Shine On

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Graduations abound. This is a time where weary final exam students can breathe a sigh of relief and smile about their accomplishments. I am blessed as two of my children graduated this week. One child graduated from high school and the other for eighth grade. During this pride-filled week, I had the privilege to hear some moving graduation speeches from both student and adults. Every speech had a similar in theme clearly applies to not just the graduate, but also every adult present.

The goal of commencement is to encourage the graduate to push on into the unknown and figure out how to get what you want out of life. It does not matter if you are pursuing a new job, college life or beginning high school the goal is all the same. You have to be willing to define yourself, your goals and move forward to achieve it. Like a star being born, life teaches you how to shine on.

Life is the polish, and it is up to you to learn how to make yourself happy and fulfilled.

These graduation tips are for everyone young and old.

Failure is certain. Eventually, you will fail at something. The key to overcoming failure is to learn from it. Glean the wisdom from the moment feel its sting because you are human and move on knowing you achieved wisdom and strength from this experience. The message here- It is OK to fail as long as you become stronger and wiser from the experience.

Everyone has the incredible ability to pave their future by each decision they make. Right or wrong, these decisions will carve out your future and make you an incredible unique person.  If you want to achieve a goal, you have to work hard. On the flip side, have fun. A twist to the “all work and no play” theme we have heard many times. This is remarkably insightful. How many times have we worked diligently to achieve a goal only to feel disappointed afterward? Life is supposed to have joy. Work and joy can intertwine to create a fulfilling life. Think about this the next time you feel no joy on the way to your next goal.

Never stop exploring. Other tidbits talked about getting involved outside your studies or work. Have an outlet to broaden your interests and explore your personality. Take time to learn a new hobby, try something that interests you. Enrich your life by learning a new skill and meeting new friends. Isn’t it time to explore something new? Which new hobby have you attempted lately?

Graduation is exciting, as a parent I am both proud and worried about my young adults. They have so much to learn, but I know I will be there to help them through. The speeches remind me we are never finish learning. As long as we have another day, it is one more opportunity to shine on!

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No Names Please!

ego.thechicagoschool.edu

ego.thechicagoschool.edu

Listening to the radio news, it is appalling to hear how the press uses labels to divide people from each other. This divide and conquer tactic pits any group against another.  No one is immune; we are exposed to harmful names and labels every day. We hear names, races, political affiliation, religious affiliations and labels that are unnecessary. Labels and name-calling are the dividing line that separates humans from caring about each other.

Black white yellow blonde ginger democrat republican Muslim, Christian or Jew- each label brings forth good and bad images. Why do we separate ourselves in this manner? We are simply humans with different physical traits, cultures and life experiences. The differences should bring us together not separate us.

~Others opinions of you does not have to become your reality~ Les Brown

It begins with the grade school bully. The first experience when someone points out a physical difference we all possess. We are not meant to look alike, yet children feel the sting of humiliation by someone pointing out a physical attribute deemed different. Most children go on from this experience while others remember it for life. This would be considered a learning tool if it stopped on the school playground but it does not. How unfortunate it is to have your self-esteem ruined because someone chose to be mean-spirited. Everyone is beautiful to someone. If one cannot accept someone by his or her physical attributes, then move on without pointing it out. The accused know their own flaws far better than anyone.

~I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy as a cause for withdrawing from a friend~ Thomas Jefferson

What do wars, murder and bloodshed have in common? Each event was triggered by opinions tied to raw emotion. Opinions teach us about each other. We think differently shaped by experiences and own unique life journey. Instead of staying close-minded ranting and raving about your rights, stop, calm your emotion and listen. Have respect to hear another point of view. It is perfectly ok to disagree, but have respect and openness to listen. The world needs more listening and less violence.

