Election Day, Government Tests and Garnacha

Perhaps it’s the buzz I’m feeling from the Garnacha flowing to my soul. But, I feel liberated. Election day is nearly over. Precincts are now closed and mainstream media networks can now race each other to announce winners based on Vegas-style ejections. No, that’s not a typo.

We can now get back to our regularly scheduled programs. I can rekindle a relationship with my television and mainstream media. Don’t get me wrong. I studied and knew my ballot when it was my turn in the queue this morning. But, I elected to push the mute button on election festivities this season.

Mainstream information about the candidates and proposals is so biased it is not useful in my decision-making process. The millions spent obviously help candidates become elected; otherwise they wouldn’t put up the dollars. But, to me, it’s a waste of time to watch debates, read articles about campaign promises or talk to political advocates on the phone. They’re just talking from cue cards or from an outline some public relations team crafted. Do they really believe in what they’re advocating?

Ironically, my daughter has a social studies test tomorrow on government. For nearly four weeks, she has learned about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, core democratic values, and the three branches of government. I like that the third-grade teachers taught students about our government during election season; and gave them a reason to become interested how a representative government ought to work.

Now after hours of study, my angel sleeps. I am off to refill my glass of Garnacha and to watch shows I have on my DVR from Sunday night. Once Upon a Time and Revenge are my fave shows this fall. What will you watch tonight? Election results?

Thinking About …

While waiting for my morning caffeine kick to nudge me toward my elliptical machine, I read Facebook status updates.  Two posts moved me so much I had to share.

First, a high school friend encouraged her network to rally for the United States …

Prayer Request—I have a prayer request. There’s a lady I’ve known forever. She’s very sick. On top of that, she’s being abused by those to whom she has given everything….. Lies about her abound, and seem to come from all sides. Just breaks my heart. Seems there’s nothing I can do alone but maybe, if we all join in and lift her up together, He can heal her. She’s well over 230 years old, but way too young to die. Her name is ‘America’… And I love her and have always been proud of her. Please take time to say a prayer for her – even if it is a short, simple prayer like, “Lord, please heal our land. Amen.” Thanks!

Next, a business owner and healthy eating advocate I had the pleasure of meeting two years ago, shared the following to help those healing from loss.

Also, I had this to say to my people …

You know who you are. I call you family, friend, neighbor, mentor, teacher, helper, advocate or inspiration. Some of you may not live nearby or know me personally. We may not visit, call, write or text often. Time together is often scarce. We’re all so busy. I understand that; and I’m sure you do, too. But, just in case. You should know. I think about you often and I love you. The part you play in my life means so much.

Finally, a childhood friend of mine who has been healing from some recent losses and who authors a blog called Tickling My Fancy recently wrote a phrase, which I have plagiarized without shame when I write e-mails to friends or family.

She says, “Hug your people!”

So, that’s my call to action for today and everyday. Don’t forget … Hug Your People!

Life Replays: Remembering 9-11

It was a beautiful day – clear blue skies, no clouds, warm temperatures, and a gentle breeze. During my commute to work, I drove from Shelby Township to Troy, Mich. The intoxicating smell of donuts frying at Yates Cider Mill made my stomach rumble. It was a seemingly perfect end-of-summer day.

When I arrived at work, I stepped into the elevator. A co-worker shared the ride up and enlightened me on the news. An airplane had flown into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  For a moment I reflected on the people on board the plane and about the people on the ground commuting to work. I thought about how their lives had ended in such a sudden way; no time to say last words to loved ones and no time to really comprehend that life for them was ending. What about their spouses, children, parents, girlfriends/boyfriends, sisters, brothers, extended family and friends?

Once at the office, I organized my belongings and went for my first cup of coffee. Around the coffee station co-workers and I discussed the first airplane. Other co-workers had turned on a TV in the training room next to the break room. A second plane headed for the other twin tower. In seconds the plane – like the one before – rammed it. Smoke and fire were escaping the tower hit before.

Just imagine. All these people arrived at work just like I did. Some probably contemplated playing hooky. On a day like that, who wouldn’t? It would have been the perfect day to escape to Central Park or to some outdoor café for some people watching. But, moments before – just like me – they made the decision to go to work that day. They arrived, got organized, drank coffee, and started to their days. In an instant the world changed forever.

A feeling of unity — albeit fleeting — took hold. Co-workers and bosses gathered. Together, we watched as the two towers eventually collapsed. Everyone in that room had family members, friends, colleagues or acquaintances in New York, D.C. or Pennsylvania. The company we worked for had an office in the Wall Street district as well as clients there. All employees had to be accounted for. But, phone and cell communication was unreliable. Co-workers traveling on a flight to Las Vegas became stranded since all flights were eventually halted. Messages from former co-workers and colleagues I had not spoken with in years flooded my e-mail inbox.

Silence as deafening as the thunderous explosions of those jets gripped the nation. A few days after 9-ll, my husband and I were at a friend’s home for a bonfire. It was in a rural area. We and the other party guests took in the stunning night sky. All noted the absence of air traffic noise; and how unnerving that absence was.

In the days that followed, people stayed home. My husband and I did not. We felt it was important to continue going out and doing what we enjoyed: dining out, attending football games and concerts, and traveling. I even continued with plans for a girls’ day with my sister in NYC that October. In addition to touring the WTC site, we also attended shopped midtown, nursed some wine in Little Italy and attended a Broadway show.

