Category Archives: Inspirations

Inspiration can come from afar

First a short blog note before moving onto a new blog post.  On Thursday, I think my blog was hacked.  Don’t want to go into details, but a photo was posted on my blog and I didn’t post it.

Now onto the blog post, which is going to be about books and writing… sort of.  The technology revolution in the past few decades often leaves me a bit bewildered and unsure of how to navigate using new devices, new software programs, and new digital ways of communicating.  The technology revolution happened without me ever wanting to jump onboard.  In retrospect, it’s easy to admit to my insular attitude to new technology, but at the same time many of the my concerns about the disturbing aspects to digital technology  in our daily lives turned out to be well-founded.

We had two sons, who were constantly wanting new computer gaming systems in the 90s.  I didn’t understand why every time a new gaming system came out, their perfectly good gaming system was treated like old junk.  Coming from a generation where we went outside to play, not glued to computer games, I neither understood nor liked how much time they spent playing computer games,

We didn’t buy our first PC until 1997, strictly because I was adamantly against it.  My husband kept telling me how great a PC would be for the kids, but in my mind a PC sounded like  just another expensive toy.  I had this same resistance to getting cell phones too, but my husband went and bought cell phones and cell phone service, then handed me my cell phone.

Part of my resistance to this wave of technology stemmed from my being totally technology-challenged, which created a fear of high-tech gadgets and part of it was my natural reticence about spending a lot of money on “shiny new objects”, which we did not need and were in no way necessary.  In 1990. while we were living in Germany, my husband had gone to the PX and bought a home word processor, which used floppy disks to store information on.  Although, he bought it wanting to store information related to his work and he thought it would be great for the kids to use with their schoolwork,  I quickly became the main user of  that word processor, despite being the one who lectured him about wasting money on a gadget we didn’t need.

The PC purchase went the same way.  I quickly became hooked on using the internet, while my husband never did become much of an internet user.   With cell phones, neither my husband nor I ever became glued to our cell phones and both of us have always preferred our traditional landline phones.  Seriously, once landline phones moved to having cordless handsets, that was about as perfect a phone as we ever needed.

I use my PC for everything from paying bills to learning new craft and needlework by watching YouTube tutorials.  I have dozens of books in my kindle library, but I’ve also found plenty of free classics at other online sites too.  Somehow though, I never bought audiobooks, mainly because they’re pricey and I wasn’t sure I would like listening to them.  Our oldest daughter loved listening to books on cassette tape, that she could read along with the book, as a preschooler in the early 1980s.  We would go to the public library and she would select the books with tapes and then she would sit for hours playing the tapes on her own radio/cassette player.  It amazed me how many new words she learned quickly, reading along.

In May, I wrote a blog post about trying audiobooks for the first time and somehow that brings me to the topic of a recent Matt Lewis interview of George Will in a 38:10 minute podcast interview.  This interview covers a wide range of topics, one of them being George Will talking about his love of writing and his enjoyment of fiction, not just the lofty ideological, political, cultural topics I assumed occupied his thoughts.  Of course, Will is also an avid baseball fan, which he has talked and written about many times, but I had no idea that he loves fiction (at 2:32 in this podcast).  Will said he has about 40 Audible books on his phone at any given time.  Will also said  that after a day of being immersed in facts and politics , it’s really refreshing to the soul to have stories told to him.

George Will became an inspiration to me in my early teens… back in the early 1970s.

My rural school district in NE PA had a Jr.-Sr. high school for grades 7-12.  As long as I can remember libraries have been magical places to me.  I remember starting school, 1st grade, because it wasn’t until several years later that our school district added kindergarten, and that small school library became my favorite place in the entire school.

Trying to decide which books to sign out seemed like a  monumental problem and I recall the school librarian kindly explaining to me that books with the big Newberry Medal Winner emblem on them were always good choices.  That helped me a bit in selecting books, but for me the best help has  always been word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, who have similar taste in books as mine.  Here again, the internet expanded on that “word-of-mouth” aspect to selecting books with customer reviews, blogs and websites galore with genre specific book reviews.  These days, I even add books to my book list, that I come across on cross-stitch blogs, because many cross-stitch bloggers also seem to be avid readers.

When we were learning about American government(7th grade, I think), my history teacher told us to try to read national newspapers and news magazines in our school library, as often as possible.  My father was a devoted reader of our local newspaper, The Pocono Record, so I had already adopted my father’s newspaper reading habit.  My high school library is where I first came across George Will’s columns and his columns inspired me to explore, not only new ideas, but to learn new words.  Whenever I read his columns, it became a habit of mine to jot down ideas or words I was unfamiliar with or wasn’t sure of their meaning.  Later, I would look up the words in the dictionary and try to remember them or I’d check the encyclopedia for explanations of ideas Will had written about. Sometimes, I even had to use the card catalog to find books with more information about something Will had written about.