~You never truly understand someone until you have walked in their shoes~

Cultural differences are the biggest obstacle. Who are we to judge how other cultures choose to live? Each culture has its own set of rules set back from the beginning of time. Just because we do not agree with other cultures rules, does not mean they have to change for us. Striving to change other cultures goes back since the beginning of time. After thousands of years, we have not learned anything. Culture is the foundation of whom we are as people. Before I get a thousand opinions about human atrocities in other countries, I am well aware of these facts. Any one’s interference is pushing foreign ideas onto someone else’s world. How is that respecting their culture?  No one will fully understand someone’s way of life without living inside the culture. Walk a mile in their shoes, as long as they do not infringe on another’s lifestyle, then let it be.

Regardless of our differences, we are all the same. Next time the urge to judge someone strikes, take a moment to look at him or her. Try to see they are like you shaped by different life experiences. Would you be any different if you walked in their shoes? Don’t you think it time to step outside your comfort zone and learn about each other?

Mother’s Day Thank You

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wilmington.edu

Happy Mother’s Day to new moms; experienced mom’s and grand moms. Your journey is not an easy one, but the rewards are priceless. Today, we remember the women who have touched our lives and shaped us in many profound ways.

I do not know how women become mothers. Well yes, I know the basics, but where does the wisdom, patience and perseverance come from? I do not remember someone bestowing these qualities on me to get me through the ‘tough years’. Reflecting back on Mother’s day, I realize each child I raised gave me these qualities. They changed me as much as I shaped them.

Our children change us.  It is a long hard road, paved with tears and triumph. It begins with trial by fire and ends with deep satisfaction and pride. The first wail after birth is our call to action from the commanding officer as Parent Boot camp begins.

How does something so small have so many demands? They deprive us of sleep; make us wonder if we are “cut out” for this parent thing. Just as we get our bearings, they find their voice. These little tykes mirror our actions bossy and demanding. Before we know it, we release them to the world as they enter school with a tearful good luck. The next few years get easier, guiding them through their school age years boosting their confidence, helping them find their identity. The years seem to accelerate forward and before we know it, our grip loosens little by little each year as their independence grows. We watch their wings develop growing stronger by the year. The young adult years come with harder decisions and then they leave. The last link bonding us as parent and child is never broken. It only feels that way as they excitedly leave the nest to begin the adult years.

Children teach us about ourselves. They force us to grow stronger and more resilient. I would not trade those experiences for anything. Yes, it was hard, rewarding, crazy, and wonderful all at the same time. The pride I feel being their Mom is knowing I grew from these experiences. I did not have to be perfect to be a good parent. I just had to be there for them.  I have my children to thank for that.

Thank you my beautiful children. You made me a better version of myself. Know I am always here for you. I won’t save you from life, but I will help you through it.  I am honored to be your Mom and I thank you for choosing me. Happy Mother’s Day!

Crossing the River of Life One Stone at a Time

River of lifeToday we have another winter weather advisory. Didn’t someone tell Mother Nature spring is officially three days away. Yes, I want the snow to disappear and green grass to sprout with daffodils and irises in the flowerbed. Somewhere in my annoyance about the pending weather, I found myself wishing for summer days as a child when my brother and I would play in the creeks, catching frogs and crayfish. We spent hours challenging each other to cross the creek without falling in. Life is like that, we take each stepping stone learning life lessons and sometimes fall in and get wet. Just like the game, the object of life is to cross the river safely, learning along the way.

The stepping stones in the river teach us different lessons. The small stones represent life events. These stones peek out just above the surface. We will get our feet wet, but these events propel us forward the next stone. Small stones give us good memories like transitions periods of college to adulthood or single to married life and the beginning years of parenting. Life is trial and error sometimes.

Jagged rock teach us life lessons. Some jagged rocks we step on are more painful than others. The lessons mature us and give us wisdom. Jagged rocks of life are the reality that life is hard, but we do not have to stay there. The great thing about the river of life is that there is always another rock to step on,we simply have to take the next step.

Jumping from the small rocks and jagged rocks are easy. Smooth rocks in this river represent safe havens, when life is going great and there is respite from small and jagged rocks. The smooth rock is inviting, and welcomed. But you must beware of smooth rocks, they can be deceivingly slippery. Slip off of this rock can splash you into another life changing event. Pick yourself up out of the river and dry off. Life situations can be deceiving sometimes.

