I Wish Quarreling Were More Fun #atozchallenge

Q: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Debating and the Letter Q for I Wish Quarreling Were More Fun

No one believes me but my mom and dad never fought. I was there. Both independently would confirm that. That impacts a person. Oh sure, as a child I encountered playground conflicts, but it was always the other person reacting in anger for some petty reason, as kids will do. And I had my share of tantrums and “growing pains” with Mom and Dad, but they never fought back. They let me act up and then made smart, decisive responses. No drama, my daddy and mama.

“The Andy Griffith Show” demonstrates the calm parenting of my mom and dad. This clip is a bit longer than I’d like but it gives that perfect example of how to react to childish tantrums. The additional segments are about a spoiled, rich kid who has influenced Opie and who reminds me of how George W. Bush probably behaved so I love that the “Richie Rich” kid gets his comeuppance.

Now, if you just want to see the 21 second outtake of a proper reaction to a kid’s tantrum, click here: 

http://swf.tubechop.com/tubechop.swf?vurl=72w-W6t-MYo&start=1099&end=1118&cid=7736552

Opie looks so self-conscious after his dad ignores him. I, too, have grown to live without drama or bickering. As an only child, I never learned how to spar with siblings. To this day, I avoid conflict whenever possible. I am self-aware and strong but find little use for most disagreements. I just don’t look for a battle. All my life I play ahead ten steps and make the smart decisions that will avoid conflict. 

But a good quarrel about something meaningful is wonderful! And it’s rare. Today many discussions are via social media. But I find it a waste of precious time to engage with anyone who disagrees with me about the Democratic primary candidates because we tend to live in echo chambers, or at least those impassioned folks on the Internet. But a good discourse with an equal about important topics is truly a joy. It’s a debate, more than a quarrel. Heck, I’ve even read otherwise smart people arguing about the bias on the following GIF as it pertained to the intelligence of the two cartoon characters. Cartoon characters, people!

Quarrel gif

I imagine a good quarrel in a relationship but I have never had one. You know, a deep “I know this person and this is getting to something deep and good” sort ot quarrel, like in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?”

If I ever did have a good quarrel that would really get the two of us to a better, deeper place, I think I’d like to hear this song. There was a time I searched all of Banff just to hear this to heal my heart from an unproductive quarrel:

 

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Juggling Pros and Cons, Untying Bonds, the Path I’m On #atozchallenge

J: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Deciding and the Letter J for Juggling Pros and Cons, Untying Bonds, the Path I’m On

Many years ago, I read or heard this somewhere: “We are not doers, but we are deciders. Once our decision is clear, the doing becomes effortless.” I hold fast to this phrase and believe it to be true. I am well known for having commitment issues (which may be why I am often compared to the character “Sam” from “Sex In the City”). But the fact is I simply take my decisions seriously and like to consider the scenarios and weigh the possible consequences before making a big or even medium-sized decision. But once I decide, I am fully committed. Take my decision not to have kinds as an example, something I have mentioned more than once (https://debrastrege.com/2016/04/04/children-being-child-free-is-the-best-decision-of-my-life/). I have never looked back or second guessed that choice. Of course, I feel the same way about not buying a car on credit or taking up smoking.

Life is one big juggling act, if you ask me. I’ve been doing it my entire life. I really don’t need as much internal dialogue as I once did and I try to let my intuition work for me. I think I am being smart by avoiding unpleasant results by weighing the pros and cons. For example, if I buy something expensive and extravagant, will it be worth the sacrifices and loss of comforts elsewhere in my life? Or will I feel enslaved to a job I hate because I over-spent? If I let passion or desire lead to to a relationship I know to be a dead-end, will the fun be worth it? If I speed to make up time, will I get pulled over or have a wreck? Decisions have consequences. I often wonder when I watch those true crime shows about the person who kills her spouse usually for money. Really? Is all the work of planning the kill, disposing of the body, cleaning the evidence, securing an alibi really worth the money or life in prison? I know, a cop once told me they don’t catch the smart ones and I am certain there has to be something mentally wrong with anyone who kills but I can’t fathom how that logic works. If I am that miserable, I leave – long before I consider murder.

