The True Corona Nightmare: What If You’re Cooped Up with Children and COVID-19?

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“Worm” Full Moon in South Florida March 9, 2020

March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine: What If?

As the World Health Organization deliberated earlier this week on whether to upgrade COVID-19 from an epidemic to pandemic, I sensed another collective wave of anxiety rising in parents and caregivers throughout the United States: What if I have to quarantine myself and my children? What if my job forces me to stay home at the same time my children’s school (or glorified daycare) shuts down and moves to an online format? What if I must be a “stay-at-home” with no end in sight?

Hope and Experience Reigns

Having personally logged more than a decade’s worth of “homemaker” status experience complete with a full range of infant/pediatric care for three children and geriatric home care for octogenarians/nonagenarians, I feel this is a good time for me to share with the online community some quick tips of how to survive and thrive in a possible quarantine situation with little or big ones at home.  My tone is intended to offer hope and inspiration for ideas should you find yourself stuck at home with children.

Being a teacher-caregiver with three home/multi-schooled children, I’d also like to add some levity to the topic by dispensing my humble tidbits with an acronym description for COVID-19 using CORONA as the base word.  At the end of each vignette I’ll try to provide some weblinks when able to help you research your own home plan of action. Thankfully Google and other search engines like talking with your family and friends still exist to help you brainstorm your respective paths.

C is for Correspondence Courses, Creativity, and Calming Continuity

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Materials from http://www.mothergoosetime.com

The good news is that in 2020 most Americans have access to a wealth of resources both online and in print at home when it comes to helping educate students of all ages.  If your children are enrolled in a traditional “brick and mortar” school, chances are your school district or the institution will also provide links and virtual options should you be in a self- or mandated quarantine scenario.

Take this opportunity to declutter and disinfect your home dwelling, in the process carving out an area for your students to conduct their studies.  Comfortable and clear options for seating help your children find a cozy place to read, write, and create new ideas in your home abode.  If you own books, consider congregating them in one room or area.  One of my favorite places as a child was that space made in the children’s area of the public library that silently invited children to come and have a seat and open up the physical possibilities in a book, magazine, or today a “tippity-tapping” or swiping of the screen.

A few of my personal favorite websites to consider using for both digital and print educational materials: www.education.com, www.teacherspayteachers.com, www.ctcmath.com, www.ancient.eu, www.welltrainedmind.com, www.loc.gov, www.congress.gov, www.kumonbooks.com, http://www.scholeacademy.com

O is for Opportunity, Order, and Operations Management

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Found on Facebook, meme author unknown

While staying at home is not for the feeble of spirit or faint of organized, there isn’t any true template of what the order of things should look like in your space.  If recent political news is of any sobering indication, it’s that we Americans say we want change and yet are slow to accept changes in how we accept stereotypical roles.  We say we want more racial, gender, and age diversity in positions of government power and yet the U.S. Presidential field is now down to the likes of Senator Bernie Sanders and former V.P. Joe Biden to face President Trump in the fall elections.  This slowness to adapt change is especially true when running a household with children.

Somewhere along the line in our social evolution following the Industrial Age, the onus fell on the woman of the household to be responsible for the cooking, cleaning, and all other chores regulated to the “homemaker”.  When facilitating the education of your children at home, your workload more than triples because it is a full-time job alone to help students with their school studies—let alone teach them yourself.

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Motherhood is messy with little helpers sometimes, but tasty!

If delegation is king in the outside working world, then it is most imperative at home.  I recommend devising a list on a visible chart for the household to see helping divest the household chores that needed to keep everyone clean, healthy, well-fed, and in turn happy.  If you have been managing the home without much help from your dependents, consider the opportunity to alleviate those daily stresses and help foster more responsibility in your children.

In my home, the older children have certain nights they are assigned planning the dinner menu and must fold their own laundry (at age 10 you get your own hamper and clean your clothes too!).  Lunchtime is their own responsibility, however, I do provide choices that within their respective age-appropriate ability. For instance, an 8-year-old can reach the sliced bread to apply both peanut butter and jelly for their sandwich.

There are numerous resources online for tips or printables for devising a list of responsibilities for your household. Consider reading books to the younger ones that cover taking care of the home or cooking.  For the older kids, be honest and discuss what your concerns/needs are and what are they able to consider doing to be a beneficial working part of the household.  Again, consider finding a template list that works for you as guidance, one of my favorites: https://livingmontessorinow.com/montessori-monday-age-appropriate-chores-for-children-free-printables/

R is for Rest, Reset, and Review What’s Really Important

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Personal back portrait from days gone by

The old writings in various cultures and in my personal reading of Christian scriptures often repeat the adage that when faced with an unexpected circumstance in life that could be deemed unfortunate, there is good that can come out of it eventually if not immediately.

So, you’re suddenly stuck at home with children and your job whether it was inside or outside of the home. This combination can be depression-inducing or at the very least aggravating.  Also consider that your children are having a difficult time with this unforeseen set of events.  More often than not, your children will absorb and in turn react to however you’re feeling and acting in this situation.  Your default reaction may be either free-fall into this experience without much organization or swing to the other extreme of trying to exact complete control over every minute of the day with your children—both of these extremes can produce unsavory results.

I mention “rest” and “reset” in this section because for many of you, this may be how you try to approach the school break times in your children’s year.  If the summer is their big vacation time, the first few weeks are a decompression time for your students before settling into a new routine.  If this concept is foreign to you, again, there is no true template for you and your children but consider this to be a time to review what’s truly important.

Not unlike adults, children and teenagers need routine to help them grow and flourish.  They also need rest and reflection within that daily construct.  Being at home for extended hours every day may be something your entire household is not used to with jobs, school, extra-curriculars and the like.  Remember that the opportunities to learn are not regulated to your students, you have a chance to learn alongside them and realize what amazing souls reside in your children when not stressed about running from schools to practices in traffic every day.

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Lakeside park in North Palm Beach

O is for the Outdoors

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Trail in Signal Mountain, Tennessee

The fact that I may have to consider lecturing anyone on the importance of the outdoors for both children and adults is disturbing.  Yet many Americans have simply lost touch (physically especially) with the outdoors and what raw nature can teach us.  No amount of screen time with educational applications can replace what the interaction of the human and Earth can yield in terms of creativity, philosophical reflection, botanical and zoological education, and an overall appreciation for the organic mechanizations that make our daily life on this planet possible.

As mentioned before, there are countless digital and print ideas for how to approach “field trips” outside with your children.  You may be able to simple open your back or front door to investigate.  For avid readers, consider downloading or checking out from your local library the following book: “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv.

Our household is blessed with a backyard that’s allowed me the freedom to create planters with herbs, fruits, and vegetables with my children.  I’ve also allowed them a space in the yard to literally dig into the dirt and create and recreate their own worlds, complete with a hose running water through it.

