Seashell Philosophy by She: Part 8 in a Series

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Diamond in the Rough Unexpected

Note: This is a blog short in a continuing series “Seashell Philosophy by She” of philosophical reflections during visits to the seashore…

Beautiful day.  The waves coming in from the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Juno Beach were full of season-changing strength yesterday as the sun warmed our skin comfortably in the cool breeze.

My children and I arrived at the ocean with leftovers from our Easter holiday the day before.  After a busy day we came to the beach with my personal intention of laying on the blanket and doing close to nothing while the kids played in the sand and ate to their heart’s content out of the cooler I’d packed.

One of my offspring suggested that we walk the stretch of shore down to the Juno Beach pier and back to the Loggerhead portion where we had camped.  What I thought might be a shell-picking expedition resulted in in nearly 10 pounds of trash that I picked up as we walked with a grocery plastic bag.

Thankfully by walking with children I was exposed to the enduring and forgiving quality of their imaginative skills despite the sad reality of the litter circumstances–I was simmering with anger inside as I encountered bottles, cans, cigarette butts and even toothbrushes amongst other items of refuse along an otherwise glittering blue dance of water and shimmering sand that gripped our feet and legs with longing for relaxation.

Admittedly, I was so consumed by my judgement and disdain for the nameless straw people in my mind that had the audacity to trash our beach that I only was partially listening to and subsequently nodding affirmatively at my son’s declarations over the various shells or shark teeth he was “finding” as we walked along.  Never mind that he was merely picking up sparse pieces of shell or rock shards that resembled whatever his thoughts could name.

Halfway down the shoreline to the pier we stopped to sit at a perch of sand where the tide had eroded a small cliff that rose in height from the water’s edge to my waist–most fun for little kids to run up and down as long as there’s no roped-off area preserving a sea turtle’s nesting site.  Absently-minded I announced to my son that you never know what treasure you can find when you stop for a moment to sift through the place you’re in as we put our hands into the steep rise to feel through any tiny shells or rocks.

Again, he kept chirping to me that he was finding shark teeth as I continued to nod and murmur “uh-huh” as I watched my other child dancing through the small dunes and plants therein behind us.  Then I felt a nudge on my left arm and looked down at my persistent little one as he showed me the finds moment-by-moment, one of them catching my eye as I instinctually grabbed it out of his hand and looked at it closely–a shiny, dark grey shark tooth smaller than a dime. Incredible!

I couldn’t believe it, he’d actually found a real shark tooth in a massive pile of sand with no outward signs of hope for such a find.  There were no shell beds like the kind that show up after the high tides leaving high possibilities of fun discoveries.  This was literally just the kind of sand formation that evidently on this day only had high yields of human garbage nestled along its grooves and flats.

The truly sobering hit though came when my son asked me why I hadn’t believed that he would actually find a shark tooth–also alluding that why had I not considered that his prior declarations were true as well.  Ah, parent finds herself caught in her own act of lying by omission of responding in gentle truth–but I was so excited over this amazing shark tooth he had pulled out of nothingness that I decided to focus on telling him that although his other finds certainly resembled shark teeth, this one truly was the real deal.

How many times do we dismiss the possibilities of finding precious items among the mundane and written-off places?  Sometimes the most life-changing or affecting moments transpire when we’re on the common path or going through the motions of mindless daily activity.  More often than not we also fail to recognize the person beside us for who and what they are because we’re too busy listening to our own thoughts on the matter.

In my tiny slice of the universe yesterday I learned a humbling lesson–where I thought there was no way we’d find a shark tooth even with my maternal advice coming out of my mouth about treasure finds, I didn’t actually believe it.  I was proved wrong and learned a few additional lessons that I’m happy to include in my Seashell Philosophy by She collection as I continue to add other blog shorts.

Enjoy the treasure hunt of life!

R.V.S.B.

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Bush and Clinton: Democracy or Dynasty?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Two Political Peas in a Pod

In our household we receive two newspapers in the morning the old-fashioned way: The Palm Beach Post and The Wall Street Journal.  WSJ had on their front page today “Clinton Freezes Rest of ’16 Field” by Peter Nicholas.  The Palm Beach Post had in their second page of the front page “Jeb Bush airs campaign ethos” by Peter Baker of New York Times.  Is it already time for 2016 presidential candidate talk?  Evidently it’s been happening for awhile now and only gaining momentum.

Shortcut Update

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was recently in Texas and made some public comments that Mr.Baker writes about saying “even as he sharply criticized President Barack Obama for his handling of foreign affairs and health care, Bush made clear that he would run against the style of politics that has characterized recent Republican nominating contests.”  Mr. Nicholas’ opening line in WSJ says it all: “Hillary Clinton’s phantom presence in the Democratic presidential-nomination stakes–neither in nor not–is freezing the rest of the field, creating formidable obstacles for other candidates needing to raise money and set up an organization.”

