Are you being lazy too?

Nat King Cole lazy summer  It’s the last days of summer and this may be the best time to be lazy. What I love about summer is days away from routines when you can be lazy. Times when you don’t have to set an alarm, wake up whenever you want to wake up, cook a late breakfast or grab a late lunch with a friend. Grilling out on the deck when the daylight hours are still long and having a fresh dinner with goods from the farmers market. A vacation at the beach or a staycation at home, you can go somewhere or you can stay at home and still be lazy and have fun.

Nat King Cole sang a wonderful song, “Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…” that will get you bopping and swaying: https://youtu.be/AoLogdbVS3U. It’s a fun way to jazz up a summer day and you all set for any summer day.

If you have already had your summer vacation, I hope you enjoyed it and really unplugged while you were on vacation. August is a month of vacation for many people before the busy business of September kicks back in. Before we know it, school will be back in session at all the levels. If you haven’t yet taken time away from your routine, it’s time to get lazy.

One of the best parts of summer for me being lazy and get re-energized is reading. I’ve perused some summer reading lists and am offering below some suggestions that you might enjoy for your moments of being lazy too. Yeah, that’s what summer is for. While you’re being lazy, you can actually enlighten your mind or lighten your mind.

When President Barack Obama was in office, one of his rituals was to go to an independent bookstore while on vacation and he also shared some of the books on his summer reading list. Former president Barack Obama smiling in a crowd.

Even since leaving office, we are fortunate to still get a glimpse into his suggestions for reading. There are a couple that I plan to take with me for my Outer Banks vacation at the end of August:

See the source image“Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging,” by Alex Wagner.

  • His take: “[A] thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are – the search for harmony between our own individual identities and the values and ideals that bind us together as Americans.”

A link to an article describing the list in full is here:  https://www.axios.com/obama-shares-his-summer-2018-reading-list-72766803-b255-424d-a12c-ddd7c83ea901.html

From the New York Times, a list of some good summer reads include this one:

THE MISFORTUNE OF MARION PALM, by Emily Culliton. (Vintage, $15.95.) In this debut novel, a Brooklyn mother has embezzled a modest amount from her children’s private school. When it faces an audit, she leaves her family behind and goes on the lam. As she tries to carve out a new place in the world, Marion turns out to be a delightful antiheroine and defies expectation at every turn.

Image result for black detroit book BLACK DETROIT: A People’s History of Self-Determination, by Herb Boyd. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $16.99.) Boyd weaves the lives of standout African-American figures into this history of the city, tracing its evolution from a French trading post to a symbol of decline. From the country’s first black auto dealer to Michigan’s first black obstetrician, characters who might have otherwise remained on history’s sidelines are the heart of Boyd’s history.

A link to an article with other suggested reading from paperback books : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/27/books/review/new-paperbacks.html

For fans of Zadie Smith, Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid, Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, you might enjoy this new author:

BROTHER
By David Chariandy

First line: “Once he showed me his place in the sky.”

The book: The lives of two Canadian brothers are forever changed after a violent shooting draws additional police scrutiny to their neighborhood.

The author: David Chariandy grew up in the same Toronto public housing as the family in Brother. He currently teaches English at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He has been previously published in his native Canada (the critically acclaimed novel Soucouyant), but this is his first novel to be published in the United States.

Read it for: A poignant and timely look at community, family and race in a setting that will be new to many American readers.

Read about other new authors and get book reviews from Book Page at this link: http://bookpage.com/features/22926-six-new-authors-you-need-to-know#.W2d4mfZFw2x

A book that I mentioned in a blog a few months ago will be a good one to read during the last lazy days of summer:

the-sun-does-shine-st-martins-press-cover  Here is a link to a review of the book: http://bookpage.com/reviews/22448-anthony-ray-hinton-sun-does-shine#.W2d5pfZFw2w

I love “chick-lit” books for summer reading too. Any books by Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel, Beverly Jenkins and Brenda Jackson. I just read The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks and have picked up Two by Two by him as well. Danielle Steel’s The Duchess is in my bag for vacation.

