FPQ #159: Love Is All You Need

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week is as follows:

If there are only three things in life that truly matter, what do you think they are and why did you choose those three?

My answers are all about love, which leads to all else that truly matter.

  1. Self-love. If you don’t love yourself, you will not have the capacity to truly and selflessly love others, and you will probably have a miserable life. Self-love (or self-esteem) involves self-care: taking care of your physical and mental health and seeking help when needed; searching for work that really suits you and that you like; it brings out loving characteristics, such as kindness, respect, honesty, gratitude, and the ability to smile every day. Self-love allows you to feel gratitude for things great and small that you have or that happen to you. Self-love also is genuinely accepting love from others.
  2. Love for others: friends and family. I am lucky to have a wonderful extended family that loves and supports each other, and we are also financially secure. I am blessed for that! But even without actual kin, you can create a family of sorts with the people that love and care for you, perhaps a group/organization you belong to, or people who share your residence, or just your friends in general. Love for others, though, goes beyond these relationships. It is also caring for people you don’t even know, people who live in other countries, compassion for those who are suffering, nearby and far away. There is too much hate in our world today. Love for others means being kind toward others, showing respect, being honest, helping and showing interest in others. Love for others is non-judgmental; it’s about showing gratitude for others’ gifts, support, love, and care. If more people spent their time loving others, instead of hating or putting people down, this world would be a much better place! We might even have peace all over the world – imagine no more war!
  3. Love for Earth or the natural world. I am reading a very good book right now, called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is a Native American (Potawatomi) woman who writes about loving and showing gratitude for the gifts we receive from others, especially from the land. She shows how the natural world gives us gifts every day, which we would appreciate if we just stopped and looked around: every living thing, as well as non-living things, is here for a purpose and each has its own work to do to provide gifts to other living things, including ourselves. We are part of the web of life of this planet and we should not take it for granted.
  1. Love for Earth means taking care of it – this is the home of everyone and every thing we know, and it’s the only one we have – as of 2022, we cannot move anywhere else! Climate scientists are issuing dire warnings that we must curb our reliance on fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. Already the planet has heated up to the point where we are seeing more natural disasters: flooding on coastlines as the sea level rises, wildfires that destroy everything in their path in areas with prolonged drought, hurricanes which have increased in number and intensity due to the warming of the oceans, avalanches where excessive rainfall causes the eroding of the soil, and many others. It will soon affect us all, especially our children, grandchildren, and successive generations who will continue to live here. And scientists warn that eventually it will be an unpleasant place to live.

    To love the Earth, we must stop polluting air, land, and bodies of water. Increasingly, medical scientists are finding that many forms of cancer are caused by breathing polluted air or drinking polluted water. Also, the land is home for many animals who share this planet with us and we are trashing their homes! A sixth massive extinction is taking place right now, and it is being caused by human activities. Even if you are a person who really doesn’t care about people outside your circle of family and friends, every creature on this planet has a purpose – plants and animals that feed us, species that provide medicines which can cure many diseases (and we haven’t found them all, so some may become extinct without being able to provide us with its gift of healing medicines), and the removal of which disrupts the food chain, either in minor or major ways – we can make predictions but cannot say for sure how serious the impact of altering any particular food chain will be.

    People who show love for the natural world work, if they can, to advocate for cleaner ways of living, for finding solutions to problems such as how to provide fuel to heat people’s homes, provide energy for cars, machinery, etc. A great lover of the Earth is the Swedish young woman Greta Thunberg, who has turned her local protest at her high school into a worldwide movement. But there are many ways to love and show gratitude toward the natural world, including recycling, reducing what we use (such as single use plastics), and reusing what we can. It includes walking outside on a pleasant day and appreciating the beauty of the flowers (if they are blooming where you are) or the cycle of life, in which each season has its purpose to perpetuate future seasons. It includes having gratitude for the (hopefully) fresh air we breathe, for the coolness of a stream we dabble our toes in, for the sun that warms us and the moon and stars which cheer us.

CBWC: Plastics

The topic of Cee’s Black & White Challenge this week is plastic. So many things are made of plastic these days that one could probably find something plastic in almost any photo taken in human-made situations! Plastic takes up to 500 years to decompose and even then, it is reduced to microscopic pellets that enter the digestive systems of fish, birds, mammals, and eventually, humans. So here are some photos of plastic things, which eventually will be discarded, end up in a landfill somewhere or the ocean and…well, you know.

This is the top of a bottle with a hole for the straw that comes with it. The top without a hole was lost!
I am pretty sure that the dinosaurs on display at the Brookfield Zoo were (at least in part) made of plastic!
My niece turned 50 and this was put on her cake.

