My sister Lydia

Lydia – Memorial Service July 31st, 2019

At the risk of repeating many of my sister’s wonderful attributes that have been shared today, I will try to offer a brief recollection of what my sister meant to me personally and how she helped me as I was growing up. This will not be completely chronological, so I must apologize. I’m just jotting down thoughts as they come to me. There’s many…but I’ll try to keep it brief.

Lydia – My wonderful sister. She was the life of any party. She was the glue that kept all of the family together and regularly shared what was going on in everyone’s lives via phone calls, text messages or emails. She was the person in the family that would be there at a moment’s notice if anyone anywhere needed anything.

Being the ‘baby’ of the family, most of my siblings parented me at least a little bit. My oldest sister Judy Dalla-Vicenza was 20 when I was born, engaged to marry Ren Bertolo and already in college to become a nurse. My oldest brother Mario Dalla-Vicenza (or Butch as we called him) was almost 19, seriously dating his childhood sweetheart Deanna LeBlanc and well on his way to becoming a very successful accountant/business executive. Dad worked at a lumber mill 5 days a week and my mom worked at a small restaurant 5 days a week. This left the siblings who were still at home to look after me when they weren’t in school. Dennis, Lydia, Kenny and Jimmy all took turns doing time with me… but Lydia was the one who did the lion’s share of it. She was only 10 when I was born, but because she was the female at home, she would be appointed the primary caregiver for me.
It was the way it worked in those days sadly… she was the girl. Boys generally weren’t held to the same standards.
I have often felt a bit guilty about that over the subsequent years actually. I think that her being ‘stuck’ with me kind of pre-destined her fate in life. As she moved through her own life Lydia always seemed to be the one who nurtured other people while putting her own hopes and dreams on the backburner. She wanted to be a teacher so bad but was never able to pursue that goal to its fruition. She would have been an excellent teacher. She had a way with dealing with misbehaviour that was no-nonsense, yet logical and fair. It’s quite possible in my mind that if she hadn’t been saddled up with me at such a young age, her life would’ve taken a totally different course. That thought has been in my mind for decades and now I share it with you all here today.

One of my earliest memories with Lydia was my first TV appearance…sort of. Sault Ste. Marie had it’s own TV station called CJIC and they also had their own ‘Romper Room/Howdy Doody Time’ styled local kiddies show called, ‘Miss Linda’. I probably watched it every day. Lydia took me downtown by bus when I was 3 years old to be in the audience that was regularly on camera as part of the Miss Linda show. The funny thing is, I remember the bus ride and walking to and from the bus stop with her and can’t remember actually being on the TV show. Back then, TV shows were ‘live only’ so there wouldn’t be a taped ‘later viewing’ to see myself. Apparently simply having a downtown bus trip with her was more fun to my young brain.

In 1963, our family took over the lease of a small restaurant in The Soo, The Underpass Grill. Mom had always wanted her own restaurant and luckily dad and her were able to pick up the place from the previous leaseholders The Simpson Family, who conveniently lived right across the street from us at our brand new home on Greenfield Drive. It was a lucky break for mom and dad but wouldn’t turn out to be much fun for the teenage kids at home.

Dennis, by that time had already started working at Algoma Steel in Production Planning so he was mostly kept out of doing shifts at the restaurant. Lydia on the other hand, would go to school during the day like other teenagers and then walk or bus straight from school to do a shift until our restaurant closed at 8:00pm. Kenny and Jimmy did this as well. Then once we were all home, she would sit me down with my schoolwork and make sure that my oral presentations, essays or any type of mandatory homework was completed to perfection. Remember I said she would have made an excellent teacher? I was at the top of my class because of her. I always made honour role.

With that schedule I have no idea how she could be involved in as many extracurricular school activities as she was. She loved singing of course, the French club, basketball etc.

Shortly after we took over the restaurant lease, mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and the family workload increased significantly to try to keep the restaurant afloat while mom went into the hospital for treatment. On top of it all, there now were the added hospital visitations. Because dad would visit mom every day after work (often with me in tow) the maintenance and running of the restaurant fell squarely into the laps of the Dalla-Vicenza teenagers once the hired daytime staff had gone home each day.

In June of 1967, a week or so after my mom’s death and funeral, Lydia moved out of our house. That was at the end of my grade 4 year. I passed that year at the very top of my class.

At the start of my grade 5 year and being a bit of a lonely kid with no interests in what other boys my age loved to do (sports and general pushing and shoving matches), I started learning how to play the guitar after watching my brother Kenny play a top 40 song by The Troggs over and over again. Guitar quickly became my focus, my passion and a way to escape into a fantasy world. Now that Lydia was out of the house and I only cared about playing music, my grades went downhill very quickly. I barely passed grade 8 before I was to go into high school.

With each high school year, exponentially my marks decreased to the point that I failed pretty much almost every subject except my beloved music classes.
Even now I don’t even have my grade 10.
At home, Jimmy was busy with his college and work life as was Kenny. Dad has his own problems then – trying to adjust to this new life as a single dad with a very young son at home.
I personally think dad felt defeated and exhausted during this period and seemed oblivious to the fact that I was failing almost everything in school. If Lydia had still been at the helm, that wouldn’t have happened, whether I had a passion for music or not. With her guidance, I probably would’ve continued to be an honour student.

Although it’s well known in our family that Kenny taught me how to play guitar, and that Jimmy (with his incredible electronics abilities) built all of my early guitar amplifiers, my first time playing in front of an actual audience was with Lydia. Her and Jack Nelder married shortly after she had moved out of the family house in 1967 and they made their home in Echo Bay, a little lakeside town about 15 miles east of Sault Ste. Marie.
A couple of years later, Lydia had either volunteered or had ‘been volunteered’ to sing for a Christmas service at the little local church in Echo Bay. She asked me to accompany her on the guitar. When I agreed to do it she told me we were to do two songs… maybe one of them was ‘Silent Night’ but for sure the other one was ‘Oh, Holy Night’.

This may seem odd for a boy raised in a fairly devout Catholic family, but I swear I had never heard that song ever before at that time, which kind of scared me. I practiced and practiced it over and over again to ram it into my head. I don’t read music, so I have to figure out the chords and arrangement and commit it to memory. That’s why I know we played that song that night. It’s embedded in my brain for all time.

On February 9th, 1964 The Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time and the family watched the show as we did every Sunday night. Ed Sullivan was ‘much see TV’ on Sunday nights. There wasn’t much choice as we only had two channels and channel 10 CBS out of Michigan had Ed Sullivan.

Our local station could have just run a test pattern in that time period, because plainly everyone just watched Ed. If my memory serves me right, my brothers liked The Beatles from that very first appearance but I know for sure that Lydia did.

My parents thought The Beatles were terrible – so being 6 years old at the time, I sided with them. Lydia’s enthusiasm for The Beatles for the week and her constant listening to their songs on CKCY radio made me realize how great they were. By the time they appeared on Ed Sullivan on the next Sunday’s follow up performance on Ed Sullivan, I was a fan, which continues to this very day. Lydia brought me to see the film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ that summer. It was crazy. Girls were screaming at the movie in the theatre! I remember Lydia being upset and wishing she had apples to shove in all of their mouths so she could hear the movie and the music.

Although my other siblings influenced my love of music and kept me current with their music collections and great musical tastes, Lydia inadvertently taught me a whole other love of music that would have never received from Kenny, Jimmy or Dennis. Marion was born in January of 1968 and was a bright, smart and sweet baby. It was shortly after this that Lydia would take me for periods of time to stay in Echo Bay with her, Jack and baby Marion. When I would stay with Lydia, she would always have music going on her record player. It was there that I started to fall in love with The Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Gene Pitney, and Leslie Gore…a whole different myriad of wonderful music that greatly influenced my love of many

Lydia and Jack moved back the Soo when I was about 12 I believe and lived in a second floor walk up of an old house on top the hill on People’s Road, about a ½ mile from where I lived with dad, Kenny and Jimmy. I would often visit her and spend the night while she awaited the birth of her second child. I remember Marion singing the song Chewy, Chewy from a K-Tel record over and over again almost before she could talk which was extremely cute.

I would help Lydia as she got bigger in her final month of pregnancy and she would let me feel the baby kick. The baby seemed to want to come out sooner than later and we were both quite excited. One day near the end of her term, Lydia in a very concerned voice said to me, ‘The baby has stopped kicking!’ My young mind didn’t comprehend that too much. To me, the baby was probably simply sleeping. Sadly that wasn’t the case at all. Her baby boy was stillborn. Lydia got to hold her little baby boy before they took it away. I wasn’t present for that of course, but she did say how the little baby boy looked so much like Jack. A funeral was held for it and when I walked in to see such a tiny little casket at the funeral home it shook me. What a sad sight that was. Apparently they discovered that the baby had a very long umbilical cord that had wrapped around it’s neck in her womb and choked it to death a couple of days before it was born.

Shortly after that, Lydia and Jack moved back out to Echo Bay where Shauna was born. Incidentally Shauna had a very long umbilical cord as well, but luckily she escaped the same fate as her late older brother. By this time, I didn’t see Lydia and her little family quite as much as I had in the past. Too young to have a driver’s license and having to rely on rides to Echo Bay cut back on any visiting I might have had with her. On top of it, I now had my own little fledgling band and it consumed most of the spare time that I had.