Image result for book the wife by alafair burke Straight out of the #MeToo headlines, The Wife, a new novel by a former prosecutor spins a fictional tale about a devoted spouse of a socially conscious talking head charged with sexual assault (think Camille Cosby and Bill Cosby). The book is described as “sensational and sly” in O Magazine’s August 2018 issue, where they indicate it might bring new meaning to the word loyalty.

Summer is full of things to do but only if you really want to. That is the beauty of what I think summer is about. It’s doing nothing on days if you don’t want to. Getting home from work when there are no meetings, no practice to take anyone to, no obligations. Summer is going to conventions and conferences, picking up knowledge and information but also networking and meeting new people. Summer is letting your mind take a pause, the fall will be just around the corner and we will have battles to fight on many fronts.

Yes, I know I am retired and you think that means I’m being lazy all of the time. I have been amazed at talking to my retired friends who do volunteering, they’re signed up for several projects and organizations and spend three or four days a week “working” on something. It’s not that we mind it, the joy is that we are choosing it and get to invest our time, talent and treasures in what matters to us. But even with that, vacations have meaning. Yes, retirees need to find time to be lazy too so we have energy to give back to our communities.

Before Labor Day, can you find some time to be lazy? I hope so. I’m planning to gather a stack of books, gather with some friends at the Outer Banks, eat as much as I want, gaze at the ocean, go on walks, chat with girlfriends, indulge in movies & watching the US Open on TV and be lazy. We need to get rested for what lies ahead.  

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Grab your life vests … haters gonna hate but we’re not going down like that

When the boat gets rocky, grab your life vest. Stay calm, be cool, collect yourself and don’t panic. Grab your life vest and as they say on airplanes, put on your oxygen mask first before you help others. Metaphors, yes. But in reality, that’s what you need to do in just about any situation. Right now with what is going on in our communities, with what is happening in life, with politics, with uncertainties … grab your life vests and prepare to survive. We’re not going down.

We could get discouraged but that’s not useful. We could give in to despair when things don’t go well, but that won’t help get us out of the rocky waters. When dis-ease occurs, figure out what is wrong, get provisions and focus on recovery.

Politics has been messy lately and we’re going to need to buckle up to get through this. The nastiness of racism has risen and is on wide display, this is not for the faint of heart and the analogy of grabbing our life vests might work for weathering these storms.

None of us has been brought this far to be left without a life line, without a life vest.

There will be safety in numbers too so hanging on to someone else and working together can make us stronger. What I think is very important is knowing that we can grab hold, that we have resources and others to shoulder us for what is happening. Life is about daily leaps and knowing that we have a life vest and resources to survive it.

My parents often would tell me, “this too shall pass.” Yes, indeed. In the interim, grab the life vests so you can stay afloat. The journey toward freedom is still ahead.

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Although we may have thought the fights had been fought in the 1960s or the 1860s, there will likely always be someone who uses their privilege to challenge others. What matters is not being quiet about it but rather preparing for the rough waters, grabbing for reinforcements and forging ahead. Racism never completely went away, it has been under the surface and the fears of some believing they are missing out has caused them to strike against others they feel are responsible. Haters gonna hate and we’re gonna keep it moving.

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Grab your life vest. We’re not going down like that. Love trumps hate.

Summer time … the sun does shine, or does it? Plus, can the Queen and Halle come over?

Oprah’s book club selection for this summer is a really excellent book, inspiring and yet it’s a tough read: The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton. “A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice and the gift by a man who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.” My blog this week is on the sun shining, times when the sun doesn’t shine, and amazing summer thoughts from a school teacher on how to have your best summer ever.

“Despair was a choice. Hatred was a choice. Anger was a choice. I still had choices, and that knowledge rocked me. … I still had some choices. I could choose to give up or to hang on. Hope was a choice. Faith was a choice. And more than anything else, love was a choice. Compassion was a choice.”

“I missed my family. But sometimes you have to make family where you find family, or you die in isolation. I wasn’t ready to die. I wasn’t going to make it that easy on them. I was going to find another way to do my time. Whatever time I had left.

