Stand Up

Stand Up

I have always been an advocate of the underdog.  I have never liked situations that are unfair, or unequal or that are set up to do harm to others deliberately.  Name calling, bullying, unfair treatment of those that don’t have the resources to stand up for themselves.

By “resources”, I am not just talking about money. Some people do no have the physical resources, the intellectual resources, the political resources, or the emotional resources to deal with the life circumstances they find themselves in.

And they are being taken advantage of by the exploitation of countries, politicians, education systems, societal pressures and economic threats that push them to make decisions that are not in their best interests–just to serve the wants of the current power structure.

For those who do not know me, let me describe myself a little.  I am a woman, 4′ 11, 124 lbs.  Not large by any means.  As an empty nester, I have reached the beautiful age of 50, so I am not young, but also not old or infirm.  I am a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, and wife.  I am a teacher, a life long learner, an advocate of others. I am a very proud American of hispanic descent.

Those attributes make me stronger not weaker.  I have been attacked and bullied, mostly verbally, at times, because I do not conform to the waves of thought that go through this country from time to time in regards to women’s rights, education, work place politics, gender and ethnicity roles and the larger rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

What people fail to see in me and more importantly, in themselves, is the power they have in their own opinions.  No one has to believe what they are told if they can see something different with their own eyes.  No one has to take at face value that things are right if they feel in their gut that things are wrong. Yet they do, every day, and then are sorry whey they are manipulated, bullied, and taken advantage of.

Here is a list of examples we should all take a hard look at in our own lives and stand up for what we truly believe–whether you are right or wrong.  Find your compass, listen to your gut–not to the thousands of screaming heads we encounter in our daily lives:

  1. The “me too” mentality–we all encounter some sort of sexism in the world during our lives. All of us, at one time or another, men as well as women.  Pick a side, once and for all.  It is up to you–not to the person using sexism as a weapon or to the people around you that have an opinion about it–you. Decide if you want to be a victim and wallow in self pity, never moving forward in your life or decide if you want to stand up for yourself, own it and put it behind you.
  2. Our education system–our education system is broken, it has been for a long time but at the same time forms the backbone for developing our children’s ability to question, study, research and learn.  We cannot blame the system itself if people–you and me–do not stand up and either change it, or if we cannot, then use it for good.  As parents we have the responsibility and the right to teach our children MORE than what they are learning from their books and curriculums in school.  Decide if you want the current powers that be mold the minds of your children or if you want to take the responsibility of building the minds of your children to be critical thinkers.
  3. The wage disparity among men and women.  It may exist.  I don’t really know because I have been able to find and read research on both sides of this argument that sound credible.  Here is what I know.  We live in a wonderful country that lets us choose our line of work.  If you accept a job at a certain amount of compensation for certain duties then that is your choice.  If you feel that you are not being compensated fairly for your work because of your gender–then you have the choice to CHANGE YOUR JOB.  Decide what you want to do with your life and work hard at it, the money will come.
  4. The immigration issue.  I believe in the rights of the underdog.  I always have and I have often stood up for others that cannot stand up for themselves. But I have also always said and lived the fact that “if you are going to do something, do it right.”  There is always a right and wrong way of doing things.  The current immigration situation in our country is a problem of our own making.  We must take care of ourselves–our citizens–FIRST, before we attempt to help citizens of other countries that want to come here. It is the responsibility of other countries to take care of their people FIRST, if they are not doing that–IT IS NOT OUR FAULT or OUR RESPONSIBILITY to make up for their failures. Decide which side of the issue you are on.  If we ruin this country, we will no longer have the power to help the people of other countries.
  5. Our ethnicity and our responsibilities as Americans.  I am proud to be of hispanic descent. I am proud that I am bilingual.  But I am more proud that I am American–that I live in a country in which many cultures can live together and work towards a common goal:  keeping America a free, safe and prosperous nation. That comes first–ALWAYS–before any other consideration of cultural celebrations and traditions, language rights, or family loyalties from other countries. Decide if you really want to be American, and if you are willing to live up to the responsibilities of what that requires.  We all have a choice here.  Decide if you want to not just live in this country but be a PART of it–if not then decide where you would be happier and go there.

It is time to stand up! It is time to decide what you want for you and your family. There is no right or wrong in this decision. There is power in your thoughts and in how you want to live your life.  It is your choice.  Make it!