Perhaps because of my commitment issues, I find myself with more freedom that many and I’m unencumbered by some of thoJuggling3se permanent sorts of decisions many regret, like an unfulfilling marriage, children (yup, some people regret having kids) or debt that enslaves one to a soul-sucking job. But there are always two sides to every coin. I may be unencumbered by a spouse or child but I’d better take care of my health, my house and my finances because it’s just me. It is as freeing to have the luxury to juggle new challenges as it is restricting to know I only have myself to rely upon.

I’ve dropped a few pins in the juggling game of life. But they didn’t make me stop or regret much. And who knows? Pins have been known to get picked up and returned to the circle game.

 

 

 

 

Ignoring Is Inconsiderate #atozchallenge

I: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Dismissing and the Letter I for Ignoring Is Being Ignored 

I have got to ask for more specifics when someone tells me they’ll call me on Tuesday, like which Tuesday and what year. Twice in my life I’ve had two different friends with whom I’ve had no conflict tell me they’d call Tuesday and I never heard from them again. Both were also demonstrating a self-destructive pattern of behavior so I didn’t call them because I wanted to know whether I mattered to them, or whether they mattered to themselves. Asked and answered. It’s been more than a decade now, so I’m pretty sure their being specific back then wouldn’t have helped. I was summarily “unfriended.” And I suppose my not wanting to be a co-dependent meant “unfriending” them, too. (I’m not so horrible I haven’t checked that they are both doing fine.)

Intellectually, I know people behave the way they do to hide ignorance, shield insecurity, protect their reality, mask a physical or psychological disorder or even conceal a crime. But this behavior can still sting. No one who knows me would accuse me of being thin-skinned. I am too independent to let someone else’s erratic or inconsiderate behavior ruin me. But it hurts, nevertheless, when a friend or someone you trust and is important to you ignores your feelings.

I was terribly hurt when my boyfriend virtually ignored me the entire week of our first Christmas, even though we had planned dinners and a brunch for him and his adolescent daughter at my place. I won’t even tell you how devastating the whole gift-giving went. When I met him for coffee to share my disappointment, he told me, “Get over it.” We actually lasted almost another three years. He was a good talker and while his words didn’t match his deeds, I loved and believed him. His dismissal of me never really improved. I tried. Then I gave up. As Aimee Mann (‘Til Tuesday) says, “Sometimes, you know, [there’s] limits to love.”

I had a boss who, six weeks into my new job, added half of another staffer’s work to mine, all with absolutely no orientation or training from day one. Prior to the official hand-off, I’d intended to meet to discuss my pay but he had some sort of psychological detachment shortly thereafter, became violent, incoherent laced with manic laughter when I was alone with him in his office. A couple of days later, after I implemented what I could make out from his erratic rant, in the presence of the entire staff, he instructed us to do the opposite. Sound crazy? My concerns for my safety and the safety of others were completely ignored by anyone above his stature so I decided my best option was to escape, rather that ask for a raise. I still have no idea the reality from which he was operating. At best I felt my reality dismissed, if not all reality ignored! That experience caused to to rethink a lot about my work!

Back when I was an undergrad, I was also working a commission job. I offered an unemployed friend to be my sales’ “ringer” for a one-day mega sale, as we employees were allowed to select a helper to process sales faster. Her pay was unusually high for one day’s work. I thought the day went smoothly but when she found out my job was commissioned, she blasted me and never spoke to me again. Seriously, a ten-year relationship was sent into the corn field. I was ignored from then on. Now, her parents were paying for her college, while I was borrowing, saving and working my way like most. My reality didn’t matter to her, nor did the money I helped her make. No good deed, right? Again, lesson learned.

I gave a friend my spare lawnmower because she was having difficulty with hers. When she got it home, she took it out of her car and gave it to a neighbor. It had belonged to my recently deceased mother so giving it to my friend was an act of love. But what could I do? When you give a gift, it is no longer yours. She dismissed my gesture, ignored how I might feel about her action. Lesson learned but I certainly felt my good deed and friendship were dismissed.

Recently, I built a website for a friend and when I finished, I told him specifically how to buy and activate his desired domain name. Instead he went through a host that required building the site through them and, therefore, start over, which he is unskilled to do. Three times I tried to tell him how to remedy this mistake but, instead, he called what I built  “practice,” while all he succeeded in doing was transferring content to his newly purchased bones. He continues to ask why his site doesn’t work like the “practice” one and when I try to explain his massive, time-consuming error, he says, “I will not discuss this again!” He has dismissed and ignored my expertise, my feelings and the many days of work I did for him. I can still feel that hurt, literally like a stabbing below the belt.

