ALL Lives Matter

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As yet another September 11th approaches, with a 3-hour televised reading-of-names, we should be asking ourselves why (even after 15 years) these particular lives seem to matter more than others. Regardless of your beliefs about destiny and happenstance or your definition of a true hero, there has never been an event in history that has been as publicly commemorated as this one.

September 11th is now part of our history and our culture – alongside two World Wars, too many genocides and the Holocaust. But we have never before dedicated a single day, every year, to publicly name those millions of people who have perished. Didn’t their lives matter, too?

Tragedy and heartbreak come in many forms – death from disease, arson, shootings, car and plane crashes. Who are we to decide whose death is more horrific or more memorable? We ALL matter both in life and in death. Isn’t it possible that the 9/11 families are not so much ‘honoring’ their dead as making their own lives (and losses) matter more?

New York has renamed countless bridges and streets in honor of politicians, policemen and even sports figures. The 9/11 Memorial, in its entirety, takes up much of downtown Manhattan. Since when isn’t a ‘moment of silence’ – generally heard around the world – enough?

I’ve always felt bad for people born on September 11th. How do you celebrate your special day when there’s such sadness all around? Do children innocently ask their parents why THEIR names aren’t being read aloud? Everyone grieves in a different way but most observances are kept private.

There’s a time and a place for remembrance of all kinds. But I believe it’s up to individuals to take on that personal burden if they so choose. We will never forget the events of September 11,2001. But isn’t the whole point for us to move ON and look FORWARD to a brighter future?

 

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Listen And Learn

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  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • A closed mouth gathers no feet.
  • Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
  • Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. That way if he gets angry, he’ll be a mile away and barefoot.
  • Middle age is when the broadness of mind and the narrowness of waist trade places.
  • For some, the idea of housework is to ‘sweep’ the room at a glance.
  • The ‘other’ line always moves faster – until you get in it.

Take A Pill

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As spoiled Americans, we eat what we want and we smoke and drink in excess – irregardless of all the warnings from our doctors and the surgeon general. Then we sit back (because we sit way too much) and complain when we don’t feel well.

For some people, the solution is rather simple – “take a pill.” Or two. Or… We are notorious blamers. But we never want to take responsibility for our own actions. It’s so much easier to place the blame elsewhere. Or to expect a miracle at the last minute.

I have, personally, never liked taking pills. I will always try to find a more natural way to deal with any conditions or complications that arise. I only recently started taking vitamins – and only 3 each morning – to help give me more energy and to stave off the cold which permeates my bones and fingers and toes almost daily.

So… “to pill or not to pill?” That’s up to the individual (or their doctor). For me, I choose to eat right, abstain from drinking and smoking and, hopefully, I’ll live long (and well enough) to not regret it!

Hurry… Slow Down!

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We’re in such a hurry all the time. We eat fast food, we get instant messages – we place too much emphasis on instant gratification… we do everything at top speeds from driving to speaking to shopping. Why can’t we slow down anymore?

Where’s the fire in our lives?

From the time we’re little we’re in this giant hurry to grow up. Then, when we’re grown, we wonder where all the time went. We have indigestion yet we eat some of our meals while driving to and from work or while standing in line waiting to catch a train.

My mother always used to say: “A watched pot never boils.” Sounds profound but, seriously, it ‘always’ boils. In truth, it only seems to take longer because we’re focused on it and, now that we’re all multi-taskers, who’s sitting around watching water boil?

So, give yourself a break. You don’t have to make every single moment count. Don’t go directly from one activity to another. When eating, don’t forget to chew and (maybe) even savor your meal… There will be plenty of time to rush when you’re done!

Round Of Applause

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While reminiscing with my son a few weeks ago, I recalled various moments from his childhood that I realized he, sadly, had no recollection of. As young parents, we clap for and record and retell all our friends and family about every single accomplishment in our child’s life.

Some people use the New Year as an excuse to send out letters to their friends describing events that took place within their family in the previous year. It’s sort of like a ‘highlight reel’ but on paper.

I’ve listened to so many of my Dad’s dream sequences in the last year that I could write an entire 4 hour movie script and still have enough material left over to pen several sequels. The problem is, while he’s seeking an eager ear to listen to all his rantings, I’m looking for an escape route back to reality.

It’s one thing to create and recount memories but it’s a whole other thing to expect others to respond positively or enthusiastically about someone else’s life (or dreams – events that never even occurred).

So, feel free to clap every time a toddler blows a kiss or shows you how big he is… SOOO BIG. And, by all means, clap at your teenager’s school concert – even though some kids are singing or playing instruments out of tune. But don’t wait for that elusive round of applause after your latest rendition of dream works!

Agree To Disagree

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Have you ever stepped outside a place like Sloan Kettering and noticed a doctor, wearing scrubs, taking a cigarette break? Ever hear a doctor (weighing in at around 300 pounds) say, “you really need to watch your cholesterol?”

It’s hard to take advise from someone, no matter how educated they are, when their own stupidity is staring you right in the face. And what about politicians? Our next big election is less than a year away and, yet, social media is constantly inundated with one ignorant message or ideal after another. How is that possible?

We are a nation of opinionated citizens. If you don’t believe it, just ask us. Most of us were taught to question things instead of just accepting them. And, yet, we’re also a nation of followers – as if we’re too busy (or too lazy) to even wonder about the state of our state or its very laws.

