Dependence on Independence

We just got through the 4th of July. Here we are, on the 5th of July, sweeping up the shrapnel of the spent fireworks, getting the beer cans into the recycling bin, and eating leftover potato salad for breakfast. It’s a great holiday, and one we should celebrate with a lot of enthusiasm. It’s a party, but it’s a holiday based on our Declaration of Independence from a distant and tyrannical body that was holding us back from all we could be. I hope we recognize that, and realize what a gift that declaration really was.

Are you truly living an Independent life? How Free are we really? I think we have it pretty good, but we do count on our government for some guidance, which sometimes works pretty well, and other times it’s like we spent the $100 mom and dad left for groceries on beer and cigarettes. There’s been so much bickering about freedom and rights these past few months of the ‘Rona experience, and to be honest, I am kind of losing sight of where idiocy ends and freedom begins. It’s on an endless loop, and I just can’t take much more of the crap, swirled together with the election crap. At least the ‘Rona is keeping that to a dull roar at the moment.

The Mask/No Mask one is the one that is just so overwhelming right now. I do not always remember to wear the mask when I should, but I do try to be conscious and aware of others when I forget. I have seen many videos posted of the meltdowns that people have over the mask thing. Here it is: If a business has decided to make wearing a mask a condition of shopping there, you have 2 choices. Comply, or shop somewhere else. It truly is that easy. This is not the time for you to pitch a fit, declaring your own Bill of Rights for the world to see, because you know someone is going to record your infantile ass having a tantrum. People love that, catching a moment like that and getting it posted in a hot minute for a million views. Congratulations on exercising your right to look like a giant douche baby in public. The employee making $12 and hour really enjoyed you spewing your Covid-spit all over them for a policy they didn’t make. But at least you’re on YouTube now!!

How did we get here? Who knows? But while you do have certain rights as an American citizen, being a monumental douche-bag is going to have some consequences, and you really ought to stop and think for just a second before you make that Declaration of Independence from the ‘Rona and all it involves, because while you are in a free country, you are also burdened with a small amount of personal responsibility and social awareness. Social awareness is tough on a lot of people, because no one ever mentioned that the world doesn’t really revolve around them. The Karens of the world are having a tough time, because society has been calling them out on this, and now the ‘Rona is affecting people, and making some of them be aware that they may just have to consider others for a little while. Pandemics suck, right?

It’s not that I don’t want you out there enjoying your freedoms, your rights for being born in the right place. Just be a little considerate of what the others are going through. We get good at this as a society for little bursts at a time, but it all goes away as soon as it becomes and inconvenience to my life, my perceived space and aura. Enjoy your freedom, just don’t invade my bubble unless I invite you in. Like it or not, believe it or not, we are in a pandemic, and the “every man for himself” crap isn’t really helping anyone, including you. I said at the start of this, when things were closing down in March, we get through this together, or we don’t get through it. And I do still believe that, and I have faith in the majority of people, but a few of you are trying me. That just ain’t right. Get it together, people, the key word being together, not independently. We do better as a whole, not as individuals on our own little islands. Be supportive and respectful, please.

Listen, Carefully

One of my favorite Tom Petty songs is “Listen to Her Heart.” It can be argued I have a lot of favorite Tom Petty songs, and I can’t refute that, wouldn’t even want to because I just loved him, but I guess that isn’t really where I was going with this. Not the first time I distracted myself, won’t be the last. Anyway, the lyrics say “She’s gonna listen to her heart, it’s gonna tell her what to do.” The context of it is that some slick D-bag is trying to steal his girl, but he knows she won’t go because her heart will guide her to stay with him. That’s not quite where I am headed with this today, but it’s still a great song.

I am going to listen to my heart, and it’s gonna tell me what to do. That hasn’t always served me well, when it came to romance stuff, but that’s not where I am headed either today. What is your heart telling you? Is it taking you to a place of peace, a place of love? Or is your heart shrinking away from love and understanding? I keep going on the Facebook, and the hate I am seeing lately, it’s just ridiculous. And it’s subtle, people aren’t declaring their hatred on the podium, except they are. We are wrapping up Pride Month, and I see the anti-LGBTQ posts. It’s been a lot of BLM this month too, with so many posts knocking and degrading that too. If you support something outside of “the norm” I bet I can find someone that will get in your face about so fast it will make your head spin. The thing that gets me is these people mostly claim to be Christians. Boy, they sure lost the message that the namesake of Christianity was pushing.

