Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cheerleader for Humanity

I'm trying really hard to write something every day. Actually, I write a lot more than I post here on my blog. I have so much I want to say about a number of things. Most of it's not that important, just things that are meant to be positive or inspiring in some way. 

I used to be in an all-girl band back in Texas. We had a great following! I was such a cheerleader that the girls once got me a t-shirt that said, "I'm just one big f@#!ing ray of sunshine!" I resembled that remark. I was never a cheerleader in school, but I suppose I am a cheerleader for humanity. 

I grew up in one of the most amazing places in the world. Some of you may disagree, but I value my upbringing in Eastern Kentucky. I was an only child. I had to be creative and I had to be strong. I didn't have siblings to fight with, bond with, share clothes with or to stick up for me if someone gave me a hard time at school. I was on my own. I invented games and acted out plays in my backyard. I sang for the mountains and wrote a new Grammy acceptance speech as often as I would remember someone else to thank.

Growing up in a place where family is everything and helping people is just a way of life helped shape the woman I am today. Most folks were hard-working, God-fearing, genuine people who just wanted to make a good life for their kids and their community. Out here in this big, crazy world in real-time, I don’t see very much of that anymore. I know it occurs in pockets, but as a whole I see a very self-absorbed and selfish society that can’t put down their phones long enough to have a face-to-face conversation. I’m guilty of that myself some days, but I’m trying to be more conscious of what I’m doing. I want to draw others in rather than push them away by being too wrapped up in whatever electronic device I’m holding at the time.

As an artist, I take on a lot of the world’s pain. I suppose it’s because I create music (which is what feelings sound like) and write about what I observe. I write what I feel and not to feel what’s going on in the world is to not be aware. Extreme consciousness.

I think if we all got on the cheerleader bandwagon and headed on down to Positivityville, we could really make a difference. Am I alone in this thinking? Have we gotten so cynical that we don’t think it’s worth the effort? We’re not too far gone, are we?

I really hope for our future that people we circle back to days gone by and instead of trying to automate life in the name of progress and trends, they stop and take notice that there is no substitute for human interaction. There is no substitute for that conversation you could be having with a 95 year old who has seen everything from the first television to automobile autopilot technology. We have so much to learn from the past. History books have changed. Important information about our history is not being taught. Education has become more focused on test scores and funding and less about creativity and individuality. One size no longer fits all with education in today’s world, so why do schools continue to cookie cut the curriculum? I know people right now who cannot boil water but can write a sophisticated computer program. We explain life skills with CliffsNotes and then act surprised when people get in a pickle by not having the basic information to be successful as a human being.

How can we use shortcuts and expect our future generations to take care of our land, our country and our future? Will they respect elders like we were taught to growing up? Or will they continue to diminish their importance in society with continued reductions in healthcare and housing options for fixed-income seniors? Will they choose to protect our land or sell it off in the name of progress and greed, regardless of the long-term effects on the environment? Will we see more pollution in our oceans? More dumping of chemicals? More oil spills?

I really haven’t become a tree-hugging hippie, but I do know the value of our parks and our planet. And I honestly believe that most kids today do not know that the health of the ocean is essential to human survival. How can we change? What are our takeaways from the things we’ve learned thus far about the new generations?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know I can do my part by being a friend, neighbor and a good citizen. If I see my neighbor’s kids doing something dangerous, I’m not going to just stand there and watch them break their heads open. I’m going to step in and help. If I see a horrific incident, I’m not going to be filming it with my iPhone. I’m going to stop and help. If I see someone in need, I’m going to offer a hand. It’s not that hard to get back to doing human things. It’s not that hard to open up your heart and care about something besides yourself.

Be a good human. Be a cheerleader. Be whatever it takes to make our world a little brighter, a little better. We won’t be here forever but we can change the course of our future by taking action now.

Be good to each other. We’re all we’ve got. 

Mid-Life Crisis? Who, me?

It’s funny how you go along in life, time passes by so quickly and then you suddenly realize….YOU are middle-aged.