George Will has been not only an inspiration to me; he’s been a valued teacher.

As I got older and developed my own political views, there have been times when I disagreed with George Will’s take on an issue, but I have never doubted his integrity, his honesty in putting forth his heartfelt convictions, but most of all his dedication to striving for excellence in his writing and analyzing politics.

George Will’s latest book is titled, The Conservative Sensibility, and yes, it’s on my reading list.

 

 

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Filed under Books, General Interest, Inspirations

More proponents of a “Kill Them With Kindness” plan

I like cutesy pictures and saccharin sweet sayings, so here’s what I look at on the hutch above my PC.

An op-ed in the Washington Post a few days ago, The Dalai Lama and Arthur Brooks: All of us can break the cycle of hatred, caught my attention.  It was a short piece about the deluge of angry word flying across the internet.  The Dalai Lama and Brooks write:

“Human beings have a deep longing to live together in harmony. People only feel completely alive when experiencing loving bonds with one another. Everyone, of all faiths and no faith, knows this truth, and most profess it openly.

And yet people fight incessantly. Even though war is blessedly absent in most countries today, these are deeply polarized times. Words too often are delivered with contempt; philosophical differences are likened to warfare; those who simply disagree with another are deemed “enemies.” Often it is on the Internet — which was launched as a forum for unity — where people attack one another, under the cloak of anonymity.”

Their answer to defeating the growing “war of words”, especially online,  is very simple:

“Respond with kindness. Want to say something insulting about people who disagree with you? Take a breath and show generosity, instead.”

As I am typing this, Twitter is aflutter with another Trump-generated outrage spin cycle about Trump’s vicious attack yesterday on the late senator, John McCain, while standing in front of Army tanks and the American flag.  This spin cycle will agitate for a few days, but nothing will really change, despite a firestorm of words flying in the media, covering this latest Trump spin blitz.

Our politics very much reflects our culture and despite many anti-Trump politicians and pundits asserting, “This (meaning Trump) is not who we are,” sadly, Trump very much reflects who we are.

The truth is, in an America where good character and being truthful matters, neither of our two thoroughly corrupt 2016 presidential contenders would have been their party’s choice.  If either party had any ethical standards, they would have rejected such completely mendacious candidates, who were under so heavy a cloud of corruption, and who both have glaring character flaws.   We embrace a culture dominated by social media celebrity, Reality TV stardom and a news media entrenched in promoting political spin cycles.  Absent this media dominated culture, neither Trump nor Hillary would have risen to the top and diligent investigative reporting in the news media would have sunk both of them.

You don’t need a degree in psychology or fancy clinical terms to see that both Trump and Hillary lie outrageously and they both have the disturbing habit of doubling down on their lies, even when there’s video of them saying or doing the exact thing they are denying.  They launch media spin campaigns to bolster their lies rather than admit they lied.

In real life most people with even a bit of a moral compass, recognize thoroughly mendacious people like Trump and Hillary as people to be wary of and untrustworthy, but in American politics now, most Americans chose one of them to lead America…

That speaks to our American culture, where too many people prefer to jump on the latest popular spin train rather than standing up for any sort of moral principles.

Many conservatives and NeverTrumpers made their peace with Trump as POTUS, happily consoling themselves with “But Gorsuch” type rationalizations and trying to skim past the recurring Trump-instigated outrage spin cycles, like this bizarre spectacle of Trump’s attack on McCain yesterday.  Likewise, many Democrats chose to ignore the obvious Clinton corruption.

How many Americans will choose to start being kind and generous when facing hostile attacks?  Well, judging from a couple of decades of watching… and experiencing, social media behavior, even a few people beginning to lead this “kill them with kindness” approach, assuredly, is a welcome glimmer of hope.

The Dalai Lama and Brooks “Kill Them With Kindness” plan, naturally, resonated with me, because it’s the only way to defeat the massive SPIN information war that drives, not only American media, but also American culture.

Since 1998, I’ve wished a thousand times, and more, that I had never posted any comments online, but perhaps working toward writing less about politics and more about things that matter much more to me might be a good thing. Sometimes all it takes is a small gesture to change the tone, so I welcome the Dalai Lama and Brooks suggestion and will work to try to change the only person I can control… myself (and the tone of my blog  &  social media comments).

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Filed under Civility, Culture Wars, Food for Thought, General Interest, Inspirations

The passing of an era

“We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light … we all have something to give.”

President George H.W. Bush

When I learned that former president, George H.W. Bush, had died, a deep sadness touched my heart.  Of course, it’s easier to accept the death of an ailing 94 year-old man, who had lived an incredible life and who had lost his wife of 73 years, earlier this year.  Still, the passing of this president feels like the door closing tightly on a long ago era in American politics, where Americans both expected and valued personal character and dignified pubic decorum in their president.

