Why Vote? A Humble Answer

This morning began before the sun had risen. My oldest son woke up the younger son resulting in a symphony of “Mama” in both verbal and nonverbal terms.  As I navigated the early hours between fixing coffee, breakfast for the family and dressing the children as well as myself, the silent question drifted through my mind: “How will I make it through the day?”

It was late morning by the time I was in the car with my children to start on the errands and adventures ahead of us for this otherwise ordinary Tuesday.  As I was watching the traffic for the safe moment to crossover I saw them.  The people waving on the side of the road with flags and political signs.  My mind again rattling off: “Crapp. It’s voting day. I don’t even know who and what for except for a couple of signs I’ve seen on the road in the past several weeks.”

As it turned out, our first item on our schedule would take me right past my voting precinct.  Internally I react: “I have to stop, of course I don’t want to deal with it since I’ve the boys with me and have no help, no distraction for them. I have to explain this play-by-play to my four-year-old and God knows I am exhausted already of doing so all morning as it is! But I have the right to vote.  I don’t have a paycheck-paying job but I work my mind, body and heart out everyday 24/7 and I can participate in having a say who is to sit on that circuit judge seat(s) and who will be our tax collector and eventually by this fall who I think has my confidence in leading our nation as the President of the United States. I have to turn in to this gated community to go and vote.”

As I pulled up to the security gate and gave my name and purpose, the guard lady gave me a warm smile and assurance that no one had really passed through recently and so I should be in and out quickly.  Perhaps it was the dinosaur Raptor-like screech she heard from my 17 month old or the constant “Mama, mama…” from my other son while I was stopped there that prompted her to give me the kind encouragement.  I did appreciate her candor.

Once at the voting place situated at the Ibis Country Club community clubhouse area, I saw the campaign people and signs again and took care to avoid them.  It was nothing against them personally, it’s just I already had my hands full as I was unloading the boys and picking up the food particles, books, toys and other random projectiles that catapulted out of our vehicle with each door that I was opening. I decided immediately that placing the baby in my back carrier was the best idea while holding my other son’s hand and making a game of running up to the clubhouse through the carefully manicured grass: oops, sorry Ibis.

Thankfully, the guard lady was right. No one was in the voting area except for the presiding volunteers.  After working out where my ballot was I found myself at the privacy booth with my boys by the window where they would look out and watch the activity at the golf course. I looked at the ballot and was slightly baffled, there were literally only two names I recognized on this ballot and that’s only because one I’ve known in my Greek-American local community and the other because I’m used to seeing them as the incumbent.

Enter inner debate with embellishment as I write this: “I’m so embarrassed with myself, I haven’t been paying attention and I made no effort to even try to look up some of these folks before I came here.  Yet, I’m here damn it.  I don’t have the luxury of time and although it may seem irresponsible to vote blindly for the most part, at the very least I am exercising my right to vote and if everyone did so it would be amazing to see the results.  Sometimes people making it in by sheer chance may be better than the ones everyone thinks will win.”

I understand that there are people reading this that will feel much differently and perhaps even group me into being part of the problem when it comes to the voting turnouts.  But try to hear me out one more time on this argument that it’s better to vote than not at all.

Everyone who is eligible to vote should because we can and if we all would in this country then truly the blame and disdain for whatever goes “wrong” in the government would be a shared responsibility by the nation’s citizens for placing these men and women in power and we could enact swift change when and as needed.  Our political campaign history has shown that when the voting population is galvanized to vote even just 5-10% more than what the average turnout is, political machines and pre-determined incumbent victors fall to the wayside in a delirious dusting like the shift I weathered as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill in a Republican office in the mid-term elections of 2006.

As for today, it turned out to be a local primary election.  Small potatoes but still a part of the construction of what are local offices are to look like by November this year.  I was given a voting ballot with my party affiliation and the simple instructions to connect the arrow pointing to my respective selections.  It was easy to vote for the two persons I knew, my next step was to vote for all women since my political passion is to help bring more women into the mix as we are still under-represented.

