The World Needs Healing

Whenever a tragedy happens somewhere on the planet, I become torn in so many directions.  Generally Facebook or the Daily Show are my only sources of news these days.  I have stopped watching the news in the morning because I refuse to start my day with shootings and fatal car accidents and bombings.  Sometimes I’ll watch the local news in the evenings to figure out what kinds of activities are happening nearby, but that half hour segment is usually rife with devastation.  Is that the only kind of news that exists?  No, but it’s the only kind that gets ratings, so it’s what is played.

Shows like The View, anything on Fox News and even the Morning news shows are so opinionated and generated to appease the viewers, actually give me a physical response.  The other day at the car shop the TV was set to The View and curiously I listened in for a minute.  I couldn’t help myself, but roll my eyes and shake my head to the nonsense that they were discussing.

I keep asking myself “why.”  Why are we talking about red cups instead of poverty?  Why are we only talking about Lions being killed in Africa when Foxes are endangered right here in the US?  In fact, there’s 16,306 animals on the Endangered List.  That’s not including the Threatened level species.  There are hundreds of species of animals nearby my current location threatened by the number of fast food cups that appear on the side of my road daily.

Why do we share what we do on social media?  What is the criteria by which you select the stories to share?  When the stories about Paris appeared on my news feed last night, I was deeply saddened.  The number of people killed was at 127 last time I looked.

This is tragic, yes.  But what is it about Paris that makes us change our profile pictures to the French flag?  Or send our thoughts and prayers to those souls in those attacks?  What is it about a school shooting or a child’s death that puts those on the trending list on my home page?

A quick search on Wikipedia puts the death toll of the ebola outbreak at more than 10,000.  What happened to our terror at the outbreak?  It was exciting for a little while, maybe it was fun to be scared of it, but now it’s old news.

So before I respond to a tragedy like the seeming coordinated attacks in Paris, I ask myself “why.”  Why am I posting this update?  Who is going to read it?  If I type “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris” what is my purpose?  Do I think Paris is reading it and will be thankful?  Am I putting out good energy into the world?  Am I just joining in to the conversation to feel like I am a part of something bigger?  Why?

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  All energy you put into the universe goes somewhere.  When you add your voice to the love, there is a build up of energy.  And when you add your voice of hatred, blaming Muslims for the violence, your energy builds up there.  Who do you want to read your post?  What do you want them to think or do or say?  What is your purpose for the words you put out there?

What does Fox News want us to think or do or say when they play a constant stream of “news” asking whether or not Isis is gaining any momentum or traction from this attack?  Just for kicks I just logged onto Fox News Live Stream and it was playing exactly that.  I always get the feeling that the why behind their stories is to tell me that I should live in terror and that “we” should attack all the scary people out there.

So while I am deeply saddened by the horrific events in Paris, today I don’t just pray for Paris.  I pray for the world.  I pray that this event won’t widen the divide.  I pray for us.  I pray that you stop using the word “they” when you talk about the tragedy.  It is not “them” vs “us.”  There is only us.  What we put into this world comes back to us and this whole world needs healing.  More violence is not my answer.  I hope it is not yours.

I am going to take this particular incident as a reminder to spend my day sending out love, helping others, being a part of the solution.  Picking up fast food containers from my street.  Recycling the plastic we use.  Waving hello to strangers in my town.  Giving a hand to someone who has fallen or dropped something.  This is where it starts.  Peace begins in your own home, in your own town.

Let’s all be a part of the solution.

Veterans Day

November is a month that is geared towards gratitude.  Two of my favorite holidays happen during this month- Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is obvious, and it is well shared about.  Veterans Day, on the other hand, seems to be a day that is given very little attention.

In the morning on holidays like Veteran’s Day there will be a multitude of sharings on social media, thanking our military members for their service.  This is wonderful and at the same time it often seems like an afterthought.  A quick nod for the day you got to take off of work perhaps.

But Veteran’s Day is a day of true appreciation.  After several years of working with military members and their families, I have a much deeper understanding of how important this day is.  The sacrifices that our military members make whether they are sent off to a war zone or work a desk job on a local base are deeper than most of us know.

Veterans Day celebrates our military members and coincides with Armistice Day- “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace” – President Woodrow Wilson.

To me, this is a day to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy every day.  Freedom of Speech, Religion, Assembly, to Bear Arms, to own property, to live or travel anywhere, to work at any job, to marry and raise a family, to education, to participate in politics, to equal justice, to wear what you want, to make your own choices in your life, to complain about plain red cups, to post naked pictures of yourself on the internet.  You get to make those choices on your own.

I am grateful that I do not have to cover my face and body when I leave the house.

I am grateful that I could live in New York, Hawaii and North Carolina.  I am grateful that I can move if I want.

I am grateful that I can be friends with whoever I want.

I am grateful that I listen to the music I want.

I am grateful that I could marry who I wanted.

