Author Archives: Barbara

About Barbara

Grandma, Education, Lifelong learner

It’s NOT About Trump — It’s All About Us

Folks! It’s not about Trump! It’s about us! We, the people hold primary blame for the challenges facing our country! After reading an article by Skip Bacevish (one of my husband’s classmates), I considered Skip’s words, “The individual inhabiting the White House has become the preeminent symbol of who we are and what we represent as a nation and a people.” Rather than attributing the state of the union to Donald, we must look within for our own causes and cures.

Fans of Trump as well as those of us who worry about him share an important common flaw in our thinking. We all tend to allot more power to Trump than we rightfully should. Those who adore Trump firmly believe he is the savior who will fix America — “Make America great again.” Those of us who distrust Trump wag our fingers dismally as we blame him and his cronies for the problems we face.

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Imagine IF. . .Shazam! We Actually Fix the System!

Imagine if . . . Texas had enough money to update all public schools, pay salaries appealing enough to catch the eye of the brightest and best graduates, and provide state of the art materials and equipment. Imagine if . . . in such a world, private and parochial schools also requested state funding. I might stand at the front of the line to say, “Of course Texas can fund private as well as public education.” Unfortunately, we do not enjoy this luxury in Texas. So, how does reality look?

Reality means that August heat now rages with full force in Texas. In a short time, public school doors will open for any and all children. Regardless of economic status, race, gender, academic or athletic ability, health, or behavioral issues thousands of children can and will stream through the doors of public education.

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To Heck With Being Sensible

Some of you may already know that Chris and I backed out of the offer we made on a cute little house. Today, I write about our latest (and final) house bid.  

I’m running out of time. No doubt about it. With my 80’s looming ahead in the not so distant future, I’d better take advantage of what’s left of my youthful 70’s. To heck with being sensible and sedate! Not that I have anything against practical shoes, a little help walking, or the luxury of peaceful naps. Searching for the proverbial gold in these golden years does not get easier. I’ve decided to go for it while I still have the eyesight to spot that golden glow.

And so, my husband, who is eight years my junior and I dumped our previous notion of downsizing. Actually, we had previously downsized all the way to life in a motor home. Yes, it was fun. Without a doubt, getting rid of superfluous stuff felt great. And yet, there were hazards to that downsizing movement.

In spite of providing the advantage of always being able to locate one another, the motor home left no space for a family that seems to insist on continual expansion. Those kids — the ones we assumed would grow up and move on with their lives have become rabbits. Constantly, they accumulate spouses and children, dogs, cats and even chinchillas. Don’t get me wrong. We love each and every one. While some senior citizens collect antique dolls, stamps, coins, or even books, my husband and I collect grandchildren.

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That Swinging Pendulum Can Pack a Punch!

Have you ever felt like life mimics the swinging pendulum on a grandfather clock? On one side, life presents the circumstances you prefer. The opposite direction propels you into dread and dissatisfaction.

I believe that if I can avoid wild, dramatic, herculean swings I can keep the pendulum gently swaying somewhere near center. As we all know, staying centered provides a path to contentment.

I also tell myself that just as I cannot control the motion of the clock pendulum, I do not control the variances of life. Faithfully, I remind myself (and anyone who will listen), that I can only control my reactions to life’s swings. Much of the time, I stay relatively close to center. In addition, most of the time my attitude remains stable in spite of worldly events. But not always. Below, I share two extreme swings of my personal pendulum. Continue reading

Poking Fun About a Serious Subject

At the risk of offending friends and family, I post this fictional and foolish letter. My intention, to poke fun at a serious topic, contains bits of ridiculous along with a significant truth. The underlying message suggests that grave responsibility accompanies sexual activities.

 Disclaimer: I do not have any grandsons named Billy Bob or Rex.

Dear Billy Bob and Rex,

After years of lectures, warnings, and suggestions about flossing, I feel my work on this subject now ends. However, rather than resting in peace, a new compulsion takes on importance. Billy Bob — it is now time — yea past time for a considered and intelligent conversation about sex. You know you have been anxiously waiting for many years. Now, the time has come and I owe it to all of you young, innocent males, with your under-developed frontal lobes, to tell you the truth about this important topic.

