Why? An Answer For Me

Most of my life has been lived outside the mainstream.

As a kid and a young adult, I always felt my difference as pain, as loneliness. And I wished that I could be like everyone else, that I could be popular that I could somehow transform from the short, pudgy, smart girl I was to the cheerleader or the prom queen.

I wanted to be on the inside, invited to parties, going on dates, gossiping, laughing at the oddballs and outsiders. I never made it – not in high school, not while working my way through college at Walt Disney World, not in graduate school and not in my long, rich career.

For years, decades actually, ranging across the 45+ years of my peripatetic career, I longed to be part of the crowd that always seemed to be having such a rollicking good time, drinking, laughing, talking, sleeping around, no cares, no worries, no anxiety.

For years, my various bosses, Division VPs and Line of Business Presidents in corporations and GMs and News Directors at television stations and up and down the East coast told me I didn’t fit. I was an oddball, a weirdo, not quite one of them. They constantly cajoled, ridiculed, and bullied me about my “misanthropic view” of my co-workers.

They also used me to, “…get the job done.”

Anywhere there was a problem, striking workers, poor business performance, failing systems, failing management — it didn’t matter what was going wrong – universally they sent “…Pat. She’ll figure it out, fix it, clean it up.”

And I did. And they paid me handsomely.

Why was I successful when no one else was? I was on the outside.

I didn’t care…about people, about feelings, about belonging. I found the problem, cleared the trash out, fixed the system or the management and moved on. I was not just disliked; I was hated. If I showed up at a unit, everyone knew I had the highest level of backing. Everyone knew someone was going to be fired.

When people actually had the courage to tell me they didn’t like me, my standard response was, “You don’t have to like me; we’re not sleeping together. You have to figure out how to work with me. So get on with it.”

Why? Was I stronger than the rest? Better? Braver?

I always wondered why I was able to carry my loneliness on my shoulders year after year, why kept doing the dirty job of cleaning up behind the elephants.

Sunday morning, November 27th, 2016, in response to a simple question from my husband, I knew why. I hung the laundry out that morning, before the sun came up. Yes, it was cold out — freezing, actually.

When he asked why, my short, simple answer was, “It was the right thing to do.” Not the easiest, not the least painful, not the fastest but the right thing.

Something shifted every so slightly the moment those words slipped out of my mouth and into the cold, clear air of dawn. I knew why I didn’t open the door, go inside with the everyone else, give up a bit of myself to be one of them.

It was the right thing to do.

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Trump Signals the End of Our Democracy

My brother, Bob, used to talk about the impending end of our democracy. I am glad that Bob did not live to see it.

The end has arrived. It is embodied in the man recently elected – not by popular vote but by the Electoral College – to the highest position in this country. the President of the United States.

If you don’t believe me, please read American Has Never Been More Ripe for Tyranny.

This is not Facebook hype or Twitter trash. This is article is well-thought out; it is insightful and it is terrifying. Written in May of this year, 2016, before the primaries, before the conventions, before the debates, its author predicts what was going to happen.

It has happened.

Andrew Sullivan builds his case meticulously, without rhetoric, without “sound and fury” but brick by brick.  Sullivan quotes the work of another author, Sinclair Lewis. Perhaps you read his novels in high school. But most of us never read or even heard of It Can’t Happen Here – Lewis’ 1935 novel about what would happen if fascism…were to triumph in America.

Lewis imagined American fascist leader is Senator called Buzz Windrip —  a “Professional Common Man …who was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his ‘ideas’ almost idiotic.”

The description sounds familiar but Windrip was fiction written more than 80 years ago. Unfortunately, Sinclair Lewis’ writing, like Sullivan’s, was predictive, as well.

Read the article. It will scare you but it will also help you understand how we come to have Donald Trump as the President Elect of the United States of America. If you don’t want to read the entire article, read the final paragraph. It pretty much says it all for me:

“…Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.”

We are witnessing the end of democracy in America. I, for one, will be glad to leave this world before it gets as bad as I think it will.

