Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful For It ALL!

November 19th: World Toilet Day

Every year I spend the days before Thanksgiving making my ThanksGiving List, where I note some specifics of what I want to thank my friends for during my traditional Thanksgiving Calls to them on Thursday morning. It takes some pre-thought to decide exactly what I want to say but it's easy and such a pleasure to spend the time thinking about all that I am thankful for in those I love. 

Gratitude for all the good and love in our life is easy; not everyone takes the time but if put on the spot each of us can without much effort think of at least a few things to be thankful for in our lives. The harder, more deeper, and dare I say more joyful exercise is to practice being thankful for it all. Everything in our lives! 

When I read about World Toilet Day it had a profound impact on me and upped my gratitude exponentially. Did you know that 2.5 BILLION people live without a toilet and proper sanitation?! World Toilet Day along with Charity: Water and Water.Org do great jobs drawing attention to the fact that there are BILLIONS of people living without the most basic of basics. 

When I have a bad day, feel something's lacking, or am just not fully present to the joys of my day, I stop myself and for one brief moment give thanks if I have nothing else in life... I have water and a toilet. To think there are so many that don't humbles me and makes anything I have to complain about seem small and trivial. So this Thanksgiving I'm not just thankful for the big things, I'm thankful for the smallest, simplist things too.

To be thankful for it all we need to evaluate any upset in our lives in reverse. I was annoyed earlier in the month about how friends were fighting about the election then I thought how awesome it is to live in a country we get to debate these kind of topics out loud, how great it is folks care enough to fight about what's important to them, and lucky I am to have passionate people in my life. Irritated I am getting a cold this week, I was reminded how lucky I am to be healthy most of time and how fortunate I was to be able to be there for people I loved when they were ill.

Only when we can be grateful for all life has in store for us are we really living in gratitude. Sure it takes some effort to find gratitude in the annoyances, disappointments, and suffering in life but like a friend who had gone almost two weeks without power said after the storm- at least we were safe and we were together. 

There are some shitty things that happen in life- things that can almost destroy us... but if we're here after we get knocked down we have, if nothing else, another day, hour, minute to be thankful for. 

I'm hoping you have the Happiest Thanksgiving ever and am wishing you gratitude for wherever you are, whatever you have, the strength to handle whatever you're dealing with and the joy to appreciate all that life brings next :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

FORWARD >>>> Together!

Anyone who's remotely interested in politics has had their heart broken in the last decade. It's the rare voter who cast theirs: Bush, Bush, Obama, Obama. So we've all been there the day after a big disappointment.

I was elated with Obama's win last night and went to sleep exhausted but very content. Then came today! Complete melt-down from my Republican friends on Facebook. And I don't mean aw-shucks disappointment I mean: "vomit"; "I'm disgusted that people are so stupid"; "I’m just really scared and sad for our country". There is also the irony that these comments are all coming from normally loving, kind Christians.  Made me wonder: Isn't that what He wanted? Why are they fighting God's will? But I digress...

As I was reading through these posts at first I got very angry and could barely control my annoyance. I was especially worked up at someone's bashing of Obama on healthcare because she fears for Obamacare. She has a pre-existing condition but is under the impression that her care will be compromised more with new laws vs existing. I was about to look up the facts and tell her how wrong she is and how she is being ridiculous because it actually removes yearly and lifetime caps so it is doing the exact opposite of what she is claiming....

But then I stopped and thought about why someone who is a good person is acting so emotionally. And a wave of what I can only think of as compassion flowed through me (it might have been the Lord speaking to me, who knows?). First, I'm no healthcare expert, maybe she's right and her understanding of her care is correct. Second, even if she is totally wrong, she is scared, she is not healthy, she must be really frightened to be this worked up.

And even the people I know who have little if nothing to lose with an Obama second term, have something going on with them that is making them nervous and upset. What would be the upside of gloating?

If we are this divided and angry about an election no wonder we carry that through to not being able to work together. Today instead of being a happy day, I was a bit heart-broken: if there is this much anger and venom in my own neighborhood how will there ever be peace in the world?

The only way is to move forward together. To realize we don't get all that we want in any relationship, be it working, romantic, or familia. Our sister doesn't listen to all our advice, our spouse all our preferences, or our co-workers all our requests. We need compromise and cooperation.

Clinton joked about it, but Nate Silver, the stats-wizard who predicted perfectly how the electoral map would land, proves it to be true: MATH is important. Things need to add up and be understandable if we want to transform them. Let's take one of the most controversial topics in the election: abortion. The Republicans have strong held beliefs that life begins at conception and I understand their passion on this issue. But, there is the math of it. Abortion numbers will not go down and in fact go up if birth control is not available and affordable. Teens will get pregnant if they are not given proper sex-education. Rape does cause pregnancy in over 30,000 women a year. People have sex no matter what other people's moral convictions are. It is proven the majority of the population does not wait until their wedding night to have sex nor want every child that may be produced once marital relations commence.

So what does that mean for Republicans politically? It means if they want less abortions they need to work with Democrats to reduce those numbers. Moral high-ground is worthless without coming to the table to work on a solution. They'll need to support women's healthcare, and dare I say support Planned Parenthood's goal of providing women with birth-control options. They'll need to support giving teens the biological facts in school while sharing their own moral convictions at home. And I have a brilliant idea on not only how they can make women safer, but also score some political points, AND reduce abortions: Make the first bill they champion across party-lines and send up for a vote in the next session the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry Act (SAFER). Have every Congressperson join together to fund a sexual assault registry and to make it mandatory to process all the hundreds of thousands of unprocessed rape kits.

Read more here:

I am an independent voter and I have voted for numerous Republicans in the past when they were for fiscal responsibility, national defense, and personal liberty. No matter what party, I think we can all agree on the upside of reducing tens of thousands of abortions while providing safety for women by getting more rapist off the streets. Win-win.

We aren't going to get everything we want in life and especially in governance, so we need to all collectively work together, put something of value on the table, and stop trying to make it a winner take all, zero-sum game. We can only move FORWARD as a nation TOGETHER!