“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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Poetry After Pause: A reflection often precedes a restart

Note:  To friends and family who are gracious enough to follow my blog site here at http://www.ceoofthehome.net , I apologize for the long absence since my last post a couple of months ago.  After being involved in a car accident in late July that spared the lives of my children and I…I have found the business of living life to be more important and even critical at times than writing or creating art by visual or written means.  However, I’m ready once again to openly share reflections, lessons and philosophical rants with the world again.

“A Few Moments”

A breath sweet,

peak retreat.

Touch of snow,

silence no foe.

Craving a pause,

refine my cause.

So much to do,

Ah, to take a few.

R.V.S.Bean

The Education Revolution: Perception, Possibilities and Parents’ Prerogative

Education Revolution: Perception, Possibilities and Parents’ Prerogative

NOTE: If you don’t feel like reading this blog right now,please consider watching this now or later, a TEDS talk clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

State of Education

Parents or caregivers in 2013 are facing very different straits than 50 years ago when it comes to deciding where and how their children will be educated during their formative years as set by our local and federal laws.  As a parent, I’ve been hypersensitive to any news regarding the state of education in our country whether it be standardized tests, curbing of budgets, teachers’ fatigue or fights and the list is endless.  We’d all be lying to ourselves if we didn’t also admit that our emotions are assaulted when observing horrific criminal acts occurring on school grounds—school campuses where it is understood as an unspoken sacred place that we entrust our students will thrive and learn without suffering the pains of a scary world just yet.

Perception

Why has it all shifted?  Most adults recall our early days as students in school as either taking a bus or having our parents/carpool drop off us at a building(s) where we congregated daily Monday through Friday from the morning until a few hours after lunch time—simple, repetitive, no awareness of alternatives.  Of course, there was the occasional homeschooler (read “weird outsider”) that we would encounter but as young children it was easy to fear or make fun of that which we didn’t know.

These days the common buzzwords for educating our children include public, private, magnet, charter, home-schooling, virtual schooling and more.  There is a contentious divide between the public school system and everyone else.  Of the many heated debates in my home state, for example, the Florida legislature considered a bill (HB 867) known as the “Parent trigger” that would allow parents to collectively pull the trigger on a failing school—see The Palm Beach Post column printed on March 29, 2013 by Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder of www.FundEducationNow.org: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/commentary-florida-public-school-parents-dont-want/nW6zY/

I’m beginning to finally process all of the information I’ve been ingesting over the past decade on the topic and have hit a peaceful conclusion to be continued on a daily basis as my children grow.   What do we think our children should learn? I believe that apart from knowing how to engage in language and other common core standards (see: www.corestandards.org ) that my children should love to learn.  I believe it’s not so important to make sure they attain greatness in one school or another as much as they should enjoy the journey of growing up surrounded by family, friends and community—I wish to help protect my children from the wrath of apathy rampant in many students today.

Possibilities

The Palm Beach Post printed an article today highlighting a place in Delray Beach, Florida called “Space of Mind” written by Allison Ross, read more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local-education/delray-beach-social-homeschooling-facility-riding-/nYpwt/

Although “Space of Mind” is a very unique idea that may be catching nationwide slowly, it signals along with many other developments such as charter schools popping up everywhere that our country is definitely in the midst of an Education Revolution.  There are probably many folks who are unsettled by this reality of the “traditional” education paradigm shifting in different directions, however, may I offer a few suggestions as we ride through this together with the next generation we’re helping to raise?

Try to remember what this is all about: we hope for our future through our children’s progress as we understand that they will carry on after we leave.  With that basic philosophy in our hearts, we can as parents/caregivers exercise our prerogative to decide among the countless possibilities as to what’s the best route to take for our children’s education.

We must also keep in mind that whatever path is chosen must be considered a fluid one as a reflection of what life is really like for everyone.  What works for our 2nd grader attending the local public elementary school down the street may not work for them when they are in 7th grade and would perhaps benefit from virtual schooling with coaching by family and loved ones.  The only guarantee we can assure our young students of is that we love and care for them—we must also accept that we will likely also learn along the way with them, a blessing for adults who have been jaded by life’s difficulties.

Plenty of Resources

Thankfully in the age of internet and iPhones we have many sources of information to access for researching education choices for our students.  Accessing your local school board office is a great start to at least assess what is available in your area.  For example, we have Ms. Beth Gillespie who works for the school district overseeing the home education office for south Florida’s Palm Beach County—a county where more than 5,000 students were home-schooled this past school year.

