Gratitude 17August17 White Mom

The happenings of the past days have hit home in a very personal way.

I am the mom of two black children and two black grandchildren.

Unlike some people who will tell you, “I don’t see color,” I will tell you I see color very clearly. It is a reality of our society.

What I will tell you is this, the color of a person’s skin never mattered to me.

My oldest brother had down syndrome. That is when an individual get’s an extra set of chromosomes at conception. They look different and face challenges based on the severity of their disability.

I have written before on my blog, my greatest life lesson came through my brother about treating people who are different than me with kindness and not differently.

Through a series of events in my life, I was placed in situations that exposed me to people of all ethnicities. As a young person, I didn’t judge people. I was raised up to that point, without any pre-disposed attitudes about different cultures in my home.

No one told me until my teenage dating years that “races” don’t mix. That for a “good” white girl, I should no longer be hanging around a certain “color” of friends that I had been best friends with since I was young.

I learned what a racist was. I learned what it was like to be labeled a lover of a person of color. I learned what it was like to be shamed for my beliefs.

At that point, even as a young person, I understood people are people no matter what color they are. What mattered was their intent on your well being. 

I gave birth to two children. I understood that because they were of mixed race, that came with great responsibility. It was important to expose them to both of their cultures but especially their black heritage. As well as, teach them about and keeping them connected with positive black role models.

As we are seeing in the media recently, despite that mix of white in their blood, they are seen as black to society. For many years, what is called the “One-drop rule,” has been the legal definition of black for taking the census. And that is to have one drop of black blood.

I had a rather unique situation with my children and grandchildren. They were born with light brown skin and soft curls. Their racial mix was not really obvious. Over the years, they have had to play the guessing game with people asking, “Are you Italian? Greek? Middle Eastern? What are you?”

So unless they are with their dad, or family, most do not connect their ethnicity right away. There was nevertheless, the preparing them for challenges because of their race with friends, school, work place and any given situation as it presented itself.

I am active in both of my grandchildren’s lives. I try in my own way to keep them connected to their backgrounds. My granddaughter is still very young and I will begin buying her books about girls who look like her, and successful black women. She is blessed to have my daughter and an aunt as role models.

My grandson, who will be 18, and I have had many conversations about the fact he is black. We talk about his lineage through his dad, his amazing black history, and now I will start talking to him about how important this moment in history is for him to acknowledge.

He recently has been driving around with his friends. We had a conversation about what to do if the police stopped them. I will not have him caught unaware.

My children were raised to see color. They were raised to acknowledge the reality of the how’s and why’s society acclimates each race. They know their history and proudly embrace who they are as individuals. They sadly have each experienced racial discrimination first-hand.

They both have family and friends of all races, religions, and sexual identities. They are open-minded, caring, individuals.

As a mother, in this political and racial environment, I could not hope for more. Yet, I worry about my babies every single day. There is not a day I do not begin and end it with prayers for their safety and blessings of wisdom.

I would be foolish to be ignorant to not acknowledge the challenges they face every step they walk into their day. To not believe that is the definition of privilege.

Two interesting life lessons I have embraced is that through my life I haven’t always made good choices. Some would like to blame it on the company I kept. Marilyn Monroe was quoted as saying “And never have regrets. Because at one point everything you did was exactly what you wanted.” In reality, I have learned to take responsibility and be accountable for my choices in my life.

Second, interestingly, as a white woman, I have remained white — I mean that in terms of how I talk, my lexicon, my individuality — I have witnessed some people try to become immersed in a culture that is not theirs. I have always functioned within my culture, as I am accepted.

We are witnessing a concerning moment in history. A time that easily could become a second Civil Rights movement in our country. The Civil Rights page has disappeared from the White House website. A movement is consuming our country that has given permission to express hatred of people who are different than others.

I don’t have all the answers. This I do know. I am one individual who can make my choice positive ones. I, as an American, have one vote to change who is in charge of our government. That is a start.

Today I am thankful

  • Praying for the people of Barcelona as the images come across our televisions. God bless them and comfort them.
  • I am so excited for this weekend. I value time with family and friends.
  • I am grateful for my sea salt. Silly, I know. It makes me feel better with the concept.
  • I am hoping for a painting nite in my near future. The Picasso in me is getting antsy. Oh, Pam!

My views haven’t changed. People are people. What I look at is the intent.

affectionately yours, Laura

 

Gratitude 16August17 Life Goals

Today I am thankful

  • It is a writing day. The process of turning blogs into essays and editing them has proven to be quite a challenge.
  • A rainy day in South Saint Paul. The view is actually quite lovely out my window.
  • I have discovered “Complete meals in tin foil” Tonight I am attempting a salmon creation.
  • My Pink Himalayan Salt lamp. It is soothing and creates a peaceful ambiance.

