Less Stress and More Holiday Joy

Christmas 1I ordered my first two Christmas gifts last weekend. It seemed unreal, but, the reality is there are 10 shopping weeks until Christmas. Roll your eyes if you must, but before you can stop groaning and be yelling “no” at your computer, Halloween will be over, and Thanksgiving will be here.

Then just as you are digging out your stretch pants to accommodate your Thanksgiving dinner for your Black Friday shopping, you will blink, and Christmas will be upon you. And you will think of me and this blog.

If you’re on a budget like I am or have a hard to find gift — I have one that is a doozy — time is of the essence for you. Or if you are just tired of being tired and stressed every Christmas and New Years, now is the time to take a breath and put a plan in place so you can have more joy this season.

No matter how hard I try, I always seem to get down to the twelve-day countdown before Christmas and feel discombobulated. That stressed out, what did I miss feeling. It lead’s me to do impulse shopping. I miss events I wanted to attend and television shows I wanted to see. The days somehow get away and people I wanted to touch base with I don’t.

I did some internet research and came up with five realistic things that I could do to help ease the stress of the holiday craziness for myself this year. I am going to give it a try. I thought I would share them with you. Then, after the holidays, we will see if it helped.

  1. Sit down with a cup or glass of your favorite beverage and paper and pen. Make three columns and label them — Buy Gifts For. Must Do Holiday Activities. Want To Do Holiday Activities. Then do a massive brain dump of all your holiday wish list items. After you do this, look at the lists realistically. Cross off what is whimsically thinking. Circle what you really want to do and prioritize the top three things in each column. Don’t worry about the “Buy Gifts For” list yet.
  2. Make a goal of a budget for yourself. Almost everything I read places the majority of stress on financial well-being during and after the Christmas holiday season. Now is an opportune time to take a realistic look at your economic forecast for the next several months and map out what you will be able to afford for not only gift buying, but the extra costs of food, and entertainment the season brings. Then re-look at your “Buy Gifts For” list. On a new sheet of paper make three columns. Family. Friends. Others. Then roughly give an amount to each name. Tally the amounts. And that my dear friend is what you will need to finance. It was a shocking experiencing for me. I have a Wunderlist app on my cell phone. I put a Christmas list of people in there. I have my set list of names and dollar amounts. My reality check for my impulse shopping in December.
  3. While doing fall cleaning, keep in mind decluttering with holiday donations in mind. Toys. Food shelves. Coat Closets. This made sense to me. While I was doing fall cleaning and rotating my seasonal clothes, I kept in mind food shelves to give to for the holidays, and coats for homeless shelters. Homeless shelters are always in need of clean socks in good condition, also. For those of you with children who will be getting new toys — consider giving their gently used toys to Children Hospital waiting rooms, homeless shelters, or battered women shelters. 
  4. Start adding events to your calendar now. Travel. Get-togethers. Concerts. Hair. Nails. Christmas Pictures. Television shows as you see them advertised. When I circled my top three things I wanted to do for the season, I made a note on my calendar for when to start watching for tickets and postings. One thing I have been doing the past several years is going to see the Holiday Train. I have that noted. I have different television shows noted so I don’t miss them. I made my air travel reservations — tickets are still very inexpensive! Holiday concert tickets are on sale. Also, ladies! Now is the time to get your name on the books for your holiday haircut style and manicure and pedicure. Those spots fill up quicker than the elves eating Mrs. Claus’s sugar cookies. Now is an excellent time for a family portrait with the beautiful weather. 
  5. Most of all, personal time and self-care. For myself, it is a breeze. I live alone, and once I shut the door on the world, I can relax. It hasn’t always been that way. For many of you still, several of the articles wrote about women making time for self-care. The hair and nail appointments I just mentioned. Make time for meeting up with girlfriends. Take time for yoga, mindfulness, make this a meaningful opportunity for yourself — not just everyone else. Do not forget to put yourself on your own gift-giving list. Make a list of what you want from Santa. When someone asks you what you want, be able to say, “This is what I want.” 

Today I am thankful

  • A Santi or Lucy day is always a good day
  • Another warm and beautiful fall day.
  • A success writing day.
  • Today my mom ended her life journey eleven years ago. I think of her often as I get older. Life has a way of giving you “aha moments” as it teaches you more lessons. Some days I feel her near. She left me in excellent hands.

My goal is to de-stress my upcoming season.

