Re-Introduction

My eclectic group of friends have had their fill. “STOP!” one yelled at me on Facebook last week. So it’s time for me to return to my blog and speak anonymously for a while. Truth be told, I’ve missed writing in my blog. So why did I stop? It’s complicated.

One of my daughters gave up Facebook for about eight months because she felt her life was too boring and she couldn’t “compete” with all the exciting things her friends were doing and exotic places they were visiting. Eventually she and her husband bought a new house and she went on a work-sponsored trip to a foreign country, two exciting events that brought her back to posting. I had similar feelings. My four daughters have grown and are not the struggling adolescents they were when I first started this blog. All four are done with college (well, the last one will be in four months) and two are married with a third getting married in less than three months. The fourth is in a serious relationship that will likely lead to marriage as well. So the heavy lifting part of mothering is done. Well, I’d like to think that anyway. And my life as a parent had become boring, without drama, and I didn’t feel I had anything to share anymore.

I returned to my blog a few times in the last couple of years to write about the bullying I was experiencing in my (previous) job. It was a nightmare that elevated my blood pressure, caused me to gain a lot of weight, and brought on fitful nights of sleep. I knew if I stayed in the job it would kill me. Eventually I found another job and after a couple of months realized that manager was a bully too. I went silent, spending months trying to figure out what was wrong with me that I kept getting singled out on the job. Extreme soul-searching allowed me to right myself and know that I needed to respect myself as much as I showed respect to others. Just as I made that discovery and started to interview for yet another new job, my bully manager was replaced overnight with a very respectful, appreciative manager, the kind everyone wants and never gets. Pretty tough to blog about that without seeming to flaunt it. So I didn’t.

Last summer I felt a strong tug to return to blogging as the U.S. presidential campaign heated up but I just didn’t want to bring politics to my blog. My husband and I are on opposite sides politically so as the campaigns heated up, so did our discussions. I would have loved to write about my feelings but I was afraid I’d come off sounding like a left-wing lunatic when in actuality I’m a conservative centrist (yes, really).

In September I undertook a thirty-day eating plan called “Whole30” and I thought about sharing that journey. My oldest daughter was my “buddy” for the month and therefore it would have qualified as a topic for a blog about my four daughters, but I didn’t want this to turn into a dieting blog. So I squelched that idea. I am in the last days of finishing my second Whole30 and probably will share some of my life-altering lessons learned at some time in the future. But not now.

So what’s finally bringing me back to the blog? My four daughters. And my two grandchildren.

My oldest daughter is 31. She’s married and has a daughter who is 6 and a son who is 3. She teaches high school math. My second daughter is 29. She’s married and works as a medical radiology tech. My third daughter is 25 and finishing grad school and will be a veterinarian doctor at the end of the year. She’s getting married in April. And my youngest is 23 and will be done with her AA degree in May. She’s still deciding what she wants to be when she grows up.

These four daughters of mine are intelligent, compassionate, hard workers, independent, loyal, determined. They want good-paying jobs so they can own a home and raise a family and provide for themselves without relying on others. They want a good life for their children. And they want to be contributing members to the supportive communities in which they live.

We were all going along just fine until November 2015 when a candidate for president mocked a disabled reporter. There was a collective gasp among my four daughters. It got their attention. Soon they were watching the debates and two of my daughters even watched both of the summer conventions. They learned a lot about Benghazi. Three of them decided never to have a private email server and one admitted to already having one. And then Access Hollywood released a video in October 2016. My daughters could not believe a man of such stature could essentially get away with such disrespectful behavior. They turned to me for answers. I had none.

When my daughters were young, answers were easy to provide. I guess there’s a lot of truth in the old saying that with small kids there are small problems. Now that they are grown women, successful in their own ways, they have expectations of being treated respectfully and fairly. And they expect that others will be as well. Witnessing events unfold since the new administration landed in Washington, DC, my daughters are disappointed, frustrated, depressed. Each wants to know what she can do, one woman among four in a big, scary world. And the fact that I can’t immediately solve the problem or tell them what to do only adds to their disappointment. I’m grateful to have a relationship with each of my daughters and it warms my heart that they still come to me for answers. However, they need to form their own beliefs and philosophies. Even so, I welcome the opportunity to talk with them as we walk along life’s path at this moment in time. Maybe in the process I’ll find the answers I’m searching for.