Whatever you’ve chosen or will choose for your children, you’ll always be their first and most important teacher(s).  May we learn to grow with our little ones as they aspire to be like us—we hope they’ll be greater than us in capacity to love and learn for themselves and each other.

R.V.S.Bean

My sources:

www.palmbeachpost.com

www.corestandards.org

www.FundEducationNow.org

www.palmbeachschools.org

To Disarm Procrastination’s Stranglehold, Grab the Power of the Half Hour

Encouragement in Sharing

Everyone struggles with procrastination.  It’s a human condition found throughout our time recorded here on Earth and countless are the reasons resulting with the stranglehold we find ourselves in because of procrastination.  It’s an action verb defined by inaction that becomes a noun due to its chronic paralysis in a person.

Why Do We Not-Do?

Lack of energy. Lack of resources. Lack of time. Lack of insight. Straight out toddler-like “No, I don’t wanna…”

Solution-Searching

We could read books on how to combat procrastination and persevere with results–but I personally would procrastinate doing so in deference to the countless other items that are backing up in my internal list.  Like the junk or unwanted/unread emails in your inbox(es) right now, procrastination racks up the casualties of ideas that never reach fruition or duties finding their mission accomplished.

Humble Offering

I’m open to hearing your ideas on this struggle everyone has on a daily basis with the tendency to not get things done that need to, we’re inspired to do and so forth.  My humble idea on the matter has manifested in the past couple months as I find myself barely keeping afloat in my personal sphere of existence: embrace the power of half an hour…30 minutes.

Explanation for Defamation of Procrastination

What I propose is that every day or night–whichever is your “free time” in the day that you are able to steer your ship with how you direct your energies.  For instance, my personal time is usually most evenings after 8:00 p.m. and I’m challenging myself to spend one 30 minute segment each day working on something that I have been putting off consciously for any amount of time.

You may be wondering how 30 minutes a day doing this could really have any sort of effect of worth.  Consider this example: For those of you who like to keep scrapbook albums whether digital or with physical albums.  If you spent 30 minutes on a fairly regular basis working on this ongoing project it would be much more productive than the last 6 months in which you’ve done nothing (don’t be embarrassed, I’m on a 8 month dry streak from my scrapbooking piles that continue to grow in dust and photo accumulation).

Cheering: You Can Do It!

Proof that this half-hour power can battle procrastination and win? I just wrote this short blog in the space of 30 minutes after having not written in many, many days and having topics to write about fill my head and yet bind my hands somehow from typing them out to share.  If I can get something done in the space of half an hour I believe most people can too.  Power over procrastination O human nation!

R.V.S.B.

Note: Another website I must stop procrastinating from updating with more art, http://www.ramonabean.com

 

 

 

Modern American Marriage in 2013: An Institution between Two Adults of any Religion, Color, Race, Gender or Sexual Orientation?

Note:  I have been moved by this subject matter for over a decade and most recently my personal world has been rocked by how this topic has proceeded in our country causing division and confusion.  This post is meant to help myself and others see that we can’t ignore the issue and must see the truth—regardless of what our personal comfort levels may or may not be.  –RVSB

Jealousy Felt Around the World

What’s both great and arrogant about our United States of America is the plethora of freedoms that we really do enjoy in comparison with the rest of the nations on Earth.  While there is debate as to whether or not our economic status or stock market powerhouse still yields the same influence as it has in decades past—there can be no argument that this is still the best nation in the world when it comes to our religious and social freedoms that natives and immigrants (and even not-yet-legal immigrants) have access to thrive.

What is the Definition of Marriage?

When most of us were children, it never occurred to us that anything other than a man and a woman defined the basic ingredients for a marriage.  Needless to say, it’s 2013 today and our world’s consciousness on the matter has hit an open range of possibilities.  Consider for a moment that in Islam, for example, a man can take for himself up to four wives as long as he can provide for his respective spouses and offspring thereof.

What dictates the definition of marriage usually depends on who is answering the question: for instance, someone of a conservative Christian background will repeat their religion’s conventional or Bible scripture wisdom on the matter while there remain sects of Mormon believers that still practice polygamy.

There’s no doubt, however, that public opinion is in a full debate whether the same gender or various sexual orientation unions should or should not be considered as standard marriage material.  Why is this even a question anymore?

