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Archive for the ‘Thoughts of the Day’ Category

money_handfullI’ve been watching and listening to the pundits hem-and-haw over the politics surrounding the stimulus bill, with all the hub-bub over tax cuts. I’m still waiting for and wondering when the transparency part will come in.

I don’t think politicians understand the concept of transparency. If they’re going to be spending our money, shouldn’t we be more fully informed about how all this money is being spent? Perhaps if we, the people, were told in plain English the who, what, when, where and how, we’d be more supportive and a lot more confident.

I just read an article by CNN that shows the items that got cut or partially cut from the bill that may be passed this weekend.

While I haven’t looked for info about what is included, just looking at some of the things that were cut gave me pause to wonder why some were included in the first place and why some were cut.

For example, the total for NASA amounting to $50 million was cut out altogether. I’m not sure that was a bad thing, especially with our current economic situation. However I am certainly a supporter of NASA for a lot of reasons, and if you look at what we’re going to end up spending, $50 million seems rather insignificant for a program that will benefit us in the future. What they learn there may ultimately be our salvation.

To be transparent, what I believe we need to know is how each and every item on the list will stimulate our economy? Exactly how will this money be spent? What programs will it benefit, and how will that directly affect us now and in the future? What are the related industries and jobs that will benefit from these funds? How many new jobs will be created or protected and what kind of jobs. Where will these new jobs be? I’m an unemployed graphic/media designer. Any programs for us?

While I realize that as more people get back to work, and more money is being spent in our economy, the more companies that hire designers will again be hiring. People need to understand how all this works. While we’re not stupid, we do need for the people in Washington – the supposed “geniuses” running the government – to inform us in a manner that we all can understand. They are our elected representatives, isn’t that their jobs?

That’s how transparent I think our government and this stimulus bill needs to be. We don’t have to be economists to understand when someone is spending our money foolishly. Americans, as a whole, are a lot smarter than the politicians and pundits would have us believe. If we’ve been “stupid” it’s because we’re kept in the dark. Just where they want us to be. While we’re in the dark, they’ve cleverly worked to create the loopholes that continue to screw the rest of us.

Take the September “bailout” for example. How can we trust any politician to manage our money when they allow themselves to be so deceived, so easily, with so much of OUR money? If they had been more thorough, more clearly informed as to the who, what , when, where and how before approving that bill, we would already be in a better position. Not rushing to meet the “demands” of Bush and friends should have been the first priority. The cloud of fear, created and skillfully manipulated by his administration, caused dire panic in Washington, fueled by the media. Quick decisions made to save usĀ  resulted in giving away money we clearly flushed down the toilet. To the benefit of no one it was meant to help. And the economy has gotten worse.

Most people who have to live on $200 a week know how to spend a lot more wisely than you may believe. A lot more wisely – it seems – than Wall Street executives. Thanks to these greedy Wall Street geniuses, many people who had a whole lot more, now must live on a whole lot less. And Wall Street employees still get their bonuses, and continue to live high-on-the-hog, riding the backs of the American people.

It’s time the left hand of the people know what our right hand of government is doing. Clearly and completely.

While the pundits seem to try, they really don’t investigate and report the vital statistics of what is in these bills enough to make listening to them worthwhile. They like – and encourage – the political fight more than reporting the actual truth – the real news that we can use.

Tax cuts. I still can’t understand how cutting taxes is prudent when taxes are our economy’s source of funds. How will we ever see a surplus again if we don’t have a source of revenue?

Isn’t it like saying that by reducing our yearly income, we’ll have more money to spend? It just doesn’t add up to me. I’m not an economist, but isn’t the Bush/Republican tax cuts and war spending responsible for all this trouble in the first place?

Wouldn’t it be great to have that surplus Bush “inherited” right about now?

I’m not any happier than the next guy about the amount of taxes I pay. Yet, I know that they are inevitable and I consider them my share in helping to make our country the luxury palace it is. I don’t mind the government spending it on programs that benefit all sectors of society. Not just the rich or just the poor. It should be used to enhance the quality of life for all citizens.

If it is true, that our system of government is of the people, for the people and by the people, isn’t it time the government reported clearly to us for a change?

Especially when it concerns how they are spending our money.

Is that really too much to ask?

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I just finished watching a video, caught by a surveillance camera of the actual landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson. I was amazed at just how smoothly the pilot, Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, landed the commercial airliner in the Hudson River.

Beautiful.

Facing a catastrophic situation – Capt. Sully was quick to make a decision and act on it using his piloting skills resulting in minimal injuries and no loss of life. What surely could have had a devastating outcome, became the stuff of legend, heroes and inspired optimism. That, even while fearing the worst, the best can happen.

His well trained crew were also quick to seize the moment and led everyone off the plane to their safe rescue.

