Finding peace in the tumult

Each day, I encounter people who are uncomfortable with the political situation here. Quite often, it’s a student who is trying to understand the milieu of social media and journalistic posts. Sometimes it’s a stranger I encounter while waiting somewhere. Then there’s my immediate family, two of whom are budding Yao aunt ladies trying to make sense of their world. I have no crystal ball and all I offer is the insights I glean from my own trusted news sources, mostly industry briefings and a variety of other professional sources.

I share the discomfort that many people feel. I think that we have a leader who behaves in a way that draws attention in order to distract us from what he’s really doing.  I think that our country, already treated somewhat skeptic in some places around the world, has lost some of the credibility we had. We have become the fodder for jokes directed at the action of the country’s administration. In one short month, we have become a country of protestors who feel a need to protect our rights, the dignity and protections for the weak and needy, and a people who are deeply suspicious of our government. If the President wanted us to be great again, then he has succeeded by virtue of the sheer number of people, including me, who have shaken off our complacency about national governance and world politics.

The problem I sense, at least in my tiny corner of the world, is the yearning for peace. So tonight, I am listening to the sleepy noises of my family, the nighttime activity of the cat, and the whistle of the evening freight train. In these simple things, nothing in my world has changed. All is well, and my little corner is peaceful. 

For now, that’s the only tangible solace.

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Posted by on 02/22/2017 in Motivation


Seeds of Compassion

I have that awful virus that’s making the rounds in my area. Starts as a headache, progresses through cold symptoms, and ends in light-headedness and nausea. Sounds like fun, right?

To me, it seems like the seeds of compassion. 

I think this world is a never-ending process of softening and rounding our rough edges, of breaking and reforming us until we learn to love. Not that romantic love– that’s the easy type. Not the friend love, either. I’m talking about the hard stuff: The love that comes from suffering through poor choices, illness, and injury. From soul-crushing defeats and horrible bosses. From losing everything, regaining it, and losing it all again.

That’s the love that we need to learn. It’s the heart of all other types of love. I envision it as a sort of kintsugi, a Japanese art form in which broken pottery is repaired using gold-infused lacquer. It makes the pottery beautiful where it was once broken. It also makes the pottery stronger.

Each injury, illness, setback, or otherwise awful thing that happens to us leads to another opportunity to be repaired into something more beautiful and stronger than it was previously. At the end of our lives, being perfect and in the same pristine condition in which we were born is a sign of life unlined. Although I despise being ill (permanently so, in my case), I try to remember that each broken part makes me more lovely. It also gives me a chance to learn more compassion for those in my world. This compassio, if nurtured and allowed to grow, becomes love.

Love is what it’s all about, right?

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Posted by on 02/09/2017 in Insight


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Silence…or else what?

I received criticism (albeit second hand) that I may be leaning a bit liberal in my political thought. I resent that type of criticism because it smacks of the bullying used to gain silence. What really irritated me is that it was the one in-law who has a record of bullying, narcissism, and downright abusive behavior.

My political views are born of my upbringing, living in several parts of the country, receiving multiple academic degrees, and working with the disregarded and overlooked in our country and around the world. I have found a genuine passion for teaching those regarded as unteachable by lesser teachers. I greatly enjoy connecting those in need in my community with the resources to make their lives more livable.

On the other hand, I have witnessed firsthand corporate greed in large and small companies. I have worked in the justice system and have spent time talking with a great many convicted criminals who simply need someone to listen. I also completely understand the need for oversight of governmental legislation and removing the unnecessary parts of certain laws, parts that do not provide the benefits that were intended by the parties who originally drafted the law.

At the end of it all, I believe in kindness, compassion, and caring for those facing insecurity in their basic needs. I also believe in corporate and governmental oversight. I have both a conscience and the education to not trust without verification.

For anyone who wishes to criticize me, walk a mile in my shoes– I dare you. Last I checked, I still live in a free country and I am well over 21 years of age.