Jacqui was born in 1973 an once the girls were a bit older, Lydia started working as a waitress at a Husky Car/Truck Stop on Hwy 17 East in Sault Ste. Marie to help pay some of the mounting bills of her little family. Luckily for me, where she now worked was very close to Rosanne and Pauline’s family home, which was where I often found myself. They were now singers in my band and I adored their whole family so much. That continues to this day I’m happy to share with you all.

We would all go drop in at the restaurant very regularly to see Lydia. Rosanne, Pauline, Tim and Rene Huot (all members of my band) loved Lydia as much as we all do. They loved to see her and her bright cheerful nature. I remember thinking even back then that despite so many hardships, she continually moved forward in life with grace, a smile that didn’t quit, a wonderful sense of humour and a deep caring for anyone she came in contact with.

In the spring/summer of 1975, Lydia, Jack and the girls made the huge move out to Saskatchewan for Jack to get a better paying job to support their little family.

I turned 18 in September of that year. My dad recognized by then that school was never going to be part of my life. Earlier that year, I had been presented an offer to join a band of wonderful, focused musicians to go on the road. I asked dad if I could quit school to go on the road in January of 1976. He thought about it for a few days then said; ‘I think if I don’t let you do this, it may be a great regret for both of us.’ My last day of school was before the Christmas break in 1975.

On January 2nd, 1976 I flew to Vancouver to start my new career.

In February 1976, I found myself playing with my new band ‘Shama’ at The Sahara Nights Dinner Club, a very large 350-seat restaurant/lounge in Regina. It was a two-week engagement. Lydia and Jack drove from Saskatoon to Regina the first Saturday to bring me back to their house in Saskatoon after my show so I could have some family time with them and the girls. I spent the weekend with them and then took a Greyhound bus back to Regina on the Monday in time to play that night.

That became a fairly regular thing for me to do when I played anywhere in Saskatchewan, whether it be Prince Albert, Yorkton or Regina. They would come grab me and Lydia would cook one of my late mother’s fantastic Italian dinners in honour of my visit on the Sunday. We would catch up and visit and go for walks with her kids or go to local playgrounds or malls. When my band actually played in Saskatoon, we did even more together. We went to Pike Lake outside of Saskatoon for picnics a couple of times and I regularly ate dinner with them during my weeklong gigs. Lydia was always an ardent supporter of me and/or my career.

Jack and Lydia attended my performances with Shama in Saskatoon at least once every week we played there. She even let the entire band stay at her house in the summer of 1976 while we all waited for flights to take us back to Sault Ste. Marie for a summer break… the first time I had been home since the previous January.

I mentioned earlier that Lydia was always ‘the life of the party’. I must mention that it was never done to draw attention to herself unless it was to make people laugh, like the time she wore a cow outfit to present me with my birthday cake a couple of decades ago. My current band mates Marc and Brent still talk about that… she always wanted everyone around her to enjoy life. If you’re having a get-together, you don’t sit around like sloths…you get up and laugh…you have fun…you sing…. You dance…. whatever. She was always the catalyst for such things, and everyone I know loved her because of that. You couldn’t have a bad time if Lydia was present. She squeezed the juice out of life.

Lydia even continued to be my de facto mother throughout my adult life. It was never heavy handed or demanding… just a loving presence that I had missed greatly.

When I met and married Joanne, Lydia was quick to try to establish a warm relationship with her. It was mostly reciprocated, but sadly the nature of Joanne’s family past didn’t allow her to fully engage with most people. Joanne had her demons and so after a time, Lydia stopped trying too hard to foster that relationship. She was always the same to Joanne when she saw her in person of course, but realized that they would never be as close as she wished them to be.

Lydia and Jack eventually, sadly divorced and then a couple of years later Lydia met Vern Howell. Although he was much younger than Lydia, they were a perfect pairing and when I eventually met Vern I personally liked him immediately. He treated Lydia with all the respect and love she deserved and was clearly a solid presence in her life. Lydia loved her Vern back unconditionally and they participated in many things together.

Our oldest brother Butch and his wife Deanna and their sons Peter and Mark moved to Regina in 1983. In 1982 their oldest daughter Janice had settled down in The Soo with her new husband Glen Skagen and their baby Sarah so they didn’t make the move out west.

In 1992 our father Mario Sr. passed away.
On a side note, it’s odd to me that both of the Mario’s in our family (my father and my oldest brother) were seldom referred to by their given ‘Christian’ names. Mario Jr. as I mentioned earlier was referred to as “Butch” and my dad was called Vic, which was a nickname from childhood as a play on our last name. “Hey Dalla-Vicenza” became “Hey Dalla-Vic” to just “ Hey Vic” and it stuck for life.

Like I was saying in 1992, our father passed away. That was a strong catalyst for us to all get together sooner than later … so in 1993, it was announced that there would be a family reunion to be called the ‘Dalla-Gala’ in Craven Saskatchewan, a wonderful little valley area slightly northwest of Regina with a huge campsite available along with a big guesthouse. Butch and Dea hosted the reunion there and being that it was almost equal distance for the Ontario families as well as my little left coast family, it was fairly well attended.
It was there that more of the family got to know Vern. He was loved immediately. Vern was a humble man whom, like I said, adored my sister and that instantly made him ‘family’ for all of us. At that family gathering, Butch even announced Vern’s new Italian name to honour him… Vernuccio Howellini. Lydia was very proud of that family recognition and told the story many times over the subsequent years.

This brings me to an aspect of my dear sister’s personality. She loved to share stories…. Over and over and over again. I don’t know if she even realized how many times she repeated the same stories to the same people but most of the time we all endured it unless we were in a hurry… then you would cut her off with a quick, “Oh Ya – you told me that Lyd’.

She would then abruptly end that story and launch into another that invariably you had probably heard before as well.

In retrospect, it was an endearing trait and I would love to hear a repeat of one of her stories right now… it wouldn’t bother me in the least. I miss her so much.

I have to end – I could literally go on for hours but I’ve taken more than my allotted time I’m sure… please allow me to end with these little bits.
I’m so grateful Lydia and Kelly became so close. They had a relationship that developed incredibly quickly. When Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, Lydia hadn’t even met her yet. She phoned to tell me she was flying to Victoria to be there for her. Kelly was wondering why she would do such a thing. Once she knew the type of person Lydia was there was no question as to why she would do such a thing. Lydia was just simply that caring as Kelly soon came to realize.

On Sunday morning of July 23rd, I was flying out of Winnipeg to home. We were starting to head down the tarmac and I hadn’t turned my phone on to airplane mode yet. It rang and I saw that it was Lydia. I quickly sent her an auto-reply text message that said that I would call her later.

I landed several hours later. My layover was in Vancouver enroute back home to Victoria. I tried to call her and there was no answer. I then listened to her message and although it was full of static, I heard her say ‘Hey little brother. I’m driving on the highway right now and a little bored. I was thinking about you and wanted to chat and let you know that I love you. Call me back when you can’

I figured I’d try to call again later, and promptly erased her voice message. How I wish now that I hadn’t.

I got home and nearing dinnertime I was puttering in the backyard while Kelly was lying down for a nap. We both had our phone ringers off. I walked in some time later and saw that I had received multiple messages. The latest text message was from Karen, Jacquie’s partner and quickly called her. She asked me to bring the phone to Kelly as well as she had to share something very urgent with both of us. I woke Kelly up and we both heard the devastating news.
I’ve been walking around like a zombie for days. This wasn’t supposed to be. I’m trying to imagine a world now without my wonderful sister in it.

What a phenomenal girl. What a blessing she was in all of our lives. She was such a selfless person.

I have a few ideas to share with you now:

1) Death is certain. Love is eternal. This should be a reminder to surround ourselves with people who love and uplift, because this life is much too short for anything less.

2) If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.

3) “Remember that people are only guests in your story – the same way you are only a guest in theirs – so make the chapters worth reading.”

4) “Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”

And finally…

5) “Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.”

Thank you Lydia – I promise…

Understanding emotional intelligence and its effects on your life

By Erin Gabriel, CNN

Experts say emotional intelligence — the ability to read, understand and respond to emotions in ourselves and others — is crucial in predicting our health, happiness and success.

It’s our emotional intelligence that gives us the ability to read our instinctive feelings and those of others. It also allows us to understand and label emotions as well as express and regulate them, according to Yale University’s Marc Brackett.

Most of us would probably like to think that we can do all of the above. We spot and understand emotions in ourselves and others and label them accurately in order to guide our thoughts and actions.

But many of us tend to overestimate our own emotional intelligence, according to Brackett, a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale and founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

That’s important because experts say the ability to read, understand and respond to emotions in ourselves and other people is a crucial factor in predicting our health, happiness and personal and professional success.
So maybe we all need to take a breath and invest a little more time in schooling ourselves on what it means to be emotionally intelligent.

What is emotional intelligence?

The theory of emotional intelligence — and the term itself — originated at Yale and the University of New Hampshire. Peter Salovey, the 23rd president of Yale University, and John “Jack” Mayer, professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire, wrote up the theory in 1990, Brackett said.
Their work demonstrated how emotions had a marked impact on an individual’s thinking and behavior, said Robin Stern, associate director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and an educator, author and licensed psychoanalyst.
Experts have continued to build on that framework to refine definitions of what exactly is at the core of of emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence is being smart about your feelings. It’s how to use your emotions to inform your thinking and use your thinking to inform your emotions,” she said.
It’s having an awareness of how your emotions drive your decisions and behaviors so you can effectively engage with and influence others, said Sara Canaday, a leadership speaker and author. Individuals who are emotionally intelligent tend to be empathetic, can look at situations from an alternative point of view, are considered open-minded, bounce back from challenges and pursue their goals despite any obstacles they might face, according to Canaday.
“Some people think of emotional intelligence as a soft skill or the ability or the tendency to be nice. It’s really about understanding what is going on for you in the moment so that you can make conscious choices about how you want to use your emotions and how you want to manage yourself and how you want to be seen in the world,” Stern said.
“People with more emotional intelligence are healthier, happier and more effective,” Brackett said.

