Mindfulness

The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis – Merriam-Webster

I have never been much for meditation.  I have tried it several times in the past few years and it’s never seemed to click for me.  I find I either am too mentally stirred up to quiet my thoughts or am too tired to focus and start to fall asleep.  The breathing portion of it I have found relaxing at times, but as far as an overall daily practice – not exactly my cup of green tea.

For me mindfulness is something entirely different.  While I’m sure those who regularly engage in meditation would consider the two interconnected, I don’t see mindfulness as something I need to practice but rather something that just happens naturally.  Sometimes I become so lost in it that I don’t actually realize that I’m being mindful at the time.

The most recent example was last evening while sitting on my zero gravity chair in the yard.  My husband pointed out several bumblebees flying to various flowers.  We have concerns about the declining bee population so we like to point out when we see them in the yard.  We sat there for several minutes just watching the bees.  At one point I said to him I wonder how many other people do similar activities, just sit in their yards and watch nature.

We weren’t attempting to be mindful; it just happened.

I would like to say that I’m blessed in having time to smell the roses, or in my case, watch the bees, when so many others are busy working overtime, raising children or going back to school.  In reality though I just make quiet time a priority in my life, and I believe that allows for more opportunities to be mindful.

Every evening through the week that I make dinner I sit at the table to eat.  My husband works 2nd shift so I’m alone, but I rarely turn on the TV or touch my phone.  Often I will find something to read such as a magazine.  The important thing though is that I don’t allow myself to be distracted by news, social media, etc.  It’s almost like a time out of sorts that allows me to reset for the evening.

When I go for a run I never wear headphones.  Safety is a primary reason, but even on the rail trail I choose not to.  Instead I tune into the world around me.  Nature.  The other people near me.  My body’s reactions to the temperature, terrain, intensity of the run.  I allow myself to get lost in my own thoughts.  It’s not uncommon for me to come back from a run and want to write; the increased blood flow seems to stir creativity within my mind.

I don’t believe true mindfulness can be scheduled.  While taking time out of each day to relax is certainly beneficial for people’s health, it doesn’t necessarily cause one to become aware.  I think the more often we choose to disconnect whether it be in the literal sense from our phones or TVs or the figurative sense, the more likely we are to become lost in the quiet moments of life.  The moments that may not seem overly important or special, but that bring us inner peace just by being part of them.  That to me is true mindfulness.

Dear Trump Fanatics

Hi, my name is Tracy and I am a moderate.  I felt it necessary to write you a letter explaining what exactly that entails as it often appears that you make assumptions about those of us who are not constantly adoring your darling elected President, Mr. Trump.

When I became a registered voter I was listed as unaffiliated.  My views tend to overlap both the Democratic and Republican parties, and I never felt strongly enough about either one to want to vote in the primaries.  In 2008 and 2012 I voted for Obama.  This was after watching all the debates and listening to all the candidates’ viewpoints on various issues.

I was never an Obama fanatic.  There were decisions made by his administration that I did not think were the best, and I never felt it necessary to defend him against those who opposed him.  Were there times when I defended certain policies and/or corrected mistaken beliefs about those policies?  Yes.  Did I feel it was my duty to defend every decision he made and blindly support him even if I didn’t agree with him?  No.

This election season I changed my affiliation to Democrat in order to vote for Bernie Sanders because I was strongly against Hillary Clinton.  I watched all the Republican primary debates, however, and actually thought having Donald Trump run as a not-a-typical-politician type could even be a good thing.  Unfortunately the more I listened to him the more I questioned his ability to be a solid leader.  The whole “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” concept just was too illogical to me and made my eyes roll anytime I heard about it.

With that said I will concede that when it came down to Clinton vs Trump the media was quite often very biased against Trump.  They rarely painted Clinton in a negative light.  The debates between the two were so much more “he said she said” matches that it was hard for me to even discern their viewpoints on issues.  The issues they did discuss were always the same ones, and I went into the election not knowing where either truly stood on topics such as education and the environment.

Because of my unease with both candidates I voted third party knowing full well my candidate would not become president, but feeling content knowing I voted my conscious.  I was very skeptical upon hearing Trump had won, but I had hope that he would surround himself with quality people who could help make good decisions and keep him in check if needed.