What’s in a Name?

When we hear the name “Clinton”, what does the general public call to mind?  Is it Bubba and his saxophone on the Arsenio Hall late night show?  The first black President of the United States?  The blue dress? A congressional call for his impeachment and the question of what “is” is?  Or is it first lady Hillary Clinton “standing by her man”? Perhaps it’s the pacification of President Clinton when his two term presidency was over and then Hillary Rodham Clinton was finally able to pursue her political career beginning with a U.S. Senate run, presidential run and most recently our Secretary of State during the first years of President Obama’s tenure.

How about “Bush”?  Enough negative press was showered on this name in this century alone that it may be appropriate to assume that the name “Bush” immediately invokes “Iraq” or “War on Terror”.  The truth is that most adults who are between 30 and 40 years of age can’t recall too much prior to 9-11-01.  We were just finishing school years and starting careers or families when that national tragedy struck and started that decade into a hurtling mess of economic disparity and loss of privacy in the name of national security.  Can we remember what President George H.W. Bush was known for? Vice-president for the iconic President Ronald Reagan? “It wouldn’t be prudent”?  Or was it the obvious loss to the more photogenic and charismatic Democratic presidential Bill Clinton-Al Gore ticket in 1992?

Buzz Words and Who’s Listening

It’s a somber reality that most of us will not be ready for the multimedia onslaught of presidential buzz words of who’s the possible candidate for this party and that.  The American public is pretty weary after weathering various difficulties–especially economically–that hit the middle-class and below quite hard.  In an era of people learning about how to simplify and return to organic and holistic means of living, we are also being inundated with talk of Obamacare and how we ought to sign up now for our health care security.  So now I hear from people in person and now in print media that it may be a Clinton versus Bush episode–is this a democracy or a dynasty system?

This rhetorical question doesn’t intend to belittle or insult what former Secretary Hillary Clinton and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have done in service to our country.  However, we should try to stop for a moment if possible and consider what we truly want when it comes to choosing a presidential candidate to lead our executive branch of the federal government–serving as the proverbial “leader of the free world”.

Political Benediction

Depending on who’s reading this either you may love politics and follow everything closely or you might abhor the nonsense of the rhetoric and corruption that seem to follow anything affiliated with the government.  I would encourage anyone who is a U.S. citizen reading to remember that we are all Americans together, despite the party or non-party affiliations.  This country isn’t perfect by any means and rather young when you look at the history of the world in general–still, it’s our nation and we do have a right to continue to ask questions and seek out whomever we think should be in the power seats we’ve set up through our governing system.  Please don’t forget that we are a country “for the people by the people”.

R.V.S.B.

 

 

“The Gentle Art of Blessing”: A Book Review and a Cautionary Tale

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“The Gentle Art of Blessing – A Simple Practice That Will Transform You and Your World” by Pierre Pradervand

A Book Review

Initially I picked up this book at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore because the title and decorations on the cover looked calming.  In my hectic life, reading is often a source of entertainment, of learning and at times of healing.  I perceive this as a healing and educational sort of book.

Besides his book, Pierre Pradervand has a website that describes his life work: http://www.gentleartofblessing.com

The premise of this piece is to encourage everyone to consciously bless others–even if they’ve directly wronged you or others.  The author uses extensive references from Christianity, Native American wisdom, Arab proverbs and other cultures around the globe.

An excerpt from his book that encapsulates a mini-version of his discourse style:

“That is why loving unconditionally is the most important activity in the whole universe, and the one most       able to produce the deepest happiness. We do not love unconditionally to satisfy some abstract moral law or some faraway deity.  As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, wrote, ‘You love because you love. There is no reason to love.’ If the very ground of our being, our very essence, is love–which is one of the postulates of this book–then love is simply the most genuine, the most natural expression of our true being.  And in active love, we will also discover a wonderful path toward happiness, health, and fulfillment–but it will be an unintended result, so to speak.”

As I write this book review, I freely admit that I haven’t completed reading–It is one of those books, however, that keeps on giving even if you are only able to read a few pages at a time over the course of several months.

A Cautionary, yet Comical Tale: How One Takes Inspiration to Action

In the wake of reading an incredible chapter from “The Gentle Art of Blessing”, I felt confident driving out during a recent Monday morning with a certain set of goals in mind for my children and I.

It all began with getting the boys packed up quickly in the car after I received a call-back from my women’s health physician’s office that they were able to squeeze me in immediately.

After frantically rushing through stubborn traffic patterns, I made it upstairs to the second floor with my kids for what I thought would be a short 5 minute wait.  The waiting room wait was more like 50 minutes–the ball beads and wire toy on the floor lasted as entertainment for about 15 minutes–not enough for my energetic little ones.