You remember Jesus, right? He was kind of the first Peace and Love Hippy. He traveled around with his buddies, preaching some peace, love and harmony. He just needed a VW Van and he could have hit more area than the deserts he wandered around. He was on a mission from God, not unlike the Blues Brothers were, trying to do good and spread love wherever he went. His time here was cut short, but in that time he got a lot of people to listen, enough so that a whole religious movement called Christianity grew out of it, and there are many different churches that grew out of it. Then it got messed up, by people of course, that let some other noise drown out the words, of love, coming from their hearts.

And we as humans find all kinds of reasons to justify our hate. Different skin color, different religious affiliation, country your family is from, who you love, sports team you like, breed of dog you prefer, news channel you watch, music you listen to, and on and on and on. The thing is, we are born to love. We all come into the world the same way, and we are all going to leave it at some point, and that may happen different ways, but dead is dead. So, in that time in between, why are you filling that time with bitterness and hate? Why would you go out of your way to make another person miserable? Because they look a little different than you? Really? How did you get there? You didn’t listen to your heart, because if your heart did tell you to hate someone, it’s because someone re-programmed it and messed it up. You need to do a reboot. Turn it of, and turn it back on. It’s not telling you to hate, that is outside voices. Listen more carefully, your heart is pumping love along with that blood that keeps you going.

I don’t understand where it all went wrong, but it happened thousands of years ago when someone somewhere got the wrong idea about his neighbor. Maybe he was on his lawn, and he yelled “Get off my lawn” and the first obscene hand gesture was born. But that was learned, it wasn’t there to start with. They didn’t listen to their heart. A lot of hatred is born out of putting things above the value of a person, a human being. But when you were a kid, looking up at the clouds in the sky, guessing what shape it was, some little kid in another town, state, country or continent was doing the same thing. We all look up at night and see the same stars, no matter where you go. We live here together, so we really should love here together.

People are a mess, and we see plenty of examples of that every day. When someone wrongs you, which happens, I can understand some anger, resentment, or even a level of hatred that could grow. But the person walking down the street with a different skin tone didn’t hurt you. The homosexual couple that sits down to dinner down the street from you is not hurting you. The people praying together in the synagogue or mosque are not walking on your lawn. So maybe just turn down the volume on your hatred a little, and listen to your heart. That will quiet your soul down a little, bring a little peace to your mind. Listen, it’s there whispering to you, trying to bring a calm. Let love wash over you a little, it’s a pretty cool feeling.

Adjustments

If you intend on living your life, you have to learn to adapt to changing situations as you go along. How you adjust dictates how things will go for you. Some people are better at it than others, and I think we all know people who seem to go with the flow so well, you think they never struggle at all. That’s not true, they just smooth it over to look like they have it handled. Everyone struggles, some just adapt quicker.

Life will throw some serious punches at you. I have dealt with some of those blows. I don’t know how “smooth” I was at all of it, but I am still here. They haven’t gotten to me yet, but it sure came close a few times. I have been thinking about this kind of stuff lately as we have been rolling collectively through this pandemic thing. I know a lot of people who just kept going, because there is no other choice. Get through it or it will get you. I myself have been on the job roller coaster but with some serious luck, I have maintained constant employment while not really knowing what the heck was happening. Believe me, I am super thankful for those that hooked me up, and kept me going and positive throughout.

Some people I encounter didn’t adjust too well. I don’t really think it’s their fault, exactly. I am not sure what it is, we weren’t exactly handed Pandemic Paperwork, so getting through one is kind of a hodge podge affair. I think that so many outside factors screwed people up who would normally have cruised through alright. I am not getting political about it, but our governmental leader types haven’t been doing too hot with this. I think most of us can agree on that. The ones that looked closer to having it together didn’t really, they just made adjustments to look that way. Smoke and mirrors, or a good group of advisors and promotional people can go a long way to making things look better than they are. Either way, they don’t get too good of a grade from me, even if we grade on a curve.

But this is life. Things happen, and we have to make moves. Financially seems to be the toughest parts to overcome, but I really think it’s the mental aspects that hit you hardest. I have had to totally change my mindset about money in the past few months as I went from a cash heavy environment to living paycheck to paycheck. That has been more of a mental thing than a financial thing. I have to budget, which I did previously, but I had a handful of cash at the end of every day to visualize where it channeled to so stuff got paid. It’s been a stress thing for me, it makes me a little more anxious, but I am adapting. I have adjusted my spending habits, which was easier when everything was closed. It’s a work in progress, check back with me and if I am in a corner rocking and mumbling to myself, you will know which way it’s going.

