Co-Parenting : Forgiveness Required

I may need to do a search through all the posts on this blog to find it, but sometime back in 2011 I wrote a piece about forgiveness. The act of forgiveness, how and why and the importance of it all. Four years later I can finally report back.

Four years ago I was still rather bitter about getting divorced. Hurt and angry, but I had decided that maybe forgiveness was the approach for me. So, I took a deep breath, said many prayers and chose to forgive my ex husband for his behavior while we were married.

This was not an easy choice.

There is something that happens in a break up that makes everything seem worse. Everyone you know chooses a side. You may think that I mean his side or my side, but I don’t. They decide how each single parent should co-parent when the other party hasn’t lived up to their end of the bargain during the marriage.

The most popular among my peers was the one that removed my ex-husband from not just the marriage, but from our life. As though POOF I had two kids and POOF I magically get a check every month to help cover their living expenses.

I was so angry at the time that I do have 100% parental custody. I could fly to China tomorrow without my ex-husbands permission and he would just have to deal with it. I won’t…but I have the ability. Anger makes us do so many things.

Then I thought about simply arranging supervised visitation. Only I was so poor. We were barely scraping by so there was no way to cover the cost of providing supervised visitation. I was quite irrational at this point so I maintained our distance. We saw my ex-husband about once every few months and not for very long, a couple of hours at most.

Then something I found sadder than the possibility of having to see my ex-husband on a more regular basis. It was our sons. They didn’t know him.

As a child of a single family home I know what that is like. My father was not a good person, at least as far as his behavior back in 1985, but we were raised by my mother and maternal grandparents. I had a relatively happy childhood. We had our drama, but what family doesn’t? Perhaps we had more drama than average, but I think we are all more interesting to talk to because of it…anyway. That’s a different story. I didn’t know my father. I knew what other people thought of him. I knew where he was from and what I thought of the people from that place. But I didn’t know him and that is a great cloud over the happy times. All of those times I saw my friends with their dads were sad times for me because I had never known what that was like.

As I became an adult I tried looking for my father to no avail. He didn’t want to be found in the digital age and therefore had no digital footprint. That didn’t mean the sadness was gone. “Who was he?” “How was he?” “Did I have other sisters or brothers?” “Did I have a step mom I didn’t know about?” Always having those questions is sad. I didn’t want that for my kids. Who was I to make that choice for them?

That is what I found to be this sad thing. I was an adult who had lived in a set of circumstances that made me mad. So mad that I thought it a good idea to remove the person that held the other half of their DNA in his genes.

But was I so angry that I couldn’t find it within myself to forgive a man for his behavior? How could I call myself a good person if at the first test of faith I proved to have none? It is no secret that I am a Christian, perhaps a different breed than the ones you read about, but I try to have a simple faith, based on love. In our church we are taught to love and forgive.

I was faced with two options.

One my kids didn’t really remember who this guy was that we sometimes saw really was, so we could just gently fade away and he could become a memory.

Two embrace the pain, and allow them to fully know their father and make the decision for themselves.

To do the first would have been the easiest choice for someone as angry as I had been. He didn’t know where we lived, who we hung out with, where I worked, all I would have had to do was change my phone number and we would have been done. Simple. Clean. Heartbreaking for him and for me. I would be setting my kids up for the same thought process I always had. Always wondering why I wasn’t good enough to be loved by the people who are supposed to love you the most.2015/01/img_2354.jpg

So I embraced the pain. The hardest and easiest choice on so many levels. The cold aloof anger has been replaced by hesitant resolve. Hesitant because everything we went through leaves a mark on the psyche, but resolve because it has turned out to be the right thing to do. My kids are 4 and 8 now. They know their father. They’ve seen where he sleeps and we know how he lives, where he lives, and why he lives.

Over the last four years we have fought and cried and been angry for past ills all over again, but there has been so much forgiveness and contrition. So much of what we have worked through together has made us better people for our next partners. We know more of how each of us failed the other that we will continue to work hard to not make the same mistake. We know that finding that next perfect person for our new selves will be hard, we each have a longer list of must haves…okay at least I do..but I am optimistic about the prospects.

Forgiving him has taught me more about my faith than any pastor could ever tell me. Forgiveness is not something that you do once and it is done, it is something you do every time you wake up and face the day. It’s choosing who you are and not wavering from that path every single morning. Choosing your words and actions before your emotions, and never letting the bad times get the best of you.

It’s also choosing to put the best choice instead of the popular choice.

Special note…A physically abusive spouse should be handled differently. An alcoholic husband or wife who did not exhibit abusive traits is very different from an abusive spouse. Alcoholics tend to only want to inflict pain on themselves though they learn to manipulate what they want out of people to get what they want. That’s how so many nurturing people become enablers. It’s like they can smell your ability to empathize on your sleeve don’t fall for that either.

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Feel like a phony?

02Last week I had dinner with a friend and he felt the need to point out that I belong. I constantly second guess myself and any abilities that I do or don’t have which may be why I start a lot of things and don’t finish them all or I do some things really well, but the little bits that would make the completed project perfect are crap.

Maybe I do this to prove to myself that I am a phony.

