Protesters Are Paid in Wondrous Ways

In addition to continually spewing about “fake news,” some supporters of our current administration claim that among the town hall rebel rousers there are some paid protesters. They are right.  Protesters are paid and in wondrous ways.

Protesters are paid by knowing they are building a sense of community with like-minded folks.  No one wants to lose sleep and wring their hands in dismay alone. Whether it’s the Affordable Care Act, LGBTQ rights, environmental concerns, education voucher mandates or any of the numerous “isms” that get under their skin, when they work together for what they believe is a necessary step to ensure a strong America, protesters love being part of a community.  To the town halls they will go.

Protesters 03 nytimes nytimes.com

Protesters are paid by knowing they are standing up for their core values, values that honor the common good in America’s diverse citizenry.  They can rest a bit better at night knowing that they are trying to protect and live out the core values close to their hearts.  To representatives’ offices they will go even if it means just meeting with a staff member.

Protesters 04 cnn.co   cnn.com

Protesters are paid by knowing they can look at their children and grandchildren, their neighbors and their colleagues and say, “I’m trying.”  They can live each day with a clear conviction to participate in our democratic process, imperfect though it may seem to be at times. Protesters believe strongly in government for the people by the people. To the phones they will go to call local and DC offices and make their voices heard.

Protesters 02 usatoday.com usatoday.com

Protesters are paid by knowing they are energizing America’s political landscape.  The major political parties are changing because protesters persist in having their voices heard.  From Tea Party conservatives to democratic socialist “Berners,” they are active and engaged.  Their energy and commitment inspire others.  To the post offices they will go, mailing thousands of postcards because representatives’ voice mailboxes are filled with other voices, and that’s a good thing despite the cowardice of some elected officials who refuse to meet with their constituents.

Protesters 01 freebeacon.com freebeacon.com

Protesters are paid by the thrill of activism.  Activism is engagement and being engaged is energizing. It makes one feel useful; it gives an element of added purpose to living. Maybe it’s just four people with signs standing outside Planned Parenthood.  Maybe it’s an effort by a book club or church group to send emails in support of or against something the government plans to do.  Maybe it’s a few hundred folks–with dogs and babies in tow–walking with signs in hand, shouting slogans, singing, drumming and just chatting with fellow protesters, engaged in the thrill of being part of an active democracy.

Yes, protesters are paid and wondrously so.

Trump’s Run for President – It’s Like a Reality Show

Over the past several months, some media sources have referred to Donald Trump’s campaign as a reality show.  He’s an expert, having had years of experience with his show “The Apprentice.”

I agree.  I haven’t been able to disengage much from the headlines, quotes and speculations.  Truly, it’s like I wake up each morning thinking, “Now what?”  That’s what reality shows do.

So I wrote a humorous rant for Contemptor.com.  It’s titled: “Welcome to Our Trumped Up Presidential Reality Show”… and here it is:

http://contemptor.com/2016/12/13/welcome-to-our-trumped-up-presidential-reality-show/

 

Ready to Help Train Trump?

All throughout the election process, I’ve been taken aback by so many people’s adoration of a man I am convinced is not the kind of role model we need for our children and grandchildren.

Sure, I understand the appeal of some of his messages and his promises, but the character and personality of Donald Trump still rubs me the wrong way.

In thinking, “What are we gonna do about this guy?” I came up with a plan to train Trump and shared it in a rant on Contemptor.com.

Training Trump: We’re Gonna Need Some Help With This One

 

 

Yeah…I Wear a Safety Pin

As soon as I read of the safety pin as a symbol of safety, I was on board.  Maybe it was impulsive, but I needed to latch onto something meaningful after learning Donald Trump would be our president-elect.

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So I’ve been wearing my pin and sorting through what it means to me.  I’ve read pieces online shouting that safety pins aren’t enough.  Of course, they aren’t.  Pin wearers know that.  We aren’t idiots.  This backlash bothered me, but it also made me think harder about what the safety pin means to me and why I’ve committed to wear it for as long as I believe is necessary.

I wrote the following for Contemptor.com to explain what the safety pin means to me.

About Those Damn Safety Pins…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gun Violence in America: Anybody Up for a Labor Day Weekend March in DC?

Wed. June 22, 2016

Well, well, well.  We’re seeing some action in DC thanks to Congressman John Lewis.  As I type, he is leading a sit-in on the house floor to force the need for government action on gun violence in the U.S.

Congressman Lewis and sit-in
source:  Politico

We need to join him.

We need to select a date and then drive, fly, bike or walk to DC and join him.

We need to rise up with millions of voices and say, “Enough!”

