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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A New Twist on the Ten Commandments

I didn't know that Native Americans have their own Ten Commandments, and some research has shown a couple of variations on the list. But these 10 principles certainly are something that people of every race and religion -- or no religion at all -- can learn from. I particularly like number 10.

So few people these days are willing to take responsibility for their actions. How many times do we hear about people who have been seen committing a crime, and who may even have confessed to it, enter a plea of 'not guilty' in court? I was brought up to take responsibility for my actions and to face the consequences. I have never been arrested or charged with a crime, but I hope that if that day ever comes, I would 'fess up' to my misdeed.

Admitting responsibility for a misdeed isn't easy, but neither is denying it. This is a lesson that every child needs to learn. I have taught my daughter that actions have consequences, either good or bad, and that she has to face them. I will not bail here out. Unfortunately, it seems that too often, children today are taught the opposite lesson. Nothing is their fault. Mom and dad will fix everything. Parents are incensed if their little darlings are caught doing something wrong. And many adults have the same attitude.

Take, for example, the guy in San Francisco attempting to burglarize a business. He fell through the skylight and was seriously injured. What did he do in response? He sued the building owners. Or the man who was electrocuted and killed while attempting to steal copper from a building? His family sued the owners of the building. Or the person who drunkenly killed three people by slamming into their stopped SUV at 70 mph, then sued the victims' family for medical bills and 'medical anguish'. When the victims' families sued the driver for their medical bills and mental anguish, they found that he had sold his assets to his parents a few weeks after the accident. Or my personal favorite: A Texas teenager from a wealthy family got no jail time for killing four pedestrians while driving drunk got probation because a psychologist testified that the boy has 'affluenza' and therefore believes he is immune from punishment.

The bottom line of these Ten Commandments, as with the original version, is to treat others, including the Earth, with respect. Own up to your mistakes. Don't be greedy. Be honest. Help those less fortunate. It usually takes very little time and effort to do the right thing. I believe that people who do the right thing are happier than those who think only about themselves, and I know our world would be a much nicer place if more people lived by these precepts.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day in Heaven

Today is Mother's Day 2014. And this year it's a somewhat bittersweet day for me.

My mother died some 7-1/2 years ago at the age of 80. This year more than most, I have found myself missing her a lot. I didn't see her often once I set out on my own and moved first to the east coast and later to California. I hope my daughter will be more considerate of me than I was of my mother.

Now that she's gone, I catch myself thinking "I bet Mom would like that" whenever I see a statue of a rooster. She had a collection of ceramic roosters in her kitchen, and I often wonder whether she would like one of the beautifully painted and decorated wooden roosters common in the Southwest. I also am reminded of her whenever I reach for one of the green mixing bowls I brought home after she died. She, like so many women of her generation, was an excellent cook. I still remember her wonderful homemade cinnamon rolls, her delicious post roast and her fried chicken dinners, which remain the best I have ever had. I have a couple of her old cookbooks and enjoy thumbing through them from time to time. How things have changed!

My mother was a beautiful young woman, with piercing blue eyes. As I have grown older, my resemblance to her (and to my maternal grandmother), is apparent. I inherited her small stature and her beautiful blue eyes, which have garnered me countless complements over the years. I think I also learned my sense of service from her. She was an active member of the ladies 'circle' at her church for decades, which met regularly for scripture study, socializing and service to those in need.

In honor of my mother on this special day, I am wearing a silver cuff bracelet engraved with flowers. My father bought it for her in 1945 or 1946, and it is the one thing of my mother's that I really wanted after her death. I didn't know about this bracelet until after she died, as we were going through one of her jewelry boxes. She was a very unpretentious woman who didn't care much for expensive jewelry or clothing.

So happy Mother's Day in heaven, Mom, from your very grateful daughter.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Finding the Silver Lining

My big, beautiful house is empty now ... too empty.

One of my dogs died last October at 15 years old. About the same time, my other dog was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She had to be euthanized just two weeks ago due to uncontrollable seizures. A few days after that, my 20-year-old daughter moved out to get an apartment with her boyfriend.

I am a quiet, private person. I value my privacy, and I've never had a problem being alone. I have always kept busy, either with household chores, yard work or volunteering. But I no longer volunteer with either of the non-profit groups I had helped on a regular basis for two years or more. I still take care of the house and the yard, but doing chores really isn't a fulfilling way to spend my days. I seldom feel bored, but that is exactly how I have felt the past couple of weeks -- bored and lost.

I know this feeling of  emptiness is only temporary. My travels will break up the boredom, and I am getting used to coming home to an empty house. And already, I am looking at adoptable dogs on the Internet. It may not be time to adopt just yet, but I know the time will come.

I also know that sometimes it takes these periods of darkness to make us appreciate the good times. If the sun was always shining, we would be less likely to appreciate a sunny day. If it always rained,  we wouldn't appreciate the rain when it falls.

Periods of darkness can offer an opportunity to learn -- about oneself and about the things we truly value. This isn't to say that I enjoy feeling sad and lost. It does, however, challenge me to find the positive in the situation. For example, after my dog died, I missed her terribly. Then I remembered a folder of photos on my computer. I looked through the pictures, pulled out my favorites, and posted them on my Facebook page. I shared with my friends pictures of Tia enjoying her life:
leaping into the air for a ball my daughter was holding, running through the yard, rolling in the grass, sleeping in the sun, wearing a wig and sunglasses. These pictures reminded me that while I missed Tia terribly, I could look back on her life and see how happy she was. We gave her 5-1/2 years of love and happiness, after she spent seven years in a puppy mill. I am sad that she suffered for so long, but grateful that she knew love.

I hope the feelings of sadness and loss are gone for a long time. But when they inevitably return, I hope I remember that inside each dark cloud there is, indeed, a silver lining.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thirty Steps to a Happier Life

This will be a brief post, to share a link to an article that appeared on Facebook recently. Titled  '30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself,' the article lists a variety of actions and steps we can, and should, take to make us happier and more in tune with our true selves. So here is the link to the article:!Fr46C

I got a lot of good ideas from this article. What do you think?