Category Archives: arm wresting

The Siren Song of Time…Passing

Maria Popova did it again.

In her newsletter, Brainpickings, she introduced me to a woman, a memoir and a lyrical litany of life, love and loss, all backgrounded by time.

Dani Shapiro's memoir

Dani Shapiro’s memoir.

The book is Hourglass, Time, Memory, Marriage.

Once again, an author who I did not know rolls off the page written by Popova. Once again, I am moved to tears, moved to buy the book, moved to read the wonderful insights of Dani Shapiro as she puts pen to paper to write her memoir.

This well-known author already has a string of books to her name but this time, she is writing to her heart, her soul, her life as she watches time pick up speed, whirling all of us through constellations and galaxies and hurling us back onto ourselves.

It is time that she writes of and time that fascinates me – passing, spending, making, taking, and losing time. And Shapiro speaks of time through intimate knowledge.

time passing

“Years vanish. Months collapse. Time is like a tall building made of playing cards. It seems orderly until a strong gust of wind comes along and blows the whole thing skyward. Imagine it: an entire deck of cards soaring like a flock of birds.”

In one paragraph, she captures what I learned the very hard way. The little girl I was, the one I couldn’t see or feel in my overworked, over-stuffed, over-done world was still there, patiently waiting for me to whisper, “Patty, where are you?”

“Oh, child! Somewhere inside you, your future has already unfurled…, ” writes Shapiro. “The future you’re capable of imagining is already a thing of the past. Who did you think you would grow up to become? You could never have dreamt yourself up. Sit down. Let me tell you everything that’s happened. You can stop running now. You are alive in the woman who watches you as you vanish.”

Shapiro’s memoir is arresting, engaging, intriguing. It is also a call to all of us who want to write a memoir of our lives but haven’t picked up our pens, yet.

Shapiro reminds me that nothing is too late. It’s time. Pick up a pen and write.

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How To Grow A Great Relationship

Children becoming adults

Relationships start early.

She is writing about relationships with children, her children, our children. She is author, blogger, mom and philosopher, Katrina Kenison.

She is talking about parenting, one of our toughest jobs, a job where there are no guarantees.

Kenison asked her 24 year old son for parenting advice that she could share at a public speaking engagement. That took courage because their relationship had not been an easy one. But that conversation led to her post and I am grateful that it did.

She writes, “We are a nation of distracted, multi-tasking “do’ers” and driven, insatiable consumers – of social media, of stimulation, and of stuff. We are also addicted to our phones. But we are losing the art of connecting face to face, heart to heart, in the here and now.”

That loss is felt by parents and children, alike. So, Kenison offers wonderful, practical ideas for reconnecting:

  • Be curious.
  • Ask; don’t tell.
  • Seek connection, not control.
  • Work on yourself, not your child.
  • Give your child the gift of failure.
  • Value effort over achievement, process over results.
  • Take the long view; look for progress, not perfection.
  • Offer the gift of your attention.
  • Sit with discomfort.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Ask for help.
  • Choose love over fear.
  • Seize the joy.

As she wrote about our teenagers being gone before we know it, I was suddenly so aware of the fact that our lives will be gone before we know it, too.

But Kenison offers ideas for “…hanging out” that might help everyone reconnect, like walking the dog together, folding laundry, chopping vegetables or eating a late night bowl of cereal. Playing a board game. Working on a puzzle together.

Small moments make strong relationships.

Small moments make strong relationships.

These are such small things, inexpensive things but the very things that help to weave the fabric of a relationship tighter. Shared moments matter.

As I read yet another remarkable essay from Kenison, I realized very quickly that her advice for building relationships with teenagers is some of the best advice I have ever read for building relationships – full stop.

Sometimes we are so busy looking ahead — the next birthday, the big trip, our retirement — that we miss the life of our very lives, altogether.

Put down your cell phone. Turn off the television. Disconnect from the Internet.

Take a minute today to breathe, to really listen to your husband or wife or friend. Try not to tell; today, try asking.

