HELP.. I’ve Fallen..

I guess I should begin this story by letting you know that I like to be comfortable. So, quite often I wear jeans, cowboy (or cowgirl) boots, and depending on the occasion t-shirt, dress shirt, sweater, etc.. I also should let you know that country life usually relates to having a pick up truck. With that said, the other day I headed out to run a few errands. At one of my stops, I turn to get out of the truck, and before I knew it, I am on the ground on hands and knees trying to keep my head from hitting the concrete. You can laugh, I give you full permission, I did. I do know in the split second before I fell, the heel of my boot got stuck on what I think was my pant leg, and BAM down I went.

I find it funny that the first thing we do, in this day and age, is hop up no matter how hurt we are, to see if anyone saw us, and to be sure we are not going to be on someone’s you tube video. Then we try to assess the damage. Not bad this time, a little concrete rash and bruised knee cap on one leg, some scrapes and scratches on both arms, and a little bit of the jitters from the fall. But, all in all, not anything that I will not get over fairly quickly.

The second thing I noticed is that someone was climbing into their car and never did ask if I was okay. For years, anytime I have fallen or done something rather stupid, my first reaction is always embarrassment. If I am not hurt that badly, my next is laughter at how much of a dork or klutz I am. Matter-of-fact I made up this little game I play with my sister, unintentionally mind you, to see who has the worst horror story. I call the game “Mommy didn’t name us grace”. Back to my point though, in years past, even though I had those reactions myself, if anyone was in the vicinity, laughing or not, they always did manage to ask was I okay. What in the world happened to us? And can we manage to find our way back?

I guess life experiences, fear of lawsuits, fear of abduction, fear of some other harm being done to us, or fear in general have made it so we do not involve ourselves anymore. I find it hard to believe that the mass of people will do any of these to me. Somehow, however, the minority always seem to create the reaction. I am here to let you know that I am trying to find my way back, and hopefully will bring some of you with me, to a time when I cared if someone was hurt when they fell, a time when I saw someone stranded on the side of the road and stopped to see if they needed help, a time when I felt a huge connection to all others around me. I truly am trying to kick fear to the side of the road in order to live a much fuller enjoyable life.

I have found that I am a much happier person when I take moments to let others know that I truly do see them. Whether it is with a smile, a simple hello, a thank you, or a comment or compliment on something about them, usually the reaction from them shows me that it made them a little happier also. Now it will not always, and that is okay, because it is not about them, as much as it is about us, about us being better people. So today’s project for all of us, notice one person and do something like smile at them or say hello. It is in these moments that lives get changed forever. Maybe tomorrow it will be two. I still have hope, no matter how many tell me otherwise, that we someone can find our way back to each other. So let all of us start with just one.

 

Tolerant… Are We?

I have long believed that every conversation we have is purposeful. It is to say to someone what they need to hear at that moment, but to also listen to what we need to hear at that moment. In the days of technology it is a little harder to decipher what those are, as much is taken out of the person to person interaction; things like facial expression, body language, tone. I bring this up after some reflection on a social media post I took part in several days ago. It was with a person who I had not seen for a long time, but who was very front and center in the first half of my life – the years that originally molded and shaped me.

They had made a comment about their attempt to watch a media outlet that they completely disagreed with.  WOW.. so much respect for them for taking the step and making the attempt. I chimed in with my thoughts on all media and they responded with their own thoughts in return. I debated putting the exact conversation on here for you all to read. However, in the end I figured the exact words were irrelevant, the sentiment from us both was far more important. By taking the time to think and re-read the conversation, I have allowed myself to see that in some ways the two of us were doing the same thing; expressing our biases, our own judgments, and showing our own divisions. It made me far more aware of how we all paint with a very broad brush. I am so tired of doing this, and am trying desperately to recognize when I am. I am trying to unload the weight and at least conversations are starting – I hope.

One word really kept coming to my mind in all of this; the word tolerance. Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as “relative capacity to endure or adapt physiologically to an unfavorable environmental factor. Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own – the act of allowing something”. I also went to different books from different faiths to see what they said about tolerance. I found that not only did these books talk of being tolerant, they also talked of being intolerant. I think we all believe that we are pretty tolerant people, are we really though? Maybe it depends on the circumstance. Much like my conversation with my old friend. Their responses made me sad in some ways as I was able to recognize a level of intolerance. Then all of a sudden a flash went off in me. An open admittance of the things that I do not tolerate well.