Don’t be the underdog, stand up for your convictions. Don’t play the victim, the only person that allows victimhood is yourself.  Don’t stop learning because someone told you this is all there is, there is always more. Don’t accept that others are telling you you don’t get paid what you deserve–work harder, Don’t allow others to call you names because you want to protect your country from the problems of the world, take care of your country and let others take care of theirs. Don’t let people view you as a part of a minority when you are in the majority as an American, you give them your POWER when you let them. The world is a beautiful place–Stand up and find your place in it.

Lessons from Horner Park

Lessons from Horner Park

When I was a young girl, I would go to day camp every summer at Horner Park.  It was amazing.

Each day was filled with outdoor activities, crafts, sun and ice cream.

It never rained.  At least I don’t remember every having a rainy day those summers.

I climbed crab apple trees and ate the sour crab apples right off the branches.

I swam and I played on a T-ball team and I rolled down a grass hill.

Here are the lessons I learned at Horner Park that are still important to remember today:

  1. Physical exercise is important for health and happiness.
  2. Being outdoors in the sun is good for the soul.
  3. Never skip the ice cream.
  4. Don’t forget to climb the trees in your life and eat the crab apples.
  5. Play as part of a team–teamwork is important.
  6. Never give up a chance to roll down the grass hill.

Time passes too quickly to forget the lessons we learned at the park.  Life does not have to be complicated. Find the lessons and enjoy life.

 

 

 

Poor Columbus

Poor Columbus

Christopher Columbus has developed a bad reputation over time as an oppressor of people, an abuser of women, the destroyer of a culture.

This story has been slowly transforming the story of Columbus by people who want to influence other people’s opinions about a person who used to be revered as the one person who discovered the American continent which would later become our home.

It seems to me that this is being done, especially, by people with the idea that everyone must fall into some kind of victim status–and as victims, we must have someone to blame.

Worse than blaming poor Columbus–these people and ideas are influencing how the story–or the history–on how Columbus is being taught in schools.

In my childhood we were taught that “in 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the Ocean blue…”, we were taught that thanks to him, Europeans continued to voyage to the Americas . That eventually led to the 13 Colonies that “soon”–in 1783–with the victory of the American Revolution,  became the United States of America.

Now students are being told that Columbus and his men deliberately killed native peoples, abused their women and stole their gold–by order, of course of the King and Queen of Spain–King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Here are a few truths–as I see them.  Native Americans did die.  The majority died of disease because they were not immune to the viruses that Spaniards brought with them. That is an accident of nature.

They also died from wars, because there were conflicts between the Spanish explorers and the Native Americans. Native Americans, not happy with these new people coming to their lands looking for their gold, attacked them. Spaniards fought back. Many died–on both sides.

Now some Spaniards were also cruel to Natives–who they saw as heathens, because they were not Christian.  Remember these explorations are occurring at the same time that the Spanish Inquisition was occuring in Europe–in which scores of people died for their religious beliefs.

As for the abuses hurled on women by the Spaniards.  Well, as with every century in every land and every culture–there are abuses. Women are abused by men, men are abused by women. This is not a new phenomenon.  This does not make it right–but it certainly was not a new situation, nor is it one which humanity has yet to solve.

These were horrible times in the world–but certainly not the fault of any ONE man.

In hindsight, I think we–as much smarter and humanitarian people of today–should be honest, at least with ourselves, that these new attacks on one person for all the perceived ills on the humanity of the Americas of the 1500s–are ridiculous.

Let the children have a hero in Columbus for doing something good. He was one of the first people from Europe in the Americas.

Keep in mind, if Columbus had not discovered the Americas–certainly someone else would have–and then I’m sure people would be blaming him.

So enjoy Columbus day! Celebrate the courage and innovation of a man and his crew to create progress in their time–so we could enjoy a wonderful country and a day off in ours.

Comfort Food

Comfort Food

The fall weather brings with it rainy days and cooler temperatures. We start to transition our wardrobes to longer sleeves, sweaters, longer socks and warmer pants.

With these changes also come changes in our diets–or at least our cravings–for the season. Comfort foods that will keep us warm (and are delicious!) are a staple of this time of year.

But how do we reconcile our cravings and our desire for familiar and comforting foods when also trying to live a healthier lifestyle?