Alzheimer’s Awareness at The Moorings. The fitness instructor (she’s under the arch!) blew
up all these purple balloons herself! I’m pretty sure she had a machine.
A pinwheel turning in the wind.
A plastic container with rolls of licorice inside.

Please, when possible, RECYCLE (look for the numbers 1-5 in the recycling triangle symbol & check your community’s recycling program to find out which numbers they’ll take), REUSE whenever you can, and REDUCE the plastic items you buy or acquire (difficult to do, I know) – one way to do this is bring your own cloth or woven plastic reusable bags to the store when you shop so you don’t use the plastic bags supermarkets tend to put your groceries in.

SYW: Least Favorite Day, Energy, and Other Musings

Monday, Monday…I can trust that day
Monday, Monday…to find Melanie’s Share Your World today!

This is a good segue into Melanie’s first question, which is…

“What’s the worst day of the week for you?”  Why?

It’s not Monday, as it probably is for many in the working world – but I’m retired so Monday is just fine, and so are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! I have a different schedule every day. Monday is mostly free of scheduled activities and commitments, but it’s the day I have to do our weekly calendar, fill my pill cases, and usually do laundry and/or run the dishwasher (i.e. clean up the kitchen, thus filling the dishwasher). But it’s pretty laid back. Sunday, I guess I would have to say, is my least favorite, because it’s the only day I have to get up early to go to church! But really, I can’t think of a “worst day” of the week. I have random “bad days” but they don’t fall on the same day of the week.

With the recent energy crisis here in the UK, would you prefer electric, gas, oil or some other means of heating your home?

Downloaded image from Google, courtesy of https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/articles/iea-awarded-illinois-wind-farm-project

I would prefer to have solar panels and a system for storing solar energy at my house, but I cannot do that, because I live in a senior community and our house is rented. We have all electric, except water & heat, which are gas. That said, when we were living in our own home before we moved here, I was some years ago given the opportunity by our energy provider to choose wind energy. I signed up for 100% wind energy – there are extensive wind farms in southern Illinois. I hope my instructions were followed, but I have no way of verifying that all of our household’s our energy was in fact generated by wind turbines. More and more people in this area are signing up for solar power – they have the panels installed on the roof and a system for collecting and storing that energy. It requires an initial large financial commitment, but in the long run, it saves money. You can get energy credits and “sell” your energy back to the company. I wish this community would go solar!

In your household, who takes care of the bills, taxes, and other financial stuff? Is one person responsible or is it a shared chore?

We share financial matters, but I do more of it in terms of the amount of time spent on it. I pay the bills, keep track of medical/drug/charitable expenses by putting them all on spread sheets, and then when we are compiling our tax information, I print out the spread sheets and give them to my husband. I also keep spread sheets of our trip expenses and our children’s debts to us. Dale takes care of getting financial documents together, compiling all the things we have put into our yearly tax folder, and getting them over to our tax preparer. We also have investments, and managing these is a shared responsibility.

If you can have any one job (real or fiction) in the galaxy (yes, the galaxy, I’m widening the search radius, imagining relocation to other planets possible), what is that job?

galactic explorer and journalist/travel writer; also perhaps being an interplanetary travel agent, helping people plan trips to wherever. I would expect perks from this job – free or almost free travel credits on flights aboard space ships!

Who are you grateful for?

My husband, Dale. He does so much to take care of me and does all kinds of tasks that I get frustrated doing or my ADHD interferes with me doing, as well as a lot of household chores. He has been having some more health issues lately, and I feel as though I should learn to do the things he customarily does. I think I take him for granted too often! Living in a senior community, we find out when someone in independent living passes away, often leaving a husband or wife behind. Sometimes it happens suddenly, and sometimes after a long illness. But it’s always hard, and there are a lot of widows and widowers here! This may sound morbid but it’s just part of getting older.

12 Bloggerz August 2020: On the State of Our World, Our Nation and Ourselves

Rory at A Guy Called Bloke has a monthly 12 question challenge, called 12 Bloggerz August 2020.

Meet the Bloggerz Directory

We live in a questioning world so it’s hardly surprising that there are so many questions that are asked by people every day, week and month is it? This feature will ask you all sorts of questions – but will only ever ask you 12 questions per month. You can answer them in the comments section below or create a post on your own blog should you wish to – that’s your choice.

In many ways this feature will be a no holds barred styled questions arena – covering many topical areas, controversial, opinionated – taboo orientated and just general and light hearted – just questions about people and things from all walks of life!

Additionally should any of the readership wish to pose a question to be featured within 12 Bloggerz in the future episodes – please drop me an email to aguycalledbloke63@gmail.com

Cheers Rory

Your answers to these questions are down to your individual interpretation of each question.