I saw this picture of a neon sign listing random things to do. It struck me as a good list of life goals. On the list is a bit of everything we all should do to experience the best of life.

My favorites are eating cake for breakfast, learn the cha-cha, and live colorfully.

After my recent belly dancing mishap, I might delay the cha-cha, but I did have strawberry shortcake for breakfast!

Do something on the list today. #goals

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 15August17 Lessons From the Land of Oz

img_6376I watched The Wizard of Oz recently. I always watch it once a year. It is a fall tradition for me, I am a tad early this year.

While watching it, I decided to look at it with the purpose of paying attention to the lessons in the movie.

Foremost would be, avoid tornadoes and if you are in one, don’t look out the window where you could hit your head, lose consciousness, and end up in Oz. Too obvious?

You’ll remember at the beginning of the movie Dorothy, an orphan, is living with her aunt and uncle on their farm. She is a conflicted teenager on the cusp of adulthood.

She has her future ahead of her and sings about it longingly in the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Her innocence in the song captures all of her dreams.

With the tornado being viewed as any challenging life transition that throws our lives into a twirling mess, Dorothy enters her journey into the discovery of self.

Dorothy is made into a hero along the likes of Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker. She is just an ordinary child, who has parental birth issues and a challenged childhood. Along the way she faces the good and bad of life that she must battle with many lessons to be learned. And in the end, like almost all hero’s in movies, she comes out alright.

The second is, throughout the movie, Dorothy must stand up for her moral values without fear of the consequences The movie starts off with the first of these situations when Toto, her beloved dog bites Miss Gulch in the leg.  She goes on to defend the Lion, stands up to the Wicked Witch of the West, and the Oz himself.

Her ultimate is when she misses her ride “home” in the balloon because she makes a choice to chase after Toto who had run into the crowd after a kitten and not leave him behind.

In that, she ultimately finds her own power with the help of Glinda, the good witch, of clicking her heels together three times and repeating “There’s no place like home.” to take herself back.

Today I am thankful

  • “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are,” Michelle Obama
  • A rough day. Struggling. In that, I am still grateful.

My favorite part of The Wizard of Oz is not the clicking of the ruby shoes. It is Dorothy’s declaration once she is awake in her bed again. “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it begin with.” 

That quote is the life lesson that Dorothy learned on her journey to Oz. Happiness is found within ourselves. Our power is found within ourselves. We will not find completion outside our own “backyard.”

affectionately yours, Laura

 

 

 

Gratitude 14August17 The Letter “W”

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter “W.”

W, as in World War 3.

The saber sparing of words between the United States of America and North Korea’s president’s last week has many of us on edge.

Add to the madness, our president has now made veiled threats of possible military intervention in Venezuela.

Many family and friends I have talked to, in addition to the online comments I have read, and the extensive coverage in the media– express the fear of the reality of a World War 3 that would involve nuclear war weapons.

It would seem, these authoritarian leaders are living in a real-life Nintendo war game fantasy, and we are just guests in their world waiting for it to go up in smoke.

I did some research on war. If this whole thing goes to “hell in a hand basket” as my dad used to say, I want to know how this will go down.

Bear with me, it is quite a bit of a word jumble.

The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war.

Declaration of War is a formal, legislative act that informs the world of a state of war existing between the bodies named in the declaration, and reveals that a long, drawn-out conflict is the subject of such a declaration.” ACLJ Congressional Approval and Military Action by Wesley Smith

However, the president, as Commander-in-Chief, has broad constitutional powers. The governing body has long given the President the sole right to speak on behalf of our nation regarding the global conflicts around the world.

The War Powers Act, which Congress designed to limit a President’s power to commit United States troops to combat, was passed as a Joint Resolution in 1973. The Act concedes that the commander-in-chief role gives the President power to repel attacks against the United States and makes the President responsible for the leading the armed forces.” ACLJ Congressional Approval and Military Action by Wesley Smith

In essence, whatever the President “perceives” as an attack on the United States of America, he is within his right to declare war to protect the nation.

North Korea’s threat to Guam quickly falls into that category.

I am not so sure about Venezuela’s situation. We have witnessed how successful it is to go in and rescue a nation from itself.

Once the President has taken military action, he has 48-hours to notify the Congress.

As commander-in-chief, the arsenal of weapons of the United States military is at his disposal. That includes nuclear weapons.

I was reading that survival gear and bomb shelter sales have never been better since January 2017. Always one to be prepared, I found an excellent article, “How to Pack an Emergency Kit for Any Disaster.”

Always one to be ready, I found an excellent article, “How to Pack an Emergency Kit for Any Disaster.” I’ll attach the link for you. I am slowly gathering resources. Gas mask, anyone? Recyclable portable water filter? Radio with fresh batteries?