Some times

Really I just feel like a phony a lot and never quite feel worthy of the things that I have worked for and the accomplishments that I have earned. I’m a mish mash of ideas and thoughts and theories that make an interesting person who doesn’t want to talk about them so when they come out on paper they make me sound mad.

I can talk shop with anyone…to a point. I don’t share my best ideas and I often hold back from the conversation all together. If I talk to you with any depth it’s because I’ve decided your trustworthy. But I still don’t share. Not vocally.

I share here, but even there I haven’t shared much in the last year and a half. I have plenty going on I just don’t want to sound showy or “Hey, hey, look at me now!” So many of the bloggers that I connected with at the inception of this blogging journey are still struggling with their finances and lifestyles. I’m not. Sure I have problems, but they are nothing when compared to the stories that I read and the struggles that I have faced and I feel like a phony finding a complaint. Clearly this isn’t a humor blog. I don’t do obvious humor.

I feel it is now my mission to not dawdle in the past strife, but to build up others as much as possible. How can I share a piece of the good word, a good idea, a good thought that may make a day brighter. Likewise I share stories of others that need to be shared because it’s news that you won’t see unless you’re looking. That takes a lot less space, so it’s all on Twitter or Facebook (Friend me I will accept).

Often I feel like a phony, an imposter, a person who does not deserve all this goodness. I feel the past follows me like a cloak waiting to wrap itself around me in a swift wind. Not that it warms me, but it makes me cold. The emotions of the craziness that didn’t feel crazy until I stepped away and looked back. I feel like someone somewhere is just waiting to throw the cloak on me even though I’ve grown up, I’ve changed, and there is so little of that person remaining. That sad girl who wanted so much to feel the warmth of love and being needed that she clung to the first person who passed her way. I still haven’t figured that out. Why did the thing that damages have to be the thing that stuck for so long?

That may be a question I can never answer.

I feel like a phony to have bigger dreams. To want to be and do more in this world. All the dreams I write about on this blog…I want to see them realized, but that cloak of doubt keeps the fear inside me. I don’t deserve my dreams to become reality because I didn’t do this or that, or I don’t look a certain way.

Why is that? How many of you feel this way? How many of you hold yourselves back because you don’t feel worthy?

Damn it – FEEL WORTHY!

I say this to myself as much as I say it to you.

We belong. We have earned it. We fight for it daily.

The things we have accomplished are worth talking about. Every day little wins are worth sharing. Letting people know that this day is an awesome day because you woke up and set out to conquer the day is worth being said!

Don’t be afraid. You are not a phony.

Surround yourself with positive reinforcement and bring light to the world.

When you see that light in someone else – that kinship – reach out to them!

It’s only by building ourselves and others up that we finally begin to feel worthy.

For a bit of inspiration tonight watch:

Why Not Overestimate What You Can Do?

This afternoon I had every intention of coming home at the end of the day and posting a blog reworking day one of The Purpose Driven Life. Well…crap…life happens and things change…so I don’t get to write that post because there is other stuff going on.

Life…the eternal brevity of life.

We are all here forever in our minds. Our days become months that turn into years that form our lives. We don’t know why we are here in the grand scheme of things and where are we going?? Only time will tell us.

But we are here and we are intelligent and for better or worse we will make it work.

There was a quote that I shared once on people overestimating what they can do in a day, but underestimating what they can do in a life. What can we do? What can we change? How can we live to our potential in the quick succession of our many days?

Is it even important that we change the world to effect change on the world?

I don’t think so.

We can change the entire future of our planet by simply changing how we relate to it. We need to realize our power is not in the halls of government or the corner offices of commerce, but in how we live out each and every one of our days.

Today several things have happened that I think will have an impact on me for a while. First, something as simple as a book club. This book club was not just a small group of girls gathering to read fiction. This book club is at my office. I now work for a Fortune 100 (plus a few) company. We are a STEM company and are trying to stay the leading company in our field. The book we are reading is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

Here’s the thing. Our industry is traditionally dominated by men. They are the great builders, engineers and designers…at least in theory. But our office has something special that I don’t think many of the women (several thousand) understand the value of – we have a female chief operating officer running our campus.

Our big cheese is a woman!

This is abundantly important for us as women!

I am not going to look up the exact statistic now, but the ratio of female to male COOs of companies our size is miniscule! Then considering our industry…I was shocked that there weren’t more women at book club! I don’t think we would have had this book club if it wasn’t for her belief in possibility.

I have heard so many times women complain that they do all the work but never get the reward. The men get to have all the glory, but the women are the one holding it all together. Head down, pencil to paper, getting shit done.

Simple truth is – if your head is always in the muck – it will only ever see more muck.

How many women are so wrapped in their work that they don’t look up and see the opportunity? How many are concentrating so hard on what is that they don’t see the possibility of what could be? I am just getting into the book, but I challenge women to stand up, find their power, show up to the meetings, be heard. Make a difference!

So much happens when we are present, not just in body, but in mind and awareness.

Second thing that happened today…an awareness of self, not self-awareness, but an awareness that if I just keep working, growing, learning, and pushing that I will be where I always thought I would. It may not be the exact place or thing that was in my mind, but it is working out exactly how God made it.

