Of all the hazards we face in this area of the country, the hazard I personally fear the most is a tornado. There are number of reasons why this hazard is at the the top of my list, but the primary reason is that a tornado can pick up and toss around houses, cars, and livestock like toys and propel items through the air with a power that can drive shredded metal or wood right through a person’s body. That is enough for me. Tornadoes are frightening and tremendously dangerous.
The tornado outbreaks of this past Sunday and Monday were relentless. The photos and video footage coming out of Moore, Oklahoma have been heartbreaking. Many folks were injured, a number of souls were lost, and a large portion of the town was decimated. It is hard to see that level of devastation without feeling sick to your stomach. When I see scenes like that I realize that but for the grace of God that could be our community.
Tonight I pray for those who lost loved ones, those who have been injured, and those who will have to rebuild their lives from the rubble. And I know I am not alone in my prayers - many are sending their prayers to Oklahoma. Many hearts ache for those who are suffering.
Let us all take a moment this evening to look at the friends and family in our lives and be thankful for the time we have had with them. We never know when that time will be up. Disasters happen all the time and people perish in them. Yesterday, it was Moore, Oklahoma, tomorrow it could be another community. Take the time to prepare yourself and your family for the hazards that could affect your area – do what you can now to help hedge your bets for survival (see ready.gov). Because let’s face it – when it comes to disasters it is not a question of “if”, but is instead a question of “when”.
Day one thousand four hundred and thirteen of the new forty – obla di obla da
My thanks go out to my fellow fierce girl Donna Wood for introducing me to a fabulous site called A Mighty Girl. A Mighty Girl bills itself as the world’s largest collection of books and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls. When I visited the site I saw a breeding ground for fierce girls – girls that define their own parameters based on what they want, not based on what society says they should be based on gender stereotypes.
A Mighty Girl is also on Facebook and is a great site for both young women and young men to visit. This is a resource that supports the development and maintenance of a healthy self-vision, self-esteem, and sense of self-empowerment. In this day and age where kids are inundated with continuous input from all directions, critiques and gratuitous likes from around the world via social media, and friends that are often growing up at warp speed some sensibilities and grounding are being lost. I know as a parent my inclination is to go back to an old school model – a model that did not include social media and technology. But let’s face it, that is not realistic in a world where the medium for communication has changed so dramatically. It has become clear to me as of late that the smarter move is to teach responsible use and balance, combined with a strong sense of self and a sturdy moral compass.
A Mighty Girl is yet another resource available to parents and kids in their navigation of a changing world – a world where gender is not the sole indicator of mightiness. In my mind, we could all do with being a little bit more mighty. This is especially true when you view the framing of “mighty” as moral strength, indomitable spirit, and a can-do attitude. The world is what we make of it and a little bit of mighty can go a long way…be mighty.
Day one thousand four hundred and twelve of the new forty – obla di obla da
A common concept in business is the value of goodwill as a buffer for those moments when things go a bit south. The accrued goodwill of the business acts as a buoy that keeps the business afloat. Goodwill is typically built in the moments that businesses act with integrity, treat their employees well, or help out individuals, families, or communities in need. This goodwill takes the edge off those less than glowing moments that sometimes happen and helps to balance the scales in the public’s mind. It is a reservoir of sorts that businesses should continually add to in the event they need it.
Really good businesses fill their goodwill reservoir as a matter of course – it is accrued as a natural function of how they do business. Other businesses may have to concentrate a bit more on the effort, but wisely ensure that it gets the attention it needs as a part of a sound business strategy. Some businesses don’t make any concerted effort to build goodwill and end up having a much more difficult time recovering from a debacle.
The smart money is on keeping your goodwill reservoir as full as possible. This applies not only in business, but in all different kinds of relationships. I believe that the older folks become the more likely they are to appreciate the value of maintaining a full goodwill reservoir. In most interpersonal relationships goodwill is a function of exhibiting good character, consistency, or kindness. These are the things we tend to value in such relationships…these are the things that provide folks a buffer when mistakes are made.
This past weekend my boyfriend Mike topped off his goodwill reservoir. He went out to my dad’s house in Kindred three separate days to do home repairs and yard work. Then he offered to return weekly to help with whatever projects my dad needs done. This eases my mind as I know there are many maintenance-oriented things that are becoming more difficult for my dad to do as he ages. I am grateful that Mike is willing to spend his spare time doing such things for my dad. His actions are noted and stored away in an appropriate place in my heart.
Mike may have his moments where he does things that I find maddening or annoying. God knows that Mike has sorely tried my patience at times, but he loves me and my family and it shows in the little things he does day-in and day-out. That means a lot to me. That kind of goodwill has to count for more than the little things we tend to focus on when picking apart folks.
