Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 - Gratitude for Time With Family

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite American holiday because the focus is upon family and gratitude for good fortune and abundance. While efforts have been underway for decades to commercialize Thanksgiving with Black Friday shopping promotions starting ever earlier, at heart this is a celebration of home, loved ones, relationships, and thankfulness for blessings.
As each year passes I’ve become even more attuned to my good fortune in being able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my wonderful  husband  of 10 1/2 years Todd and my parents and in-laws at our home in Virginia. Collectively my parents and in-laws have been married 120 years: 61 years for my mom and dad and 59 years for my husband’s. I hope 
both couples make it 70 years together!

2016 has been a challenging year for family and friends. My mother experienced a fractured pelvis and sacrum followed by two surgeries for breast cancer and follow up radiation. My uncle Clyde Butler and cousin Tom Smith succumbed to cancer. My husband’s grandmother, Ruth Moore, and youngest uncle Greg Moore passed on. Several of my coworkers lost parents this year. There has been a lot of sadness.

Amidst the sadness and grief, however, there is cause for celebration. Despite upheavals in the companies that employ us, my husband and I have managed to weather the changes, transitions, and frustrations successfully. My mother is as feisty as ever with an incomparable  positive attitude that inspires all who know her. My dad regularly works out at the YMCA and has the energy of men 20 years younger. My in-laws were able to play golf regularly throughout the season which keeps them mentally and physically fit. Like the Energizer Bunny they keep on going and going. Like a Timex watch they “take a licking and keep on ticking”! 

While Mom was recovering my sister and I embarked on a road trip from Virginia to Indiana to visit the parental units. It had been years since we’d had the opportunity to spend so much one on one time together. We laughed and talked non-stop during the 10  hour drives each way and remembered how much we enjoyed being together. She also shared the joy and healing she experiences being a new grandmother to my niece’s first child, an adorable boy that reminds us all of the circle of life.

Before Thanksgiving my brother flew to Virginia to spend a couple of days before the rest of the family arrived and we were able to visit - just the two of us - in a way we’d missed over the past 15 years while life took us in different directions. It was therapeutic. 

Yes, I am filled with gratitude for the love, warmth, joy, happiness, and blessings of family and the good fortune I’ve had in 2016 to spend time with those I care about most. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembering Veterans & Accepting Election Results

Thank a veteran that you have a right to vote in a free election. Men and women have served our nation and fought from its inception to achieve and then preserve our rights to free speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, the right to peaceful assembly, and the freedom to protest. 

Many of the individuals that formed our imperfect republic were erudite scholars that had studied the classics in the original languages and were well informed as to the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. The Constitution was formed with a system of checks and balances to ensure representation of all citizens whether they were from a small state or a large state, urban or rural, northern or southern. There were virulent  disagreements and a multitude of compromises that many found distasteful; however, the founding fathers had fought a long war to win independence and rightly believed that a union of the states would be stronger than 13 individual colonies. The decision to create the senate with 2 representatives from each state gave smaller states an equal voice with larger states. The house of representatives was created with representation based upon population distribution which gave a greater voice to states that were more  populated. The framers of the Constitution enacted the electoral system for presidential elections because they didn’t trust pure democracy or believe the average voter would be informed sufficiently. Throughout our history there have been calls to eliminate the electoral system, which affords each state votes based upon its population.

But this is the system that has served our country well for more than 200 years. It is also the fairest and freest electoral process in the world. 

In the 2016 election many people did not so much cast a vote for Donald Trump as vote against Hillary Clinton and the establishment. Ms. Clinton, though arguably well qualified, suffered from insufferably hubris. Many find her untrustworthy, corrupt, and a hypocrite who espouses support of women yet vilified those who were abused, harassed, and victimized by her husband. Despite her scandal ridden history, many women were content to vote for her merely because of her sex. While I would be thrilled to see a women elected to the presidency, I could not cast my vote for Hillary. Her decades of self-serving dishonesty from Whitewater to the Rose Law Firm, to the email server debacle to her arrogant expectation of an electoral mandate have been offensive. However, if she had won the election, I would have accepted the outcome as I have accepted the results of numerous elections in the past when my candidate did not prevail. That is the American way. We are not a third world country that rejects the results of elections we do not like by burning cars.

Regretfully, President Elect Trump is not am artful or powerful orator. Cicero he is not. He has espoused ideas that many find offensive. But he spoke to a constituency that felt forgotten, voters that traditionally voted for democrats but felt betrayed by Washington and career politicos  who they believe abandoned them. Alternatively, “snowflakes” who were given participation trophies and have never been forced to accept a loss seem to want Xanax  or therapy or counseling to help them deal with such bitter disappointment. However, I’ve yet to spy the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse  on the horizon.

