It Really Isn’t, You know

As the divisiveness, hate speech, violence, and all the negative energy that characterized the campaign continues, post election, I keep hearing the phrase “it is what it is.”

I’ve been hearing that phrase for some years now, and almost always in a tone of (at least  momentary) belligerence or resignation.

The fact is, no matter who you voted for or against, no matter if you were among those who felt there was no good choice, but still did your best to educate yourself and vote responsibly anyway, the results of the election were never going to put an end to the divisiveness, aggression, and even violence – regardless of which of the two “won.”

In the words of popular culture: haters gonna hate.

People who commit violent acts are not doing it because their candidate lost or the other won. Normal people don’t change into violent people overnight, and certainly not because the candidate of their choice lost the election. They don’t commit violent acts as representative of a specific group. Just like everyone else, they behave the way they do because that’s the people they’ve chosen to be. The election results are just the current convenient excuse.

As is true for everything in your life, what happens from here is your choice.

You can rail against the perceived injustice, you can mourn or be fearful at “the end of the world as we know it,” or you can choose to see the situation as an opportunity. An opportunity to become more involved in the way you, your loved ones, and your community are governed and served by the people elected to office, more involved in the process by which those officials are elected, more involved in working to change what needs changed and repairing or replacing what no longer works.

No presidential candidate can do all that, no matter what they promise. It’s up to you.

There is no birth without pain, there is no change without destruction, there is no moving forward without leaving something behind. But you get to choose whether you’ll be part of the new life, part of positive changes that have us growing and moving forward, or if you’ll stay behind, locked in the old paradigm of “us” versus “them,” of “my way or the highway,” of “might makes right” and mob rule. YOU decide ~ not whoever was elected.

Because it really isn’t: “it is what it is” ~ end of story.  In truth, it is what you decide it is, and where you decide to go from there.NotObligatedtowin

Your choice. Always has been.

This needs to stop

A few weeks ago, as I was driving up to Michigan City, I saw, in front of a small white clapboard sided church next to the highway, this message on the church marquee:

Jesus is coming.

We hope He gets here before November.

Interesting how that stops being funny the more you think about it. Humor often masks fear –and the most common thread of emotion running through all of the public “conversation” this past year is Fear.

Fear that makes people speak and act in haste, say and do things that they never would have if they weren’t tired and afraid and on the defensive. Friends and family members find themselves at odds and become vocal because everyone has been scrubbed so raw by verbal vitriol that we’re all walking nerve endings and it doesn’t take much to sting and hurt.

And thanks to social media, you can find yourself defending a position you don’t really believe in because you expressed it in public, in writing, at some point when you were tired or scared or both.

I find myself again, this campaign year, holding out for it to be over – and I’m not alone. I hear that same sentiment reflected back wherever I go: “I just wanted to be over.” “Is it November 9 yet?” As if we could get back to the business of being normal, ordinary, decent people in a vibrant free society once the election is over.

What does it say about us that we have so let our system of “government” devolve to the place that it barely matters which presidential candidate wins the election because we just want it to be over? Or, better yet, we want someone to save us? Because, ultimately, we have no faith that any of the people who are poised to govern us and serve the public good will actually be doing that.

In reality, it isn’t about politics or the issues or serving the public good ~ it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s about the insidious and subtle erosion of those virtues that our parents taught us and that we try to teach our children: honesty, integrity, respect, and responsibility; the importance of compassion tolerance, and empathy; and of being contributing members of our communities. Or even common courtesy  or just plain human decency.

Unless you’re a sociopath you have a conscience. You have one for a reason. Listen to it.

This presidential campaign, especially, has devolved into public displays of intolerance, rudeness, misinformation and out right lies perpetuated and spreading like a disease throughout the public consciousness via social media and so-called mainstream media. And it just goes grindingly on, until we’re all so raw and hurt and weary we just want it to be over. An entire society of individuals who increasingly feel as if they’re being water boarded – because it won’t be over on November 9. Regardless of who is elected as president, the divisiveness will go on.

It’s time to stop this.

You can’t change other people’s behavior by force any more than you can change their opinions by shouting louder than them. If you want strong, honest, and responsible leaders you have to be strong and honest and responsible yourself.

Try not to react to verbal barbs and pot shots from people who are themselves emotionally raw and tired and scared. And try not to participate in the propaganda machine that is social media. If you’re too tired to go and check out that post for yourself and verify that it’s true, don’t share or retweet or whatever.

If you want to have an impact in government, start with your own family and friends and community. Get involved on a local level; do your best to serve your constituents and make your community a better place. As far as this, or any, election goes, if you’re going to exercise the privilege of voting, then take responsibility for educating yourself about the candidates, their track record in dealing with people, serving their communities, etc. Once you have, vote your conscience ~ and be grown-up enough to let other people vote their’s ~ then do your best to exemplify the virtues of respect, for yourself and others, honesty, empathy, compassion, and responsibility that you want to see in you leaders.

It isn’t about Hillary or Donald. Ultimately it’s about each one of us, individually. That old saw about being the change you want to see in the world is a cliché only because it’s true.

