The power of (y)our words

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Those are wise words we could all stand to remember more often. We all mess up from time to time and stick one (or both feet) in our mouths, but we shouldn’t aim for our words, our attitude, our way of living to be so negative and hate-filled.
 
Pause, reflect, and think about how you speak. Are you saying the good things you need to say, or are you letting small criticisms or rude comments take the predominant place in your lexicon?
 
This goes hand-in-hand with another important point. Don’t bash someone while s/he is down. Perhaps you don’t agree with a person, or maybe it’s talking about a person after they have left, or maybe after s/he has passed on. No matter what, if they are in a bad way, don’t go on spreading hate, negativity, or sad things.

Mother Nature and Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day. Is Mother Nature deserving of some love this year?

When we think about the great outdoors, a lot of people think of pleasant images – sun, meadows, wildlife, and perhaps enjoying a nice peaceful afternoon. Mother Nature’s wrath is sometimes quite terrible, nothing you would ever find peace or solace in.

Let me present a few scenarios:

If a severe thunderstorm sweeps through my town and some homes are missing pieces of roofing, that’s bad for the homeowners. If they have insurance, it’s not so bad.

If an ice storm sweeps through my town and takes out powerlines, that could knock out power to homes and businesses for days, weeks, or more. Just like the first scenario, having insurance would probably help you out if there was any other damage caused by the ice.

If a fire rips through your town, everything could be gone. If you have followed international news over the past week, you’ll know that the fires in Fort McMurray, Alberta (Canada), have scorched a once mighty town off Canada’s landscape. Surrounding the town, acres of nature are burning away as the fire risks spreading east into the province of Saskatchewan.

At first, residents were told to evacuate north, but a lack of precipitation and poorly forecasted winds sent the residents straight into more danger. Luckily, many found their track south and have found some form of shelter.

The bad news as we look back on what the fire has already done, and what the fire has caused in the long run, is what the town of Fort McMurray now contains: scorched homes, cars, and the possessions and mementos that so many families cannot bring back.

An article by NBC News’s Elisha Fieldstadt posted this evening points out the stinging reality that the images of the charred town will be “dramatic.” The Premiere of Alberta, in some ways, like a governor to those of us in the United States, plans to tour the city tomorrow. I can’t imagine being in her position, having to witness such devastation and damage. Yes, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms frequently cause destruction, and we frequently see such events on the Great Plains – think Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. This strikes me differently. So much will just be ash – no sense of a home, car, school, store, or photos can survive. Storms may break things apart, but fire eliminates the evidence of any such thing ever existing.

Not only does such a traumatic event take away homes and the personal belongings that so many people worked so hard for. Seeing the almost total destruction of such a large town takes a toll on economy, jobs, and infrastructure. Fieldstadt points out that the premiere and government officials will meet this week to analyze what steps the city and province take as they rebuild and try to provide much needed assistance not only to persons returning to what once was home, but also how businesses will pick up where they were forced to stop in the heat of the moment as the fire overcame the area.

In all of the damage, how much will repair claims on insurance come to? The Edmondton Journal talked to analysts predicting almost $9-billion dollars. That’s a lot. But it’s not enough to replace what some people have lost.

Another thing that surprised me, and was mentioned by Fieldstadt, is that no one perished due to the fire. Two deaths came from automobile accidents occurring during the evacuations of the town.

I was perusing the popular website Reddit late last week and came across a posting on the R/Starbucks thread about how managers and corporate officials with Starbucks took the time to check on all partners and management of Fort McMurray stores, trying to help in any way possible. I hope more companies will step up and do just what Starbucks has been doing to help their people.

If you are interested in helping people displaced and without shelter due to the fires in Fort McMurray, please check out this page on the website of the Canadian Red Cross.

Who is this man?

I don’t quite like Trump. To me, I don’t believe he’s the scariest one running for office. I will say I do appreciate the passion the man has for what he’s doing, for wanting to stand for something. I don’t agree with the way he expresses that passion as it comes off offensively many times. I can’t say I possess the tenacity or mindset to run for the presidency and be so closely scrutinized.

I suppose I could say this of all the candidates. I’ve noticed a change specifically in the demeanor of Mr. Trump as he tries to be more presidential as pundits seem to put it. If he’d have taken this approach from the beginning and apologized for mistakes, I think I could say that I wouldn’t feel so scared of what might happen should he receive the Republican nomination or become the President.

I wish we all could look at ourselves and realize that at certain times, we do need to stand up speak our minds. I don’t advise you do it like he has been doing it. It’s good to express yourself though, to let your voice be heard.

In a way, it comes back to this interesting point: if you can vote, go vote. Let your voice be heard. Indiana has the interesting opportunity of being important in the primaries this year, and for both major political parties.