Why emotional intelligence matters

Canaday further suggests that emotional intelligence is a better predictor of career success than an impressive résumé or a high IQ score.
Wait, really?
Well … just reflect on your own work experiences, Canaday suggests.
Has anyone you worked with ever been let go or asked to leave, even when they had the competency or technical skills for the job?
“We might be hired for technical talents, but we are often fired because we lack emotional intelligence,” Canaday said.
Individuals with a low level of emotional intelligence can be successful, she said, but she argues that those individuals could be even more successful if they had a higher level of emotional intelligence.
“It is how well you can collaborate, how well you engage with others and influence. It’s the stories you can tell, the way you can bring data to life in a way that connects with others. Those are the things that are going to set you apart.”

Emotional intelligence tests

Behavioral scientists have created a number of emotional intelligence self-assessments, usually broken down into “your ability to manage yourself, your ability to manage relationships, your self-awareness and your social awareness,” according to Canaday.
Your results will be measured along with others who have taken the assessment to give some indication of where you fall on the spectrum from low to high emotional intelligence.
But Brackett warns that “measurement is a tricky subject.”
In his early research, he found that people tend to overestimate their emotional intelligence, which is why he believes you must measure it through performance assessments. In a performance assessment, people are required to problem-solve; they must decode facial expressions or strategize in an emotionally tense situation. That way, their knowledge and skills can be tested as opposed to their beliefs about them.
Another form of an emotional intelligence test is a “360 assessment.”
In the workplace setting, a 360 assessment is a process involving feedback from colleagues and supervisors evaluating a person emotional intelligence. Canaday believes that we often “see ourselves differently than others do.”
When a coworker takes the 360 assessment of you it provides an opportunity to compare it to your self-assessment. Another way to take a 360 assessment without undergoing a formal test is to ask a trusted adviser, perhaps a current or former boss, to evaluate your emotional intelligence, she said.
But, Canaday cautions, If you ask for someone’s feedback, be prepared to accept what they share. “This stuff can feel very personal. On one hand, we say we want to learn and grow, but on the other hand, we want to be accepted just the way we are, and those two human traits run counter.”

Can I improve my emotional intelligence?

So maybe you need to improve your emotional intelligence. How do you do that?
From the earliest ages, children should be taught how to recognize their emotions, understand what those emotions mean and label them accurately in order to to express and manage themselves, Stern said.
For adults who did not receive a solid education on emotional intelligence, improving will require some hard work. Canaday suggests creating an action plan including specific goals. “Pick one or two areas where you want to grow, and get some advice on how to best start to embody whatever factor of emotional intelligence you are trying to develop.”
If you are trying to gain better control of your anger, for example, you might find a healthy outlet for it — whether it be yoga, meditation or boxing.
Canaday also suggests seeking out perspectives from those who may not agree with you. “Be intentional about that. Take active steps to do that. If you constantly surround yourself with people who believe just like you do, then you are hearing the same conversations, and you are not growing, and you are not learning to be open to perspectives.”
Brackett advises seeking out strategies that are effective for managing emotions. Practice them and then evaluate how those strategies are working for you. It’s important to “spend time reflecting on and thinking about your influence and how people respond to your emotions, be more self- and socially aware about your presence.”
Stern suggests prolonging the time between when you are triggered by something and when you respond. Pause, slow down and take a deep breath. Imagine what your best self looks like. Taking the time to pause and think about what your best self would do in each situation may help you avoid letting your emotions control you. You are allowing yourself time to manage your emotions.

How we talk to ourselves can also have a huge impact on our emotions and our health if that self-talk is not positive, Stern says. She suggests that we would never talk to another individual the way we often talk to ourselves.
“There is no question in my mind that if people were to really appreciate how important emotions are, allowed themselves to have emotions, made space for other people to have their emotions and handled those emotions skillfully in the service of making a better world, we would in fact have a better world.”

Zen Buddhism

I am one of the least ‘religious’ people you will ever meet. I am acutely skeptical of most things and I’m not easily convinced of someone else’s ‘truth’. My belief system stems from agnostic to total atheist however I struggle with the word atheist.
(Quote: “The Agnostic is an Atheist. The Atheist is an Agnostic. The Agnostic says, ‘I do not know, but I do not believe there is any God.’ The Atheist says the same.”)

That being said, I am drawn to life lessons and as much as I struggle to maintain them I do enjoy what they teach me. Some people can pick up a book, read it and remember it’s plots and/or lessons forever; others have to read it again and again and never seem to remember the plot/lessons…. I am of the latter group.
So knowing all this about me personally I give you this:

The Four Noble Truths (Explained)

After Buddha gave up worldly life and sat down for meditation under the Bodhi tree, he attained enlightenment. He laid down his teachings in easily understandable language for the common man in the form of Four Noble truths.
Though Buddhism is now divided into several schools each of which has its own set of beliefs, the essence of Buddhism is summed up in the Four Noble Truths enunciated by the Buddha.

First Noble Truth – To live means to suffer

Until the age of 29, Prince Siddhartha (Buddha’s real name) was confined to the four walls of the palace by his father. When he first stepped out of the palace, he saw four things which left a deep impact in his tender and naïve mind: a new born baby, a crippled old man, a sick man and the corpse of a dead man.
The Prince, who had been brought up in the lap of luxury, oblivious to the suffering in the world outside the palace, was deeply perturbed when he saw death, misery, and suffering with his own eyes.
During his meditation, he realized that ‘life is suffering.’ The reason for this being the fact that human beings are not perfect. Likewise, the world inhabited by them is also ridden with imperfections.
The Buddha realized that during their journey through life, a human being has to endure many sufferings- physical and psychological- in the form of old age, sickness, separation from beloved ones, deprivation, encounters with unpleasant situations and people, lamentation, sorrow and suffering.
All these misfortunes befall human beings because they are subject to desires and cravings. If they are able to get what they aspire for, they derive pleasure or satisfaction. But this joy or pleasure is also short lived and does not last too long. If it does tend to last too long, the pleasure associated with it becomes monotonous and fades away.

Second Noble Truth – The origin of suffering is attachment
The second noble truth tells us that the root of all suffering is attachment. To avoid suffering, we need to understand what causes suffering and then weeding out these causes from our lives.
According to Buddha, the basic cause of suffering is “the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)”.
All of us have desires and cravings. Since we cannot satisfy ALL our desires and cravings, we get disturbed and angry, which is but another manifestation of suffering.
The same holds good for people who are over ambitious and seek too much. As they achieve what they desire, they get lustful and want more of it. And so the vicious circle continues.
The other problem pointed out by Buddha here, which is very pertinent, is that denying desire (or depriving oneself) is like denying life itself. A person, he said, has to rise above attachments and for that, he need not deprive himself. The problem arises when he does not know where to put an end to his desires. And when he yields into his desires, he becomes a slave to them.

Third Noble Truth – The cessation of suffering is attainable
Buddha stated that to put an end to suffering, we need to control our desires or practice non-attachment. This may sound difficult but can be achieved through diligent practice.
This liberation from attachment and sorrow frees the mind of all troubles and worries. The attainment of this liberation is called “Nirvana” in Sanskrit and “Satori” in Japanese.

Fourth Noble Truth – The path to the cessation of suffering
Buddha says that salvation (Nirvana/Satori) is a condition that can be attained by leading a balanced life. And to lead a balanced life, one needs to follow the Eightfold path which is a ‘gradual path of self-improvement.’
The way to the Eightfold Path is Zen.

The Eightfold Path: The Ending Of Suffering
The Buddha laid down the eightfold path for his followers and enunciated that by following this path, they could put an end to their suffering.
Directly related to the Four Noble Truths, the eightfold path, as laid down by Buddha, helps an individual attain the state of Nirvana by freeing him from attachments and delusions and thereby helping him understand the innate truth of all things. This path, therefore, helps a person with his ethical and mental growth and development.
Buddha laid great emphasis on implementing the teachings since a higher level or existence can be attained only by putting translating thoughts into actions.
The eightfold path suggested by Buddha involves adherence to:

1. The right View
By right view, Buddha means seeing things in the right perspective. Seeing things as they really are, without any false illusions or pretenses. He wanted his followers to see and to understand the transient nature of worldly ideas and possessions and to understand that they can attain salvation only if they practiced the right karma.

2. The right Intention
Buddha says that we are what we are because of what we think. What goes on inside our minds (our thought process) determines our course of action. It is, therefore, necessary to follow the path of Right thought or Right Intention. To have the Right Intention or the Right Thought, a person should be aware of his purpose or role in life and is studying the teachings of Buddha.

3. The right Speech
Buddha asks his followers to speak truth, to avoid slander and malicious gossip and to refrain from abusive language. Harsh words that can cause distress or offend others should also be avoided while also staying clear of mindless idle chatter which lacks any depth.