Recently I have had a front row to someone who is not doing great with this. This person is just plain old living outside the means available, and unwilling to make adjustments to get within those means. Lots of phone calls to Mama to get a bailout. This person is well over 50 years old, and the only plan is to call mom to get through this. It makes me cringe. Part of it is this constant crying about the financial hardship without changing anything, but also the idea that this person would have no safety net if something happens to mama. I have no safety net to speak of, and that has made me much more careful about walking that tightrope. Growing up is hard, trying to grow up in your 50s might not be possible, is what I am getting from this person. I hope I don’t have to see the crash, but I think it’s going to come, and I can’t even fathom how ugly that’s going to get. Learn to adapt a little better, adjust your spending to your income, I learned that hard, and I am still learning, but at least I recognize that is what I am supposed to be doing. I don’t hold out much hope for someone that thinks the bailout will always be just a phone call away.

Looking in the mirror is tough, sometimes. This situation with the ‘Rona has made me look a little harder at myself, caused me to doubt my adaptability, but I learned that I can indeed adjust my sails to the shifting wind better than I had hoped. I was very comfortable in my pre-Covid shoes. I was just on cruise control, not looking to shift gears at all. Then I had to. I had to get uncomfortable, get thrown into situations that were not my normal. And I adjusted a little, and I am doing ok. I can’t say I feel like I am thriving at it yet, but I just might be able to shift a little here and there and get to that point. Learning to be able to trust myself and adapt has served me fairly well so far. I hope you can find that in yourself, find that confidence to adjust your sails in case the wind shifts. It helps when you have people that know you well enough to tell you that you have that ability, in case you can’t quite see it yourself. Not to bail you out, as it were, but to hold the mirror for you so you can see it too. It’s angles and perspective, but if you can adjust a little, you’ll get that right angle, and amaze yourself.

Attitude, People!!

I have been thinking a lot lately of how we act/react to people, and the things that trigger those things. We have seen the protests, the riots, the pandemic stuff, and people have a lot of reactions to all of it. I see a lot of people that know it all, some that are condescending about all of it, and those that are paying attention yet keeping the comments to a minimum as they ponder what they see. And nobody is really in the wrong, but nobody is exactly right either. How you react to things is uniquely your own thing. What do I do? It’s been a lot of pondering lately, as I prefer to pick and choose what battles I want to participate in or stay away from. That has come with age, not some magic pill. It’s an attitude and it’s mine.

I try to be more positive about things, if I can find a way to do so. I spent a lot of time being negative in my younger years, not overly so, but enough that I bugged myself. I didn’t like it, so I found ways to swing it around. Life will throw you more reasons to be a Negative Nelly, so you have to decide to look for the good things. What I have noticed in my situation is that when I turned that corner, I started noticing and being around more positive people. They find me, I find them. The law of attraction, I guess? When that happened, things got better. I couldn’t explain it any other way if I tried. Good things happen when you look for good things.

Now, life will still throw crud at you. But what changes is how you deal with it. If you keep your negative barrier around you, you will sink a little every time something bad happens. It will drag you with it. A lot of that surprised me when I noticed it, because we all know those people, that every little thing devastates their life. Some things are big, and should affect you, but when it becomes every little hangnail or whatever, and the pity party starts, you just sunk a little lower.

About 120 years ago, or when I was in my 20s, I took the Dale Carnegie class. My employer sent a few of us to it, and at the time, it seemed like a waste of his money and my time. I was truly about 23 or 24 years old, and dumb as a post. I hadn’t learned much in life yet, but I had experienced some things that made me more negative in life so I wasn’t really ready for some of the stuff in that class. I was good at putting on that happy persona, coming across as happy, but I really wasn’t so much, as I look back. There’s a lot I missed at the time, but I still have “The Golden Book” from that class, which is a little pamphlet type thing that summarizes the principles of the course. It’s been a good little resource for me sometimes, which they said it would be, and I will be darned if they weren’t right!!

The one principle I have used over and over through the years is from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” which is one of the “Fundamental Principles for Overcoming Worry.”

How To Face Trouble: Ask yourself “What is the worst that can possibly happen?” Prepare to accept the worst. Try to improve on the worst.

You would be amazed at how doing those 3 little things can change your attitude about a potentially bad or sad situation. Doing those three little things can help you, which in turn can help others through a tough spot. Attitude, it can make for break a situation.

