In My Opinion: Reunite Families

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We are in a moral storm. Time for me to rant.

A Prologue

This is a political post. I am defining politics, in this context, as the system a society uses to set governing principles and policies that help our nation of many people get along, use resources, and live our corporate values. For those of you who don’t like political posts, this will continue as a lifestyle blog on another day. However, I need to make some clear statements in this difficult and troubling time.

I want to first acknowledge that I am not confident in the statistics that we have been given. That is troubling. News reports had shared that slightly over 2,000 children are separated from families. Then, later this week, that count was updated to 3,000. That is upsetting for several reasons: 1) another 1,000 children are separated, 2) we cannot get accurate information, and 3) we are limited in knowing who and what we can trust.

Secondly, I have written (emailed) and called The White House, the Department of Justice, my two state senators, and my congresswoman. I have donated to World Relief, an organization I trust to care for immigrants, offer law-abiding compassionate immigration services, and to advocate for these marginalized brothers and sister. I still feel frustrated with my inability to impact change and to help.

No news in this next statement. We have a big problem here. Over 3,000 children are separated from family members. We have been told some parents have already been deported without their children. We have been told some children have been deported without parents. This is crazy and painful and wrong on so many horrific layers.

From the Lens of My Profession

I am a retired educator, still credentialed in California and a mandated reporter. A mandated reporter is legally required to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to the relevant authorities for children encountered in my professional duties and care.

I suspect that separating children from parents qualifies as neglect. We know children are not getting the level of care and nurturing that children need developmentally. Is that not neglect? This would be unacceptable in the world of education, and I’d have to report it. It definitely has been reported. Action to investigate and correct the situation is happening. Is it? Accountability seems to be in place. Is it? One deadline expires today. We will watch and see what happens.

Some of the little ones don’t even know the name of their parent, beyond their chosen term for mother or father. Some infants do not have language to speak the identity of their parents. Even with the best-intentions, even if the child detention facility was highly-equipped, I find this tragically unfortunate and damaging to children. Not to mention the parents unable to even contact their children. It is an overwhelming mess.

From the Lens of a Manager

Even in the best case scenario where workers assigned to these children are compassionate, emotionally intelligent care givers, they must be overwhelmed by the number of children assigned to them and the level of need. If I was an employer or manager in these facilities, I would be so upset for my staff. There is often a language barrier. Resources and support are severely limited. Training has to be minimal. At any typical recess setting on the playground, there is rarely enough staff to do more than supervise for physical safety. This must even be worse.

Holding children in groups in a system not set up for this makes me so sad for these workers, the conscientious ones who need their jobs. This is not a summer camp set up to house and care for children in established, child-center, age appropriate programming until parents pick them up on Saturday. My heart breaks for the good workers trying to obey orders, yet sickened by the situation. Where is the leadership to support them in a healthy work environment that does not ask them to compromise what they know to be right? I pray they can feel compassion and see they make a difference in the lives of children each day.

I’ve heard the authorities are struggling to match parents and kids to reunite them. I cannot begin to fathom the daunting task this is, and it is taking too long. I cannot imagine how my heart would ache if I had a job at one of these facilities and could not get this situation resolved. Thousands of lives of employees and families as well as immigrant families will never be the same, and we will be picking up the pieces for decades. This is a colossal mess, creating a level of chaos that is inexcusable. Yet leadership has not been called to account yet, at least from what I have seen and heard. I feel helpless and annoyed.

From the Lens of Problem Solving

Who was in the room when it was decided to separate children from parents? Even with that being such a bad decision, who let that roll out without the administrative structure to set it up, implement it well, support the workers, and remedy when time to reunite? In other organizations, debacles like this would lead to firing of key organization leaders. Speedy resolution would be visible. Who was in the room when the decision was made to move children to other states? Or move the parents to other states? This is our government. I am in shock.

I can’t even begin to get into the costs involved. Some businesses are even profiting from this situation. I understand the lawful rights to ask for asylum that are being denied and violated. I have some insight into how our foreign policy has negatively impacted certain countries, creating the need to migrate. I resent our drug culture that continues to provide a market for drug cartels. That all feels complicated, and makes me sick to my stomach. It just feels harsh and evil.

Did we not learn from Japanese internment camps? Is it unclear that this kind of behavior makes other countries despise our policies and laugh at our leaders? There are ways to protect and defend the border, create a compassionate, reasonable, lawful pathway to citizenship, and keep families together. Stop blaming political parties. Stop misleading and misinformed information, like immigrants will flood the country. That is not accurate. Or “they” just want open borders. Very few people want open borders.

There are experts on these immigration issues in our country. Get those people in the room. Return kids to families. And let’s continue to work sensibly to address the complicated issues of legal immigration with dignity, reflecting our values as a nation. Let’s consider the Golden Rule I was taught and recited in elementary school, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Be kind.

Will there be a rainbow after this storm? I continue to lament the situation, and pray for hope and healthy, speedy resolution.