 I used to think that middle-aged meant someone well into their 50s - mostly because I never really did the literal math of a middle-aged person. But if you consider that the average life span for a woman these days is around 81 years, then I most certainly am middle-aged.

I have these moments when I wonder if I’m having a mid-life crisis. I think we all know how that stereotype plays out in men – buys sports car, divorces wife for younger woman, blah blah blah. But for a woman, what does a mid-life crisis look like?

Clearly, not everyone runs off with a youngster, buys a Ferrari or tries to create an alternate reality (where others still see you as a 25 year old) if they’re content in their lives. For me, I think crisis plays out in self-reflection, self-realization and facing the inevitable that each day is a little closer to death. That might sound a bit dark on the surface, but if you are as happy-go-lucky as I am, it morphs into something beautiful and ultimately fulfilling.

At this stage in my life, I just want to be happy and healthy. I want to travel and see incredible things with my eyes that my mouth cannot explain. I am incredibly fortunate to have found someone to love who loves me back, unconditionally. We have little fur babies who are such a joy (our “kids”) and who also love unconditionally. We have a loving and supportive family and a small circle of people we can actually call friends.  We have all of our basic needs met – food on the table, roof over our heads, etc.

I don’t need millions of dollars in the bank to make me happy. Money cannot buy my happiness. Some people think differently. I say to those people: you might get everything you want, but is it what you need? For your soul?

Too often, I see people chasing dollar signs – mostly because they have to stay fashioned in their luxury cars, and be able to afford those McMansions and the trendiest clothes. But if all those things burst into flames right now, what would they have left? Sure, money makes things a little easier, but it’s not everything. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t have it all. I’m just saying that one day all those material possessions won’t matter.

At the end of your days, if you can look back and say, “I was loved,” then you’ve lived a great life! And that can mean love from anyone – your partner, friends, family, pets – whoever you have in your life that brings you joy! Love comes in all shapes, colors, sizes and sources. If you have it, consider yourself blessed! And if you give it, then you have brought it all full circle.

Love goes on long after we do.

Now, that’s a nice legacy! And if realizing what’s most important is my mid-life crisis? I’ll take it. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Born To Love

I’ve been trying really hard to come up with the exact point in time when we all used to get along, as a people – as a country. I’m still working on that one, but I know it was in my life time. I don’t ever remember a time before now that I was in utter awe and disgust at things coming out of people’s mouths. I’m also trying really hard to forget about this election and people at each other’s throats. I honestly feel that if I put a bumper sticker on my car to support ANYONE that it would be set on fire within minutes by the radical opposition – and by radical, I pretty much mean anyone with a strong opinion and a can of gasoline.

Some have taken “opinion” to a new level. Opinion used to simply be a viewpoint, belief or outlook. Now opinions can get a few punches thrown your way – or even death. Ask any sports fan who’s been attacked for expressing a strong “opinion” to the opposition, if they survived. We’ve hit a new low in this country – one I sincerely thought I would never see in my lifetime.

I really do blame social media, though I probably should just blame the people who are being an ass, but I digress. Social media has given a powerful voice to the cowardly. A voice that can be heard from anywhere at any time and can be as destructive as humanly possible without any tangible consequences. It has created digital monsters that lurk and troll and create powerful enemies with their words, photos and rants, and likely, they NEVER have to face them. They are the antichrists of humankind, spreading evil throughout the world. I think these people are far more dangerous than any terrorist group on this planet.

I read somewhere that the chances of being killed by a terrorist attack are about 1 in 20 million. The odds of being murdered in America are roughly 1 in 6,100.  (Though, if you are in Chicago – well, just get the hell out of Chicago!) So, we post our strong opinions and hope and pray that we are not the targets of someone’s vengeance.

I’m a person who posts a lot off feel good fluff, for lack of a better description. I try so very hard to stay out of the mix and offer a little positivity and kindness to the world. But there are times when I have to stand up for things being said that are not okay. And in those moments, I advertise that I actually have a voice. Sometimes that makes people angry. Sometimes it makes them think.