Yet even when I am been misunderstood, ignored, dismissed or hurt by someone, I would rather carry the pain or erect an emotional wall than fight to be understood. Why do I avoid confrontation and conflict at all costs, because I truly hate this about myself? Because time and again, my attempts to discuss a matter where I have felt harmed are usually met with escalated anger by the other who only defends his or her feelings and that often causes a bigger rift. So usually I leave it there. If I am hurt or misunderstood, I make a mental note of the line I shouldn’t cross with that person again.

I guess that’s life. But it is a disrespect I don’t deserve and a frustration I can do without.

 

Genuine: The Effort Involved In Learning To Be You and Me #atozchallenge

G: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Discovery of Self and the Letter G for Genuine: The Effort Involved In Learning To Be You and Me

Oh sure, Marlo Thomas, I get how important it is to be genuine and to accept others, in kind. I also get it’s easier said than done outside the lovely, Utopian, “Free To Be You and Me” message. In truth, there is nothing more important and nothing more difficult than being genuine, being one’s true self. It’s a lifelong process. And we change and evolve within our world, our time, our experiences, our intellect and with the tools we possess. Accepting everyone for who they are is a beautiful way to start childhood. But adult reality and even most childhoods encounter plenty of obstacles to being “free to be me.”

My decade-long hiatus from employment, while Dad was with me, left me changed in unimaginable ways. I was no longer the person I was before that fateful morning a police officer retrieved me at four a.m., informing me Mom had passed. And I’m still trying to figure out my life and my future. But the non-profit manager role certainly didn’t give me joy or offer me any valuable creative outlet, anymore. Maybe working for a dysfunctional employer right after Dad passed didn’t help. But maybe it was a gift. You see, sometimes chiseling away society’s labels and slipping out of the pigeon holes that we were pushed into along the way is the way to self discovery. And that job was rife with pigeon holed people. Yikes!

During those years with Dad I designed and nearly single-handedly built a second addition to my house. I wanted Dad to have more sunny space and adding equity would mitigate no income a bit. (I’m a saver and paid cash.) Of course, Dad and I shared a love for politics and social issues and I was afforded the time to volunteer for Democratic (and democratic) campaigns and causes. And I returned to my communication strengths. 

Here’s the thing many don’t consider when you are a stay-at-home daughter, verses a stay-at-home mom or dad raising a child to independence; You don’t know when graduation comes. And you don’t get society’s praise for the person in your care because yours is no longer in the world. You’re just alone. Very alone. Besides this experience changes you but even without this major life event. the world changes a lot in ten years.

Lately, I’ve been recalling who I was as a four, five and eight year old, before most of us get labeled. G Growth Development FeatureRediscovering what inspired me as a child, where I was drawn and what was drawn to me gives me a sense of calm, and it feels real to the core. And when coupled with wisdom from life’s experiences, I like the connection. I’m grateful. It means I am better able to give my best to the world, for what it’s worth.

I read this quote by Alfa (Alfawrites) a few weeks ago and heard my mom.

“You are going to meet people who are intimidated by you. You’re different. People don’t know how to react or how to accept people who don’t follow the crowd…They are not used to someone who doesn’t fit in — so instead of bolstering your uniqueness, they’ll try and make you feel like you’re weird or damaged. I’m here to offer some well- earned advice: Screw them.”

Please note, my mother would never use the words, “screw them.” But the first part, “[P]eople…are intimidated by you. People don’t know how to react to you,” is what Mom would say as I encountered hostile and unexpected obstacles and interactions. And she wasn’t one for empty praise. She saw me for who I was. She saw it even if I was trying like hell to blend. As a kid – especially an adolescent – you don’t want to stick out, or at least I didn’t. In hindsight, I wish I had been brave enough to develop that part of me that was there at eight or even fifteen and that endures to this day. Instead, I focused on how to be more like my peers. When my high school adviser informed me of my exceptionally high I.Q. score (which I feel icky even writing here), I think I told my mom but never told anyone else. 

Maybe other only children can relate, but you can learn a whole lot by observing the world and it all leads to questioning why a whole lot more than those with siblings. I’d quietly study everyone at weddings or any large get-togethers, learning from the pack and observing social norms and practices. Maybe I noticed the absurdity in many of these social stages and, intellectually, I had a disconnect leading me to march to the beat of my own drum.