Life is full of ups and downs, but there are also good times. Safe comfortable periods that allow you to heal, grow and get ready to move forward. These times are represented by boulders. Like the rushing water in the river, life flows around you. Life is good standing on the large stable boulders. Unfortunately, these resting spots are just that. Small periods of rest. You must keep moving to another rock in order to complete your journey.

The journey of life is all about learning from each step you make. Some steps are easy, while others give you a lifetime of wisdom. Yet the journey is all about moving forward and never stop discovering life’s possibilities. Life is not as simple as that childhood game I once played, but I am learning just as much now as I did when I was a kid. Keep moving forward. Safe travels my friends.

Secession- Is it Legal or Practical?

Congressional Painting

America has a long history of secession. We seceded from Britain. The South attempted to secede from the United States. Did you know, several states resolved to secede from the new country even before there was an established federal government? The last post, Echoes of Succession, discussed the roots of secession. Several key issues remain the same in each incident. The first point included a group of people not feeling fairly represented by the government. The second points to the infringement and abuse of government power toward the people. Finally, the last point of contention is the movement away from the fundamental principles of the constitution. This post will answer the following questions using these key points as a springboard. Do we as individual states have a right to secede from the United States and would it be practical to do so?

The framers of the Constitution avoided addressing two key issues while writing and debating the course of our country. The issue of slavery and the provisions for secession were deliberately avoided. The founding fathers knew the addressing of these issues would mean the death of the Constitution. Leaving us no clear way to resolve slavery and secession, resulted in a four-year battle that affected every American from that time forward.

There are two theories when it comes to the question of the legality of secession. Those who hold the sovereign states belief and others who argue the United States is one country. Sovereign state supporters point to the Constitution to support their argument of legal secession. It is interesting to know, the Constitution does not use the phrase, sovereign states, anywhere in the document. The implications of sovereignty and states’ rights originated with the original 13 colonies. The colonies seceded from Britain as a separate states united by this one cause. They gathered their arms, volunteers and beliefs to secede from England. The mentality of separate sovereign states is clear. People of this new nation did not refer to themselves as Americans. They were still Virginians, South Carolinians and Pennsylvanians. The belief that your state was your country rings true from the conception of this country.

The second theory believes the separation of state will be the demise of the country as a whole. The North leading up to the Civil War vehemently argued this side of the story. Lincoln was a staunch believer in the county as one, with a powerful central government. During his first inaugural address, he clearly stated his legal position: (www.historynet/secession)

“No State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union, that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.”

Lincoln clearly believed that if he allowed the south to secede from the Union, it would lead to the destruction of the country as a whole. He rejected any notion of sovereignty of states. Yet, he allowed the secession of West Virginia because it benefited the Union. The final argument against secession became a verbal war of interpreting what “was meant” by articles and words within the Constitution. It all circles back to the fact there was no clear provisions to secession. If states want to secede from the Union, they must address the issues with the federal government.

The last civil war did not dispel the success or failure of secession. It was declared a rebellion, which then resulted in violence without the chance for a peaceful resolution. Nothing was solved by the last Civil war, the south returned to the Union under duress that is still seen today. If Texas succeeds in its petition to White House, it is my hope this issue is resolved without acts of war. The Civil War proved violence does not solve anything. The country suffered greatly during the Reconstruction period. Our country cannot afford to take a step back. Today we need to forgo violence and listen to each other. Our forefathers spent months arguing and compromising to create the best government model known in history. It took patience, compromise and perseverance.

The practicality of secession is possible. Texas is on the cusp of creating history for our nation. In order for them to succeed, it will take everything this country has to quiet their opinions and bigotry to listen and peacefully come up with solutions. This is no longer a fight for the freedom of one race, but it is a fight for the quality of life for the human race. History writes another chapter every day. What will the next chapter of the United States read?