What’s Not New Under the Sun

Here’s what we do know—anthropologists and historians would agree—there have always been heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals in our human race.   Most recently we’ve had the medical-breakthrough ability to manipulate hormones and such that individuals committed to doing so can change their sex (especially in the case of those who may be born with both sexual organs and seek to be one or the other).

It can be verified and inferred that there have been countless marriages involving homosexuals that have married a heterosexual, a bisexual married a heterosexual or any other combination.  Throw in any transsexuals or cross-dressers and the complexities continue.  We are lying to ourselves if we don’t already recognize the fact that these legal marriages have existed.

Common law marriage?  There have probably been more homosexual and/or bisexual unions that qualify to be a common law marriage than in the strictly heterosexual circles!  It’s just that they haven’t been detailed as recognizable by our state’s laws.

What Matters Most: Comfort or Conformity?

 The truth remains that in the U.S. you can get married either by a secular or a religious person and be recognized as a legally married couple by federal law according to each state’s laws—the lines between church and state have been blurred at this point and therefore leave room for the freedom of two legally consenting adults to be married despite their physical gender, religious or political affiliation, race (like bi-racial as in the case of our very own President of the United States) or sexual orientation.  In other words, there’s really no reason that gays (or bisexuals, etc) cannot be recognized as a legal marrying sort.

How Do We Go Down the Aisle of Acceptance?

While the U.S. Supreme Court has been in the news recently because of two cases before them, including a proposition situation in California after the elections in November 2012—they cannot ultimately fix this unfortunate glitch.

The hopeful signs, however, are that more lawmakers by the weeks and months passing are beginning to break their silence over the matter and show support for those seeking the ability to get married regardless of whether they are the same gender or have a sexual orientation other than “heterosexual”.

If there is one thing I would like to say in terms of a request from my American peers, it would be that we please stop trying to politicize this issue of allowing non-heterosexuals to participate in the legal action of marriage and its rights therein.  Although it may seem like it’s mostly Republicans against this, it’s simply not fair to those Republicans that don’t mind or simply don’t care.

Love is love and in America where we pride ourselves in being created equal, we must accept that whoever wants to walk that aisle of selflessness to bond with another imperfect person to face the world’s joys and sorrows is truly an inalienable human right.

R.V.Saridakis Bean

P.S. For those who are Christian like myself and would tell me that I should consider that homosexuality is regarded as a sin in various scripture quotes and interpretations–I would immediately remind them there is nothing seen or unseen that goes unnoticed by our Creator.  We are all sinners.  Again, this question as to whether non-heterosexuals should be able to participate in a federal/state-recognized legal marriage is irrelevant as American marriage is not exclusive to only those in the Christian religions.

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I Spy the i-Generation…Momm-i, Dadd-i?

digital blog 4-1-2013

What Can I do?

If you’re a parent, please read this now or when you have a moment, “The Touch-Screen Generation” by Hanna Rosin in The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/the-touch-screen-generation/309250/

Quick Review

If you’re a busy parent like every other parent, here is a short review and discourse of this article. Ms. Rosin is also a parent and writes this candid piece in the wake of attending an event in spring of 2012 where a group of developers of children’s apps for phones and tablets met in Monterey, California—a short drive south of Silicon Valley—in order to show and tell about their respective games and programs.

 Today’s i-Reality

As fast our fingers can swipe on these touch –screen gadgets is how pervasive their presence in our lives have become. The American Academy of Pediatrics has not been able to keep up with the technology as it struggles to report on its policy about young children being exposed to various media (we all remember the under-2 years old not so good for TV exposure). How many of us have witnessed the child in the high-chair dining nearby with an iPad to boot? How many of us are that parent(s) who have handed over the iPhone in desperation at the post office as the line snakes around for twenty people or so?

 i AM the parent i AM!

“Norman Rockwell never painted Boy Swiping Finger on Screen, and our vision of a perfect childhood has never adjusted to accommodate that now-common tableau.” –Hanna Rosin, “The Touch-Screen Generation” The Atlantic

You are still the parent no matter what technology shows up in our world today. Truly you are still the gate-keeper for your little one(s) who need human touch more than a touch-sensitive tin screen that is derived from horrible mining conditions parallel to the “blood diamond” controversy in recent decades.