And so, I’m returning to my blog where I can write about the changing world and how it is affecting my four daughters and me. A therapeutic exercise for me, perhaps a finding of common ground for you.

Advertisements

Standing By My Man

It’s no secret that my husband and I are on opposite sides politically. We met and fell in love before we knew that about each other. Shocking statement, I know. But it wasn’t a problem because we both did a lot of bi-partisan work and we each were well-versed in compromise, finding common ground, and negotiating. Besides, the political divide in our country was just a small one at the time. Our core philosophies were the same—work hard, do the right thing, treat each other as you want to be treated, watch out for the less fortunate, help others whenever you can.

I’m old enough to remember when Monica Lewinsky made the evening news, along with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and others. I remember the backlash Hilary received for standing by her man. I even joked at the time that it was a good thing they lived in a big house with more than one bedroom because that meant Bill had somewhere to sleep.

When Al and Tipper Gore divorced, I was caught by surprise. And I wondered, how is it they didn’t make it but Bill and Hillary have survived as a couple? Political ambitions trump all else? Or maybe having more than one bedroom really did make a difference?

These last few months have challenged my marriage in ways I never expected. At first, I laughed out loud and teased my husband. “Did you hear the latest?” I would ask with each breaking story about Donald Trump’s behavior or bold lie. My husband usually justified whatever it was by saying Trump was misunderstood or misinterpreted. But then the news media began playing videos. Trump denied mocking a disabled reporter, and the media ran video of him doing just that. Trump said he never opposed the Iraq war, and the media gleefully ran old video of Trump saying he opposed it. Trump claimed no one respected women more than he did. Access Hollywood video proved that a lie.

Over the course of this election, I’ve witnessed a shocking turn of personality in my husband. Ten years ago I married a man who valued women as equals, who supported my desire for a career, who would never consider saying a derogatory or defaming statement about anyone. And now he supports a man who has repeatedly verbally abused, bullied, and sexually assaulted women; a man who has ridiculed POWs; a man who has laughed at the grief of a fallen soldier’s parents.

Funny thing about life. The older you get, the more of life experience you have to draw from and sometimes, not always, you’re wiser as a result. Many years ago I was desperately trying to get my daughters and me safely away from their father. Abuse and violence were a daily occurrence and I just wanted to get us out alive. I swore I would never allow myself or my daughters to find themselves in that situation again. Divorce was welcome relief and it saved our lives.

Fast forward to present day, to the political climate we are in. Events of the summer caused me to no longer talk about the election with my husband. Not because I fear for the safety of my life, but because I fear for the preservation of his soul. He has been brainwashed to the point of believing it is okay to joke about a person’s disability, that locker room banter can include sexual assault language, and that there’s little need for truth. His delusional mind now believes he needs to go buy a gun because civil war is going to break out if Trump loses.

No, I do not fear for my safety in the same way I did in my first marriage. But I am concerned about how I’m going to get my husband to walk away from the ledge of the extreme Right and bring him back closer to center. He is lost and needs help. No other woman would have him now. I am his only hope for a nurse to restore him back to a world of respect and love of country. I’m standing by my man. And if our country is going to have a successful future, I pray other women will do the same with their husbands. Gently, lovingly let’s bring these brainwashed souls back into our hearts. Maybe in the process we can restore civility and lessen the political divide.

Barrack or Mitt — Will You Come for Dinner?

Before you jump to assumptions, please be aware this is NOT a political rant. This is not about one political party being better (or worse) than another. This is not a campaign ad. It is merely some observations. And an invitation to dinner.

FULL DISCLOSURE: From 1990–2006, I served 17 years as an elected local government official in a rural area of about 4,000 residents. For more than half of those years, I held the highest office possible in that form of government.

The other day, I was surfing home pages of different news organizations and I came across a photo of Mrs. Romney. As I write this, I cannot recall what the event was, or where, other than it was outside and there was lots of sunshine. I cannot tell you if there were other people standing behind Mrs. Romney. She was facing the photographer, but her eyes were focused on someone else. And she had an absolutely gorgeous smile that went all the way to her eyes. Can I tell you the color of her eyes? No. I faintly recall she had on a rose-hued lipstick. Beyond that, I cannot provide many details. But that smile was unforgettable. And it has hung in my thoughts for several days now.