Everything, I realized, is a choice. And spending your days waiting to die is no way to live.”   — Anthony Ray Hinton

I saw Oprah interview Anthony Ray Hinton this past Sunday on OWN. The interview had me smiling at times and at times I wiped tears from my eyes. His journey has been truly incredible. The Super Soul podcast of Oprah’s interview can be accessed here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/id1264843400. It is a wonderful way to start your summer and see that the sun does shine. When you have a dark day and wonder whether or not the sun will shine again, think about Anthony Ray Hinton’s 30 years on death row, watching 54 men and one woman inmates walk past his cell to be executed and wondering if he will be executed too.

The book reads like a novel but it is a true story of faith, courage, friendship and hardship. Mr. Hinton has a friend named Lester, they’ve been friends since Mr. Hinton was four years old, who visited him every week that he was imprisoned for those 30 years. That is friendship. I wonder if any of us have a friend who would do that. The reason Mr. Hinton was released is because of Bryan Stevenson, an advocate with an organization who worked on Mr. Hinton’s case, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in the overturning of his conviction.

Truly amazing book. One of the things that finally helped Mr. Hinton to survive is that he began to live through his mind. Now, here is where his book intersects with summer in my mind. I think summer is a great time to let your mind imagine and wander. To help him survive where he was, he began to imagine many scenarios. So, if you’re imagining things, you may as well imagine big things. Mr. Hinton imagined himself flying to London and visiting the Queen of England. They had tea, played croquet, she showed him around the castle and the gardens and secret rooms in the palace. He was completely of sound mind but this imagining kept him from feeling confined.

Mr. Hinton read books, many books. He read books by James Baldwin and Maya Angelou and he started a book club.

“Not everyone has my imagination. All day, every day, guys are drowning in fear and death. Imagine knowing the day you’re going to die. How could you think about anything else? These guys have to find a way to think about life.”

Mr. Hinton married Halle Barry in his imagination. He is sane, don’t go thinking he had lost it. Just remember, this man was on death row not knowing whether he would ever make it out of that prison alive. In his interview with Oprah, he says that it was not a sexual thing, that it was an inspirational situation to cope through difficult times. He was married to Halle for 15 years then dropped her for Sandra Bullock because Sandra could drive a truck to help him get away from the prison. You will enjoy hearing him talk about it in the podcast.

In his book, he intersperses reminiscing about his imagination with the petition filings being done on his behalf, the execution dates that were set for fellow inmates, security guards mistreating them, and the experience of his mother’s death that nearly broke his spirit. You do get what it is like to be on death row but you understand how he learned to survive it by believing in something bigger than the prison system.

I think you will smile, cry, laugh a bit, cringe a bit, but ultimately just like Mr. Hinton, you will believe that the sun does shine. Put it on your summer reading list. But, even if you don’t take the time to read the book, listen to the podcast and I hope you will feel inspired. An excerpt from the Super Soul Sunday broadcast can be accessed here: http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/anthony-ray-hinton-time-doesnt-exist-on-death-row

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/the-powerful-lesson-death-row-taught-one-inmate-about-hate

The past week has seen some dark days for those who admire Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, with their decisions to end their lives. Their suicides are certain tragic and my thoughts are with their families, friends and colleagues.  I am reminded too of the many veterans who don’t recover from the mental anguish and emotional wounds they suffered while in the military. Statistics show that on average about 22 veterans commit suicide each day in the US. The headlines don’t talk about them and we didn’t mourn for them as loudly as we did for Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain but we probably should have. We live in a society that puts a lot of attention on the celebrity at the expense of the ordinary tragedies, that actually are more extraordinary, going unnoticed.

Three weeks ago nearly two billion around the world celebrated the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It was a beautiful occasion. I got up myself early on that Saturday morning and totally watched it. I loved it all.
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But neither Prince Harry nor Duchess Meghan are just about the royal life. Just this week, Prince Harry brought attention to suicides of veterans:  https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/prince-harry-pleads-with-soldiers-to-not-commit-suicide/ar-AAyuA2h  I hope that others in the US will do more to prevent suicides of the veterans and the vulnerable, not just focus on the celebrities. When the sun doesn’t shine, we need to be there for those having a tough time, let them know they are not alone.