4. The right Action
Behaving peacefully and harmoniously; Right action, according to Buddha, lies in adherence to the following guidelines:
– Staying in harmony with fellow human beings
– Behaving peacefully
– Not stealing
– Not killing anyone
– Avoiding overindulgence in sensual pleasure
– Abstaining from sexual misconduct
– Not indulging in fraudulent practices, deceitfulness and robbery

5. The right Livelihood
By laying down this guideline, Buddha advises his followers to earn their bread and butter righteously, without resorting to illegal and nefarious activities. He does not expect his followers to exploit other human beings or animals or to trade in weapons or intoxicants.

6. The right Effort
Buddha believed that human nature imposes undue restrictions on the mind at times, causing a person to harbor ill thoughts. So we have to train our mind to think in the right direction if we wish to become better human beings. Once we gain control over our thoughts and replace the unpleasant ones with positive ones, we shall be moving in the right direction.

7. The right Mindfulness
The Right Mindfulness, together with the Right Concentration, forms the basis of Buddhist meditation. By proposing this, Buddha suggests his followers to focus mentally on their emotions, mental faculties, and capabilities while staying away from worldly desires and other distractions.
It refers to the ability of the mind to see things as they are without being led astray by greed, avarice, anger and ignorance.

8. The right Concentration
This eighth principle laid down by Buddha is fundamental for proper meditation. Zazen (or, Zen meditation) is the way used in Zen to reach the right concentration or “state of mind”. Needless to add, this is the most vital of all the aspects stated in the Noble Eightfold path since, without proper meditation, an individual cannot move on to a higher level of well-being.

The Middle Way
When Buddha saw suffering for the first time, he was deeply disturbed to see death and misery in the world. He gave up his place in the darkness of the night and set out to find out the cause of all suffering.
As was the custom of the day, the Buddha gave up all worldly possessions and started living the life of an ascetic. To the extent that he tortured his body in his quest for the divine revelation. While doing so, he grew so weak in the body so as to be near death.
However, after having done so, he realized that exaggerated asceticism was not required to attain enlightenment. All the same, he was convinced that a person living a luxurious life might not be able to see things in the right perspective
After much deliberation, he came to the conclusion that an individual who seeks enlightenment in his pursuit of Nirvana needs to avoid both- sensual self-indulgence as well as self-mortification. Since he advocated avoiding both these extremes, the path laid down by him came to be known as The Middle Path.
Zen embraces the two opposites and integrates the two to bring about a condition which can help an individual reach the highest dimension, mushotoku. Zen, in contradiction to modern civilizations, is beyond any dualism.
The European civilization, on the other hand, is based on dualism. Materialism, for instance, is at cross ends with spiritualism. Buddhism, however, believes in oneness of the spirit/mind and the body. And to understand this oneness, a person must tread The Middle Path. It can help the person understand how spiritual can become material and vice versa.
By “middle”, Buddha essentially meant that we need to embrace both spiritualism as well as materialism, just like the front and back sides of a sheet of paper.

The Three Jewels
To become a Buddhist is to take refuge in the Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures or the Three Refuges. The Three Jewels are the Buddha (The Teacher), the Dharma (The Teaching), and the Sangha (The Buddhist Community).
In Zen Buddhism, instead of looking for any external savior like Christianity, Buddhists believe one can take refuge in oneself.
The English word refuge refers to a place of shelter and protection from danger. What danger? We seek shelter from the passions that jerk us around, from feeling distressed and broken, from pain and suffering, from the fear of death.
The implication is that by finding my home in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha I can free myself from blind conditioning and realize true nature, with sincerity and commitment.
As it is said in Zen, “I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for all sentient beings to understand the great Way profoundly and make the greatest resolve. I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for all sentient beings to delve deeply into Satori (enlightenment), causing their wisdom to be as broad as the sea. I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing all sentient beings to lead the congregation in harmony, entirely without obstruction.”

History Of Zen
A long time ago in India, the Buddha, resolute in solving the problem of human suffering, realized Enlightenment while practicing Zen meditation under a tree.
The Buddha realized intuitively that even if we possess everything we desire, we still are often unsatisfied. This is because true happiness does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.
The Awakened One left a teaching, practice, and doctrine that everyone can experience in daily life. This is called dharma in Sanskrit.
According to tradition, the transmission of Zen from master and disciple has formed an uninterrupted ‘spiritual bloodline’ that has lasted for more than 2500 years.
In the sixth century, Buddha’s teaching was transmitted from India to China by a monk named Bodhidharma (Daruma in Japanese).
Since its spread to China, the Buddha’s dharma has flourished there under the name of Chan or Chinese Zen.

Definition of Trump from a Brit

“Stolen from a friend of a friend. The best description of Trump I have ever read, from a Brit.

Someone on Quora asked, “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?” Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England wrote this magnificent response.

A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humor is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain, we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a sniveling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us and most are.
* You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumps of hair and scream in anguish:

‘My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.”

10 Songs That Prove George Harrison’s Solo Years Were Better Than You Think

The quiet Beatle spent his solo years writing some pretty impressive “Harrisongs”.
There’s a lot of received wisdom floating around when it comes to the demise of The Beatles and their varying solo careers.
When it comes to George, the story goes like this. Fed up of playing understudy in The Beatles, he spent the band’s final year’s stockpiling incredible tunes that couldn’t get a look in on Lennon and McCartney dominated albums and singles. He then released an amazing triple album, All Things Must Pass, and briefly became the most successful former fab.
He used his cultural currency to organize the first major charity concert, The Concert For Bangladesh, roping in some rock star mates. After that it was diminishing returns with George letting his solo career trail off to concentrate on producing movies, driving fast cars and shagging Ringo Starr’s wife. Most people know he had big eighties hit with Got My Mind Set On You and not much else.
Most George Harrison compilations include Beatle recordings or live versions of Beatle songs. Not something you can say of John Lennon or Paul McCartney. It underlines the perception that George’s solo output was a little lacking but his back catalogue is actually a treasure trove of overlooked gems.
10. What Is Life?

