Just Do It

Determination set in steel.
Decision making – this is real.
The first step is to take the leap.
Your destiny is yours to keep.
In a world of opportunity
Sometimes the road is hard to see.
Second thoughts may hold you back;
Go ahead and choose a path;
You alone can make the choice.
Stake your claim.
Find your voice.
Enter the ring, though you may fail.
Have hope the wind will catch your sail.
Live your passion.
Find your bliss.
Shoot for the moon,
Though you may miss.
The stars are there to break your fall,
So go ahead, give it your all.

National Stress Awareness Day

I woke up this morning and checked my Twitter feed. A trending hashtag was for National Stress Awareness Day. I laughed. Oh, to have just one day dedicated to stress awareness.

I know I’m not alone in being aware of the day after day pressures in my life.

On the top of my list is parenting stress. Will my kids learn the basic human skills of communication, compassion and resilience? Will they do their best in school? What will I do when they falter? I do my best, but truth be told, there are plenty of subversive influences out there, from dramatic reality TV that feeds on the worst of human interactions to easy access to who-knows-what on the internet. My kids are of the age where I don’t sit over their shoulder any more trying to make sure they are making good choices. I trust, but I worry.

The two youngest, lovingly referred to as Goose and Maverick, are both adults now. They are watching their first presidential election unfold. Firsts should be better than this. Back in 2008, I took them to a small, local Obama rally. I was inspired by the message of hope, and I wanted them to be a part of that. They were 10 and 11. In this election, my young millennial, Goose, dove into an eager support of Bernie Sanders, even attending one of his rallies. He was inspired by Bernie’s integrity and commitment to social justice. He is now one of the disillusioned millennials. He has filled out his mail-in ballot, but refuses to vote for president. Maverick refuses to vote altogether, and no amount of motherly coaxing him to perform his civic duty will change his cynical young mind.

I have to wonder how this election will impact the already-there economic stress. I worry. I question. How can I stretch my paycheck? How will our older kids ever pay back their college loans? (How I wish we could help with that.) What will happen to my meager investments if Trump is elected president? Why is everything so expensive? Apples have always been my indicator, maybe because they are a local item. They used to be 39 cents a pound. Now you’re lucky to get them for $1.99 a pound. They have risen 410% over the past 20 years, a time frame when minimum wage only went up by 77%. And on that note, why aren’t groceries figured into the price of inflation?

Most of us worry about the financial impacts of political decisions on our lives and our children’s lives. Goose and Maverick (both employed but still living at home) haven’t committed themselves to college yet, despite being out of high school. They feel the burden of college debt and don’t want to have to deal with it. I tell them it’s worth the investment, that they will see a good return in the way of increased earnings, but I feel less and less sure about that myself. My recently-graduated daughter is saddled with a huge debt burden and has spent months searching in a job market that expects years of experience that she doesn’t yet have. My own financial worries are nothing compared to those my children will face if something is not done to equalize the economic imbalance in this country.

Then there’s societal stress. How is my country changing around me? How is the influx of people from other parts of the world contributing to that? What should my reaction be? My own husband is an immigrant. I have known many immigrants, not just from Mexico, but from Nepal and Chile. I am drawn to the stories and experiences, to seeing my country through the lens of others. I wonder at the ugliness this election has stirred up, the intolerance and willingness to make someone out as the “other.” The family from Chile escaped the dictatorship of Pinochet. One time the father recounted a story of fearing for his life as he was heading home from college in the midst of the coup and encountering armed men in the streets. I wonder if he ever thought it couldn’t happen there. The immigrants I know are good people, but I see how their arrival causes an imbalance in our society, and every imbalance seeks equilibrium. Though I lean left, I think this is a flexible issue and a necessary one to address. Maybe we need to time let the most recent additions settle, and settle in with them ourselves. We all get burned when the melting pot overflows.

If those things weren’t enough to worry about, there’s health care. I don’t know about you, but we are always one medical emergency away from having the rug pulled out from under us. In what is supposedly the model of democracy in the world, I find that unacceptable. We’ve personally been through medical issues that set us back significantly, and that was before the ballooning of health care costs. It took years to recover. Many of our elected officials are working hard to rectify the situation, but it’s a slow, hard-fought battle. Our own deductible has risen to $12,000 for our employer provided health care option. You may blame the ACA. I think it’s corporate greed. Wherever the fault lies, it doesn’t change the current reality. My husband recently tried to make an appointment with a doctor for an issue that included chest pain and was sent directly to the ER, only to be told after a battery of tests that it was probably esophageal spasms. I’m glad the services are there and I’m thankful it was not heart related, but I’m sure this visit might exceed our deductible. You tell me how I’m not supposed to stress.