Lastly, I read an article about a parent asking a teacher for a summer package for her child. I remember those days when teachers would give our children things to do over the summer. This teacher’s response to the parent was awesome, you can read the entire article here:  https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/whats-hot/teacher-doesn’t-give-students-summer-homework-but-what-she-assigns-instead-is-amazing/ar-AAyjhzI?ocid=spartanntp

The teacher has some fabulous summer thoughts that are simple yet in these times they might be revolutionary:

  • encourages the families of her students to spend time together by having dinner together – how many of us are so busy with our schedules that having dinner together has gotten lost in the process

  • have the students have regular bedtimes – occasional nights without a bedtime are okay but generally having a routine is good for children (Butch and I followed this with our kids, we extended the time during the summer but there was still a regular bedtime. The teacher gives some rationale for this in the article.)

  • find a pen pal – what a great idea. Maybe an aunt or uncle in another state or a grandparent. Teaching the art of communication or writing without the student realizing that is what they are learning. It’s a wonderful way to disconnect from social media too.

  • put the phone away – yes, that means all of us actually putting the phone down for a certain time period and playing some games together or talking or just being with each other. Wow, what a concept.

  • relax – really. seriously. chill. (you can do it!)

As the summer gets under way, I am looking forward to the sun shining, to long days of beauty, and evenings of imagination. For those without a chance to feel the sun on their face, I hope to find a way to bring some sun into their lives with some volunteering to provide some meals for kids out of school for the summer and continued talking of suicide prevention tools. As lazy days of summer come, I will take some moments when I don’t check social media and I will relax and set the phone aside, sip some sweet tea and open good books to read. I hope you will have some moments to let the sun shine on your face too.

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Forks down, ears open

Just some common sense thoughts to get through this thing called life. Rushing through life not treating ourselves well and not treating others much better, that may not be the best formula for this thing called life.

When you’re eating, are you eating for the next bite to put in your mouth or are you enjoying the food that is already in your mouth? When you’re with someone, are your ears open to listening to what they are saying or are you thinking about what you want to say next?  Now, how are these related? I think the common thread is how we treat ourselves and a reflection of how we treat others.

Rushing through life without really taking the time to actually taste and enjoy the food, let alone chew it well enough to digest it well … that definitely isn’t good for you. We must treat ourselves better. Slow down. After you put the food in your mouth, put the fork down. Taste what is in your mouth. Chew it so that it can digest well once it is swallowed. Savor the tastes. Take a moment before you pick up the fork again with another forkful of food. Mindful eating instead of just eating for the sake of eating. So yeah, forks down. That is advice I am reminding myself of too. Slow down, taste the food. Slow down, savor life. Slow down, don’t get so caught up in the minutia. Put the fork down.

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Of course those same thoughts can be applied as good advice on how you treat yourself. Take some time to taste life, don’t rush through it every day. Digest it well. Slow down. Savor it. Really see how life tastes instead of running from one thing to the next thing. Take a moment before you pick up and move on to the next bite of life. Breathe …

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Memorial Day is coming, the unofficial start to summer. Slowing down and telling ourselves to put the fork down is a good way to start the summer period. Enjoy the long evenings.
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Enjoy the casual Fridays. Take an extra day off and enjoy a long weekend. And yeah it sounds like a crazy cliché, but put the fork down and savor the tastes of late spring and early summer.

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Ears open. How often are you in a conversation with someone and find that you aren’t really listening to what the other person is saying but rather waiting for them to stop talking so you can pounce with what you have to say? It’s got to be happening a lot because the responses come too quick, don’t you think. Just think about the dialogues going on in the country today, people aren’t fully listening to each other, they’re talking but not listening. In every day conversations, there’s way too little listening.