Through the last few months with the ‘Rona causing havoc everywhere, I did this with my employment situation. And in 3 months, I have prepared for the worst, which was being unemployed, I got ready to potentially be unemployed for a while, and I improved on that situation, and never spent more than a day unemployed as a result. I kept my attitude about it positive that something good would happen, and it did. A couple of the more positive people I have met in my life reached out to me, and I had the Costco opportunity and now the opportunity to work at a growing company, Security Luebke Roofing, working with positive people who want to see me succeed. I improved my worst case scenario. I should have paid more attention in my 20s, I may have gotten here sooner.

They say opposites attract, and while that is true, Positive Energy attracts Positive Energy. That is more powerful, and it is within reach if you just tweak a couple of things in how you approach tough situations. It won’t work every time, and you will still always have challenges that may frustrate you. But if what you have been doing isn’t improving things, why stick with that when you can try something positive? See how that goes, just once even, and look for a positive outcome. You may just amaze yourself. I did, and now I have weekends off.

Crazy

Patsy Cline had that great song “Crazy.” She didn’t know that half of it.

Funny there are many ways the word “crazy” can and is used. How we feel it, when we are it, when it takes over. To say we are living in a crazy time right now is an understatement. It is amazing when you talk to people and everyone can agree we have never seen most of this before. Covid-19 notwithstanding, there is some crazy stuff going on out there.

I had a busy week. I started another new job. This is good gig, 8-5, weekends off. But I am lost. It’s an office job, and the girls I am working with are fantastic, the whole place is great, really. They have been welcoming, nice and helpful, and the never ending parade of food in that place is going to make FIRE Fitness a ton of money keeping me from becoming what I once was!! But yeah, I don’t know too much. When I was in school, in the 80s, computer classes were optional, and there was no internet. So my computer skills are kind of seriously lacking. I can get on Facebook, and I can buy stuff online. So the ladies are having a lot of entertainment value with me, not knowing a copy and paste from a right click and drag. I will learn it, but I seriously have never had to navigate a spread sheet while pouring a margarita for someone. I better tell the boss to give the girl training me a raise and hazard pay. As things progress, I am sure I will have entertaining stories to share. For sure!

It was kind of a crazy week personally too. It isn’t really my story to tell, so I won’t say too much, but a good friend lost her mom this week. She had been in declining health for some time, and she made her own decision to stop the care and die peacefully, which she did yesterday. I got an opportunity to see her the other day, she asked for me to stop over. As sad as an experience as death is, this was a beautiful experience for me. To visit for a little bit, and wish her well on her journey, what a blessing. And as Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.

This week’s Cherry on top of the Crazy Sundae is the evolving story of George Floyd’s death, the protests and riots that have been going on, and the completely inept way our “president” is handling things. I don’t really know how to talk about all of it, the story is constantly evolving, and the narrative shifts depending on who is holding the talking stick. This has grown bigger than I can keep up with, and I promise I am trying to understand on many levels what people are not only thinking, but what they are feeling.

I am searching my heart, and asking it and God how to best support the people I know personally who are feeling this the most. I have a lot of friends, white friends, that have mixed race children. I don’t think much of it usually, it’s just who they are. But I think about them during this, and think of how much anxiety they must feel worrying about their children. Every parent worries about their child. But when a child looks racially different from their parent, people make some pretty serious judgements. A few friends have adopted children of color as well, or kids from other countries, and they get a lot of this too. They have unique worries and concerns too, and they get the stares and the inappropriate questions when they are out as a family. I worry for them, and the challenges they have to face as a family. This is life, we do not all look the same, but we can bond and be a family with anyone if we open our heart and lead by the example of love. I want any of my friends in these situations to know I am aware of the challenges because of the things you have told me. I learned by listening, and it has helped my heart and mind a great deal. Thank you, and please know I see you.

I can keep going on and on, and I think I may approach some of this again, on a separate post. But one last “crazy” I want to address, which may not jive well with some of my right leaning friends, is the crazy that currently occupies the White House. I am no fan of D. Trump, and everyone who knows me already is aware of that. Long before his political aspirations I thought he of him as a joke. A creep with money and an over inflated ego, and nothing that has happened in 3 and a half years in a respected office have changed that opinion, only added to it, and made me even more sure that he is mentally ill. The comments he made yesterday, trying to tie George Floyd into the news that job growth had improved, saying it was a good day for George Floyd, showed how out of touch with reality he is. The photo stunt earlier in the week was a big red flag, but this comment was beyond tone deaf. I don’t like talking politics, I am not well versed enough in any of it to make intelligent arguments beyond the idea that too many of the politicians we have are crooks. But this guy? He is a child, a spoiled rotten child that has no business playing in the biggest sandbox in the world. He is an embarrassment, and he needs to shut up.