Step outside, feel the sun.

Step outside and breathe.

Step outside. Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, the soft wind singing through the pine boughs, the birds calling out the arrival of another Spring.

Live. Now. Before it is too late.

 

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Tell the Republican Party What You Think of Trump!

Calling anyone and everyone who opposes the current President, the Republican agenda and the destruction of the democratic government of the United States of America.

Here’s your chance. Get your courage on and tell the Republican party what you really think of what’s going on in the White House and Washington DC.

Calling all Democrats, Independents, Senators (Bernie SandersElizabeth WarrenBob Casey) Congressmen, fathers, mothers, soldiers, sisters, brothers, blacks, whites, Indians, Muslims. Come on members of MoveOn.orgIndivisiblethe Democratic Party , NAACPthe ACLU and all other activists and activist groups in America.

If you have any thoughts or feelings about the takeover of our government and ultimately our country by a group of elitist, white men, now is the time to gird up your loins and unleash your pen.

The survey covers everything from dismantling the Department of Education to the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines, to immigration, Israel and the end of the EPA.

This is a GOP survey. I think the Republican Party actually feels that we, the people, want this type of government. The survey asks questions about actions, ideas and movements that are truly an anathema to any thinking and feeling human being as though they are proud of what is going on or think it’s just what should be happening.

If I were interested in a patriarchy for my government or an autocracy or an oligarchy, then maybe the current Administration would be just what I was looking for. But I am not and it’s not. In fact, what’s going on in our government frightens me, especially the short-term plan to grab all 3 branches of government (they have 2 and are angling for the Supreme Court).

The survey takes about 20 minutes if you include comments, which I did because I found it truly easy to give them a piece of my mind. This man and his cabal MUST GO. Before bankers and businessmen seize the Judiciary and take over our country…which they are doing, folks. Right now.

I gave them my comments. And I didn’t give them a dime at the end. I fully expect someone to ring the doorbell in the next few weeks and carry me off in cuffs. I was polite but really, I told the truth. Let’s see what happens next.

Please, take a few minutes and make your voice heard. It may be the last time they ask.

 

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Fighting the Trump Agenda In Pennsylvania

Like millions of other Americans, I have been struggling for several weeks now, trying to figure out what political and human rights issues I really want to focus on, determining just what I can do to make a difference.

I’ve cruised through Meet Up, looking for a group that I wanted to join. I was looking for a group that was established and actively engaged in doing things that would have an effect, that might help gain some ground on this slippery and dangerous slope of the Republican run on our civil and legal rights. I found plenty of groups but none that seemed, from the outside, to be poised for success in this arena.

In the course of these weeks, I did join a start-up Indivisible chapter in a nearby town, an interesting experience but too young in its life to know what it is going to do and how it’s going to do it.

So, instead of looking for groups to join, I decided to study the issues, of which there are many, and find those that I really wanted to go after. I found them.

Gerrymandering

If you live in Pennsylvania, you live in one of the states where voting districts were drawn for political purposes, not to ensure that your vote counts in an election outcome.

It’s called gerrymandering. When districts are gerrymandered, politicians are picking their voters, not the other way around. Many districts are no longer competitive. A growing number of candidates run unopposed. Voters like me feel their votes don’t count and, frankly, we are NOT be represented by the likes of Toomey, Meehan and Smucker.

Fair Districts, PA is working with state senators and representatives to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and put it into the hands of an independent commission just the way the state legislature did in California in 2012.

So why join this fight? Because bipartisan legislation establishing an independent commission to draw up Pennsylvania’s congressional and state legislative district maps has been introduced in Harrisburg. But it needs our support.

Every township in the state is getting citizens to sign petitions asking local governing bodies for resolutions of support for Senate Bill 22. These resolutions will go to our state representatives as will a demand for passage.

Pennsylvania’s window of opportunity to affect redistricting is closing fast – the bill must be voted on and passed by state legislators this year and next year then be on the referendum in 2018 for voters – you and I — to pass. So redistricting is one issue I want to work on.