This reminded me that we each on a different path and that there are no shortcuts to ease the pain. The pain is there to make you stronger. The hardships we face are intolerable when they happen, but when we finally taste success the result is sweeter because we can acknowledge the pain of the past.

Finally, TED. Dear sweet, amazing TED. This week is TED active and my inbox has exploded with massive amounts of info-porn. Seriously. My favorite week’s are TED week’s because the ideas and information that come out of them are transformational for each of us individually and all of us globally. So many things that changed as a result of putting these ideas into ACTIONS.

What is an idea if it can’t be put into action?!

A waste of freaking time!!!

I love the philanthropic, socially aware, more political ideological discussions, and today was mind-blowing. I am still watching, because I was late to the party, but it is all on video. I highly suggest you all watch it.

Here’s what ties the day’s events together. When we look up from the day-to-day and we see the possibility of what could be it is up to us to grab it, to hold it, to nurture it into existence. We must breathe the life into the thing that gives us purpose, that gives us life.

If your thing is simply living life as joyfully as possible and showing that joy to everyone you meet then do it. Your smile and easy laughter will change hearts and won’t cost a dime. If you are Bill and Melinda Gates and your thing is creating a planet that sees the best possible future in vaccinations and education improvements for children. Then do that!

We are each blessed with different gifts, scopes, and thought processes. The important thing is that you do it.

Please watch the evenings TED events here. TED2014: The Next Chapter
http://conferences.ted.com/TED2014/

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Kiev : A Little Over a Week Later

Wasn’t it just a little over a week ago that people were dancing in Kiev’s Independence Square ecstatic that they had the ability to change their stars?

Didn’t they laugh and sing and enjoy being “Happy”?

Kiev Happy

Isn’t it amazing what has followed? Is amazing the right word?? More like astonishing or unbelievable or terrifying…

I keep wondering about the varying storylines. Who is really pulling the strings?

No…Conspiracy theories help no one.

What I get caught in is the politics of intimidation and watching the most powerful political leaders of the world dance. One is leading, one is following, and then they reverse rolls.

During different points of the week you could see where Russia was gathering up the Ukraine and pulling her around the floor. Then the next day the United States would have the Ukraine bound for the other side of the dance floor. This constant back and forth following one then the other all over the dance floor…all the while the audience of watched.

The audience changed depending on who was leading. When it was Putin you could hear the echoes of the people in Crimea chanting their allegiance to a Russia few of us recognize. When Kerry finally took the lead you could hear the people who believe in the possibility of a free Ukraine.

I’ve been watching this incredible event escalate and diminish. I’m just dumfounded by the insanity.

Ukraine is a country. A democratic nation that could and should be free from the trappings of a parent nation. Ukraine does not need to be a state of Russia…or anyone.

What do you need when building a successful nation?

I think it is the same as what you need to build a successful future for a business. You need to know why you want the changes that you do and you need to stand by them. Write out a vision of what you need and want. Live by that vision. There is also a reason for beliefs in tolerance and understanding and an intrinsic openness and transparency.

Maybe this is more about building a nation that will last in this age, the age of Wikileaks and NSA Surveillance. The people that want to ask you to dance are going to know everything about you already, so you may as well be honest about it.

If Putin had simply acknowledged and validated the changes that occurred in the Ukraine instead of having violently restrained outbursts about the changes that will happen, none of these problems would exist.

For a summary of the days events please visit Human Rights Watch for the storify timeline.  http://www.hrw.org/the-day-in-human-rights

I had and still have high hopes that Ukraine is able to become the country that it wants to be. I hope that the Russian government and more pointedly Vladimir Putin realize that times have changed. I hope that “The Western” nations that are helping Ukraine set up for the future do not trap her in the methods and practices that won’t lead to success.

It’s been a week, I said last week that the fight was just beginning, but this is not the fight I had in mind.

candles

Education and Public Policy Series : Community

Before I begin this series I need to tell you all that this series is in conjunction with an announcement.

I decided several weeks ago, but haven’t written it on this blog, that I am running for the Texas State Board of Education, District 7.  In the last weeks since this became my reality I have been asked, well, why? Why would you do this? Why open up your life and your sanity to such scrutiny?

To be completely honest – I am on paper probably the least “qualified” of the people running. I am not – however – afraid of this difference.

I think we need to reframe who we think should be in charge and try to change things up.

Because I require a little support and guidance I have asked to run as the Libertarian party candidate for this position. I see so little difference between the Republicans and Democrats these days that I am…to say the least…disappointed in their behavior. I don’t think any one party has the right answer. The only way to make this work is to work together and vote my conscience, not because someone tells me to vote with my party. I think I should get to know the educators I will be representing and I hope that in the next 11 months I can meet all of them. As for the public scrutiny?? Dude! I write a blog and anything you ever wanted to know I have written myself in a very public platform. I have not lived perfectly, I have lived on the edge quite a bit and I am a rule breaker. I admit it…I am a ruler breaker…so lets see what we can do.

Do you consider education to be one of the foundations of a community?