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People want and need the validation of being listened to. And if true understanding is to occur, we have to listen not just hear each other. And I want to clearly state that hearing and listening are not the same. We sometimes hear the other person talking but we’re not really listening to them. Disconnects and lack of understanding of how someone feels can happen when we don’t listen to each other. So, next time you are in a conversation, open your ears and stop your brain from churning. Wait before you pounce. Listen, truly listen.

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Friendships and relationships thrive from listening. I have had friends who only called when they needed something from me, that’s not necessarily a complete friendship. I have friends who know they can call me to talk even if we haven’t talked in many months.  I have friends who are good listeners too, we give and we receive for each other. My goal for the second half of 2018 is to be a better listener. I think in some ways I’ve started to approach the edge of talking more than listening. Listening in fact may be approaching the status of being a lost art. The country is on edge and it has made us edgy. Falling back to the art of listening just might be a good thing right about now.

So, next time you’re in a conversation, ears open. Don’t wait to pounce to respond. Just listen, sometimes people want to be listened to more than they want you to solve something for them.

Forks down. Ears open. It might help us get through this thing called life with a little less stress.

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Which bag do you want?

If you put your troubles in a bag and put that bag on a table and others that you know did the same thing with their troubles, there would be a table with many bags of different troubles. Then if you could make a choice of which bag you want, which bag would you want?

I was talking to a friend recently as we discussed some issues that a mutual friend was having. He relayed this bag analogy to me and thought that no matter how difficult our own troubles are, most of the time we wouldn’t actually choose to trade our troubles for what someone else’s troubles are. I think he’s right, given the actual chance to fully know what someone else is dealing with, live in their situation, my troubles might not seem so bad after all. I probably would go get my own bag from that table. Which bag do you want?

Life is full of twists and turns, highs and lows, good days and not-so-good days. Every day is not perfect and some days we just might wish we were living someone else’s life. Problems that we might have with our health or on our job or in our families or relationships, they might seem overwhelming. Stop and pause for a few minutes. What you are dealing with might indeed be awful. My parents used to point out to me that no matter how bad I thought I had it, there was probably someone worse off than me. They encouraged me to take what I’ve got, the hand I’ve been dealt and play it the best I can. It probably could be worse and if I had to randomly choose a bag with someone else’s problems, I think sticking with what I know might be a better deal.

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The year 2018 is four months down already, that’s one-third of the way. Where are you with plans for this year? If your troubles are weighing you down, time to check in and revise your plan. Troubles can indeed take over our thinking, they can consume our waking moments and even cause us to be awake long after we should be asleep. I had someone that I mentored and I cautioned her on “paralysis-analysis” on her problems. There are times we get so enthralled in what we think are our troubles that we literally don’t move forward at all. We get stuck. We overthink everything. We go through “what if” on just about every decision and end up not making some decisions.

Whatever it is that we perceive as our troubles, lay out the options, make a decision and then get going. And, don’t go back and beat yourself up over the decision. That doesn’t mean you won’t learn from the result, it just means don’t rehash the decision-making to the point that it’s “paralysis-analysis.” Just do it. Then learn what you can learn from what happened. Success comes from trying and greater success comes from learning what to do, in part based on what not to do.

If you were one-third of the way on a journey but encountered some troubles at that point, that’s still progress so you wouldn’t give up.

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How many of us have abandoned all of the New Year’s resolutions for 2018? How many of us are thinking about the weight-loss goals and the stop-procrastination goals and the spend-more-time-with-family goals that have been abandoned? But, there’s still two-thirds of the year left! Troubles don’t last always, get back on track. You really don’t want to get somebody else’s bag. Open your own and get to it.

I heard someone say that we have more choices than we give ourselves credit for. Even with a job and family commitments, we can make choices on our time and our schedule. We can decide our health is important. We can decide to spend just five minutes of quiet time in the morning to get centered and take some deep breaths before facing the day. We can take the kids on a walk in the afternoon or evening or get out of bed 20 minutes earlier to get in some physical activity. There is someone who can’t physically do that but many of us can.