I plan on keeping it simple with a congenial dose of family and friends, the Hallmark channel with Christmas movies often on my television, and my coffee generously spiked with Baileys. And, of course, my favorite flannel pajamas.

affectionately yours, Laura

#metoo … It Is Time To Tell Our Stories

Over the weekend I watched my social media timeline fill with the hashtag #metoo.

Nothing more needed to be written.

Those posts were symbolic that those individuals had at some point in their lives been subjected to sexual intimidation of some form from an unwanted cat-calling to a full assault.

They had experienced the internal conflict that comes with it  — feeling dirty, shame, confusion, anger, embarrassment — Who to turn to?

And for too many women, tears that no one will see because they chose to keep it to themselves for their own reasons. 

The Harvey Weinstein story hopefully will become known as the genesis of women speaking out about sexual mistreatment in a manner that makes a difference.

It took a brave woman, Ashley Judd to start the dialogue, then another, then another, and now there are over thirty-five women who have come forward with their stories.

And I predict more will come forward, not just about Weinstein, but, I appeal to the greater good that his story will pry open the closet door of skeletons of the powerful that have preyed on the vulnerable.

Many of the women independent of each other, tell the same version or pattern of abusive behavior committed by Weinstein. Many people within the entertainment community are coming forward scratching their heads and asses saying, “Gosh, I’d heard about his doing that sort of thing, but, I never did anything about it.”

For thirty plus years, Weinstein was able to use his power, position, and money to abuse women in all forms and manner. Karma is only a bitch when you are. Karma is now knocking on Harvey’s door is a catastrophic way.

This isn’t a new story. This is just one about a man that the news cycle paid attention to. Roger Ailes, Bill’O’Reilly, our current president — are all alleged sexual predators within the last year accused by multiple women of egregious sexual behavior. But, because of their position and power, have been able to walk away with minor consequences.

That is now changing. If a titan such as Harvey Weinstein can be taken down. So can others. Women must stand together and it is time to tell our stories and defend one another like these women just did.

Today I am thankful

  • My “To Do” list is a bit less. Oh man, how it got so out-of-control I do not know.
  • I logged over 19,000 words last week. Almost my goal of 20,000.
  • I have a tater tot hotdish in the refrigerator ready for dinner. Comfort food.
  • It was a wonderful weekend. Still smiling from the memories.

I was raised by a man that was a sexual harasser of women. What “back in the day” was seen as flirting, in reality, was degrading and had constant sexual innuendo in his “charm”. Having been raised with it, made me more aware of the “con” it was.

My awareness of it at times got me in trouble at work for calling situations out. For saying “no” to meetings in hotel rooms or not having a door closed in a conference room. In my personal life, it hasn’t always made it easy in relationships, I have ended friendships over overtly sexist mentality. I now place my need to feel safe above all else.

I don’t like to be emotionally put in a corner. I do not like sneaky men with ulterior motives, the one who wants to be your “friend” but really just wants to fuck you. I do not like it assumed I am sexually available because I am comfortable with my sexuality.

It is time to tell our stories. Now is the time to get brave. What is your story? We are listening.

#metoo

affectionately yours, Laura

Plantation Politics in the NFL

Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York GiantsAnother fall weekend of our national spectator sport, football, is ahead of us.  Another slew of games where statistics, yardage, and the politics of players right to peaceful protest and the president’s, team owner’s and coaching staff’s right to dictate their behavior to them will be analyzed.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Last year during the NFL football season, after a series of incidences of social injustices to black and brown people that included being brutalized and killed by police, an NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, a black player, stood in formation with his teammates and took a knee during the national anthem.

fb 0Kaepernick made a statement following the game making it very clear this was about the injustice happening.

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The outrage across America was swift and vicious. The focal point and message of Kaepernick’s kneeling were driven from social injustice and police brutality to one of disrespect of the flag and nationalism.

The NFL issued a statement at that time, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

fb 3As the NFL season went on, more NFL players across the league joined Kaepernick’s kneeling action as a peaceful demonstration against racial and social injustice.

Two things I discovered while researching for this blog that I want to briefly address; the history of kneeling and the National Anthem and the NFL.

The history of kneeling is not new to the fight of social injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr. went down on one knee to prayer during the Civil Rights movement. Numerous pictures show people in silent, peaceful protest taking a knee. Several articles I read related kneeling back to slavery when slaves knelt in oppression and in prayer for freedom.

fb 6It is important to note, it was optional for NFL players to be on the sidelines during the playing of the National Anthem before 2009. Despite counter-claims by the NFL, at one time, it was proven in a congressional investigation, that the United States Department of Defense (DoD) began paying the NFL, initially with 5.4 million dollars as part of a military recruitment budget-line item.

