Anderson-Messeder Holiday Christmas Card 2020

A different year to say the least?

There are both plusses and deltas. Plusses being that we slowed down. A LOT. Daren and I both are working from home. That means most meals are prepared at home, with love and eaten in a non-rushed away. We get as much rest as our bodies need. We exercise as much as we have always wanted to. We are on top of the house and did all the work and repairs we have been putting off.And we have time for our pets and hobbies.

But we do miss socializing, seeing family and friends – and our kids as much as we used to.

Speaking of the children – Tom is working in Watertown outside of Boston at Perkins School for the Blind in the residential program with the teen population. Gabby is finishing up her senior year at the University of Rhode Island studying Geology and Water Conservation. Kieran took a year off from Harvard and is interning in a small start-up company named DietID. Devin is a senior in high school and has begun the college application process.

With time for arts and crafts this year I have had my fill of creativity. But found the well never dries up! Daren has had plenty of time for sailing and the piano. Most of all we spent our first summer in Branford really enjoying the area, the beach, kayaking, and time right in our own corner the world with our neighbors who turn out are a LOT of fun!

Here are some highlights of the year

Then there was ART AND CRAFTS

PHOTOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2020

Hopefully like the sunrise below – we will start 2021in a beautiful manor. Cheers to the end of 2020 and may all the good things that are new help transform the world into a better place as we create new norms from all we have learned this year.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours.

Namaste

On Karma

I absolutely love this Van Gogh painting. It is called “Sower with Setting Sun”. It is simple but holds a very deep message. 

We reap what we sow.

Karma.

Every so often at an unintentional level of awareness; while walking, waking at night, or doing something else random; an explosive revelation of understanding takes me by complete surprise, and I consider something very deep that makes so much sense it overwhelms me with the “truth”. Soon after it is lost and quite difficult to conjure up again. It is like a sheet is pulled back, or the lights are turned on. However, it is gone in a flash. I’m only left with the memory of having a brief moment of understanding of a higher truth. 

One topic that came across a few times is the relationship between Grace and Karma. Since today is Veterans Day and most of us think of selfless service when we think about the Veteran population and what they have done for our country, I feel inspired to write about it. 

Afterall, acting in Grace really means acting in self-less service. It’s outside of the Karma wheel.

Whether or not you practice religion of any sort, most of us have heard the story of Adam and Eve, the apple, and original sin. 

“Original sin”

The Christian tradition teaches that we are born of sin and cannot escape it. We will always be sinners. Jesus died for our sins so we can be saved.

What in the WORLD does that mean? 

As a young girl in Catholic school this sounded incredibly daunting. The art and wall hangings at school and church looked dark and ominous. The music was heavy and full of what seemed like cryptic messages. I thought I would burn in hell for all eternity if I didn’t repent for fighting with my brothers. Jesus died for me to be here, wasn’t I grateful? How dare I sin?

These tenets are a lot for anyone to grasp. So many of us don’t and eventually either mentally or physically check out of the church. Those who do not check-out and spend their days on their knees with the rosary are likely not faring any better, however I think the idea is that they will go to heaven by suffering now. 

Heaven is everlasting peace. It is a way out of this world of suffering. But escaping Karma and the wheel of action that creates action is not about suffering. In fact, suffering keeps you trapped in the Karmic circle.

I am using the word “Suffering” for lack of a better word to include any unpleasant feeling that you would rather not have. Suffering is the word that the Hindu and Buddhist traditions use in their texts to describe this sentiment. A chief principle of these teachings is that suffering can be eliminated through non-attachment.   

Non-attachment is another term to pause at.

What is Non-Attachment?Non-attachment means moving through life without letting things, people, or places have such a hold on you that you make wrong choices. Don’t Let Things Own You. No one’s perfect

Non-suffering takes place when we become unattached to any outcome of our actions whether or not those expected outcomes are good or bad. Non-attachment is to accept that being here on earth, in the flesh, enjoying the sunshine, enjoying taste, sight, sound, and anything else our 5 senses can enjoy WILL including suffering, hurt, let down, mistakes – a big ol’ hot ugly mess! Non-attachment means to take it all in as it happens. Let it go when the moment passes. Be in the next moment as that one happens – and accept that one too. 

Unpleasant experiences are to be expected. Doing something to avoid any type of suffering will only cause more suffering because you are doing something with the expectation of feeling a certain way. This is the same (other side of the coin) as doing things to feel good, because doing something to feel good is an attachment to the outcome too and an attempt to not feel “bad”. 

Non-attachment allows feelings to pass. Accepting this and doing the right thing no matter what all of the time is Grace. 

Grace does not mean being a doormat. Grace does not mean putting forth effort where it is not received or is fruitless. 

 “Fruitless”

Fruitless as in a tree that is not bearing fruit. When there are other trees nearby to nurture and prune, it is literally fruitless to put forth pruning effort. It is not to say you should rip it out and kill it (unless it’s killing something else that is alive since you are the gardener). It is to say if you spend 4 hours pruning the fruitless tree and become too tired to tend to the fruit bearing ones, no good service was done. 

Being fruitful is to use our energy in ways that will move life around us positively, remembering what serves the purpose of greater good vs. what is a fruitless. 

To think about what you are doing and the effects of your action, without concern about how it will affect the way you feel. To always do the right thing. To live in Grace. 

The central tenet is to avoid being attached (by your own feelings) to the outcome, but use your energy in ways that do the greatest good.  

Sowing seeds in the spring to harvest later and live through the winter is important. It behooves us to do the best we can to keep the garden growing and prolific. The intention of gardening may be food to live, however; taking pride in the outcome is where we are toeing the line because we are [again] attaching to an outcome. Pride is one of the Seven deadly sins for a reason. It is not to be confused with self-respect. 

It is not a sin to feel good. It is a sin (or our own self-inflicted suffering) to be attached to the outcome of what we do. We cannot avoid being human and feeling good or bad about things that happen. But letting that pass is where we will begin to feel free and enjoy life. 

What if the garden fails after all that work? It could. This is where expecting bad events as a part of life fits in. What if a hurricane blew through, or some crazy invasive bug species descended upon the crops?

If the garden tending included pride, the destruction would be a set up for disappointment (suffering). If the garden tending was done with grace, self-respect and included non-attachment… you get the point.

It does not mean that since it could happen that you give only a small hoot all year and go fishing every afternoon.

It also doesn’t mean that going above and beyond is a great act of heroism either. Taking out every single last weed or being obsessive about testing the soil or water when there is no evidence it needs it would be a waste of energy. You will deplete yourself.

Knowing the sweet spot of where to quit for the day and revitalize the body with activities that fill you with joy (maybe that is fishing) is the way to feel satisfied and full of life in this karmic dimension. 

Filling your own tank so you can fill the idiomatic tank of the realm around you is where the beautiful balance lies. Right in the middle. A little bit of effort, a little bit of ease. Just enough to yield the best results. 

Karma means action and action motivated by compassion is good. To complain that what happens to you is just the result of your karma is lazy. Instead, confidently recalling the advice that, “You are your own master,” you can change what happens by taking action. Dalai Lama.