A lot of it is figuring out where you don’t fit, through rejection, criticism and that visceral feeling like your an oyster in the shell being irritated by sand. One moment while I flashback to past friendships, relationships and jobs. Ah, but that discomfort is critical to becoming.

Environment – Whether You Deny Climate Change or Not, You’re Probably Ignoring the Two Main Causes #atozchallenge

E: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Destruction of the Planet and the Letter E for Environment – Whether You Deny Climate Change or Not, You’re Probably Ignoring the Two Main Causes

A friend and I were chatting about how even making a off-hand comment about the weird weather and it’s association with man-made climate change has become a social mine field in this country. The first time I realized that I could be among seemingly intelligent people who denied that the climate has changed, that humans are causing it and it’s threatening our survival was back during the Clinton administration. I jokingly made a light remark to a coworker about enjoying the 80-degree March day in Minnesota, as the up side of global warming. He snapped, “There’s no such thing as global warming!” Stunned, I just walked away.

My friend also made an astute observation that those born after 1984 or so don’t fully understand how extremely different our weather has become. I’d never thought of that before. (Although, I harken back to my concerned post about millennials seemingly disinterested in anything that hasn’t happened in real time for them and thank goodness for video tapes to prove things to them!) I think it’s synonymous with the fact that a frog placed in a pot of water as it’s heated to boiling is unaware of its pending demise. If you only lived when temps can vary by 50 degrees from one day to the next, winters are warmer and less snowy and summers are hotter and drier, you might not fully grasp the shocking difference noticed by those over 30. I can only hope enough of us human frogs can get control over the stove’s knob before we are extinct. But having studied this in college and read much from experts since, that was why I chose not to have kids. And every year that goes by, I am more relieved I did not hand humanity’s future to my child.

Of course now we have an entire political party and a large chunk of mainstream media completely denying the fast-changing Earth atmosphere occurring before our very eyes. But we suffer an even greater problem here, in part, because of (1) our culture’s biological urge to procreate is unfettered and on steroids with a near baby fetishism, fed by materialism and pastel distractions; and (2) our gluttony for animal meat. I am referring to an excessive human population, which is the number one cause of the planet’s troubles and the continued obsession with filling our bellies with the flesh of other species, which is the second biggest contributor to our environmental crisis. Compared to these two factors, cutting down on the burning of fossil fuel is like trying to extinguish a wild fire by putting out a cigarette in your living room. If you are driving a Prius, installing solar panels on your house, planting kale and riding your bike to work, good for you. But if you or your partner gave birth or you still eat even organic, range-free animal meat, I can’t take seriously your efforts because you are only nibbling at the actions you can take to help the future of life on Earth. Now, I don’t want my friends or readers who have offspring to hate me completely. I do believe fully in personal choice. Our government is far more guilty in its complacency. We should have taken massive and sweeping actions decades ago. Unfortunately, the longer governments do little to nothing, the more these two, primary factors will have to be addressed because they will be the only ones that will ensure our survival.

If you want to complain about our mainstream media, blame them for making taboo the discussion of our global population. It’s not politically correct. How dare we talk about the fact that this planet can not sustain 7+ billion people. Your comfy, suburban life may look manageable but you are in denial about what is taking place in less developed countries or poorer countries who not only can’t feed everyone sufficiently, their islands and shorelines are flooding – for good! And while that pot of water gets warmer and warmer, we are fed celebrity gossip, technological distractions and cheap meat. That entitlement and that sense of complacency is dooming us.

I can’t really blame most people for not knowing or even not caring that more people and more people eating animals is destroying us because there is such a media blackout. But a simple Google search and intellectual curiosity will give you the facts. PopulationMatters.org does a magnificent job informing us about the urgent connection to the planet’s human population and our ecology. And MercyForAnimals.org and the FarmSanctuary.org will change your heart about eating what they and now I call “humanimals,” because we shouldn’t think just because we managed to exploit this planet and other inhabitants, doesn’t make us superior at all. And the vegan recipes are simply delicious. Plus you live longer with fewer health problems. If you followed these sites and read every post in full for one month, I think it would change your choices.