Rainbow - Cropped

 

 

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9 Steps for Bathroom Use in Flight

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We did some traveling recently, and that included some long flights. As usual for me, a few hours into the flight, I needed to use the bathroom. The battle began, as I mustered up my courage to get the job done. If you’ve used the bathroom in flight, you might relate to some or all of this experience.

Here are my strategies to successfully manage the task:

#1 Time it perfectly. Don’t go too early and risk having to go again during the flight. Don’t wait too long because I can count on a line forming right about the time I sense some urgency. Anticipate a beverage cart to hurdle, nature calling many other passengers, or any other number of delays from that moment I decide it is time to go, and plan ahead.

#2 Alert those in your row that you need to get out. I love the window seat. So I’m the party pooper that will need to disturb, wake-up, use hand motions, and do almost whatever it takes to disrupt the middle seat and aisle seat people. They put up their tray tables, stand up, and move out of my way. Twice. When I leave and upon my return. I tell myself how unpopular I am in those moments. I am the potty princess and I must be obeyed, or at least that’s how I feel, and that makes me uncomfortable. They get over it. I am grateful for their cooperation. I mumble, “Sorry. Excuse me. Thank you,” as I make my way past them now standing in the aisle.

#3 Begin the casual stroll to the nearest restroom. Ironically, the bathroom I’m permitted to use is often two to three times as far from my seat as the first class restroom, but we are a land of laws that must be followed. The first class passengers pay a whole lot more to be close to the bathroom, so they deserve the privilege. I’ll take the long walk to the tail of the plane. It’s inconvenient, but more of a bargain.

#4 Dodge the obstacles. It amazes me how complicated it gets to walk down the aisle without disturbing others or feeling awkward. I am not a tiny woman, and that does not help. Here are some of the typical obstacles I’ve encountered in moving down the aisle in an airplane.

  • The guy deeply asleep with his head tipping into the aisle, mouth open, who also has his one leg and large foot sticking out into aisle space.
  • The people headed back to their seats, like salmon swimming upstream.
  • The beverage cart and flight attendant.
  • The woman holding the finally sleeping baby at her chest, whose elbow is now undoubtedly breaking the plane of the seat and poking into the aisle. To bump her risks waking the baby.
  • The people on their laptops, working or watching a movie. Why is it open laptops always seem to ever so slightly protrude into the aisle? Along with usually one elbow? I desperately do not want to knock into a laptop lid. That’s an expensive bump.

I step sideways and slide cautiously, carefully, to the rear of the plane, threading the needle that is the very long aisle.

#5 Plan to wait in line. Both bathrooms were occupied on my recent flight and there were three people in front of me. The bathroom on the left emptied and in went person #1. It emptied again and person #2 went in. The bathroom on the right was still occupied. Waiting. Waiting. The bathroom on the left emptied again and person #3 took his place inside. Still no changing of the guard in the bathroom on the right. I’m not going in there after a human has been in their as long as this. Unless the person opened their Kindle book on their phone inside, settled in to read, and had lost track of time, what could possibly take that long? Don’t answer that. I pleaded silently, “Please, please, please don’t let that be the next bathroom door to open, leaving it my only choice.”

Then it happened. I might have heard the angel choir sing that one perfectly harmonized chord they sing when something great happens. Both bathroom doors opened at the same time. I grabbed the one on the left and headed in locking it behind me, as I sympathetically passed by the sweet old man who had exited the one on the right. It is challenging to be older in so many ways, but I still did not want to use that restroom right after his long stay.

#6 Prepare the seat. The lid was down. I used a paper towel to lift the lid and the seat lifted, too. I carefully grabbed the seat with my paper towel, separating it from the lid and lowered it. I was kind of disgusted by all of this touching of toilet parts. Touching most things in an airplane bathroom is disgusting and we are better off not thinking about it.

#7 Prepare yourself to be seated. Pants lowered. Bareness brushing against the wall or sink is not great. Those bathrooms are so narrow, it is highly likely others have also bumped against those same places in their own semi-bareness. Where are my travel-size Lysol wall and counter wipes? The good news is that the narrowness of the bathroom does prevent wandering about and wasting time while others wait.

#8 Manage the motion. If you fly often, it is likely you will encounter a bit of bumps or light turbulence while in the bathroom or even on the toilet. Once seated, it is easier to manage. But while standing, while lowering or pulling up one’s pants, stabilizing is a bit of an art to be practiced at a vulnerable time. I remind myself that I’ve never fallen against the door and out into the aisle, pants around my ankles, so I can relax.

#9 Exit, hold your breath, suck in your stomach, and endure the butt brush past multiple people to return to your seat. Hands washed, it is time to head back to my seat. If no one else is in the aisle, I rejoice! However, I will most likely need to slide past other strangers in that narrow little aisle. I summon my courage and just keep moving as I invade personal space along the way. I will not push by someone front to front. That is just too awkward for me. So that leaves cheek to cheek. Thankfully, the social encounter does not last long and I recover. I’ve overcome the thought that I should at least introduce myself. Even if I was thin, I think this would still be a reality. It is a great moment when I can actually slip into a row out of the aisle for the pass-by, but with full flights, I’ve not experienced that option lately.