What makes us proud to be Americans was also shown as all those on the Hudson who could help came together, worked together and rescued all 150 passengers and 5 flight crew.

At the time, I was also watching the Obama inauguration train arriving in Washington, DC on TV.

Perhaps this extraordinary event – the remarkable safe landing and rescue of Flight 1549 is a good omen for our future.

That in spite of the catastrophe the Bush administration has created and is leaving us with, Obama will be able to seize the moment when he takes the wheel and steer us to safety.

Like the passengers of Flight 1549, we may have to endure a critical time in icy cold, and dangerous water.

Hopefully, Barack Obama will prove to be our Capt. “Sully”; his recent cabinet appointments will be his expert crew. And we, the people, seeing the need will answer the call and do whatever it takes to help salvage our country.

Ah, only three more days to go and Barack Obama will officially be our President.

Godspeed, President Obama.

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As I sit, and write, just 18 minutes into the New Year – I felt compelled to wish everyone a most Happy New Year.

Yes, I’ve had my champagne toast – and an extra glass and I’m a wee bit tipsy. I must apologize for any faux pas and rambling that may occur.

This year is the first year in a long time I’ve felt the excitement of the New Year.

Even though my husband could not make it home this year, I was none the less determined to celebrate what I believe will be a turn for the better for us as a family as well as for our country and our planet.

Somewhere, on the web, I found information that may have been the root of my past New Year problems.

There is a tradition of New Year foods that is traditionally prepared and eaten on New Year’s Day – collards (or other) greens for financial success, pork (because a pig roots forward), black eyed peas (because they resemble coins) and cornbread or corn I guess because it is golden and resembles coins, but maybe it is for good health.

Anyway, in years past, I prepared each of these items on New Years Day. And I religiously ate them in hopes of a healthy and prosperous New Year.

I must have been doing something very wrong, as it seems that our situation – other than our health – seemed to worsen each and every year.

Recently, somewhere on the web, I read that this “lucky” meal should be the first items you eat in the New Year. Not being one who particularly wants to eat collard greens, black eyed peas and cornbread for breakfast – I decided to make this a midnight meal.

Actually, as I write this – I’m getting ready to go back for seconds!

I really found some good recipe ideas this year. I never really follow a recipe as written – I just use them as guidelines and adapt them to my own tastes. This year everything has come out Great. A very good omen for the New Year.

I’m excited. I’ve been excited the whole night. This isn’t my usual M.O.

I started watching the videos of fireworks since about 4pm (est) from different counties around the world. So far, my favorite is the Sydney, Austrialia display.

Past years have been somewhat bleak – they have matched the current financial crisis, so you have an idea of why I am hopeful that this New Year will indeed bring the change I desperately need.

I haven’t written for a while – mostly because I have been diligently trying my best to clean my home before this New Year day. While I haven’t – until the past week – touched the rooms of my two sons (aged 21 and 17), I could take it no longer.

When the dust reaches a certain height – I must intervene. Their rooms were definitely bad Feng Shui! And I needed to correct this problem.

I don’t understand why dirt and dust doesn’t bother them. While I may be guilty of clutter – at least it sits upon a clean surface.

Anyway, I see that I’m rambling. And while I do have much to say, I think I need to get a bit of sleep and come back later .

Good night everyone. Have a most Wonderful, Happy and Propserous New Year!

Juedz

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coffeesugarcubesI guess getting ready for the holidays brought it on.

It’s only natural, I suppose, that this time of year, we find ourselves thinking about the past. The good times we had as children with people who are now but a memory.

I’m not sure why, but I fixed a big breakfast this morning. Eggs, bacon, home fries, and pan toast.

Pan toast.

When I was a very lttle girl, we lived next door to my mother’s parents. Every morning I would jump out of bed and run over to my Papaw and Mamaw’s house for breakfast.

Every morning.

This was a time when most country people didn’t have toasters. A time when my grandmother wore an apron all the time and still used a wringer washing machine.

My grandparents adored me and I remember most of my early childhood by their side. I went almost everywhere with my Papaw. I remember being small enough to ride in the back seat window.

My grandfather was known as a “jack-of-all-trades”, and I learned that most people are capable of doing a lot of ordinary as well as extraordinary things when they put their minds to it.

My grandmother was a great cook, good with a plow, and always there when I needed her.

And every morning, she made me pan toast.

To make pan toast, you need a few slices of white bread – or leftover hamburger buns, fresh churned butter and an oven. She would chip off chunks of the butter and place them on top of the bread so that once you put it in the oven, you’d have little “puddles” of butter that soaked into the bread. The perfect pan toast was a little brown and crusty around the butter spots.

My grandfather was passionate about coffee. To make it more “child” friendly – to a budding three year old, he would put a little bit of coffee in the cup, and add loads of sugar and cream – fresh from Aunt Bessie’s dairy.