I’m going to switch lanes here, but not the direction. The Lord’s Prayer in the Christian sector has recently come to mind while contemplating the relationship between Grace and Karma. Particularly the line Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

Consider that line…

On a surface level it means saying “sorry” and the other person saying “I forgive you”. But when you consider this automatic response that we are taught as kids and take Karma into consideration, this line from is incredibly powerful and takes on a much deeper, spiritual meaning. 

I forgive but don’t forget

A popular saying. What does it mean to you? 

If you have a sound mind and memory, forgetting is not possible. 

Consider whether or not ‘forgetting’ is with good intention. Meaning that all ill feeling or suffering you have felt prior to forgiveness is completely gone. Your heart is truly light and empty. When a situation conjures up the memory of what you ‘forgave’, is there a lack of reaction in the body and mind? If there is no reaction, that means you have really forgiven. Grace is present. 

Forgiving but not forgetting could also mean that you will not make the same mistake twice. That would be toeing the line as well. If any feelings come up (positive or negative), whether or not you are aware of it; you are stuck in the karmic circle. Grace is not present. 

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Think about that again if you have never really considered it deeply before.

If you have not truly let go by forgiving someone, your body or mind will react with an unpleasant feeling. If you haven’t really let go, YOU (not the other person) will suffer. 

You will be free and forgiven (hence, not suffer from the pain of sin) when you forgive and let go. No one can do that for you. 

That is Karma. The only way to travel outside of it is to act with Grace. With self-less service. 

In the beginning of this blog I wrote about original sin and the Christian teaching that Jesus saved us by dying on the cross. 

If we strip away all the religion, artifacts, dark art and music; and consider the message – I can see Grace and self-less service in it all. 

From the article The Distance Between Grace and Karma with regard to the teachings of Jesus: 

In calling His followers to a new approach that extended beyond the rule-keeping of the Law, He later said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (5:43–44 NKJV). In other words, Jesus was saying, “You don’t have to respond to evil with more evil. Instead you can respond with good.” Karma would dictate that we should always reward evil with evil, and only reward good with good. But the law of grace demands a new approach, one that directly opposes karma.

You do not have to be a Christian to agree that a spiritual man who we now call Jesus was on this earth about 2000 years ago. This man preached kinder ways. This man was content living as an example of not being attached to an outcome and consistently doing the right thing. 

This man did not put forth extra effort where it would not be understood (he did not mingle with the rich and powerful). He took time for himself to fill his own cup when it was needed. And most importantly, He ultimately showed us that it is possible to not suffer through accepting whatever life threw at him with Grace. He did this on the cross. It was his ultimate sacrifice. 

This was the ultimate self-less service. It is not because Jesus was special, au contraire; He taught us that we all have this amazing power to do the same. And we do! That is how he saved us. 

Beautifully enough, not so dissimilar to how our nations Veterans saved us. Through. Self-less service. Grace. 

Karma vs. Grace: A Psycho Spiritual Analysis

Grace offers us a way out of our ego’s grasp. With grace, we do not have to earn our salvation. In fact the effort to earn it is precisely what we most want to avoid. Instead, we surrender to the will of the One who knows us better than we know ourselves and wants to give us something beyond our imagination. Grace sets us free from spiritual anxiety that everything we say and do might determine our final destiny.

Namaste! 

Similar blogs of mine: 

On Grace

It’s Through the Heart

You are the MOST important person on your gift list

On Halloween and Our Shadow Side

On Giving Gifts that heal this holiday season

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

On the US Economy Over Time

The first two charts are the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It shows growth per year over time. The 1st chart is the last 20 years, the 2nd is the goes back as far as the website does to 1961. 

As it shows, it has gone up & down. There is nothing outstanding about the last 4 years of administration. 

The source is here:

GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is from the World Bank

What both charts show above and some others will below – is that there was something that happened in 2008/2009 which caused a financial fall in the United States. 

Experts show that the deregulation of the banks (Bush Jr administration) caused the fall. The affect of the economy and all government decisions should be likened to turning around a very large ship. You make the turn on the helm, but it will take a while for the ship to actually be turned around. The fall of the beginning of the Obama administration was due to something that took place in the Bush administration. 

Source below: 

Deregulation of the banks 

https://www.thebalance.com/what-caused-2008-global-financial-crisis-3306176

With me so far? 

Without a doubt the Stock Market has increased over time. The below chart shows that historical trend over the past 100 years from the following source

Dow Jones 

https://www.macrotrends.net/1319/dow-jones-100-year-historical-chart

In the above we can see that it goes up & down every year, but the trajectory in general has been that it goes up. The grey background lines are periods of time when the United States has been in a recession. 

We see the same fall in 2008/2009 again in this chart, but the next 8 years it went back up under Obama and then continued the rise after Trump took over.

Great right? Isn’t that what everyone is looking at and wants to see? What I don’t understand is that I don’t think Trump did anything special – AND I don’t see the effect on American families. 

Still with me? 

The next two tables show the average income rise between income classes. As it shows, what the increase in the Dow Jones has done over time is increase the gap between the super rich and everyone else. Between the non-super rich, the gap has also increased, but not as much

The first chart shows the average household income with inflation adjustments, the second one is without inflation. 

Both show the same gap disparity.

Since it’s from a source I don’t know anything about (DQYDJ), I went to the US Census Bureau to get raw numbers. 

Below is the chart I pulled right from the site. The black is the numbers from the site and where it is red is where I made my own calculations using formulas. The chart was created from the table. I made it. 

The raw numbers from the census bureau coincide with the numbers from the DQYDJ source. 

Average Household – United States Census Bureau

https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2001/demo/p60-213.html

What about cost of living and how much it costs to buy a home? 

For those not familiar with COLA – it stands for Cost of Living Adjustment. It is what is used by the United States government and most employers to adjust salary raises so employees can afford to live the same way as prices rise. It’s separate from a raise or promotion. It’s just to even things out as prices rise. 

This data came from the Department of Social Security and US Census Bureau. Neither were readily available in charts, I downloaded raw data tables from each site and put them together below. 

Here again, black is the raw data and the red and chart are my own calculations based on the two sources below. 

The gap between how much a family makes and how much it costs to buy a house has not grown equally. The average family pays more for a house based on their income. Trump did nothing to improve or worsen this situation. 

Cost of Living from Department of Social Security 

https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/latestCOLA.html

Cost of Housing

https://www.census.gov/construction/nrs/historical_data/index.html

Lastly I’d like to address unemployment. The first chart goes back to 1929. Again it shows the 2008/2009 affect of the deregulation of the banking industry. As well as a downward (lower is better) trend from the Obama administration right away, well into the Trump administration. There is nothing significant about the last 4 years if we look back over the last 91 years. 

The second chart shows unemployment by race. The blue line shows the US unemployment rate. The orange line shows white unemployment, the yellow shows Hispanic unemployment, and the gray shows black unemployment. 

If you overlay the charts (I didn’t do that but you can look), the unemployment rate naturally rises and falls with the Dow Jones. Even though the Dow goes up, unemployment rates rise and fall as they always did. A more booming stock market does very little for people over time. 