I found that I have a level of intolerance with people who do not wish to learn or absorb. Maybe that however, is not with them, maybe the teacher just needs to find another way to teach. I believe that people absorb when they are ready, when it is beneficial to them, when it is an advantage or addition to their lives. I also found that I have a level of intolerance to language, and or people, that try to tear me apart from my connection to other people or things that I truly want to get to know, to try, and possibly even to love. My list could continue shockingly, and very possibly infinitely. I know for me to become whole I must learn to change. As someone has said to me even baby steps in the right direction are good.

So as you read my words and choose to join me, if only momentarily, in my journey, I hope you begin to recognize some of your own levels of intolerance. If you would like to join the conversation and share what some of them are as I did, please do so. We would love to hear from you. If you are not ready to join the conversation, but are ready to change, than just remember baby steps can also get you to a great destination. Try to think about all of our shoes – step out of yours – and try something new.

 

 

 

Dear Dr. King..

Dear Dr. King,

I recently read the entire speech you gave at Cornell College on October 15, 1962 and find myself wondering if you would be disappointed in today’s society were you still to be living. I also think it is something that everyone should read. I read it not necessarily in the context solely of race relations, but in the context of human relations in general. I found myself questioning, fifty some odd years later, whether or not we truly have integrated and/or whether or not we have kept ourselves segregated and I do not even think I mean racially. There is one quote in particular that stands out to me to still be true today. You said “I’m convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other”. In sadness I say, I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment, although, I think the separations are far more than race in today’s world and that scares me.

The one quote that comes to my mind, that I have been thinking of daily for some time now, that I missed seeing in your speech, is the last sentence of our Declaration Of Independence “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor”. As you know many of the signers kept that pledge to each other. I shake my head wondering what happened to us and when. The first person I suppose I will put blame on for the hatred and separations in today’s society is me. Not that I have not loved, whom I could love in my life, as I think I have done that pretty well, including my enemies or those who have done me harm. Rather maybe because I lived in a bubble, as I think we all do, and did not really take the time to see, hear, feel, and understand what was going on outside of it.

You mentioned you loved the idea of democracy, and I might even say the republic instead of democracy, and you also loved, although flawed, America. I am not so sure that many actually even love America today. And this I blame on the two that you said must work together to integrate us; education and legislation. I have not at this point figured out if one has gone to far, and the other not far enough, or neither has gone far enough, or both have gone to far. All I know for sure is both have failed us. Whether it be in the quests for power, greed, ill will, whatever the reason, our governments seek more to control us, than to integrate us. And our education system does not even teach civics anymore, nor the Constitution, or Declaration of Independence. If most Americans do not know where the quotes “that all men are created equal” or “that all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights” even come from, never mind what those rights truly are, how are we to integrate and save the America that you loved and that I love. I think you would be mortified if you knew that one thing that they do teach in school is that violence is okay and a means to an end.

You are truly right when you say “poverty and ignorance breed crime whatever the racial group may be”. That is why I not only started to educate myself, but little by little I am standing up as you say good willed people need to do. I am also trying to pass on what I am learning or have learned, no matter the subject or how small an item it may be. It is my promise that I will do what I can to no longer divide, but instead to integrate as fast as I can. Because I too have a dream, that everyone should be equal, that faith should help guide us, and that love for our country and each other, above all else should prevail.

Thank you for having your dream and being a pioneer. You are missed by many.

With Love,

Laura Standrowicz

Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to Cornell College

 

 

Redefine…..

As teenagers we were asked by our high school to write a favorite quote to be placed in our yearbook with our pictures. My favorite quote then is still my favorite quote today, and something that took me years to live by. Although admittedly there are times, though they may be few, that I have to remind myself of this quote and reapply it to my life. The quote by Rabbi Hyman Schachtel goes something like this: “Happiness is not in having what you want. It is in wanting what you have”.

Now Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines happiness this way: “1. good fortune;prosperity-2. a state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable satisfaction-3.aptness;felicity”. Now I did not have an unhappy childhood, teen years, or even early adulthood, per se, I just became more aware that I was not living my quote the older I got. I think somewhere in my early 30s I really thought about that quote and said to myself, am I really grateful for what I do have. When I started to live my life in that way, wanting what I had, instead of having what I wanted, I reached a level of happiness I had never felt before. And everyday since, I try to remind myself how lucky I am and grateful I am for everything I have, and am blessed with, and that makes me truly happy.

I even used it in a conversation with someone just yesterday. What was said to me yesterday is that I let people walk all over me at times and that has kept me from being successful. I asked the person who said that to me to kindly define success. Well, Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary defines it in this way: “1. outcome;result-2. degree or measure of succeeding;a favorable termination of a venture;the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence-3. one that succeeds”. Now I knew this was not a put down of me, more that this person defined success the way the dictionary did. And I sometimes like to live by my own definition.