Some people can’t handle those of us who have opinions. Some outspoken people get criticized while others are just plain ignored. Regardless of which side you fall on, never be afraid to agree to disagree!

Piece Of Mind

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Did you know that when you live with your parents, later in life, you actually start to lose large pieces of your mind on a daily basis? It’s not like when you temporarily lose your keys or forget someone’s phone number. Or when you sit in traffic because it was decided that rush hour was a convenient time to pave the road or there’s an accident on the other side of the divider and all the drivers in front of you decide to look and take photos and you think, “there are two hours of my life I’ll never get back.”

No, this is something entirely different. 

When my Dad – who has very limited sight and even more limited acceptance of that fact – insists on pouring his own drink and I then spend my few free moments of the day cleaning up the spills that could have been avoided if he would have just allowed me the privilege of doing it for him in the first place… there goes one piece of your mind. 

Then when my Mom thinks she is saving 15 cents (yes, cents) by using a coupon from one particular store that is miles away from where I’m doing their regular shopping – resulting in my having to spend a half hour more of my valuable time, traveling in the car (not to mention about 10x as much in gas as the coupon is worth) – just so I can buy that item that she didn’t really even need but had a coupon for… there goes another piece of mind. 

And, finally, when I spill some yogurt down the front of my new shirt (because I’m so tired from running around doing errands and fixing things around the house) and I realize I’ve witnessed this same scene before but, instead of me, it was with the very people I’m usually helping clean up after – that’s when it occurs to you that it’s not a piece of mind you’ve lost but your peace of mindfulness!*

*Don’t sweat the small stuff… Listen to your heart… Take time for yourself… Set clear boundaries… Give yourself the gift of forgiveness… Go ahead and vent… Remain calm… Make the best of a bad situation… Don’t take it all so seriously… Treasure the journey… And when all else fails – LAUGH!

Which Costs More?

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I don’t know when it is, exactly, that a person stops wanting things. Maybe if you grew up in times of war or depression, you were accustomed to doing without. We are such an entitled generation that we take most everything for granted. Sadly, we ‘expect’ rather than ‘desire.’

When we’re small it’s always, “gimme, gimme, gimme.” When we’re a bit older it’s, “I want,” “I need,” “I’m the only one who doesn’t have…” We sound like a bunch of spoiled brats. But, more often than not, our whining gets us exactly what we want.

Fortunately, at some point (usually when WE start paying for our own food, clothing, rent, gas), we get it. That’s when we have to start looking at the prices of things as well as the balance in our checkbooks (okay, we don’t really use checkbooks anymore but you know what I mean…).

So, now we begin a new chapter in our financial history book called: “Which costs more?” 

  • Dine out or cook in?
  • Movieplex or movie rental?
  • Vacation or stay-cation?
  • Bookstore or Library?

And then it hits us. The big divide between what we think we need and what we can actually afford. That’s not to say that we must give up all essentials – only those little ‘extras’ that we didn’t really need in the first place!

Get Up, Go

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(Unknown Author)

How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my get up and go has got up and went.
But in spite of it all I am able to grin
When I think of the places my get up has been.

Old age is golden, so I’ve heard said
But sometimes I wonder, as I get into bed.
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup
And my eyes on the table until I wake up.

Ere sleep dims my eyes I say to myself
“Is there anything else I can put on the shelf?”
And I’m happy to say as I close the door
“My friends are the same, perhaps even more.”

When I was a young thing my slippers were red
I could kick my heels high as my head.
Then when I was older, my slippers were blue
But still I could walk the whole day through.

Now I’m still older, my slippers are black
I walk to the store and puff my way back.
The reason I know my youth is all spent
My get up and go has got up and went.

But really, I don’t mind when I think with a grin
Of all the grand places my get up has been.
Since I have retired from life’s competition
I busy myself with complete repetition.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits
Pick up the paper and read the ‘obits.’
If my name is missing I know I’m not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.

Places People Meet

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When living in a co-op or condo community, you’re bound to run into your neighbors at some point. In our case, since my parents pretty much never leave their home for social occasions, that meeting of people tends to take place in the elevator.

It’s a very short ride so not much gossiping occurs during the trip down to the lobby. Once downstairs, people either head to their respective mailboxes or to their garages.

I’ve lived in many towns and I’m not one of those people who tends to run into friends and neighbors at the supermarket. Even when my kids were small and had various groups of friends, I seldom ran into their friends’ parents or their teachers or their coaches outside of school.

But here, where a large majority of homeowners are retired and/or widowed and have nothing but time on their hands, running into someone – anywhere – is pretty much a given.

Some of my favorite meeting places are:

1) The Gym – where they often fight over the single stationary bike (and the tv remote)

2) The Pool – where they often fight over the single lap lane (and the one remaining noodle)

3) The Clubhouse – where everyone wants to invite their entire family over for Thanksgiving (because who wants all those people in their home?)

4) The Clubhouse, again – where men and women have separate poker games (and heaven help them when they’re scheduled at the same time)

But I guess I’d have to say that my number one favorite place that people meet here is… the semi-annual homeowners meeting. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. People come out of the woodwork to air their grievances and hear what catastrophes everyone else is dealing with. I almost expect to see Madame Defarge, happily knitting away, while corporate heads roll under the scrutiny of the elderly!