Perhaps I’ll never drink any liquids again within 48-hours of a flight.

Stay charming, my friends! Share your wisdom and travel stories in a comment.

Notes:

  1. If you are a male reader, some of this may be easier for you. Be grateful.
  2. I cope with life through the lens of an Enneagram 9, someone who likes to keep the peace with those around her. If you are not an Enneagram 9, you respond differently, and probably easier to this scenario.

5 Steps to Good-bye Stuff

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Here in California evacuations are a real thing. Perhaps a fire in the area, rain and mudslides, or earthquakes. I watched evacuations on the news so often this fall. It made me think about what I would take and what would get left behind. That has prompted a new round of clearing the clutter in our home.

My Other Motivations

I’m in my early sixties and that’s a good time to go through our house and get rid of stuff, to simplify. It would be life-giving to live in a home with only what we enjoy and use surrounding us. It would bring peace of mind to pare down to the essentials, giving us more freedom from worry, storing stuff, cleaning, and caring about all the stuff that accumulates over the years.

We have no children. I don’t want to leave a massive project to others to come in after us and clear out our house. I don’t want to have that on my mind as I age. Someday, if we need to move into another living situation, I’d like the process to be as easy as possible.

While working little by little with my ninety-four year old mom on clearing out her apartment, I have come to the conclusion that it will never be easier to part with my precious things than it is right now. I have the energy and the ambition to work on it now. I do not want to be burdened by possessions in my later years. Also, it has been my observation that you have stronger sentimental attachment to your things as you age.

The Layers

Home Decorations: My decorating tastes and style changes over the years. Yet I hang on to decorative items that no longer bring joy or hold meaning for me. I pass through rooms throughout the week, not even noticing this or that until I have to pick it up to dust it. It’s dated and has served its purpose. Yet it continues to be stored in my home. Time to part ways.

Sentimental Items: Then there are items that carry sentimental value. I am learning when a thing carries value in telling life’s story, it is difficult to part with that item. I have learned that the story remains, even after the item is gone. I do like taking a photo of the item before I donate or dump it. The image in the photo triggers the memory and is easier to store.

One thing that helps me, from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is to thank an item for the joy it brought or good it provided, and then say good-bye, as I walk to the donation box. That sounded so silly when I first read it, but it has worked to give me a push to part with things.

Hidden Things: Often the most challenging things to sort through and clean out are the hidden things in files, closets, basements, and garages. The papers, clothes, and various things stored around or in a storage unit take some discipline to go through and get rid of. We had to tear down our garage recently. We had to empty it out by a deadline. That really helped us get it done. I’m so glad to have that behind us. We vowed to never have that much stuff stored in a garage that we really didn’t need or use.

The “Too Many” Category: Collections, cookbooks, books, shoes, photos, sweaters. Whatever it is, I have too many of certain things. That’s an easy way to spot a hobby, passion, or favorite. Those are hard to get rid of for me. But I’m making progress when it’s time.

5 Steps to Help Simplify Stuff

  1. Schedule: Set aside an hour a week to simplify. Perhaps 15-minutes a day on four days or whatever works, using a room-by-room schedule, and remember the goal is progress not perfection. No time scheduled? It will never happen.
  2. Story: What items hold a story for you when you see them? Take a photo. Easier to capture the story that way than by holding on to too much stuff over time.
  3. Sort: Divide things into categories – keep, dump, donate, or not sure yet. Maybe add the sell category, depending on if you want to bother.
  4. Sitting Around: Go through the broken things, mismatched things, things that are missing a part, craft to make one day, and meant-to’s – those “I meant to follow-up” things. So follow-up, fix it, or get rid of it. Some things are never going to get the attention you planned to give, so let those go.
  5. Satisfaction: There is progress and a sense of reward, a feeling of satisfaction as you move through a room, drawer by drawer. Embrace that good feeling!

Have you noticed how stuff continues to accumulate? I have to clean out yearly to stay ahead of it, but that gets easier the more we keep up with it. What are your tips for simplifying your possessions?

Stay charming, friends! Here’s to less cluttered homes!

 

Life & Logic: Part 1 – An Introduction

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As another election approaches with summer primaries around the corner, we are reminded again that smart, engaged voters are our key to a strong, healthy democracy. We often can’t agree on candidates, issues, or results. We may even be surprised by the choices good friends make. Yet we probably agree we need to do more to protect our great democracy from the campaign and issue chicanery that has clouded the process over the years.

We’ve all noticed how decorum, mutual respect, and getting along are in short supply when it comes to our nation’s politics. Yet many of us think about positions and claims, and practice courteous conversation and diplomacy along the way, in spite of the behavior of some politicians no matter the party.

One way to have more impact is to strengthen our good reasoning skills. As we filter through political speeches and promises, we can all head to the voting booth clear headed and strong. We must stay engaged in the process and vote intelligently. Let’s continue to be thoughtful, calm, and sensible citizens to bring a better future, and learn to better identify faulty reasoning used to manipulate votes.