This data is from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 

https://www.bls.gov/charts/employment-situation/civilian-unemployment-rate.htm

What I conclude from this is that the stock market doesn’t really improve the comfort level of the average American, unless you are in the highest 5% income bracket.  

The US Economy is governed by an Invisible Hand, just as we learned in Elementary School. And unless we do something drastically different, the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen. 

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

On Halloween and Our Shadow Side

We were made from the universe, so we contain the same elements of the universe. The universe is both dark and light. So are we.  

But who are “We” really? 

If we can agree we are not our liver or kidneys which are vital organs, is it feasible to agree we are not the organ of the brain? 

If we are not our brain, are “we” what is in the mind – which is function of the brain? It would be analogous to saying that we are not detox, which is the function of the liver.  

Hopefully the answer is no, because “we” are the substance that hears what the mind is saying. We are the part of the body that isn’t cells or substance. Just because it is only us that can hear what our mind is saying, doesn’t’ mean what the mind is really us.   

Our mind is influenced by the physical world around us. Jingles in our head, the constant replaying of a conversation we had or show we watched, the proverbial angel and devil on our shoulders justifying a decision in two different directions. Those things happen without conjuring them up. If we notice it, that part that notices is really the part that is us; not the part that is providing the commentary. 

That is IF we notice at all. The commentary, songs, dialogues, internal arguments or justifications for being ‘right’ or bad feelings of being ‘wrong’, and all the random and not so random things our mind is consistently chatting about are so ever presently constant; that we actually believe what we are thinking is who we are. But that is not true. Who we are is the witness to this chatter. 

I will refer back to the Angel and Devil relation above. How can you proport to be (as a person) the Angel who is advocating for the right decisions, when the Devil is right there doing exactly the same thing but advocating for something else? We may feel it is right to do with the Angel says because it is what morals and laws are built upon. But the Devil is in there too making a case. How is that dark side not as equal to who you profess to be? It’s not a pretty part to acknowledge, but that Devil is as normal as the Angel. 

That Devil part is the shadow side. 

Shadow side: 

“What is the ‘shadow’ self according to psychology? The ‘shadow’ is the side of your personality that contains all the parts of yourself that you don’t want to admit to having. It is at first an unconscious side. It is only through effort to become self-aware that we recognise our shadow.”

Your ‘Shadow’ Self – What It Is, And How It Can Help You

Neither the angel or devil is really who you are. 

You are the part that notices the angel and devil. 

Both will equally influence the decisions you make unless you learn to separate your true self from what your mind chats about. 

The best way to learn to notice your thoughts is to sit in meditation. That is another topic for another day perhaps. 

The point of this blog is to explain that you are not your thoughts. It is as natural to have good and bad thoughts as it is for the day to be dark and light. Our physical bodies are made of the physical universe, so our bodies are governed by the same laws. Both the good and bad exist. I believe the purpose of the Yin Yang is to visually demonstrate these natural laws that exist in our dimensions.

No human alive is above this law. Perhaps Jesus and Buddha had a better understanding and in their teachings of attachment in various ways, were showing us ways to live more humanely and to ignore the monkey mind. We didn’t have the language of the various levels of brain function at the time, but it’s not different from the unconscious, conscious, and superconscious. Or the Id, Ego & Superego. 

  • Unconscious: autonomic system that regulates bodily functions, influences the conscious to act in fight or flight to protect the body and their systems.
  • Conscious: thoughts and mind chatter about inner and outer world. 
  • Superconscious: part that notices thoughts

We would be missing the mark of having higher superconscious brain function over animals if we do not take this knowledge and work to separate identifying who we are from our thoughts. 

If we do not understand that we are not our thoughts, we attach to our Angel side, then expend time and energy hiding the Devil side away from ourselves and others. We attempt to un-attach to the shadow side by saying it is not who we are. But we are not the light side either. We are a witness to this very duality that exists in nature.

Ironically, embracing this shadow side and allowing it to feel natural is like breaking free and opening up to a beautiful new world. 

Embracing the shadow self can lead to a greater understanding of our whole self, as it helps us to understand, control and integrate it. Because when we shine a light on our shadow, we become conscious of the unconscious and gift ourselves with the power of conscious choice.” (Embracing the darkness within)

Embracing does not mean it is ok to take it out to the world and inflict it on others. 

Acceptance of the shadow side is personal work to in order to provide yourself clarity of the drivers you are unaware of because you didn’t want to acknowledge the thoughts the angel part of you didn’t like. No one is judging you but you. It is important to accept all thoughts that come up. It is difficult unless you really understand that these thoughts are just passing images and words. They are not the real you.

Halloween is a time to let out the Devil inside. A time of the year to celebrate the murkier side of life as we transform from summer to winter (light to dark). 

Samhain is the pagan celebration at the point in time believed the veil between the worlds is thinnest. In the Northern Hemisphere it is celebrated on October 31st, while in the Southern Hemisphere is it celebrated April 30th. Samhain is the transition of when the real switch between seasons occur, where it is impossible to deny that Winter is Coming (Sorry – I couldn’t help the phase [Game of Thrones] – Haha).

Accepting that it is natural to go from light to dark and celebrating nature helps to those not wishing winter to come to accept it as a natural part of life.

Now, transform that sentence (bolded) to the one below:

Accepting that it is natural to go from light to dark and celebrating nature helps those not wishing to acknowledge their shadow side to accept it as a natural part of life.  

Not accidentally, November 1st and in parts of the world the days leading up to 11/1, are a time to celebrate the dead and death as a natural part of our world. 

Death is natural and should be as expected as living is. Just as the shadow side is natural and should be as expected as the good in us is. 

These next few days is naturally a time to be in touch with the laws of nature, as the veil between worlds is in thin, so it’s easier to grasp. 

When I taught yoga classes regularly, I had a theme each month that I used. In October I had always used the theme of Embracing the Unknown in honor of world-wide Halloween traditions. I began each class with the same words in which I will end this blog. I asked students to consider perhaps incorporating some of these thoughts into their practice, and allowing whatever it is they fear to be welcome. 

Embracing the Unknown

  • Facing the scary, hairy thing under our beds
  • Not being afraid of death, but honoring it
  • Knowing our deepest renewal begins with surrender
  • Embracing the concept that life requires the presence of both light and dark

How Do Day of the Dead and All Saints Day Compare
Halloween-time traditions around the world

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

Why BLM Matters So Much To Me

Over 90% of communication has nothing to do with the words that are spoken. Tone matters, but not as much as body language. Spoken words account for only 7% of how you interact with another person. 

Anyone who has owned a pet knows that you can tell a lot about what an animal is thinking, their mood, or their temperament without a single word.  They too know your mood at any given moment even though they do not understand a word of it. 

Words mean very little. The way you act and how society shaped you involuntarily speaks volumes. In fact it is so loud that often the words you say cannot be heard. 