Two weeks into President Trump’s administration and already I cringe whenever I hear him speak.  I’m starting to think the whole political world is turning into a reality show as I know when he gives speeches they’re going to grate on me, and yet I continue to watch them.  I am not ready to say he’s unintelligent.  I have a difficult time believing someone who runs successful businesses could be a complete moron.  The fact that his wife is versed in several languages and all of his children seem intelligent says to me that he can’t be an idiot.

It’s his lack of vocabulary, however, that continues to make me shake my head.  The interrupted sentences.  The repeated basic words such as “special” and “great”.  The constant wandering from the topic at hand as demonstrated by his mentioning of The Apprentice’s decreased ratings during the prayer breakfast today.  Part of me feels that he just has to know how unintelligent he sounds and must be doing it for show.

My inability to tolerate his speeches does not mean I assume he cannot better the country.  I was very pleased in hearing that he ensured the US would not be part of the TPP.  I’m curious to see what his plans are for NAFTA and future trade deals.  His lack of concern for the environment primarily through his denial of global warming is of great concern to me though.  His desire to revive the coal industry and his approval of major oil pipelines worries me tremendously.

As a moderate I am afforded this luxury of agreeing with some of his changes while critiquing others.  I cannot wrap my head around those who choose to be 100% Republican and treat President Trump as if he can do no wrong.  I also cannot understand those being 100% Democrat and criticizing every decision he makes.  Extremists on both sides of the aisle are ignorant in my eyes.  Neither is willing to read or listen to anything that doesn’t support their beliefs or look for facts that counter what they believe to be true.

In summary, next time you want to call someone who doesn’t support President Trump’s every action a liberal, just remember there are those of us out there who are moderate and are willing to play ball with anyone who can agree to be civil.

Unfriending Ignorance

I never thought I would unfriend people on Facebook for any other reason but us not being friends anymore whether it would be due to growing apart, realizing we weren’t really that close of friends, etc.  I survived election season with only removing one person and that was because her husband was using her account more than she was, and I didn’t know him and his posts annoyed me.  I made it through election night and the days thereafter and even inauguration day by just overlooking posts which bothered me.

This past weekend, however, my tolerance level broke.  Two people are now unfriended and one I have stopped following due to their sheer ignorance in posting.  One’s posts against abortion filled my news feed.  While I respected his opinion on the issue, his inability to realize that the marches that occurred across the country and the world were about more than just that one issue was too much for me.  Another person’s immature memes were beyond juvenile for someone her age.  She erroneously thought that all the people marching were protesting Donald Trump as president.  If she had only watched some of the interviews conducted at the various marches she would have realized that while yes, there were certainly people marching for that reason, there were plenty others who sought to bring attention to various issues, not just protest.

The final person irked me the most.  A lady who I considered a very kind and caring person posted an article about Madonna’s speech and how her words sounded like a terrorist threat.  I will certainly agree that Madonna should have chosen her words more carefully and anyone who uttered them who wasn’t a celebrity surely would have been arrested.  Below the article several people had written comments and this person wrote back stating that she had neither read the article nor listened to the speech.  I can only infer that she drew her conclusion based on the article’s headline.

I was dumbfounded.  Why would anyone share an article that they hadn’t even read?  I recognize that too many people rely on their news feed as a reliable source of information instead of investigating issues and stories themselves, but to not even read something before posting it?  I felt like it was solid evidence of the inability for people to think on their own anymore.

Where does this ignorance originate?  Is it a lack of a quality education?  Is it an upbringing that relies on skewed viewpoints and a lack of exposure to other ways of thinking?  Is it the main stream media whose main goal it seems is to divide the nation with their biased reporting instead of providing solid journalism?  Is it social media where “information” can spread like wildfire with more people interested in propagating falsehoods than fact checking before posting?

With ever increasing uncertainty of truth from a biased media I think it is so important to truly analyze issues before forming opinions.  My husband and I will regularly alternate between CNN and Fox News because it is very apparent to us which way each of the two leans, and we do our best to listen for facts instead of opinions.  We read a wide variety of websites as well, often finding a story on one and searching for more information on another site just to look for similarities and discrepancies.  It can be tedious and it’s quite disappointing that it has to even be done, that what you read and hear from the news can’t be taken at face value but always with a grain of salt.  It is, however, the only way one can even attempt to find out the whole truth.