My children’s world they named”Tai-rang”

Although this may overwhelm anyone with germaphobe tendencies, there is a lot of scientific research still coming in that points to the benefits of us interacting with nature, i.e. playing in the mud.  What good is teaching our children about the environment in schools if they don’t have the opportunity to physically walk, run, and play in it?  You never know, the extra time taken to go outside with your child this week may help inspire them to find a calling in a profession that would help the environment in the future.

www.nps.gov, www.stateparks.org, www.arborday.org, www.nationalgeographic.com

N is for Nesting, Neighbors, Not Saying “No” So Much, and News

 We usually think of “nesting” as a term reserved for the woman swelling with expectancy of her child’s birth.  In the case of a quarantine situation, it may be the first time you’ve had an extended period to sit in one place and really assess what does your home look like?  I personally went through a phase years ago where I researched “feng shui” for ideas on how to work with what I had in our home: https://www.thespruce.com/easy-steps-to-feng-shui-living-room-1274493

Neighbors: remember them?  Maybe you have great relationships with the people immediately to your right and left—or maybe not.  This may also be a season of learning who and what are in your local community and how you may be of help to each other during a possible COVID-19 outbreak in your area.

When dealing with circumstances beyond our control, we often resort to trying to control what we can.  If you’re a parent you also know that being at home with your children often involves many questions an hour and therefore innumerable ways to say “no”.  The trap for us becomes evident when we’re trying to exert more control in our home life and start replying in the negative more often than actually necessary.  Again, if you need more ideas as to how to respond more positively, there are many articles and blog entries online covering the subject or ask your local tribe of family and friends what their strategies are in communications with their children.

News may be a tap or a click away for most Americans, but when you’re stuck in the house this medium can get old very quickly.  It so happens that many publications still provide subscription materials at home these days.  In my home we have a 94-year-old and children under the age of 10 who especially benefit from the print medium.  Perhaps call your local paper or check in with your favorite magazine sources to see if you can enact a short-term subscription to have the publication(s) delivered to your door.

A is for Art Therapy, Appreciation, Adventure, and Amazon

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R.V.S.B. original art, acrylic on canvas, circa 2002

If you are a parent or caregiver of little ones then you know their affinity for drawing and coloring.  As an educator, I’ve noticed that the older children get it seems the less likely they are to participate in the visual arts unless they’re taught.  While I understand this may be subject matter out of your league, try to open your mind to the possibility that participating alongside your student in an artistic endeavor may benefit you too.

A time of quarantine at home with children may seem as inviting as hunkering down in a hurricane with them (I’ve been there too), but I focus on looking at the bright side for both parties to better appreciate each other.  This may be the first time you really get to pause and read through what coursework your children are doing at school and understand why they may be so detached and cranky at the end of a stressful school day.  In turn, your children may learn more about what you actually do at work during the day and how those responsibilities can drain you to the point of having a short-fuse temper if they make a mess on the floor when they’re home with you after school.

At risk of being redundant, adventure lies in the unexpected and a quarantine may afford the only “pause” time in your relationship with your children to seek out a new way of looking at things together.  If nothing else, this time together helps demonstrate to our children that life is filled with unplanned occasions where we simply need to press forward and make a positive outcome of it.

Amazon: need I say more?  At this time, we have the opportunity to have things delivered to our door via humans.  If they get short-staffed due to COVID-19, then the drone technology will likely get some quick updates.

Corona Closing

While we can all debate ad nauseum about novel this virus concern is, we are finding that government authorities around the world are taking unique measures that we’ve not seen since the likes of America’s travel security aftermath in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  As a home caregiver and educator, I’d like to impart the idea that staying at home with your children may be a life-changing opportunity offered during this temporary season. Although you wouldn’t have planned it this way, it may be priceless in its yields for both of your futures as parent and child.

R.V.S.Bean

About the Author: Current caregiver and education administrator at home and MBA candidate at University of Florida’s Warrington School of Business, her past life prior to children included work as a political appointee worker for President G.W. Bush at the U.S. Treasury Department, Legislative Aide for former Congressman Mark A. Foley, and reading teacher at Bannockburn Elementary in Illinois.

My Humble Reply to Miss Greta Thunberg: Who is Responsible for Climate Stewardship?

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September 25, 2019

Quick Answer: Everyone.  Literally, everyone on this planet.  If we’re to scold anyone when it comes to how we humans have conducted ourselves in relationship to our Earth, then we’d have to do it toward ourselves and every household, nomadic tent city, unique compound, homeless camp or any other type of setup that we homo sapiens respectively keep our residence.  Please make no mistake in understanding the state of our world’s climate; this planet will be able to continue with or without us.  Truly, it’s a matter of what we’re comfortable with and able to accept based on our lifestyles as we know it here in the 21st century.

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Long Answer: The following is my succinct personal story in recent days of trying to love the Earth, fight for a new mindset on a bipartisan basis, and coming to raw terms of reality especially when it comes to environmental politics.

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It’s been nearly a week since I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the second time this month.  The first time was to attend the Bush-Cheney administration reunion held for those who served in various agencies and roles back during those years—it was surreal to be in the company with those whom, along with myself (I was a political appointee in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s office), had given of our time and talents to serve an administration during what already has been documented as a historically poignant time in our country’s history.  We were able to share an audience with former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as they reflected on those years and shared encouraging antidotes for the present time.  I personally took a time-out after serving the administration to give birth to our first child, followed by a few more pregnancies that sum totaled in three wonderful children while also helping elderly in the home we’ve had the blessing to live in south Florida for the past decade.

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My second D.C. visit came by way of invitation to attend the Environmental Defense Fund’s Fly-In last week and to take the opportunity to visit with offices of Florida’s congressional delegation to share my heartfelt inclinations about the importance of pursuing legislative goals of environmental solutions for our state as well as nationwide.  Ironically, as I traversed Capitol Hill on foot last Thursday with a few of my like-minded colleagues, our U.S. Congress was also receiving the most recent public comments from Miss Greta Thunberg of Sweden.  While I carried copies of my children’s illustrations and short comments about our stewardship of the Earth to my state’s various congressional offices, Miss Thunberg was testifying that our nation was doing little to nothing to help assuage the seemingly accelerating effects of our contribution to our planet’s climatic cycle. In the past couple days, Miss Thunberg also addressed the United Nations in New York City by repeatedly saying “how dare you” in regards to the idea that this global governing body entity looks to the youth for hope and yet fails in action.

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Rewind to earlier this year: I took the time out to track our household’s trash habits for a couple of weeks.  This included taking note of the packaging that we deal with when purchasing goods and how we dispose of those items as well as pre-existing goods in the home.  The results of this personal audit almost sent me into a full-fledged depression swing similar to the post-partum blues I had experienced in varying degrees with each of my children born.  It was embarrassing to recognize just how much waste we deal with in this home and although we try to diligently sort our trash into as much recycling as we can—then we’re faced with the dirty secret in most of our nation’s municipalities that much of our recycling isn’t actually recycled, rendering this conscientious ritual of sorting our garbage in the house a moot matter.