This list sets out to prove George’s credentials beyond his towering solo debut but we had to include something from All Things Must Pass.
For his first album out of The Beatle’s shadow George teamed up with the controversial producer of Let It Be, Phil Spector.
Spector brought his trademark Wall of Sound production style to the project, adding full, rich backings to George’s songs.
You can hear the full effect on this beautiful track built on Harrison’s cracking central riff. The track is also emblematic of a recurring Harrison technique.
Having found religion in the Sixties George would regularly write of his love of God but often with an ambiguity that allowed the songs to play as more straightforward love songs.
“Tell me what is my life, without your love?” He asks the lord in the chorus. He could just as easily be asking Patti Boyd, his wife and the subject of his classic love song Something.
9. Be Here Now
It took three years for George to follow up 1970’s All Things Must Pass. When it did arrive, Living In The Material World was notable for its more intimate productions. It also featured a set of lyrics many found off-putting in their overt and unapologetic religious zeal.
Be Here Now, a song about living in the moment featuring sitars, skirts overt mention of religion but certainly feels hymnal in tone. There’s also a worshipful quality to the vocal. The song could be channeling Eastern philosophies. It could equally be asking Beatle fans to let go of the past and enjoy what he’s doing now.
Like his earlier effort Long, Long, Long from The White Album, Be Here Now is not a song that jumps out of the stereo. Instead you have to go to it. Put on some headphones, let the music wash over you. There are rewards waiting those who allow themselves to become absorbed in its gentle melody.
8. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)
Opening with a gently strummed acoustic, soon joined by melodic slide guitar, Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) eschews the ambiguity of What Is Life as George offers up one of his most beautiful tunes to the Lord.
The track builds slowly with the rhythm section kicking in after the first bridge. Like My Sweet Lord before it, Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) fuses western gospel music with the Hindu devotional song style bhajan.
Against this gorgeous musical backdrop George asks that god “help me cope with this heavy load/trying to touch and reach you with heart and soul.” The whole thing is enough to make the listener get religion themselves, until the track clatters to an abrupt halt after three and a half minutes.
Plus it knocked the insipid My Love by Paul McCartney and Wings off the top of the US singles charts. Maybe god intervened for the greater good.
7. Crackerbox Palace
The video for Crackerbox Palace features Neil Innes and was directed by Eric Idle. Both had starred in Beatles spoof The Rutles in which George made a brief cameo appearance.
The comedians were a good fit for this song. It was inspired by a visit to the Los Angeles home of American character comedian Lord Buckley and also features a Blazing Saddles reference.
The music for Crackerbox Palace is jaunty but disguises a darker message about conformity in the lyric. The song’s protagonist is repeatedly assured “You bring such joy to Crackerbox Palace/no matter where you roam know our love is true”. However for one chorus the lyric changes:
“while you’re a part of Crackerbox Palace/do what the rest all do/or face the fact that Crackerbox Palace/May have no other choice but to deport you.”
The whole thing is topped off with Harrison’s trademark slide guitar work on lead and solo.
6. Blow Away
Blow Away is a simple, upbeat guitar pop song released in 1979 at the height of punk and disco but influenced by neither. In fact it sounds like it could have come out any time in the preceding 20 years.
Out of place in the charts on release, its timeless quality has only added to the songs enduring popularity. It was voted number two on a 2010 AOL poll of George’s ten best songs, behind only My Sweet Lord.
Inspired by a leaky roof at his Friar Park home, it’s another ambiguity special from George. He reminds himself that to overcome the world’s frustrations, “All I have to do is to love you.” Once again, this could be an ode to the powers of romantic love or it could be something more spiritual and devotional.
George was doing nothing new here but as ever he knew how to do the old things very well indeed.
5. All Those Years Ago
Meeting as teens and working together in The Beatles for over a decade, John Lennon and George Harrison didn’t always see eye to eye. John was hurt to discover that in George’s autobiography, I, Me, Mine Lennon’s Name appears on just three occasions.
He would have no doubt been touched however by this tribute, written in the aftermath of Lennon’s assassination by Mark Chapman.
All Those Years Ago also features Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, marking the first recording featuring all three of them in over a decade.
The song carefully balances anger and regret with an up-tempo backing track that makes the song feel celebratory of a life rather than mournful over its end.
Chapman isn’t mentioned by name, simply as, “One who offended all” but Harrison paints Chapman as part of a wider scene filled with those who opposed or misunderstood Lennon. “They treated you like a dog,” he claims, “you were the one they backed up to the wall.”
Ultimately the song ends on a more positive note. “You had control of our smiles and our tears/All Those Years Ago. “
4. That’s The Way It Goes
In The Sixties George wrote Taxman, an angry song decrying all the income tax he had to pay on his pop star earnings. By 1982 he was writing in resigned tones about men who worry about stocks and shares. How silly to worry about money, he seems to say, from the comfort of the home studio on his Friar Park estate.
Another track where George resists contemporary musical influences there is however a Hawaiian influence to his slide guitar playing here and on the rest of his Gone Troppo album. The use of a gamak also gives the track a more familiar Indian tone.
In 2002 a memorial concert, the Concert For George was held featuring Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and others. Most of the songs played at the event were covers of George’s better-known Sixties and Seventies efforts. That’s the Way It Goes was one of only a couple of Eighties numbers to be featured.
3. When We Was Fab
Not publically prone to sentiment or nostalgia, George Harrison was the most reluctant participant in The Beatle’s 90’s reunion-of-sorts for the Anthology series.
It’s not surprising. He often seemed ambivalent to the fame the group had brought him. Also he found himself condescended to and stifled by Lennon and McCartney and was afforded more respect by musicians like Eric Clapton or Bob Dylan.
Surprising then, that his 1987 comeback album Cloud Nine featured When We Was Fab. A nostalgic song that evokes The Beatles musically and lyrically.
Perhaps it was the influence of collaborator and known Beatlephile Jeff Lynne who co-wrote and co-produced the track.
The use of sitar, cello and backwards effects recall The Beatles’ psychedelic period. Ringo Starr also features on drums for some added Beatle authenticity. The result is one of George’s most beloved solo offerings.
The Beatles references spill over into the single’s music video, co-starring Ringo and featuring a left handed bassist in a walrus suit as a nod to Paul McCartney. The Beatles’ road manager Neil Aspinall wanders into shot holding a John Lennon album to complete the line-up.
2. Cheer Down
This track co-written by Tom Petty was a song George Harrison initially offered his long-time friend Eric Clapton for the latter’s Journeyman album.
Instead Clapton used Harrison’s own recording of the song for the soundtrack to Lethal Weapon 2. The combination of action movie and George “The Quiet One” Harrison might seem like an odd fit. Nonetheless the song plays over the 1989 film’s end credits.
Cheer Down is a catchy, mid-tempo tune coloured with more of George’s trademark slide guitar playing. The playful lyric was inspired by his wife Olivia. She would tell George to “Cheer Down” if he was getting carried away about something.
With this song following 1987’s successful comeback album Cloud Nine, fans at the time probably hoped there was more to come. Sadly George didn’t capitalize on the momentum. Instead, Cheer Down became the last single George released in his lifetime.
1. Any Road
Released posthumously in 2002, Brainwashed was George Harrison’s first studio album in 15 years, over a decade in the making.
Rollicking, country-tinged opener Any Road with its upbeat mood and lush backing vocals could sit comfortably alongside his work with super group The Travelling Wilburys. Not least because George actually sounds like he’s enjoying himself.
The lyric was inspired by a sign George saw in Hawaii while out walking with his son Dhani. Critics have also drawn comparisons to Alice’s conversation with The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.
Any Road is the album’s oldest song. Harrison actually began writing the song in 1988 over a decade before its release and he performed the track in 1997 for VH1, his last filmed performance. It was also his last ever single.

Not Ready to Make Nice – Trump voters and the limits of compassion and empathy

By Tim Wise
Aug 21

Much has been said about the need for liberals and progressives — or at least Democrats — to understand Trump voters. We are told we should learn to listen to their fears and insecurities. We are supposed to respect their deep sense of anxiety, born of job losses, dying small towns, and cultural transformation occurring at a pace with which they find it difficult to keep up.
Missing from these calls for civility and compassion are any comparable entreaties for the same from the other side. No demands that Trump voters seek to understand, or even respect the essential humanity of black people in large cities, asylum seekers fleeing violence, or immigrants from the global south seeking a better life for their children. For these, calls of “send them back” or “build the wall” will suffice, or perhaps endorsements of stop-and-frisk so as to catch the presumably dangerous criminals responsible for what the president calls “American carnage.”
We are to empathize with white folks in small towns suffering the ravages of the opioid crisis, in ways they were never expected to — and certainly did not — when the crack epidemic was wreaking havoc on urban communities of color. The very same white people who called for stiff prison sentences and three-strikes laws in the latter case now plead for rehab and treatment options for their cousins, their children, themselves. Meanwhile, they stare wide-eyed at the lack of such programs, oblivious to the irony: namely, it was their calls for a ruthless prosecution of the war on drugs that has left them, as with people of color, bereft of such options now.
These one-way calls for compassion infect 2020 election analysis. Democratic candidates are expected to pander to small-town whites and sit with them in diners across the fruited plain to mine the depths of their despair. Why? Because these are, or so we are told, the swing voters without whom they cannot cobble together an electoral college victory. Republicans, apparently, need not appeal to the so-called middle, or moderates, or swing voters. They need not find out what black folks are talking about in the barbershop, what Latinx folks discuss at the bodega, or what members of the Unitarian Church are thinking. No, outreach is only for liberals.
Enough of this.
As the administration launches ICE raids on hard-working parents in Mississippi, ripping them from their kids on the first day of school, all talk of compromise with these people is perverse. To speak of understanding those who sanction such evil is a sickness.
I need not sit around and discuss politics with people such as this as they wolf down their biscuits and gravy or sop up their toast in a cholesterol pond of runny eggs, while adjusting their dirty trucker caps and holding forth about the Mooz-lims or the Mex’cuns who have come to take their jobs. Especially when those they’d be griping about would already have been working for three hours while Billy Joe Jim Bob sat there telling me about how he can’t work anyway because of his disability. For which he receives a check, along with his Medicare. But he wants me to remember that he’s tired of people living off the government.
What. The. Fuck. Ever.
I understand these folks all too well. There is nothing more to learn.
They are scared, simple-minded people who believed, against all historical evidence to the contrary, that the world would stand still for them. They are people who assumed their coal mines would never close, that the economy would never globalize, that jobs would always be there for them, that their norms and beliefs would always be paramount in the culture, and that they would forever and always remain the very floor model of an American. In short, they fell for a lie that only they, as white people, could ever have managed to believe. And while that must be tough, I find it hard to cry tears for them now.
After all, what they have only recently discovered — that the system is a scam, that companies move jobs overseas for their own profits and don’t give a shit about you, or your diners, and that you can take nothing for granted — is stuff people of color already knew. It’s stuff those people of color had been insisting upon from the beginning, but which white Americans could ignore, because after all, what do black people know?
I’m sure the folks on the middle-to-upper decks of the Titanic also wondered what all the screaming from steerage was about. Meanwhile the ones below thought to themselves: “Oh just wait, you’ll see.” Because steerage knew the folks on the promenade well, and knew how few lifeboats there really were, even while the middling classes thought there would always be room for them.
When manufacturing jobs began fleeing the urban core in the 1970s, leaving blacks who had moved north for good jobs unemployed, these white folks who now moan about job losses in their towns showed no compassion. They told black folks to up and move; to go where the jobs were. If blacks were out of work and unable to find new jobs, it was their own fault. It was their pathological culture, their dysfunctional family structures. It was surely not a systemic problem.
But now, as their own worlds crumble around them, they sing a very different tune. Now, these same people demand that politicians promise to bring the jobs back to them. No insistence that they up and move, as they instructed people of color to do. If job creation has occurred mostly in large metropolitan areas as of late (and it has), one might think it would be incumbent upon these Andy of Mayberry types to get up off their asses and go where the jobs are. But no. They like their little small towns and by God, intend to stay there, and we should accommodate them.
But then, when they don’t line up to take those jobs at the meatpacking plant, or picking strawberries, or roofing new home builds — and the people who do get rounded up like cattle and separated from their families — they dare complain about how things are changing?
It is not necessary to pander to people like this in order to win elections. They are not the key to victory for Democrats. Donald Trump is not president because bunches of these people once voted for Obama but suddenly switched to the guy who told them Obama wasn’t even an American. These are not people who voted for Obama and then turned around and voted for the guy who promised to take away the very health care Obama got for them.
Donald Trump is president because the Democratic base did not turn out in sufficient numbers in 2016. Obama voters didn’t switch to Trump so much as they stayed home. In Wisconsin, for instance, Trump got fewer votes than Romney; but depressed Democratic turnout and a significant vote share for third parties catapulted Trump to victory in the state.
One does not need to kiss the ass of people who chant for the building of walls, for the deportation of congresswomen, or cruelty for cruelty’s sake.
One need not appeal to the worst this nation has to offer.
One need not negotiate with terrorists.
One need only trust that there are more of us than there are of them, and then act like it.
And then, once we win, we can drag the rest kicking and screaming to universal health care, affordable college, and a cleaner environment.
At which point, all we will need to say to them is: “You’re welcome.”

