We will survive

Thoughts to Ponder

 “Years ago fairy tales all began with ‘Once upon a time…’

–now we know they all begin with, ‘If I am elected.’”

Carolyn Warner*

We’ve recently ended another presidential election season, the most contentious in my memory. That’s not to say it has been the worst in U.S. history. There was a lot of name calling leading to states seceding from the Union in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln was the candidate of the newly formed Republican party. Recently I was listening to “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” on NPR and heard an interesting story.

The election of 1800 was a three-way race among Jefferson, John Adams seeking re-election and Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton started a rumor that Jefferson had died. Communications being what they were at that time, Jefferson first heard of this several weeks later when he received a letter from a friend. He immediately sat down and wrote letters to several people telling them that he was, indeed, still alive and still a candidate. Those letters also took several weeks to find their recipients. But they had the desired effect. As a result Jefferson was elected to be our country’s third president.

So, should we be surprised at the recent political shenanigans we just witnessed? I’d guess not. The difference is that we now live in a 24-hour news cycle with information coming from many sources. As the election drew near I found myself becoming irritable with my great-grandsons who were just being their age. I was cranky at work. Each newspaper article I read or news program I watched made the situation worse. The vitriolic words spewed by both candidates and their supporters kept my insides in a twist. Yet, I felt compelled to stay informed, though I limited my exposure.

To do otherwise would be detrimental to my health, so I made a decision to take steps to improve my mental outlook. About a week before the election I began to pray to accept the outcome whatever it might be. On election day I went to the polls early and immediately felt a slight easing in my distress knowing that I had done my part in making this momentous choice. That evening I periodically checked election news to learn what was happening, then went to bed at my usual time. The next morning I clicked on the television long enough to learn who had been elected. I asked God to guide Mr. Trump as he assumed his new duties. These small steps eased my distress significantly.

Healing came Thursday evening when I attended a 4th grade Veteran’s Day program at my oldest great-grandson’s school. The children were decked out in patriotic vests and presented a program of U.S. history and patriotic songs. Each child had made a list of relatives who had served in the military. Those names covered an entire wall of the gym. At one point in the program each service’s song was played and audience members who had served in that particular branch stood to roaring applause. Then we were treated to a slide show of photos of many of those relatives in their uniforms. The program concluded with the audience standing as one child’s grandfather sang “God Bless the USA.” I was not the only person wiping tears of joy from my eyes.

As I write this, I’m crying, but my tears are healing months of distress and worry. I’m still nervous, but for my own sanity I must trust that we can survive this election and continue to grow as a nation. I trust that this will continue to be our legacy.

Spirit: Most of us have lived the past several months in pain and distress. You have shown us that the human race has survived worse and continues to thrive. Each of us, no matter who we are or where we live, has the ability to change the world just a little bit for the better. Please keep reminding us of that responsibility and privilege. And, so it is.

*Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, 1992, Prentice Hall, page 239

© by Sharon D. Dillon, November 12, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.

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Face your truth

Thoughts to Ponder

 “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”

Virginia Woolf*

 “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”

Janis Joplin**

 About two weeks ago I opened my mouth and inserted foot. As soon as I verbalized my thought I felt shame. But, it has turned out to be a valuable lesson, just not one I anticipated. Here’s the short form.

While at a writers’ group one member was talking about his new book and how it will help students achieve success in college. I’m certain this book contains much hard won wisdom. Yet, I opened my mouth and said, “Discrimination no longer exists.” Where that statement came from, I had no idea. I knew that was not a true statement, yet I tried feebly to defend it. After the meeting I emailed everyone to apologize. I received very kind responses. Yet, I can’t help thinking they must think that is my real self.

Those words weighed on my mind until yesterday, when the message finally burst through my embarrassment. I was speaking to myself, telling myself I no longer have any excuses for not doing what I should be doing.

How did that attitude come to be? I has been a long, crooked path. I grew up poor, so that was an excuse not to go to college. I didn’t think I was capable of working full-time and going to school. So college was a dream for others. When I reached my 40’s I attended and graduated from a top-notch college while working full-time, disproving that theory.

During my college years I met and married a physically-challenged African-American man who had a brain that constantly astonished me. His mental retention and recall was amazing. Yet he always seemed to fall into pits that derailed his plans. I could never figure out why until one day we both had to register for classes on the same day.

He attended school in the city where we lived. My school was in a city 90 miles away. We left home at the same time. I drove the 90 miles, registered for my classes, had lunch with some classmates and drove the 90 miles home. I expected that my husband would be home watching sports on television; but he wasn’t there. I began to worry that something terrible had happened. Finally, more than an hour later he showed up tired and frustrated because registration had turned into a horrible ordeal and the school had no compassion for his difficulties.

The situation was this: Both our schools had us move through stations one through eight. I got in line and moved through the stations as directed. He started at station three and was sent back to station one. After one and two he decided he needed a coffee. After that break he lined up at station five and was sent back to three. And, so on.

What does all this have to do with my blurting out an unacceptable false statement? After stewing over this embarrassing moment, I realized I was not talking to my friend. I was talking to me. My dreams are not being fulfilled, not because of discrimination, but because I’m not following steps one through eight. I want good-fortune to fall into my lap without working for it. My age is not an issue, nor is my height, weight, need to work, or physical stamina.

My attitude is similar to my former husband’s. The rules are not made for me. I should not have to do the research, apply the BIC (butt in chair) rule to successful writing, make phone calls to set up speaking engagements, and so on. Why can’t I just sit here at home, go for walks, play with the great-grandsons and have fun while my book sells itself and I earn tons of money?

It’s ironic. What I saw in my former husband, I could not see in myself. Now that I do, I need to put that knowledge to work. However, breaking a life time habit is a tough job. While I managed to follow the rules to graduate high school and college, hold a job and raise my children, I found many ways not to give 100% and wondered why I failed.

It might be easy to say, “From now on I’m going to give 100% effort to all I attempt.” But, is that reality? I know I won’t, but I do choose to improve. From now on I’ll say:

Spirit: Thank you for this awareness that I create many of my problems. I’m not pleased that you showed me in such a humiliating manner, but appreciate the lesson. I ask that today and every day that you will guide me to be the best me I can be. And, so it is.

*Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, 1992, Prentice Hall, page 56

** ibid, page 54

© by Sharon D. Dillon, November 1, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.