My personal trash inventory and revelation, along with a shared vision with friends, gave me the inspiration to seek more avenues to help effect change in my city and county in the interest of cleaning up our act when it came to household habits and waste processing.  It also highlighted to me that it is a harsh reality to face our personal habits when it comes to how we travel, purchase and process goods, dispose of our trash, and use our resources like water and energy sources.  It is this message I believe that needs to be conveyed to the world’s microphone so to speak.  Although as a mother and educator I wholeheartedly support the notion of a 16-year-old having global attention when it comes to helping influence change in funding, legislation, and other environmental mandates needed to assist a “clean-up” of our habits, I dislike our collective avoidance of the real problem we face in terms of our interaction with our planet’s climatic cycles: ourselves.

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There is so much more to write on this subject today, probably redundant in nature given how much has already been written and shared in digital spaces such as the Twitter social media platform.  If there is anything I desire to share and encourage in this discussion regarding our climate stewardship going forward, it would be that the most effective course of action would be to cease finger-pointing to entities such as governing bodies and business corporations.  If we have any hope of dramatically changing our habits, we must take personal responsibility and ask ourselves if we’re willing to re-think how we transport ourselves, purchase and utilize goods, sort our garbage, and overall make those hourly decisions to make a difference in our human footprint on Earth.

R.V.S.Bean

“We are given substance, nurtured, and sustained by family. Kinship goes beyond family and is the connection we feel to the world at large and everything in it.  Given the concept of family, it isn’t difficult to understand the idea of kinship with other forms of life—everything was of the Earth. We all came from it one way or another and returned to it when life was over. These were the unalterable realities that connected us to everything around us.”–Joseph M. Marshall III, The Lakota Way

Some favorite sources:

www.edf.org

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saint-greta-spreads-the-climate-gospel-11568989306

www.marinelife.org

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/24/how-greta-thunbergs-rise-could-backfire-on-environmentalists.html

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Mass Shootings Again: We Still Love, Don’t We?

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Welcome to Friday, August 9, 2019.

This has been a tough week for our nation’s attitude as reflected in social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter following the high-profile mass shootings that occurred in Ohio and Texas this past weekend.

As with anything that happens in our human society here in the United States of America, the ripple effects of events that reverberate through our populous can manifest in either very positive manners or, unfortunately, in the nastiest ways.

I have an interactive story to share with you if you’re still reading this that is related to what’s happening in our country when it comes to everyday interactions. Imagine what it must be like if the following happened to you:

You’re a middle-aged Caucasian man, handsome in features, and having to board a flight to attend to a family situation out-of-state.  As you enter the departing plane, you sit down in the middle seat of a row containing three seats in your designated row, there is an older woman already sitting to your right.

A couple minutes after you’ve gotten seated, to your left comes a young man who is wearing a “Buttigieg 2020” t-shirt and he nods a greeting toward you and the lady next to you as he sits down. You shift as is customary to allow your new seat-mate to have enough room as he buckles his lap-belt.  The woman to your right also shifts, but in an agitated manner after having bent down and looked to the left to see this passenger.

As everyone is settling in on the plane, the woman to your right becomes physically animated with her hand gestures and begins to engage you in conversation.  Maybe “conversation” is an exaggeration as she seems to be speaking to you without having introduced herself or even asked you what’s your name. Her voice’s volume has raised as she starts with: “You know what, these liberals are just getting out of control. They are bringing this nation down and causing all these holes in our society. This is just crazy, how can we operate our democracy with these gays and such that are destroying the moral fabric of our nation? All the homosexuals and Jews just need to be rounded up and shot. They wonder why these massacres are occurring, we need to start with the problems and eliminate them, right?”

You are ingesting this “conversation”, these words strung together with a combination of rusty, barbed wire and battery acid spraying all over your face when clearly the recipient is not truly addressing yourself but the young man that is wearing the 2020 presidential bid by Buttigieg.

Normally, you are able to let moments like this go and ignore the person spewing such rhetoric…but today is not that day.  You are a gay man and this lady just told you that she believes that you and all your “kind” along with others she’s labeled as unfit should be rounded up and eliminated from physical existence on this Earth.

You snap, inside yourself, like a wooden stick during a cold winter’s day in a dry climate—your temper just snaps in half with a CRACK as you respond to this woman sitting to your right (still don’t know her name): “You know, you’re right, we should start with eliminating those who are so close-minded and harsh in judgement”.

The lady looks intently into your light blue eyes that are undoubtedly sparkling with pain and disdain simultaneously and she nods toward you saying, “Why, yes, that’s a good start. I agree.”

To which you quip back, “Because, you know, I’m one of those gays that you mention should be rounded up and shot.  So I would appreciate if you just leave me alone now and refrain from speaking to me again.” You shift your body to the left as you use your U-shaped travel pillow to allow yourself some rest.  Silence ensues. Did the Buttigieg guy hear all of this? Does it matter?

This story doesn’t stop here.

You attend to the family business for a couple of days. It’s time to leave now and board another flight back to your home city.

This has been a rough passage of trip, you don’t care for air travel as it is. You’re ready for your Tito’s Vodka and soda as you board this home-bound flight.

You have a window seat in a two-seat row.  After seating yourself, soon thereafter your seat-mate who is a black woman dressed in a beautiful magenta skirt suit comes to sit to your left.  Again, as is customary, you shift appropriately so the lady has enough room to situate herself as the plane settles into take-off mode.

The drink cart time has come as the flight is now at a cruising altitude.  When the stewardess comes to take your row’s order you ask for your long-awaited “Tito’s” and are given an alternative vodka selection and asked whether that will work.

At this very moment, the lady to your left starts to speak loudly in a Jamaican accent at what seems to be either you or at the stewardess: “Oh no, I’m not sitting here with this guy drinking!”

Reminder that you’re a good 54 years young and know that you can do whatever you want as a gay man in the USA who has completed a tough trip and just needs to decompress in peace.  As if on cue and responding to this truth, the stewardess doesn’t acknowledge what this seat-mate of yours just said, only asks, “Would you still like the vodka sir?”.

“Ah yes, I’ll take two bottles please,” you respond immediately.  You proceed to ask for two cups of ice to boot. The lady next to you continues to rail on about, “Oh no, I am NOT going to sit with him as he drinks!” No one is paying attention to her, including yourself who really just wants to avoid another verbal altercation and numb the pain of the last few days.

Resolute not to engage at this point, you toward the window and sipping your liquid therapy at this moment. Your seat-mate harrumphs and pulls out her iPad and begins to tappity-tap on it.  This actually calms you as you’re grateful that it seems she’s now distracted and no longer calling you out as if you’re some town drunkard hell-bent on corrupting the entire airplane full of weary travelers.

Being such close quarters, your seat-mate is engaged in a game on her digital device that’s large enough that you can read what she’s doing.  It’s a Bible verse/theme game.  She visibly gets stumped and is uneasily moving around in her seat as she’s trying to figure out the answer.

Perhaps against your better judgement you lean in and whisper to her, “Job”…she glances at you with both a look of horror and incredulous surprise asking, “What?”. You repeat, “Job, the answer is Job. Try it”.  She puts it in and immediately is gratified with positive reinforcement that she got it right. No thanks from her but then again, this is a fluke, right?

This type of scenario repeats itself several times over the course of an hour into the flight, you’re giving her answers like “Ecclesiastes” and “Gospel of Matthew”.  By the end of it all, this Jamaican lady is astounded at your knowledge of the Christian Bible and says to you, “I misjudged you, keep reading the Word of God, you’re doing amazing.”