We need to join hands and walk in solidarity for all the innocents and their families and friends.

We need to publicly shame the NRA and manufacturers of military assault style weapons marketed for private citizens.

We need to insist on stricter regulations that will protect gun owners and non-owners alike.

We need to break the stronghold money has over our government.

We need to remember that we are supposed to be a government for the people by the people.

We need to take action to be a government for the people by the people.

We are so damn tired of grieving every damn day.

We can and must be the change.

We have done it before.

We can do it again.

We can vote, we can speak, we can write, we can pray, we can march and we can sit.

Oh, say…can you see…millions marching on DC this Labor Day weekend to demand that our elected officials take action on the issue of gun violence?

We need an organization to sponsor the march and move forward to organize it.

Any takers?

Observations During Days of 90-plus Degree Weather–in JUNE!

It’s been hot in Missouri…like for weeks, and it’s only June 20!  We’ve had days and days of over 90  degree temps and no rain.  We have a 40% chance of thunderstorms today, but watch.  That prediction will evaporate just like every other “possibility of showers or scattered thunderstorms.”

I use to hate the heat and humidity of late July and August in Missouri, but this year…early June?  C’mon.  It’s not fair.

But it is what it is, and we just have to wilt through it.  While wilting, I’ve made some observations about life in Mid-MO when it’s too damn hot way too early.

Nobody cares what they look like when they go to Walmart…or any other place, for that matter.  Forget it.  We prep and dress for comfort.  We walk into stores as if returning from battle, squinty-eyed with shiny faces and furrowed brows.  Don’t anybody…anybody…say a damn thing about how hot it is.

Most of us over 40 have learned to wear loose clothing, and that includes underwear, which for some has become optional.  Footwear, too, is nice and easy…flip flops, old sneakers, well-worn leather sandals…anything that will accommodate puffy toes as the day wears on.

Hair?  If you don’t have any, wear a hat.  Otherwise, nobody cares what their hair looks like.  A cool pair of sunglasses solves any hair issues.  Period.

Birds enjoy pool parties.  I took a large ceramic plant saucer, stuck a couple of rocks in it and added water.  I thought the birds might get thirsty.  They do…as do the squirrels and bees.  It’s become a community watering hole.  Robins are especially uninhibited when it comes to splashing about.  I’m never quick enough to capture any of the action, but here’s the fun place to be in my neighborhood.  Oh, yeah, they poop in , too, and then drink the water.

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Early morning is a sacred time.  I’ve always thought so no matter what the season, but it’s especially true when you face a continual forecast of over 90 degrees and no rain.

In the early mornings, just as the light of dawn begins to stretch its arms, the birds sing and the air is breathable for a while.  I think of this as the big pause, a bit of time to remember that there is a January and February in our future and we will look back on the suffering heat with nostalgia.

Every type of mosquito and tick loves me.  That’s why I slather up and down with non-Deet and Deet products to keep the biting critters at bay…all the while wondering what all these chemicals are doing to me and the environment.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter.  I have to wear sunscreen and bug repellent in order to exist on this planet. Without them I will rip my skin to shreds with constant itching.

My neighborhood is a ghost town during the day.  The employed go to their jobs and students go to summer school or camp as I religiously water garden areas each morning.  But once past 9 a.m. or so, the streets are pretty much deserted except for an occasional dog walker, bicyclist or home security sales representative knocking on doors.

It gets pretty quiet by 1 p.m. and it’s not unusual for the squirrels to shut down in shade somewhere by 2 p.m. on days when the temperature gets over 95.  Birds continue to flit around in the heat all day long though, which is one reason I change the water in the bird bath two or three times a day.

I could exist entirely on watermelon and cantaloupe.  Well, maybe a bit of wine or a beer now and then, too.

N.B. –  We had a terrific rain this evening  with a bit of lightning and thunder.  It lasted into the next morning.

 

 

 

TRUMP: Let’s Protest Him Out of the Race

I am so very proud of the folks in Kansas City who raised their voices in protest of Donald Trump’s candidacy for president of the United States.  Seeds were planted in Chicago when Trump postponed his rally on Friday because of safety concerns raised when fights between supporters and demonstrators broke out. Good move.

When I woke up this morning I read that protestors showed up at Trump’s Kansas City rally and some disrupted his speech.  Outside, there were verbal clashes between protesters and supporters and the police used pepper spray a few times.  Interesting.

It’s all getting plenty of press and air time, and why not?  Protestors have ended wars, taken down walls, secured people’s rights, toppled dictators, and made people around the world more conscious of numerous factors that threaten life on this planet as we know it.