I hit a pretty broad shot at the crazy spectrum here today, and Crazy has many nuances to hit. A little crazy can be good for you, if you know what I mean. But be careful around it. Be thoughtful and aware of where it lives in your life. I want good for all of us, I really do. I try to live my life in a way that my heart can be open to anyone that has love and kindness as their guide. It isn’t always easy, but living with a dark and closed heart never ends well for anyone. If any of my people need to reach out just to have that conversation, please do. We have enough divide, it is time to bridge gaps, and lead with love.

Chaos, Now and Always

I have been in some deep thoughts about what is happening, and a lot has been happening. There is a virus we all know about, and while that is still here, everyone has themselves pitted on one side or another about the death of a black man at the hands, or knee, of a police officer and his co-workers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We’re living in chaos. We always have been, but it’s been stirred up enough right now that everyone has noticed.

I feel like I haven’t had a “normal” day since March 17th. That’s the day I left work for the last time in a place I knew for 10 years, and I haven’t been right since. The chaos kicked in, and I spend every day just not knowing what to expect. In the new job I had at Costco, I had a lot of opportunity to see people I know come in and we could usually chat for minute or two. They felt the same way for the most part. A lot of people shrugging their shoulders and just saying that they’re trying to go with the flow. Take it as it comes. Today is my last day at Costco. I was starting to feel a little settled in there, cue the Chaos, because that’s done too.

This week has been surreal. In addition to leaving the current gig, I looked for and found a new gig. Through the kindness and concern of people I know, I found a new job, and I will start that tomorrow. It’s in a call center for a local roofing company, and it is so different from what I know, but I am willing to learn and try something new. But I feel unsettled because it’s just one big change after another. Then the whole thing starts in the Twin Cities. The well known death of George Floyd. I have family in the Twin Cities, and with the protests quickly turning to riots, burning and looting, it has amped up my feeling of chaos quite a bit. Everyone is safe in my circle, but there is anxiety.

I was thinking about all of it, and what I kind of got in touch with was the old feeling of chaos I had as a kid. Growing up, my mom was mentally ill. I have written about it previously, and it still has a profound effect on me all these years later. When mom was sick, having an episode that would eventually lead to a hospital stay, we lived in chaos. We never knew what the mood would be, how things would go from day to day. It’s an unsettling feeling, and it is familiar to me today as we don’t know what the news cycle will bring us. It’s a feeling of helplessness and just sitting still, not wanting to add to the chaos. I want to make things better, I just don’t know how, and there is nobody to ask, as the “adults” don’t exactly know what to do either. It’s not a good feeling, but it’s familiar. So I just get through it. It’s what I had to do as a kid, it’s how I do it now as an adult.

It’s how I am feeling these past few days, I want so much to have the words for my friends of color, to say something profound yet comforting. But the chaos I am feeling internally is making that hard. Starting the conversation is tough. Being a middle aged white woman hardly makes me an authority on how it feels to be oppressed or scared. I don’t lead a charmed life, but the color of my skin makes it easier for me to navigate life. Not easy, but easier. I read the posts from my black friends, particularly the males, and I cannot imagine how they feel. To be fearful that today is the day that getting pulled over by that one bad cop and you may not make it home, how do you live like that? It has to feel like chaos in your mind. The how to behave versus what you will do just in case? It makes me want to cry, it makes me want to protect them, but how? I don’t know. I can just pray for them, and I do pray, that the chaos doesn’t get to them. If you can start the conversation, I can listen. Maybe that is what I want to say, I can listen, and if you tell me how I can help, I might be able to get there with you.

It’s starting to feel like the chaos is here and settled in for a while. But it is calm in the eye of the hurricane. So try, if you can, to find that little piece of calm. Find a slice of normal for yourself, and if your normal is chaos, as it sometimes is, revel in that for a little bit. But I want us as a whole to find some peace. It’s tough, and getting tougher. But act in kindness, humility and have faith that the chaos will calm down.

Focus

There was a widely reported murder in Minneapolis from May 25th. I think many of us have seen the video. An officer kneeling on the neck of a black man on the street. It looked casual, almost, as he had his hand in his pocket and another officer stood just a couple of feet away, and two more officers were right there as well. Sick. Sick in every way.