To that you simply say with a gentle tone and soft smile, “Thanks, I accept your apology”.

Soon you fall asleep, putting a pause on the button of your life that seems to be full of these moments of late—mass judgements and angry people all emboldened to express their feelings whether it be online in social media platforms or while traveling in a metal tube in the sky to complete strangers.


Note: This story scenario is based on a true story as retold to me and others by a man named “Joseph”. I’m withholding his true name and position for protection but I’m indebted to him for giving me a window into what it can be like to be in a certain segment of our society and how painful and detrimental it can be for all involved when interactions such as these arise.

Politics and religions aside, I pray we can find that we all trust in Love and proceed forward in this nation with the mindset that there is much more that binds us together in unison than what drives us apart.

R.V.S.B.

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The Dance of Differences

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Seashell Philosophy by She: Volume 7 in a Series

Note: Been a while since I’ve written one of these because it takes getting a break by the seashore to get the inspiration for these pieces. Rare.

Summer 2018 Setting

The summertime weather here in south Florida is intense because we get the double whammy of high temperatures coupled with high humidity that can envelope us like a heavy wool coat but the difference being that it’s wet and nonstop with its intensity.

As I’ve been a mother for over a decade now, I’ve found that our best chance for survival outdoors when in town here is to head for the coast immediately after the sun rises to enjoy the ocean before the sand becomes lava-hot and the eventual afternoon thunderstorm squalls move in.

The Tide Retreating 

When I arrived at the shoreline a couple days ago, my children found that the high tide had already crested and so the ocean would start its gradual retreat as we sojourned over the next few hours at the shoreline.

What’s exciting about this reversal of water flow is that one can get a glimpse of the shells, rocks and other small trinkets that the sea can give up any given day. There’s a thrill in watching the water retreat every few seconds while also yielding a new batch of goodies–the trick is to strike and pick up what you see and like before the next breaking wave takes it away.

Nature Reflecting Us

During a time in our nation when any given media outlet online or print is exposing all the negative shades of our current social or political status, it’s liberating to stand between the barrier of land and water and to feel the force of the inevitable coupled with the unexpected. “The unexpected” being anything and everything that our offshore Gulf Stream can depose on the receding shoreline. “The inevitable” being the waves, propelled by the currents, ushered by the moon tidal forces and so forth.

Here’s the good news: we’re all so different. There is no “black” and “white”. It turns out that there are countless textures, shapes, colors and differing weights to the shells and rocks I sifted through my fingers as the waves broke against my legs with my feet sinking into the shifting sand at the magical barrier where land and sea overlap. How comforting when nature reflects the truth about who we are: an amazing array of physical people with unique personalities!

What Is Our Place?

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As I selected a variety of empty shells, sea glass and bits of rock I felt a rush of anger at the idea that our nation could ever fall into the trap of writing off sections of people based on their looks, pasts or perceived biases. Don’t we realize that what makes our world so beautiful are the differences that we all represent?

When we really take in the nature around us on Earth, it’s devastating to recognize how we’ve collectively cheated ourselves into thinking that we as humans are so caustic as to write off entire cultures, nations or people in general based on the color of our skin or our socio-economic backgrounds. What gives?

The Sorting of the Truth

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Every time that I return from the Atlantic Ocean shore with a pocket or bag full of shells, rocks and other artifacts I immediately put the finds into a bucket full of water at home and have fun sorting them with my children—even alone if the kids aren’t interested.

Here’s what I’ve found over the decades of practicing this ritual: every fiber of my being senses that nature mimics life incarnate and so all these splendid varieties of physical representations of what has trespassed our ocean system soothes my frazzled nerves. The truth is that we all have more in common with each other than we realize despite our differences.

Go Out: Pick Up Some Rocks or Shells!

As dull as it may seem to some folks, would encourage anyone who lives by a body of water (even lakes and streams) to enjoy the simplicity found in picking up natural deposits like rocks, driftwood, shells and countless other things yielded by these various bodies of water.

It’s a therapeutic exercise in harvesting what’s available and plentiful but it’s also a great lesson in recognizing individuality. There’s an amazing diversity out there in our geology and yet it’s a strong reminder of how we as people are full of different facets and hues—just like the handful of granite and quartz pieces I was able to retrieve from the Atlantic earlier this week.

R.V.S.B.

 

 

A Writer’s Week Wrecked by Public Tragedies…or not?

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The “It comes in Threes” began with a Spade

It all started with random comments made when I would check my Facebook feed sporadically earlier this week while juggling summer camp schedules and other countless domestic duties. After reading similar posts saying: “Kate Spade, so sad, RIP” I decided it was time to investigate further.

The news was everywhere and I felt sadness for a woman and her family whom I don’t know—truth be told, I would often see her purses in the department stores and thought them clever and cute but never bought one for myself.

Out of respect for the work she put it into her fashion line with the support of family and friends, however, I wish I had if only to take a moment to say “thank you” to her for coming up with a fun line of products that many people have come to enjoy and share with others through the years.  We sometimes wish that we could have helped another person in pain after the fact right?

No Reservations, Parts Unknown and Clearly No Idea

Friday morning arrives with a foggy mindset as I had been doing my best not to read too much about depression and suicidal tendencies in the wake of Kate Spade’s personal tragedy made public and dissected by everyone who took the time to type, tap or dictate their view on the how, why and what to do to avoid more macabre news notifications.

Again the social media water cooler lit up with the news of yet another soul departed by their own devices. The setting was in France this time starring Anthony Bourdain: his buddy found him and then as I finally just pulled up one of the news websites like CNN it became real and now the tears started to burn. Bourdain found dead by apparent suicide and while on-site filming for a new season of his “Parts Unknown”.  This particular show has been a way for me to vicariously live through his travels and be inspired to have courage in my culinary choices as I most recently tried Jamaican food in a local gas station–while the outside appearance of the establishment was unsavory, the food within is heavenly. (note: Mama D’s Calabash for my local readers in Palm Beach County)

At this point I stopped reading anything online or by way of smart phone except to dispatch some personal messages to some friends about it. When Friday afternoon rolled in, so did a fantastic thunderstorm outside our home here in south Florida with violent flashes of raw electricity and rattling thunder. I walked into our pantry and pulled out a fine red wine and paired it with some cheese from Switzerland (another inspiration from Bourdain, wine and cheese make great bedfellows all over the world). As I drank the wine slowly and savored the cheese, I lit a candle and watched the waterworks rage outside with life-wrestling drama.

Now the tears started to moisten my stoic and disciplined eyes. Simultaneously I felt mad and sad. There were waves of jealously coupled with tremors of righteous anger from feelings that injustice had been rampant this week with the public news of these suicides while there were probably many others in the world who died similarly this week but most of the social media users and cable news companies will never know about.

I didn’t cry as I prayed for Spade and Bourdain’s souls watching the storm continue outside our window, the lights flickering for a moment after a close bolt of lightning struck across the street. You see, I believe many people struggle with depression. Perhaps it could be argued that every human being on this Earth will have a depressive episode even if only once in their life. When these suicidal tragedies occur, there are some of us that feel relief that we dodged the proverbial bullet at least this time.