Trump supporters think Trump protestors will destroy the country.  Trump protestors think Trump and his supporters will destroy the country.  I think ignorance by both is what is destroying the country.

A Letter on Greed

Dear Greedy Business Owners,

My first legit experience with you was when I worked at Weis Markets.  I began in Oct. 2008 and thoroughly enjoyed my job.  After about a year or so things began to change.  I still enjoyed the actual work I did and I loved my coworkers.  The environment began to alter however as hours began to be cut.  At first it seemed casual.  Oh we’re slow this evening so let’s allow someone to leave an hour or two early.

By 2010 it was a near daily habit.  No longer were people being sent home early due to the store lacking customers.  Instead we would hear from management that 20 hours needed to be cut from the front end staff’s schedules that week.  It didn’t matter if we had lines back through the store or carts piling up in the cart corrals, if you at corporate said hours needed to be cut then cut they were.

Customers grew irritated.  Cashiers were annoyed.  I was stressed and depressed to the point that I ended up in counseling.  Most days I spent jumping on register to help out the growing lines while trying to get the front end audits done and trying to help out the customer service desk worker since we were no longer allowed 2 associates to operate it.  All this while making less than $9 an hour.  The cashiers who would come in and work an hour or two of a four hour shift and be sent home?  Most only made minimum wage.

Can you honestly say that you made that much more money by cutting hours of your lowest paid workers?  Those meager paychecks that put gas in a high school student’s car, paid for books for a college student’s semester and supplemented a senior citizen’s social security check.  I heard how most of you received bonuses for cutting X amount of hours in a year.  I’m sure you used it to buy another Lexus because you certainly never gave it back in any form to your employees.

I survived you, but I am watching my parents struggle in dealing with you and it makes me cry tears of anger.

My mom who has worked for several of you at various jobs and given 100% despite never receiving enough compensation for her efforts.  My mom who also busts her ass everyday for you because she is a hard worker despite the lack of recognition you give her as well as the lack of a simple one week’s paid vacation.  My mom whose knees and feet ache from standing all day because you won’t let her or her coworkers take a simple 10 minute break to sit down.

My dad who has worked for you since he graduated high school yet barely makes more than those who are hired fresh off the street.  My dad who at 56 years old you are forcing to work mandatory 12 hour shifts as well as Saturdays and who you are threatening with a 7 day work week.  My dad who has more energy at his age than anyone I know (and likely more energy than me some days too) that because of you is worn out, sick, cranky and who gets no time to enjoy life because it’s being consumed by work and sleep.

I picture you as Ebeneezer Scrooge sitting behind a desk counting your monies.  Always looking for a way to make just a little more even if it means tightening the noose around your faithful employees’ necks.  Who cares if they’re tired and not paid well enough so long as at the end of the day you have what you want?

I hate you.  I hate you for what you did to me in destroying any desire I may have had in pursuing a career in front end management.  I hate you for fueling one of the worst periods in my life.  I hate you the most though for what you are doing to my parents.  They deserve so much better because they give so much of themselves to you.  I wish they could walk out on you, but then again you probably wouldn’t care because you stopped caring about employees as individuals years ago.  As long as they produce for you that’s all that matters.  Who cares if they enjoy their work.  Who cares if they’re meeting ends meet with what you pay them.  Certainly not you.

You are what is wrong with America.  You embody the greed that blinds people and divides this country by class.  I can only hope one day karma shows you the error in your ways and you see how you treated those “beneath you”.  I hope it makes you see people like my parents for who they are – hard working, loyal individuals who are more than just a means to lining your pockets.

Facebook Robots

I think most of us who use Facebook would say we have a love/hate relationship with it.  We enjoy sharing our lives with our family and friends and having a simplistic way to keep in touch especially with those who live far away.  We like not having to remember anyone’s birthday since Facebook reminds us of it.  We can find events of interest, keep up on daily news and play games.

Yes, Facebook is quite wonderful overall.  That is until we look at the clock and realize we’ve wasted half our evening on it.  Or we find out news from a friend’s status rather than a call or text from that person.  Or we subconsciously start comparing our lives to everyone’s and begin to feel depressed without realizing why.