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Posted by on 01/23/2017 in Motivation


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Call me crazy

I looked out my window yesterday and noticed that the snow was mostly gone. The weather had been around 40 degrees for a couple of days, so the inevitable thaw occurred. It was at that point that I realized that I really don’t like seeing green grass in January. Cal me crazy but I truly like the snow, although my arthritic joints don’t always agree.

As I was mulling over the disappointment of seeing the grass, I thought about a statement I heard at a community event held during the past weekend. It was a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., and my children were presenting their artwork for the event. The statement was in regards to our impending inauguration here in the U.S.: “One day we will wake up and the Trump nightmare will be over.” In hearing that statement and the applause that followed, I realized that I am not the only one who is incredibly anxious about this particular President. The statement helped me to find hope with the simple reminder that this President will not be in office forever.

I’ve been cherishing that tiny reminder of hope like I would a candle that is struggling to remain lit. I’ve been giving it my positive energy and finding ways to kindle that hope in the lives of the people I meet, especially my students. I have lived through some bad Presidents in my life, although the awful ones were in power before I really could remember anything.Somehow, though, we have always recovered and have generally become stronger than we were before.

That tiny flicker of hope has spread to other parts of my life, such as my eternal battle with weight, my RA, and the extraordinarily long case of what my mother called “myfunzalow” disease (if you say it aloud, it makes sense– think of money).

  • My weight will likely never be what I hope it could be, but it is the best it can be each day because f the choices I make. My family loves me no matter what shape my body takes. The belly is a living badge that I bore two beautiful children.
  • The RA comes and goes. Some days I feel good enough to take on the world, and other days I can barely drag myself from task to task. However, each day I get to wake up next to my best friend, generally with the kitty patrol telling me that it’s time to get moving.
  • The myfunzalow disease is abating, albeit slowly, for the first time in about 16 years. My husband is finally — finally!– reaping measurable success with his business and we have active contracts. I think the greatest joy in this is watching my husband finally being rewarded for his skills. He is joyful in his work, and because he did not compromise and just take “any” job to pay the bills, he is now building his business the way he wants it built. It complements our family dynamic, and I take great pleasure in sending invoices to his customers. That he is happy and fulfilled professionally is probably what gives me the most hope of all.

The biggest takeaway from this renewed hope is that no matter how disappointing a situation is or how bleak the future seems, a tiny spark of hope can be found if you search hard enough. If you haven’t found it yet, keep searching.

By the way, it snowed last night. The ground and trees are covered in their January mantle of white.


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Posted by on 01/18/2017 in Insight, Motivation


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Random Observations from the Last Year

Instead of groaning over the events of the last year, I thought that a better way to celebrate this last day of the would be to squeeze any last drops of learning out of this rotation around the sun. So here goes, in no particular order:


  1. The person who seems to be criticizing you the most is not always the source. In fact, they may be a messenger who resents the source for having to deliver said criticism. Any negativity from the messenger should be dismissed since it is not meant for you.
  2. The saying “You can’t go home again” doesn’t always mean that your home has literally changed. You have changed, and what was once your home can not be precisely as you recall– and that’s alright.
  3. We may judge other people as being short sighted and stupid. Guess what? They think the same about us.
  4. Your children depend on you for defense and support on every single level. Especially if that support means forcibly removing a toxic person and being vilified by said person in the process.
  5. The look of relief you receive when you have give someone exactly the item they most needed at precisely the right time greatly exceeds any cost.
  6. A safe, secure, and peaceful home in the country beats life in any popular city.
  7. Nothing is ever perfect, but it is beautiful in its imperfection.
  8. Relaxation is a skill that must be learned and practiced regularly.
  9. Cat purrs, dog licks, and laughing children are better medicine than many manufactured chemicals.
  10. You know those snow-covered wintry scenes on holiday cards? They don’t capture half of the joy of living in them.

I hope that the new year brings you the desires of your heart. Be safe!

