Celebrating in April

Seeing beauty in every moment.
Seeing beauty in every moment.

Look for the good in every person and every situation. You’ll almost always find it.
Brian Tracy

The week of April 15-20 seems to be a time that has attracted evil for over 100 years. For me these five days have always been a time of celebration, because they include my father’s birthday, my aunt’s birthday as well as my parent’s anniversary. Over the last 22 years though, Americans have come to dread this week due to many national tragedies. As this week came and went we saw many news stories remembering the bombing during the Boston marathon last year, Dateline also did a special about the Columbine shooting 15 years ago. The special had a positive message about overcoming that I would encourage you to watch. These are only two of the several tragic events that have occurred within this 5 day time span.

As I sat back and reflected on this time period and my reasons for celebration and the countries desire for healing I keep wondering how can we combine these two and make changes? I am blessed that I have a family that has a strong bond although geographically we are not close. We have love and support that transcends distance. I live my life with a positive outlook and try to reflect that to all of my friends and family, but our nation seems to be in distress that continues to grow. It is heartwarming to see the bond that the survivors of these various tragedies have, but this bond is not crossing over to the nation as a whole.

My desire is to see more stories of people coming together to support one another. Utilizing the common courtesies that seem to be old fashioned like holding a door, or even simply smiling and saying hello. One of my favorite stories is Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The message of doing something kind for someone and wanting nothing in return except to have someone pay that kindness forward to someone else is my mantra. Although it is not a common practice I offer everyone I see a smile for the day. I hope that you can smile too.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
Frederick Keonig

Patriotism and the United States Flag

United States FlagIt seems that in this age of constantly trying to be politically correct we have lost some of our core values as a country. We are a country that was created on freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly as stated in the first Amendment. The United States Flag is a representation of our nation and these freedoms. After the attack on our country on September 11, 2001 there was a resurgence of people displaying the flag to show their love of our country and patriotism. Unfortunately since then the flag has also been utilized inappropriately as a political statement.

Recently a friend of mine had an experience while waiting in line at a drive thru restaurant where she saw a United States flag sticker that was upside down. She got the driver’s attention and questioned him about this, the person’s response was “Yep, I’m anti Obama,” her response was “Oh, I’m so confused. I didn’t know disliking our president meant being anti- American.” To which the driver responded with an inappropriate gesture. Two days before I heard about her experience I was attending a flag retirement ceremony at the American Legion where we were respectfully going through the process of burning flags that were no longer in condition to be flown (per U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 1 (k) of the US Flag code). During this ceremony a person rode by on a motorcycle and stated “Oh, it’s just a flag burning.”

Flag retirement
Proper disposal of a flag no longer fit to be flown

These two experiences had me thinking a lot about the flag and the representation that it is of our nation. Growing up, I remember learning that you never burn a flag in protest, that a flag should never touch the ground, and that you should stand and show respect during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, but beyond that I didn’t know a lot of the rules regarding the American Flag. I decided it is time to know more about this symbol that so quickly and easily establishes that I am proud to be a United States citizen.

The American flag has been an ever changing representation of our growing nation. It represents a nation of independence, individual liberty and popular sovereignty. Our flag is unique because it doesn’t represent a family or royal house. The flag is a representation of all approximately 300 million citizens of the United States. Congress originally decreed that there should be a star and a stripe for each state, the 13 original colonies/states. As our nation began to grow this decree changed to restrict the number of stripes to 13 representing the original states, but a star would be added for each succeeding state. The last star was added in 1959 after Hawaii was admitted as a state by President Eisenhower.

After reading the flag code my friend had every right to question the person displaying a flag upside down because the first item in the flag code states (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. Based on the person’s response I doubt he was in dire distress. As for the person that rode by our flag retirement ceremony, all I can think is that it was an uninformed statement. I know until recently I had never attended or even knew that the American Legion did ceremonies like this, but now I am honored to have been a part of this ceremony and look forward to attending in the future.

I have enjoyed learning more detailed information about the United States Flag and all that it represents. Please stay tuned for additional information in future posts, I would also like to hear your feelings on this national symbol.

Global Warming, Hoping I make a difference.

Garden

As a stay at home mom I am either chasing my toddler around or watching PBS shows like Sesame Street, but I do try to watch the thirty minutes of national news at night just so I can keep up on current events. On Monday night there was a brief story about a UN study regarding global warming and the risks that we are facing if we don’t make changes. The interviewee mentioned that although we have had a challenging winter 2013 was the warmest on record and that this trend will continue to occur unless humans make changes. Then the news moved on to the next issues of the night.

Ski Resort

Although we have heard about global warming for years this brief story pointed out the scientific predictions of years ago with warmer temperatures and harsher storms are beginning to happen. I have watched the news a little more deliberately the last few days to see if there would be any follow up and haven’t seen anything. I guess following the conscious uncoupling of Gwyneth Paltrow or Nick Cannon using white face to promote an album are more important than the long term sustainability of our planet. Since the television news was not going to provide me with any more information I found some quiet time while my son was sleeping to search the internet and found an article with the details of the UN report.

As I read through this article I was amazed that global warming has taken such a back seat in our daily discussions. Within the report it says, “Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.” It also points out that climate change will help create new pockets of poverty and “hotspots of hunger” even in richer countries, increasing inequality between rich and poor. As I sit at home watching commercials about the starving children in other countries and celebrities asking us to donate money I think about this issue of global warming and think back to the devastation in New Jersey and Oklahoma recently, yet it isn’t being talked about on a national stage and I realize things aren’t going to change in our country until these celebrities are effected on a personal level. I rarely get involved in political debates, but one thing that I do appreciate about our current first family is that they are trying to teach people about the importance of growing their own food. Unfortunately they do it with the help of a large staff and the help of tax payers which the average American doesn’t have.

On a daily basis I live my life chasing my son, gardening and trying to live a life that will help maintain the health of our planet. I know that this will help teach my son about the importance of “green” living, but I worry that unless society changes my lifestyle isn’t going to help the next generations.