I am grateful for both fast food and farmer’s markets.

I am grateful for being able to vote.

I am grateful for clean, running water.

I am grateful for our police force, our military, our EMTs, our ability to cure so many diseases, and science.

I am grateful that I can believe whatever I want.

This is a short list.  When I picture myself living in a third world country or a country where women’s rights are non-existent, the list of gratitudes becomes extensive.

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What freedoms are you grateful for?

 

Not just another “Case of the Mondays”

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Someone’s got a case of the Mondays!

When does it start for you?  Is it on Monday morning, when your alarm first goes off and you press the snooze button?  Is it over night, as your busy mind plays over and over for you all of the things you need to do when you wake up?  Does it start earlier?  Do you worry all weekend?  Do you wake up frustrated on Sunday morning because the weekend is already halfway over and you haven’t done anything fun because all you could do was catch up on the stuff you don’t have time for over the work week?  Or is it as early as Friday at the end of the work day, when you have the conflicting emotions of simultaneously being set free, but being worried about all the work you were unable to complete?

I have a real problem with the fact that our nation, our people, is it worldwide, I don’t know, but I have a problem that we accept that Mondays inherently bring with them dread, disappointment, and boredom.  That somehow our lives are separated into the fun, relaxing weekends and hard, grueling, necessary workdays.  The memes about “The Mondays,” “HumpDay” and finally, “TGIF” tell a really sad tale about what we accept about our lives.  I understand that for some time in our recent past in this country there was a real need for this attitude, to make a hard living for your family, with whatever job was available and to do what it takes to feed your family.  Everything else was less of a priority.  Our ancestors went through some hard times.

My problem is that we have taken that attitude as if it is a banner to wear.  I suffer through work, I work insane hours, I put up with circumstances I hate, so I can save up for _______.  The weekend?  Retirement?  Did our grandparents and great-grandparents really work so hard just to pave the way for us to do the same?  What did they want to pass on to us?  The attitude that life sucks, then you die?  Or did they sacrifice their own happiness so someday we could have better?  That we wouldn’t have to suffer so greatly?

Today we have an insane amount of resources that through our ancestors hard work is now available to us at the tips of our fingers.  We walk a block away and have our choice of vegetables, meat and nuts that we did not have to forage or hunt for.  We look into our pockets and find entire libraries of information in seconds.  We can see instantly the same things that people are seeing on the opposite side of the world.  And still, we think we need to slog through the week, hating our job, feeling like we could be doing more, accepting that our fate is to trade our happiness for a paycheck when we could run our lives from our smartphones.

Well, I refuse to live like that anymore.  I understand that at times you may need to accept a job that you don’t love to get money to live for a while.  But there is no rule that says you have to stay there.  There is no reason for us to accept that our fate is to be unhappy.  There is no good enough excuse anymore.  If you hate your job, you have the ability to change it.

Step 1: Realize that you are not stuck and you are not a victim.  Your job is just that, a job.  It is not your life.  You are not married to it, you did not give birth to it, and you owe it no allegiance.  You have an agreement with someone that you will perform a service and they will give you a paycheck in return.  Your worth and your value are not intertwined with your job.  They are inherent in you.

Step 2: Now that you realize that you are not your job, you can now look at it objectively.  Make some lists.  What do you like about your job?  What do you hate about your job?  What can you change right now?  What aspects of your job make you want to beat your head against the wall?  Are they fixable?  Or do you need to start thinking about a change?

Step 3: My favorite part.  Allow yourself to dream.  Go to a relaxing spot where no one is going to bother you.  You might need to put this time into your calendar, tell people you have an important meeting or a dentist appointment.  Bring a journal and a pen.  Set a timer for 15-20 minutes.  For this time, all you are going to do is allow yourself to dream about what you would be doing during the day if money wasn’t a problem.  Would you sleep all day, travel?  Would you exercise or write a book or draw?  What would you do?  The trick is to let the wild ideas come up.  There is a voice inside of you that will say, that’s too crazy, or that’s not possible.  For this exercise, just say thankyou, and smile and allow the fantasy to get wild and write it down when your done.  No matter how nuts you might feel.

Step 4: Read what you wrote and consider it as a possibility.  Maybe in your fantasy you were a farmer, but really you just want to live closer to nature or to a farm.  Think about ways that you can incorporate a little bit of your fantasy into your life.

Step 5: Repeat.  Remember to dream often.  How are you going to know what you want if you don’t even allow yourself to think about it?  Once you do these exercises a couple of times you will begin to see patterns.  Those patterns are crucial.  Pay attention and you will start to see the little guideposts to a happier, free-er and more joyful tomorrow.

 

If you are a teacher and would like to meet with like minded individuals about making your workplace and your life a better place, contact me at oasisforchange@gmail.com or call me at (808)343-4279 and we will talk.  We have a fabulous Teachers in Transition group starting on October 6 and this could be for you!!