Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Letter To My Children

On  Thanksgiving Eve, some reminders and remainders for you, my babies, on giving thanks.

Don't give thanks because you have to. Do it because you mean it. Take time to appreciate the incidental person. She may be tired or worried and your real thanks may change her day. Seek out the quiet worker. He may be feeling low, unwanted and your genuine thanks may lift him up. Say thanks and mean it. Not everyone can do it, but you can.

Don't be stingy with your thanks. Thanks, like love, can be spent wantonly, garishly, every day and you'll always have enough left over the next day to spend again. Remember that every action that is taken in the world matters to you - to all of us - as we are all interconnected, and, in our system of beliefs, born of the same Father. You may quarrel with your siblings, but in the end only love remains. Remember that and don't let the politics of the day distract you from that truth.

Don't be afraid to let another think he is right and you are wrong. Thank him for his passion and interest in whatever the topic and go home at peace with yourself. You may learn something from him and his approach to the problem. Even if you do not - no matter how right you may be - he, too, feels right and wants to feel smart and appreciated for his opinion. There is time enough on another day for you to be the champion. It is your sincere gratitude for your companion's place in your life that offers you the chance to engage him again and again - in agreement, in compromise and in opposition. It is when you cease to value him that you are, indeed, the loser.

Don't forget what you are thankful for, especially in your weaker moments. Think of all the people who have come together, and the grace that has been visited upon all of us, so that you could be here to feel anything at all, much less frustrated or weary. Imagine the light in your heart at the thought of holding your great, great grandson who may bear your name. Would you ever want him to feel anything but exhilaration? You are a joy in breath and motion and we, and all who came before us, rejoice in your life. So, too, should you, and be grateful for it every day.

Be gracious in accepting thanks and don't pass up opportunities to serve for another's good, even if all you may receive is gratitude. In the end, there is no dollar, no gadget or item of apparel that will ever compete with the sincere thanks of someone who has appreciated you and your effort. Trust me. In this I am quite experienced and I can assure you that giving to another, no matter how humble the gift, has been the greatest of my riches.

Last, my beautiful babies, remember to thank God first. Nothing comes before Him. Nothing is possible without Him. And He fills you with every blessing you will ever need, and more. Do it quietly, privately or in communion with others, whatever brings comfort and connection to your spirit. In this, be most faithful, and you will always have reason to give thanks.

My love to you on Thanksgiving ~ and in every moment of every day, always and all ways ~ Mami

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vote For A Republican.. and other things worth repeating

My grandfather voted only one time during his adult life in the city, and that was to vote against Harold Washington for mayor. My grandfather, God rest his soul, was a good man, a hard-working man, a God-fearing man. And he was a racist. I was a young girl during the run-up to that election, an historic one in Chicago, and I knew why he was voting the way he was, I just couldn't understand it. I talked to my grandmother, a genius woman, even given her flaws. She said this to me, some of the best political advice I've ever gotten, and worth repeating: "Honey, it's not good to vote against something. Don't vote against someone. Vote for someone. Vote for  a Republican if you have to [she was a die-hard Democrat], if that's what's in your heart." She's right. And I have. And you should too.

Someone on FB was complaining - not strenuously - but just expressing mild annoyance at some trouble she's having with her cell phone inside her building. It reminded me that when I was young, if we were having trouble with our phone my mom would call Illinois Bell (yes, I'm that old) and a technician would come to our house and he would go to the one hallway where we had a connection on the wall and he'd pull the phone from the receiver - you'd hear the long uuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg of the dial tone - and he'd unscrew the bottom thingy from the part where you talked and he'd blow into the phone. And sometimes, that's all it took. Coupled with this absolutely brilliant rant from Louis CK, I try to remember the simplicity of my early life when I'm fussing about the reception on my mini-spaceship of a phone: It's a clip worth repeating over and over and over again.

The other day I asked friends whether they thought men should be the heads of their households - at least in terms of having ultimate financial responsibility for their families. I asked this question because I'd heard two conversations, some eight years apart, that made me wonder.

When my little guys were still small enough to be home, I heard them playing 'restaurant'. My daughter, the oldest, was assigning jobs. Sara was cashier, Lucy was waitress and Sam had to be the manager. But Sam didn't want to be the manager. He wanted to be a cook. He complained ardently until finally I heard her say something to the effect of, "Sam, you're the boy.You HAVE to be the manager because the dad is in charge and he needs the job!" Holy cow I about lost my teeth I was so rattled. I immediately went in there and gave them all an advanced lesson on equality and choices upon which they all nodded solemnly. And then Sam proceeded to play manager. This, because Lucy is really the boss and told him to, so I was satisfied.

A couple of days ago I was standing outside my front door and I heard a little snippet of a conversation between a little boy and a little girl on the way to school. "You have to work hard because you need money." "Why? Why do I need money?" "Because you're going to have children and be a Dad and you need money for that." The conversation never touched on a mom's or a woman's responsibility -- at least not during their walk across my front lawn.

So worth repeating is this: 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' A fine woman by the name of Eleanor Roosevelt said that. She was a First Lady and a great one, and would have made an excellent president, I think. I hope girls - and boys - in this country are growing up to know that they can be anything they dream themselves to be, and I hope all of us are supporting that idea in our beliefs and in our actions.

And last, worth repeating is this. NJ Governor Chris Christie was asked by a newscaster whether he was aware of one of the presidential candidate's plans to tour the devastation of Hurricane Sandy with him. Unapologetically, Christie told the newsman something along the lines of, "If you think I care about Presidential Politics right now, you don't know me." I admire someone in public life who still has his head clear about what it's all about. Being clear on what it's all about is worth repeating, to yourself and to others all the time.