Here it is. Prevention falls squarely onto your young shoulders. You think the female members of the species would take the lead on this, with the 9-month thing and all, but alas, it falls to you. As much as females intend to take care of the issue — yes, I write about birth control — reliable evidence indicates that females frequently do not do so. Lurking in the back of our female brains, a vision of cuddling a cute, happy, dry baby persists. This syndrome creates a “yes, I took care of it” delusion. For example, “I thought I took the birth control pills…I only missed one tiny dose. . .that little ring thing just fell out. . . I heard the music but I lost the rhythm.” The list goes on and on. Of course, abstinence definitely works best and when used properly, it offers 100% certainty. However, abstinence presents a challenge. That means, you can apply abstinence 99 times out of 100. One “oops” cancels all previous hard work. Yep! That’s the one and only time! For obvious reasons, major surprises often accompany the abstinence method.

Even with the most responsible female, the responsibility, like the preverbal tennis ball, remains in your court. Any time you decide to engage in sexual activity, you enter a realm that could involve creating a new life, which we consider far too precious to take lightly. Truthfully, a shared responsibility indicates mutual maturity and responsibility.

I sign off as your grandmother wishing for great grandchildren in the far distant future. Sending Love and wisdom to you.

Grandma  (Written Oct. 2015)

Possible Reading

Herndon, Emily, M. Zieman. “New Contraceptive Options.” American Family Physician. Feb. 15, 2004.  http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0215/p853.html

Partners In Health. “Contraception Health Centre.” Web MD. 2015.  http://www.webmd.boots.com/contraception/features/new-long-term-contraception-methods.

Owning Responsibility

I love this country. I value the fact that due to no effort or wisdom on my part I grew up in the United States. This country has been good to me. However, regardless of my personal experience, others claim a different reality.  Julia Craven writes, “The system continues to fail Black people.” Our country, which has treated me so kindly, has not regarded others with equal respect. No one wins when the system continues to be rigged in favor of a few.

Police bashing will never provide a sensible answer. Most police want to serve and will risk their lives to protect others. When police make mistakes, we need to own the fact that our system did not education them well. Sometimes, family lessons twist minds. Misconceptions often continue in our schools and even our churches. Finally, police academies cement misconceptions by emphasizing guns rather than communication skills. However, the injuries to Blacks represent much more than a police problem.

Our judicial system appears spineless when the issues involve race. How many times have we witnessed brutality toward Black males on television, and later felt astonished when courts determined that the perpetrators did no wrong? Julia Craven claims that although 991 Black citizens were shot and killed in 2015, jury outcomes did not result in a single guilty verdict. Doesn’t that seem astonishing? That odd imbalance of verdicts suggests that attitudes rearrange facts in the minds of jurors.

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A Father’s Day Story: Changing a Sworn Enemy to a Friend for Life

In my entire life, I only had one serious enemy. My foe, Johnny Cain, had enormous blue eyes and sandy hair. Each afternoon, while walking from school to my Grandmother Glover’s house, Johnny pretended to run me down with his little blue bicycle. In an effort to maintain some shred of dignity, I showed no fear. I stared straight ahead, kept walking at a steady pace, and refused to look at my cruel tormentor. The more I pretended bravery the more this game appealed to eight-year old Johnny.

You probably can’t imagine the horror I felt when Daddy announced that he and I would be going to a fish fry with Catherine Cain and her son, Johnny. “You can’t be serious! Johnny is the meanest person in the whole world,” I responded in a panic. Seventy years later, I know this world can be cruel. At eight, I thought surely Daddy would listen to reason. However, the following Saturday, I found myself scrunched against a back seat door staring out the window. Johnny stared with equal determination out the opposite side of the car. We refused to speak to one another.

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Salvaging At Risk Students

As a life long educator, hearing the term “school to prison pipeline” causes me to cringe. Imagining lines of young Black males walking that pipeline only intensifies feelings of grief and loss. Imagine the difference if money spent on prisons had been allotted to changes within our public school system.

News articles frequently inform us that “the school to prison pipeline” predominantly destroys lives of Black males. When I force myself to get honest about this reality, I realize that every student who drops out of school or who ends up in prison embodies an appalling personal cost as well as a disastrous loss to society. Instead of increasing my hand wringing, I want to share a few alternative ideas, which I learned from others.