And nobody is even discussing climate change.

Every day I turn on the T.V. or radio only to be bludgeoned by political ads of people who claim to have the answers telling me how they are going to finally fix these things. I know there are people who are trying. There are also the few who throw money at changing the whole system to suit their needs. (Oligarchy, here we come!)

I just want a little stress relief.

I made a snarky post with the hashtag National Stress Awareness Day then got up to have my coffee and face another day. What I really wanted to do was throw my smartphone against the wall, pull the covers over my head, and wake up on November 9th, hoping all of this was just a very bad dream.


If you made it through this whole thing, thanks so much for reading.

This was somehow, and I’ve forgotten how, inspired by The Daily Post’s prompt: Bludgeon

The Art of Artifice


Photo credit: gato-gato-gato via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Carefully crafted,
Artfully arranged,
Smiling face selfies shower the internet –
A tilt of the head,
A coy look to the universe
Always showing our best side.

Sculpted backdrops, but no teardrops;
Paused family gatherings –
Artificial moments
Instantly posted,
A perfect photo for eternity,
Evidence of a life well lived.

Yet…
Stepping back into the darkness of our solitude,
Behind the closed doors,
We see the better,
Prettier,
More loving.
And we stash the smartphone in a pocket
As a silent teardrop falls.


Written in response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Artificial

Maybe

Ah, the word maybe. So full of hope. So full of promise. So devoid of commitment. It’s a thin cloud that morphs in the sky from trailing cirrus to thunderhead or dissipates at the whim of the atmospheric winds. It’s a stepping stone in a stream that could stand solidly under the weight of your crossing or tip and send you tripping headlong into icy water.

Maybe.

When I was a teen, it was the answer to everything I asked for. Can I go to the football game? Maybe. Can my friends come over? Maybe. There was always something held back, and as a result I was under the impression that up until the moment the event actually happened, there was a lot I could do to mess up my chances. A portion of that anxiety carries with me to this day.

Maybe.

Still, that one fickle, hopeful word releases the speaker from the perils of broken promises. Possibly my parents didn’t want to let me down. Perhaps they didn’t want to commit their day and their energies to something I was hoping for. As a parent, I understand that side of the equation. As I kid, I didn’t.

My  husband isn’t one for maybes. He truly believes he can make anything happen. Even though he was working long hours, we would make plans. There was no maybe about it. We were going out to dinner for my birthday. When his expected arrival time came and went, I was left with a sinking feeling that it didn’t matter enough to him to make it happen. In reality, he just got caught up at work and was very apologetic, but it was a real let-down. I’m sure throwing maybe in the mix may not have helped that situation, but it’s a word that adds a buffer to the disappointment.

Maybe.

In another sense, maybe can be a real balancing act. An invitation to a party can result in a definite maybe, as if the recipient of the invitation will come… unless a better offer comes along.

Maybe can also define with blurry, shifting lines a possible path in life. Maybe I’ll go to this school or that one. Maybe I’ll become a doctor. Maybe I’ll get married. Unless I don’t.

I’ve heard that the best way to make things happen is to create an x-year-plan. Insert your own number for the variable. I’ll do one. Where do you see yourself in x years. It’s a road map that surgically excises the maybes. I’ve also heard that creating an idea board solidifies in the wispy winds of the mind the idea that the possibilities can become realities. I’ve yet to do either, and in many areas of my life still live in the world of maybe.

Maybe if I do such and such, I’ll lose weight. Maybe I’ll go to Hawaii, or Vancouver B.C. Maybe I’ll write that novel.

No, I will write that novel.

If you’ll excuse me, I have a one-year-plan to create.

Practicing Magic

I think, and there it is, a world conjured into existence. I smile. This power given to me has the ability to cause good or evil. Which will I choose?

I think again, and my world is populated with people so different from one another, I wonder where they came from. But there they are. They turn to each other and begin to speak, and I become the outsider, watching to see what will happen.

I turn my gaze away from them and conjure another world, a fantastical world, a place I’ve never been and maybe would not even want to go. It’s full of peril. I populate it with people who have to fight to survive. I’m a little horrified at my creation, and cease my magic temporarily, but magic is intoxicating, addictive, and draws me back. I meddle in the lives of my creatures, needling them and placing them directly in harm’s way. I know most of them will make it out alive.

On a dark day, I create a dark world, full of toxic people, people I would never associate myself with, yet they attach themselves, remnants of them clinging to me like lichen to a tree. In time they will break free, but they will always leave a mark. I withdraw from my conjuring, placing my pen on the table, and stashing my journal. I take time to breathe the fresh air and feel sunlight on my skin.

Magic is powerful business.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Do you Believe in Magic?.”You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?


JKim1 / Foter / CC BY-NC