Perhaps I was attracted to her smile like a moth to light for the simple reason that I have spent three afternoons of the last month in my dentist’s chair having assorted dental work done. Mind you, my smile isn’t model gorgeous but it is an attractive and warm smile. People have commented on it all my life. But no one has ever told me it was gorgeous. Mrs. Romney’s smile was gorgeous. Now maybe she inherited incredible “tooth” genes, but my guess is rather that for all of her life she had access to good dental care.

And any time I see a photo of Mrs. Obama, just like most women I am envious of her muscle tone and her fashion style. Mrs. Obama has often said she likes to purchase clothes from J. Crew, as if telling all of us that J. Crew is affordable. I looked once. It’s not in my budget, even if I am part of the “middle class.” And having good muscle tone requires effort and self-discipline, not to mention energy and time. On my best days I can only come up with one or two of those four things.

President Obama was on the David Letterman show recently and Letterman commented on how wonderful the President looked—indicating a fit and trim body. He did look fine indeed! It gave me pause to look at President Obama’s shiny leather loafers, dark (probably Gold Toe) socks, and elegant suit. Most people “clean up well” in those kinds of trappings. Most people don’t have access to a kitchen full of award-winning cooks, a personal trainer and staff who second as teammates for a game of pick-up ball, or an assortment of other aides. Okay, President Obama has one of (if not THE) toughest jobs I can think of. But the fact remains, he has access to things most people can only dream about.

And as hard as I try, I cannot lose the image from my brain of Mr. Romney piloting his overly large speed boat with a hull full of grandkids. It was clear from his posture and his expression that he felt very much at ease in the pilot’s seat and his designer-label clothes.

Headlines have been screaming for months about Congress’s record-low approval ratings. And lately it seems there’s a minimum of three polls each week giving us Obama’s and Romney’s approval/disapproval ratings, more often than not in less than stellar territory. Americans clearly feel their leaders are out of touch. Sure, we listened to Mrs. Romney talk fondly of their first “small” apartment and Mrs. Obama’s sweet story about an end table pulled out of a dumpster. But the fact remains those memories are from many, many years ago. During this summer’s political conventions we didn’t hear a single elected official or candidate for higher office discuss the difficulty of choosing between spending money on gas to get to a job or using that money to buy milk and meat and fresh vegetables for the week. We didn’t hear any of those speakers talk about waking up at three in the morning from nightmares about a health scare, knowing there isn’t any medical insurance. And for months, we haven’t heard any such talk from a single member of congress. Remember four years ago? All we heard every time we turned on the TV or the radio was talk about choosing to buy medicine or food. I haven’t heard that slogan in any campaign ads recently.

Local government officials—county board, city council, township—are in the trenches with us and are much more in tune with how most of us feel on a given day. Local government officials (usually) don’t have a staff that screens calls 24/7, or an on-site chef, or a personal driver. Locally elected officials sit alongside us at church, pump gas at the next pump over, buy groceries at the same store. They often greet us by name and ask about our sick child or if we’ve had any job prospects. They’re on the ground running with us. They’re in the trenches fighting with us.

And so as I jot down these musings, I’m pondering ways to create communication channels from main streets in America to two official buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. How can we eliminate the middle layers of staff and assorted others who essentially serve as filters to keep the “riff raff” from bothering these officials? How can we get around those people who serve only to guard a Congressman’s time? How can an average American—not an Olympic athlete, not a war hero, not a civilian hero—be invited to have a freshly brewed honey beer at the White House?

I am so concerned that our voices are not being heard. I am so worried that all the filters put in place to protect and triage priorities have instead silenced the messages from the trenches. We need reinforcements and assistance! We don’t need partisan politics nor billions upon billions of dollars being spent on campaign ads.

If by any chance the Obamas or the Romneys (or any Congressional leaders for that matter) are drawn to these silly musings of mine, please call and tell me when you’re coming for dinner. My husband and I will make you the best Italian spaghetti you’ve had in a long time. And we can toast to better times with some homemade lemoncello. And we will ask for nothing in return except for a couple of hours of your time to listen to the messages from the trenches.