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We can eat better for our bodies, the vessels that carry us through life. Making a salad and putting it in a container to take from home for the day doesn’t take more time than walking to the lunch counter or corner restaurant to buy one. Starbucks doesn’t need our money every single day, especially not after the Philadelphia incident. Save some money and choose a different option.

Some of our troubles are self-inflicted by the choices we’re making. So, one-third of the way into 2018, make better choices. I know I can do better and I know I have choices to do better but I haven’t. For four months of the year, I was still choosing cookies and was forgetting to take my blood pressure medicine, despite my New Year’s resolution. Not any more. Those five pounds I picked up have got to go and the blood pressure medicine will be taken every day.

I have a good friend who recently had a stroke. Prior to this, she was very healthy and unaware of any health problems. She didn’t take any medicines, followed a nutrition plan that was very focused on eating right, in fact she was a nutritionist by training. She used to exercise three or four times a week but got out of the habit a few years ago when her granddaughter was born and she started helping to take care of her in addition to still working herself. She was still slim though, hadn’t picked up any noticeable weight.

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So, what triggered her stroke? High blood pressure … she didn’t even know she had it. Hypertension is often referred to as the “silent killer.” Thankfully she’s recovering. But, she said she is so happy to be alive after going through this, she is making some very different choices from now on.

I count myself very fortunate. I will keep the troubles that are in my bag.  What’s in someone else’s bag might be even heavier than mine. I am grateful.

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What is real?

On Easter night I watched the movie, Heaven Is Real. I don’t know if you saw this when it was in theaters a couple years ago. At the end of the movie, a pastor concludes:

Heaven is real. And if we all really believed heaven is for real, we would all lead different lives, wouldn’t we? God is love. Don’t we say, “on earth as it is in heaven.” And so, haven’t we already seen heaven in the cries of a baby, in the love of a mother and a father, in the courage of a friend. Haven’t we already seen the heaven of love but yet we choose the hell of hate, the hell of fear.

Is this life we’re living each day real? If we believe it is real then why do we do some of the things we do? And if we believe it is real, then should we be doing something different? I challenge myself on these questions often. And I look at the question through the prism of what is going on in my family, my city, my state, my country, churches, politics and communities across the groups I interact with.

Last week we commemorated 50 years since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the last several years of his life, he was a hated man by white nationalists, KKK and white southerners who didn’t want the improvements of life for blacks that he was fighting for. Even in black communities, some feared the change he was seeking but many were courageous enough to stand with him and support him. His courage and the courage of those who stood with him was real.

To persevere for what we believe is right even when the odds are stacked against you, that is real. The struggles that many people endured for civil rights, human rights, women rights, the rights of blacks & Latinos, etc., to have access to what the constitution and laws provide … all of these struggles are real. These struggles take perseverance despite others telling you that your rights aren’t real. You almost have to be more than human, a magical super hero to overcome the massive struggles of slavery, reconstruction, the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow-era, segregation, post-segregation and even the era we’re in now. Jesse Williams, the actor, spoke very eloquently at an awards show about the strength it takes to get through these struggles:

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When we stand up for what we believe, that is real.

Sometimes though, there are occasions when we use what is real / what is truth as a weapon. When we defame others or tear down others in the process of truth / reality just to make ourselves look good, that tarnishes our cause and in a way it invalidates what was real. Is it still real when you take truth and contort it or taint it to make you look better? We may be doing it without malice, maybe out of self-preservation but the result is the same. What was real no longer looks real. To be honest, I personally have had to check myself sometimes on this and I have ended up chastising myself. Beware of those times when self-preservation or self-defense turns into contorting what is real.  I doubt that I am the only one who has done this.

It’s no longer real if we change what was real to the point that it is no longer recognizable truth, no matter what our motivation is. That’s what we would call “incredible,” as in not credible. Not real.

I started writing this particular blog several days ago. It doesn’t usually take me anywhere near this long to write my blogs. I wasn’t sure how to frame what I wanted to say but I had this topic on my mind to share. I thought about whether to put things in the context of the zany “fake news” that we’re hearing so much about because that is clearly not real. But this thought of “what is real” has been on my mind and not just in the political sense so I didn’t want to overemphasize that. So, just a few words on the politics of what isn’t real.