I’ve always tried to stand up for injustices. I remember a specific time when I was younger and attended church with an entire family that was deaf/mute. Some of the kids in my Sunday school class were mocking one of the girls and how she sounded when she tried to speak. I remember crying so hard. I felt so bad for her. I was uncomfortable in immediate confrontation back then. So, I went home and wrote a poem about how we should treat people the same, no matter what and asked to read it that next Sunday in church. I could hardly get through it without choking up. I knew I was putting it all out there and would look up and see that family looking at me when I read the words I had written. I was terrified but it needed to be done. And all I wanted to do was let the offending kids know their behavior was not okay. And I wanted the family to know, especially that little girl, that I still loved them, despite others words and actions.

I think that sometimes, even as adults, we still have that need to be accepted. And sometimes teasing or mocking – whether it is a celebrity, politician or otherwise - sometimes the lines of decency are crossed. And you’ve got to be brave enough to stand behind the line and tell others why you won’t cross it.  You’ve got to stand up and fight for those who can’t.

Bottom line is, we’ve become too gruff and too rigid. We won’t tolerate or consider another’s opinion to the point of intentionally hurting them with words and rude comments. We are easily angered and agitated. Why are we this way? If this is you, please search your heart. If you engage – are you hurting someone in the process? Is it worth it to perpetuate the joke? Is it worth it to wound another for the laugh? Life is fleeting so it is ideal to make it the greatest you can and, though clich├ęd, put your best foot forward. 

You weren’t born to hurt others. You were born to love. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


What is this world coming to? We are living in telling times. Times that speak volumes about who we are and what our legacy will be once we are long gone. 

As a writer, expressing emotions and revelations about the human condition with music, I tend to be an observer of people. I read, I watch, I listen - words, body language, actions. I see everything from a perspective not common to most. As a result, I always feel like I'm in a heightened state. It's not always a comfortable place to be - it causes me great pain when I see more of the bad than good. And when I see the good, it settles my soul. But we are living in a time when I've taken on some heavy emotions lately. Some observations...

We laugh and mock others for their misfortunes or mistakes. We sit behind lighted boxes saying things....awful things.....our parents would've made us wash our mouths out with soap for saying such things!! And if you do those things anonymously, you are even lower on the totem pole of dignity. 

We've made the unimportant our biggest time wasters, stealing us away from the things that should matter most. Violence, murder, etc. etc. - all commonplace on TV and in the movies we watch. We are no longer shocked by anything. We've put the worst out there to be seen and heard by all. If we are inconvenienced in our drive or commute by traffic, we expect to see at least blood - because it "better be something terrible if it's holding up my day." 

We laud and applaud loudmouths and reality show stars because they provide a source of entertainment. We put them on pedestals, rush out to buy the wares they're hawking so we can brag about what we have. We are making them millions for doing absolutely nothing while we are going broke, trying like hell to keep up with the Kardashians. It's nonsense. 

People read. People watch. People notice. I know, just from Facebook alone (because some folks just can't keep it to themselves), who's a hate-spewing bigot and who's trying to be a good person. I even have relatives who can't post ANYTHING good - not a word of kindness or joy in any of their posts. Just rhetoric or gloom and doom. What a sad place to live. But I don't feel bad for them because they made the choice to be that way. 


We have become so lax in policing our own words or actions - how can we possibly expect future generations to be any better? We are not part of the problem - we ARE the problem. Either you are actively participating in or perpetuating this madness or you are not. There is no in-between. Even inaction makes you guilty by not saying or doing anything to bring some good into this world and shut down those who haven't a kind word in their vocabulary. Will you use your powers for good or for evil? 

Here's a news flash - no matter how awesome you think you are in life, death doesn't care because all graves are the same size. What do you want to be remembered for? What will be your legacy? One of love, acceptance and kindness? Or one of no integrity, no decency and no empathy.

I saw something earlier that said, "If the words you spoke appeared on your skin...would you still be beautiful?" 

The choice is yours.