Research? Doesn’t really exist yet on whether or not the good outweighs the bad in terms of a child’s exposure to these gizmos and gadgets that get smaller, smarter and faster as the months pass. What hasn’t changed is that you still are the best gauge to measure what’s right and wrong for your children. Ms. Rosin found it interesting that when she spoke with some of the children’s app developers about how they approached their home rules when it came to screen time—she got answers like “no screen time during the week”, “on the weekends, they can play. I give them a limit of half an hour and then stop. Enough. It can be too addictive, too stimulating for the brain” and “one said only on airplanes and long car rides”.

Personally, with a toddler and preschooler now in my stewardship, my husband and I find no reason for them to need to use touch-screens right now. There will be no learning curve for them to master as this stuff is so easy that it makes watching TV seem like a chore. Seriously, I witnessed a 90-year old yesterday using “face time” on the iPad at a friend’s home. At the same time, I do allow them to utilize the touch-screens at museums and to witness peers using them—please forgive the reference, but I can’t be Amish about this subject with my children, they are aware these technologies exist (especially as one of their beloved relatives is a computer engineer).

 Complex Answers to Simple Swipes

“The reason many kids’ apps are grouped under ‘Education’ in the iTunes store, I suspect, is to assuage parents’ guilt (though I also suspect in the long run, all those ‘educational’ apps merely perpetuate our neurotic relationship with technology, by reinforcing the idea that they must be sorted vigilantly into ‘good’ or ‘bad’”. –Hanna Rosin

There are so many ways to approach this question as to whether exposure to these digital technologies will help or hinder our children. If you thought what we feed our children was a concern, this one is an alarming obsession since we ourselves are busy trying to learn the new gadget in our hands before our kid gets a hold of it and masters it in less than half the time it took us to find where to tappity-tap.

Ms. Rosin says what I feel as well:
“Every new medium has, within a short time of its introduction, been condemned as a threat to young people. Pulp novels would destroy their morals, TV would wreck their eyesight, video games would make them violent…There are legitimate broader questions about how American children spend their time, but all you can do is keep them in mind as you decide what rules to set down for your own child.”

Enjoy the Ride

As parents in the early part of the 21st century, we can’t complain about being bored with this awesome responsibility of raising the next generation who will likely see this 22nd century bring about new technologies we can hardly fathom. I hope we can impart to them the importance of love for each other, for our natural resource (Creation in general) and a healthy curiosity for the unknown and ever-changing landscape of our human creativity.

R.V. Saridakis Bean

 Book and Reading Recommendations:

  •  “Screen Time” by Lisa Guernsey and her website http://www.lisaguernsey.com
  •  “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning” by Marc Prensky and his website http://www.marcprensky.com
  •  “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv

Seashell Philosophy by She: Part 7 in a Series

Winter Waves with Why’s Sighs

Winter Waves Dec 2012

Shore Snapshot

Walking up to the ocean yesterday I saw bursts of blue and white as the surf coming was churning—pelicans and other sea birds dove in and out of the breaking waters to grab fish that were perilously swimming near the surface.

As my children and I set up our minor camp devoted to playing in the sand and snacking, I was upset to see that there was more trash than usual on the shoreline.  I grabbed one of the extra plastic bags I had arrived with and set to work.  It’s become an automatic part of my beach ritual—shortly after setting up our spot in the sand, I start picking up any trash within sight and sometimes walk further on to take care of any debris/refuse I see.  I’m not better than anyone else for doing this.  A switch went off in me one day and I began picking up any garbage at the beach because it’s just the right thing to do.

Switching Sandlots

Sorting through the mounds of seaweed I found everything from plastic forks, drink bottle caps and other random human artifacts.  It occurs to me that we are so busy with our things that we consume and the people we associate ourselves with.  Without meaning to, we can become pretty cold and detached with each other whether we know each other or not.

There are simply times in life that we need to do the right thing regardless of whether we get recognition.  If everyone who visited the beach worldwide picked up whatever trash they ever saw no matter who noticed them—I don’t think we’d even know that litter on seashores was an issue at all.  It’s amazing how powerfully beneficial we can be when we work in unison toward the common goal.  Taking personal responsibility is a remarkably simple, singular concept that our human society is nearly incoherent in while we advance with break-brain speed in digital technologies.

My Sand Thanks Your Sand

Later in the day I ended up at the local mall and unexpectedly walked up to the Santa Claus photo line with my children in tow.  It was during that cranky late afternoon that most parents care to avoid as I was plowing throw at this moment and a young man came up to us with a pleasant greeting.   That he managed to get one of my kids smiling after having just been in the throes of a tantrum was a welcome miracle.  It’s amazing how such a little kindness can have such a grand flood of gratitude in its wake.