I know there are some who just want to enjoy life and if that means having kids and eating any meat you want, so be it. I won’t be able to convince you differently. Be satisfied with your choices, as I am with mine. My choice not to procreate or eat animal products is living my morality, even if it doesn’t have much planetary impact. I hope we are not heading for mass famine, water shortages and water wars, mass evacuations and die offs, but I think that we are. Since I have no children, perhaps after I am gone, someone will happen upon this post and say this person was right. Little consolation.

The Blues Is Not Clinical Depression #atozchallenge

B: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Depression and the Letter B for Blues: The Blues Is Not Clinical Depression

In the late 90s, I went through an “All About Eve” struggle on a job, where I was Margo Channing and my nemesis was Eve Harrington, only I was the younger and more naive one. Wasn’t the first time or the last I’ve been undermined by a woman but I am not writing about why some women hate other women.

(A great scene about the mind games people play that can make you feel like your world has gone crazy. I lived this plot. How about you?)

This is about my visit to a mental-health counselor for a little talk therapy. Besides coworker “Eve,” I had just ended a relationship and life was in flux. But within 20 minutes, the intake coordinator had me in with a psychiatrist who prescribed me Paxil and sent me home! All I wanted was place to talk through issues with a professional adviser. But I trusted the experts so I took the meds as prescribed.

Fast forward to losing that job three days later, followed by a summer spent in a mattress face plant, drugged up on Paxil, a prescription which the doctor doubled and then switched to Zoloft, but always while I spent most afternoons out cold for hours. I was a zombie in a constant fog. I gave up on visits to the counselor because they only resulted in being dismissed after she changed my prescription! Thank goodness I had the wherewithal to get up one morning and decide to go turkey off the drugs. I could see through enough of the fog to know that if anything was keeping me from progressing in my life it was the drugs that were making me sick, tired and fuzzy. I felt physically better almost immediately but I experienced dizzying brain whooshes every time I moved my head and would often have to steady myself on walls to keep from falling. (Note: This is why you aren’t supposed to go cold turkey.) No one from the clinic ever checked on me, by the way, and I never returned. But I wrote them a letter about a month later informing them of my decision and aired my disappointment in their diagnosis and treatment. I haven’t been in any long-term depression since – or then – or before! I have been overwhelmed, disappointed and sad from time to time because all humans in modern society have days or even weeks of being discontent. But my mind doesn’t remain in that gear for long or repetitively. I am lucky I don’t suffer from clinical depression.

What a frustrating and baffling experience that was. Being wrongly and expeditiously diagnosed with clinical depression and drugged was the worst thing the medical profession has ever done to my body. But after a month went by without what was a poison in my body, I felt healthy and put the incident behind me until a couple years later.

But by having to revisit this ordeal, I received vindication. About two years later I was having a thorough background check for a job that included a psychiatric evaluation. Because I had been prescribed anti-depressants, the doctor explained he needed my records. I explained my ordeal and mentioned how I wrote a scathing letter to them about my experience. I then answered affirmatively when he asked me if the clinic was “X.” He told me that clinic had nearly lost its license for misdiagnosing and over-prescribing anti-depressants. He said he’d love to see the letter so I sent him a copy. I got that job and made a professional friend with him. But I learned to be my first line of trust in any medical diagnosis and that the old saying, “Why do you think they call it medical practice?” has a ring of truth for me!

Over Population Rifts, Hissy Fits and Fertile Bits

The issue of this planet’s global, human population divided my beloved progressive, morning radio show host and some of his listeners, including me about a month ago. It occurred during a discussion of mass transit, which included his remark of our need to prepare for what soon will be five million people in this metro area, from today’s three million. That prompted a caller to remark that population growth is a root problem. He seemed impatient with her at first, perhaps because she was taking him off topic, but I sensed there was more to it. And when she began her sentence, ”Let’s start with a population of three billion,” he ended her call in what seemed mid-sentence and suggested she was implying mass genocide. He continued to comment about her poorly phrased remark as extreme and her position unsound. I could hear the passion in his voice as he defended his interpretation of the caller’s words.

He began the following day’s show on the same topic. I listened very carefully. I heard his passion. Perhaps I have never heard him so passionate. He read several tweets of support of his dismissal of the caller’s impassioned words and agreement that she wanted to annihilate four billion people, calling it “scary stuff, controlling of the population, …supporting surgical radiating” and “forced abortions” and “…die offs of black death magnitude.” Gee, he seemed upset.