Most of us think about comfort foods as thick starchy, cheesy, or stuffed meals–like loaded mashed potatoes, ooey, gooey macaroni and cheese, foods with warm gravies, or sweet treats like apple pie and chocolate cake.

Wow! Makes me hungry just thinking about these wonderful dishes.  However, I am not completely ready to give us all my eating well all year long for the indulgences of the season.

So what should we do when our favorite comfort foods do not fit in our current dietary calorie count or our protein, carb or sugar goals? Should we ignore our cravings for the stuffed, creamy, cheesy or chocolaty treat?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Enjoy your favorite comfort cravings in moderation.

You don’t have to deny yourself the foods you love or that have traditionally brought you good memories of other times in your life. If you are watching your calorie count or eliminating your carb intake–the best way to enjoy them is by having a small portion of them. You can give into the cravings without spoiling your nutritional plan.

2. Look for healthier alternatives to your favorite recipes.

The internet is full of wonderful recipes and healthy alternatives that are delicious and can replace some of our old comfort food favorites.  Alternatives to your comfort favorites will provide you the joy and yes–the comfort–of eating what you want while keeping your nutritional goals in mind.

3. Create brand new comfort food recipes of your own.

It is so much fun to experiment in the kitchen and combine your favorite flavors to create a meal that is comforting, delicious and truly your own. This is the best of all worlds combined, you can enjoy the foods and flavors you love and maintain your health goals at the same time.

This is the season, when the weather gets cooler that the lure of comfort foods calls to us.  Find the right balance and enjoy!

 

 

 

The Search For Happy

The Search For Happy

Througout this journey I have been searching for the meaning of Happy.  Not what happy is but what exactly I want to have in my life that makes me happy.

I have to say that all this introspection has been kind of a roller coaster ride.

As I mentioned in a post early on–Freaky Friday–being happy and finding the happy life for yourself is not an easy proposition.  First of all, because no one is an island and our decisions effect others.

Secondly because many times when we set out to find our happiness, to live our happiness and to express that happiness–many people will call us selfish.

There it is.  And while I thought everyone in my life was on board with my happiness like I am on board with theirs, I found I was wrong–oh so wrong!

Wow–eye opening!  And a little heart breaking.

Luckily, I have given myself the time to journal about it and to think about it and have spoken to my husband about what makes me happy and what doesn’t make me happy in my life.  Even luckier–he supports me in all my feelings, asks good questions to help me think some more and I know he always has my back.

One thing I always knew about myself is that I am happy when others are happy and when good things happen to them.  Whether they be family, life-long friends or acquaintances.

For example–recently an ex-coworker of mine posted on Facebook a beautiful picture of herself at her wedding with her new husband. She looked radiant and both looked happy!  I sent her a very heartfelt Congratulations! and she later responded with an equally happy Thank You!

She is not a good friend, but from the few interactions I had with her at a previous employer I knew her to be honest, hard working, cheerful, dedicated and kind. Why wouldn’t I be happy for a person being happy and in love?

Conversely–two lifelong friends really surprised me this year. One accused me of not keeping in touch often enough and that I “have changed”.  She was hurt I had not kept her up to date on my life–even though in my opinion, nothing noteworthy had really happened that I needed to check in with her about.

I spoke to her and caught her up and she was fine.  I also reminded her that the cell phones, text messages and emails of today work both ways.  She did not get it, but was happy to hear all the mundane details of my life, my craft projects and my blog–which she said she “really needs to make time to read someday.”  She cracks me up!

And so, that was a little over a month ago and you’ve guessed it she has not contacted me with an update on HER life.  Hmmmm.  Does that take away from my happy? No!  She’s probably busy!  I know that we will connect again somewhere down the line–it is the way of a steady friendship.

Another lifelong friend, however, is not a happy person and seems to be very bothered by people who are happy.  Not good–for her–because that is not going to take away from my happy either!  I can’t let it.  While none of us is an island, I fully believe it is not selfish to choose the people that will be in our lives.

Now that I am in the Empty Nest, Over 50 club I don’t have time to indulge folks that just want to bring others down, are envious, or that can just not be happy for other people.  I may still have to associate with them, I may still have conversations with people like this but I don’t let it bother me and I don’t give what they say, believe or do much importance.