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Posted by on 12/31/2016 in Growth, Insight


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Post house cleaning fallout

So the in-laws departed for their home, several states away, this morning (2 days earlier than they had planned). My darling husband volunteered to go to their hotel to say farewell, which I expected. However, as he crawled into bed last night, he all but begged me to bring the girls and accompany him. The moment I heard that I knew that he was anticipating abuse from his mother and that his only defense was to have us with him. I explained this to the girls, and we all went together this morning. The girls held it together and the standard protocol of “no one is left alone with either of his parents” was strictly followed. The in-laws have a penchant for long goodbyes, so we tolerated as much as we could. I finally pled an end to the visit, claiming pain from the knee injury I’m enduring currently (which wasn’t far from true).

I think the hardest part was watching the fallout.

  • My husband talked to me about how none of the situation was his fault (true), yet he always feels crappy when his mom acts this way. That hurts to hear him admit because it’s the first time in our life together–nearly two decades– that he’s said those words. I reminded him that none of it was his fault. He spent much of the day napping or playing computer games, and that was a good remedy.
  • My older girl spent a very long time outside kicking her soccer ball around, which is her stress relief. When inside, she spent very little time talking with anyone, just self-isolating to soothe her nerves. I did get a couple of genuine smiles, though.
  • My younger one also napped and self-isolated a bit. She snuggled with me for a bit at a couple different points during the day.
  • I buried myself in work, online holiday shopping, and anything else I could do that didn’t involve much movement since I’m off my feet for now. Anything to keep me busy, but calm and focused for everyone else’s needs.

For us, as close as we four are, the silence spoke volumes about our individual distress. But it’s over. Tomorrow is church and then a much-needed antidote of our favorite friends coming over for board games and general relaxation–and turkey pot pie from the Thanksgiving leftovers. Knowing they will be here gave us all something fun to anticipate, and that’s possibly the best medicine right now.

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Posted by on 11/26/2016 in Growth, Insight


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Cleaning House

I just asked my mother-in-law to leave my house and not come back. I will probably go to hell, at least in her eyes. Since she already hates me (her words, not mine) and has told me that she is kicking me out of the family (again, her words), I’m not sweating this one too much. I think she had it coming, and I believe my husband agrees.

After showing up four days early for their visit (!!) and managing to thoroughly upset my daughters over the last few days, I had reached my “had it” point. The in-laws spent money like water, mostly on the children, and I can only guess that it’s to make them feel magnanimous. I have thanked them to their faces and on social media, and have made sure that the girls have said thank yous when appropriate. The gifts were needed and beyond our ability to purchase.

There’s a big “but” hanging out there, right?

I don’t believe that buying people things gives anyone the right to be insulting. My girls have both gotten mad at my mother-in-law for insulting me and for being mean to them. She berates them with a “you should respect your elders.” As for me, I have told the girls that I support them completely and that they don’t need to stand up for me. I can do that on my own. Truth be told, I think the girls are pretty awesome for standing up for me, knowing that they will be yelled at by her for doing so.

The final straw came when my daughter, who has a diagnosed learning disability, was learning how to play a game and asked me to explain it in a quiet setting. This child has the processing speed that makes 99% of people process faster than her. To put it simply, where most of us can process a figurative pitcher full of information at a time, she can handle only a small straw full. I was explaining the game to her on her terms and she was really understanding it, but the mother-in-law kept interrupting. Like I would do with any student with low processing speed, I asked for quiet so I could finish teaching my child how to play the game. That’s when all hell broke loose.

Rather than recounting each sordid detail, suffice it to say that the mother-in-law got mad for being shushed and starting yelling at me. The girls rushed to my defense and I invited her to leave permanently. She will need to apologize before I allow her back in my home or around my girls. Since she doesn’t know how to apologize, I guess that’s that.

I’m sorry, but only because it makes my husband’s relationship with his parents more difficult. I now have to make sure my girls feel safe in their home again, which is a very difficult task.


Posted by on 11/25/2016 in Growth, Insight


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