How to prepare yourself for a good end of life

(An article by Katy Butler)

My parents lived good lives and expected to die good deaths. They exercised daily, ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, and kept, in their well-organized files, boilerplate advance health directives. But when he was 79, my beloved and seemingly vigorous father came up from his basement study, put on the kettle for tea, and had a devastating stroke. For the next 6½ years, my mother and I watched, heartbroken and largely helpless, as he descended into dementia, near-blindness and misery. To make matters worse, a pacemaker, thoughtlessly inserted two years after his stroke, unnecessarily prolonged his worst years on Earth.
That was a decade ago. Last month I turned 70. The peculiar problems of modern death — often overly medicalized and unnecessarily prolonged — are no longer abstractions to me. Even though I swim daily and take no medications, somewhere beyond the horizon, my death has saddled his horse and is heading my way. I want a better death than many of those I’ve recently seen.
In this I’m not alone. According to a 2017 Kaiser Foundation study, 7 in 10 Americans hope to die at home. But half die in nursing homes and hospitals, and more than a tenth are cruelly shuttled from one to the other in their final three days. Pain is a major barrier to a peaceful death, and nearly half of dying Americans suffer from uncontrolled pain. Nobody I know hopes to die in the soulless confines of an Intensive Care Unit. But more than a quarter of Medicare members cycle through one in their final month, and a fifth of Americans die in an ICU.
This state of affairs has many causes, among them fear, a culture-wide denial of death, ignorance of medicine’s limits, and a language barrier between medical staff and ordinary people. “They often feel abandoned at their greatest hour of need,” an HMO nurse told me about her many terminally ill patients. “But the oncologists tell us that their patients fire them if they are truthful.”
I don’t want this to be my story.
In the past three years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people who have witnessed good deaths and hard ones, and I consulted top experts in end-of-life medicine. This is what I learned about how to get the best from our imperfect health care system and how to prepare for a good end of life.
Have a vision. Imagine what it would take you to die in peace and work back from there. Whom do you need to thank or forgive? Do you want to have someone reading to you from poetry or the Bible, or massaging your hands with oil, or simply holding them in silence? Talk about this with people you love.
Once you’ve got the basics clear, expand your horizons. A former forester, suffering from multiple sclerosis, was gurneyed into the woods in Washington State by volunteer firefighters for a last glimpse of his beloved trees. Something like this is possible if you face death while still enjoying life. Appoint someone with people skills and a backbone to speak for you if you can no longer speak for yourself.
Stay in charge. If your doctor isn’t curious about what matters to you or won’t tell you what’s going on in plain English, fire that doctor. That’s what Amy Berman did when a prominent oncologist told her to undergo chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiation and then more chemo to treat her stage-four inflammatory breast cancer.
She settled on another oncologist who asked her, “What do you want to accomplish?” Berman said that she was aiming for a “Niagara Falls trajectory:” To live as well as possible for as long as possible, followed by a rapid final decline.
Berman, now 59, went on an estrogen-suppressing pill. Eight years, later, she’s still working; she’s climbed the Great Wall of China, and has never been hospitalized. “Most doctors,” she says, “focus only on length of life. That’s not my only metric.”
Know the trajectory of your illness. If you face a frightening diagnosis, ask your doctor to draw a sketch tracking how you might feel and function during your illness and its treatments. A visual will yield far more helpful information than asking exactly how much time you have left.
When you become fragile, consider shifting your emphasis from cure to comfort and find an alternative to the emergency room.
And don’t be afraid to explore hospice sooner rather than later. It won’t make you die sooner, it’s covered by insurance, and you are more likely to die well, with your family supported and your pain under control.
Find your tribe and arrange caregivers. Dying at home is labor-intensive. Hospices provide home visits from nurses and other professionals, but your friends, relatives and hired aides will be the ones who empty bedpans and provide hands-on care. You don’t have to be rich, or a saint, to handle this well. You do need one fiercely committed person to act as a central tent pole and as many part-timers as you can marshal. People who die comfortable, well-supported deaths at home tend to have one of three things going for them: money, a rich social network of neighbors or friends, or a good government program (like PACE, the federal Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly).
Don’t wait until you’re at death’s door to explore your passions, deepen your relationships and find your posse. Do favors for your neighbors and mentor younger people. It doesn’t matter if you find your allies among fellow quilters, bridge-players, tai chi practitioners, or in the Christian Motorcyclists Association. You just need to share an activity face-to-face.
Take command of the space. No matter where death occurs, you can bring calm and meaning to the room. Don’t be afraid to rearrange the physical environment. Weddings have been held in ICUs so that a dying mother could witness the ceremony. In a hospital or nursing home, ask for a private room, get televisions and telemetry turned off, and stop the taking of vital signs.
Clean house: Hospice nurses often list five emotional tasks for the end of life: thank you, I love you please forgive me; I forgive you, and goodbye. Do not underestimate the power of your emotional legacy, expressed in even a small, last minute exchange. Kathy Duby of Mill Valley was raised on the East Coast by a violent alcoholic mother. She had no memory of ever hearing, “I love you.”
When Duby was in her 40s, her mother lay dying of breast cancer in a hospital in Boston. Over the phone, she told Duby, “Don’t come, I don’t want to see you.” Duby got on a plane anyway.
She walked into the hospital room to see a tiny figure curled up in bed — shrunken, yellow, bald, bronzed by jaundice, as Duby later wrote in a poem. Duby’s mother said aloud, “I love you and I’m sorry.”
Duby replied, “I love you and I’m sorry.”
“Those few moments,” Duby said, “Cleared up a lifetime of misunderstanding each other.”
Think of death as a rite of passage. In the days before effective medicine, our ancestors were guided by books and customs that framed dying as a spiritual ordeal rather than a medical event. Without abandoning the best of what modern medicine has to offer, return to that spirit.
Over the years, I’ve learned one thing: Those who contemplate their aging, vulnerability and mortality often live better lives and experience better deaths than those who don’t. They enroll in hospice earlier, and often feel and function better — and sometimes even live longer — than those who pursue maximum treatment.
We influence our lives, but we don’t control them, and the same goes for how they end. No matter how bravely you adapt to loss and how cannily you navigate our fragmented health system, dying will still represent the ultimate loss of control.
But you don’t have to be a passive victim. You retain moral agency. You can keep shaping your life all the way to its end — as long as you seize the power to imagine, to arrange support and to plan.

Places to visit?

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone..

I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there..

I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can

I may have been in Continent, and I don’t remember what country I was in.
It’s an age thing. They tell me it is very wet and damp there.

Date a Musician? I Recommend Bass Players – By Starshine Roshell

Why the Bass Player Will Pluck Your Strings

If there were a Pocket Field Guide to Dating Musicians, it would read like this:
This species can best be viewed in its natural habitat, under the colored lights of nightclub stages — and in the drier months, anywhere there’s free beer.
At the front stands the lead singer, scientific name Egos maximus, a close relative of the peacock. Don’t look him directly in the eye; he views this as a mating call and will rip his ironic T-shirt right off and begin caressing the mike suggestively if he thinks you’re the slightest bit interested.

To his left is the guitarist, Controli freakata, recognized in the wild by his rock-and-roll power stance, practiced indifference, and telltale markings: pants several sizes too small and bits of twine, locks of hair, and other strands of refuse wound round his wrist as boho jewelry. Beware: He is prone to depression; it’s when he writes “his best stuff.”

And making all that racket at the back, on the riser, is the grinning drummer, Rhythm perspiratious, descended more recently than the rest of us from apes. This good-time boy is a competent multitasker but frequently shamed by his bandmates for not knowing scales. Feeding habits: Large meat sandwiches that he stores in the bass drum and gnaws on between songs.

Then there’s the keyboard player, who … Wait, no. This isn’t 1985. There is no keyboard player.

But hark. What is that intriguing breed on the right? The one standing in the shadows with the quiet intensity and the booming, low-slung bass? That, my boyfriend-shopping adventurers, is the extraordinary Fella perfectata from the family Delicieux. His coat is less showy than the others’, so he often goes unnoticed. Yet he’s always there when you need him, steadily, deftly weaving the band’s rhythm and melody into an impenetrable humming-thumping-humming-thumping musical fabric that—scientifically speaking—you just want to wrap yourself up in. Naked.

Listen, I’ve dated a lot of musicians. And if you’re looking for a band member who can make your soul wail a power ballad, there’s no better choice than a bass player. (This commentary is about men because that’s how I roll, but Kim Gordon, Sheryl Crow, Aimee Mann, Suzi Quatro, Kim Deal, Meshell Ndegeocello: respect.)

Here’s why the bass player is the best rocker to pluck your strings:

• What’s sexier than a man who doesn’t need to be the center of attention — who’s content to sit back and hold a thing together from the bottom up? That sort of hang-backedness speaks to a deep-rooted confidence, an honorable work ethic even, that can only be described as hotness amplified.