Authors Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn, in their book Fallacy Detective, write about the importance of having an inquiring mind. I’ve been reading their book and will summarize the lessons in this blog from time to time. I know I need to sharpen my critical thinking skills to be bolder in identifying faulty communication, especially in politics.

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An Inquiring Mind

The authors suggest the value of having an inquiring mind. The most fascinating older people I’ve known have kept their inquiring minds open to new ideas. They stay interested in new ideas. I aspire to keeping an inquiring mind as I age. The book highlights these steps to activate and maintain just that:

  1. Exercise your mind. We need to continue exercising our thinking skills. Like with any exercise, thinking deeply can be tiring and hard at times. Have you ever experienced a situation you had to think through so rigorously that it seemed like your mind was stretching and felt like it even hurt? I have. That is exercising your mind muscle, important to staying flexible and strong as a thinker, though we get in the habit of staying comfortable in what we already know.
  2. Listen well. Take an interest in what others have to say. Ask questions and be respectful. Accept that others may have better ideas or know things you may not know. Be brave enough to even question your own position on an issue.
  3. Learn other points of view: The caution here is “Any side may seem logical if we only see things from that point of view,” according to the authors. I’ve experienced that for sure. Benefits of understanding other points of view include 1) the opportunity to grow either in developing our point of view with more solid thinking and awareness, or 2) the opportunity to change our perspective if we discover we are wrong, and 3) being able to better help others as we build our ability to explain our answers and improve our communication. Even with limited time to dig into different perspectives, we can do some digging.

To be good citizens, we need to recognize faulty reasoning in others and ourselves. As we dust of our logical thinking tools, I think that better prepares us all for the coming election seasons, and encourages us to model good thinking to those younger than we are.

Stay charming, friends! And logical.

For more on critical thinking, watch this video:


Note: This is part of a blog series on a logical thinking to strengthen skills as we filter information in coming elections. Being an involved, informed voter is strategic and becoming more important. Plus, logic exercises the brain. That is a great benefit. I am doing some reading on faulty logic, using a book, The Fallacy Detective, by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn. You can learn more at www.fallacydetective.com. Let’s work toward more wisdom as citizens and voters together. Our democracy is strong. Let’s keep it that way together.

A Sunday Sundae Fail

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This past Sunday, I ordered a sundae. Maybe you are like me and limit your sweets for healthy reasons. I made an exception and decided to order a hot fudge sundae for a special occasion. That is one of my favorite desserts!

My expectations were high when it arrived. It’s a basic classic dessert, not tricky to make. The server set it on the table and that is when my troubles began. This did not go well.

First of all, it was set in the center of a large dinner plate. I would have been able to reach it, but getting the spoon of gooey, melty goodness back to my mouth without dripping or spilling would have me challenged. So I picked it up and moved it to a smaller plate, and set it closer to the end destination, my mouth.

Sundae Plate

Now my fingers were sticky. One of the many traits passed down from my father is that we cannot tolerate sticky hands. Simple to solve. I headed to the restroom to wash up, so that, upon my return, I could relax and truly enjoy my moment of indulgence.

I got back to my seat and reached for a spoon. The dessert was presented on that big dinner plate with four spoons, and there were only two of us at the table. And the Mr. had ordered his own slice of carrot cake. Needless to say, he was not interested in my sundae. Nor would it be likely for me to share. OK, I have learned to share, but back to today’s comedy of errors and the four spoons. Each of the spoons was resting in the goop on the plate. I just needed one clean spoon. That’s a simple expectation.

The plate was covered in caramel and chocolate sauce and four small piles of whip cream. Did I mention that whoever garnished the plate with the two sauces must have taken out some aggression or taken a dare to create a plate that looked like an explosion in a sundae factory. And the cherries, which I’d mentioned to the server to not waste on me. There were five cherries wasted on me. I could not use any of the spoons. Still the sundae sat waiting patiently for me to partake.

It was a very crowded day at the restaurant and service was so slow. We liked our server and figured everything was backed up, so we took the opportunity to enjoy a very slow meal together. However, I figured it would be some time before I’d see the server again, so I walked to the hostess stand and asked for an extra place setting. The place settings come wrapped in a napkin. I unfurled the napkin back in our booth and found a lovely fork and steak knife. No spoon. Duh. It’s kind of a burger and steak place. I should have known.

So I gave up and began to eat my sundae with my fork. The server came by and I asked for a spoon. She did return with it. By then my sundae was soupy, but I don’t object to soft ice cream. I then realized there was no caramel in the bowl of ice cream, though it had been promised in the description on the menu. There was no hot fudge near the ice cream, either.

Oddly, the goblet containing the ice cream had been dipped in hot fudge then rolled in nuts, so the chocolate and nuts were on the outside of the glass. So weird. I ended up scraping the sauce and peanuts off the outside and then taking a spoon of soupy ice cream. OK. That worked in an unsatisfactory way.