We all know that those officers are not representative of every cop out there. I know a few officers, and they are good cops. They work, they have fears and worries on the job. Getting home after a shift is not guaranteed, and they know that risk. But they also know that cops like the ones in the video exist. The ones who have an ego a little too big, a power thing that makes them operate on a different level. These actions are bringing the focus on that type of cop, and it should. These aren’t the ones working for us. They exist, and we need to know that. I don’t know what you do about it, because until that video hits the mainstream, there is a lot we don’t see.

Then man, George Floyd, had his face knelt into the ground for more than 7 minutes, maybe up to 9 minutes according to some reports. He is heard pleading, that he can’t breathe. Imagine that. 7-9 minutes, with a man’s knee on your neck. You are in handcuffs, and right behind the tire of a vehicle, face on the asphalt. I can’t even fathom what a minute of that would feel like, let alone 7+ minutes. The extended video shows he wasn’t resisting like the report read. He seemed compliant enough from what I saw. So how did it come to that? The answers aren’t going to come to us quickly, I am sure. But the answer that a man is dead at the hands of those 4 officers is pretty apparent.

Protests. When something like this crime gets as much attention as this has, there are going to be protests. Heated, I am sure, and they should be, because if this doesn’t upset you, there is a problem. But it’s turned ugly up in the Twin Cities now. Riots, looting, burning buildings. Ugly. It’s taking the focus off the topic. It’s turning the public eye away from what happened. It’s still there, it didn’t go away, but it is easy to turn your attention to the police precinct in flames instead of paying attention to the quest for justice. That can be very much by design, but try to stay focused, there is more that needs to happen.

I have seen some posts that some of my friends have shared. My friends that are black, specifically. I try not to be the person that says “But I have black friends!!” But I do, but to me they are just my friends. That isn’t the focus here either though, but their words are important. They have tried to convey what these kind of events are to them. How it makes them feel, as a person of color who is trying to come to terms with another crime committed against their particular race. And there words hit me, as is their intention. I am a middle aged white woman. How can I possibly understand what they feel, particularly the men? If I do not focus on their words, I cannot know what they feel. I won’t feel it the same, their fears, their hopes for changes that don’t come. At the end of a day, if they got through it without incident, it is a victory, but it doesn’t feel that way because they have to face it again tomorrow. My life isn’t like that. It won’t be because I don’t see the world through the lens they do, because I don’t have to. It’s 2020 and a black person still has to face the idea that if they cross paths with one person who sees them only as a color, their situation can turn very quickly into something bad. They have to keep their focus. I hate that about our society.

I have watched some of the news about the looting, the burning buildings, the losses in the Twin Cities. I have family that lives there, so I worry about how this affects them. It’s an ugly spotlight to have on your city. But focusing only on that diminishes what happened while an officer choked the life out of a man with his knee on his neck with his hand in his pocket. Keep that image in your head, as ugly as it is. Because anything that is damaged, stolen or burnt to the ground stems from that image. Focus on that, and demand justice for that man, asking to breathe. Stay focused that justice can happen, because every single act that happened since that video was released is taking focus off of that crime, that life stolen. George Floyd’s life mattered. Stay focused on that.

Memorial Days

This is Memorial Day Weekend, with Monday being Memorial Day itself. We “celebrate” it every year near the end of May. A lot of people confuse it with thanking veterans for their service, but it is actually to respect and remember all who left in a uniform to protect us but never returned home. But there is no harm in thanking a vet any chance you get, it’s just important for you to know the difference. A chance to pause, reflect and be grateful that these young men and women fought for our freedoms, and be somber for those that did not return.

It’s very different this year. The gratitude is still there, but it doesn’t feel the same. There are no parades, no big memorial services. We need to keep ourselves socially distanced yet, and big crowds just aren’t a safe scene. It’s sad, because for a lot of people, they need that togetherness to get the full effect of why we take pause this weekend. Our aging veterans are often together at these events. There aren’t many World War II veterans left, and the Korean War vets as well as the Vietnam vets are getting older. The veterans from the Gulf War, Afghanistan and the other conflicts in the Middle East are getting to be middle aged and older as well. These events really mean something to these guys. They should mean a lot to all of us. So please take some time this weekend between the adult beverages and flipping the burgers on the grill to think about them, and their lost brothers and sisters.