My name was called and we were checked in by the nurse into the examination room.  Figured this meant I’d be seen shortly after I dressed myself in an attractive paper sheet while also refereeing the under-stimulated offspring that were now quite set on getting each other all ruffled up for jest and jeering purposes.

I cannot come up with a figure for how long I waited in there because ultimately when the nurse practitioner came in she was attentive and efficiently thorough with me.  In fact, she even had someone in training along with her who was quite helpful in distracting the youngest to my left while I could maintain eye contact with the older child to my right–priceless when one is quite helplessly laid back on the examination table.

Thankfully when I left the doctor’s office I was ready to pursue the course of action intended to assist me in being healthy again as soon as the pharmacy could fill the prescription.  Now I faced the minor problem of our vehicle nearly out of fuel and we were late for our next appointment.  So I called the office to alert them and although they assured me it was fine whenever I made it, I felt guilty for being tardy all the same.

This brings me to the climax point of my small and common tale: I turned out of the medical plaza area and drove down the road a little bit to turn into the very next gas station.  Upon rolling up to the pumps I noticed that the space was cramped with cars at each fueling kiosk and it was difficult to get in the right position to fuel up (my gas cap is on the right side of the car).  This was a challenge, but I assured myself that all was well and it would work out as it should.

It took me a few minutes of circling around the four lanes of gas pumps available but I found the right spot to pull up behind a Bentley–mind you, I’m in my 12-year-old beat-up mama SUV.  Assuming I was in the home stretch of this thwarted morning, I swiped my credit card anticipating the display prompts like “please enter your zip code” and so forth to begin fueling already.

Alas, I got the dreaded “please see the cashier”.  You know, the one person you really don’t care to see or walk all the way across the fueling and parking area to go inside and complain that your card is not registering on the supposedly convenient digital outdoor gas pumps.

Once inside I was able to clear up the little set-back after pleading that I didn’t have my ID on me and head back outside again to finish the job.  I saw the back door was open and rushed over and in a relieved-but-furious manner scolded my oldest for having opened the door in the first place.  As I closed the car door I hear a woman’s voice raised in a near-yell, “Excuse me, excuse ME…”

I turn to my right to face the middle-aged looking woman with a blonde up-do, brightly colored with floral pattern sundress who is standing with one hand on her hips and the other on her shiny, cherry red sports car.  I lock eyes with her and she continues in the same irritable tone: “Can you please move your car? I can’t reach my gas door!”

There was a good full second or two that passed as I stood in shock just looking at her deep into her eyes, the noise level and harsh tone hanging in the air between us.  My anger lit quick and intensely hot inside like that moment you throw a match onto a pile of charcoal that’s drenched with lighter fluid in the outdoor grill (for those of us still using that archaic method).

Somehow how I managed to mechanically respond in a deliberately trying-to-be-nice voice that “Yes, I would be happy to help you–a nicer tone would be nice though”, as I was simultaneously aware that my carnal instinct was to rush at her with all possible physical force and throttle her and yet cognizant that my impressionable young sons were witnessing every moment transpiring.

As I marched in front of my vehicle (left, right, left, right…do NOT start running at her), I kept watching her as she explained hastily that she had tried the “nice” route by yelling after me before–as in when I was walking into see the holy cashier to beseech that they take my money so I could fuel up, endure a verbal lashing from a complete stranger and somehow make it to the late appointment for my children.  “I’m late for work!” she blurts out as I’m entering my car to back up and fight every urge in my right hand to throw the gear into ‘drive’ instead of reverse.

I exaggerated my backing up of the car and found myself stretching the gas pump to reach my own fuel door–too prideful to move again I made it work somehow.  The anger was boiling inside me, like a lava flow that’s got to go somewhere, it festered and was pouring out of my mouth and I was trying to direct its wild track into “the gentle art of blessing” as impossible as that seems.

Silly as it sounds, the first thing I did was make a triplicate sign of the cross with my right hand toward her muttering in a barely audible, but don’t-care-if-it’s-heard voice, “God bless you because I can’t right now”…that at least started to help ease the caustic edge of my fury by transferring the full ability to love to Someone a little better capable at the moment.  Then, I kept mumbling to myself that I want to understand her and am just hurt because I really didn’t mean to foul up her morning–I was barely keeping afloat in my own planet of experience this beautiful Monday morning.

Then a calmness came over me and I looked over her way again now that we were closer together and pumping gas respectively and said in a soft manner, “You know, I didn’t mean to park that way, I just pulled up as far as the guy’s car before would allow me”–without looking at me she quickly replied, “I know, it’s okay…” (It sounded apologetic too, much improved from our first interaction).

