the hardest moments.
I am thankful for my days upon this earth, and if I should end my time here tomorrow…I would be thankful for having experienced this amazing journey.
I have never known a man so logical yet willing to explore the world he does not understand. A man so compassionate he gives of himself without a second thought. This man is gentle, kind and quiet. He has never been one to call attention to himself but always stands in the background ready to help at a moment’s notice. No fanfare, no need for recognition or accolades.
He has been a great teacher to many including me. He has shown me the power of education, the influence of the written word and love of reading, and the beauty of working with my hands in creativity. As a child I followed this DIY magician and watched as he seemed able to fix anything. He has taught me to think through my problems with logic and reasoning.
He has always been there to support me even if he did not agree with my views. Reserved with his emotions, he never made me feel unloved- quite the contrary as he was never far away when I needed a hug. He helped me prepare my wings for flight out in the world. I am a better person because of him.
Today Dad turns 83 years young. Only this week he was slinging a sledge and repairing his garage. Amazing man, but he will never ask for help. Two hip replacements and he still owns ladders. He and my mother were married for 51 years when she died suddenly. My father has learned to live life with whatever comes his way. He has truly inspired me and has made my life richer for it. He will continue to offer another the shirt off his back, lend a hand whenever he can. Gentle, kind, quiet and unassuming. I smile, I believe he is an old soul and he is my Dad. I love you. Happy Birthday Dad.