We are, each of us, in a community. Whether we have neighbors near or far we each have a group to share social experiences with…and if you don’t you are probably not reading this. My previous post defined community as people within an area, people with a common background, nations with common histories, or the other beings with whom you interact over the internet. Each of us has a community.

What is the foundation of any of these?

The ability to communicate. In one form or another you are in constant communication with the other people around you.

Every gesture, every behavior, certainly every word.

We begin learning these behaviors at birth. “I’m hungry!” Cry. “I’m tired!” Cry louder. “I’m happy!” Giggle, smile, and sometimes this eventually leads to crying. As the child grows older their methods of communication evolve, they sign, they speak, they go into the kitchen and get themselves a snack.

All behaviors that they have had to learn.

All communication is education on display.

The foundational knowledge that you build from infancy is called your working memory. Breath, think, eat, walk, run, process. The things we do automatically without even thinking about them, we learned to do.  If you have 10 minutes please watch this short TED talk from Peter Doolittle and see if you can remember the five words he gives about 3 minutes into the speech.

Click here –> For the record – tree, highway, Saturn, and Electrode are all I remember 2.5 hours later.

Education is the most natural of concepts for us to understand. We are born to it. We perhaps learn more in those first few years than during any other period of our lives. Because we know without acknowledging it that by learning more we can do more ourselves. We have a natural independence and curiosity that no amount of being told no can change.

Toddlers practice the scientific method every day and they don’t even know it! They are told not to do something because we as adults know the result, but they want to do it anyway and that is how they learn.

We've all seen this before - I think the original was in Parents or Parenting Magazine several years ago.

We’ve all seen this before – I think the original was in Parents or Parenting Magazine several years ago.

There is a very interesting playlist from TED of some of the leaders in brain science. The video lengths vary, but are all so interesting and link to more information and it’s hard to get it all into one easy to read post. I hope you will find the time to view this list…and the others.

We are amazing creatures and our brains are capable of doing anything we set our minds to do. This does make me wonder why is it then that our educational system doesn’t lend itself toward this natural energy, this curiosity? Why it is that children who should be up and running around and learning through play and experimentation are forced to sit at a desk and learn the skills to pass a standardized test?

Shouldn’t the very nature of childhood dictate that our communities should at their foundation encourage creativity, trial and error, and support?

Innovation is dismissed because some individuals don’t understand what it is that people who haven’t had their natural curiosity trained out of them think. The people who suggest better ideas and methods have to work twice as hard as the people who want to keep with the status quo. Not because they aren’t doing it right, but because they have to do it the old-fashioned way and develop the case for WHY their idea would make things better. As a community we should embrace our innovators!

I asked a friend of mine (easily one of the most well-read people I have ever spoken to)  if he considered education to be one of the foundations of community and with a resounding yes he stated the following.  “Education allows for you to rest in the shoes of the other…empathy for an individual is gained through education instead of through an unforgiving existence of learning your way up.”

Meaning that you don’t always have to be the toddler who has to feel the fire to know that you will get burned, by learning from your community and through education you can know what will work and what won’t.

Collective knowledge keeps us from having to reinvent the wheel with every generation.

He also said that “To learn to write is to learn to live, [because] it offers you the ability to articulate your point vividly and pointedly and gives you the strength to carry your ideas into the marketplace. To learn Chemistry, Physics and Biology (Hard sciences) must be liberally smoothed by the soft sciences, Sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc. in order to come up with creative linkages between one or more of the hard and soft sciences. The reason for the linkages is to be offered the knowledge of the disciplines and know what draws them together…example Mathematics. Neuroscience requires mathematics as well as psychology and scientific understand of the physiological requirements to make changes.”

My friend also stated that an education “Offers you a smoother, more complete route to understanding your vocation in life.”

“If I came into this world and knew nothing. How would I want the world to be set and governed?” John Rawls.

Later that same day I spoke with an educator in Houston, Bon Crowder, she is a Math teacher and Education innovator, Bon writes Math is a Four Letter Word. A website full of practical ways for parents to teach their children solid math skills. Her response to my question was surprising. She said “No! Education as we know it is no longer a part of the community. It should be, but it is not.”

Bon went on to state that as it is the Texas Educational system now is purely based on the standardized test scores and in order to ensure that all the requirements are met teachers are forced to teach little else. All that counts at the end of the year is the grades received by the classes on statewide testing. There is no room for critical thinking or creativity, no place for the scientific method to be put into practice. Math is now a series of memorization tables and practical exercises that won’t teach the child to think.

I think that both Bon and Mark are correct. Here in lies the problem, and it is one that is not unfamiliar to hiring managers everywhere. We are teaching our children to memorize numbers, but not to use them. We are teaching them that A+B=C but what if A is a theory on thought and B is a theory on progress, however are they ever going to find C? Children have lost the ability to critically think. There is no formula to memorize, no prescribed thought pattern to follow.

How does this relate to community?

Well, we no longer question. We follow the rules and do as we are told and don’t stray from the line because if you stray from the line there is no turning back. We call the thinkers black sheep for daring to do something different and then we tell everyone to treat them differently because if you want to be different you HAVE to do it alone. This is a shocking error in judgement. We have to dare to be different if we are ever going to make the community known as the world reach its maximum potential.