So, duh, protestors can (and I hope will) stop Trump.   Anyone who does not support Trump is hereby invited to gather peacefully wherever he is scheduled to appear.  Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, independents, the walking dead – all of us.  Just gather and hold signs.  No need to disrupt gatherings.  Just show up.  Be present.  Hold a sign in silent protest…or if you’re like me and can’t shut up about this idiotic, Hitler-like candidate, go ahead and exercise your right of free speech by stating two simple words:  “No Trump.”

And if you live far from where Trump is giving a speech or having a rally, organize locally and hold your own “No Trump” demonstrations.

We can do this, people!  The world is counting on us to do so! Believe me, they don’t want millions of Americans immigrating to their countries because of our refusal to live under a Trump regime.

Let’s applaud and join the anti-Trump protestors, refrain from disruptions and violence, and make the No Trump Movement happen!  Let’s combine the teachings of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and simply force Trump out of the race by protesting him out of the race.

From New York City to Hartsburg, Missouri (with a population of 106), we can gather, we can hold “No Trump” signs in protest, and we can ensure that Donald Trump is not on the ticket as the 2016 Republican candidate for President of the United States.

Let’s put democracy to work.  Let’s create the No Trump Movement and exercise our right to peacefully protest.  I promise you, the world will thank us.

Voila! Columbia Is Home to Brasserie!

Last night I had an opportunity to dine at Columbia’s first French Bistro, Brasserie.  It was a dress rehearsal of sorts.  Brasserie officially opens this Friday, March 11, but some folks were invited to dine a couple days earlier, and my good friend, Susan Wampler, was one of those invitees.  Lucky me.

Friend Lynette and me by the outside patio area:

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Owner Adam Guy stopped by our table of five and we had a delightful chat.  Here he is with Susan Wampler:

Susan Wampler and Adam Guy March 9 2016

Closely connected businesswise and physically to Mr. Guy’s popular Upper Crust Bakery and Café, Brasserie’s decor is lovely.  I felt like I was dining outside a French restaurant in spring. I kept saying, “Bonjour!” to folks.  We had a great time and enjoyed some tasty food.

 

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menu item

 

Lynette’s salad with seared tuna

 

In case you’re curious, here’s their menu.

An interesting addition is Brasserie’s event space – The Champagne Ballroom.  Got a wedding reception, anniversary celebration, family reunion, business gala event?  This is the place to be.  I’m sure many locals will make use of The Champagne Ballroom.

Whether you live in the Columbia area or travel from afar, put Brasserie and Upper Crust on your to do list.  The food is delicious, staff members are gracious, and Adam is such a nice guy.

Tres bien!  Two thumbs up!

Mindfulness Meditation At Walmart? Why Not?

Our days are busy, filled with a variety of work, family, community and societal issues. We are bombarded with texts, tweets, and emails from friends and family…with news of terrorism threats dotting the globe, political campaign speeches/debates/town hall meetings, police shootings, climate change scenarios, Zika virus updates, refugees of war, battles about this group’s rights or that group’s rights, human trafficking, the rise of heroin addiction across the U.S. and Facebook postings of pets behaving badly.

And then there’s Trump.trump

How can we cope with it all? How can we grasp shreds of sanity each day within the churning chaos of life in today’s society? In two words: mindfulness meditation. Karen Kissel Wegela’s blog post on psychologytoday.com explains what mindfulness mediation is and how to practice it.

In her blog post “How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation, Dr. Wegela writes, “Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are. Instead, it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by moment. We could say that it teaches us how to be unconditionally present; that is, it helps us be present with whatever is happening, no matter what it is.” Well, who wouldn’t benefit from that?

Gratitude for bringing mindfulness practice to the lives of millions goes to Dr. John Kabat Zinn, Professor of Medicine emeritus and creator of The Stress Reduction Clinic and The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine. His 1994 book, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, was instrumental in bringing the definition and practice of mindfulness meditation to the world.

Mindfulness meditation is everywhere now… books, magazines, websites, work places, hospitals, medical clinics, schools, prisons, mindfulness eating programs, health insurance programs, sports training, leadership training…so why not Walmart?
A mindfulness meditation group at each and every Walmart? No. Taking the opportunity to practice mindfulness meditation when we visit a Walmart or any public place in the universe? Yes. It can help us latch on to those much needed shreds of sanity as we go about the extraordinary busyness of living and just.getting.through.each.day.

So here’s a hypothetical scenario:

You’ve neglected to obtain some needed necessities and goodies at Walmart. It’s now Saturday afternoon and this is the only free time you’ll have to stock up. Three thousand other individuals are also attempting to maneuver their way around the store. You once again vow never to shop here on a Saturday afternoon.