Unfortunately, given our frantic pace these days in our respective lives, it is more common for those waves of thankfulness to be followed by a calm sea of inaction.  I am thoroughly guilty of this on a continuous basis.  The best thing we can do is try to reach out and let those people or entities (like a company) know that we are appreciative.

After our Santa Claus meet-greet-photo-and print adventure, I took a mall comment card and wrote in detail my thanks to the photo staff.  Pushing my active children in a massive double stroller I maneuvered to the Mall Information desk and after they asked what they could do for me I replied, “Just want to say thanks!” and handed them my completed comment card.  The three ladies stared at me aghast and the one in the middle said, “We hardly ever hear something say thanks or something good, usually complaints.”   We are so programmed to just accept negative and dole out more of the same.   This is an energy cycle by people today that yields little if not more negative return in the future.  Why don’t we just start in the little ways to say “thank you” already?  Why not try to put more positive and focus on what’s working well than always reverting to what’s wrong?

Back to the Beginning: Sand and Sea (See?)

As complicated as our problems have become on a geo-political scale and can make the masses feel paralyzed and powerless—the reality remains that we can individually make a major difference in how we simply deal with ourselves and each other.

Let’s try to do what we know is the right thing whether or not anyone is watching.  You see litter, pick it up.  You see someone needing physical help, offer it.  Instead of us always thinking someone else will do it, let’s be the “someone” and operate as though no one ever sees it’s you doing it.

Those who raised us told us to do it and we tell the next generation the same: say “Thank you.”  Let’s try to go beyond just the words and understand that it helps to send a “pearl” letter or note to an employer describing how good your experience was with this particular employee(s).  Have we noticed an increase in request for surveys?  There are many reasons for that and I believe one of them is to know if people are happy with services/people.  Let’s take it to a more personal level, why not send a snail mail note to parent or loved one who helped you when you were growing up and tell them so?

Just try,

R.V.S.B.

Greeks sigh too, a haunting ballad to the sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seru4FXuydg&NR=1&feature=endscreen

 

A Political Short: Romney/Ryan vs Kerry/Edwards

Homemaker Intro

As a wife and mother of two young, busy sons I would like to throw my opinion out into the unruly mass of cyberspace regarding the latest “Political Short” in my mind.  This presidential election is unfolding with the same fatigue that I feel as I push through days with little sleep but lots of little energetic beings around me.  The Republican Romney/Ryan ticket also reminds me of the Democratic Kerry/Edwards election year in that although on the surface it seems that President Obama should lose this campaign–he will not.

Although I can be proven wrong this November, my sense is that barring anything unusual happening, I expect that President Obama will be re-elected without too much ado.

The Prediction

There are countless people out there who are doing the constant calculations of electoral votes and know every detail of what’s needed for either side to attain victory.  My measurements are based on my tiny universe and those around me who are just trying to make it through each day in their work and family lives.

Americans are in the middle of trying to pull themselves up after yelling at the local and federal governments about why they’re hurting financially.  Then there are people in our nation that are just starting to figure out that the greatest power they can wield over their circumstances is to take personal responsibility.  Between trying to attain and keep employment or survive as a caregiver, student, et cetera—Americans are tired and have little patience to follow the particulars of this Presidential race.

Student Council Days Part II

The past decade has not yielded dynamic Presidential races–in fact, the match-ups have been bland or downright annoying.  Mitt Romney may have taken this road several times but he still comes off as an aloof man and as John Kerry failed to naturally connect with everyday Americans, Romney is hitting a bumpy road in the popularity contest.

That brings us to the sad truth of how petty we’ve become as a society where even our Presidential race is like a wonkish version of “American Idol”.  We have Paul Ryan whose looks are pleasing to most eyes and his family story comes right out of the Hallmark Channel–add to that he’s wickedly smart and knows policy and you have a real robust vice presidential candidate.  This is reminiscent of the general appeal held by Democratic candidate John Edwards in 2004 prior to his crazy love child storyline that unfolded years later.

Political Benediction

I still hope that most Americans who are able to will come out and vote for whomever they deem fit to take our nation through the next four years this November.  As for whether the president is President Obama again or Mitt Romney is given a chance–what truly matters is that our President of the United States helps inspire us to be the best citizens we can be regardless of what political party dominates inside the Washington D.C. Beltway.

R.V.Saridakis Bean

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"