I grew up in Brooklyn until I was 12. We lived in a predominately Italian and Hasidic Jewish neighborhood right on Coney Island Avenue. I’m the daughter of an Italian immigrant who came over in 1970 because his large family dragged him here at the age of 20. It wasn’t an easy life for my father’s family here in the United States. At that time immigrants no longer had the opportunities they did just a few decades earlier. All but my father and one of his brothers returned to Italy. My father’s reason for staying was that he met and fell in love with my mother.

My father grew up in a small town with an incredible work ethic and even stronger ambition. For his family this paid off immensely. But in the United States his work ethic and ambition went unnoticed and did little to get him ahead. He couldn’t get ahead and even learn English when he had to work so hard just to put food on the table to feed my two brothers, mom and I. 

His parents were of the traditional followed traditional, old-school Italian practices. The mother was barefoot at home taking care of the kids, while the breadwinner male provided for the family. The male raised his hands to his wife and kids when he felt he needed to in order to keep his family in line and teach them the value of putting up with crap life throws at you without bitching and complaining about all you don’t have.

Consequently, that is how I grew up. My Brooklyn neighborhood felt dangerous. There were creeps on the street everywhere. We often had various homeless people living on our front step. Our front door didn’t lock. We lived three stories up in a vacant building in a small apartment with only 3 small bedrooms where you had to walk through 2 in order to get to the 3rd. Privacy, my own things, or own room never even crossed my mind. 

I moved to Long Island in Middle School. A poor town in the middle of what seemed like nowhere compared to Brooklyn. My father knew a handful of Italian friends who moved there, so our very Italian traditions seemed normal. My mother dropped out of high school in 10th grade, was in love with my father and didn’t even want to tell her family about the dark side of living with my father. 

Growing up all I ever saw was my father working and never getting ahead, and my mother depressed at home all day in a ratty mumu.

No one helped me with my homework. No one asked how my day was or what I was learning. No one told me I was smart or pretty or really even hugged me. No one said I love you in our home. My father’s workday dominated how our evening would go. Children were an aside. You fed, bathed, and clothed them until they were 18; then they were on their own and expected to come back every Sunday night for football and dinner. 

Believe it or not I saw nothing wrong with this. I did want something more. I wanted healthcare and time off. I wanted to not depend on a man. I think everyone I know, knows my story. I joined the military, got skilled in a few trades, used the Montgomery GI Bill and then my own funds to get an MBA. I got married and had children young (19/21/23 respectively), worked 2 jobs for several years, and spent the first 10 years of my oldest’s life going to school in one form or another. 

I was proud of myself. Many people ooh and ahh and say they are proud of me for being “self-made”. White privilege didn’t benefit me. The first time I heard the term I was pissed because it seemed to disregard all I worked for. 

I was one of the happiest people I knew. Not to toot my own horn, but I was also one of the hardest working people I knew (if not the most). To say I put 110% into work, my kids and my family was to say the least. I was really happy this way. 

In 2007 after 12 years of marriage I learned about a secret my husband had been keeping that absolutely devasted me. We recovered and I was almost back to my old self, but the same issue came up again just 3 years later. This time the marriage did not last. 

Being a divorcee and remarrying someone of a different background and current societal class changed my life. I broke down. I liken it to Richard Rohr’s book called “Falling Upwards”. 

I broke down but I also became a better person. A more aware person. 

There were prominent issues from being in two different economic classes that came to a head many times where I felt myself and my children didn’t measure up to what my step-children’s lives were like back at their mothers house. The division between private school, spending a lot of money on opportunities to beef up a high school and later college education, and even what kind of school should be looked at created a large divide where myself and my children felt as if the things we strived for and were very happy with were what the lower class does.

My most enlightening moment was a few days after my current husband and I moved in with our 4 kids into an incredibly, too large for my liking house, down a beautiful cul-de-sac not far from my old reasonably sized house just a few miles away. In this area no one ever saw there neighbors so it was a welcome feeling when our neighbors right next door came out to meet us. They also had 4 kids around the same ages as ours. They were very nice until they realized we had two 11-year-olds that were not exactly the same age. We explained we were blended. It wasn’t the words they said – because the words were sweet and nice. It was the body language, the surprise and uppishness in their voices. I don’t think we ever spoke to them again.

It was at that VERY moment a flash of awareness came across my consciousness. I suddenly wanted to cry for all the black families moving to a white neighborhood or how an LGBT couple may feel buying a home in the suburbs. I became aware of the stigma of how mixed races try to explain how they are being looked at when going about their lives; or how someone who doesn’t speak English perfectly is treated. A divorcee is probably much lower on this totem pole, but it helped me to see and feel how society treats people that they feel are the non-traditional humans you see on TV. It’s why I relate to the line in the BLM rules about breaking down the notion of the traditional nuclear family.

Over the next few years before I started having clinical anxiety, I continued to get angrier and at the same time continued to climb the ranks at work. 

The contrast between my husband’s kids and family became almost unbearable. My step-kids were told constantly by their mother that my extended family is white trash and that their step-siblings were not as good as them because they went to public school. It morphed into me and my ex using my husband to put my kids through college, me using my husband for money and a host of really other rotten things. Everything I did was looked at through the lens of me being a monster. Obviously none of this was true, but because of my background and my non league education, I wasn’t one of them. 

I understand that after dozens and dozens of “digs”, it’s possible to get really angry in a situation that seems like it didn’t call for it. Similarly to how a black person might storm out of a room because of a comment no one understood could even be offensive.

One specific example is how private schools and fancy camps was one of the great divides of our blended family and one of the main reasons that created a rift between our children gelling into something new. After a lawsuit, a camp dispute that went on for months, when in the same evening the high school my children went to and then the camp my daughter was going to were put down by two separate people, I got what may have seem unrealistically angry by the second comment.

Black people have all kinds of digs in their day to day lives. Just walking into a store perhaps and seeing the elderly white woman behind the counter reach under to get closer to the panic button is a little dig that me as a white person we would never notice unless someone pointed it out to me. Perhaps I did that or something to the like too, but didn’t even notice I was discriminating or questioned why I was.

Take that example of the panic button as one part of a whole day of these digs that weren’t meant but are a part of how we accept society act it is. Then imagine a black person going out to participate in a peaceful riot to ty try to explain how what we can’t see is hurting them and in many ways holding them back (it goes far deeper than this, but it is too much to write about here).

Then imagine being in this peaceful demonstration and then getting called the “N” word and told to go back to the rubbish where you came from and off “my street”.

Can you see how the experiences this very normal black person had in their life and day may cause an otherwise very rational human being to riot and lose their mind? I’m not saying that it’s OK to riot or loot or loose your mind, but I’m saying I understand how it gets there.

I understand because it happened to me a few times. I can understand how not feeling heard and being forced to live in someone else’s perceived “better, more civilized” society would make the person who is in the perceived lesser category feel.

Riot is the voice of the unheard.

We aren’t listening.

I sincerely fear that an executive order from the president banning cultural sensitivity training and marking it as “un-American” and “divisive” is a horrific move in the wrong direction.

It leads to more “not listening” and more ignoring of what too many are trying to say. It ignores the fundamental built in narratives that if you work hard in America you can make it.