We can do the research, the therapy and the general public is capable of pontificating our views on the matter of depression and the links to suicide with or without scientific reasoning. Here’s what I know from experiences with depression in my lifetime: it doesn’t discriminate and the dark battles within us all can rival the best cinematic representation of fights, i.e. Lord of Rings or Game or Thrones visuals. It can be lonely and dangerous.

It’s positive that we’re having these discussions regarding depression and the afflictions that can result from it as uncomfortable as they can be at times. How we treat each other really does affect us. People are more connected than they realize and I don’t just mean through “friending” or “snapchatting” each other. We’re in a time of great social evolution but we can get stuck in the mud too easily with our emotional reactions to each other as we interact.

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“Things That Matter”: Crying Now

While still letting the recent news of Bourdain’s simmer and reduce, I made the habitual swipe and tap to check social media only to see a note about a farewell letter from Charles Krauthammer. In the whirly dervish of the past several months of political and economics news cycle it was somehow lost on me that I hadn’t seen him in person during “talking head” shows.

As I read his letter aloud to my husband, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/interactive/2018/06/08/fox-news-charles-krauthammer-says-goodbye-to-colleagues-friends-and-viewers.html ,the tears started cascading and making it difficult for me to keep my voice calm as his words came alive in our living room. Thomas and I cut our teeth politically in Washington, D.C. together and we always enjoyed Krauthammer’s commentaries in print and in person. As moderates ourselves who believe in people over party, we found his discourse refreshing and hope its legacy continues.

My tears may have been partly for Charles having to suffer physically from such an illness but I suspect my heart also breaks for so many of us that find it difficult to find Peace in our respective lives while we still have healthy breaths to live. We can fall into the trap of hurting each other and ourselves when we lose the stillness and grace of Spirit in this world. Krauthamer loves chess and now sees his “checkmate” ahead and shares an uncommon candor in accepting his fate in the calm letter to the world about it.

Weekend Renewal

Like John Lennon once sung in “Believe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8, I do hope and believe in the idea that people can strive for peace within themselves as well as with each other to “be as one”. +

R.V.S.Bean

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Socially Responsible Investing and Our iChildren, Androidkids or Cybernanny

A possible art piece in the future: sketch by Ramona

Welcome to 2018: a year where those who have the largest shares in big companies like Apple Inc. (AAPL) are in a position to exert their self-proclaimed moral responsibility to address the astonishing rate at which humans are interacting with the computer processors on their smartphones and similar devices.

The Premise

The article released this past Saturday, January 7th by the Wall Street Journal reports that there is currently a push by some large shareholders in Apple that are calling for the company to make changes to their systems to help parents exert more control and limit phone usage. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend it: https://www.wsj.com/articles/iphones-and-children-are-a-toxic-pair-say-two-big-apple-investors-1515358834

Personal Past

I personally have written for years on this subject about the possible negative effects on our children and their interaction with digital technology and social media. At the end of this piece I’ll provide links to my past blog articles for context and proof that although I’m not a medical doctor, my experience as a mother of three children has weathered me into the philosophy I have on this general subject today.

The Short and Painful Truths

We’ve all been guinea pigs since our computers made the leap from the Oregon Trail game in green on the screen to the Internet on PCs to the smartphone on some of your wrists.

Somewhere along the way parents everywhere forgot that babies and children watch their caregivers and strive to copy them relentlessly. So while parents obsess over how many “likes” they’ve racked to their recent Facebook post or are scrolling through Pinterest ideas for dinner that night, their young are taking that in as normal behavior even when they are vying for their parents’ attention in the process. Even more alarming is that many parents may spend more time trying to “capture the moment” in forms of photo bursts, videos and vines than actual quality time conversing or participating in activities with their children.

I refuse to personally judge anyone in this area as I’ve made my own mistakes regarding this new frontier of instant messaging and phone calls at a touchscreen’s length. Instead I’m comfortable sharing my own personal journey as a way of giving some ideas to parents and caregivers that perhaps they can weave into their way of life — in turn helping the next generation have an idea as to how to navigate their own progeny in tandem with our technological advances yet to come.

Parents: Put It Away

This is a blunt heading and intentionally so. This is not easy and perhaps quite impossible for many people depending on their line of work. Thankfully there is the “vibrate” setting for most devices and which I use constantly.

Before you dismiss this idea entirely, do yourself a favor and think about how much time you actually interface personally on a daily basis with your child or children. The answers will vary depending on vocation and age of the children of course but the effect should warrant an honest assessment.

Here’s what I’ve learned in just under 10 years of being a mother myself to three children under the age of 10: they grow up quickly and learn even faster!

If you make it a point to interact with your child without the smartphone attached to the palm of your hand it will help them bond not only with you but also know how to engage with other humans.

The questions will come and with them your respective answers as it goes with the majority of parental interactions with their young — in my case, my older children have inquired as to why they don’t have phones. My responses to these repetitive questions are simple and hopeful. For example, I let them know that their father and I don’t see a need for it nor is it allocated for in our family budget. In addition, we believe they will have them one day in an even better model and aren’t missing anything in the meantime.

While investors are suggesting to companies about how their technology can be manipulated to help give parents control the reality is that the control is with the parents themselves all along.

People, Artificial Intelligence and Beyond

Guess what? We’re still all test subjects together as we progress in this whole new world of cyber-digital interactions and integrations with homo sapiens.

We’re talking about parental controls available on the iPhone platform and before we know it we’ll be reading psychologists’ research papers on the emotional integration of robot-nannies on our grandchildren one day.

To be sure we’re excelling in incorporating these new devices into our lives so quickly without knowing its effects until we become aware of the effects. Although we focus mostly on negative consequences, we should be fair and acknowledge where the technology has been very helpful for parents and kids alike.  For example, I recall a scratchy long distance land-line phone call to Greece with my great-grandparents whom I could hardly hear — our kids get to Facetime with their grandparents in California.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to read something that will assuage the fear of the unknown I reccommend “Abundance” by Peter H. Diamandis. It’s a helpful book with opening our mind to the possibilities of the good things that can come out of our digital evolution together.

Global Village Is Not the Front Line

Ever since the release of the World Wide Web late last century, the world has shrunk down to what is commonly referred to as the “global village”.

This shouldn’t be confused with the world that our children know when they are born and growing up in our homes. We as parents and caregivers are still their front line in seeing and interpreting the world around them.

In the end the moral responsibility still falls on us individually to make parenting decisions that we feel are right for our own offspring.

Blessings to all you out there raising children in the 21st century and beyond!

R.V.S.B.

P.S. As promised, past blog links of mine concerning children and cyberworld:

A Marathon Reminder for a Seasoned Runner

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Prologue

At this writing, 24 hours has passed since I joined thousands of people along West Palm Beach’s Intracoastal waterway to start the Fit Team Marathon of the Palm Beaches’ half and full marathon race yesterday on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

My body is still carrying on a one-sided conversation with my brain (perhaps a rant) about the abuse it has endured and how it’s still threatening a complete physical shutdown to show it means business. I’m proud of everyone that got up so early and completed their respective races, whether goals were reached or not.