I would never ask or suggest that this weekend be about things other than remembering sacrifices made by these soldiers, sailors and airmen, or their families left behind. But just this time around, I am thinking also about all of the families that have lost loved ones during this pandemic. Lots of lives have been lost worldwide, and the numbers are still adding up. Things like this do not happen often, thank God. Any life cut short by an illness, accident or other circumstance makes me sad, really. But this has been so different to me, because it has hit people of every demographic, and hit without prejudice. Rich people, poor people, any ethnic group, male, female, on and on. I know it’s been particularly hard on elderly people, and I just read that more men have died than women. I haven’t checked that, but really the whole thing has just shown me that the ‘Rona takes no prisoners, sort of. I am thinking of them all this weekend too.

Of course I think of my lost family members this weekend, a little more than I normally do. When you lose people you love, they aren’t ever far from your thoughts. That is just the way it is. Age does this to you. Life gives you many people through the years, and the longer you are around, it takes some of them away from you. Remembering those people, and how they affected your life is a part of this process of Life. It’s a blessing really, although when you are going through the loss it feels like a curse. But you should always love in a big way, and live in a big way, so that you get the most out of all of it.

As you navigate the rest of this Memorial Day weekend, whether it is Up North, or just keeping it close to home, I hope you are safe and healthy, and taking precautions to stay that way. Take the time you need to pause, and reflect. It is likely you know someone that fought and died for this country, or you know a family that lost someone. Our Earth is very large, but it is a Small World when you stop and think of everyone who touches your life. Pay the necessary respect to them, they more than earned that. If you should happen to think of the others you have loved and lost, well, that’s ok too. They earned that too, a special place in your heart.

Edward

The ‘Rona has put a strange time warp into effect. It was March, and now all of a sudden it’s the late part of the middle of May. The time went fast and slow all at the same time. April was in there, as I recall, but it was a whirl of the new job and trying to navigate a pandemic. It shouldn’t count against us, but it went by and I have no idea when and how it did that.

May has in the past few years turned into what August is to me: A mess of 31 days I need to just get through and hope it doesn’t cause too much damage. (August tends to be a shit show, for those of you who don’t know.) And May brings the birthdays of both Mom and Dad, although both are no longer physically here, I still in my own way pay tribute to and celebrate their births, as they both lead directly to my existence.

I woke up with a little jolt around 4:22 this morning, and I immediately knew it was Dad’s birthday. Good old Ed, he had been in my dreams, I know that but I don’t exactly recall what it was. In my experiences, dreaming about Ed, Mary Jane or Darlene is their way of visiting me, checking on me, letting me know that they are around, even though they aren’t. It’s comforting, and then a little devastating when you wake up. Because you don’t ever know when they will visit again. I don’t get a schedule ahead of time. I am surprised I don’t dream about them more often seeing as they are never far from my thoughts. But enough of that, let’s celebrate Ed a little!

May 19, 1933 is the day Edward made his presence apparent to Grandma Julia and Grandpa Joe. I never really knew them, Grandpa died years before I was born, and although I knew Grandma I have no real recollections of her even if my brothers tell me I should. I remember her funeral, but that’s about it. I am sure it was a magical day, after all, it was Ed!! By all accounts, even his own, he was kind of a rotten child. He was smart, but always into some mischief. My aunt used to tell us how at the end of one school year, she was sent home with a cigar box full of spitballs that he was responsible for producing. He probably could have defended himself against a few of them had DNA testing been available back then, it is conceivable someone else spit a few of them. Doubtful, but possible. First hand accounts tell us Grandma spent a lot of time saying “Oh Eddie!”

Dad was in the Army, he went to school at UW Madison, something he was always very proud of accomplishing. He was smart, but didn’t always get the best grades. Busy with other things, wink wink. He asked someone else’s girlfriend to the prom, which he was the King of the Prom. We loved teasing him about that when we heard that one! He was also president of his class his junior year, a feat he accomplished as a result of his buddies rigging the election, from what he told us. The prom king thing had more to do with his buddies than him too, by his recollections.

He was a good guy, people really liked my dad. It’s getting more rare as years go by, but I still occasionally will meet someone who knew him from Kimberly or from working with him, or an old client. Most of his friends and colleagues are either themselves passed on or retired and moved away from the area, so I don’t get that kind of interaction too much anymore. But it is fun when I do, because I always get a story.

Ed was my hero. It’s so hard to put into words what he meant to me, I think it is for all of my siblings and people who loved him. He died when he was only 57, which is so young, especially since I am 50 now I can see how young that truly is. When I was just shy of turning 14, I had an accident that smashed two of the toes on my right foot. Dad was out with Dar and Jolene and her first husband, Rob, when it happened. We called the restaurant, and they came right home. It is all kind of a blur, but I remember Dad picking me up, carrying me to the car and driving me to the ER. He seemed calm, but I know he truly wasn’t, he was good in tense situations like that. Dad handled that, and I will never know how he reacted about the whole thing when I wasn’t around, but he never let me for a minute think it wouldn’t be alright. It was alright, in the long run. I had to have part of those toes amputated, and a lot of that is a blur too, but I will always remember him scooping me up and taking care of me. My Hero, always.