There before me was my perfect breakfast. Oh, there were always fresh eggs and sausage or bacon – but the brightest spot of my morning was dipping my pan toast into my coffee and talking to my Papaw and Mamaw. I was their sunshine, and they were mine.

Life was good.

While I do possess a toaster, that’s used quite often, I have – on occasion – made my family pan toast. Though their fascination with it is far less than my own. This morning, of the four pieces that I made – no one took even one piece. Which meant they were mine – all mine.

So, I fixed myself a cup of coffee. Though I usually drink my coffee “black” – like the grown-ups do – this morning I sugared it up and added loads of half-n-half, merrily dunking my pan toast and thinking about my grandparents and how much I miss them.

It’s funny how such simple things can bring a flood of memories of loved ones lost so much alive. I can see Mamaw fussing around the kitchen and my Papaw sitting across from me fixing my coffee. I can feel myself fidgeting on my knees – wearing only my “step-ins” – in the chair across from him in anticipation.

How delightful it was to have recalled this wonderful memory of my childhood this morning.

Life is good.

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mapleleafI’ve lived through many Thanksgiving gatherings. Some more pleasant than others. This year as I get ready to embark on this year’s Thanksgiving journey, I felt the need to think about and express the things I am truly thankful for.

I am grateful that, in spite of times that were difficult, and the many days I faltered, I continued to pursue happiness so that I am able to see that many of the small things in life are truly very large gifts.

I am grateful for my friends, who share many of my interests and, more importantly, my view of life. Who brought to my attention the Eckhart Tolle book, “A New Earth”, which was an answer to my prayers.

Thankful too that Mr. Tolle wrote the book that changed my outlook on how to live life for the better. Who allowed me to see that in the face of any difficulty – this too shall pass. For my friend who called me to watch that particular episode of Oprah’s show which led to participating in the ten week series of Oprah’s “A New Earth” webcasts along side Mr. Tolle.

I am also grateful for Oprah’s generosity in hosting this webcast for free to thousands around the world. At the beginning of each show, when we all stopped, took a deep breathe and shared those moments together was magical. A global meditation, a silent prayer of unity, an inspiration of hope. I am truly grateful that I chose to and did participate.

Some of the things I am grateful for are sometimes taken for granted. I wake up every morning safe and sound. That I have been blessed with continued good health. That I have a husband and two boys who love me even through those times I was so discouraged and depressed over not finding a job. For overlooking my many flaws and loving me in spite of the fact that I’m not the Suzy homemaker they would truly love me to be.

I am grateful that we all are in good health and we share a nice home in a good neighborhood. Many people around the world can’t say that, and I am thankful that I can, while hopeful that in the future the ills of our planet can be healed.

Grateful too, that Barack Obama won the election. I think my hope in the future would have died if the outcome had been different. I am overwhelmed by this gift of hope.

I was delighted to have re-connected with an old childhood friend this year, who also shared my enthusiasm for Obama’s campaign. I am so grateful that the friendship that developed when we were very young was never lost, and has now been found again.

Finding a place where I can share my voice is something I am so thankful for. I am truly grateful that I found Word Press who freely gives us this opportunity. So too am I grateful for one particular reader I know only as Zuy, who touched my very essence with an essay on hope that caused my shell to crack so that I could finally emerge and find my way. I will always be grateful for you.

I am grateful that the price of gas is a lot cheaper now than it was a few months – even a year ago. It makes my trip to visit my parents and siblings in another state more affordable.

While I wish my husband and boys could go along with me on this trip, I am thankful that I still have my parents and I can visit them. That we, my parents, my sisters and their families will all be together this year. Living so far away makes it difficult to see them as often as I would like, but I am hopeful that the future will bring us more happy events that bring us all altogether.

And I am grateful to our Creator, who set us upon this earth as caretakers so that we can enjoy all of His creation. All we need to do is open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to all His wonders that surround us and enjoy them more.

My wish for you dear reader, is that you have a joyous Thanksgiving Day. That you have a little more to eat than you need to and that you share your laughter with many friends and family.

Blessings to each and every one of you and your families and friends.

Juedz

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treeinfog_21This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps because of all the media coverage of the California Proposition 8 it stirred up a lot of feelings I have – not only on gay marriage, but also abortion. In many ways the two are similar in that it involves some people trying to enforce their sense of morality onto others.

I’m not gay, but I have known many gay people. Some of the best people I’ve ever known are gay.

When I was much younger, and lived in the NYC area, I, like many professional women in my area, used to hang out in this one particular gay bar. After work, like many men, we’d go for a drink or two to unwind after a hard day at work and there we could enjoy the company of men who were not spitting out lines to get you in the sack, but were intelligent conversationalists. A gay man’s perspective on a lot of issues is the best of both worlds – male and female, and they have a sensitivity to the feelings of others you don’t find in macho man. They were always great listeners. In fact, looking back, I regret that I lost touch with my best “girlfriend” Bill after I got married.