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America Now Stands on the Sidelines

I heard someone claim, “You can’t lead from the sidelines.” While looking for the author of this quote, I found the following words from Shirley Chisholm, “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”

Why these quotes about sidelines? On June 1, 2017, America moved out of our place as THE leader of the free world and stepped onto the impotent sidelines. We relinquished our connections to 200 national leaders who at least claim they will work to improve the world atmosphere. In our withdrawal we joined Nicaragua and Syria. No one questions why Syria did not join. Nicaragua tells a different story.

Paul Oquist, who represents Nicaragua at the Paris meetings claims that unlike the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, no consequences currently exist if any country fails to maintain its promises. Whether or not one agrees with Nicaragua’s position, I maintain that only those at the table can make a correction concerning this issue.

Currently, Nicaragua ranks 131st in carbon emissions. Regrettably, the US ranks second in the world, which means only China emits more carbon than we do. Those who do more harm should contribute accordingly. Nothing sounds more childish than to claim unfair treatment from other nations. When I hear this complaint, I consider efforts to help high needs children.

23707858 – carbon dioxide emissions and globe, digital composite

Teachers who work with special education students often hear complaints of unfairness from other children. I always respond, “Fair means each individual gets what that person needs in order to learn and succeed.” Equal treatment ignores individual differences. On the other hand, equity provides what each individual actually needs to make progress. As we should behave with children, we must act among nations. Equity overrides equality. Nations, like children, arrive with differing needs and abilities.

Even if the Paris Agreements do not represent perfection, I believe we should be involved, striving to improve the agreements and seeking to lead other nations to care for the planet. I fear we will have little or no influence from the sidelines.

I close with a final quote from Theodore Roosevelt. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Even North Korea joined the Paris Accord. The United States now stands on the sidelines with Syria and Nicaragua. I weep with regret that we no longer lead the free world. From the sidelines, we pout and complain.

Work Cited:

Cabral, Angelica. “Why Isn’t Nicaragua Part of the Paris Agreement?” futuretense. June 1, 2017. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2017/06/01/why_isn_t_nicaragua_part_of_the_paris_climate_agreement.html

 Chisholm, Shirley. “Sideline Quotes.” AZ QUOTES. https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/1173-don-rsquo-t-lead-from-the-sidelineshttp.

Evans, Bryce. “Don’t Lead from the Sidelines.” RATCHET+WRENCH. . June 29, 2012.

Responding to Challenges Times

Every Sunday, the members of our church sing two important phrases. “This is the time we’ve been waiting for. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” With increasing frequency, I repeat these sentences to myself.

Nationally, we have an idea on which we all seem to agree — America faces challenging times. A national split seems to widen each day with no solutions in sight. We find divisions about climate changes, racial inequity, immigrants, Muslims, gays, women’s rights, taxes and many more issues. As long as we remain divided, no one can truly enjoy the freedom for which this republic began.

How can this be the time we have been waiting for? Division feels terrible. I can’t speak for others, but during times of challenge, I experience my most significant reflection and growth. The challenges we now face call on us to be the best we can possible be. Circumstances also prompt us to live up to the intentions of our founding fathers.

Our constitution begins, “We the people. . .” The words do not include we the people of a certain color, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. How might our nation look if we were to rise to the level of those opening words? According to Reverend Jim Rigby, “We seek a freedom that does not enslave others.” If I say, “I love you but I don’t want to pay you a living wage,” I clearly demonstrate hypocrisy. Likewise, can I claim love if I favor laws that make voting difficult for any group or individual? Am I a loving person if I live in fear of any religion or group that differs from my personal values?

Rigby suggests that if we live in captivity to our fears, we restrict the freedom of all of us. Additionally, putting money ahead of human values denies us our own liberty. The laws of the Old Testament and the laws of our own constitution exist to help us establish personal freedoms —freedoms, which must exist for everyone within the boundaries of this great country.

Apparently, these are the times we’ve been waiting for. These times require us to wake up and live out of compassion, to move beyond our fears and act with courage. Only with open hearts can we find the freedom we seek. No leader of any party can provide this for us. Nor can any religion or clergy provide us with healing. The freedom, as well as the safety we seek abides within our own beings. This is the time and we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Work Cited:

Reverend Jim Rigby. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Austin, Texas, 2017. Ideas in this writing come from a sermon delivered by Jim Rigby on Sunday, May 28, 2017.