• There’s something to be said about an instrument that makes your whole howdy-do rumble. And that something is this: “Yes, please.”

• Bass players are classy. Think McCartney and Sting—not Flea, who’s a drummer in bass players’ clothing (which apparently is a tube sock). The very fact that you don’t know who played bass for most of the great American bands is testament to the bass player’s humility. And if modesty doesn’t sound sexy, then wake up just once next to a lead singer — go on, I dare you — and see how quickly “unassuming” becomes music to your ears.

• Bass players don’t care if you notice this, but theirs is the manliest instrument in a rock band. It’s the biggest and heaviest. And the strings are rope-thick, which gives bass players strong fingers, and we’ll just leave that right there.
To be clear, no one is suggesting you date a musician. They keep odd hours, are hard of hearing, and believe that actual income-generating work harshes their carefully cultivated mellow. Plus you’ll be expected to do a lot of stage-side swaying and swooning as though you hadn’t heard that exact song played that exact way 17 kajillion times before.

But if your inner groupie simply won’t be stifled, don’t fret. Just snag yourself a four-stringed fella. And keep some earplugs handy.

25 Things You’ll Need to Know After High School

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember, most stuff is small.

2. The most boring word in any language is “I.”

3. Nobody is indispensable, especially you.

4. Life is full of surprises. Just say “never” and you’ll see.

5. People are more important than things.

6. Persistence will get you almost anything eventually.

7. Nobody can make you happy. Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

8. There’s so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it doesn’t behoove any of us to talk about the rest of us.

9. Live by what you trust not by what you fear.

10. Character counts. Family matters.

11. Eating out with small children isn’t worth it even if someone else is buying.

12. If you wait to have kids until you can afford them you probably never will.

13. Baby kittens don’t begin to open their eyes for six weeks after birth. Men generally take about 25 years.

14. The world would run a lot smoother if more men knew how to dance.

15. Television/Internet ruins more minds than drugs.

16. Sometimes there is more to gain in being wrong than right

17. Life is so much simpler when you tell the truth.

18. People who do the world’s real work don’t usually wear neckties.

19. A good joke beats a pill for a lot of ailments.

20. There are no substitutes for fresh air, sunshine and exercise.

21. A smile is the cheapest way to improve your looks, even if your teeth are crooked.

22. May you live life so there is standing room only at your funeral.

23. Mothers always know best but sometimes fathers know, too.

24. Forgive yourself, your friends and your enemies. You’re all only human.

25. If you don’t do anything else in life, love someone and let someone love you.

50 Times People Have Spoken Very Profound Words

I was 13 years old, trying to teach my 6 year old sister how to dive into a swimming pool from the side of the pool. It was taking quite a while as my sister was really nervous about it. We were at a big, public pool, and nearby there was a woman, about 75 years old, slowly swimming laps. Occasionally she would stop and watch us. Finally she swam over to us just when I was really putting the pressure on, trying to get my sister to try the dive, and my sister was shouting, “but I’m afraid!! I’m so afraid!!” The old woman looked at my sister, raised her fist defiantly in the air and said, “So be afraid! And then do it anyway!”

That was 35 years ago and I have never forgotten it. It was a revelation — it’s not about being unafraid. It’s about being afraid and doing it anyway.

“Don’t be a d*ck to your dog. He’s a few years of your life, but you are all of his”

I met a person who was in a wheelchair. He related a story about how a person once asked if it was difficult to be confined to a wheelchair. He responded, “I’m not confined to my wheelchair – I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my room or house. ”

Amazing perspective.

My mom was dying. A friend told me “you have your whole life to freak out about this– don’t do it in front of her. ”

It really helped me to understand that my feelings are not always what’s important. It IS possible to delay a freakout, and that skill has served me innumerable times.

When I was 38 I contemplated beginning a two year Associates Degree in Radiography. I was talking to a friend and had almost talked myself out of doing it. I said “I’m too old to start that. I’ll be 40 when I get my degree.” My friend said “If you don’t do it, you’ll still be 40, but without the degree.” I’m nearly 60 now, and that degree has been the difference between making a decent living, and struggling to get by.

When I was young and having what I thought was a serious relationship talk with my first real SO, I told her that I just wanted to find the right person.

Without missing a beat she said, “Everybody is looking for the right person, and nobody is trying to be the right person.”

That stopped me in my tracks.

A friend of the family’s five year-old child died in a freak accident, where the father had just left the room for a minute to go to the bathroom, and the child climbed on top of the TV, and it toppled and crushed him. The family was in pieces, and the father undeservedly blamed himself for the death of his child. I remember telling my dad, a stoic man who has only said he loves me maybe three times in his life, that this is a reason that I don’t know if I want children. I don’t think I could handle something like this.

His response was: Even one minute with you in my life is worth whatever pain I would feel if you had died.

To hear that from him really showed me how strong that bond can be, even if a parent doesn’t show it openly, and changed my mind about wanting children.

“Think of a time you were embarrassed, easy right? Now think of a time someone else was embarrassed. It’s a lot harder to do isn’t it?” I don’t really worry about being embarrassed anymore if no one but I will remember it!

After getting rejected by a bunch of colleges in the same week, my dad (who is a writer) said “I was rejected by Stanford three times, and now my books are in their library. You’ve got to be better than them.”

As a child, my duty was to empty the dishwasher.

I was something like 10, that day. I was always trying to do that fast, so I had more time to play SMB on my NES.

Only my dad was home, gardening. I grabbed the coffee pot that was in the dishwasher and it slipped off my hand, to broke loudly in pieces on the floor.

I was ashamed and afraid of my dad’s reaction. Like a lot. He was (and still is) a nice guy, but for me it was like a big mistake, and for my child brain, this pot was worth a lot of money. He would be mad.

It took all my courage to go see my dad and tell him, but I did. I was almost crying of shame, while still having the handle of the pot in my hand, as a proof.

My dad, calmly looked at me, and said “Breaking something happens when you work, that’s ok, don’t worry”.

It’s silly, but I think of that almost every day. It’s okay to make mistake, at least you are trying to do something.

Thanks dad!

“How would it make you feel?”

It’s the sentence that changed my stance on gay marriage. Without context, that seems silly, but I’ll offer up a shortened version. I grew up in suburban STL to conservative Christian parents (and they weren’t remotely tolerant) and pretty much never left my comfort bubble. I moved to Kansas City when I was 20 to finish college. My roommate was good friends with a gay couple, and this was my first encounter with gay people (that I knew of, which was ignorant. There’s no way it was my first). Inevitably, we got into a debate, and they basically went into a tirade about how much it sucks to constantly be berated and made fun of, and how it sucks to be treated unfairly because of something they can’t control. I reverted to the classic “it’s a choice!” line of thinking. They responded with “why would we f*cking choose this for ourselves? Why would we choose to constantly be made fun of, to constantly be judged, and constantly be denied rights? How would it make YOU feel?” It was pretty much that exact moment when I, who I consider to be a logical person, realized I was being an illogical asshole and that I was just regurgitating the sh*t I picked up from being raised in a conservative Christian household. From that moment on, I start undoing all of the programming in my mind from years of living in a sheltered environment. My views have since changed on nearly everything, from gay marriage to abortion to religion. One sentence from one conversation with two gay men changed me in a huge number of ways, and now I scoff at the idea that you can’t change someone’s mind about these things.

I’m the oldest of three kids. I’m older than my little brother by 2.5 years and my little sister by 9.5.

When I was about fourteen or so, arguing with my dad in private about something I don’t remember, he, being the second-oldest of eight kids, told me:

“Any decision you make in this household, you make three times. Once when you make it, once when your brother makes the same decision after watching you do it, and once when your sister makes the same decision after watching you and your brother do it. How you treat your brother will tell him how he can treat your sister; and how you treat your sister tells her how she will expect to be treated for the rest of her life, even as far as her future boyfriends.”

That kinda shook me up and made me rethink my role as the oldest child; I started taking my responsibilities as the role model a lot more seriously after that. Even when you aren’t trying to actively influence those around you, those who look up to and respect you will still base their decisions, in part, on how they’ve seen you handle similar situations. If you break down and get stressed and angry when something inconvenient happens, they’ll feel better doing the same when something similarly small happens to them. But if you keep your cool in a dire situation and under a lot of stress, it can inspire them to believe they can do the same.

Next year, you’ll wish you had started today.

My mom was in a nursing home, recovering from a heart attack (a battle she eventually lost). She had struggled with depression in her life, and this was hitting her very hard. She had worked in nursing homes, and hated them. I spent hours a day with her, and some days were better than others. I pushed her a lot, encouraging a positive outlook, and patience. Patience with herself, her situation, the staff, everything.

I started taking in some headphones, thinking maybe music would cheer her up. So one afternoon I’m sitting next to her bed, and she’s listening to my iPhone, and tears just start running down her face. I pulled the headphones off her and started asking her what was wrong. Asking her not to cry. She looked at me and smiled like a mother looking at her son, and simply asked me “what if that’s what I need right now? To cry?” Then she pulled the headphones back on.

Through all the pain and chaos of the last few years, that really stuck with me. What if sometimes, you don’t need to focus on the positive. You don’t need to smile, and bear it. Sometimes you just need to cry.

