Life imitating art… if NPR is considered art (which I think it is)

I came across an interesting piece today. Actually, it was completely uninteresting to me since it is merely a reflection of my daily life.

 

Apparently NPR has apologized to this 4-yr-old little girl for covering the presidential election so much that it made her cry. Sweet. It was nice of them to make nice with a viral video sensation. But honestly, 4-yr-old’s cry about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

They are the mini embodiment’s of Goldilocks. Everything is too hot, too cold. Too loud, too soft. Too much attention, not enough attention.  If I apologized every time my 4-yr-old was unhappy with the world around her, the only words I would ever get a chance to say would be “I’m sorry.”

So I read the apology that NPR issues. It’s basically an apology for being who they are.

On behalf of NPR and all other news outlets, we apologize to Abigael and all the many others who probably feel like her. We must confess, the campaign’s gone on long enough for us, too. Let’s just keep telling ourselves: “Only a few more days, only a few more days, only a few more days.”

Really, NPR? Doesn’t anyone in your office have a 4-yr-old?

I look at NPR as the parent of the reporting world, offering content that is thought provoking, and at times moving, with a dose of kind admonishment of our sometimes misguided ways. All things considered, your apology was not only unnecessary, but a little annoying to this mom of a 4-yr-old. The presidential election is the talk of the nation, and I want to hear your reporting on it.  In fact, I want you to tell me more. In fact, I find your programming a breath of fresh air from the constant complaining in my car otherwise.

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Letting go is often kinder than holding on.

We are putting our beloved 12-yr-old dog down tomorrow. It’s hard to think about, and weird to type the words. He is old, and tired. His back legs no longer carry his weight, and the sight of them dragging behind his 50-pound frame has reached the point of pain, both for him and me.

Deciding to help move him through his last phase of life with the gift of sweet eternal sleep has been difficult, but it has come down to two things:

  1. Does he wake up every day happy to be alive?
  2. Does he go to sleep at night having enjoyed the day?

In the morning, he no longer rises happily to greet the day, or more importantly his food bowl. He looks at me wondering why he has to move so far to get so little.

In the evening he is asleep on his bed, having only moved to eat and the occasional request for love at the end of my day. I relish the evenings when he shifts over for a love scratch. I can’t imagine the other 12 hours of his day have been anything but pain and boredom. His once exuberant life has been reduced to existence without joy.

So, tomorrow I will say goodbye.

He has taught me an incredible amount about unconditional love, and anyone who knew him when he first arrived will remember the anxious barking, escape attempts, broken windows, and chewed everythings. We went through training, medication, all the way through to a second dog, that we have aptly nicknamed Prozac. Eventually we found a solution; and a lesson in tenacity.

He also taught us about overcoming stereotypes. As a 60-pound pitbull mix, he desired to be the lick ambassador of his half breed. He melted hearts, and quelled the fears of first impressions.

And now he gives the final lesson.

I know in my heart that letting him go is kinder than holding him here.

Remember to Forget

September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. It’s also the month that We Remember the events of 9/11.

For those of us old enough to have experienced the events of that morning, we still remember where we were, the frantic calls we made, and the terror as we watched, helpless. We all have a unique story from that morning, but for a brief period of time, Americans were connected by the horrific events of watching the Twin Towers crumble and planes crashing. We shared days and weeks of uncertainty and fear, not knowing if this was the beginning or the end.  We were kinder and more forgiving of one another in the first hours, giving way to collective anger and need for retribution as we entered a war. We began to unravel in the subsequent years, pointing fingers and laying blame. Today we are divided about events, how they happened, and how we should have responded. The aftermath in America still rages around us as we continue the “War on Terror” and fight for health benefits for first responders.

Like Alzheimer’s destroying parts of the brain, the farther we get from 9/11, the memories of that moment in time when Americans felt united, connected to people simply through nationality, begin to disappear. The people who experienced 9/11 first-hand will slowly give way to new generations, and 9/11 will become merely a fact of historical importance.

Today, as We Remember 9/11 and try to rekindle that feeling of connection to one another that was so strong that morning, we are faced with the reality of faded memories and the blur of larger context.  We start to realize that, as a nation, we are already forgetting.

Don’t should on yourself.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I really should have done my laundry yesterday, but I didn’t. I also should have gotten my MBA, eaten healthier in the last few weeks, and put the kiddie pool away before it left a big, brown circle on my lawn.

I should have done a lot of things in the past 20+ years, but I didn’t. I also have a lot of regrets and guilt, the results of a lifetime of “should haves”.

What is it with this word “should” that makes us all so miserable?

If the word “should” did not exist, I would have a lifetime of things that I did and did not do. And things I wouldn’t and couldn’t have done. What’s the difference? The word “should” implies that I have all the wisdom of today when I made the decision. It also implies that an alternate decision was better.

Let’s take the fact that I did not get my MBA. I did not get my MBA directly after my undergraduate degree, when I feel I “should” have done it. Instead, I got a job where I met most of the friends I still have today. I met my future husband, who has given me two unbelievable, if not high-spirited, children. I also had some incredible experiences that are now my favorite memories. So, really, it’s not that I should have gotten my MBA. I didn’t. Why would I wish for something different now? If I want my MBA, I can still get it.