So here goes:

As a society are we really that social anymore – like it used to be?
We are social in a different way – today it’s all about social media, online meetings, Zooming, etc. But I don’t think we are as likely to take a nice leisurely lunch with a friend, for the pleasure of simply chatting. Do we really care about the person we’re socializing with? A lot of social media seem to be a forum for people to tell their own story and hope that other people will read their posts. And I find that it’s easier to just scroll and hit “like” when I feel I should. But I’m not knocking social media – nowadays it’s the way to keep in touch with people I care about but rarely get to see. I’ve blogged about this before, such as here.

If only l was twenty years younger l would … ?
Twenty years ago, when I was in my 40s, I was antsy to find a more meaningful profession. If I were to go back with 20/20 hindsight, I would not have chosen teaching. I was preoccupied (although somewhat justifiably) with the wrong things. I should have been asking, Will I be happy doing this? Can I really be good at it? Do I want it just for salary and benefits (because believe it or not, teaching had better pay and benefits than what I was doing before)? If I could, I would have done more research on professions that would suit me better.

Is society ruder more now than it used to be back in the day?
Yes, most definitely. People put themselves first. They talk about their “rights” but rarely about the responsibilities that go with those rights. Our current federal government (USA) has encouraged, aided and abetted this attitude. We do not have good role models in leadership roles.

Emperor Trump: Tattoo'd, rude and in an impeachable mood - al.com
Trump: Leader of lies, rudeness and hype

Is our world hyper-focusing progression on the wrong things or in the wrong direction?
If you mean, do I think humanity is trending toward the wrong direction, I would say yes, but not everybody and not everywhere. I think our planet and our ability to continue living on it and respecting other creatures we share it with should be top priority for everyone right now. There are so many other problems connected with climate change – the biggest polluters are not the ones who will suffer most from the results. Greta Thunberg has the right priorities!

Do you think there is any truth what so ever to any current conspiracy theories?
No, and I don’t think it deserves any more of an answer than this.

Are you more confused about the shape of our world today more so than when younger? 
Confused, no – I think I understand our world a whole lot better than I did when I was young(er). Concerned, yes, as everyone should be.

Do we as a society simply have too many labels and too many label hunters?
Yes, but at the same time, sometimes “labels” are helpful – not to stereotype, but to provide help to those who need it. So if a kid is diagnosed with ADHD, don’t just dismiss it by saying, “It’s just a label.” It’s not, and neither are a myriad of other disorders and disabilities. “Being depressed” isn’t just being sad. It’s a very serious, and debilitating mental illness that can lead to addiction or worse.

Are you more or less family orientated?
Yes, I am family oriented, because my family is my greatest blessing. I grew up in a mostly loving home and I love getting together with my siblings’ families. Family is my top priority. I think it is the source of most people’s happiness.

Do you dress up ‘smart’ to go out or is your style more casual all day every day?
I like casual, but I also like to dress up a little. Right now, I lament the fact that I bought a lot of new clothes to wear at our senior community’s dining room and events, and now none of those things are taking place so I’m not wearing all the new clothes I bought.

But in general, I wear what is comfortable and what best hides my aging bulges!

With the current ‘pandemic’ do you miss ‘Yesterday’s way of life or not?
Of course, doesn’t everyone? But I am so angry with selfish people who won’t do what medical professionals are telling us and as a result, the pandemic and its restrictions are dragging on longer than necessary. No one really likes to wear a mask, but if that is what we need to do to protect others as well as ourselves, I am willing to do so. If everyone were willing to be on board with this, we would be able to get back to “yesterday’s” way of life again.

What I miss most is being able to travel.

What do you class as adventurous?
Anything that takes guts or involves taking risks. That said, I am not particularly adventurous, but I do like “adventures” – as in “travel adventures. “

Are you more conventional brick and mortar shopper or online and Internet buyer styled?   
I do both, because it depends on what I’m buying. I won’t buy shoes online, for example – I have to try them on to see if they are comfortable. In one style, I may wear a size 8, whereas in another style, I wear 8 1/2. Shoes are too important to take chances.

But right now, I love buying things online, because then I get packages in the mail – something to look forward to! I’ve been buying a lot of books, getting them cheap on Amazon. Also art supplies, and a variety of other miscellaneous things.

Amazon Smile logo - Ferrum College
Sorry for Amazon plug. That’s a whole other subject for discussion!

FPQ: Rediscovering My Joys

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week encourages us to look inward, at ourselves. Fandango writes: I saw this question on a site that offers up a bunch of “deep, philosophical” questions and this one intrigued me. It’s about evolution, but not in the context of Darwin’s evolution of the species. It’s more about evolution of the individual and about who you are and how you change over time. Here’s this week’s question, which is essentially about you. I hope you’ll have fun with it.