The issue of gay marriage is a lot like the issue of pro-choice. Perhaps gay marriage is the new political twist on the pro-choice, right to life debate.

About a year ago, as I was driving back to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, my mind wandered to a variety of things during the 10 hour trip. As I passed each billboard along I-95, I fantasized about having enough money to create an advertising campaign to promote a business venture I was thinking of using the copious number of signs you’re faced with along that route. As I was driving through the heart of Dixie – Georgia, South Carolina, with all the little Jesus saves and other religious signs along the way, it occurred to me that billboards could be used to put out some powerful messages.

On a ten hour trip, a mind can wander to many different things. Why it turned to pro-choice, I don’t really know. Maybe all the little Jesus saves signs were pissing me off. I was driving through “far right” country, and of course they are the ones who want to force their views of just about everything onto everyone else.

A flash of inspiration, revelation if you will – came over me. God is pro-choice, that’s why he gave us free will!

The gift of free will means He gives us the right to make our own choices – for better or worse – in our own lives. If the choices we make are unacceptable to Him, then that is an issue that is between the individual and his Creator. Not between an individual and another person or group of people.

“Do not judge, lest ye be judged” is a principle that has guided me through life along with the golden rule. In fact, I can’t see how a person can truly live by the golden rule if he or she does render judgment onto another. In judgment, our hearts are not pure.

That doesn’t mean that another person’s choices are right for you. If your own personal opinion about abortion or homosexuality is that it’s not right for you based on any principle you have – (religious or otherwise) – then that’s OK. But when you believe that you must stamp out the God given gift of free will to other people, you are in fact depriving others of that same gift.

I respect the Right to Life. However, I think that until a baby is actually born, until it takes its first breath of life, its fate will always remain with that of the mother. How many pregnancies naturally terminate in miscarriages? How many pregnancies result in a still birth, where the baby dies while in the womb? No one can say – with true certainty, until the actual birth of a baby, that any pregnancy will result in a new life.

How many babies have been born to mothers who just don’t want them? How many babies have we heard about that were abused and died at the hands of these “caretakers”? If a woman will not give up her baby at birth, and also doesn’t want the burden of motherhood – for whatever reason, then let her make her own choice. Let her use the gift of free will to determine what she believes is the right choice for her. Whether you believe it is right or not should have nothing to do with her own personal decision.

That brings me to the Gay Marriage debate. I think this is an issue, much like the abortion issue, where some want to force government to intervene in what is primarily a personal decision which is quagmired within a religious issue. Seeing that the forefathers of our system of government set it up to have a division of church and state, I see this issue as government overstepping into the personal rights of others.

Marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman. I’m not sure when it was required to have an “official” marriage license, but I do know that marriages in ancient history were sanctioned by a religious ceremony – not by a government. In God’s eyes, an “official” marriage license is not required. Only the government and divorce lawyers need that.

I suppose the need of government to have some legal verification that two people were actually married was so that when one partner died, or the two decided to part, that an equitable division of property could be litigated. A “legal” marriage also allows one partner to have a voice in difficult decisions when the other partner needs medical care and is unable to make decisions for themselves. Who else would you want making decisions for you except a person who you love and who loves you?

I know that many gay people are opposed to “civil union”. However, that is exactly what a “legal” marriage is. A legal partnership. Nothing more in the eyes of the law. It’s two people who enter this partnership because they love and cherish the other. They want to share all they have together – til death do they part. (Or until they decide they don’t want to be married anymore.)

While it’s true, that legally, marriage is nothing more than a partnership, the premise of “marriage” denotes a partnership that transcends a legal document. The love between two people who love and care for and about each other does transcend a simple document. Marriage does imply a sacredness of passionate devotion between two people. I think that people who need a special ceremony to seal this element of marriage seek this as a blessing. I don’t see any problem with doing this with or without a “legal” document. However, the legal rights two people wish to give each other still needs to be recognized by the government.

While people opposed to gay marriage may revel in denying others this legal right, it will not prevent two people – of any race or creed – of loving and being devoted to each other. It will not stop them of having wedding ceremonies where they confess their love for each other. The only thing they do is deny these people of the civil rights they deserve as citizens. Rights that these opponents have decided – because of their religious belief – that only a man and a woman can share.

Like abortion, who you marry is a personal decision and should not be “governed”. If you feel that God’s gift of free will is given freely to everyone, then – without judgment – you should feel compelled to live and let live. Do what your own conscious guides you – personally – to do, and don’t condemn others when their choices differ from yours.

If love for one another – for all mankind – is our highest principle, then let us accept with joy and without judgment – those who wish to honor the sanctity of two people who desire to declare their love and care for each other.

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