As comic relief would have it in our cosmos, our gas pumps clicked at the same time indicating our cars were satisfied.  “Have a good day”, she said with a definitive and much kinder tone to me as she closed her fuel cap, “you too” I said with a relieved sigh.  Thank God we both were walking away a little bruised but able to heal quickly and move on with life without holding each other in a grudge–or worse, paying forward our mutual frustration to any other unsuspecting souls.

Ending Note

Again, I understand that reading is difficult for many of us to do with our respective, hectic lifestyles–but if there was one book I recommend having at your night stand it would be this “The Gentle Art of Blessing” by Pierre Pradervand.  He has a talent for speaking to everyone, no matter what religious background or lack thereof.  The stories shared are the kind we find in many family oral traditions.  Ultimately, Pradervand acknowledges the universal truth that we are all connected somehow and Love begets Love.

R.V.S.B.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame: A Reflection

Note: I credit both The Palm Beach Post for the news link and photo (Bill Ingram)Image,

as well as Palm Beach Sports Commission (www.palmbeachsports.com) for the detailed information on the 2014 Induction Class.

The Morning After

The morning after most big life events can evoke a mixed slurry of both euphoric and bittersweet emotions.  This past Monday I awoke to gray skies here in south Florida with slivers of pink and lavender tones to the east signaling dawn’s arrival–the rain would begin softly and go on to run intervals throughout the rest of the day.

Intervals. How many intervals of some distance or another have I run in my lifetime up to this point?  The seasons of my sport blend into the shifts of my life seasons from a little prep school runner to a student-athlete representing the University of Florida Gators to a young wife of a seminarian to Capitol Hill and U.S. Treasury mini-careers to a CEO of the Home including working as homeschool teacher of young children.

Reflections On Fellow Inductees

After the initial phone call a few months ago when I was informed about my inclusion in the Inductee Class of 2014 for the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, I was curious to know about the other inductees.  This past Sunday evening I was genuinely humbled to be in the company of not only some past honorees but my current class. The following reflection is for each one inducted:

  • Reidel Anthony:  What a blessing to be inducted alongside a fellow Florida Gator! That you were able to achieve such great stats in a short period of time shows what a great drive and understanding you have of your sport. Proud of your personal accomplishments and now as a coach giving back and helping the next generation find their footing as rising student-athletes.
  • Randy O’Neal:  Your baseball career is outstanding and reflects that you not only respected your sport but understood the importance of higher education and collegiate athletic training.  What impressed me the most was that in your speech’s mention that one of the times you learned the most was when you were in a limbo situation during your baseball career–essentially alluding to the fact that we often glean wisdom from our moments of adversity.  This is so important to remind young student-atheletes about as unforeseen difficulties can abound as they forge into their respective careers.
  • Donald Blaze Thompson:  I meant what I said about Coach Harry Howell in my speech the other evening, that he was like a father to me and such–I believe it’s priceless what likely you are to many, if not all, of your players as not only a successful coach in the game of football, but as a mentor on life itself as they go forward from school to the next step.
  • Vincent Bogdanski:  What an honor to meet a fellow Cardinal Newman Crusader and see you recognized for an exceptional sports career that included football, tennis, golf and basketball.  Your focus on academic achievement was reflective in your college choice and yet it’s exciting to learn that you were able to compete for Georgetown in football and then later represent the U.S. Air Force in tennis.
  • Pete and Alice Dye:  Honestly I’m just beginning to learn about the game of golf–it was a revealing education to read about both your accomplishments in and your contributions to the sport.  It is wonderful to see such great team that between the two has designed just under 100 courses that are known as “golf’s best” and because of Alice has been taking “the women’s game into account” by standing on site and helping oversee the construction.

Nutshell Conclusion

The entire event was a great testament to the sports accomplishments of Palm Beach County in general and I was happy to see the various high school student-athletes recognized: Rasheeda McAdoo in Tennis and Jesse Stephanos in Wrestling–including other outstanding persons like Malachi Knowles with Inner City Youth Golfer’s, Inc and Special Olympics Athlete of the Year Bridget Manken.  Amateur Athlete of the Year Tre Mason, Professional Athlete of the Year Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Andrews-Ceravolo High School Coach of the Year, Jack Daniels with William T. Dwyer.  Congratulations to everyone mentioned or missed!

Grateful and Onward

Personally this event was a gift to help take a pause and look back for a moment before heading onward again–as I said, it is impossible to truly thank everyone who has been part of my personal triumphs (as well as perserverance through times of difficulty).  It’s common to say that the people who are part of your life’s journey resemble links in a chain.  However, I would offer that from my experience during childhood through to the present tells the story of family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers resembling threads woven into an elaborate tapestry representing my life.  Thank you and God’s blessings to all who have been, are and will be a part of my life.