Sundae Dish

So I gave up and quit my sundae before it was finished. I don’t like wasting calories on something sweet I’m not enjoying. I pressed pause on that disaster, we’d paid the bill, and left. I didn’t even care enough to complain. I learned not to order a hot fudge sundae again there. Although the hot fudge was decent, the ice cream was average even for vanilla, and the whole construction of it was out of a joke book.

It was called a “Messy Sundae” on the menu, but I did not believe them. Now I do.

Stay charming, my friends, and definitely avoid sticky! Have a sweet week!

 

 

See You Next Week

Image - Tree Reflection in Puddle 2018-1 WACC Patio

Trees Reflected in Puddle

I’m taking a week or two off from the blog. My schedule got away from me, as if it were a pet. I caught a cold, as if that were a sport. There are things to think through, and I just have to admit that takes time. I’ll be back soon. Thank you for your patience. Stay charming, my friends!

Celebrating Easter Then & Now

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I want to acknowledge that not all of my readers celebrate Easter, and I respect that. So, perhaps if that is you, simply reflect back on your childhood traditions and celebrations as you read this post.

By way of background on this post and this past weekend, my husband and I were involved all weekend at our church serving and celebrating Easter. We attend a large church with between 2,700-3,000 attending on a Sunday. This year, the church hosted two Good Friday services and three Easter services in two venues. One Easter service was held on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning. At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to redeem us to life as we follow his ways in faith.

The main venue was on the large lawn just outside our worship center. The alternative venue was inside the worship center for a quieter viewing experience of the live service via projection on a large screen. I’m guessing at least 6,000 people attended this Easter in total. We worked hard and were tired at the end of the morning.

WACC Easter 2018

I helped with various things that came up, including taking family photos of people and checking the women’s room for paper towels and toilet paper. My husband helped with baptisms, as part of our Easter service traditionally ends with an opportunity for people to be baptized, if they wish.

I got to thinking back to my childhood memories of Easter from the 1960’s. Pause and gather your earliest memories of Easter celebrations, too. Or whatever spring was like for you growing up. The contrast may be interesting, as mine was today. I do remember Easter as a special time, a simpler time. But then I was a child, and the responsibility to make it special would fall mainly on my mom, it may not have felt simple to her.

Easter Eggs

We colored eggs every year. I loved that tradition and still think back on it fondly. I may pick it up again one day as a little happy nod to my childhood.

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From the 1960’s

Easter Baskets

My mom would prepare Easter baskets for my brother and I, filled with candy we enjoyed. That definitely excluded milk chocolate in my case, which I did not like. Still don’t. I liked the colorful baskets with green plastic grass. Although we did not do egg hunts, I have a vague recollection of searching for our Easter baskets.

I remember marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans. I’d give away the black jelly beans. You, too? Or are you a person who enjoyed the black jelly beans? Easter baskets are no longer a part of my Easter tradition, probably because I don’t indulge in candy any longer, and we do not have children of our own. I do enjoy an occasional Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg from time to time at Easter. Jordan almonds are also a favorite. What is your indulgent candy of choice? Do you remember your favorite as a child?

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If milk chocolate is wrapped around sweet peanut butter, I don’t mind it at all.

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Such lovely colors in a sweet coating surrounding crunchy almonds.

Easter Outfit

It was also our tradition growing up to get new clothes for Easter. I remember getting new clothes on only two occasions as a child – for the back-to-school season and at Easter, and that is about it.

Shopping for clothes is so much more common now, and getting an Easter outfit is not as essential as it was when I was a child. During my junior high years, I remember being permitted to wear fishnet stockings, quite in style, for Easter Sunday with my new dress. That was a big deal!

Fishnet stockings in the 1960's, oh yes, we were that cool. by karyn

Many families I saw today were all dressed up for the Easter services. I enjoy seeing them, especially the cute outfits on their children. That is one of my favorite parts of going to church on Easter Sunday.

WACC Easter Kids 2018

Easter Church

Each Sunday, my family went to church as I was growing up, and Easter was no different. I attended a congregational church, a community church, and a Methodist church in my younger years. Easter Sunday would always find us sitting in church to celebrate the risen Lord. That is the same in my adult life, but church was much different. Smaller congregation, very few instruments and no electronics beyond a microphone, hymns to sing, and no problem finding parking.

Woodlawn United Methodist Church

My family attended Woodlawn United Methodist Church from about 1966-1969.

Easter Lunch

My mom often prepared a delicious family meal for Sunday after church. We’d often invite some friends or a few relatives to join us at the table, but I don’t recall a big family get-together. My mother would set the table with beautiful table settings and pretty dishes. Those felt like special times of celebration. I do not recall any special recipes. I miss those dinners together.

For many years after I was married, we’d share Easter lunch after church with my husband’s family at my mother-in-law’s home.  His family has a tradition of purple deviled eggs. I am a fan of deviled eggs and enjoyed the purple ones just as much.

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I’m not sure how my mother-in-law makes these, but the photo above is from A Beautiful Mess blog.

Recently, I work hard all weekend at Easter services at my church. I help clean up after church. By the time we can go to lunch, it is late and I am tired. We don’t eat lunch with family on Easter, though we often get together on Palm Sunday or during the week before Easter. My husband and I go out to eat and relax before heading home for afternoon naps.