The boys were squirming by the end but I was grateful that they weathered this adventure well and that if anything they are witnessing continuously that mommy feels this is important to do no matter what the mood or weather of the particular voting day may be.  I do admit the following mental note: try to plan ahead for absentee ballots for voting days when possible.

My random voting day ended with a laugh as I drove out of the parking lot I recognized one of the names I had voted for and decided to roll down my window and speak to the lady there: “Are you Jaimie?” She answered that she wasn’t.  “Is Jaimie a woman?”  The lady had stood at this point and replied with a big smile, “No, but he’s a good man!”  I chuckled at this fly luck for this candidate as judging by her tone she had encountered this question as to his gender many times before.  “Well, good for him because I voted for him because I thought he was a woman!”  We both laughed and wished each other a nice day.

R.V.S.Bean

Post-note:

A colleague of mine made a very good suggestion via a comment to this blog posting: as long as your vote ballot is still counted, you can just vote for whatever/whoever you know. Case in point being the state amendments that end up on ballo…

ts–better to skip voting on that amendment if you don’t know its consequences. That being said, I still feel it’s important to come out and vote even if you end up only picking one thing/person on the ballot than not vote at all.

The New Extreme Sport and Other MMBs

THE BIG THREE: 3 Mom Media Bites (MMBs)

As the mother now of two sons, both now 3 years old and 3 months respectively, I have been navigating this new season as a Northern Atlantic fisherman’s boat tries to keep from top-sizing in hurricane strength swells. The writer in me has been posting “tweets” of countless questioning thoughts and resulting conclusions to my mind’s running page but never on paper, or as in the case of this post, in digital form. So in my humble attempt to disperse some of this philosophical and reflective backup, here are a few of my latest ramblings for your entertainment or information:

Road-Tripping with Tots: The New Extreme Sport

About a month ago, I embarked on a road trip with my sons that included stops in three different states. The goal was to make it to a very important event for one in my closest circle and it became an opportunity to visit other friends and family along the way as well. I did consider the plan ahead of time and certainly realized there were many calculations to be made in order for this trip solo with the boys to be successful. An energetic toddler and an unpredictable newborn were quite the duo to consider, mapping the actual driving route was the easiest consideration. In retrospect, I was best able to explain the trip as an “extreme sport”. I had to make clear plans like what time of day to depart, how to ensure that total driving time each day wasn’t more than 4-5 hours and coupling nursing stops with bathroom breaks, et cetera. At the same time I had to continually accept the fact that I needed to allow for unexpected delays, stops (especially with a nursing infant) and changes in plans of activities or driving. For instance, there was about a 2 hour stretch in the middle of nowhere-Georgia land that I just had to keep my cool with a few factors pulling at me including the fact that I missed a turn and was on a country road where there farms and churches but no gas stations. It ended up being a 10 day trip that went relatively smoothly and I was exhausted upon arrival home but felt that my relationship with the boys had actually hit some great milestones.

Weiner-gate and Foley Redux

In recent weeks the cable news and print media has had the gift of a story that keeps giving in the reporting of soon-to-be-resigned U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner’s revealing photos being “tweeted” via Twitter to women other than his wife. Last week I was able to watch some of the coverage and came to the Fox News channel that had Mark Foley in an interview with Sean Hannity. I hadn’t seen my ex-boss on national television in an interview since his political fall from grace in the fall of 2006 and it was a little jarring to my system. Couldn’t believe the sheer irony of it all—here was my ex-boss who had his Congressional career crumpled by his misuse of time as a Florida representative with the AOL instant messenger service and here now is Congressman Anthony Weiner “tweeting” photos of himself actually IN his Congressional office to his countless lady friends while married to a high profile government aid. Sadly, many of us are still surprised that history evidently teaches us nothing as in the case of Mr. Weiner. I thought that what Foley was punished for was seared in the minds of active politicians; a stern warning to stay off of the digital highway whether by personal computer, laptop, cell phone, Ipad or whatever is next when it comes to the personal indiscretions. It seems that the more we advance in this information age, the more impulsive our actions become that truly blurs our decision-making. In the case of these two gentleman and countless others, we’ve forgotten that privacy is not insured when communicating through cyber/digital hardware—we ought to assume that everything could at any time be posted on the screens in Times Square in New York City.