I recently got married earlier this year, and obviously our marriage is far from perfect. We argue, and disagree, and sometimes can’t stand to be around each other. I grew up in a very hostile environment and having an arguement with a family member was awful. Personal attacks were always used, instant anger, and no mutual understanding was ever to be had. It was always about who was right and how to make them feel bad. When I got married, I quickly noticed that my fighting habits were toxic for our relationship, and my husband said something to me that I use in every relationship I have. He told me, “It’s not You Vs Me, love. It’s You and Me Vs Problem. We are always a team.” It’s helped me overcome some serious rifts in my personal relationships and I will never forget it.

Everyone you meet knows something you don’t.” My grandfather told me this, and it’s been a good reminder that I am surrounded by teachers.

This is a bit lengthy, but changed my life. Not just the way I think. When I was young my father abandoned me twice as a child. I grew up to be a very angry and depressed young man. I truly hated him for it. In high school, I had this amazing teacher. He helped me, and so many others, in so many ways. But one day he asked me something. He asked “You hate him right?” I said yeah. He said “And he deserves it right?” And, again, I said yes. Then he then he said “Do you think he feels any of your hatred for him?” I thought for a few seconds and answered “No. He probably doesn’t.” And then he said “But you feel all of it. And you don’t deserve that. It’s time to forgive the man. Not because he deserves it. But because you do.”. He was completely right. I forgave my father, and over time have built up an incredibly close relationship with the man. And I could never have gotten to this point without my teacher.

“You know you’re an adult when you can be right without proving the other person wrong.”

In terms of love and romance, the truth is, the only person you know you’re definitely spending the rest of your life with is you.

Everything else is simply not guaranteed -no matter how much you believe in “true love” and all that it entails. People die. People leave. People change their minds. When all is said and done, you end up with yourself. So you better f*cking like who that is. In fact, you better LOVE who that is. Work everyday to be your best self. And don’t let ANYONE EVER define who you are without your permission.

People won’t remember the words you say but how it made them feel.

“You’re going to die one day. We all are. Do everything you want to do. Don’t wind up on your death bed one day thinking of all the things you didn’t do because assholes might have an asshole opinion about it. They’re just jealous anyways.”

~ My grandpa at 89 years old; a few months before he died 12 years ago.

And that’s the real quote. It was on video.

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm”.

Really hit home for me, since I grew up trying to mediate my parents’ issues and had multiple friends in and out of the ER for mental health crises during my teen years, among other things. As someone who spent the majority of her life feeling like she had to take care of others at all costs, it was kinda a shock to the system to hear that I was allowed to have my limits even with people who truly needed help.

My old boss, the CEO of a small hospital, told me a story from back when he was a lab technician (for simplicity, let’s call him Dan). Dan had forgotten to check some sort of mechanism on a piece of equipment he used, it malfunctioned and broke the equipment which ended up having around a $250,000 repair bill. The next day Dan’s boss called him in to talk about it, and he was sure he was going to be fired. His boss asked him why he didn’t do a proper check, made sure he understood what happened and sent him back to work. Dan asked him “Am I not getting fired? I was almost sure that’s what this was about.” His boss said “No way, I just spent $250,000 teaching you a lesson you’ll never forget. Why would I fire you now?”

It seems silly, but that attitude always resonated with me. Don’t make professional decisions based on emotional responses. Always know what your goal is when dealing with someone, and what exact problem you are trying to solve. Everyone makes mistakes, and yelling at them just makes them resent you and become defensive. Being calm and understanding will make people look up to you.

My dad was/is a deacon of a church, and one part of his duties was to visit with people in retirement homes and bring them communion. He couldn’t go one day, and he asked me (I was in high school at the time) to go in his place.

Perhaps obviously, with me being young and the people in the homes being elderly, age was a frequent topic of conversation. One old man told me, “the hardest thing about getting old is running out of people who understand you.” That is, each generation has a unique way of looking at the world and what it means to be alive in it, and as new generations come and redefine what the world is, one’s world gets smaller and smaller as there are fewer people around who understand your world in the same way.

We are all marching toward obsolescence. I think I became much more of a realist that day.

“Education is expensive, but no education is more expensive”. Definitely took school more seriously after someone said that to me.

“There will be something you hate in every job. The trick is finding a job where you love the good parts enough to make up for the crappy parts.”

That might sound like a dumb one to list here, but whenever I have problems related to work (which seems to be where I need most of my motivation) I like to think back on this and take a deep breath. It’s ok to hate where you are sometimes. The trick is to remind yourself what else you like, and power through.

“Depression presents itself in the guise of rational thought.” Said by my uncle.

‘Your job will never love you.”

It made me really reconsider being so emotionally invested in it.

“It’s only embarrassing if you’re embarrassed.” Changed my life forever.

“Shouting a person into silence does not mean you have shouted them into agreement.”

Forgot who originally said this, so I cannot give proper credit.

“I learned to give… not because I have too much. But because I know how it feels to have nothing.”

We’re all tired, we all just want to sit on our couch in front of our TV’s. But that’s not living, man.

-My buddy, when I told him I didn’t want to go out because I’d had a long day.

This is a philosophy I live by now. My life is so much better for it.

Having grown up somewhat poor, I was always insecure when going to nice places…felt out of place and not as good as the other people there.

Out on a date at a nice restaurant once and the guy I was with said something along the lines of, “You’re paying for your meal just like everyone else here…You deserve to be here just as much as they do.”

I still get insecure sometimes, but I always think back to this and feel instantly better about myself.

My dad once gave me and my brother each a dollar out of nowhere. I scoffed and said “Dad its just a dollar, you keep it.” He got really mad and said “Never try to give anything back that someone gives you. It could be all they have to give and a huge sacrifice to them.” I felt like such a dick. And I could really use that dollar right now.

There is no harder, only hard.

Helped me to realize that it doesn’t matter if someone’s problems are bigger or smaller than mine. At some point, everyone goes through the hardest thing they’ve ever had to deal with.

On the subject of healthy eating/losing weight etc; a bald and muscly gay man once said to me… “Don’t treat yourself with food, you are not a dog.”

When I was a young kid and did really well on some tests at school I came home and boasted about it. “Mom! Guess what?! I’m really really smart!”

Mom: “So what are you going to do about it?”

It’s been 20 years and I still don’t know the right answer to that question.

“If you’re scared of doing it because you’re afraid that people will judge you, trust me they won’t even remember it after a year.”
Something like that. Made me a little daredevillish.

I rather live a life of ‘oh wells’ than ‘what ifs?’

“Never point out your flaws. Let others figure them out on their own.”

When I was 19/20 my mum started taking out loans to build houses abroad, which I thought was a silly and expensive waste of money but she told me it had always been her dream to own land/be a landlady. Which I thought was strange considering she was a nurse and she’d never once mentioned it in all the years I’d known her.

A few months later it dawned on me that it had coincided perfectly with the time my younger sister (who was the lastborn) had left the house to go off to school. Now considering she had four kids it hit me that she’d basically put her entire life on hold just to take care of us, and this wasn’t just old school got a job, it was full on move to a different country/move heaven and hell to make sure we’d had a good life. And after over thirty years of putting the work in for us, she’d finally turned around and started working on her dream.

Absolutely floored me and was the first “Whoa my mum’s an actual person (and not just my mum) who’d done all this for me.” Appreciate your parents people and hopefully do the same for your kids.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but, when we look back everything is different…” – C.S Lewis

I was having a bad day one time and being all “Why me?” when a coworker said “Why not you?”. I had never thought about it before, but it was a good point. So I shut up and got over it.

The first female leader of the Cherokee Nation came to my college campus years ago. She gave a speech, talking about how her life had been formed by always striving for more, never turning away from the challenge. Her advice was simple: “Go where the fear is” -Wilma Mankiller. When confronted with two roads I always choose what scares me more.

When I was in college a friend of mine told me I was gentle.

After being called sensitive all my life up until that point, and not in a good way, hearing that made me feel a lot better about myself.

In an episode of Louie he tells one of his daughters, “The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure he has enough.” I’m sure Louis CK didn’t invent that on his own, but it was the first time I’d heard it, and it’s stuck with me.

“You aren’t IN traffic, you ARE traffic.”

I had just opened up to a good friend of mine about how, after 10+ years of intractable treatment-resistant depression, I was completely exhausted and really did not want to be alive anymore. At the time, I had kind of accepted that things would eventually get better, but I thought that it would be years until my life was what I wanted/needed it to be, and I just felt incredibly frustrated at everyone telling me to “wait it out”.

Instead of giving lame advice, he asked me more about my plans, and it came out that the only thing that’s ever kept me going is a drive to contribute something meaningful to humanity, and I just couldn’t stand the idea of giving up and essentially leaving the world a little worse off. That’s when he busted out this one:

“You know, I think it’s almost tragically beautiful that you keep putting yourself through this just for the sake of other people. I know it’s hard to believe it’ll ever be worth 15 years of suffering, but once you’re on the other side of it I think you’ll see what an incredible person that makes you.”

It still makes me tear up every time I think about it. It was one of the most important things anyone’s said to encourage me, and it helped get me through some of my worst times. Thankfully, it was only about a year after that that I finally found a treatment that worked. No updates yet on the giant ego I’m supposed to be growing, though 😉

We judge others by their actions and ourselves on our intentions. Really made me think about people and I try telling myself that when the f*cking idiot in front on me doesn’t indicate when merging.

My psychologist gave me a print of a picture of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet in the forest. This is the quote that went with it:

“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.

I think about it when I’m catastrophising and it is really helpful for calming down and thinking rationally about whatever situation I’m in.