It’s not real when the facts are one thing and we refuse to believe the facts. As they say, you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. No amount of lying or fooling the public will make the facts change … lies still don’t become real no matter how many times they are said. One of the areas that has annoyed me the most since the presidential election of 2016 is blatant lying as if those lies were actually real. I just can’t get over it and can’t imagine the gullibility of ordinary people going along and the complicity of knowledgeable politicians going along. Oh but I digress … enough of that.

Here’s the thing, I think what is real is felt in our bones. I think it’s that simple. I think you know when it’s not real, you truly just know it.

I think people instinctively know what is real, feel what is real. We might want to ignore those instincts but we know what’s real.  I believe that love is real. In fact love may be the only sustainable thing that is real … love extends across life forms.

That’s why heaven is real. That’s why truth is real. That’s why struggles are real because they lead to truth. That’s why civil rights are real because fighting for them lead to truth.  That’s why courage is real because being courageous is love. Love=truth=courage=real. And that is heaven here on earth.

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Love … because that’s what love does

This past Saturday, I went to a funeral of friend. She and her husband had celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2017. They had thrown a big party in November for their anniversary and then went on a six-week travel adventure to commemorate their 50 years of love. They said they acted like kids during those six weeks. Little did they know, in February she would find out she had pancreas cancer and be gone a month later.

Her husband spoke at the funeral. I don’t know how he found the strength to speak as he did at the funeral, I have seen it happen before but I know it takes a lot to do so. He talked about how much time they spent together. He talked about how they did things together because they enjoyed each other. Golfed together, went on trips together.  He talked about the sacrifice she made for him to go to medical school more than a thousand miles away while she took care of their children. All of us sitting in the church could feel that they loved each other but he said she used to always tell him that she loved him more than he loved her. I will never know if one’s love was more than the other because the most obvious observation we had was 50 years of marriage had happened and it was clear it was mutual to anyone who knew them. And for that, we had true respect, admiration and maybe a tad of wonderment.

truelove

My older brother recently celebrated 20 years of sobriety. Our family thinks it’s a milestone worth shouting to the mountaintops. He often speaks to groups, particularly to people in recovery, about his journey and how he keeps himself on the sober path. Key to getting sober was love. In a prior blog post, I talked about a mother’s love and yes, a mother’s love is strong. But, I believe it was my brother’s love for his son that may have actually made a significant difference in making that final turn onto his road to recovery.

Our mother had made several attempts to get him into recovery. He wasn’t ready yet at those times. She didn’t give up and always let him know that she would be available to help him get into a program. So, the strength of a mother’s love had the presence in his life but it would be another love that made it happen. When his wife had died recently from breast cancer, that sent him into a downward spiral but it also left him with a toddler son to take care of. I believe what finally woke him up was realizing that he had to be there for his son. A father seeing that his life had to get better to raise the son that otherwise might lose two parents. Love.

Love is powerful and can make us do amazing things. Hopefully the things we do for love are good things. Love can motivate us to turn our lives around and we become stronger. Love can create a foundation for us to see the beauty of life around us in a different way.

I do know a few couples who have been married 50 years or more. I know several couples who have been married 40+ years. It takes a lot to make it that many years. Some would call it commitment, it is more than that in some ways. It’s a decision. Some days you decide one thing, other days you may decide something else because every day isn’t the same. Love is a like a thread that needs to be sewn into a fabric, strengthened and reinforced.

Love can inspire us, but to last it takes doing something. You make the fabric strong by what you sew with and how you reinforce it. To last 50 years, whether one spouse loves the other more or not, whether it’s a parents love for a son or daughter, the fabric of love is sustainable because of what we do and the decisions we make. It’s not easy though. Tough days come but tough days don’t last forever. Sometimes you don’t see things the same way and that can be difficult. Strongly sewn fabrics of love can last forever and I do believe strongly constructed love will transcend all space and time.

love fabric