Today I am thankful

  • I have to admit, it is a sad day for me. Today I will go to the funeral of an auntie who was a delight, and yesterday an auntie who was the sweetest, ended her life journey. I will have another funeral this week. I am so thankful for each of their lives. I am so grateful for the lessons they imparted.
  • I am thankful to be an American. With that being said, the behavior within my country has me feeling shame.
  • A challenging week ahead with many words that need to be written and submitted.

A friend wrote he was scared of this whole damn mess. But, if this was the way it was going to end, he was going out laughing and playing his favorite music really loud.

It sounds like a plan to me.

Be safe, my dear friends and take a moment to be kind to someone today. We all are in need of extra kindness with all of this craziness going on.

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 10August17 Change: It’s That Easy and That Hard

The greatest gift in life is that in any moment, you can change your destiny. Maybe it’s a life situation, your health, a job, or accomplishing a goal.

It all begins with a decision to make a change.

The planning may take time, the reaching of your goal may take work once you decide on it, however, once you make that decision — your life is never the same.

In that split second you declare yourself a new being. You become more mindful.

I keep this in mind every day. 

Today is a new day. Today I will be a better me. Today I have new opportunities.

I keep this in mind throughout my day.

I will go for a walk. I will call someone I love. I will focus on my goals.

I keep this in mind every minute.

I will get off the couch. I will not spend as much time on social media. I will read for thirty minutes instead.

Make the decision to do something different. One change. It does not have to be big. One small difference today makes tomorrow’s outlook very different.

In the words on one of my favorite women, Eleanor Roosevelt, “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

Today I am thankful

  • My grandson got his driving permit this week. I am a very proud and frightened 😱grandma.
  • I am finally getting some serious writing done. There is nothing worse than staring at the computer stuck on stupid.
  • I was able to splurge a little at the grocery store. I never take that for granted. I am always conscious of what I need and what I want. When I get some of what I want — I am grateful.

Make no mistake, change isn’t always easy. I am researching change and habits in an efforts to realign some areas of my life. I am rereading a book I will tell you about in the near future.

What is key, I am learning, is declaring that intent to change. It’s that easy and that hard.

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 9August17 Reclaiming My Time

This morning while listening to the news and getting ready to start my day, I yelled at my television “Reclaiming my time! Reclaiming my time!”

“Reclaiming my time” has become a favorite phrase of mine lately. It accurately reflects my sentiment about a bit of what is going on in my life and a lot of what is happening in the world.

During a House Financial Services Committee hearing, an exchange between Representative Maxine Waters and Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin garnered a great deal of attention.

Waters, as the ranking member on the committee, was the first to direct a question to Mnuchin. The question was in regards to a letter sent to him and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network about the financial connections between our current president and Russian banks.

Mnuchin began by reading a written statement that was prefaced with a series of complimentary formalities toward Waters.

Waters interrupted him saying, “Reclaiming my time.” a phrase rooted in house floor procedure.

Each representative is allowed their limited

Chelsea Guglielmino | Getty Image

amount of time to use as they chose for verbatim exchange with the individual before the committee. It is known as the “Five Minute Rule.”  That time is the committee members, and it is their discretion to use it as they see as most productive. 

By reclaiming time, it allows them to prolong their time.She thanked Mnuchin for the compliment but stated she did not want her time used on compliments on her. She again requested he answer her question, and repeated it.

Mnuchin stated he was going to answer the question. Eventually. After he read his prepared statement and attempted to run out the clock while doing it.

Mnuchin dodged. Waters rebuked, reclaiming her time. It ended with Mnuchin basically stone-walling Waters and not answering to a full extent her question directly.

This exchange, much like “Nevertheless, she persisted,” has become a rallying call for many across our nation.  For women, minorities, and like myself this morning, for basically anyone who has run out of time to waste or fucks to give.

In many ways, unbeknownst to Waters, she triggered something much deeper than a political awakening. It has become a sentiment of empowerment. A statement of reclaiming your time in all manners of speaking.

The phrase has inspired a wave across the nation. There is now a gospel song and a DJ remix song with its name sake. Waters, for her part, is a bit surprised. She stated that what she did was simply “course-correction” procedure for committee hearings.

A call to reclaim my time has inspired a reflection of self. It might be how you have been spending your time. It very possibly could be what you are not doing that you have wanted to do. It may be the redefining and coming to peace with your past. That too is a way of reclaiming your time.

Today I am thankful

  • I am so grateful for the role models in my life. Those here and those who have gone before me. I value all my life lessons that were learned from them.
  • My best friend. Last night I looked across that room at her and thought “I am so blessed to have you in my life.”
  • A busy day today with a too long “To-Do” list.
  • It is going to rain today. I am alright with that. I am looking forward to the clean smell after.

And most powerfully, it speaks to how we allow ourselves to be treated. How we allow our time to be used by others. It helps me put into perspective and respect how those I love in my life use their time. 

It speaks to all manners of boundaries and discipline.

I am reclaiming my time.

affectionately yours, Laura