It all starts with YOU. So be the person who behaves with honesty and integrity and responsibility, be a person of good conscience who sets a higher standard. Don’t just keep your head down and hope for the best ~ or for a savior to get us out of this mess.

Happily Gluten-free: A Gift Beyond “Ghosts”

I just finished a rambling email (the bulk of which I want to share with you) to my friend, Sarah Wynde ~ author of the Tassamara series (which I just love). In my opinion, the series is the quintessential example of a happily successful marriage of genres (I’ll let you figure out which). You could (and still can) download the first book, A Gift of Ghosts , for free at Amazon, and the “quirky dedication” in the front matter sold me on it, and her, before I ever cracked the cover. In fact, I think my first email to her was entitled: “you had me at Eureka” for the pop-culture references that resonate with me which she uses so well throughout the series ~ and all the Tassamara stories never fail to reinforce that first reaction.

But wait, my story gets better, as my favorite stand-up comedian would say 🙂 [here’s the bulk of that email I was talking about, the part I wanted to share]:

Well, it’s been nearly two months since you opened my eyes to the effects of gluten, and nearly that long since I stopped eating gluten ~ and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experience with me, because (it sounds like hyperbole, I know, but) it has literally changed my life!

I’ve been going to email you and express my gratitude and thanks for the last couple of weeks, but (shamefaced grin) I keep waiting for it to stop! Goofy as it sounds, I keep waiting to wake up foggy and feel worse as the day goes on instead of better!

It took 3 or 4 weeks to get the complete effect ~ and my husband, bless him, says it’s just because the weather and light improved so my SAD backed off like it always does BUT! that doesn’t explain how this rash I had on one foot for more than two years (literally!!! and despite trying everything under the sun, from prescription creams to OTC fungicides to apple cider vinegar to bag balm, ad infinitum!) suddenly cleared up *in less than 2 weeks*, or how come I have more physical energy as well as mental clarity, why I’m able to really accomplish creatively for the first time since before my hysterectomy two years ago . . . I could go on and on (I know, I already have ;-)) but I am just SO thrilled and thankful to you for sharing your experience with me!

I’m still having issues (a LOT this year), with my summer allergies (it is Indiana, after all ;-)), so I’m going to have to revisit what you said about paleo and see if that helps later on in the season. And I’m much more aware of the effects of what I eat or drink, particularly the negative effects of things I don’t have often, such as taste-alikes like flavored coffees from JL Hufford [good thing I don’t go to the mall often!] and certain kinds of sugars, which I no doubt need to give up for good ~  but for now, I am SO enjoying being myself again!

And I am SO grateful to you for taking the time to tell me about your experience. Thank you so much!

I’m also (like many, no doubt) waiting with bated breath for “Grace” ~ that series, and the denizens of Tassamara, make me feel heart-swelly and so satisfied at the end [except that, you know, it’s over! D-`: ]

… aaannnddd I got distracted! Went to your blog for the spelling of Tassamara and got into the last three posts 😉 and then was reminded that I needed to hie off to buy some Georgia peaches and pecans from a truck that would only be there selling them for 90 minutes, met up with my sister, who came back with me and visited for a bit and only now getting back to this ;-D  Ah, life! Sometimes it’s SO fun!

Congrats on your Serenity! LOVE the name (of course ;-))

And on deciding to head-hop (never heard it called that before!) in Grace ~ lots of people do that in their writing and if you give a section break or something to indicate the switch in POV, it shouldn’t interrupt the flow. I struggled with that rule myself when I was first told that “it’s a big No-no! It confuses the reader! It breaks the flow!” etc. etc. I still have writer friends who are almost obsessive about it . . . me, not so much. Done properly, I think it actually adds depth. Or even not done “properly” ~ for instance, the first time I heard/saw the POV switch from one character to another in the same scene was in an “In Death” novel by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) when it jumped from Eve Dallas to Peabody. It didn’t jolt me out of the story, ’cause I knew who was “thinking” and as I mulled it over I thought: who am I to argue with Nora Roberts, yeah? 🙂

So, yeah, rambling a bit, I know but the point I really want to make is this:

I am truly amazed by the results of this gluten-free experience and by how easy it’s been to leave it out and still be able to eat almost anything I like, substituting other favs for the gluten-bearing ones. Eating a handful of Fritos, instead of garlic bread or sour dough, with lasagna or Mexican black bean soup, for instance.

I have also, in recent weeks, had some of the dishes I like (like cheese fondue) that do require the use of gluten-bearing breads ~ but I had just enough to satisfy that craving, and I paid very close attention to how I was feeling 3-5 days later, and the effects were minimal. BIG difference to how I was feeling when I was eating gluten-bearing foods on a daily basis.

And all because I “happened” [I don’t believe in coincidence, y’know 🙂 ] to see a post about her gluten intolerance experience on Sarah’s blog ~ and because, when I asked, she was generous enough to take the time to share her experience with me in detail.

I am SO thankful to her for that. So, this is me, paying it forward. <3 Thanks, Sarah!

See you on the beach!