That is absolutely not true for everyone. Not everyone is granted the same opportunities due to where you are born, the color of your skin and even the gender you are attracted to.

I’m a democrat and I believe in hard work. I don’t think that conservatives hold the only claim on this. I don’t think anyone is looking for handouts, but I think they are looking for a fair chance. I know I’m smart, but without tutors, money, or even support; please don’t tell me I had the same opportunities as everyone else. And my skin is white! How can we expect for a moment that a black person in an impoverished neighborhood could compete with a good school, tutors, not having to work after school, being able to easily study because the heat and lights are on and their belly is full. Meanwhile they are being marginalized while going into a store, looking ratty when the family can only provide hand-me-downs and consequently have to waive the flag and say the pledge that there is justice for all.

How can you expect the average black kid growing up in a ghetto to possibly make it out of there through hard work and education when their school was so sub-par to one right outside the gates of the ghetto and then claim it’s socialism if we put more money toward schools? I think it’s quite Christian to take care of others and still a democracy.   

Citizens who don’t have access to healthcare cannot get help when they are sick or help with mental illness at any kind of age – let alone when you are young and can still “make it” in America. It’s not socialism to want to find a way to give people access to healthcare, the very thing that will keep them healthy and contributing to the society we hold them down in.  I never had healthcare growing up. Mostly because my father was an immigrant. Even thought he was here legally, he couldn’t get a job that provided for it. Not because he was stupid or lazy, but because he didn’t have the same inherent opportunities that are so invisible and part of what so many people think comes with life, that they can’t see them. 

Not stopping to think about what you were inherently born with and took for granted is privilege. There are all kinds of privileges like just being American, being male, or having money. And skin color. With white skin it’s very difficult to feel the sting of how society looks down on others with different skin color. Even if you don’t look down on darker skin colors, it doesn’t mean that it is not real. In fact it makes it harder to believe that it is.

There is nothing embarrassing or humiliating about learning you have privilege and that being blind to it creates an unjust society. In the same way there is nothing that should be embarrassing about being a male vs a female. Unless you are an enlightened male or were educated on the subtle societal ways males dominate our society, as a male you will not see it.

As someone with money and maybe even the luck that some risk you took to build yourself up panned out, doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t working really, really hard – perhaps even harder than you, but circumstances will never allow them to compete to get to where you are.

This is exactly how black people are being held down. I’m several steps (maybe generations) behind my husband. 43 points exactly in a privilege walk. How can anyone believe a black person isn’t behind me on this scale? I don’t need data and statistics to know they are. I know because I’m alive. I feel the 93% of non-spoken word communication I’ve been treated with and I see the 93% that black people are treated with. And guess what? It’s much worse.  

This is why it matters to me. It’s personal because as a woman and as someone who can mingle in a different social class, I have experienced how many privileged don’t know they are privileged and make judgements and comments about things that are downright just not true or just plain insulting to me.

Women are sexualized and marginalized. The upper class looks down on the lower class and believes their more expensive schools and activities are better than the middle class school and activities. They don’t realize that these types of activities is what keeps America unjust and that the privilege they creates opportunities for them that do not exist elsewhere.

Black people have historically been treated differently. Because they were they lived in lower class housing and neighborhoods. Because they had no money there are not generations of families with college degrees in competitive jobs, making even more money to put more kids in college.

The field is unlevel.

It’s unfair how society just looks the other way and then blames the lack of hard work on those who just cannot physically or mentally make it. 

I may not have understood this as a white woman who in many ways has been marginalized. It wasn’t until I was 40 years ago and immersed myself in some things where I realized what I took for granted – the good of being white, and the bad, such as the role I was playing being a women; were things that I was blind to and when along with because it was just such an integral part of society that I didn’t see it.

I learned from extreme measures. The book I referenced above “Falling Upwards” talks about how it often takes extreme measures and extreme discomfort to learn about seeing another side. It’s a blessing to fall because the world makes a lot more sense to me. I can understand and see the injustices all around me. It’s not a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish or any religious type of teaching life. Unless you stop to think about it, what we teach in American schools and homes as “success” is actually greed and looking out for #1. It’s the complete opposite of love.

Now at this moment in history we are being told that trying to understand where someone with a different background of the already made American dream and line “With justice for All” is un-American and creates a divide.

Not acknowledging there is a divide and ignoring what the a very large majority of a country’s people are saying is a divide.

My father will now be 70 years old this year. He will never retire. He is an alcoholic with tons of medical issues and terrible senior healthcare. My mother died at the age of 49 from lung cancer. Yes, she smoked earlier in life; but please don’t tell me that treating her during her life for depression and helping her find a way out of an abusive home and the stress that it caused would have done nothing for her. If nothing else, her quality of life and subsequently that quality of life for my brothers and I would have made a world of difference. 

The social issues we face are real. It’s the single most divisive element in this election. But I don’t understand how anyone can be against helping other members of society be brought up to simple standards of living with dignity. There are cases of lazy people, but they are not most people. 

Most people, given fair opportunities will take it. But those opportunities have to be there and visible. Without them there is no hope. You can’t blame someone for not working 80 hours a week knowing it won’t ever get them out of the ghetto. There are some where it can, I agree. Some of those individuals take advantage of it, and others squander it. But I do know that for the majority (like my father) – no amount of hours would have made a difference. I’m not advocating for giving money to lazy people, I’m advocating for creating opportunities for lower socio-economic classes.

That is why living wages are important. 

Black people are in this category of the lower socio-economic rung more so than any other sector of our society. They are in these rungs because of the history of our country. You want them to wave a flag and be proud of living here? Not try to peacefully protest and explain this in some way? 

We can’t have a conversation about fixing anything if these issues and the whole BLM issue are not acknowledged. BLM came up now for a reason. It’s not just because of police brutality. Police brutality was what made people get up and onto the streets, but it’s not the only reason. Privilege is so entwined into our society that unless you are living on the fringes you cannot see it.

Not seeing white privilege at work or how the lack of attention to these social issues doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Telling your own story of the hard work you did or the hard work your parents/grandparents did does not make anyone else’ struggles today null and void. It seems to be a valid excuse to turn your head. Helping others doesn’t turn our country into a socialist country, it turns our citizens into evolved human beings who can look past themselves for the benefit of others, which will in turn truly be beneficial for the society and county at large. It can be an even more thriving democracy when all our citizens are working and healthy enough to contribute and be proud to be an American. Right now it thrives for only some but not all. It’s not Justice for All.

What you do, how you act, what you post, how you treat people is what people perceive when they are communicating with you. I’d go the mat to say that most people are not knowingly racist, sexist, arrogant or pretentious on purpose. Knowing that, know you might be one of those people and not know it either. But those who aren’t know – because it’s being communicated so loudly, they can’t hear what you are saying. Stop and think about what you really think, what you really feel and what you really support. Is it justice for all? Or is it keeping you and you only safe and sound? 

This may sound disjointed, but the point is that I know I couldn’t see this message only a few years ago. I would have said society is fair. But I now know it’s not. Until we all acknowledge that we aren’t equal, the inequity will continue to grow.