You’re tired from the previous work week with all its inane tasks and workplace politics. You’re concerned about the well-being of a friend or family member recently diagnosed with a terminal disease. Your six-year-old won’t stop nagging that she needs her own cell phone. Your 12-year-old holds daily briefings at breakfast and dinner on why he should be allowed to own and breed Pitt Bulls.

ISIS is planning to attack Cleveland, millions are planning to immigrate to Canada if Trump gets elected, your heart aches for all the senseless shootings at schools, theaters, and other public place…like Walmart. Your in-laws are always critical, your neighbors are thoughtless morons, there are days you hate your life, and last Thursday you felt like killing the client/customer/colleague who was profoundly rude to you. For a split second, you think how wonderful it would be to just lay down right here in the Walmart parking lot and have a break down tizzy fit.

Voila! This is where mindfulness meditation can help. It is the simple act of taking a moment—just a moment– to be aware of what is happening, observing what is happening and your reactions to it, and letting it go with a sense of compassion toward yourself and others.

Opportunities for Mindfulness Practice at Walmart…or Anywhere

The Walmart Greeter   greeter

You walk in with head up and eyes wide open. You greet the greeter with a smile and direct eye contact. This person’s life is most likely far different from yours. Your lives are two universes of tragedies, happiness, mistakes, opportunities taken, opportunities lost…all the complexities of being human, and here you are. You greet each other. You might even ask the greeter, “How’s your day going?” You have this mission to accomplish here, but you pause for just a moment and intentionally connect with another person and you share genuine kindness.

Poem: Container of Compassion” by Sister Steadiness and published on mindfulnessbell.org illustrates the simple compassion when strangers pass:

with each person i pass,
i allow my heart to open lightly
some look easily, friendly
we say, “hi”

Try letting your heart open lightly. You’ll feel lifted.
Aisles Crowded with Noisy Kids and Shuffling Elderly

With list in hand and an eagerness to get this trip finished, you steer your cart down the cereal aisle and are blocked. Kiddos loudly and eagerly campaign for their favorite cereals. A few babies are fussy and one is screaming. These families block the traffic as they attempt to reason and resolve issues. A few elderly folks…feeble in gait, frail in vision, with a trembling hand or a deaf ear to the chaos around them…slowly…almost in slow motion…make their way down the aisle.

You have an opportunity to be really ticked off and annoyed. You’re trying to get your stuff and get out of here ASAP. You also have an opportunity to be mindful…to look at the traffic jam, acknowledge that you are ticked off, and then you can stop and take a long slow breath. Just one. And while you take that breath, you may recall that once, you, too, were an eager an energetic young one…a baby who cried in public. You frame your mouth into a slight smile. Take another breath.

Then you look at the elderly ahead of you. You see a slow grace in how they move. And isn’t it a wonder? They are still here. They are still moving. Will you still be here when you are their age? Will you still be moving? Take another breath. Be thankful that you are here now…temporarily stuck in a traffic jam in the cereal aisle at Walmart…and that’s fine. It won’t last long and it made you pause for a moment.

It is wonderful to have moments in which to pause.
You Picked the Wrong Check-Out Line – Againusatoday.com

All the checkout lines are crowded. Carts are overflowing with stuff. It’s going to be a while. You try to gauge which line will move along the fastest. You pick one. It’s the wrong one.

The person at the register has three items that need to be price checked. All the other lines are just as full and you now have four people behind you. This is a perfect time for mindfulness meditation. This is a perfect time to just be.

Instead of shifting from one foot to the other in agitation…instead of checking messages on your cell phone…instead of sneaking a peek at the stories behind the tabloid headlines, just be and breathe. Focus your attention on something simple—the floor a bit ahead of you, the back of the person in front of you, the handle of your cart. Then take a gentle, deep breath and slowly count to five as you inhale. Do the same as you exhale. Don’t think about anything else; just follow your breath. Do this five times. Then smile gently.

William Wordsworth once wrote a poem titled “The World Is Too Much With Us.” It was true then and it is certainly true now. Mindfulness meditation gives us a simple and effective tool for making life more meaningful…even at Walmart.

 

Trump Ticked Me Off

I watched President Obama’s TV broadcast about terrorism last night.  Of course, with Donald Trump always barking his venom during campaign speeches, I was curious to find out what he had to say about Obama’s 20 minute message.

He tweeted, “Is that all there is?  We need a new president – FAST!”

So of course I shuffled around half the morning muttering a response to myself and finally put it into words.  It was published by Contemptor.com as a rant.

Read it here.