It is time to accept the outcome of the election and give Trump a chance. After all, the Republic survived James Buchanan, Chester A. Arthur and Warren G. Harding in the Oval Office. No doubt the USA will survive Donald J. Trump. Four years is a blip on the continuum of time. In 24 months the next election cycle will begin yet again. And who knows - perhaps a business person who knows how to fire those who are unproductive, who knows how to make things happen, can cut through red tape and bull-feathers and can run for president without his ex-wives trashing him in the National Enquirer might actually achieve something worthwhile. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Right & Duty to Vote

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8, 2016 is election day in the USA. Many citizens who have the right to vote will abstain because they abhor the options. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton appeal to voters with a refined moral compass who believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. For those of us with Libertarian leanings the candidates for the Republican and Democrat parties are soulless options that do not represent the country that we love, do not support our hard fought freedoms, and seem to polarize the citizenry rather than unite. 

However, as an American woman I truly believe that each offs has a duty to cast a ballot for the candidate that best represents our political psyches. It is preferable to exercise the rights that women and people of color fought and died to achieve than to abrogate the right because we dislike the options that our political process has presented. 

We are not a democracy. Americans like to posture that we have a democratic government, but we do not. We are a republic. We elect representatives to speak for us. And we tend to re-elect the same individuals repeatedly to unsuccessfully argue for what is best for our states and country. Despite what we may argue, Americans tend to like the status quo. We do not want to replace our senior crooks with less influential ideologues. We want our pork. 

As a people many of us conveniently forget that in the  more than the first century of our republic one had to be a wealthy white male to be eligible to vote. Today, thanks to the advocacy and sacrifice of suffragettes and people of color who marched and suffered indignities, incarceration and death for the right to cast a ballot, any citizen over the age of 18 who is not a convicted felon has the right to vote.  

Making a conscious decision to abstain from voting because one does not like the options gives others the power to set our future course.

Throughout our history there have been numerous elections that involved candidates that the general public really did not embrace. Hence, we had presidents such as Franklin Pierce, Warren G.Harding and James Buchanan. Yet, the republic survived because of the checks and balances memorialized in our constitution.   

While one may raise the argument that each citizen has no duty to vote, history has shown that many elections are decided on just a few ballots.  And as a woman I am grateful that brave activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony fought for 70 years to pass the 19th Amendment so that I can participate in the electoral process.  How could I as a beneficiary of such a legacy apathetically ignore my responsibility by abstention? 

Neither candidate for president appeals to me. I truly believe that neither candidate can represent my interests. However, I also believe that I must choose. While my political leanings are Libertarian, a third party candidate is not a viable option. As such I must consider the options an select the best of the worst. And so should you.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Joyful Moment in Time ~ Reflecting on the Cubs World Series Win!

Wednesday evening into the early hours of Thursday I sat clutching my mug of herbal tea, glued to the television, pondering whether I could or even should stay up for the final score of the 7th Game of the 2016 World Series. I had a major presentation Thursday afternoon for the launch of a company project that would involve senior executives. But this was the Cubs! After a 108 year drought there was hope, even after they blew a huge lead that normally meant another loss was in the offing. But I refused to give up through the rain delay and a 10th inning and found myself jumping up and down while screaming with absolute joy, alone, in my family room in Winchester, Virginia 47 years after watching my first Cubs game on WGN, one of 6 channels we received with cable TV in Logansport, Indiana in 1969.

During my childhood I was a tomboy. While I did play with Barbies, during the summer I played baseball with the neighborhood boys. No softball for this girl! I loved hardball, pitching, batting and first base. I wanted to be a major-leaguer. Nothing was more exhilarating than hitting a home run over the roof of the neighbor’s garage. I played poker and marbles with the neighborhood boys for baseball cards, football cards and marbles and amassed quite a collection.

My parents were not sports fans beyond listening to the Indy 500 on the radio or attending local high school basketball games. After all, in Indiana, basketball was king. But for some reason I was drawn to baseball and the Chicago Cubs. Baseball was the perfect sport for radio. It’s slow elegance made it perfect for listening to afternoon games on my transistor radio while reading a book or sitting in the sun. I remember watching Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run on TV; I still recall the names of the 1969 team that came so close to winning the National League pennant: Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins. So began 47 years of hope and disappointment. 

Unlike my brother-in-law that remained ever hopeful to the rueful smiles of the rest of the family, I began to lose interest in the Cubs and baseball in general. The use of steroids in the 1990’s marred batting statistics of great players such as Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds and I no longer felt a connection to the game that celebrates individual and team achievement. 

But once a Cub fan always a Cub fan.And Americans always love an underdog story. The 2016 World Series between the Cleveland Indians  and the Chicago Cubs brought together two underdogs and America watched with hope. If the Cubs and Indians made it to the Series, there is hope for America! The Series distracted us from an bitter election season, police shootings, Vladimir Putin and ISIS. 

Everybody was suddenly talking about the World Series at a time when people were pondering the demise of baseball. Maybe this is just what Baseball and America needed.