Today I celebrate Edward. I do everyday, but today I justify eating some ice cream in his honor. He liked taking us out for a treat. We would hit DQ, Baskin & Robbins, any place with ice cream. 87 years ago he was born, and he had a sweet tooth. You gotta show respect for that, so a little sundae or cone today will be a part of that. Thanks for the little visit in my dreams, Dad. It’s always good to know you haven’t really gone anywhere, and that a piece of you is alive and well in my heart and the hearts of my siblings. I hear your laugh when the boys laugh. Margie loves corny jokes and puns, and that’s you too. I know you are here, and knowing that gets me through missing you. But you will have to get your own ice cream.

Nobody’s Right When Everybody’s Wrong

Just about 2 months ago it all came off the rails. Right? It feels so much longer some days. I sit and think how long it’s been since I last saw this person, that person, since I have been anywhere but the grocery store, Kwik Trip or Costco. I stopped at the bakery yesterday to buy a cupcake for a friend’s birthday. That 2 minute stop lasted almost 10 minutes because I knew the person working and it was so nice to talk to someone other than my co-workers. We didn’t talk about anything but the ‘Rona and it’s effects on stuff, because that is all there is to talk about, but it was fantastic! Best conversation in months!

The State of Wisconsin got turned loose the other day by our state Supreme Court. You know, lawsuit filed, heard, debated, overturned, game on! But those that had filed weren’t ready with their plan, so now our Brain Trust of a State Government has turned it all over to the counties. Some are open, letting it flow as it wants. Locally, the counties in my immediate area all issued orders for more Safer at Home, for at least 6 more days. It kind of feels like the Bus is headed for the cliff, and nobody s driving the bus. I am torn about what’s right here. I want my friends that own businesses to get their lives back, start making money again, but I feel like getting turned loose with no guidelines or parameters is scary. I want people to use their heads, but from the pictures and videos of bars that did get to open, that isn’t going to happen. It might be game on here in a few days. See what happens, I guess.

The real fun is in how everyone blames anyone who they find on YouTube or certain media outlets, and how medically knowledgeable everyone got in two months. I bet all these doctors who spent years in med school and doing internships and stuff feel silly. Two months of quarantine and they could have all of that knowledge and expertise just by watching YouTube videos. I think the Darwin theory will get all of that sorted out soon enough. But people know what’s best, just ask them. I just hate how snarky everyone has gotten. Some people are legitimately scared, for their own reasons, and people bully them about it. It’s so sad. If you aren’t ready, I understand. I am a little leery of getting out there right away too. I don’t need to go to a bar that badly, and a part of it is my concern for the workers at the establishments. I just hate the thought of them getting back to work, finally, earning a little money, getting off unemployment, and they will end up infected. Now they’re sick, can’t get their unemployment benefits, and what happens? It is scary, and I don’t think there is a right or wrong thing, it’s just a thing that will have to happen to see what happens, if that makes any sense.

The list of things getting canceled is growing too. That’s tough to take too, because with many of them months away, you just get a feeling of dread that this will never end. I know it will end, just don’t have any idea of when. Uncertainty is not fun, and having to find a way to plan for things you don’t know about is tough. People are getting crabby about the cancelations, saying summer is canceled and such. Fun will be had, you will have to get creative and make your own good times. But be ready for people to decline invitations, and be kind about it. Not everyone is ready, and that is ok. I have no crystal ball, but I know a lot of fun people who will make the best of a summer with little or no events planned.

In my rambling here, I am trying to sort through the last 2 days since the state abandoned us. I don’t think that is really how I feel, but I don’t feel great about how things have gone down the last couple of days. I can only control what I do, however. I will support the people I care about as this moves forward. If you are out, please be careful, and mindful of those around you. If you are hanging at home yet, I get it. The main thing I want back in my life is my gym. I can go without a lot of the other stuff right now. I hope that those of you heading back to work soon are careful, and that things go well. Navigating this is tough, and the most important asset you have is you. Protect that asset. Move ahead, but be mindful as you do. Anyone that reads this is important in my life, and I want to have you around for a long time. Stay safe, and wash those hands!!