What about the bigger “should haves”?  I should have spent more time with my dad before he got sick. The fact is, I didn’t spend more time with my dad because I was an adolescent that wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the stories and wisdom that I might have gained had I spent the time. I wasn’t ready, and that’s OK.

We are a product of the people, opportunities and decisions of our past.  They leave small imprints of expectation, and we call on them to help guide us through today and into tomorrow. From an outside, unbiased perspective, this would seem like a good thing. But we humans, unfortunately, are wired to internalize, rate, and shame ourselves into believing that we should have done things better.

Don’t wait for a life-altering event to make peace with your past.

Don’t should on yourself.

Note: The phrase “Don’t should on yourself” was told to me by a very wise woman, who attributed it to another. I only wish I could be so smart to think of it myself.

I’m sorry, I don’t speak chimp.

NikkoNoEvil4902

NikkoNoEvil4902 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever found yourself in a “discussion”, only to realize halfway into it that the other person is standing on the pulpit, and this is a one-way conversation?  If you have been out anywhere socially in the last year, or have a Facebook account, I’m going to wager that the answer is “yes”. It’s an epidemic. And my use of the term pulpit is not to imply that these discussions are exclusively religious in nature, but they are included.

What is going on? The 2012 presidential campaign has “descended into trench warfare”, attacks on mosques are a security concern, and a gay night club is attacked with fire projectiles.  And that’s just headlines from today.

It appears that we no longer have the capacity to see each other as worthy of a discussion. We resort to dismissive, hurtful, and even violent behavior all in the name of “being right.”

“…when we discriminate, prejudge, and/or take advantage of others for personal gain, we view and treat others as sub-human, and in doing so justify our behavior, for we value our own hopes, dreams, and aspirations as more important – or more human – than those of others.”

via Sub-Human: A Justification of Exploitation – Brian E. Konkol | Gods Politics Blog | Sojourners.

We have to be “so right” that we diminish another person’s existence to something akin to highly evolved chimps.

Where is this state of opinion coming from? How do we change this wave of perception that we are better than others, we are more right, and ultimately more important?  How can we reconnect our society, and make all members worthy of respect? 

How do we find our way back to discussion?

I think Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, has some insight in her speech The Power of Vulnerability on TEDTalks. I encourage you to watch it.

Kindergartners would save the world, if we let them.

English: Beef

English: Beef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are thousands of books on parenting and discipline, with techniques and tricks that range from time-outs to logical conversation. The ultimate goal remains the same. To teach our toddling dictators that the world is not theirs to plummet, toys are not rights but privileges, and we don’t bite our friends.  We spend a lot of time training toddlers that by the time they reach kindergarten they have the social and emotional skills required to function in school society.

I’m not sure what happens in the next 18 or so years, but apparently it isn’t good.

I listened to a report on NPR today that reported the solution to global warming is as simple as eating less meat. Apparently Americans consume an average of 200lbs of meat every year and that every aspect of meat production is an environmental disaster.  It made me wonder what it would take to get people to eat less meat. I quickly came to realization that there is not much we can do.  I picture a big man at a grill decrying the plea to eat less meat because, well, he likes it and he’s going to eat it. A lot of it.

If I tell a kindergartner that the meat in his lunch box is hurting the plants and the trees, he’ll most likely put it down.  If I tell him that meat is killing our world, he will probably cry and never eat meat again. He has been taught not to hurt his friends and, in his beautiful mind, the plants and trees are friends.  He has learned his lessons well and most assuredly ready to graduate to first grade.  Sadly, this young boy will probably grow up to be a grilling man, just like his dad. And eat meat. Lots of it.

What will it take to get people to eat less meat? A government nanny?

Maybe just a kindergartner in office.

Because we are all just children.

via German Federal Archive

In grade school, I had a teacher that would start to whisper if the class got too loud. A simple, yet effective tactic, since we all quieted down to figure out what the crazy lady was saying. And she was a little crazy, she was a nun.

I was reminded of this experience while checking Facebook and saw another impassioned, yet reckless, post about a polarizing political issue, demanding allegiance or face a de-friending.  Whether or not I agreed is beside the point, it hit me like a battle cry. Take up arms with me, or be my enemy!

When did we all get so worked up about everything, particularly political agendas? We have become a world of squeaky wheels, to the point that all we can hear is the roar of opinion. This land needs some oil – STAT.

I’m fine if you have an opinion that differs from mine. I will feel superior to you, but you feel the same about me, so it’s a wash. But what I am not going to do is run around screaming at the top of my lungs, “You are either WITH me or AGAINST me! Your choice!” Really, is that a choice? I DISAGREE with you, but I am not going to shoot you.

Stop taking aim people, it’s counterproductive. Quiet down for a minute, use your inside voice, and just tell me what you want and why. If you whine and scream at me, I’m just going to put you in time-out until you can calm yourself. Or hide you on my news stream on Facebook. If you want to talk about it, I will listen, but I will make up my own mind at the end of the day.

I’m switching to my whisper voice now.

Please stop acting like little children, and let’s have an adult conversation.

Thanks.

 

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