Tonight, Trump is here in Evansville. I’m thankful he likes our hotels.

Perfect candidates don’t exist. So why am I still looking for one?

This won’t be a long post. Nor will it be overly complicated. It might not even make much sense. But hey, it’s my blog. I can write this if I so choose to.

It’s late. I’m tired. I have a cold, or perhaps a sinus infection. Maybe both.

Let me preface my argument with this information: I just started a new book. I had a thought, and it has been spiraling out of control in my head. I know I won’t get any rest until I publish this thought and what I’m thinking about with it.

51+mQ-ZXBcL
Image source: Amazon (link)

The book I’m reading is The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2013).

DKG has written many books on our history, whether they about our leaders or the formation of our country. I first became familiar with her when she published the Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. My mom picked up the book when I was in high school and I remember her talking about it with a family friend who took my senior pictures. A year or so later, she popped back on my television when Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert passed away, and I’ve noticed her contributions to news and history discussions on television ever since.

Enough about the author. She’s awesome and I’d love the opportunity to meet her.

Anyway, whilst reading the first chapter of The Bully Pulpit, I came across a reference by Edith Roosevelt toward then former President Theodore Roosevelt to turn around and look at his family. To give you some context, this takes place at the conclusion of the year Roosevelt spent on safari in Africa following his second term as President.

While Edith anxiously sought a glimpse of the children she had not seen for more than two months, Roosevelt busily shook hands with with each of the officers, sailors, and engineers of the ship. “Come here, Theodore, and see your children,” Edith called out. “They are of far greater importance than politics or anything else” (page 6).

That passage got me thinking about how much time voters, not candidates, spend on listening to candidates. Yes, it’s important to listen to all arguments. Even from the beginning of a campaign, even if you have zero respect for a candidate based on past actions, or if you just know you hate a specific political party, you should really do the right thing and listen to what they have to say.

Imagine if a former President was coming to your town to stump for a candidate, or even if it was the candidate. That’s a big deal. Even though you might not agree with what’s being promoted at the event, the idea that you are in the presence of an important figure in your history is pretty damn impressive and something to brag about in thirty years to future generations — maybe your grandkids?

Also, this got me to realize that some of us put our heart and soul into the political process. This is not a bad thing. It’s important to work to support the candidate you want to see be the leader, especially if it’s President. But in addition, it’s important not to lose sight of what’s important in your life. Consider your family, friends, or whatever else is your passion, something besides the mudslinging that seems so inevitable in our fractured, not-so-nice game of politics.

Edith Roosevelt beckoned to her husband to break away from the work. Even after his time as President, he was thankful to his crew, but she put that bug in his ear, and helped him to turn around and remember his family, his kids, the ones that really mattered to him.

DKG notes in the next paragraph of the book that Roosevelt scanned the deck of the ship they were on and was exuberant to see his youngest son, named Quentin, quite happy to see his father again. She noted that a Chicago Tribune writer said the child was “impatient to be recognized” by his father.

That’s what matters. Love matters. Respect matters.

I think it can all be summed up in this point: there’s a time and a place for certain things.

Regarding political candidates, there’s a man or woman that’s going to stand out to you more than another candidate. They won’t be perfect, but we’ll realize, hopefully sooner rather than later, that they are who we support. Don’t settle on someone just because you think they’ll be “the one,” but realize that the best candidate may not be the most overworked one of the bunch. Maybe it’s worth it to pick someone that’s realizing that somethings are of greater importance than politics. Edith Roosevelt’s words are worth remembering during this blistering fight for delegates and votes.

It’s time for me to stop looking for the perfect candidate. I know who I like. Nothing said from here on out will likely change my mind. While I enjoy the process, the process isn’t healthy to obsess over. I’m realizing I immerse myself too much and need to step back. From here on out, I’ll let it be. I’m thankful for the freedom I have to do just that.

The picture of health

IMG_2633

I started to become a health nut earlier this year. I joined a gym, started tracking my steps and workouts with a FitBit, and now I’m keeping track of my journey with an Apple Watch.

I can stand to lose some weight, quite a bit I suppose. Food — the bad kinds — I can give up easily, but there are some things I can’t give up that keep me ticking. A prime example is coffee. I go for the more fancy beverages at Starbucks, or I get a green tea lemonade. I’ve been trying to stick to green tea lately, because my venti (large) vanilla caramel lattes are probably more calories than I care to have my friendly barista (or Starbucks website) calculate.

One of the things I’m doing to encourage my journey is to read about success stories. I’m a Redditor, and I’ve come to love reading people’s positive results. I haven’t shared anything about my journey there, because I only comment or up-vote on there. I might write something else there down the road. My primary writing is here on my website. I’m going to try and track more about this to be publicly accountable.