Is the concept of “you” continuous or does the past “you” continually fade into the present and future “you”? (Yes, it’s both.)  Considering that your body, your mind, and your memories are changing over time, what part of “you” sticks around? (My essence, my soul, my identity).

Now that I’ve answered both questions in brief, I will expand, as I am wont to do!

I once had a revelation about myself that I told my daughter: You may have changed a great deal since childhood, but whatever you were good at and interested in when you were 10 will come back around when you are an adult. Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy challenge has a theme related to this: rediscovering your childhood joys.

For me, it was art (I drew and doodled incessantly) , languages (I fell in love with Spanish in 5th grade), cultures (I was fascinated by the pictures in my parents’ National Geographic magazines), cats (I have always had one as a pet, except when my son had allergies growing up), and writing (I wrote many stories and even a short novel when I was a kid).

This is one of my more recent drawings – it’s a combination of drawing and watercolor. First, I chose a photograph I had taken. Then I drew it freehand with black pigment liner. Then I used watercolor pencils for the color and background.
Another of my obsessions – cats. This is the best cat drawing I have done, but not the only or most recent one!

Another art form I love is photography, as any reader of my blog knows. I first started taking pictures with a Brownie black & white camera when I was about 10.

I took these photos of my friends with my Brownie camera in 1966!

In high school, I bought an Olympus SLR and got “serious” about photography. It helped that I had a boyfriend who was a photographer, and he taught me how to develop my black and white pictures. Later I installed my own mini darkroom in the second bathroom of an apartment I lived in in college.

In my late teens and early adulthood, for years I tried to become something that I couldn’t become – a musician (I’m not very talented in music, much as I love it), a best-selling author (I don’t have the discipline), a counselor (I have trouble giving advice on the spot) – and then I dreamed of being something that I could become, but didn’t: a linguist, an anthropologist, a translator at the United Nations – and finally became something I’d thought about in childhood but never thought I could become: a teacher. One of my sisters was a great teacher and she was very patient. I have never been patient.

I wasn’t actually a great teacher. I was, in fact, mediocre as a classroom teacher, and kept losing classroom teaching jobs. I was better at being a “pull-out” resource teacher (teaching ESL and bilingual literacy to smaller groups of students who came to me during their classroom’s literacy time). I was better at this because I didn’t have to worry about 10 things at once and didn’t have to keep track of 20+ kids at the same time. I also love languages and was very passionate about language acquisition and a strong advocate for bilingual education. So that job (where I spent more years and was happy) utilized more of my strengths: using Spanish every day, teaching English as a second language, enthusiasm about learning, working with students, doing creative holiday projects and writing projects with them.

I started a paper recycling club at my school one year, and this is me receiving an award worth $200 for the paper recycling we did. The money was used for the school’s club fund. I have always been passionate about environmental issues.

On the other hand, classroom teaching emphasized my weaknesses – midway through my teaching career, I found out I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). This is not a good thing to have if you are a teacher but at least I knew it wasn’t because I was a failure – at discipline, executive functioning, at remembering to send in my attendance every morning, at trying but never succeeding at being organized. This diagnosis helped me become more accepting of who I am and not ashamed of what I am not.

Now I’m happily retired and doing the things I used to spend hours doing when I was a kid: drawing, writing, learning foreign languages, pursuing intellectual interests such as politics, international affairs, and traveling (I didn’t do these last few much as a kid, although I have fond memories of family trips and I never avoided controversial topics with my parents, which didn’t always work out very well). I love other cultures and seeing new things.

Here I am with my cousins in Tanzania in 2018 (that’s me in the light colored shirt) – we are about to learn a traditional dance in a Maasai village.

These interests have always been a part of me, even though I have evolved a great deal in my journey of self-discovery. I’m not so hard on myself as I used to be. Finding out about having ADHD was a revelation about my entire life – why it was hard for me to make new friends, why I daydreamed so much, why I talked out of turn in school, why I was a “slow reader” (I wasn’t slow – I just got distracted so that by the time I had finished a page, I couldn’t remember what I’d read and had to go back and read it again), and why I was constantly losing things.

Besides the self-discovery that comes with maturity, I look back at my life and sometimes feel I really haven’t changed that much. I’m still me. I sometimes think I’m still that girl I was in high school. I still have the same soul, which I will have until my dying day. I carry buried memories and emotions of the last 68 years in my brain, but I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, because that doesn’t matter. I have a good life – everything I need and much of what I want. I’ve been lucky, I know that and I am grateful.