Re-elect US Senator Bob Casey

We have two Senators in Pennsylvania who are supposed to represent our views, our politics and our stand on issues in Washington, D.C. ONLY Bob Casey is doing that. The Republican party wants Pennsylvania because it’s a swing state. It also wants PA because Bob Casey is not following the Trump agenda and is not simply mouthing platitudes delivered by other DC politicians.

So what? The Republican party and all of its financial resources are gunning for Casey in the 2018 election.

When it comes to Cabinet nominations, the Russian interference in US government, La Donald’s attacks on programs like Affordable Care and Medicaid and executive orders affecting immigrants, Bob Casey has stood tall. Senator Casey’s statements reflect some thought and insight — they are not party platitudes. They are honest assessments of the people and policies the Republican majority would like to install in government and implement across the country.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey must be re-elected in 2018.

Toppling Toomey

Pat Toomey is the poster child for what a bad politician looks and acts like. He refuses to hold face-to face meetings with his constituents but has plenty of time to meet with donors and political advisers.

In my search for issues to tackle, I went to a Tuesdays with Toomey rally in Philadelphia and was surrounded by about 400 people holding signs, clapping and shouting in response to a line up of good speakers and terrifying issues like demolishing the EPA, destroying ACA and unleashing ICE on people least able to defend themselves.

Toomey did not meet with this group; that’s no surprise – the Senator from Pennsylvania has not been seen by his constituents for days. He held a town meeting on the phone – pre-screened questions and scripted responses, most of which were actually insulting. I know because I attended Toomey’s virtual town meeting and blogged about what a joke this exercise really was.

His so-called statements on everything from the confirmations of Jeff Sessions and Betsey DeVos to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court are either rehashed versions of the official Republican statement or verbatim quotes from La Donald. If Toomey had a brain, he parked it at the front door of the Senate Chamber 6 weeks ago and hasn’t bothered to check to see if it’s still there.

 

Toomey has to go.

My Action Plan

As disappointed as I was with the DNC,I am becoming active in the local Democratic party. It has the established infrastructure and contacts to hit the ground running and help effect change.

I am going to start working to ensure redistricting is taken out of the hands of Harrisburg politicians, gerrymandering comes to an end, Senator Bob Casey gets re-elected and, Pat Toomey is ousted from the Senate…in priority order! If we don’t get our government back at a state level and rip out the Republican cartel, we will continue to lose elections and lose ground. PA is a swing state folks. This is important!

Mr. Trump, you are not going to divide us up by gender, by race, by who we love. Your bigotry is bringing us together in a progressive movement. We are not going to retreat on women’s rights, immigration rights, workers’ rights, health care rights, racial justice or climate change.

And guess what La Donald? If we work together, we shall overcome!

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After the Inauguration: Joining the Battle for America

Great sorrow and great joy are doing battle in my heart this morning. It is like being on the edge of a razor blade, trying to decide how to move forward in a world that now has Donald Trump masquerading as president of the United States.

Like millions of other good, hardworking Americans, I am afraid this morning but I am also hopeful thanks to Katrina Kenison’s post inaugural post.

As I read Kenison’s words , my sorrow started to lift. As I read the comments others shared, my fear abated a bit. This is my world. These are my kindred spirits. In my heart, I know we can do this.

Each and every one of us can take the next step out of our comfortable lives and begin to sing the glorious song of love and inclusion and hope that built this country – the song that will become a roar if all of us join in.

I am grateful, this morning, for Kenison’s insight. I am grateful for Kenison’s inclusion of Clarissa Pinkas Estes’ writings. Both are warm blankets on a cold morning. I await her ideas for taking the next steps and will be generating some of my own.

I will not be diminished by the coming battle; I will not be a bystander in the face of hate, injustice and greed.

Come on America, the America I live in and I believe in. Join in. Let’s start, “…mending the world.” We can do this.

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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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