So much has changed. We still celebrate Easter, but it looks different, and yet the important things remains the same. We celebrate with loved ones in ways that bring meaning and enjoyment. If we had children, some of the traditions would have carried on in similar ways.

Traditions are often changing, yet always hold a special place in our hearts and memories. We can keep the important values in tact, and open our minds to how they may look different through the years.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was filled with celebration, the hope of the season, fun, love, and good food, no matter what it may have looked like this year.

Stay charming, my friends!

A Better World for Children

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This past Saturday started with a protest march and ended with a first birthday party for my great-niece. The day crossed both ends of the spectrum. A sense of death and mourning for lives lost in violent shootings. A breath of life and hope in celebration of the growth of a beloved child. The contrast was fierce.

My friend invited me to go to one of the local March for Our Lives events to protest gun violence in schools. She made signs for us and headed to a Huntington Beach park. From there, hundreds of people, all ages and stages, walked along Main Street to City Hall. At city hall, high school students gave moving speeches. We were part of an international protest on this day.

We should not be in this place. All students are entitled to a free education – free from fear of being shot. We have got to do more to address this issue. I felt vulnerable just being out in the open in a crowd. I don’t have the answer, but I had to do something. So we marched.

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 5 - Enid & Cindi Ready to March

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 6 - Cindi

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 7 - Enid

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 8 - Vegas Survivor

She survived the Vegas Shooting.

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 11 - Park Start

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 12 - Enid Marching

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 13 - Cindi on March

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 14 - Walking Down Sidewalk

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 19 - Civic Center 2

After the march, I attended the fun and lighthearted birthday party of my great-niece. She turned one this past week and we celebrated with family on Saturday afternoon. She’s been with us for twelve months. Twelve precious months. I really enjoyed watching her enjoy her cake. As she sorts out the world and continues to learn and grow, I pray schools are safer by the time she is old enough for school.

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 18 - Cindi & Abby with Cake

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 3 - Family Fun 1

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 14 - Cake Face

My other great-niece was at the party, visiting on her spring break from Northern California. She is fifteen and a sophomore in high school. I desperately want safe schools for her, too. Not only that, I want both these girls to grow up in a world where all men they meet learn to show respect for them, and to honor them in word and deed. I pray for their protection from risky relationships.

2018-3-24-abbys-1st-birthday-party-5-brianna-curtin-10th-grade-and-kingston.jpg

I pray one day the world is a better place for all to live. We can do better. We have to do better. For all the girls. For all the children. We’ve got work to do.

Stay charming, my friends! We can make a difference.

Find Beauty Anyway

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In the midst of uncertain times and difficult events, find beauty. In others. In your surroundings. In moments. In nature.

I spent some time recently with a good friend in Old Town Orange, California. I rode the Metrolink train to Orange and walked a few blocks to the quaint center of town. We started our day with mid-morning muffins at the Blue Frog Bakery.  As we sat, enjoying the treats, coffee, and conversation,…

…an agitated woman with a shaved head came in the bakery, and demanded the money in the cash register. When that didn’t happen fast enough for her, she grabbed all the money in the tip bowl. Thankfully, the situation did not escalate.

Next, the stranger went down the row of tables yelling person to person, “You look homeless. Buy a cup of coffee!” She proceeded to give most customers a one-dollar bill, including my friend and I, and stormed on out the door. Many customers put the dollar bill back in the tip jar, but some people kept the money. They may not have known it came from the tip bowl. The police came quickly, just as the woman headed out the front door of the bakery. They intercepted her there, and talked with her. My friend and I passed by the woman on the street two more times that day.

In times gone by, we’d just take moments like that in stride. But now days, no one is taking any chances in situations where there is odd behavior. We live in a needy world. Aggression and violence, even in extreme weather, are more commonplace and more instantly covered by the media, creating heightened awareness. And anxiety. Find beauty to help stay balanced.

After things settled down at the bakery, my friend and I headed around the corner to Country Roads Antiques and Garden. My friend has an eye for antiques. I have a low to no tolerance for antique shopping, but a high value of our friendship, so I go along for the companionship. We did find beauty and I’ll share the photos below.

My friend and I looked for images of interest and collected ideas. I took photos of all sorts of things, capturing the beauty I noticed. We had a wonderful time talking, wandering, and hunting through the random, everyday things. After exploring to our heart’s content, we headed to lunch at The Filling Station to celebrate her birthday.

The Filling Station - Orange 2018-3-9

We soon learned about another tragic shooting in progress, including hostages, at a veteran’s facility in Yountville, California. Our hearts ached on many levels. For the victims,  their families, the survivors, the responders, the frequency of these incidences, and the frustration of our inability as a society to protect against these senseless crimes. Even on a fun day out with a friend, we encountered two moments of brokenness. We needed the beauty of the garden visit and of friendship to balance out that day, too.