How do we solve the problems of hatred, pollution, disease, or education unless we have those thinkers who are willing to put themselves out there for the good of the whole?

I leave you with this to contemplate. A caption from Sagan, from an interview that I saw on Upworthy.

What makes You itch?

What makes you itch? ~Alan Watts

I love that.

I hear that and so many ideas come to mind. Writing the great American Novel, Globe School, having a Bed and Breakfast, being a stay at home mom, or being a successful independent business woman. But what really makes me itch? More pointedly, as Alan asks at the end of the video

“What do I desire?”

All kinds of things.

Galveston Beach - Sunset September 29

Galveston, Sunny Beach, Sunset – September 29, 2013

I challenge you to ask yourself every morning while you are brushing your teeth,

“What do I desire today?”

Where will you be if you work to create the feelings inside of you that fulfill that desire?

Do you desire happiness? This is a choice made each day. Make it and own your happiness.

Do you desire freedom? We are not as free as we once were, but we are as free as we want to be to drive down the road with the top down, to run around the beach, to go out into the world and experience it. We are free to be ourselves. Claim your freedom.

Do you desire love? This is trickier, but I think you must love yourself broken and bruised before anyone else can love you. Until the day you meet someone who is the shining reflection of your inner light keep yourself a work in progress.

Don’t let yourself be defined by the people who may have broken you before.

You are worthy of love. Believe it.

But these aren’t really what this video is about. This video is about way more than that.

Alan Watts is speaking about the quality of your life.

“What would you do if money were no object?”

Imagine for a moment that you are the most wealthy woman (or man) to ever inherit money on the planet and never had to work another day in your life.

How would you fill the hours?

Would you paint?

Would you write?

Would you buy a farm and tend the land?

Would you fight for the causes that cause you the most heartache?

Would you simply live life and raise a family?

Would you spend your life in selfish pursuits? I’m not judging, it’s a valid choice.

Dock for Post 10-10

Galveston Bay, Sometime in April, from the balcony of Noah’s Ark Cafe

I think I would not hesitate on globe school a moment longer. My sons and I would head out as soon as the money was in the bank! But even traveling and educating them would leave me with a hole, a void that would need to be filled.

I do not exist in a vacuum. I see through the façade too easily to be able to live so solitarily for too long.

After our journey I would buy a B&B somewhere and settle into writing books and cleaning toilets and making delicious gourmet treats. I would find a way to give back to the community.

But life isn’t this way. We have to work. We have to live. We have to make money for the things that pay for the fact that we live in the world we do.

On second thought and as Alan Watts states in the video,

“If money IS the only thing, then you will spend your entire life completely wasting your time.”

I have moments where I know I am completely wasting my time. I do too much that I have to do and not enough of what I want to do. I ignore the desires. I hide in my happiness because that is a choice I make each day, but it’s not always how I feel.

That’s not right!

We all enter the world with a purpose that is ours to discover and we are blessed with the abilities to do it, whatever “it” is.

Money is a means by which we have to live, but it should not define us.

What if we stopped focusing so much on monetary value and started to focus on our worth?

What if we focused on our passion?

What would you do?

Would you write? Would you paint? Would you have more children? Would you give of yourself to charity?

It is baffling, but there are actually people who love to sit at a desk all day maintaining ledgers and making the world run.

What if we each did what we were meant to do instead of what we have to do?

So much of our daily activity is soul crushing and menial.

Statistically as our society and culture became center more on money, than on pursuits of passion, the need for mental health treatment has risen – dramatically.

That should tell you something.

We have problems because we were not made to have money as our only focus. We were not made to be slaves to a clock or to sit in cubes and offices all day doing nothing but mindless tasks.

We were made to create!

We were made to be free!

We were made to love and live on this miraculous planet.

So, what makes you itch?

Why don’t you run for office?

In 1982, there was a film called, The Verdict, I had never heard of it until today. However, thanks to John Cusack’s Twitter feed, I saw the Courtroom summation scene.

This speech really sums up how many American’s feel this week.

The quiet desperation in Paul Newman’s voice, the hopeful ending, and the knowledge that the Jury was the law. They had legal books for guidance, but the jury really was the law. The people are the law.

America is at an impasse. Our democratic government is broken and there is only one way to fix it. We must remember that we are the government. The top only functions as well as the rest. The people are the law.

What is a democracy?

 A democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally – either directly or through elected representatives – in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic, and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.

This means that our government is us…we elect people. We create the machine. We can now recreate the machine. The people are the law and the people are the law makers.

What are the requirements to becoming an elected official?

Depending on the office you have to be 21 to 30 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the location you will represent. Also depending on state and location you must have lived there a certain number of years.

That is it. You do not need a fancy degree. You don’t need any degree. You don’t need to belong to some secret society. You just need to raise enough votes for the office you seek.

How do you get those votes?

You go door to door if you have to, but you also hold rallies, make public appearances, you get to know the people you are going to represent.

Better yet, be one of the people you represent.

I posed the question to my Facebook friends yesterday on what they think should be the requirements of getting elected.