As I have aged, I have learned that it is better to focus on folks’ goodwill reservoirs than negative moments or behaviors in isolation. I feel fortunate to have such a good soul in my life and I appreciate that he too chooses to focus more on my goodwill reservoir than my imperfections (yes, it is true…I have a few). Sometimes the trick in seeing folks’ humanity is in actively looking for it.
Day one thousand four hundred and eleven of the new forty – obla di obla da
I have concluded that my mental health is greatly improved by a day out in the garden. Yesterday was my first real concentrated effort in garden therapy and in the few short hours I invested I was reminded of the immense gratification and stress relief I get out of planting and nurturing plants and flowers. It is a simple manual labor completed with absolute love and adoration for nature’s frailty and strength – it is both consuming and liberating – it is magical.
Of course, should you see me out there in the yard I doubt that “magical” is the word that would come to mind. I am not a neat gardener. I rarely use all my handy dandy gardening supplies – such as kneeling mats, gardening gloves, and tools. I sit squarely in the dirt and will dig in it with my hands like a toddler in a sandbox. I rub my dirty hands on my clothes and in my hair without hesitation. I get so much dirt under my nails that it looks like I have a french manicure with brown tips. Sexy right?
But wait, it gets better. My nose runs mercilessly when I am gardening. I always have a pocketful of tissues to allow me to maintain some dignity when folks come around to chat with me. Absent tissues all I have is the hand arm swipe which I don’t believe is socially acceptable for humans older than age 7. My eyes also itch and water while gardening. As such, I am often rubbing my eyes with filthy hands. While this may supply short term relief, it leaves my face looking like I attempted to put on camouflage makeup to better fit in with my surroundings. And then there is my hair – the wind and dirt work together to make my hair look like it went through a blender.
And yet, even with all of the above – you would be hard-pressed to find a happier gardener. Alas, happiness does not equate with any adequacy in my skills. I am not good at gardening – I am merely persistent. I try things and I learn, and I try other things and I learn some more. In the process I use all the information I can glean from publications and the internet to do right by all the beauties in my series of little garden plots.
I can tell you with no fear of contradiction, that you will never see my garden plots featured in a Better Homes and Garden magazine or on HGTV – that is not what my garden is about. What you will see in my yard is an optimistic gardener with dirt under her nails and a smile on her face. And I do believe that is the real point of a garden from the gardener’s perspective – the joy of it. It is more than appearances – it is working with the expansive options the earth provides us to create a beauty that is a perfect marriage between the soul of the gardener and the parameters of their environment.
And so it begins, my garden therapy for 2013. I can already feel the stresses of a long winter melting away. May the season of dirty fingernails be a long one for all area gardeners filled with the joy only a garden can bring.
Day one thousand four hundred and ten of the new forty – obla di obla da
Kevin Cramer, North Dakota’s new addition to the U.S. House is committed to speaking the truth and says society needs more people to stand up and speak the truth. The most recent “truth” that Cramer stood up and spoke about was the linkage he perceived between abortion rights and school shootings.
In a recent speech at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, Cramer said, “Forty years ago, the United States Supreme Court sanctioned abortion on demand. And we wonder why our culture sees school shootings so often.” That is the “truth” that Cramer wants to encourage folks to share. The “truth” that ties women’s reproductive rights to senseless violence.
Gee, sorry Kevin…I just can’t get there. I am willing to stand up and speak the truth, but this isn’t my truth. The world didn’t go to hell in a hand basket because of Roe v. Wade. Your conclusion is spurious and indicates a lack of understanding about what is behind these acts of violence. Trust me, the protection of women’s reproductive rights by the U.S. Supreme Court was not the event that propelled the degeneration of civilized society.
What’s next? Will you blame the number of women who have sought careers instead of staying at home to care for children as the genesis of the country’s weight epidemic? Will you blame the divorce epidemic on the evils of television? I can imagine that these types of “truth” may make sense to you as well. But make no mistake Kevin – it’s crazy talk.
Here is a truth I’d like to share with you Kevin – when you make such a dramatic statement with no evidence to support it you appear to be incompetent to serve as our representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. You make folks think that you are not able to exercise reason to adequately assess issues before you. You make yourself appear as – if the truth be told – an incompetent leader.
Here is the thing about “truth” – for it to be accepted as such, it must be verifiable via facts. Not what you think, not what the bible tells you – real data that can be pointed to and shown on a chart. Until you have that Kevin, the truth is – you should keep your mouth shut or be prepared to live with terminal foot-in-mouth disease.
How’s that for speaking the truth?
Day one thousand four hundred and nine of the new forty – obla di obla da