R.V.S.Bean

The Palm Beach Post link: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/photo/sports/reidel-anthony-proud-product-of-the-muck-enters-pa/p9RKw/

 

 

 

 

 

A Poem Short: “Toddler Time Twice”

Toddler Time Twice

These toddler years are so fleeting,

little eyes big hearts retreating.

Clinging and needing hugs,

fleeing and spreading wings.

Put that iPhone down mama dear,

make sure you heed that little tear.

Before these years are gone,

their baby curls weighed down

by worries of the bigger years.

Hold close those little hands,

sweaty feet and sticky sweet

cheeks to kiss and caress.

That toddler is bittersweet,

unbridled energy that exhausts

with love so forgiving

for frazzled parents here

trying to survive these toddler years.

R.V.S.B.

 

Another Ragnar Relay Race: Why I’m officially hooked…

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What is Ragnar Relay?

As I’ve written before, best place to learn more about the race is by looking through their official website http://www.ragnarrelay.com.  The overall idea is that twelve people make up a relay team to split up a distance run that amounts to a day’s worth or more of running mileage.  Ultra-teams also exist where six individuals make up the team and so the mileage split is significantly higher and therefore more challenging.

My Recent Ragnar

This past weekend I participated in the Key West Ragnar Relay race that started on Virginia Key just across from Miami and Key Biscayne–the finish being just down the road from the southernmost point of the U.S.A. on Key West.  The nearly 197 miles distance was split by our twelve “Prankstars” from various backgrounds of life but our common thread being we enjoy the physical challenge presented by this race.

Crazy is as Crazy Does

A friend of mine bid me good luck with a quote from the Tom Hanks film “Forrest Gump” where the common cheer to the Hanks’ character was “Run Forrest Run!”  When I first participated in this race series last year I thought I’d never subject myself to such torture again: truly, spending 24+ hours in a van with 5 other people while trying to endure long mileage runs with urban/rural difficulties, navigation of self and van, trying to stay hydrated/well-fueled and finding some rare rest.  Let’s not even delve into the fact that all modesty is thrown to the wayside especially when it comes to matters of the toilet relief situation that arises and in some cases spirals out of control as the hours and mileage increase.

Teamwork Manifest and Respect Abounding

The difference of my Ragnar experience between this year and last was that in 2013 I was with my former college teammates and this year I didn’t know anyone (except that a couple had been in the ‘other’ van last year).  I can’t say that one way was better than the other, however, I will admit that I actually got to know my entire team better this time around because I didn’t just cling to my own clique as I had unknowingly done last year.  Within hours of meeting each other, my van had gotten down what each other’s basic stats were in life and we were immediately bonded over the fact that we had already agreed to take on our respective relay legs and mantels in this race.

Stress Exposes the Best and the Rest

A major part of the Ragnar experience to me was definitely the way all of our personalities rocked and rolled during the heat of the competition.  We would enjoy comedic relief dialogue with each other about ourselves as well as what we witnessed on our journey together.  Then there were the moments we had stress reigning down as we tried to navigate to our next switch points or assist a teammate currently running–overall I was impressed that everyone strived for the good of all.  Whenever any of us had a weak moment, the others automatically stepped up to help and even overlook any slights if there some as a result.

Escape without Wasting Away

The thought did cross my mind that I should have considered a two-night solo stay at a beachside hotel in lieu of participating in a competition like this where I had to arrange for childcare and other things to get away for a weekend.  But being part of my team this past weekend not only afforded me the opportunity of new friendships, it was a gift of accomplishing something with others that we all offered our best toward.  In the end we would find out as we traveled back home that our Prankstars had won the race in our division class!

Ragnar Again Someday? Can’t Say Nay

If you’re a distance runner and haven’t tried a Ragnar Relay race yet I would strongly encourage you to consider it.  Many teams also get together and raise funds for a charity cause–this adds to the inspiration factor to endure the strenuous exercise warranted in these races.  As an individual, the relay legs you run can serve as a personal spiritual vetting or a fun way to tackle physical limits not attained in your career thus far.  For myself I have gained a greater respect for this series and am honored to have had the teammates thus far and look forward to the possibilities of future Ragnar Relay events.

Go Prankstars 2014!

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R.V.S.Bean

 

Reflections, Projections and Reality: Memoir for a Moment

Note: Started writing this shortly after 2014 began and find that my birthday this week is a more appropriate time for a reflective and somewhat autobiographical piece.

Welcome 2014!

The beginning of a new year can produce the feeling of renewed hope for some as we’ve shed the tired coat of the waning year–at best no looking back, only forward.  Although I normally reserve the right to keep my resolutions to the safety of my personal correspondence and journals, I feel comfortable sharing the following reflections, projections and reality of what I expect of 2014 and beyond.