The Beach: Still the Best Village to Raise Children

Living in South Florida affords me the luxury of going to the beach often and I never take it for granted after residing in other states for several years. What I love about the salty air and sticky sand is that there is a general lack of other stimuli. Most people who routinely go to the beach are there to enjoy the raw nature of two major elements of our planet coming together: land and sea. It is also the thrill of that ebbing dance that draws me to bring my children there a few times a week. I hope to teach them about their environment while also giving them the freedom to run, dance, shout and becoming caked with sand and salt ruthlessly. Running into other parents and their children has also been refreshing and disappointing at times but I’m grateful for the experiences regardless. My children have the opportunity to interact with others, they learn to share and when to walk away. The parents get to small talk and swap ideas on raising children without any commitment to follow-up. I have also met some of my current friends at the shoreline (both Pacific and Atlantic) and strengthened existing friendships there that help enrich my life and thereby my children’s lives.

R.V.S.B.

Fasting: Good for the Soul and Body – A Short Commentary

As an Orthodox Christian wife and mother, my mind tends to focus on the fasting days on our religious calendar.  It has only been in recent years that we have really started to pay mind as it was about 2005-2006 when my husband entered a Greek Orthodox church with me in Northern Virginia in the DC Area where we lived at the time.  He was born and raised a Protestant from South Carolina. I’m what they refer to as “cradle Orthodox” as I was baptized in the Church and then went on a life path of Catholic school upbringing and church-hopping as a teenager and college student. 

So when my husband and I finally rested in the Greek Orthodox church as couple and later small family, we encountered the complex world of fasting not only effective during the 40 day Lenten season, but also weekly and during other special festive occasions.

For instance, unless there is a special time ongoing like Lent or Advent season, every Wednesday and Friday in the Orthodox church we are called to fast.  The fast on those days is supposed to be a ‘strict’ one meaning omitting meat and dairy products.  We are also supposed to abstain from eating the morning prior to receiving communion on Sunday morning.

It was a bit daunting when we came across these calls to fasting.  At first we were pretty sure this stuff was reserved for the monks and nuns up in some remote monastery in the Greek mountains and foothills.

But slowly we both decided that we’d like to make an effort to honor these days of fasting and found that it made us look at our days differently.  Certainly our home dinner menu was adjusted fairly easily.  It was the work day lunches that were a little more complicated but we navigated that by packing our own lunches especially on those days and if we had a business function, we tried to make mindful choices based on the fast.

Overall we have found that habitual fasting throughout the year, whether it be the Lenten season or the regular Wednesdays and Fridays, helps us get our souls in tune with our Lord’s Holy Spirit.  But I’ve also noticed that it’s cleaned up our bodies as well.

If we think about it, Americans really do consume a lot of meat.  Definitely more than many of our ancestries did a few hundred years ago on a daily basis. Most of that is because of supply being greater and more easily accessible, however, that doesn’t mean it’s all the more good for us.

By fasting I’ve found out just how much of meat and dairy we seem to rely on habitually but do fine without when we take the effort to do so.  While spiritual tuning we are also cleansing our bodies ritually speaking and it does both soul and body good.

If you’re not a Jew, Christian, Buddhist or affiliated with any other organized religion, you may not be familiar with fasting at all.  Yet, your doctor may have asked you to ‘fast’ the night before a health test or procedure.  It lends a hiccup to your routine, but not usually a harmful one.  Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to abstain from certain foods at times to help our souls and bodies recalibrate.

In my own family’s case, it isn’t easy to do so especially during the throes of busy and inconsistent schedules.  Still, we continue to try to seek our Lord through not focusing so much on carnal desires and at the same time find our bodies reaping the benefits as well.

RSVB

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"