I don’t think we want to do that to ourselves, our neighbors, our children or our country. But it’s happening.

Please. Wake. Up.  

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

On my understanding of BLM

I don’t even know where to begin. I went to a lot of sites and weeded through a lot of stuff to learn about claims against Black Lives Matter. 

Not to call anyone out – but this was posted on my Facebook page last night in response to my last blog yesterday “On Facts vs Beliefs”, which by the way had nothing to to with BLM.

“have you actually visited their website? Do you know they admit that their goal is to eliminate the nuclear family? Do you think it’s racist & presumptuous that they admittedly and blatantly target affluent neighborhoods? As if they assume black people cant live there & also that all white people are racist. Do you know how much money they made last year? Do you know what they do with the money they receive? Do you think it’s a promotion of violence when their flyers portray the “fist of black power” with flames & fire in the background? Do you know that one of their leaders said that looting is fine because we as a nation owe black people because of years of slavery? Do you realize that they automatically hate and harass black people who do not support their cause or agree with them? These are the makings of a CULT. Can you recognize how the racial divide in this country has increased since the inception of BLM?”

Below is what I pulled out after scouring the site for the mission and what they claim to be about. I don’t see anything about anti-nuclear family unless you want to see it that way. https://blacklivesmatter.com/

·       We are expansive. We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. We also believe that in order to win and bring as many people with us along the way, we must move beyond the narrow nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. We must ensure we are building a movement that brings all of us to the front.

·       We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Our network centers those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.

·       We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.

·       We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

·       The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.

·       The Black Lives Matter Global Network is as powerful as it is because of our membership, our partners, our supporters, our staff, and you. Our continued commitment to liberation for all Black people means we are continuing the work of our ancestors and fighting for our collective freedom because it is our duty.

·       Every day, we recommit to healing ourselves and each other, and to co-creating alongside comrades, allies, and family a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported.

·       We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.

·       We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.

·       We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.

·       We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.

·       We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world.

·       We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.

·       We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.

·       We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

·       We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.

·       We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.

·       We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

·       We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

For me from reading their other bullet points above and below, and all throughout their site, I take that as:

§  Women and other traditionally silenced people can be on their own and not need to be in an abusive relationship to survive or raise a child because we support one another.

§  Other people will help to raise and watch your child in this ideal community so you can participate in social justice work. 

§  Anyone on the LGBT spectrum shouldn’t feel they need to prescribe to a traditional role or risk not getting the support from the community they need to thrive and raise a child. 

·       We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

·       We cultivate an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with the capacity to lead and learn.

·       We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.



I also learned a lot of people are upset about the Now we Transform slogan (below)  

I actually see as a powerful slogan. Transformation is what makes societies better. I see this and the nuclear family line almost like looking at one of the optical illusion pictures. Such as this one below of the old lady and young lady. Most people really do only see one thing until someone asks them to see the other side. Only then can you realize there is another way to look at it, and once you see it, it’s difficult to ‘unsee’ it.  I would have never looked at that Slogan or the line about the nuclear family as something bad. Pulled out on its own it looks one way. But in context it is something really supportive and inclusive of all people – IMHO.

Lastly the original 3 female founders who created the name did begin the movement over police brutality, but it was to take a stand about injustice against blacks in general- pointing to police brutality as one of the major symptoms. The founders have been associated with Marxism but if you read about why & how, it’s meant for a purpose of equality and not that they are pushing for communism. What I have understood it to mean from watching a few videos is that they are educated about another way to fund problematic social issues. They aren’t trying to make American socialist or communist.

This has lead to the defund the police portion that I think most people are associating with currently (although I could be wrong). I’ve said in other posts on other people’s pages many times that I don’t know anyone who thinks this is a good idea, BUT what I read today is that BLM and the police defunding movement are only talking about 5% of the money that goes to the police. 

Before drumming up all the reasons this won’t work and how much more they need – I’d like to bring up the Post Office. 

I actually feel the post office could do with a 5% cut. I am tempted to drive to my local post office and take a picture of the obvious and complete waste you see before even walking through the door, but the town is out of power and trees and lines are down everywhere at the moment. My favorite one to complain about are the two GIANT blue boxes that have a pick up FOUR times a day, alongside another giant box that does something slightly different. Two might do fine to help with sorting issues, but 3 and 2 for an old purpose of mail drop off that no one really uses anymore? So, we send someone out 4 times a day to pick this up? That seems a waste and who knows what I will find after walking behind the counter. Don’t even get me started about the waste of junk and 3rd class mail. All the sorting, delivering, recycling, trees burning…. It should be considered a sin (again IMHO). A lot of what I’ve done at work for years is Systems Redesign by getting behind the scenes and looking at the way places work to make recommendations for efficiencies without cutting out the main mission. SO many of our business and enterprise systems are full waste that discard precious time and money without even knowing it. When you are in the system it can be difficult to to see. But if someone points it out there is often no good answer anymore for why a lot of practices and things people do in the work day are done. After the initial huffing and puffing they nearly almost all agree that was is pointed out as waste is indeed waste.

For the government particularly, I think it’s a crime to have waste because it is directly tied to taxpayer dollars, and those really should be used carefully to best fund public services. I am no expert on the police, but I do know from minimal experience that there is a lot of paperwork that almost everyone believes police could do without. A lot of time wasted if a little more was spent on updated technology. A lot of people in jail or clogging up court systems and/or paper trails for petty crimes like marijuana or drunken conduct. And training and response to mental issues (I have personal experience in this one) where if we reallocated the money to public services that work alongside the police, someone like a social worker or trained mental health expert may be a better fit.  

It’s a different way of looking at it. It is nothing like the memes I myself have joked about with no one coming when a crime is happening because we defunded the police. This is the best article I could find (below) which describes what this 5%. cut would be. Unfortunately “defund” is a government term that doesn’t sound like it is (most government terms do not sound like what they are). In the same way white privilege doesn’t sound like what it is either. The terms incite people without even knowing what is behind it. And who has time to sit and research every last term?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/12/black-lives-matter-defund-police-is-country-ready/%3foutputType=amp

It makes me a bit sad and a bit angry that the media isn’t more straight up fact based and descriptive of all sides so people can make a rational, well informed decision. All we hear are incredulous claims that are far left or right.

Most people do not have the luxury of doing all this digging that I fortunately had the time to do this morning. The public looks to the media for their news and information. It’s all SO slanted. There is no one in the middle trying to get both sides to understand each other. 

I think we all want the same thing and assume the worst about others because we hear so much oppositional and radical information flying around. We are more isolated than ever due to social media and now COVID. Not looking a person in the eyes and reading things from one vantage point is a perfect combination of becoming more isolated to a certain set of beliefs and way of perceiving things. 

If someone were in the middle bringing us together, perhaps we wouldn’t be having these issues. It has to start with the media and leadership. We cannot be divided. If necessary when I have time and feel motivated, I’ll spend the rest of my days using the tools I know how in order to have people understand one another. I have NO agenda except for people to be able to work together toward common goals with collaborative solutions for the greater good.