Last Year’s Ending On the Road 

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Just over a month ago I ran competitively in a local road race after training for nearly 6 months straight.  My goals for the race continued to change as the race start date came closer to pass.  First I kept focusing on placing in the top three females overall.  As I kept getting up around 4:50 am a few days every week to get the training done, my body and spirit awakened to the sacrifice I was purposely subjecting myself to–its effects were lacing my conversations with family and friends as a bitter brag.  The daily routine with my children and immediate family were labored because I had already taxed myself before the day had begun.

As the exhaustion compounded I realized that my heart wasn’t into it so when I came across the story of an eastern European woman who once was a competitive runner and now represented the Race to Respond program with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) I wanted to know more.  After I contacted the IOCC and found out that this program was open to any and all athletes who wanted to participate and raise funds while running in a race.  By chance that same week I got into a conversation with a colleague at my church and found out she was training for the same race–when I shared the info about this program she was very excited and we teamed up.

IOCC has been doing a lot of work in Syria with those displaced in the warfare ravaging the population there and most recently with relief efforts in the Philippines following that tragic super-typhoon in the fall.  Running for this cause breathed new life into my discipline for what I needed to accomplish each time I practiced.  The painfully early mornings were more manageable because the cause was much greater than my own ego or assumed goals.

At race start time, my colleague and I had raised over 1100K in just a few weeks and I felt part of a team again as I wore IOCC’s logo on my racing top.  However, while running the race I was overwhelmed by the unexpected: I felt completely drained and light-headed.  By mile 4 I had become dizzy and labored in my running form.  When I passed through mile 8 and saw my family cheering me on there was a part of me that just wanted to stop right there and walk with them back to the cars and speed home.  The other part of me was very frustrated and had resolved that I was finishing this race without collapsing because of the donations from others to IOCC on behalf our running in this race.

In short, I finished in the top 10 women, 2nd in my age-group and was simply devastated by one of my slowest times in the half-marathon.

New Year’s Fears and Frustrations

If you know me well personally, the last couple of paragraphs make sense to you–if you don’t know me, I don’t blame you for being impatient with my tone.

Of the many things I learned in 2013, it became clear to me that I really thrive on helping others and if I’m to push my body physically then I definitely need a cause to support beyond myself.  Within weeks of the switch I made to run for charity I had also received a call that I was nominated to be part of the induction class for the 2014 Palm Beach Sports Commission Hall of Fame banquet in March.  Cliche as it may seem, I felt like everything in my athletic life had come full circle.

There’s also my squirming emotion that revolts against the idea of being inducted into an athletic hall of fame:  My will screams that I’m not done yet with my competitive days, the Olympic torch continuously burns in my heart for a chance to make the Games and I still dream of races both past and future like a soldier might be haunted by battles on the field.

What is more important to learn?  Is it to rise up always and conquer?  Or is it more complicated; can success also be found in being content to accept and forgive one’s self for not accomplishing the stereotypical dream story of a child growing up from a poor and abused background to achieve star athlete status on the worldwide stage?

Peace and Gratitude

Running in that race last month also helped me truly dissect what my running career was for me in my younger years:  It was an escape from the daily burdens of personal life.  It provided opportunities to have wonderful father figures and mentors like my coaches Harry Howell and JJ Clark.  It was my prayer and my dance for my Creator.  I loved running and meeting others who were like me–connecting with them even if we were so different in other aspects of our respective personalities.  It provided me educational opportunities and the honor of wearing my University of Florida’s orange and blue colors in our uniforms in competition.

By accepting the honor to be included in the Hall of Fame for Palm Beach County’s Sports Commission I’m affirming that my running accolades are a testament to what discipline and dedication of others can yield.  Looking back I also realize that there are countless people I wish to thank for their inspiration, support, prayers, unconditional love and overall belief that I was capable of setting and achieving various goals in my sport.

Being Here, Looking Ahead But Present Still

I’m a runner and always will be but it’s not the only thing I am and associate with in this life.  For nearly 15 years in my childhood and early adulthood years it was second only to my academic career and so I suppressed other aspects of myself until I could expand in those areas later.  What I strive for the most now is to truly live in the here and now–to engage in whatever moment I’m living whether as a mother, a wife, a lover, a sibling, a friend, a teacher, an artist, a gardener, a writer, a dancer and the list goes on ad nauseam.

What I hope you can take from this personal babble is that my philosophy is shaping to understand that it’s possible to peacefully dissuade regret and the “what-ifs” from the psyche.  The truth is there is ‘what has been’ and may be ‘that which comes’ but the best we can all do is be here and thrive in the ‘now’.  Then there isn’t a question as to whether you did all you could because you did–for the better or the worse doesn’t even matter because you respected the present by exercising your will to live.

R.V.S.B.