Past

It has literally been well over a decade since I ran this specific race. It was the Inaugural edition in 2004 for West Palm Beach hosting its own marathon series race and it was also my first marathon ever—somehow I made the qualification for the 2005 Boston marathon which I immediately signed up for and then finished off my year of marathoning with the 30th anniversary Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, DC where my husband I are were working at the time.

“DINKs” they called us, “double income, no kids” and so completing 3 marathons in a year’s time in your twenties is not such a far-fetched idea. Upon completing that third and awe-inspiring MCM, I hung up my running shoes for a year or more to rest both body and mind. By the time I started running again along the Capitol’s mall area, it became apparent that we were about to become parents in a matter of months.

Present

After 4 pregnancies in my life, blessed with three miraculous births of our children in their own respective arrivals—a seasoned runner as myself felt it was time to run and give back a little in the process. The result became a plan to run three races in three months time.

This fall I had decided to sign up again with the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise money while I prepared with our Palm Beach Chapter team to run in the Marine Corps 10K in October.   Since I was able to run some long runs with our team members who were taking on the Marine Corps Marathon, I heard we had the Marathon of the Palm Beaches again in town after a 2-year absence and signed up for the December race. At the same time, old teammates of mine had rallied and we’d collectively decided to enter the Ragnar Relay South Beach race in November as a mini-reunion and reminder of how we’ve aged since our Division I collegiate career days.

The Marathon: A Possible Spiritual Exercise Regardless of Religion

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I have Greek blood in me and although I just completed my fourth marathon, I’m still in disbelief because although training helps to complete this distance—I’ve found that each and every time I run it I’m truly humbled to the core of my being. There are times I’ve been super prepared in my mileage tallies and pacing and other times like yesterday when I had a moderate amount of training but have also been balancing life’s responsibilities.

It’s never been a surprise to me that Greek legend holds the story of the man who ran to shout victory and promptly died upon doing so.   Maybe it’s a mathematical thing as the 26.2 mile distance may be very easy for some and for others literally the most difficult physical feat they’ve ever accomplished (save giving birth for women of course).

Yesterday I shared with some friends that my feet told me they hate me at mile 15. By mile 18 I was beginning to feel the twinges of various muscles in my legs getting ready to seize up. My fuel belt had lots of different sources of electrolytes, protein, caffeine and sugars to help me along but by mile 20 my stomach was closed for business and threatened to heave its contents if I tried to send anything besides water or some Gatorade its way. By the time I saw mile 25 I was so grateful that I hadn’t fallen down already and started to spontaneously cry with a bike support and old friend by my side asking if I was okay. The finish in sight with half a mile to go and evidently my body still had some liquid adrenaline left to send me through the finish line only to start bawling in relief that it was over.

It was a blessing to run and raise money for IOCC – International Christian Orthodox Charities during this particular race and wear my friend’s campaign material for her run for City Commissioner in West Palm Beach. I will admit that running for something or someone other than yourself does help when facing physical challenges—a reason why many former collegiate or professional athletes still enjoy their sport when supporting charities in their retirement.

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In addition, I cannot “tag” enough people or thank enough my own local family, including my mom Vanessa, my husband Thomas and kids, my sister Artemis and niece who were out there giving me water and encouragement that I never knew I would need as much as I did yesterday— support bike Cecilio not to be excluded of course or my dear Molly Ragsdale who has coached me in the past and my Newman sister Shannon Fox as they ran 13.1 at a good pace for my first half. There are people out there who will also never know how much their clap or cheering meant to many of us running that race—but thank you!

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Epilogue

I could write a page for every mile I ran yesterday but I’ll condense it into a couple of paragraphs describing what I observed and what philosophical reaction I have had to it all.

To the old friends and colleagues alike I saw, they ran or they were supportive, it all mattered so much. There were those I didn’t know but saw their sacrifice for charities, for family and friends and yet others running or racing in their wheelchairs because it celebrates life—that we’re all here together regardless of our backgrounds and what we’ve overcome in our respective lives.

When you’re a seasoned athlete in your sport, it may be daunting to continue past the age when it’s considered the “peak” season. Personally, I’ve been running in road races for over 30 years.

We learn even more about our strengths and priorities, however, when we venture into that unknown field beyond the youthful speed so plentiful with running and learn to see our accomplishments and that of our loved ones in a different light. We evolve to give ourselves and others grace.

Gratitude. I personally was grateful to finish this last marathon in one piece never mind that it was the slowest I’ve ever ran in this distance. I’ve recommended to family and friends alike that if they’re physically able they should consider trying to complete a marathon at least once in their lives—it’s a “time-out” like none other in life.

R.V.S.B.

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Why Wonder Woman Works

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Why Wonder Woman Works: An Orthodox Christian Perspective Short

***Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched this film out in the theatres yet, I would caution you to bookmark this page and come back after you’ve had the opportunity to watch it.***

Self-Professed Skeptic 

I will readily admit that when I first heard about this film coming out that I initially balked at the idea of watching it.   Personally I’m not into DC or Marvel Comics in general when they’ve been put on the big screen. The idea of taking a fantasy story from 2-D paper and throwing it into a non-stop series of amped-up translations in the movie theatres for the masses to consume in order to escape the perceived monotony of their daily existence is not appealing.

Although I love the idea of strong women being portrayed in a physical manner, I prefer something that is more tangible than merely through digital special effects.

Introduction of the Audience

What finally intrigued me enough to watch this film was a result of reading a commentary article shortly after the film’s premiere by Meredith Woerner of the Los Angeles Times entitled “Why I Cried Through the Fight Scenes in ‘Wonder Woman’.” Woerner brought up the fact that there have been countless super hero films starring men and that “Wonder Woman” has captured that female power that has been missing to complement all the Batmans, Ironmans and Supermans of the past several decades. Her comments also caught my attention because personally the idea of a power chick kicking butt in a battle scene didn’t conjure visions of me weeping. Perhaps this film was worth a try after all.

I recommend reading Ms. Woerner’s piece if you haven’t already: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-wonder-woman-crying-20170605-htmlstory.html

Quick Background on Your Blogging Author

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I am a first-generation Greek-American woman that has experienced first-hand many times over what it is to be a strong woman that has run into certain “complications”. My mother herself became a mother as a young teenager with me as her first-born. I witnessed many years of abuse inflicted on her and my mother’s eventual escape from a destructive marriage to the transforming and victorious journey of raising her three children alone as a single mother.

For myself as a busy student-athlete and teenager, it was a routine interaction for me with guys when I let them know that I couldn’t give them what they wanted—whether it was holding hands or having a date solo with me (aka no chaperones present or nearby). In fact, by the time I married my husband in the year 2000, I was still a virgin—at least until we completed our vows at the wedding ceremony, all bets were off afterwards of course!