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

On Facts vs Beliefs

As a current data analyst, and a data analyst as a major role in most of the professional positions I have held in the past 13 years; I am quite accustomed to people questioning data. 

Most of the time compiled data is unquestionably passed along and used for managerial decision making. Sometimes after someone looks at it, new parameters need to be put in because either more information is needed or there was a miscommunication about what was wanted. And on occasion I may have made an error in inputs or pivoted an incorrect field. It happens. To avoid a circumstance of error, my co-workers and I usually do a second review of one another’s work to ensure that we pulled and compiled an analysis correctly. 

Once it’s sent out, we often answer questions about parameters, assumptions, categories, etc. No one has ever accused us of being biased. If something seems wrong or the requestor doesn’t like what the data shows, there are other people who can run the same thing. When the same results are shown over and over by different groups whether or not it’s within my local organization or around the country – it ends up being facts that don’t have a “belief” on whether or not one agrees with them. 

On some rare occasion a manager or physician will find one or two lone people who will run data to support what they need. Or they unknowingly asked someone who doesn’t do it often enough to know what to put in, and they just happen to get results that support a new position, that supports a clinic is more full than it really is, or some other result the individual wishes to be true. 

However, there are measures in place to ensure that when other results overwhelmingly outweigh a small number of results; what the vast majority has found is what is used. This is also true in clinical research which I’m also very familiar for obtaining data for as a side job. 

Peer review is a common practice in professional papers, journals, and research. In my first job at the VA before any data analysis, the physician I worked for was a peer reviewer for several medical journals in her field around the world. The process is blind – meaning, you have no idea who wrote the paper or pulled the data in the paper. And the writer has no idea who reviewed it. The reviewer makes suggestions to the editor and writer about whether or not the paper has validity, if more information is needed, etc. It’s a brilliant process that has worked for decades and lead to serious advances in all areas of life. 

That is what I have found disturbing about COVID. COVID isn’t the first thing that is indisputable but ends up becoming a “belief”. But it does seem now like things questioned in the past are now forums for long angry discussions, some become political points, and others are ripping apart family and friends. I really don’t understand this. 

The facts and data shows- 

  • COVID isn’t made up
  • COVID numbers aren’t made up
  • Climate Change is a real thing
  • Racism is real
  • Sexism is real 

At some point – where the bell curve flattens (around 98% or so; or arguably even before) it’s time to believe the majority. When something is new – such as the world is flat, I really understand that it can be hard to believe. But when 98% of the studies show the world is indeed round, it’s kind of time to flip the flat earth viewpoint. 

No actual data or studies show most of the poo that is tossed around about political candidates or parties. Some clown (or brilliant jokester) either in the US or a foreign country is probably laughing in their garage about Americans eating up whatever nonsense they drummed up hook, line and sinker. These are rinky dink memes and articles and unvalidated data. Even articles and opinion columns in well respected news media are not backed by any studies or data. We would hope they stay neutral (but they clearly don’t); so our only real hope for good information is from the professionals who do this for a living. 

You can have an opinion, but when it conflicts with overwhelming data – I have to side with the person who posted this on social media. 

Beliefs are not facts. And that is a fact. 

Namaste 

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

On Why This $600 Unemployment Check is so Important

I want to start by saying that there are a LOT of lazy people in this world that want something for nothing. There are a lot of people who as my step-brother put it are “cry babies”. Americans around the world are sort of known for being cry babies. At the moment our country is a the butt of so many jokes – and for good reason.

 

Corona and politics aside – this $600 is an important issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

 

When so many Americans lost their job and the $600 weekly check (CARES) became a thing – there were two reactions – both that started with What!! $600?

  1. For some – even dual income families that sentence ended with “How can we possibly afford to live on that”
  2. For others the sentence ended with “Wow, that is more than I was making, now I can afford to live!”

 

The deadline for the original agreement for this check is July 31 (today).

 

What is really on the table here is a living wage.

 

I grew up poor. Welfare poor. I watched my parents literally break their backs. Both of them actually had bad backs from manual, constant labor. We didn’t have health insurance. I watched them fight, struggle and cry opening or behind closed doors about finding work and providing food for us 3 kids. No time or motivation to tend to our needs, ask about our day or homework. Forget college or anything. We couldn’t even get to the doctor when we were sick.

 

I found a way out with the military and subsequently putting myself through school. Once I left – I felt like I made it in life. I had a job that paid the bills and healthcare in case I or then later my children became sick. A bonus to that was time off in case I got sick! And just for pure joy  – vacation time. Wow! I didn’t want for a thing more. I felt secure.

 

But now I need to question why “making it” for me meant just to live with basics – food/shelter/clothing. I believe in the value of hard work. It not only contributes to a better society – but it feels so good to be able to do something yourself. Everyone should contribute.

 

But there is a point when you lose hope. You lose hope when no matter what you, do you cannot afford food/shelter/clothing for yourself and/or your family. There is no amount of hard work that can get the a LOT of people out of a bad situation. There are so many places around the world yes – but even in the United States where there are zero opportunities for upward mobility. Period.

 

When you lose hope, you lose motivation. Motivation works when there is a gain from doing something that you put effort into. If you can’t make a living wage – there is no motivation.

 

I felt secure at the moment I had a livable wage and health insurance. When you don’t feel secure and motivated, you don’t want to work – you want to riot because it doesn’t seem fair that some people have it and you don’t.

 

Again – it’s not the $600 on the table here, it’s the living wage.

 

We should be fighting for a living wage. Other countries have figured it out. Why can’t we?

 

This isn’t a great America for a lot of people. My own family included, up until this very day. The slogan “Make America Great Again” gave people hope. But it can never be great when we can’t provide our own citizens with life’s basics that motivate them to get out of bed in the morning.

 

United States inequality has risen to Gilded Age levels….

https://inequality.org/facts/income-inequality/

 

Tell me all you want about a growing GDP, job rates, etc under Presidents So & So’s leadership (insert any president here) – but none of that matters if it’s not being distributed equally.

 

I don’t think the cry babies are the ones who put in 60-80 work weeks in 2 or 3 jobs just to feed their families. The cry babies live amongst the upper class (pretty much all the media shows) and have no idea what it means to struggle or not be secure. They “cry” the moment life just doesn’t meet their unrealistic expectations that had been consistently handed to them.

 

If you want to make America great – we have to ensure each citizen can make enough to live.

 

It’s not a handout, it’s what will motivate the masses to get up out of bed. Lying, cheating and stealing (and now rioting) comes from despair. And despair happens when no matter what you do you know you will not have the security of life’s most basic needs.

 

It’s not the solution – but this fight for the $600 Unemployment check is the start to a better future. It’s a moment to understand and seize.

A decent article explaining a little more about what is on the table right now: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/extra-600-cares-act-unemployment-benefit-ends-july-31-heres-where-things-stand/ 

f you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

On Cancel Culture & How No one can “Win” right now

Our country is divided. It’s a sad fact, not an opinion. A new phrase has emerged: “Cancel Culture”.