Unlike the brilliant author of the book I’m reading — Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs — I am not questing to become “the healthiest man in the world.” I’m focused on this shortlist:

  • feeling better
  • sleeping better
  • generally being a more active individual
  • looking better
  • clearer mind

This list can be summed up by working to be healthier and have higher self-esteem. I’ve come to learn as I’ve been working out and eating better these few months that to have good physical care means you need to have a good self-care habits that keep you in check when it comes to mental health. One goes hand in hand with the other.

What are my daily/almost daily goals?

  • meditate daily (15-30 min. minimum)
  • drink more water – perhaps 10 glasses per day?
    • I considered the “gallon challenge”
    • I cannot feasibly carry one gallon of water with me each day
  • walk/run for 40 minutes a day
  • bike for 20 minutes a day*

*On days when I cannot ride a bike at the gym, I’ll supplement that activity with more walking or running.

So, I hope you’re ready for the journey. I’m off to work!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MY PROGRESS SHEET!

Let it be? Yep.

I’m trying to do what I can to “let it be” these days.

Over the years I have allowed this phrase to take on many different meanings.

In the classroom, it applied to the way we work. If a student happened to be doing something that was not noticed by someone else, but I noticed it and I hadn’t necessarily permitted it, and it didn’t take away from the learning process for the student doing the thing, I’d let it be. My thinking: why break that learning experience? It’s not extreme, not taking away from their focus, and it’s not bothering me, so let it be.

You’ve got mail

In my own life, especially now, I’m saying let it be to life’s casual situations. For example, about two weeks ago I received an email from a manager at a company asking me to interview for a position I had applied for in the past, but I didn’t necessarily show interest in at the moment. My interest was piqued; however, I wasn’t necessarily interested in the position anymore, as it had been kind of off in the past when I did apply.

Well, I took up the offer to interview, and put forth the time to polish my resume, go to the interview, chat with references, and research more about the industry and the job. The interview went very well, and the interviewers could not have been more polite. I felt good after the interview, but deep down, I don’t feel like I saw myself working there. It’s also worth mentioning that the pay wasn’t what I was making at my current venture, and nothing at my current job was pushing me away; it’s a job I held before teaching, and I’m so thankful they welcomed me back with open arms after I departed the education industry.

“Things happen, that’s all they ever do”

Those lyrics from Dawes’ song “Things Happen” fit my feelings right now. The company I interviewed with replied to an inquiry I sent (since it had been a week since the interview) and told me they’d extended an offer to someone else.

Part of me wanted to be upset with their response. I did feel like I wanted to know how it really went and what they thought, since they seemed so enthusiastic before, but I want to let it be, because I’m not unhappy with my present circumstances. Things happen, this happened, and I have decided to let it be.

Nothing changes for me. The next verse of “Things Happen” ends like this: “And a few revisions to my plan of attack.”

Part of me wants to change my plan of attack, my strategy, but I don’t need to. I didn’t get that job, but I didn’t go looking for that job, and I’m good to go with my present situation. So, I guess I am feeling a tad disconcerted and unsure, but that’s a human emotion I’m entitled to feel.

Tomorrow, more things will happen. Because that’s what happens. And I (will) feel fine.

Want to hear the song/see the video for Dawes’ “Things Happen”? Click here.

I wear my fierce independence in a chaotic election.

In my younger and more vulnerable days, I was most certainly a republican. I was a republican because I grew up in a household where Fox News was always on, and over time, I learned how my family, especially distant family, had strong ties to local republican politics. One of my great uncles once served in Indiana government, and a great aunt was a republican county chairperson for years.

When I got to college, I started to wake up, so to speak, and I realized that I was more liberal than I thought. I saw the party I grew up in ostracizing friends, whether it be for race, sexuality or religious beliefs. I didn’t like that. I supported Obama in both of his races for the White House, and I closely identified with his goals as the President. I especially felt an admiration for Vice President Joe Biden. Biden spoke his mind but stood for everyone in our country.

In the current race, the candidate I most identified with was Bernie Sanders. I say was because over time, I have seen where we disagree on some things. In the beginning, I was all in for Bernie. I bought stickers, a shirt and contemplated going to see him in-person if a rally was close enough. My dad, traditionally very conservative, even supports Bernie. Then, as we really got into this race, I started to realize how independent I am.

How am I so independent? Well, for starters, I’m a strong Christian. I am pro-life, but I’m not just pro-life because I am told to be so by my church. Nor am I just pro-life in the sense most people think. I believe pro-life means we protect lives at all ages — not promoting further violence or advocating for the death penalty. Pro-life isn’t just about a womb, but advocating for better care for all to make the world a place everyone wants to be in.