“Let it Be” The Beatles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4zaofnVhps

Irony: The link between ‘flushable’ wipes and the possible 8.8 billion stars with just-right planets in our galaxy

Note: The following philosophical rant is inspired by the following pieces in news in the past couple of days http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/11/05/at-least-88-billion-earth-size-just-right-planets-found-study-says/  and http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/commentary-please-dont-flush-those-flushable-wipes/nbfgk/

IRONY:  How can ‘flushable’ wipes and the “Goldilocks zone” have anything in common?

To be fair, ‘flushable’ wipes has been a subject with little attention paid by the media markets but a costly issue that can hardly be ignored.  In short, stop flushing anything down the toilet besides personal waste and toilet paper designed to break down in the sewage!  However, even though we’ve had decades of talk about climate change and our human effect on our environment–there are still folks that don’t give a second thought to tossing their personal wipes into the toilet bowl and in turn causing clogging of pipes and pumps, causing serious blockages and repairs of systems that can reach into the millions of dollars.

Meanwhile there are scientists and astronomers that are absolutely giddy at the recent findings that suggest our planet Earth is not the only girl available to dance with at Life’s Universal Prom event.  “Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.”  The funny question follows by the study’s co-author Geoff Marcy who asks: “If we aren’t alone, why is ‘there a deafening silence in our Milky Way galaxy from advanced civilizations?'”

Wipe, Don’t Flush It

Having read both these random articles lead me to believe that there was a real connection between the two.

We may have i-Phones and devices galore that reflect our amazing technological advances in recent decades but we are having a global crisis of sorts as to what lines exist in privacy of government leaders (i.e. recent NSA leaks and the likes of German Merkel being quite upset with the U.S.A.).

We are aware that we should be striving to reduce and reuse our waste materials and yet we insist on indulging in products like the K-cup coffee and the like revolution: coffee your way in your size although I’m personally clueless on how we can go about reducing the waste onslaught into our landfills by these products.

We claim to have such instantaneous communication capabilities and a wealth of knowledge to anyone who can log onto the World Wide Web…and yet, we still cut each other off with the most vicious disdain when merging onto an interstate highway in the car.

The Good News in Short

The likelihood is we Earthlings are most probably not alone in the universe, if not the Milky Way itself.  However zealous we may be to escape the drudgery of this place in hopes of seeking out new friends in the cosmos, we must take a pause and look around us—better yet, look at ourselves.  How can I make this place a better space to live and thrive in?

It is a comfort to even sense that we are not alone in the unknown of our surroundings past our own atmosphere and humble solar system—but it is a reality check to recognize that there may be countless reasons why other possible civilizations have hesitated to engage with us.

Earth: the toddler planet who refuses to wipe properly and dispose of its waste accordingly.

In part jest and part seriousness,

“live long and prosper”,

R.V.S.Bean

Today’s Parents: A Re-Education On What Education Is

TO LEARN OR NOT TO LEARN

There is no question that most American parents who have children of “school-age” are very concerned about what sort of education they receive.  In past essays and conversations I’ve often mentioned that every child on Earth is “home-schooled” in the sense that all their primary sensory experiences be they emotional, physical or intellectual are learned in their home environment–the faculty primarily consisting of immediate caregivers like parents and colleagues like siblings.

HEADLINES READ: “ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING”–WHAT’S GOING ON?

The knee-jerk reaction to the current epidemic-like rash of violence in schools in that past couple of decades has been to blame the availability of weapons like guns, addictions to drug substances, excessive use of internet social media for awkward adolescents making bullying all the more callous, et cetera.  In my humble opinion, I believe the issue may be as complex as the one unfolding in the environmental/agricultural circles regarding CCD and the fate of the honeybees. 

For instance, did anyone happen to catch the little bit of research data released to the Associated Press (compiled and explained by Philip Elliot) that printed in papers like my local Palm Beach Post today?  You can look it up yourself by “15% of U.S. youth idle, report says” and at a link like this http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/21/youth-unemployment_n_4134358.html

All of these factors and more that I’m leaving unlisted can overwhelm us to the extent that we don’t know what to do first: complain to our government and educational institutions or just yank our kids out of school and move to a semi-utopian place like Costa Rica.

BASICS FIRST AND FOREMOST

I was in the throes of the “baby blues” during the early months of my firstborn in 2008 when I came across a book or article (real fuzzy memory of that time for obvious reasons) that noted what all first-time parents/caregivers need to keep in mind as the single most important thing you can do for your newborn: LOVE THEM.  It turns out that starting with this basic but profound intention will in turn help everything else fall into place when taking care of your offspring.

Loving your child(ren) will help you get attuned to their needs–especially as they grow and approach the ages that our society and American government deem as the appropriate age to start an academic education.  The blessing of the year 2013 and beyond is that we live in a time of continuous progress in information technology that has drastically altered our home lives, professional careers and the overall commerce of the world in general–the effect that it has on what we consider education is so revolutionary that many of us haven’t grasped or accepted the fact that we all need a re-education of what “education” truly means.