He asked, “Where does this global mentality come from?” adding, “The worst laws [sic] worldwide, is a one child law,” adding he didn’t want to be taxed more “because I want three kids.” (He has three kids.) He adamantly contended the planet could “easy” sustain “seven billion and more” and surmised any mitigating problems now seen as a result of global population by many experts were only because of human greed. He did not broach whether curtailing population growth was a valid point of view, but rather contended the planet will “welcome” another billion “easily.” I’ve never heard him stop his ordinarily nuanced reasoning on a major issue – major issue for many – with the notion that we just needed to remove human greed. He said he closed discussion with a tweeter who defended the caller. He didn’t block my tweets because I wasn’t confrontational. What good would that do, anyway? And I respect him and do not want to lose civility or our friendship.

Even on that second day, it seemed he had not researched the topic, or he would have seen pretty quickly that experts who contend many global problems are caused by too many people have well established “three billion” is the maximum, sustainable number to prevent the global problems. Those of us who are closely engaged with this issue understand the “three billion” number and I believe the caller meant, “Let’s start the discussion” of the population topic, not, “Let’s start by wiping out four billion people.” Had she been able to finish her premise, she might have said something about how many problems would disappear or be greatly alleviated. We will never know. And I’ve heard a lot of suggestions for how to reduce population growth from http://www.populationmatters.org/ but never proactive human extinction! Reducing birth death rates through health care and vaccinations, increasing opportunity for women to financially support themselves, sex education and reducing poverty and starvation and the wars they cause, yes, but never mass kills.

I agree with him on practically every other issue he has discussed and appreciate his well thought ideas. He believes the easy access to firearms is wrong and dangerous. Check. He opposes puppy mills and animal abuse. Check. He opposes taxes funding professional sports’ facilities. Check. He believes taxes should go to infrastructure, health and education and not foreign wars and the military. Check, check, check and check. And on these other topics, his position may include or imply greed as a root factor, but he never makes that a cornerstone of his position and always includes thoughtful discussions of policy and personal behavior as solutions, like invest in green energy, strengthen gun laws, increase penalties for animal abuse, etc. Perhaps in a moment of missed phallic irony, he did say because wealthy people make money off gun sales, we have “all our gun shootings…instead of going out and solving the problem.” If he contends the rich and powerful don’t want to help the human suffering caused by people shooting their guns, you would think he could see a parallel to seven billion people shooting baby seeds! Maybe it’s just me. I think that’s hilarious!

Masses

 

The radio host didn’t say what we should do about human suffering while we work on eliminating greed, but I suspect he would suggest or has suggested taxes on fossil fuels (Ironically because the excess is damaging), incentives for clean energy, improving agriculture efficiency and building mass transit, among other things. I believe changing the hearts and minds of those driven by greed is far more challenging and daunting than we have time to correct. I also believe people are the single factor that exacerbates all other problems, including but not limited to famine, disease, deforestation, fossil fuel use, global warming, traffic jams, high unemployment, low wages, excessive manufacturing, overcrowding, infrastructure, prisons, schools, bridges, roads, urban sprawl, poverty, war and greed.

But I already knew where he stood on this topic long before that day. I didn’t know he would be quite so reactionary but I am not surprised. I have faced much more extreme remarks dozens of times throughout my life, as an outspoken, anti-genocide, zero population growth supporter. So why did I know in advance this day would come when the subject of human population would prompt the position he gave? First, I knew where he stood because of his life experience and his personal filters. We all have them. At least once a month, he will preface a statement with, “I’m Catholic but you do or don’t do what you do or don’t want to do,” honestly disclosing what some may see as his bias. He is also married and has fathered three children. His role as a father is paramount, as it should be. He shares stories of his love for his family and his role as husband and father. He’s a good guy! But his remark about being taxed “because I want three kids,” made his life filter very clear.

Like people who have babies, he is rewarded by the status quo in our tax system which encourages reproduction with tax deductions. Further, his remark that the worst law is a one child law, presumably referring to China, also revealed his position that people who reproduce should be rewarded through tax incentives. Instead of tax breaks for each baby born, China taxes per person, applying the logic that more people use more resources. They were overwhelmed with people! It was crushing them. They would not agree that they could handle unfettered human multiplying through changing the hearts and minds of the greedy wealthy.