The replies:

1)      Be from a lower income. – If you have never been poor you have no idea how hard it is and you can’t vote from that perspective. No amount of empathy can make you understand poverty. Why? We each have our own version of poverty. Some people see it as a single mom living in a slum, others see it as the people in foreign countries on Unicef commercials. If you are going to represent the people you should be part of the 99%.

2)      They don’t want to run for office. – People who crave power are a troublesome bunch. They could be anyone and they are everywhere. People who crave power should not be public servants. The key that politicians seem to keep forgetting is that they are in service to their districts, states, and country. If you crave power go do something else.

3)      They should never have held the office that they are seeking in the previous ten years. – As a resident of Texas whose politicians rarely change I agree with this thought wholeheartedly. It keeps the law from stagnation.

4)      They cannot have been employed by any organization that lobbies the position that they are seeking. – This one is harder to do because some people work in Oil and Gas for the pay check, but are quite against it just the same. It’s a hypocritical part of life, but it does happen.

5)      They should have been in Military Service – If you haven’t worn the uniform you shouldn’t be able to dictate to the uniform. These men and women are willing to selflessly die every day for our selfish society if you want to give them orders to walk into battle you better have tested yourself on the battlefield.

I would add that they need to be younger, they should advocate for our Constitutional Rights, believe in a truly free state, and not be scared to stand up for the Truth.

My candidate would also have made bad choices, but learned from the mistakes. If you never mess up you have never lived and I wouldn’t want that for the person that represents me. I mess up. Life is a messy, dirty, glorious event. My candidate would need to be anything but squeaky clean.

As a people we get tired of the posturing that happens daily in each political body in our nation. We resign our fate to the hands of the ruling class. We either neglect or forget that each November we have the ability to make a revolution. We just have to get to the polls to vote. You not only need to register, but you need to show up to vote. In the last national election less than a third of the population voted, but I know at least two-thirds have complained about the decisions made ever since.

This week there have been a lot of opinions floating around the web, but I think this is clear – We have had it and we are angry.

Register to Vote at: Our Time

This from Upworthy via Our Time is amazing and says more than I could say about Americans and voting.

http://www.upworthy.com/theres-something-that-all-americans-could-do-to-make-their-lives-better-that-so-many-forget

Courtesy of Google Images - If it's yours - Let me know!

Courtesy of Google Images – If it’s yours – Let me know!

America – We missed the mark on Remembrance

Remembrance does strange things to people. It makes them intolerant. It makes them violent. It takes a day that is already bad enough and makes it worse.

Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that left America scattered and scared. The 12th anniversary of the deaths of thousands at the hands of 19 individuals whose moral compass had become so extreme that they were willing to die to make us pay for…I don’t know exactly.

I never understood the why’s of 9/11. I won’t share in the conspiracy theory there is tons of that online and in life. The point is that this was a tragedy that has become a religious and racist argument that will never be won.

The Devil has already won if we continue to fight about whose God is right.

We are all humans. We live on a planet we call Earth. We all bleed red. We all eat and drink and procreate. The things that set us apart from the animals are – murder and mind.

We have the ability to cognitively process everything that happens to us and around us. There are theories as to evolution, but we don’t know why we became so evolved. We just are.

So, why do we kill each other for any reason?

Is it humanity’s fatal flaw to be violent in the face of power, passion, or religion?

Is religion a fatal flaw?

We are all people after all and we all want to live long full lives, so it doesn’t make sense to take someone else’s life from them. At least it doesn’t to me. We live on a huge planet. Go live somewhere else if you can’t stand where you are and who you are with.

If you can’t stand someone ELSE’s religion then don’t practice it.

Yesterday there was a plan for a “Million Muslim March” on the Mall in Washington, D.C. It happened but more like a fraction of a percent of Muslims participated in the event. Reasoning being unclear as to why there were not more people. Perhaps they knew the backlash that could have resulted from this or perhaps it was the 2 million bikers that thought to show up and interrupt this event.

I’d be scared if 2 million bikers promised to end my march…as it was there was no violence just a bunch of bikers driving through DC. The police blocked them from doing anything else and wouldn’t give them a permit for a march of their own.

Yesterday should have been a day of Peace and Remembrance. We should have pondered those who lost their lives. We should have spent the day reaching out to our loved ones and friends telling them we love them and appreciate them.

A gathering of Muslims for Peace on a day that produced violence by Muslims seems like a way for that community to come full circle. It was meant to be an olive branch in the religious inconsistencies of our national character.

Want religious freedom? Well that doesn’t just mean your religion. Religious freedom is meant to be for everyone.

Want to be able to meet and assemble? That doesn’t mean just for causes you find worthy.

Want to be able to complain about it? Freedom of speech is for everyone.

Those are your first amendment rights. They are for everyone. Anyone on American soil has these freedoms. This is what the Revolutionary War was fought for and what our soldiers continue to believe as they fight for us. There are so many differing views on religion, politics, heredity, and social standing that these have become unimportant in light of someone’s character and interaction with the rest of the world.

What if starting today we lived without prejudice?

What if starting today we lived fully compassionate lives?

What if starting today we began to trust again?

What if starting today we showed respect for everyone?

What if starting today we chose to live as God intended?

