Monthly Archives: November 2016

Attitude of Gratitude

I think it’s fair to say that November has been a tough month for most of us. Those of us who are upset by the election results are feeling afraid for the future of our nation and many of its people, while those who are celebrating the results are feeling attacked for exercising their rights. Everyone is pointing the finger at each other and spewing ugly, hateful words. I can’t recall a time in my lifetime where the country has seemed more divided and angry. I can’t speak for anyone else, but none of this puts me in the holiday spirit.

So, I’m taking a page out of my mother-in-law’s book. Since I’ve known her, she has engaged in a nighttime ritual designed to support a positive outlook. Once she’s in bed with the lights out, she reflects upon the day and every event that made her smile or feel grateful, then she settles on her favorite moment of the day and replays it in detail.

My mom's Thanksgiving table.

My mom’s Thanksgiving table.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I’m thinking this is something we might all try to do, even if just for one week. I don’t know that it will help (although my mother in-law is a pretty happy person), but it certainly can’t hurt.

To kick it off, I’m going to list a host of things I’m generally grateful for:

  • My family (the whole messy bunch that brings laughter and tears, as well as challenges and triumphs, into my life). We share an elastic bond of love and history that can’t be broken, no matter how badly it might get stretched at times.
  • My friends and colleagues, who are supportive, thoughtful, and intelligent people that teach me something new every day.
  • My agent and publishing team, who are helping me live out a childhood dream.
  • My “fans,” who read my work and write to me, sharing personal stories and well wishes.
  • My ancestors, who bravely came here from other countries hoping to give their progeny a better life. I hope they know that their sacrifices and courage were well-rewarded.
  • The majority of Americans, who stand together to fight for freedom, justice, and the equality of all, and who are resilient and passionately committed to the betterment of humanity.
  • God, for giving me a healthy mind and body, both of which I try not to waste.

Tonight I will follow my mother-in-law’s lead. I’ll reflect on my day and the specific moments that made me smile. I know waking up to the first snowfall (or dusting) this morning will be one. If the Steelers win today, that might be another. 🙂

I wish you all a very lovely Thanksgiving holiday, and hope that you will be surrounded by family and friends.

XO-Jamie

 

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Democracy Requires Respect

I doubt I’m alone in feeling a great deal of trepidation as we look forward to tomorrow’s election. At fifty, I can’t recall another instance in my lifetime where I’ve seen such contention and divisiveness between candidates and their supporters.

Facebook is no longer a fun space because people bully and belittle each other. No surprise, I suppose, because the candidates trash the other’s supporters, too. Media consultants speak over each other and trade put-downs. In truth, no one has really shown anyone with a different opinion any respect. In that way, everyone has been “deplorable.”47229718_s

The funny thing is that, the great majority of us are probably in the same boat: neither candidate represents our agenda or interests. Maybe you’re a moderate Republican (like me), who believes in small government, lower taxes, but also supports gay rights, is pro-choice, and wants tighter gun control. Or maybe you’re a moderate Democrat, who thinks taxes should go up for some, but spending should be cut, too. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter, because we are each entitled to our opinions (and hopefully those opinions are based on something more than mere media soundbites).

What we aren’t entitled to is being so hateful toward each other. First of all, it’s just rude. Why does anyone think its okay to demean another person’s opinion or vote? Does a person who disparages another person actually feel better about himself? Picking on someone else as being “stupid” for his or her differing opinion does not persuade anyone that your opinion is correct, does it? It just makes you a bully. Don’t be a bully. Don’t make people feel stupid just because they like something about a candidate that you don’t like or understand.

Secondly, this belittling is dangerous and bad for the country. We are 300 million people and growing. There will never be a time when we are 100% unified on any topic, but we still have to live with and work together. We have to try to find the middle ground so progress can happen. To find middle ground, we have to be able to actually listen to and understand that other side’s grievances. The failure of the parties to work together this past decade has led us to this terrible place (in my opinion). I hope this election is a wake-up call to BOTH sides of the aisle. We need leadership to step toward each other or this democracy will collapse.

Our forefathers gave us power but, by and large, the vast majority (myself included) doesn’t exercise it enough. The bottom line is that, if we the people are unhappy with our choices, it is because most of us have failed to stay informed and involved all along. It is not fair to spew hate and anger if we’ve never read a paper, called a representative, or otherwise participated in the process on a more regular basis.

My biggest wish for tomorrow is that—no matter who wins, or how disappointed we may be—we take a deep breath, we get more involved in politics by staying informed, writing to our representatives, and taking advantage of the right to be proactive in the process, and we refrain from making ugly statements about the winner and his or her supporters.

In other words, it starts with your vote, but it doesn’t end there.

XO-Jamie

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Halloween: A Snapshot of Budding Character

They say you can tell a lot about a person from the way they handle themselves on the golf course. Does she cheat? Does she throw a fit when things aren’t going well? Does she understand the etiquette? However she plays that game is likely how she handles herself in life, at work, and so on. I think there is some truth to this particular saying, and I’m going to take it a step further.

60514268 - halloween: kids excited to trick or treat

60514268 – halloween: kids excited to trick or treat

You can tell a lot about a kid from watching her on Halloween. First, what costume did she pick? Is that little girl in a princess dress, or a football uniform? Next, does she look you in the eye, smile, and yell “trick or treat,” or does she keep her chin tucked and look back at her adoring mom or dad? Is she alone, with one friend or sibling, or running with a pack of kids? Does she ask “how many” she’s allowed, or just grab as much as her little hands can heft out of the bowl? Does she say “thank you?” or does she thrust her hands in there during someone else’s turn and grab a bunch before running away without ever once acknowledging you or the candy?

Last night I saw a little bit of all of these things. I admit, I get discouraged when I see discourteous children. I wonder how a kid gets to that point, too? Didn’t her parents teach her good manners? I know there’s a whole “anti-sharing” culture out there (schools that cater to that, too, by allowing kids to “save” toys from others even when they aren’t playing with it), so maybe that’s to blame.

A “me first” attitude is a huge turn-off to me, in kids and adults. It seems parents who are against sharing seem to think that, when another kid asks for a turn, then if their kid is expected to share, it is teaching that other kid that they get what they want whenever they want it. That seems to be a really twisted form of logic in my opinion. If anything, teaching your kids they never need to share (even if it is community property, like in a classroom or playground), is teaching YOUR kids that their needs always come first. ICK!!

Sharing is good for everyone. It teaches us to be part of a community. To realize that, if we’re lucky enough to have “more,” we can use that power to help others who have less. Giving is kind, and most people actually feel GOOD when they make someone else happy. Learning that the world doesn’t revolve around you and your needs is also a good thing (which I think sharing promotes rather than destroys). And people who share are much more likely to make friends easily and socialize better than kids who clutch everything for themselves.

What’s your take on all of this?

XO-Jamie