Here are some photos from our outing. May they bring beauty to your day, too. In spite of the heartache in our world, there is beauty in images and friendships to keep us strong and hopeful. Enjoy the photos! I’m amazed at the beauty created by clever gardeners and designers.

Chandelier Corner 1 - Orange 2018-3-9

Orange Flower - Close-up - Orange 2018-3-9.

Lampshades in the Garden - Orange 2018-3-9

Garden Door - Orange 2018-3-9

Gold Orange Flower - Close-up - Orange 2018-3-9

Country Road Antiques Window Boxes - Orange 2018-3-9

Pansies - Orange 2018-3-9

Chandelier Corner 2 - Orange 2018-3-9

Orange Flowers on Bench

Old Sink Planter - Orange 2018-3-9

Lorna Waves Thru Window - Orange 2018-3-9

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Purple Flower Basket & Hazy Window - Orange 2018-3-9

Red with Black Center Poppy Close-up - Orange - 2018-3-9

Shoes on a Bench with Plants - Orange 2018-3-9

Pink Flowers & Log - Orange - 2018-3-9

Purple Pansy - Orange - 2018-3-9

Purple Flowers Against Wood - Orange - 2018-3-9

Window Panels in Garden - Orange 2018-3-9

Weird Plants Sold Here - Orange 2018-3-9

Wreath, Frame, Old Clock - Orange 2018-3-9

White Flower Basket on Fence - Orange 2018-3-9

The Filling Station Blue Umbrella - Orange 2018-3-9

The Filling Station Color Umbrellas - Orange 2018-3-9

Lorna - Framed Friends - Orange 2018-3-9

Friends in a frame

P.S. You may have noticed I did not post last week. Time just got away from me. That happens from time to time, but I did miss meeting you here. Have a good week!

Stay charming, my friends!

 

10 Tips for California Adventure Alone

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I recently spent the day at Disneyland’s Resort California Adventure and Downtown Disney. As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, I grew up in the Midwest and watched Disney’s Sunday night program faithfully, watching Tinkerbell light the fireworks or color splashing over Cinderella’s castle, wondering if I’d ever get to visit Disneyland. It seemed so far away. I never thought I’d end up living about 45-minutes away as an adult. I think about that every time I visit, and it makes me smile.

Here are my ten tips for doing a solo day trip to the Disneyland Resort, specifically for a visit to the California Adventure theme park.

Disney CA Adventure Entrance - 2018-2

Entrance to California Adventure on a February morning.

On this particular visit, I chose to go alone. I got to decide what to do and when. No compromise. Pure entitlement. Feeding my selfish dark side. Yes! This was the day!  The night before, I made my list of what I wanted to do there. Making lists makes me happy. Perhaps you are a list maker, too. I went prepared to check things off that list. As an introvert, doing things alone is often fun for me.

Image - Disney Lamp Post Scene - 2018-2

Alone in the crowd, but not lonely.

If you ever go to such a great place by yourself, these ten tips may be of interest to you.

Tip #1: Take a book or your Kindle and plan to do some reading.

My first attraction for day was Soaring Around the World, one of my most favorite things to do at Disney’s California Adventure, formerly Soaring Over California, also a favorite. I chose the stand-by line with a 45-minute wait. Standing in line can be especially tedious when you are alone with no one to chat with, so I came prepared and brought a book.

I passed the time reading and standing and reading and standing for a while, when the cast member made an announcement. One of the two theaters was having technical difficulties. The guests in that line were moved into the other theater. That would add a five to seven minute delay. OK. Whatever. I was reading.

I love to read. For some of us, extra free time to read is a luxury, so that was my perspective. The long time of reading was great. But the standing time, and standing still, became tiring. Finally, I got seated on the ride, loved it as always, and was relieved to be sitting down for a few minutes.

Tip #2: Choose to do those things you want to do that those who love you and normally go with you might not care about missing.

For me, that included going to see Frozen. The park information states “The dazzling theatrical interpretation of Disney’s global film phenomenon Frozen…at the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure Park!” My husband would not typically agree to do this, unless he could tell I really wanted to go or it was my birthday. I’ve wanted to see this for a while. I was looking forward to the 2:00 performance, according to my carefully crafted plans for my day.

I walked over to the theater at about 1:15, casually early, anticipating a line. I rounded the corner and what did I see? No line. I could only assume something was wrong. In spite of the obvious, I still asked the cast member the same question, “What?” Sadly for me, the 2:00pm performance had been cancelled. I’ll have to wait to another day.

I also went to the the Animation Academy, and learned how to sketch Piglet. (Photo below with ice cream) [Note: Glen actually would do this one.]

Disney Animation Studio 2018-2

Tip #3: Take advantage of the “single rider line” at Radiator Springs Racers, and get on the ride with less waiting time.

“Zoom through the desert landscape of Cars Land, inspired by the Disney•Pixar movie Cars,” the online information proclaimed.  I do like this ride, so I made the hike over to Cars Land to take a ride through the Disney Pixar desert.

Disney Cars Land Scenery - 2018-2

I got to the single riders line and approached with a spring in my step, all smug that I’d avoid a long wait. The cast member greeted me with “It’s a one hour wait.”