To begin with you need to stop grouping a set of strangers together calling all of them bad people who want to kill us all without actually knowing anything about them. A sad state of American society is that we automatically classify people of the Muslim religion as extremists who want to murder us and take over the country.

Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but this is profoundly untrue. The Muslim religion is not to blame, no more than the Christian religion is to blame for the Holocaust or the Spanish Inquisition. Those things happened because of the thoughts and actions of a small group of people, not because of their religion. Step one someone else’s religion is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is your faith, your path, your choice of religion.

As a Christian I believe that at the end of my life I will be placed before God and judged. He will not judge me on my works; He will judge me on my faith and my obedience in accepting Jesus Christ as my eternal Savior. What part does anything to do with someone else’s religion? Nada.

Another part of my walk as a Christian is more of a universal rule that I live by and would appreciate others to do as well. “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” I know I didn’t quote the scripture or verse, but you know what I mean. This fully encapsulates how to live compassionately. If you see someone who is hungry try to feed him. If you see someone that needs a home, show him where to get the help to get a home.

Living compassionately is not a life in the mission field, it should simply be life.

If you claim to be Christian the rule we are taught is to live a “Christ-like Life.” Who was Christ? Jesus. How did he live? He was self-sacrificing and lived to make the lives of those around him better than his own. We cannot save the world, but we can show each other mercy.

What do you think the world would be like if more Christians lived that way?

I think it would be easier to trust if you knew that the people who claimed to be good, peace-loving, wholesome individuals really were. There is nothing more troubling than believing in others and having them shatter that belief. Perhaps my trust in others is my fatal flaw, because I trust everyone until they’ve given me a reason not to and that is dangerous. Because you can’t actually trust anyone these days until they have proven their worth.

If you can’t trust simply try to respect others. Everyone.

All trust starts with respect. If someone can’t respect other people they can’t be trusted. Of all the definitions of respect I think the one most closely resembling what we view as respect is thoughtfulness or consideration. By being considerate of others we can earn their trust and compassion, which could bring them to a non-judgmental state regardless of your chosen lifestyle or religion…which are none of their business anyway.

I for one like my rights as an American and I would hate to see them further sullied because of some extreme belief in the supremacy of one religion over another.

Every time you act and react is a characteristic of yourself, not your religion, not your hometown, not even your family. We are all on this planet. We won’t all agree. We won’t all get along.

Tolerance isn’t about conformity it’s about life.

Pulled from a Facebook Share

Pulled from a Facebook Share

Time is Finite, Peace is Infinite

There is only one thing finite in your life.

Time

Time is the ruler of all things.

It makes people stress, it makes mountains wither.

It makes me question our motives.

Several years ago we were told that in 2014 the wars would be over and our brave soldiers would be coming home. But war is a money machine. Without a war the need for a standing army 2.2 million people strong dwindles. Enlisted men and women who want to do their service for the nation are furloughed and asked to go back to their civilian life. Educated officers and lifelong members of a special league of people who are willing to take a bullet for you, me, and an idea are, in a sense, let go. They have been downsized because without war they are no longer needed.

We owe our soldiers our sincerest gratitude. Thank you for your service. We know your future is uncertain, but we, who are not in charge, salute you.

It is time that has determined that the war is over, no matter what life will become for the citizens of the countries we occupy we cannot stay forever. They wouldn’t want us to stay forever.

Time is finite.

If we do not teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence. –Colman McCarthy

I teach my children peace. How they may think play fighting is fun, but really they need to not fight. They need to not hit each other in abrupt human responses and behave according to the golden rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Admittedly it doesn’t always work, some days it doesn’t work at all, but the ideal is impressed upon them that they are the one determining their future by their response. If your goal is peace, you will undoubtedly have some hardship, but in your reaction there will be at peace.

Knowing that you are in charge of yourself is empowering. Even to a toddler.

I am an American. I am a peaceful person. I live a very quiet life in a suburb of Houston. I work with a team trying to house so many of the veterans that are forgotten after war. The men and women left to their own devises that may or may not have someone to lean on in a crisis. I show my gratitude in service to them.

My time is finite.

My perspective isn’t shared by my whole community and I fear that my work is infinite, but the people willing to help are finite.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. –J.R.R. Tolkien

We decide what to do with our minutes, hours, days, months and lives.

We decide to become power-hungry politicians or peaceful-giving private citizens. Some people give their lives in service to their church, some to the military, and some to their families.

It is my opinion that many people become politicians so that they can live in service to something greater than themselves. They believe in the ideals and the histories of the nation and they feel in their soul that they must be a part of it. Then they are elected to office.

They begin to feel the power of their actions.

They know their time is finite.

They have two, maybe four, years to really make a difference in their communities and then they move on. Some seek reelection, but once they see how much they can change their small community they want to change something larger. Their vision grows; people start to notice what they can and cannot do. They begin to compromise their vision for their lobby. They begin to barter political clout for rich rewards in their home life.

Their vision joined time and became finite.

In our infinite universe the political structure is not built to expand except through more red tape and to constrict through compromise.

A visionary politician becomes the pragmatic scapegoat of politics.