It was clear. The U.S. needed to make swift, significant changes to correctly discern intelligence data, protect its borders and people, and to distinguish friend from foe. But, there has not been anything swift. In fact, as years continue to pass it becomes clear that government leaders are slow — and even reluctant — to act. Most of this is due to increasing bureaucracy, which leads to sluggish and befuddled decision-making.

 

Independent, But United

 Tracy, my partner for life

In 1998, at this very date and time, I was married to Harold Tracy Parish III (Tracy). Some might laugh at the date we selected to say our vows. After all, July 4 is a holiday celebrated in recognition of our country becoming an independent nation. We take time to think about the many freedoms we enjoy.

I don’t know about Tracy. But, I do not view our marriage as a loss of freedom or independence. We are united in most beliefs and ideologies. But, both of us remain free to think, decide, speak, act, and listen. I feel secure in the support we give one another as well as the space to make new friends, learn, pursue talents and careers, make mistakes and make successes.

It is frustrating at times when Tracy and I disagree. There are issues we battle that leaves one or both fuming. But, our unity is stronger than the temporary inner turmoil we find ourselves in. We agree to disagree. It is unrealistic to expect 100-percent agreement on how to solve each problem we meet.

Independent, but united is how I prefer to define our marriage. I am Kate; and — without a doubt — he is Tracy.

Celebrating Freedom

When the skies darkened north of the “D” crackles and pops interrupted the twilight hum. In anticipation of the big celebration on Wednesday, July 4, Friday night explosions rattled windows; and beautiful colors lit the sky. Neighbors shared in a preview of the multiple-day celebrations of independence. I am grateful to live freely and in relative peace. We can assemble and party as we see fit; and say whatever comes to mind. In fact, writing my blog posts is a freedom I enjoy immensely. There is little fear of government crackdowns, unwarranted door-to-door searches; or intimidation from voicing opinions or from practicing ethnic or religious traditions.

What if the government had to approve the guest list to your backyard BBQ; or if police arrested you and a couple of outspoken guests for discussing the ban on super-size soda?

Change vs. Stagnation

I watch the ripples change their size, but never leave the stream of warm impermanence. And, so, the days float through my eyes. But, still the days seem the same. And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes. Turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-Changes.  Don’t tell t hem to grow up and out of it. Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes.  Turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-Changes. Where’s your shame. You’ve left us up to our necks in it. Time may change me. But you can’t trace time. 

David Bowie,  Lyrics from Changes

For some reason I am okay with change. In fact, when I see it’s necessary, I usually step forward, adapt and prevail. What else can one do?

That’s not to say I don’t think carefully about the issues involved. Significant changes such as sending children to a new school, moving to a different home, switching employers, leaving a profession, or adding family members often require swift forethought. In order to be successful, transition calls for proper consultation, preparation and management of all impacted.

I’m thinking about change because it is constant in my world. Ever since I took my first breath, life dazzles, amazes, teaches, twists, bends, whirls, chills, blows, sucks, and disappoints. What about yours?

I call it beautiful chaos. Yes, I think I borrowed that phrase from a famous celebrity couple. If you can guess who, pat yourself on the back. Sorry, no prizes or cookies available.

What other choice is there? Stagnation. I agree. Change messes with routine, takes us out of our “normal” environments (whatever those are) and pushes us to step out of our comfort zones.

Sometimes staying the course is the right path. But, its important not to fear moving in a new direction. I remember all the employer changes I went through my first year out of college. Monster.com’s slogan, never settle, described my determination to find the right employer with the right opportunities to build my skills and experience. If I had resisted making necessary changes during that time, much of what I love about my life today wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have met my husband and I wouldn’t be a mom to Issa, Riff, and Buddy.

So, my vote is for change. Embrace it. Stagnation doesn’t benefit anyone.

No Place Like Home on July 4

There is no other place more alive and beautiful than my own home on July 4. Each year our patio provides an excellent location for viewing all the flashes of red, blue, yellow, purple, silver and green. This year was no different. Spectacular displays from our house as well as from neighbors celebrated patriotism and love for this country.

Sounds are of excited, innocent children — including my own — laughing and shouting in the last glimmers of sunlight. As the sunset, the jack rabbits, mandarin ducks, fountains, snakes and witch’s whistles started opened the show. Then, the noise became deafening but harmonious all at the same time with the more powerful rockets and bombs. Beautiful showers and sparkles lit the sky until 2 am.

Some Thoughts About Our Country

Could you see our country coming together in the dawn’s early light? The divisions of ethnicity, religion, celebrity, gender, income, education, profession, parenting style, and politics fade. Not to diminish the value and pride in one’s heritage, convictions or achievements. But, we all have the same basic life goals. All are striving to accomplish for themselves and for loved ones an existence of opportunity, equality, freedom, fairness, health, happiness, respect, prosperity, security and hope.

Our founders fought many battles — on internal and external fronts — to give all of us the ability to rule ourselves, worship as we please, love who we choose, express ourselves without fear of retaliation, learn, and to protect our families and property. Rather than picking at differences, wouldn’t we accomplish more through unification? Today is about celebrating the unique talents, skills and intelligence we all offer to preserve our nation.

Happy Independence Day! Here’s to you, your family and friends.