“What? Really? For single riders?,” I gasped in disbelief, all pride in my brilliant strategy fleeing.

She nodded yes. I crossed that ride off my list, walked away, and decided that was not going to happen that day either.

Tip #4: Enjoy having the whole side of a ride vehicle to yourself.

Mid-morning, I picked up a “fast pass,” a ticket for a shorter wait in line if you return later in the day, for Toy Story Midway Mania. The park information describes this as, “Ride and take aim at moving objects during this midway-inspired, 4D game starring popular Disney·Pixar Toy Story characters,” and it is another favorite of mine. No skill required.

I went over to the ride at the designated time, about 4:15. I got the whole side of the car to myself, of course. So fun! But that car tosses and spins you around a bit. It is much more fun to sit next to some one you love to bounce off of in the competition. I definitely have room for improvement, and maybe some competition (a.k.a. Glen) would help motivate me.

Tip #5: Choose when and where to stop to eat your favorite foods, because you are in charge. And all alone.

I stopped for coffee and something with cinnamon in the morning. I ate a not-on-any-health-food-list corn dog for lunch and completely enjoyed it. A little birdy sat nearby (see photo) watching for crumbs to drop. I took an afternoon break for ice cream and people watching. It was fun to pace the day my way and choose foods that I don’t usually include in my day-to-day meals.

Disney Corn Dog & Bird 2018-2

From the Corn Dog Castle — bird not included

Disney Animation Art & Ice Cream Break - 2018-2

Mint chip ice cream & my Piglet sketch

Tip #6: If you like to take photos, take all the time you want to stop, observe, find, and photograph anything that catches your interest and your eye.

You will not be slowing anyone down. If you like to take photos, you will know what I mean. It’s bliss. I was fascinated by clouds, pines, and lamps on this day for some reason. No need to explain. No need to apologize to the group for taking yet another photo and dragging out time.

Image - Pines & Lamp - CA Adventure 2018-2

Image - Disney Lamp Post & Clouds 2018-2

I also photographed some of the humor I noticed in Bugs’ Land. Now I know what lightning bugs do for a living and where candy corn grows.

Disney Lightning Bug 2018-2

Disney Candy Corn Patch - 2018-2

Tip #7: Beware of people who do not understand how to properly stand in crowded lines.

I experienced two different groups that missed that day of Disney Park Etiquette orientation. There is really no such thing, but evidently we are not all born with an understanding of cooperating in lines. Both groups violated these unspoken rules of crowd behavior in line:

a. Always stand as close as possible to the person in front of you to prevent people from crowding in and cutting, seeing a gap. And to give a better sense of how long the line truly is.

b. Do not stand single file with your group, one behind the other, making the line extend back another six or seven feet unnecessarily. Come on, people. Clump together. Move as a pod, like an advancing amoeba. We are not waiting in the drinking fountain line in kindergarten.

Example:

c. Don’t all freeze in place in line to watch the baby being cute, bringing forward progression to a halt of the rest of us. Baby stare and maintain a shuffle toward the front. It can be done.

Tip #8: Don’t go in the off-season like February thinking the parks will for sure be low in attendance without checking what conventions and big activities are happening in Anaheim.

Check online to make sure Anaheim is not in the midst of hosting a national high school cheer competition. Or else be prepared to spend the day surrounded by multiple small mobs of enthused teen girls on the move all. Day. Long. The park will be crowded. However, on a positive note, you will leave the park with new fashion and make-up insights. And can possibly photo bomb all sorts of selfies to entertain yourself.

Tip #9: Dress warmly.

A sunny California day is not necessarily always warm. This is a whole different version of California cool!

Anaheim Temp - 2018-2

Tip #10: Need a quiet moment? Stop and rest in the Disney Grand Lobby.

Located next to Downtown Disney and California Adventure is the Disney Grand Hotel. I love drifting through the Disney Grand Hotel – the decor, the ambience, the charm, the fireplace, and the beautiful piano music of Disney classics.

I have a secret place in the small lobby on floor three. I stop at a little desk, open to the lobby. I catch my breath, charge my phone, read, plan, journal, while listening to the wonderful background music wafting up from the main floor. The arts & crafts decor is perfect for the historic time period style of this hotel.

Disney Grand - 3rd Floor Desk 2018-2

Disney Grand Hotel -3rd Floor Desk - 2018-2

Glen met me for dinner at Downtown Disney. We enjoyed dining at La Brea Bakery Cafe restaurant, which got us validated parking and made parking free. We ended the day sharing a bag of beignets from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express. Glen had dropped me off in the morning on the way to work, so I hitched a ride home with him, tired but happy. And I had over 11,000 steps on my pedometer.

Disney Beignet Bag - 2018-2

Beignets come with enough powdered sugar to fairy dust a small forest!

I do enjoy living so close to the Disney Resort. It comes in handy any time I’m feeling like I need to wish upon a star. By myself or with family or friends. Would you ever go alone? What are your best tips for the day?

Stay charming, my friends!