No decision is made by an individual. We can believe what we want, but it is true. No decision made in our political structure is made by a single individual. It hasn’t in a long time. Every leader has people they depend on for counsel and support. Every choice, good or bad, is made by the group.

This week we are commemorating the 1963 March on Washington that helped change the tide of the civil rights movement. We are listening to Martin Luther King, Jr’s recitation and Congressman John Lewis’ passionate words. We are remembering that we once stood up to the scapegoats of Washington with facts and fortitude. We are remembering that we can incite change.

Also this week President Obama is in talks to justify bombing a nation of citizens (both public and private), starting a war, picking a fight just as we are ending our occupation of another country.

Why?

I have read and reread the statements provided to the news, but it doesn’t make sense!

There are few people outside of the political structure that think war is a necessary function. As a planet we have witnessed how peaceful protests and positive disruption have changed more than any fight picking and calls to arms.

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. –Jim Rohn

If we are the creators of our futures and the dreamers of our dreams than why do we not hold the political structures in place accountable to us? We should not say,“Oh someday…” we should yell, “Now! Now is the time to change. Now it is time to give peace.”

Time is finite. Peace is infinite.

We are wasting the gifts we have been given in an indeterminable future.

All quotes and this photo were borrowed from the Charter for Compassion's Facebook page.

All quotes and this photo were borrowed from the Charter for Compassion’s Facebook page.

Have you been Wrecked?

Have you been wrecked?

This is a simple question asked in an email from Jeff Goins. Actually the email contained his manifesto, “Wrecked for the Ordinary: A Manifesto for Misfits.” In bold print on page two – “MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHO THEY ARE.”

So of course I had to continue reading.

If you have been following this blog or stopping by temporarily to catch my latest ramblings you know that I have been writing out who I am. Figuring out who I am and how I relate to the world around me. Trying to figure out how to make a typical existence work for me when everything inside is screaming that I shouldn’t.

I call it my gypsy soul, but I wonder if it is something more.

I am the “I can do that” person that always wants to do more for others and help, but never quite seem to fill the void that makes me want to do these things. I want to join in every charity that my heart wants to help despite my brain saying, “You have no time for this!” I get over run with things to do and never quite do any of them very well because I am always thinking about the next thing that has to be done.

As Jeff writes, “ [I am] struggling to find meaning in [my] everyday life. [I am] floundering, lost in a cloud of insignificance and mediocrity.”

This is hard to admit that I do all of these things trying to fill the void that exists when I try to just live a normal life. I know many, if not most, of you don’t understand this void, or if you do you have learned to control it. I have tried everything from living life on the edge with craziness and an alcoholic spouse to just struggling every day to provide for my family. I haven’t figured it all out, but no matter how much there is TO Do I never quite feel fulfilled.

“They strive. They long for what they can’t have and thus despair, perhaps growing a bit disillusioned.”

To despair is to be hopeless and I am anything but hopeless. I think I have enough for what could be, but living life as I do every day makes the feeling of “hopelessness” exist. I get up, I get dressed, I wake the boys and get them ready, the nanny/babysitter arrives and I leave for work, drive 40 miles one way to my office and proceed to work 9-10 hours and go home. I drive the 40 miles back home, pick the kids up for whatever activity we have that evening OR if I have charity meetings in town I drive to that, do that, and THEN drive the 40 miles home…I get home in time to eat dinner, read a story and lay the boys down to bed. We repeat this 5 five days a week and you have some idea of how much time I spend chasing my wheels.

I know this is not the first time I have lamented this, but it is to make this point again, that there is more to life than this.

There is no amount of time that I spend away from home all day that justifies the void that I feel when I lay down at night. No matter what I have filled the time I was awake doing there is still that voice inside that says I should be doing more.

What? When? It isn’t possible!

It’s impossible to think that there is any way I could do more in present circumstance, so I have to seek a way to change the circumstance.

Hey – It’s not the first time.

Back to line one, “Have [I] been wrecked?”

There is both a resounding yes and a humble no. I have been wrecked by always striving for a life that I don’t think I will ever have. I have been wrecked by homelessness and insecurity. I have been wrecked by the daily struggle of every single mom who may or may not have enough money to make it to her next payday. But I have not seen first-hand how hard life could be. I have not walked into a village of people whose life is put on the line every day just to provide for their families. I have not reached beyond myself to grasp the hand of a dying man because he wanted to connect with life.

I haven’t forced myself to fill the void that exists.

I have tried repeatedly to close my ears to a calling to a higher purpose.

Jeff says, “At first, it’s disorienting – maybe even distracting. It calls out of you the greatest parts of you – the parts you might be afraid to let out.”

“In the end, you’re not who you were before. You’re different. You’re changed. You may even feel like your old values have been, in a sense, ruined by this new worldview.”

So I am seeking answers to where to go from here. Globe school for the boys will be a big part of this, but I think it is evolving from a purely selfish idea into something where I can act compassionately with a group of like-minded individuals. I’ve asked the only friend I know who left his life in pursuit of compassionate action how he knew it was the right choice when he did it. I am hoping he can help me as I have to walk down this path. I am not built for apathy and ignorance is a four-letter word to me.

The void must be filled, the thirst must be quenched.

Life must be meaningful, status quo will never work for me.

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