In my search for happy I have found that I already am happy. I have had a wonderful life so far–even my bad times in life have not been as bad as others have had it.  I can always find the silver lining, I can always fight the good fight, stand for what I believe in and enjoy the happiness of others.

I encourage you to do the same.  Find your happy.  Journal about what you think might make you happy, eliminate (as much as you can) the things that don’t make you happy and keep fighting the good fight.

Reach for your dreams or redefine them so that you can reach them step by step–this is your life, and we are only given one.  The search for happy is important–indulge yourself!

If you’d like to see some of the other things that make me happy check out my Pinterest Page–Empty Nest Saavy!  Have a great week and have fun!

Adulting

Adulting

Adulting is a relatively new word that I found in the “Urban Dictionary.”  The definitions are hilarious:

(v) to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off credit card debt, settling beef without blasting social media, etc).  Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.

or

(v) to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups. 

The Oxford Living Dictionaries has:

(mass noun) The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.

First, I am not sure what a “mass noun” is.  Is this the new English parts of speech–like the “new” math of years ago?

Second, are you kidding me?  When I stopped laughing I found that people are really using this word to mean that if they take care of their responsibilities they are actually doing their “adulting”.

When I decided I was going to follow my dream of writing, I did not decide I would do this instead of “adulting”.  I just thought I would continue being an adult and write and create this blog as a hobby–additional “adulting” I guess.

And then I found the t-shirts–now the madness is real:

  • Coffee–because Adulting is Hard
  • I’m Not Adulting Today
  • Watch Out World–I’m Adulting Today

and my favorite:

  • I  Have Been Drunk for 5 Days Straight because Adulting.

If you feel the need, the desire or the insanity to take up this new verb let me give you some advice:

  1. Understand that if you are over 18 you are an adult–that is a noun, not a verb–you don’t have to do, you just have to be.
  2. Drink as much coffee as you need but take care of your responsibilities.
  3. If you are 18 or over being an adult is not a choice–you cannot chose to ‘not adulting” today–see #1
  4. If when acting like the adult you are dangerous to the outside world then you are doing it wrong.
  5. If you have been drunk for 5 days in a row, adulting is the least of your worries–you are an alcoholic–get help!
  6. You cannot go back in time–you can either go forward or die–I suggest moving forward.

Writing has certainly added a beautiful dimension to my life of rediscovering words and encountering the new words that have entered our language. As with everything else–all is in good fun, until someone gets hurt. While this word is cute and funny I hope young people don’t really believe this is a thing.  I  hope we are all following our dreams as adults instead of the dream being to ‘be adulting’!

 

So Many Books, So Little Time

So Many Books, So Little Time

I love books. No, that’s an understatement. Books for me have been a lifelong addiction.

I read everything–histories, romance, detective, classics, biographies–and I cannot catch up on all the things I want to read.

I have lists of books I’ve read, and books I want to read.  It’s quite the dirty little secret.

While I have never (ever!) stood in line late at night or in the early wee hours for concert tickets to any band or singer, I confess that I have stood in line–at midnight–at the local Barnes & Noble to purchase the next installment in the Harry Potter series.

Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t have enough time to read all that I want to read and I get very invested in certain authors or series of books.

As the technology evolved and ebooks made their debut I was vehemently against them. I thought reading would not be as enjoyable as holding a book and turning the pages myself.

Then I received my first  Kindle as a gift. I learned how to connect it to Amazon books and my local library.  I downloaded the Kindle App on my phone and the obsession continued.

Having a whole library in my pocket gives me access to my books whenever I have downtime–in line at the grocery store, waiting for my oil change, or on my coffee break.

But here is an idea to get more reading time in, if you have the reading addiction like I do:

  1. Get a library card
  2. Download the Overdrive App on your mobile phone.  This will give you access to audiobooks for free.
  3. Electronically check out the books you would like to listen to–and you can listen to books during times that you must spend your time attending to something else.

I listen to my books in the car as I drive to work and back, to run errands, or on weekend trips to other cities.

I listen to my books while I cook and meal prep and do my laundry and while I am on exercise machines or walking in my neighborhood.

This is not the same as reading the written word and turning pages, swiping left or scrolling up, but it is fascinating to listen to books read to you as your brain conjures the pictures in your mind–and it allows you to get a few more books in….

So many books, so little time!