Merriam-Webster’s third definition of the word robot is: a mechanism guided by automatic controls

Are we not robots in a sense thanks to Facebook?  We check it multiple times a day as if it is programmed into us.  We waste hours of our life just scrolling through our news feed, sometimes seeing the same posts we just saw an hour or so ago.  We log off our computers at night only to sign into our phones before bed.  We wake up and check it again as if something truly important happened while we slept.

What is it about Facebook that draws us in to the point that we lose track of time?  It’s certainly not for the enjoyment of it.  It doesn’t relax us like going for a walk.  It doesn’t connect us like an in depth conversation with a friend.  It doesn’t broaden our horizons, stimulate our brains or cause us to grow in any meaningful way.  If anything it dulls us by killing our communication skills, stunting our creativity and depriving us of time better spent engaging in something that truly matters to us.

Stop being a robot.  That may require deactivating Facebook for a period of time or even setting a timer to limit time spent on it.  Personally I have recommitted myself to not looking at it when I finish work for the day until I have worked out and/or done some cleaning, made dinner and showered.  Whatever works for you just find a way to stick to it.  Life is short; spend your time being more than a Facebook robot.

Why I Write

I only ever write blogs when I feel inspired to write, but I have a personal journal in which I have written much more often.  Actually I have several journals, the first having been started when I was in 3rd grade.  Over the years the frequency of my writing has varied.  Normally it picks up when something bad or stressful is going on in my life, but there are a fair amount of entries about good events as well.  Sitting outside under the stars tonight I began to think about all the reasons that I write and my list is as follows:

I write to reflect.

I write to grow.

I write to immortalize my past and anticipate my future.

I write to heal.

I write to vent.

I write to say all those things that I am unable to vocalize.

I write to release.

I write to express.

I write to not just hear myself think, but to analyze the thoughts.

I write to tell the world who I am without uttering a sound.

I write to capture emotion.  Fear.  Hope.  Loss.  Excitement.  Depression.  Peace.

I write so I can read.  So I can learn.  So I can find the underlying mysteries within myself.

I write to define myself.

I write to keep a constant in my life.  A balance.

I write because it is me.

NC Shooting Videos

Normally I don’t write blogs about current events in the media.  The main reason for this is because I believe the media is biased and will portray events to suit their agendas.  I strongly believe the media is a prime culprit in the increased racial divide in this country.  I don’t believe we ever get the full story from the press and therefore letting the reporters and social media stir us up over everything seems pointless.

Another reason is because too often I think events are either staged or don’t come close to appearing as we are to believe.  There has to be more to 9/11 than the accepted story of “terrorists flew planes into the buildings”, but I have not researched this enough on my own to give my opinions.  The Sandy Hook shooting had “staged event” written all over it; nothing made sense about that and I strongly believe it was created to try to push through gun legislation and/or drive up gun sales.

For these reasons I haven’t paid much mind to all these “cop vs blacks” shootings.  The riots that are happening because of them are ridiculous and anyone rioting needs to learn the definition of peaceful protest.  Not to mention busting windows in local shops isn’t go to do anything to solve the issues.

Tues. evening my husband told me about the most recent one in North Carolina.  He played a video on his phone of the victim’s daughter filming the scene.  She was outside of the taped off area running her mouth and swearing at the cops.  Within 2 minutes into the video I felt that something was off.  The video continued for probably 10 mins, but I didn’t watch all of it as it appeared to be the same thing over and over.  The first thoughts I conveyed to my husband were that if that had been my dad the last thing I would be doing would be walking around making a video.  If someone notified me that my dad had been shot you better believe I’d be there by his side in a split second and if that meant being handcuffed for interfering then so be it.

Today when I signed online my homepage had a story and video of the victim’s wife video taping the encounter.  Again, something seems off to me.  If my husband was sitting outside in his vehicle and I saw cops coming up to his car nothing would possess me to grab my phone and start recording it.  I will even give the benefit of the doubt here and say that I am white, so maybe due to the recent shootings black people feel the need to get any encounter with cops on video.  I’ll respect that.  Even so what disturbs me is that after the victim was shot his wife continues to film.  Again, if I watched a cop shoot my husband I would be there in a split second at his side no matter what.

I don’t know the background of this case nor any true facts related to it other than a man was shot.  I’m not going to trust that the media is telling the full story as already there’s controversy as to whether or not the victim had a handgun.  All I will say is that the videos from both the victim’s daughter and wife are very peculiar to me and that you shouldn’t believe everything you see or hear.