In short, if you are a parent/caregiver today of persons of minor ages, you have a vast array of options as to how you conduct/delegate your child’s education to help them grow into individuals who will be able to think for themselves and give back to not only their family units and local communities but hopefully the world population as well.  Yes, I understand that for many options may be limited because of social and economic status–however, in America, it really isn’t an excuse when it comes to pursuing what is best for your child if you are involved one way (like homeschool choice, virtual schooling) or another (public schooling, magnet program seeking, charter school grants, etc).

RANDOM READING AND HOPES

I truly mean to encourage others that education for our children really shouldn’t be such a stressful topic.  They need love and honesty from us: when my 5 year old asks me countless questions and there’s inevitably one I can’t answer then I admit that’s the case and take him along to find out the answer (hint: “google” or “Siri” needn’t always be the one to go to, it’s good to take them to find the answer in other ways too).

Best wishes to all and I hope you can feel empowered by all the information available to you and your families as you navigate what’s the best path for your children’s education–also that you can find peace as that path can and may change more than you’d like to experience.  But then again, as our children learn we can learn more as well and that’s the best way to stay truly human and living in the now.

R.V.S.B.

P.S. for those interested in some alternative views on education beyond the confines of Common Core or whatever the latest standard is and will be for public education curriculums:

http://www.triviumeducation.com

“Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” by John Taylor Gatto

 

 

 

Humpty-Dumpty Vital Signs: How to put the GOP back together again…

Truth Time

“Saudi Arabia rejects seat on U.N. Security Council”

Sometimes the real news is the stuff found on page A11 of a humble local newspaper like the Palm Beach Post where an Associated Press article compiled by Edith M. Ledere and Aya Batrawy describes the unique tale of how a country like Saudi Arabia likes to outline how the United States has really lost its credibility on Friday when it refused the first-time offer of a two year term seat on the U.N. Security Council–a most coveted position for most nations, especially Arab ones. “The Saudis were displeased that the U.S. backed off threats of military strikes against Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons.”

President Obama was quoted the day before (Thursday 10/17) as saying that the 16-day partial government shutdown was primarily the Republican’s fault and risked exposing the United States as a poor leader or in his words, the “shutdown hurt U.S. credibility as leader.

Tea Party Resurgence

Yesterday afternoon I’m driving north on Interstate I-95 in Palm Beach County and approach an overpass for Okeechobee Boulevard–there are signs and people and for a few seconds my eyes register what they’re seeing.  “Impeach Obama”, “Honk…Obamacare” It occurs to me that these folks might be delusional because there is a way we can work out of this lethargy or apathy when it comes to the government as it stands today: get involved and take personal responsibility!

Why Blame Senator Ted Cruz?

Senator Ted Cruz’s last name can easily conjure the image of the Santa Cruz surfing coast in California where a slip on the board can mean death of a surfer on the unforgiving rocks.  It seems this was a similar fate endured by Speaker John Boehner and the GOP this past week–but why do we have to believe that?

Perception is Peculiar

Here’s the reality: neither the Democrat or the Republican party are perfect, unified or fit to govern.  The two main parties in our nation actually need each other just like most of our electronic gadgets require the positive and negative charge in the batteries that power them.  Duality in physical nature as well as spiritual/theological exegesis all encompass the existence and general necessity of  having two different parts both entangle and empower the other.

I’m not proposing that we break up the GOP to make a new one.  I’m also not proposing that we annihilate the Democratic party–I have both friends and colleagues that I respect and care about who are Democrats and I know their heart is in the right place for our nation.  What I do believe Americans are sick of is the arguing about which party is right all of the time.  What’s wrong with trying to accept that both parties are trying to find what’s the right direction for our country?

For instance, did you know that Obamacare was really a regurgitated version of RomneyCare–it is “inherently a compromise because it is a health insurance reform law rather than an overhaul of the structure of our nation’s health-care system.” (see Jane Mansbridge’s ‘Obama already compromised big-time’ http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-mansbridge-obamacare-democrats-single-payer-20131015,0,7930456.story)

Humpty-Dumpty GOP: Can It Be Put Together Again?

I do believe that if the Democrats can keep it together after recent years of hardships for our nation, the Republicans can as well.  The key is to stop focusing on what divides and instead focus on what unites the party.  What are the GOP’s priority issues? (hint: drop the gay marriage and abortion flagships)  After that’s established, then Republicans need to pick out what issues they think they can best work toward compromises with Democrats and others.  The United States really does have a great system in place when there is a balance between the two major parties–our political health will not be demonstrated in how well people stay within the party line, rather it will be how often both sides can show the ability to cross the line to find each other and help our nation progress.

God Bless America,

Ramona V.S.B.

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