Regarding abortion, I don’t think it’s right to end a life just because it’s not convenient to have a baby. At the same time, I don’t think it’s my place to tell someone else what they can or cannot do with their body. I choose to hate the sin, not the sinner in this case. I strongly hate the act of aborting an unborn child, but I don’t think God wants to me to not respect or not love someone for having done that.

Granted, I think there needs to be some responsibility on the parents to practice safe sex rather than just abort if they want to. I also think it’s crucial to note that I do support Planned Parenthood. When women – and men – need STD testing or cancer screenings, as well as other medical advice, Planned Parenthood stands strong to serve individuals in need. Many articles will tell you that abortions are less than three percent of their services, and in many locations, they will counsel women into considering other options first. Furthermore, I don’t believe we need to outlaw such a procedure. The first thing that will happen if we say doctors cannot perform the procedure will be a rise in risky, “back-alley” procedures where it’s unsafe for everyone involved.

How else am I independent? I don’t mesh with republicans, or my church for the most part, because I support same-sex marriage. I believe every person should have the right to love the person they love, no matter what. No matter what some people say, we aren’t going to have men marrying dogs or brothers and sisters eloping in Vegas. It won’t be that way. Nor, as I’ve seen too many times on a local television station Facebook forum, will gay people make others gay. I believe each person is a creation from God, and that God makes no mistakes. There is overwhelming evidence that a person is born gay, straight, or transgendered. No, there are no conversions. The largest Christian conversion therapy organizations have shut down and apologized for the damage they did.

Next, and this is a point I have hard time explaining, I am for new reforms to limit the gun violence that cripples our country. I’m not saying we need to get rid of all guns and weapons, but we need to limit the ability for criminals to get weapons. We need to promote good mental health. If someone has a problem related to their mental health, it’s not a good idea just to give someone a weapon. More so, we ought to be open about mental health struggles among all people. I admit that I am not perfect and that, as I saw on Instagram – and I like this phrase a lot – I, yes – me, am mighty and medicated. I have anxiety and some small depression issues. I take daily meds to make me able to function around others and be in control of my life. I am a better person for this. I am a stronger person for this.

Healthcare is a right. I would not currently have insurance if it wasn’t for Obamacare. I have the ability to be covered because at this time, I do not have a full-time job. I left my job to return to college and get a new degree. I’m at the age, and I have the funds, and I’m going back to school to do what I truly know I want to do. I think candidates on both sides of the aisle have good ideas. Perhaps if, as republicans advocate for, we open the markets across state lines, I would have more options. As democrats argue, I am helped by our current healthcare system, but what if I didn’t have to pay anything for this care. That would be nice, but think about how taxes would change. Would we have enough doctors? There is a lot to be read about in Europe and countries where this is the case.

When it comes to the minimum wage, I’m traditionally in favor of not raising the wage. We should do more to promote the ability for those making minimum wage to get an education on their schedule and at an affordable rate without making them take loans. We can help those who want a higher wage to get qualified to get a job that pays better. If we just raise the wage, that will drive all costs up. I remember at my first job. I sold a lot of miniature golf games. When the first Indiana wage increase occurred about six or seven years ago, people were stunned that golf round prices increased. We explained that our company raised prices across the board because if the amount of money paid to employees increased, so did the ways we made the money. It took the ability of managers to make more than regularly, hourly staff away. There was no incentive to advance in that part-time role after a while. There was little change in pay to reward you for more responsibility and more work. This is not a simple issue. Higher wages will make your $1 McDonald’s burger cost a lot more for no more food.

Finally, I think it’s time we take a look at our criminal justice system in our country. I see a positive movement in my hometown where police and law enforcement officials are working hand-in-hand with our community to promote positive behaviors and interactions between all persons, races, religions, etc. This should be the model around the country. We can prevent the violence that results in race and gender wars versus law enforcement. A new freedom can come to all persons when we learn to live together. Unlike some people that follow the current front-runner in the GOP nomination process, yes, we can all come together and improve. It doesn’t work to divide and separate. We have made progress as a country and no one in their right mind will advocate reversing the hard work.

All of this said, I’m an ever-evolving millennial voter. I support common sense spending and not spending what we do not have. I support equal rights. I refuse to support a candidate that spreads hate. I believe in our Constitution. I believe it’s time to enforce our immigration laws (Canada certainly enforces their laws). The only thing I can say with certainty at this point: I will never vote for Donald Trump. A self-centered, tactless businessman with a passion for preying on fear will never earn my support. I know that there are better qualified people on both sides of the political spectrum than him.

*The opinions expressed in this piece solely those of the author and do not reflect the views or beliefs of any employers or institutions.