It was called “paid patriotism.” By having the players on the field for the national anthem was an excellent marketing strategy to make the athletes look more patriotic. This marketing strategy was to get more to join the military — meaning those vulnerable young people watching the NFL.

Enter the perfect storm. The government paying the NFL money to look patriotic and the players begin to not do what the government considers patriotic.

fb 0AIt began with a president during a stump speech riling up a predominantly all-white base in Alabama, who made a statement about the desired wish that someone would tell that NFL player who knelt, “Get that son-of-a-bitch of the field, right now!” People immediately connected the name calling with Kaepernick.

The comment elevated to athletes across all professional sports. Escalating comments between the president and several other black star athletes. It united and bonded those in the NFL. The following Sunday more than two-hundred players and coaches took a knee. Many others showed unity by linking arms.

The dysfunction in this was it turned the message to an anti-president, anti-nationalism protest. That was never the intent of this peaceful protest.

The message of social and racial injustice and police brutality was efficiently changed by manipulation of the administration and media.

This war of words and strategic maneuver of the president to cause division and domination of the NFL players kneeling began on Friday, September 22nd.

Here are some numbers to give you some context to the dissent and priority this is being presented by the White House. As of Monday — 18 tweets about NFL, 6 tweets about Las Vegas tragedy, 25 about the hurricane in Puerto Rico | 4 of those were negative comments directed at the Mayor of San Juan.

I titled this blog plantation politics. That is what this looks like and feels like. It has a master and slave mentality to it. Do what we want you to do. No, not that way. No, not that way, either. Do what I say or I will manipulate consequences against you.

Do what I say or I will manipulate and encourage consequences against you. I will suggest people walk out of stadiums. I will look into getting rid of tax breaks. I will specifically target brown and black players, media announcers.

There is a quote, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” It was once believed Harriet Tubman said it, that is not true. But the words are just as powerful for all people.

fb 1The NFL has passively and quietly begun changing their ruling on the national anthem. They have succumbed to the edict being directed from a power they must perceive as either a threat or more powerful than them.

It requires them to stand for the national anthem of penalties will be issued to include being benched, suspension, financial, and forfeiture of draft choices.

70% of the NFL players are black males. The NFL is expected to reach 14 billion dollars in revenue for 2017 season. ESPN alone pays 1.9 billion a year to broadcast its games.  This is despite the drop in ratings and with viewership being down.

This agenda is driven by a grandstanding president to the right-wing base support. An unspoken, yet clearly communicated “Very fine people.” versus “Son-of-a-bitches” and continued attacks on black athletes and commentaries is reminiscent of another time in history.

The news I want to hear Sunday afternoon is that over 70% of the NFL teams dropped to their knee during the anthem. Despite the fact, their “owners” told them not to. I want to hear there were not enough players to play the damn game.

That whole teams were benched for being defiant and kneeling for their self-respect, their beliefs, and for the improved treatment of their people.

At what point do you realize you are a slave? A slave to the game, media, money, fear, power — what are you a slave to? What keeps you off your knee?

The power in numbers is there. But the power of plantation politics is still stronger. #takeaknee

 

 

 

 

My Tribe


I value the women in my life so much. They love with no limits. They are intelligent. Face challenge with courage. Their desire to grow and learn supersedes any fear of the unknown. 

Today I am thankful

  • A really wonderful day.
  • Time with a friend of many years, and I got to talk to my cousin I love so much.
  • My fall/winter comforter is on my bed. It feels divine. 

Friends are so important in our lives. I have learned the importance of taking time and nurturing my friendships with my women friends. 

No matter how much time goes by, or distance, a friendship picks up where it left off for kindred spirits. 

affectionately yours, Laura

The New Real ID is Coming

After the events of September 11, 2001, and the acts of terrorism committed against the United States, a commission was assembled to gather data and put perimeters in place to prevent an event of that magnitude from happening again.

TSA 1One of the items identified was the need for a more uniform and secure federal identification procedure and “actual” documentation. From that, the concept of “Real ID” was conceived.

The new Real ID would be required at all federal checkpoints, to include military bases and airports.

In 2005 the House of Representatives passed a bill into law the “Real ID Act.” It put into place set federal standards on all drivers licenses that would be regulated by each individual state.

This Real ID would have what is now on a drivers license. It would have the addition of a barcode for scanning and an additional security device measure to deter counterfeit or tampering. It would also display a gold star in the upper right-hand corner signifying that your identification was approved by the Transportation Security Association (TSA).