 

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10 Ideas for Living a Good Life in Bad Times

Face it. We live in a very uncomfortable time with some very uncomfortable realities.

Donald Trump is actually a viable candidate for President. The alternative, Hillary Clinton, is no better than La Donald, just a different shape and different background. On November 8th, 2016, the American public gets to choose between a male bully with megalomania and  no morals or a female cobra with ever-changing ethics and situational morals.

Can you say Hobson’s choice?

Whoever wins this election, these United States are in for a rough ride, facing international sanctions and national crises — all of our own making and all born of greed and the overweening desire for power and control.

I can’t change any of this. All I can do is live my small life. You can’t change any of this either. So, this morning, I offer a way for you and I and anyone else who is tired of the trash talk, afraid of the looming future and worried about their loved ones, some insights from  one of my very favorite intellectuals, writers, and muses.

Maria Popova offers 10 core values which, she has gleaned over the 10 years of writing her amazing blog – Brain Pickings

My Sunday mornings are spent with a cup of coffee and her newsletter – my break, my solitude, my weekly dose of philosophy, culture, insight, learning and being.

I offer Popova as an antidote to the idiocy we see all around us. I offer her as peace in a world fraught with panic. I hope she brings you the same joy that she brings me.

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A Fundamental Life

I spent most of yesterday at a funeral in Philadelphia.

It was an Italian funeral which started with 3 hours in church, the viewing, the mass, Communion, the recessional. Then the burial in a small graveyard right behind the church. The afternoon blended into evening, ending with a catered 6 course dinner.

Leila was 90 when she died. She lived her entire life in a small Italian neighborhood in Philadelphia. Loved and loving, she was surrounded by sons, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends — in life and in death.

As I witnessed this gentle good-bye, I realized that Leila lived and died exactly the way I want to. She lived what I call a fundamental life. That’s not to say she denied herself any of the usual pleasures, a good meal, good wine, books, friends, community but she didn’t need all the “stuff” many people think they need today to feel happy.

Leila didn’t have the latest iPhone. She didn’t want or need high-speed internet, satellite television, Sirius radio or GPS. No constant noise, no endless entertainment, no need to shop for new clothes or new shoes or new anything, Leila already had everything she needed to be happy.

She cooked her own food. she cleaned her own house, washed her own clothes and walked, everywhere. And her house was beautiful. Always welcoming and always filled with friends or family or both, it wasn’t a decorator’s show home. Her furniture was not new; her dishes and silverware didn’t always match and sometimes we drank wine from Mason jars.

But Leila’s house, her home, was always filled with the aroma of homemade Italian or German food, quiet conversation, and laughter. Her door was always open and her smile was ready. This was a place where everyone felt at home.

I only met her a few times but each time I was struck by her joy, her kindness, the light in her eyes and the smile that lit up her face. I felt lucky to have spent some time with her. Those who spent their lifetimes in her presence must have felt truly blessed.

Leila left us this week but she left behind the sure knowledge that we don’t need “stuff” to fill up our lives; we need each other. We need simple acts of kindness. We need time alone, time with nature, time with those we love. We need to clear the clutter, stop the noise and come home, to ourselves and to our families.

We need to live more fundamental lives.

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DON’T BUY Gilmour Soaker Hose

TWO UPDATES:

Update 1: THANKS again to Kate R for this recommendation for a soaker hose that is NOT TOXIC! It’s also made right here in the USA. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive but read the description – it’s non toxic: lead- phthalate and bpa-free and is made of FDA grade non-leaching polyurethane.

Update 2: Gilmour manufacturer, Fiskar’s, responded immediately to my email to let me know that, “For the few products of ours that still carry this label, the culprit is lead substrate.  This means there are trace amounts of lead embedded in your product.”

While it’s not BPA or phthalate, lead is still not something I want to stream into my garden.

Original Post: It is with my sincere apologies that I share this information:

Gilmour Soaker hoses contain “…one or more chemicals that are known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects.”