So I told them, “you may be correct in that I do let people walk all over me at times. But, during those periods I learn such things as strength, resilience, fortitude, and I will even add the word compassion”. I went on to say “I have a home that I love, I am loving, compassionate, and generous. I have a man, a family, and many friends in my life that are also all of those things. Do you not think that is not success? I am far happier than I bet some of these billionaires are. Because they will always want for more”. They looked at me and said I guess you are right.

Trust me, it is not about being right or wrong. It is about living a happy life and redefining some of the words that society makes you feel you have to be. When I stopped looking at myself as a failure for not becoming say a manager, or moving up some corporate ladder, and started to see that I had so many wonderful, beautiful things in my life, I started to realize how truly happy, blessed, and successful I am. And all the money in the world will never change that or take that away from me. So when someone or yourself tries to make you feel less than anything you think you are or should be, wipe that thought out of your head and realize the beauty you have and that surrounds you. Try to be thankful for that.

In closing, I will leave you with another quote I found for all of us to think about. It may even become my new favorite, or at least among the top. It is a quote about happiness from Democritus. It goes like this: “Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul”.

Farmers Markets Forever….

A few weeks ago I read an article about how farmers markets were detrimental to society. Though I respect the author’s view, I do not see any of what they claimed in their article, in my local farmers markets. And as such, wondered if they had ever been to one, only been to one when they traveled, or if their local market truly made them feel that way. It saddened me to read it really. With all that said, I love to shop at farmers markets and have compiled a list as to why I shop them. As I believe life is about togetherness and community, I hope that if you have never been to one, you will try one out. And if you do shop them, you continue to do so. Here is my list:

Produce is locally grown and fresh. No matter what the local grower/farmer is selling, it is normally right after harvest. This means the product is fresh, not days old after having been shipped, hauled, stored, and then displayed. Because the product is fresh, it means it has a better flavor and has not lost any of its nutrients.

Products are usually organic. I have found, in many cases, local markets are growers that are smaller in nature and thus farm organically. If they do however, use chemicals, the grower is there for you to ask questions of. Many will tell you exactly what they put on their plants. Then you can decide whether or not you want to buy.

Your immune system will thank you. When you buy products you know are grown in your area, that are grown in the same geographical type of soil, then you ingest and expose yourself to the chemical make up of everything that surrounds you. Thus you are already preparing your immune system for any effects that may occur during pollination. It is possible, some of you may begin to notice that you are having less reactions.

They are not only for food. Though many of us like to go to farmers markets for our fruits, vegetables, honey, dairy, and other eatables, many farmers markets have other goods. I have seen everything from furniture, scarves, quilts, artwork, to Jewelry. Many of us have very talented neighbors and we possibly may not even know they are that talented. This leads me to my next one.

A good place to get to know your neighbors. Whether your neighbor is the talented knitter selling scarves or mittens, or the person looking for some raw honey, farmers markets are a very good place to mingle and to get to know the people of your community. You may just make a new friend for life.

Your money stays in your community. I like to save the best for last. Why not want your money to stay in your community? Farmers markets are a very good way to support your local businesses, farmers, growers, artists, and neighbors. It is a very good way to keep your money where it should be, helping out everyone in your community.

These are just a few things I came up with as to why I will always promote a local farmers market. This does not mean I do not also shop the chains, big and small, it just means I will always want to have the ability to shop a local farmers market. Especially if I, am like most, and do not keep a garden of my own. So get out there, get to know your neighbors, support your community, and enjoy the local, fresh, flavorful fare. You just might find, you feel exactly the same way I do.

 

 

 

The New Years Pea…

Not to long ago an old classmate/friend of mine posted a picture to his social media page of his dinner plate. He had extracted the green peas from the dish and commented on his dislike of them. As green is my favorite color, and I personally do not mind green peas, I just had to leave a fun comment. His reply, time for a blog post about peas. Well, I think you are right, except I am changing it up a bit. I am not going to write about green peas today, I am going to introduce him to a different kind of pea. A pea that is more like a bean than a pea; the black-eyed pea.

Many in the south eat the black-eyed peas, as tradition, on New Years day to add luck to their year to come. History explains to us why southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Years Day. As a northerner born and raised, I had never heard this story until I moved to the south. I suspect maybe my friend has not heard the story either. Either way, as a way to expand traditions, and spread some knowledge, I thought I would share the story with all of you.