 

I had to look that one up the first time I saw it a few weeks ago. According to Wikipedia it’s a form of Online Shaming and is defined as:

 

The act of canceling, also referred to as cancel culture (a variant on the term “callout culture“), is a form of boycott in which an individual (usually a celebrity) who has acted or spoken in a questionable or controversial manner is boycotted.

 

I am going to begin by stating I do not believe in cancel culture. I believe in understanding. In healthy debate. In trying to see where the other party is coming from. I cannot accept that people/groups/etc simply have different opinions, and end it there, when they are at odds, are competing for the same resources, and have to live or work together harmoniously to benefit the greater good.

 

For the majority of my professional life, I taught and practiced the facilitation of teamwork and how to use neutral tools to make collaborative decisions. I find it difficult to believe our nation’s leaders (all parties included) try to undermine one another and don’t use these types practices on the Hill to work amicably for the common good. As a citizen, it is what I expect from elected officials making decisions on policies for We the People.

 

We have a national leader that consistently refers to “Us and Them”, “My people and them”, “Us and the ‘bad’ people”. Cohesion is not possible when the viewpoint is that there is a winner and a loser. At the end of the day it’s likely that we all want the same thing. Food, safety, shelter, clothing, opportunities to grow, and to be understood. If we start from the perspective of a great divide, no one will actually be understood, and the food/shelter/clothing/opportunities will only go to the winner.

 

When all parties do not benefit– no one benefits. Hatred, animosity, and the idea of being at war with one another continues.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

 

Cancel culture does not provide the party who is being “cancelled” a chance to explain. Even if they are by the majority’s belief completely wrong, that person or those who quietly side with him/her will never have the opportunity to understand why others believe they are wrong. The canceled party(ies) will not feel heard, and we may never have the opportunity to learn why they think as they do – what their own hopes and fears are – and perhaps even have the opportunity to learn something from them.

 

Others will listen to us if we listen to them. The late Steven Covey explains being understood akin to air. When you don’t have it and cannot breath, it is the ONLY thing you can think about. When you have air, you can do other things such as listen. You can’t throw your opinion out there, say it just is and expect anyone to fully respect you. That doesn’t make you a leader, it makes you a bully.

 

Habit #5 of the famous Seven Habits Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Those who feel understood will be more likely to listen to another point of view and reciprocate understanding.

 

Until we listen and hear the pain of someone, even if you think they are wrong; no amount or type of explaining on your part will help them want to hear your point. More often than not, when you JUST listen you will quickly understand why someone or some group is doing what they are doing. From there, a facile leader or facilitator can create a common bond based on the ultimate goal both parties are seeking.

 

It takes a more enlightened person to listen first. Someone who has mastered the other 4 habits. The first 3 pertain to gaining control over yourself first.

 

Think Win-Win (Habit #4 actually!). Nobody wins unless everybody wins. That means ALL opinions belong at the table for consideration, no matter how crazy or wrong they may initially seem. You have to master your own demons and fears to be able to believe this and actually work with and listen to people you do not agree with. Cancelling suffocates those you don’t agree with.

 

It is possible to do things a different way. History does not have to repeat itself. Through technology and innovation, we have enough land, food, and resources on the earth for every human to thrive. We do not have to be at war with one other at all – EVER.

 

For dozens of reasons we are on the cusp of change as a human race, so why not join the crusade of knowledge that it is very possibly to live cohesively and for every person to have their basic needs met? Every human has the same right to life and the same right to be heard. We are all the same.

 

We all have that glimmer of light inside of us that, when not repressed, can shine and thrive into the most beautiful expression of itself. Knowing that, what is the point of creating divisions or holding anyone back through cancelling them out?

 

It is hopeful on this side of the fence.

 

That light inside of us… you can see it in others when you let your guard down and look.

 

Namaste

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

 

Screen Shot 2020-07-18 at 9.50.22 AM.png

 

On Weeds and Pseudo Humans

I love to garden. I spend a lot of time outside puttering around. I find gardening and having my hands in the dirt to be peaceful. I feel connected to the earth. I feel accomplished because I witness the fruits of my labor.

 

I prune lifeless or waterlogged leaves. I deadhead. I water. I cut back things that start encroaching into other areas. And I weed. And I weed. And I weed.

 

Weeds can be tricky. A few years ago I wrote a blog “On Lessons from the Garden”. I wrote about how initially going out in the dirt to garden it can be confusing to determine which life popping up out of the ground is legit, and which are weeds.

 

I’ve thought about this concept a lot through the years. One of the first times I spent significant time weeding and tending to the dirt was in 2002. I was only 26 years old and I had my first condominium with an incredibly small patch of dirt in front of it. I was astounded as to how many things looked like they were bona fide plants, but actually weeds.

 

While removing buckets of rocks and weeds from this tiny garden area in the spring of 2002, I learned that weeds tend to mimic what they are coming up near. At the time I thought about heaven and hell. I contemplated how people might look like good people but really are not. If you don’t remove the weeds from the beautiful place you are trying to create – they may take over and possibly kill the garden. It is not too dissimilar to any battle between good and evil.

 

Over the years I’ve thought about Carl Sagan and his famous lines about how we are made of star stuff. I’ve thought about Yoga and the 5 sheaths of the koshas. I’ve thought about Taoism and balance. I’ve related all of this to the garden and where weeds fit in.

 

Another quote I’ve always thought about in conjunction with weeds is “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” ~Hermes Trismegistus

Not too surprising these days I’m thinking about and often feel confused over the news, the state of the world, what “friends” post on social media, and fellow humans that just don’t seem to get what loving on another really means. Flowers and plant life come in all shapes, colors and sizes. With the right conditions and care, they are able to be all that they came into the world to be.

 

The inherent property of a weed is to mimic what it is near, so it appears similar the product that is alive & well, and attempting to thrive alongside it. Impersonating is often the only way a weed can survive above ground for any length of time unnoticed. If you aren’t paying attention as a caretaker, you will inadvertently allow it to flourish. I often wonder if weeds actually know (not to say they are consciously thinking this) that they are not like the life they are trying to imitate. I do not think they do.

 

Intrinsically, the genetics of a weed is different from that of the flower it is trying to look like. Outside of initial appearance, the weed will eventually grow faster and from an aesthetics point – uglier than the flower. It may eventually stand out but at that point it also may have done some significant damage. Additionally, some weeds do not do any harm and live peacefully alongside the intended botanical it is near.

 

If the laws of nature are in the same in the unseen world where the weeds and humans simply appear from as the material word, (As Above, So Below quote above) who is to say that some humans are not really inherently human? Perhaps some, like weeds do not possess the natural beauty and radiance they were intended to deliver here in the material world above the ground and amongst the others. Perhaps like weeds, they have no idea they do not have the intrinsic properties of those they are trying to mimic.

 

So if weeds come right through the dirt into the world without any prompting, can pseudo humans as well? Like weeds, they likely don’t even know they are not real. Could it possibly be that the case with some people we know and/or in high places making decisions on our behalf?

 

Just some super crazy food for thought ❤

 

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com