Throughout Saturday, I noted the sincere and insincere public outpourings of condolences, the recounted remembrances, and the recitation of President Bush’s life story.  No matter what else people say about his public life, both admirers and critics alike agree, he led a life dedicated to serving others.

After reading and listening to a steady media stream of his life, which invariably follows the death of famous people in America, I came away still convinced that it’s pretty hard to top a life dedicated to serving others as a eulogy.

America needs to remember not only this man’s life; they need to remember his message.

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Filed under American Character, General Interest, Inspirations, Making a Difference

My good cheer message: “Be Kind”

Ran to my local Walmart this morning and I found the perfect good cheer message with this $1.44 little wall plaque in the Easter section:

It’s so cute,  I had to buy it, of course.  Now, to figure out where to hang it near my desk here:-)

Home found – on hutch above my computer desk, so  I can look at it as I blog, lol:

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Angels among us…

Today’s Little Book of Virtues quote…

I don’t know if I mentioned before, that along with teddy bears and bunnies, I also like collecting angels here and there.  Here are a few of my favorites:

My October angel (my birthday is Oct. 17th)

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My “Norma” mother angel, which is special, because my mother was also a  “Norma”.  I asked my husband if it was okay if I bought 6 of these angels years ago, so that my three sisters and two brothers would each have their own special “Norma” angel .

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This small glass shelf is in my bedroom:

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Favorite items on that shelf:

Sweet little girl angel:

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My childhood Bible, given to me on Dec. 25, 1966, at St. Matthews Sunday School  in Kunkletown, PA – Jesus teaching children on the cover:

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A guardian angel given to me by a Wal-Mart co-worker, who is also a young single mother (she is living with her daughters’ father now, thankfully).   She is an inspiration, who proves that with faith, hard work, despite having a drug addict mother and all the odds stacked against her, she is succeeding at providing a stable, loving home for her two daughters.  She is a true inspiration to me and I am so thankful that I have been blessed to have her as a friend:

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Spring is begun…

“And though the vegetable sleep will continue longer on some trees and plants than on others, and though some of them may not blossom for two or three years, all will be in leaf in the summer, except those which are rotten. What pace the political summer may keep with the natural, no human foresight can determine.  It is, however not difficult to perceive that the spring is begun.”

—Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

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In the above photo, I decided to try some fabric as a backdrop and those bunnies I found in a small store in Butzbach, Germany, in the early 90s, I think. I loved shopping at a flea market in Butzbach too, where I found some very good deals on knickknack junk.

I started reading this book a few years ago and decided that this Spring I want to take the time to finish it and also to spend a little more time outside working in my small flower bed in front of my house. Yesterday, I pulled some weeds that I should have cleaned up in the Fall.  At my two mail box planters – I pulled out my dead mandevillas and geesh, the right side planter was swarming with fire ants, so I definitely need to treat that.  Time to start planning a few flowers for my flower bed for sure.  It’s the beginning of GA Spring pollen too – the yellow clouds of pollen are just getting started. My son washed my car the other day, as he was washing his car in my driveway.  Lots to do!

I found some inspiration in the above Thomas Paine quote, which is on one of the first pages of this Founding Gardeners book – heck, who doesn’t find inspiration in Thomas Paine, LOL…

Have a nice day!

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Courage!

Last year I purchased The Little Book Of Virtues perpetual calendar at the Hinesville, GA Goodwill.  I wrote a blog post on this:  The value of a Goodwill book?

I’m trying to keep up with using this perpetual calendar.  I keep it on the hutch of my computer desk, so I can look at it while I BLOGGGGGGG as my husband calls it. When I am a sitting here for hours he will ask me, “Are you working on your BLOGGGGGGG again?”

The little wooden soldier is from that long ago Prague shopping trip.  I had gotten a blue soldier and a red one for each of my sons.   They were never really much into my knickknacks gifts.  However, when we sent our oldest son to Russia for a study abroad he brought back several gifts for me – the red little Khokhloma box in the photo. He also gave me a Russian cookbook and a very beautiful tea-pot:

There is a red bird crystal tray from my time in Pershing in 1980-1981, behind the tea-pot – not sure if this was one from my husband or his friend.  His friend egged on my husband, by giving me pieces of this crystal as thank-you gifts for my husband and I allowing him to stay with us in our apartment.  He had unexpectedly found himself without an apartment, due to a romance gone wrong.  He needed a place to stay until he PCSd back to the States.  Each time the friend gave me a piece of crystal, my husband came home with a fancier piece the next day.  After several days of this, I told both of them to quit with the crystal competition.

In case you couldn’t read the quote for today’s date on my perpetual calendar:

“Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts  of courage with which men… have lived.  The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.”

— John F. Kennedy

 

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