Wonder Woman: The Setting

 This movie opens right away showing the amazing strength and flexibility of women on the mythical and hidden island of the Amazonians. If I had a favorite scene in this film it would definitely be the one that shows all the different women in their training with the young Wonder Woman (Diana) watching and mimicking in the background with fervor. I emphasize here that it was also liberating to see all sorts of body types and every woman in her own right truly beautiful in appearance and countenance.

The queen of the Amazonians is the mother of Diana and has taken care to protect her daughter from the reality of her destiny (again, spoiler alert): She was in fact a daughter of the Greek god Zeus and was created to have the ability to destroy the “fallen” god Ares (God of War). She was actually the “god-killer”, not the sword, nor the shield and such that were hidden in a tower on the paradise-like island. The details of this prophecy will all fall into place as the film’s story unfolds.

Female Power: A Possible Women’s Manifesto Reflected in “Wonder Woman” Opening Romantic Scenes

 It turns out that little Diana was instilled with a strong belief system by her mother that involved her being part of being against Ares: god of war.  The fighting spirit was inherent in her and although her mother wanted to protect her from this she eventually admitted that it was appropriate for Diana to learn how to defend herself.

Also, she was raised with a fully classical education that included books that detailed the various positions for sexual pleasure that finally concluded that although men were required for procreation, they were not needed for ultimate satisfaction.

In the film, the above information that Diana shares with the Chris Pine character known as Steve Trevor flabbergasts him. He is visually disturbed at this notion and refuses to believe it, in turn Diana literally turns away from him in their sleeping nook on the boat and does not follow the stereotypical habit of a woman deferring to the man’s opinion because he can’t change his mind on a matter. (Note: What I would refer to as the poor peacemaker complex that many women can possess.)

Further, what would have typically been a romantic scene ending with the cliché sexual intercourse finale with the hero and heroine lying beside each other on the boat ride out of the vicinity of Diana’s mythical world turned out to be a muted and sobering anticlimax. Not lost, however, was the comedic innocence of Diana asking Steve why they couldn’t sleep side by side for the moment without being married—again, turning upside-down the notion that when a man and a woman sleep in the same space they must end up having sex together.

***NOTE: I must be quick to add that although I’ve noted the sexual life of women in regards to Wonder Woman and my own personal experience, it was NOT meant to say that being one way or another in relationships takes away from women’s strength. If anything, my focus would be to say that a woman’s strength remains in her ability to control how and with whom she shares her intimacies with (as goes with men). Again, reflecting at history with rape/war and even today with the atrocities of female genital mutilation, there remains work to be done.***

 Balance Appears: Why Women and Men Do Need Each Other

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 I firmly believe that this film had the potential to turn off many people had it been too pro-woman. Inherently we all crave balance and as liberating as it is to focus on women’s respective abilities to kick butt in life, there is a peaceful rhythm when we find the feminine and masculine in harmony with the challenges we can face in our society.

This subtle but poignant undercurrent in “Wonder Woman” also made it palatable for my taste. It is pro-woman but not exclusively pro-feminine excluding the role of the masculine. In fact, I would argue that Chris Pine’s character Steve actually assists in Diana’s progressive strengthening as the Wonder Woman who takes on No Man’s Land unapologetically and with full disregard as to whether or not the men intend to support her.

Diana is driven by passion for what is good and this includes the ancient desire and urge in all of us to see any good conquer evil in the end. But by the end of this film we become very aware that Diana has matured in her overall intentions and truly what fuels her strength to fight evil is her ability to exhibit unconditional love.

Understandably the Steve Trevor character has his own drive as an undercover spy for the Allies that are fighting the Enemies in the WWI setting. In his case he is driven to fight for the greater good even if that means sacrificing himself in the process. When he watches the Amazonian women fighting and essentially defeating the invading forces on their island he immediately gains respect for them if not a bit frightened by the fact that he is far inferior to their abilities and tools.

Steve Trevor doesn’t put Diana down for her beliefs and although he challenges her by telling her about the “social norms” of the time including the fact that women are not seen in a war room discussion or cannot carry weapons, he ends up allowing her to be herself and has respect for her.

Diversity and Breaking Down of Historic Ignorance

 If I took a moment to reflect on our current society today I would have to say that the first problem I’m aware of immediately is the lack of understanding by everyone about how really diverse we really are as people here on Earth.

Namely, to attach mere colors of “black” or “white” is awful and downright backwards.   At the same time, our collective ability to avoid the gritty reality that the idea and the occurrence of slavery has been a terrible disease running through humans throughout history since the beginning of our time here and through to right now in 2017 (think underage sex trade, extremist cultures, cheap produce farm-picking or any combination) is akin to the apathy of many Americans when it comes to participating in politics and the way our government is run.

For myself the endearing and softening quality in this Wonder Woman film was the motley crew of characters that end up joining Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor to find Ares include a native American descendant (who evidently does random business transactions like shuttling people across dangerous battle lines) and a Turkish man with many amorous talents and wanderlust.

The End…and yet what’s always been and will be…in the end Love will conquer all

 This blog has given away enough of this film so I will leave my conclusion simple by declaring my approval of the standard story-closing that the “underdog” good wins out over the evil standard-bearer.

Wonder Woman is moved by at least three distinctive moments that reflect awesome sacrifice, unconditional love and a compelling sense of mercy.

One is watching the aforementioned motley crew coming together in an almost prayerful moment, as it seems imminent destruction is upon them.

The other of course is watching Steve Trevor take up the plane with the deadly gas up into the atmosphere so that the hydrogen component blows it up but away from any innocent collateral damage—sacrificing himself in the process. Intertwined in this is the personal realization that Diana has that Steve had told her when her ears were ringing that he would be happy to have her “save the world” but it was his time to “save the day” with this action. Funny enough, the pain of the realization doesn’t “break” her as would be the stereotypical thought process. Instead it fuels her, ignites her godliness to become stronger than before.

The third moment, albeit muted and a bit lame, was when Diana looked upon the Dr. Poison character as she thought Wonder Woman was about to destroy her. She had mercy on her, plain and simple. This didn’t disturb me in the least because again it reflected the power of unconditional Love and how although many could argue that Dr. Poison didn’t deserve this mercy or grace–it has often been the type of moment that truly transforms someone. Love really can change the Universe.

Applause

This film is worth it. Understandably if schedule and price are not compatible at this time, I’m happy to endorse watching this even on your tablet streaming or a red box DVD rental later.

Kudos to all involved in the script writing, directing, acting, supporting and et cetera with this Wonder Woman film, may it be an example for a future movies in this genre.

In the end, these are the type of films that our society may need more of these days with all the political, religious and racial unrest within countless people around the world –especially those connected via the internet world.

A hopeful and resolute story line that we do have the ability to break out of these contrived barriers against triumph of good over evil that we’ve enslaved ourselves with for centuries.

R.V.S.B.