This law caused a great deal of controversy for two significant reasons. The primary one was, though this was a federal law being passed down, the sole financial responsibility for the change over of to the new Real ID system would fall to each individual state.

With the states receiving no federal subsidy or supplement, this “unfunded” federal issued mandate, the financial burden would unequivocally end up falling on the licensee to bear the burden.

The other concern was the security of the amount of personal information that would be gathered and who would have access to it. Part of the federal law requires each state to share its database with other states.

Because of this pushback, the law was tabled for two years, until 2007.

When the Real ID law was re-evaluated in 2007, perimeters were put in place for the requirements of obtaining a Real ID.

To get a Real ID, you must present documentation of a photo or non-photo identification with your full name and birth date. A valid birth certificate. A social security card. Proof of citizenship.

TSA 2As of January 1, 2017, twenty-three states are already meeting the criteria for compliance with the Real ID. Twenty-six states are not quite there, but, have secured extensions of two years with the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Five states and American Samoa are not in compliance.

Today I am thankful

  • It feels like fall. A brisk day. I need a jacket!
  • way too long list of things to do. Slow, but sure they say.
  • A Santi or Lucy day is always a good day.
  • Praying for a miracle and a sewing machine to get my scarecrow done.

The law which is to go into full effect January 2018, does not require that you replace your old license until it expires. If you do want to replace it, there will be a fee. I would imagine, if you are a frequent traveler — it would be to your benefit to do so.

You do not have to get a Real ID. You can stay with a “non-compliant” ID. However, that will mean you will have to provide other means of identification for travel such as a passport or federally approved paperwork.

Enjoy the crisp fall weather coming our way!

affectionately yours, Laura

 

A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way

A woman who inspires me, Maya Angelou, once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

kindness 2.pngI keep that quote in my journal as a reminder, that it is more important how I go about my day and treat people, than what I do with my day. And I think for all of us, it’s not just how we treat others, it is also how we treat ourselves.

Every day we make the choice of how we treat ourselves. Do we treat ourselves with kindness? How we treat ourselves, will eventually domino to how we treat others. If we constantly take care of others and not nurturing ourselves, we will become depleted and unable to care for anyone.

The kindness of self is the foundation of truly loving others. Several years ago my therapist asked me if I would ever talk to my best friend the way I self-talked to myself. I was really appalled, and I said a resounding, “No.” She challenged me on why I would berate myself in that way then. I didn’t have a good answer — then. It was a learning moment and one I have not forgotten.

It was a turning point in my life of nurturing the different areas of my being that needed love, kindness, and extra care.

With this important lesson for myself, was an enlightenment of compassion and kindness for others. It takes life lessons like that to make a change in our attitude toward others. People remember how we treat them.

Today I am thankful

  • Oh, my coffee is extra good this very early morning.
  • My concern for some of the natural disasters going on is hard to put into words. I put my faith and hope in the kindness of the world to make it alright.
  • Every day I pray and give thanks for my heartbeats, Lou, Jaz, Santi, and Lucy.

kindness 1Every day we interact with so many people. How we treat each, leaves an impression and in turn, affects how they go on with their day. It is that whole pay-it-forward attitude. I treat you with kindness, with the hope, you will treat the next person with the same kindness.

Already today think of all the people you have interacted with. The person you woke up with. Don’t forget the people in traffic. Or the people on the sidewalks. Co-workers. A little kindness goes a long way.

Most of all, do not forget to start with the person in the mirror, always treat yourself with kindness.

affectionately yours, Laura

 

 

 

And Justice For All 

The internet is filling with posts like these from Friday night football games this morning. About elementary kids, high schools kids. Someone’s child.

THIS is why people are kneeling. NOT because they are disrespecting the flag, NOT anything to do with 45. Although there is a culture that wants you to believe that.

It is ABOUT the way a race of people are regarded and treated by our nation. This peaceful protest is about social injustice and racial brutality .

The racial epithets names they are called. The brutality. The killing. And it is being re-enforced with these attitudes, these words. This is not new, sadly this is a long history in our nation I call Plantation Politics, I will be writing about it. 

I am a proud American. I love my flag. But more than that, I put my belief not in a symbol. My love and faith in my country is not a flag or a statue in a harbor. I put my belief in the words “… with liberty and justice for all.” And when I put my focus on the words — my conscience dictates I treat all people equally.

As a white woman, I can look at the flag, stand, put my hand over my heart, and sing the words to the Star Spangled Banner or say the Pledge of Allegiance and it makes sense. Those Words are true for me. 

They are not true for black and brown Americans.

affectionately yours, Laura