It begins with the civil war. A war, I think, that no one truly leaves unscathed from or ever really gets over. But, that is for another discussion. Why the peas? Well, the story goes that Major General William T. Sherman led his army from Atlanta, GA on November 15th, 1864 to the port of Savannah where they arrived on December 22nd, 1864. The entire way, they left complete and utter destruction in their wake. Many southerners remained in hiding, with little to no food, as the northern army made their pass through. As they went across Georgia, the northern army took everything of value, including livestock. Any livestock that was not taken, was eaten to sustain the strength and lives of the troops. All crops were taken or destroyed, all livestock was taken or eaten, and many buildings brought down to the ground. What would the southerners find and do?

Once the pass was made, the starving southerners began to come out of hiding. They came out only to find everything destroyed, with the exception of several silos full of black-eyed peas. It appears the northern army could not take everything. And as the peas were only used in the north as feed stock, they were of little value. So the decision was made to leave them behind. For what need would the southerners have of the peas? They no longer had livestock to feed. It was true many fell to starvation. The southerners began to eat the only thing left to sustain their lives; the black-eyed peas. They found some hope in those peas. So, New Years Day 1865 and every New Years since, southerners have added black-eyed peas to their diet. They eat them as an emblem of hope that life will provide them much luck and sustenance in the days ahead.

Like most southerners, I had my share of black-eyed peas yesterday, livestock feed or not. I eat them to stick with tradition, to remember the horrors of the past, the road we have taken since, and in hope that one day all will be forgiven and healed. If luck comes along with that, then that is an added bonus for me. Most importantly, I actually like them with a little bit of butter and hint of bacon flavor. So to you my old classmate/friend and to all of you, if green is not your thing, then maybe you will find a flavor you like in a little pea called a black-eyed pea.

Happy New Year.. Welcome to 2018..

Happy New Year everyone..

As this day approached I, like every one of you, began to think of what my resolutions would be for this new year. Would I lose the minimal 10 pounds I know I need to lose. Should I resolve to finish my course work, get my health in order, or spend more time on my career? All these things I need to accomplish. But as I looked back at the past year and remembered what I saw every time I turned on my television and sometimes my phone or computer; the vile viciousness, the hatred, the violence, the ugliness, how divided we were – and becoming more so, I thought I needed to make better, bigger, bolder resolutions in this new year. I need to try to bridge the divide. I think I have known this for some time, it is now time to step up.

Then I read an article about how most of us fail to follow or complete our New Year’s resolutions – so true. The author suggested that we think about what we truly want for our year to come and express it in one word. Then we live that one word in our daily lives. Remembering last year, and feeling like it would continue into this year, when I began thinking about ways that I wanted to change this year, I tried to see if it summed up in one word. You see I want to become the person who sees someone hungry and shares my meal, to see someone sick and do what I can to make them feel better, to see someone blinded by whatever it is and give them clarity, and to see someone who feels so alone and lonely and make them know that they are not alone. Very lofty goals I know. And can they be expressed in one word? If they can, I think the one word and my word this year will be “GIVING”.

I think I will begin my giving by sharing something I wrote several years ago. I hope you like it, and even more so, I hope it makes you think about yourself and your effect on this world. For it is my belief that every moment matters. Here it is:

                        
                            ALL OF ME


I have gone through life
With my hand held out
For anyone who wanted to take hold
Several tried to slap it shut
But they could not get it to fold

I have also stood
With my arms open wide
For anyone who wanted a hug
Several tried to get my arms to close
But they could only get me to shrug

As soon as I could feel, it beat
I have offered up my heart
For anyone who wanted, or needed, to feel love
Several tried to make it break
But they did not know, what it was made of

When I felt like I was old enough
I have offered up my brain
For anyone who had, like me, an eagerness to learn
Several tried to get my mind to close
But they could not stop my intellectual yearn

Eventually I have offered all of me
My hand, my heart, my brain
For anyone who wanted a friend to hold, to love, to share ideas
Several tried to take pieces of me
But they could not see, love replenishes, it appears

I have learned that life is truly lived
When the gift I give is me
From the touch of my hand, pang of my heart, 
Or something I need to teach
It matters not the length of time that is shared
It matters the depth that is reached

by,
Laura Standrowicz
c: May 2010

So as I enter my year of giving, if the only thing I have to give is myself, then I shall do what it takes to not break this New Year’s resolution. And I hope with all my heart that each one of us, finds the strength and fortitude to keep our New Year’s resolutions, whatever they may be. Most importantly, I hope that we all find a way to make 2018 a very good year — together.