I have had my soaker hoses for years and simply had no idea that the products used to create these soaker hoses contain chemicals that are dangerous like lead, BPA and phthalates.

If you want to know what hoses to buy, which ones are safe and which ones are not, please go to Eartheasy, one of my favorite resources, and read their article on healthy hoses.

THANKS again to Kate R for this recommendation for a soaker hose that is NOT TOXIC! It’s also made right here in the USA. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive but read the description – it’s non toxic: lead- phthalate and bpa-free and is made of FDA grade non-leaching polyurethane.

If you are really concerned about your health and you garden, this is the soaker hose to use. I am replacing my Gilmour hoses now so I can be ready for spring.

Please accept my sincere apologies for endorsing a product that is anything but healthy.

SPECIAL THANKS to Kate R for letting me know about the dangers of Gilmour soaker hoses…and all other hoses.

 

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To all of us who don’t ride as much as we “should”

When I turned 50, something in my brain changed. I stopped caring what anyone else but me thought. I decided that “should” was a word I didn’t want to say or use again.

Riding Buzz on a fall morning.

Buzz and I enjoying a moment.

 

My horse Buzz

Buzz and I talk.

And I decided that where and how I get my pleasure with my horse was up to me.

In the saddle, on the ground, just hugging his neck, picking his hooves, wiping his eyes and nose and talking, yes always, talking to him.

This beautiful bit of writing from Katy captures, precisely, how I felt and feel about horses.

I lost Buzz on May 20th of this year. Don’t wait. Don’t waste time on what you “should” do. Enjoy your horse or horses any way you want to. This moment really is all we have.

Katy Had a Little Farm

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.-Winston Churchill

My friends say it a lot: we don’t ride as much as we should.  Our horses are pets, farm ornaments, and fertilizer machines.  It is a common theme for those of us still clinging to our equestrian identities.  If you are in a stage where you can live your productive, horsey life, that is awesome and I’m so happy for you.  I’m living the endurance and dressage circuits vicariously through my friends who are back in the horse world.  I’m telling myself I’ll be back on the trails with my people someday.  

So many of us let the rest of our lives get in the way.  The job, the kids, the fact that it will really hurt if we hit the ground in these adult bodies…

I was an awkward…

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Non-Violent Protests Work

The next time you are feeling helpless in the face of crooked elections and even more crooked politicians, think about employing some non-violent actions to start making the change you want.

The next time you are angry at mega corporations like Monsanto for polluting the food chain and our drinking water, but don’t think you can make a difference, think about boycotting the business.

Those are just 2 of the ways you can make a difference. One of the TED Talk presenters in this week’s newsletter offers 196 other ways to force change where it’s needed.

Those of you who know me, know I love TED Talks for all kinds of reasons. Here’s another one I love. Jamila Raqib , Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution, focuses on how non-violent protests have worked, around the world, and how they might just work for you….for us.

Raqib calls this movement a type of non-violent arms race.  She shares a document created by her mentor, Gene Sharp, that lists 198 methods of non-violent protest. Raqib also points out that a unified strategy helps boycotts to win the fight.

My biggest concern this Father’s Day morning is how to stop big money and big power from stealing the election out of the hands of the very people who really are supposed to be the ones who elect people to office.

Donald Trump may just implode on his own or be helped out the door by his fellow Republicans. It’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton and her mega-donors will as she represents many of the largest donors of political history.

Also, Clinton wants to win at any cost and has proven that by using bully tactics and what, in any other context would be considered bribery, to keep trying to silence those of us who support Bernie Sanders.

Unless we, the people, unite and engage in a unified, strategic and non-violent fight, we will watch Bernie Sanders, his ideals, his ethics and his desire to help his country be washed away in a tidal wave of political maneuvering and back room brokering.

Here’s hoping that Bernie Sander’s team is planning some non-violent protests at the nominating convention in Philadelphia. Let’s join in and make a difference.

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