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P.S. Afterthought for anyone who utilizes the Christian Bible scriptures in their life philosophies:
Taking a walk down Christian scriptures for a moment, I believe the most misquoted verse is in the New Testament of the Bible, Ephesians 5:22, where it reads “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord…” As it goes on for a couple verses, we’ve also endured two millennia where that has given Christian men (and otherwise) license to step on and put down women of faith. What is often overlooked or forgotten is that it goes further in Ephesians to say “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”
In essence, there is no way that a man can harm a woman if he truly loves her as he loves his own body. How changed would our world today be if this was an attitude put into place immediately? +

Goodbye and Good Riddance Bill O’Reilly, Hello and About Time Tucker Carlson

Note: Haven’t posted anything new to my blog in recent months because like most generation X folks I’ve been too busy living life to take pause and reflect or react in this cyberspace format…until news yesterday hit that Bill O’Reilly lost his job at FOX News.

Breaking News

It was via text that I heard from my husband that “Bill O’Reilly out. Tucker to take his time slot.”  My first reaction was indifference and then I just sat back while waiting at a red light in traffic thinking about how long I’d been watching the O’Reilly Factor.

I got married in 2000 and had just left my Palm Beach County for a new life season in Chicagoland only to watch footage of my hometown plastered all over cable news because of the Presidential election results that were contested between George W. Bush and Al Gore, et cetera.  It would be the following year that the unthinkable would occur with the attacks of 9/11.  O’Reilly was not the end all for me but became staple of sorts in my political news diet through the years, especially as I came to work in the federal government for a number of years.

The Old and the Really New are Moot

I’ve always respected the older generations.  Perhaps it was my upbringing or how I was taught to do so by my teachers during my academic career.

Here’s what strikes me about this O’Reilly phase coming to a halt: the Baby Boomer generation is starting to hit a few walls and I’m afraid there’s not going to be a lot of pity generated by the generation X folks.  It turns out that most folks in their 30s and 40s have been working non-stop since the Enron company scandal and the 90s Dot.com tech bubble burst, followed by 9/11 and then the recession and housing bubble burst to boot.  By the way, this means working jobs that weren’t necessarily part of our plan–for example, after 9/11 there were hiring freeze policies set in place in many companies for a while.

Now we have the millennial generation and surrounding youth who are beginning to get their feet wet in the working world and can risk feeling slighted or entitled in their attitude which tests the patience of generation X people who have already had to serve the complaints and demands of many in the Baby Boom population above them that hardly noticed or valued Xers. Let me pause here to emphasize that these stereotypes that I’m describing do not reflect everyone in these age groups but there is tension that is real between many because of these overall inclinations.

It became apparent and accepted that in the cable news world, most of the respected or “powerful” opinion megaphones were older than the generation X group.

Until now.  Tucker Carlson offers a no-nonsense and practical approach to interviewing guests while also retaining the dry humor that is reflective of a generation that has become skeptical of the political and journalism culture in this country–not to mention other big issues in our nation like the job culture and our economy.

Stay True Tucker: Bow Tie Optional

Personally I have enjoyed watching other cable news channel talking head personalities over the years even if I don’t agree with their views–if at least they give different opinions a chance to be aired and have respect for those they interview.

I’m grateful that Tucker already has demonstrated on FOX’s Tucker Carlson Tonight that he can bring on all sorts of people with different viewpoints (not just conservative) and also engage with them in a lively but disciplined exchange.

My hope is that he can retain his unique style of interviewing and moderate his personal reactions on political matters.  The growth of bipartisan cooperation in this nation will be able to grow if we can generate more open conversations on all the hot topics that fuel social discourse on social media platforms and elsewhere.

R.V.S.B.

#TuckerCarlson

 

 

United We Are Exhausted

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November 11, 2016

Equality for All

Everyone in our nation can agree on at least one thing as today closes this week of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, we are united in exhaustion.

Bill of Rights

 It seems that just because most of us have access to the internet doesn’t mean it’s the greatest idea for some of us to utilize to share our grievances, our joys or our opinions of any sort in relation to the POTUS election results (which I’m doing right now—if I offend you, please do stop reading).

Free speech is wonderful in its concept and I wouldn’t want us to ever try to regulate that—we’ve done enough damage with regulations over other private parts of our citizens’ lives like their land and such. This past week is an uncomfortable reminder, though, that sometimes we should just keep our mouths shut. Better yet, keep those tapping/swiping fingers off the touchscreens.

Disclaimer: I may have “replied” earlier this week and hurt some feelings, if you recognize me as doing such I would like it on the record that I’m sorry it occurred, ask forgiveness and will try to more restrained in the future. +

Civil War of the Social Media, Tweeting and Blogosphere

 We are all human. We are Americans or at least aspiring to be as immigration policy in this country is still very difficult to maneuver. The history books will have to have a whole unit devoted to the evolution of the information age especially as it relates to volatile debates between political opponents, their staff surrogates and your fellow citizens.

I’m probably not alone in the sentiment that my blood pressure spiked more than once when I heard/watched our read about Presidential candidates “tweeting” remarks in response to either each other’s actions, words or alleged thereof. Are we kidding ourselves? It was remarkably uncivil and unkind. This eroded all of our emotional consciousness somehow. Unfortunately, it also added up and contributed to the overall anxiety pre-election day.

The Crash of a Façade: O Say Does That Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

 So the supposed impossible happened according to the word of the U.S. mass media outlets, so what? There were people who never thought it was possible after the attacks on September 11, 2001 that we could so soon conceive of electing a person with the full name Barack Hussein Obama II could be our president. This was a man who literally had no executive experience and he went on to be our rightly deserved first bi-racial President of the United States and gave hope for generations to come that anything is possible and “yes we can”.

Are we so shallow now to limit our American dreams that a businessman/heir, TV celebrity, politically bipartisan campaign contributor in the person of president-elect Donald J. Trump cannot now succeed as our 45th president? Are we that depressed and full of negative energy of a nation? Perhaps I don’t want a detailed answer to that: truly we have many of our folks suffering from opiate drug addictions, victims of abuse or human-trafficking and countless other miseries.

Or maybe I’m a silly athlete that has won and lost many a track and road race—I learned at an early age that you can work so hard and still lose really bad. And then, you know what? You first congratulate your competitor, then wallow privately for a moment, reassess and then go at it again in the next race. If there isn’t another race then there’s always another sport.

OFF: PRESS OR SWIPE OFF!

 “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” –Norman Vincent Peale

In the end, we can turn our devices off. We can turn to our loved ones and hug them. We can take a walk and wave to a neighbor. Or turn the device back on and call a friend or arrange to meet up with them in person.

Was blessed with being able to meet up with an old friend a couple of nights after the election this week. We are entirely opposite in our political views and how we felt about this POTUS result—yet how comforting to be able to share a meal together and still talk shop about how our nation can work on better discourse, less finger-pointing and name-calling, more acknowledgement that we really are a nation that is stronger when spending more energy on focusing what we can be working on together.

Personal Responsibility to Politics: A Lost Treasure

 Let’s not be collective victims of apathy again because we’re consumed in our lives and don’t even think about attending a city or town council. What if every American went to just one county school board meeting or county/city/town/village council meeting in a year? Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but my theory is that even that minimum of participation by merely witnessing that in person would help our collective consciousness about our governments.

Again, let’s work toward making “them” affected by “us” instead of always griping the other way around when it comes to our American system of governing. We want this nation to succeed. We are the people.

R.V.S.Bean

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Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"