Now, as a child-free person, I think my taxes are unfair but I accept that I pay taxes for an educated populace, even though I would prefer we prevent more births so we’d need fewer schools and could spend more per kid! But if I applied his logic to not penalizing him because he “want[s} three kids,” should I not be as upset by being taxed the same as he when I have no kids using schools, playgrounds, resources, fuel and roads to be driven places? I suspect he sees his kids a great value to society, which justifies needing and using more resources and the tax break. No offense to anyone’s kids, but I don’t. I don’t think more is the answer. More, untethered growth in nature is called cancer. No, I am not calling your kids a cancer. But I am calling our overpopulated planet a cancer to the planet.

Be fruitful and multiply is not a well-kept secret quote from the Bible. Mission accomplished.

 

 

 

Z is for Zealots #atozchallenge

Zealots have no humor.

Zealots make me sick.

Zealots are inflexible.

And do not help one lick.

 

Your faith, your fear, your certainty,

In how the world should be,

Your rigid lack of compromise,

Can’t trump reality.

 

I know you think the world would be,

In perfect harmony

If all the people not like you,

Would simply let you lead.

 

But that ain’t going to happen.

Still things will turn out fine.

Embracing people’s differences,

Can help us change our mind.

 

The world evolves without you,

To which I’m sure you’ll fight.

Appreciating differences,

Is doing what is right.

 

Now when it comes to justice,

And treating people fair,

I could be called a zealot.

That’s a moniker I’ll wear.

 

The difference is I do believe,

All folks will come around.

We all fall from out pedestals,

And that’s where love is found..

Q Is For Quality or Quantity? #atozchallenge

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” Mae West

Indeed, Mae, indeed. So which is it, “quantity or quality?” asked the girl with commitment issues. Decision?

Both. In both there is a measured enough. Plus considering the option is a good exercise to know what you truly value.

If it’s quality you desire, satisfaction is your measure. Your sense memory holds an enduring, satiated state. Your standard has been met. You feel calm in being aware of, knowing and appreciating quality.

On the other side of the coin, the satisfaction in quantity also holds a feeling of contentment. Your experience and satisfaction remain in the sense memory. If quantity is your standard, you feel the equivalent state of calm and an awareness of and appreciation for the quantity enjoyed.

Our daily lives are filled with quantity and quality choices, some without great consequence like premium or regular gas, vending machine chips now or veggies when you get home, cleaning the bathroom for company with a quick wipe or deep disinfecting. Other quality and quantity choices with greater consequence might be to save years for a rainy day or for a big purchase or spend a little money regularly on small enjoyments, take a job you hate for big bucks or do work you love with other rewards or wait for Mr./Ms Right verses take Mr./Ms Right Now and now and now? Every choice has consequences.

Choosing quality in life is great. Of course, it will edit what you bring into your life. Limiting your own choices may be worth it, even if satisfaction is delayed. If you don’t achieve the same measured satisfaction in quantity and are left longing for the quality, it’s worth the wait, unless your measure of quality was wrong.

Quantity definitely has its benefits. Variety is the spice of life, they say. Life is finite so getting as much as you can out of it is great. In quantity there is less regard for delayed gratification, which might not be worth the wait and might never come. And quantity may be the route to finding what one truly wants, even if what one wants is quantity, unless you missed the quality filling up with quantity.

In either case, desire rooted in envy, gluttony, greed, anger, pride, laziness or lust (the seven deadly sins) is poisoned and will never fully fill your wish, void or desire. Nothing good comes long term from those seven deadly sins and there are always negative consequences. (I have this theory about karma that the longer it takes for bad deeds to catch up to you, the worse your karma. Think O.J. Simpson. If I commit a small wrong and get payback in the same day, I am simply grateful for the lesson.) Materialism is our culture’s best example of bathing in the deadly sins and encompasses at least five of them. I’ve never known anyone driven by materialism who isn’t substituting for a deeper, inner desire for which neither quantity or quality will ever be met.

The choice of quantity or quality is the road diverging in Robert Frost’s yellow wood but which for you is the one less traveled and, therefore, the one that makes all the difference? Can you achieve the perfect blend of both? I don’t think anyone can tell someone else what is right for them. Perhaps the right choices is feeling a happy medium, in which case Mae just might have a point.

QuantityMaeWest

Population: Fruitful Mission Accomplished #atozchallenge

I tend to approach issues at their root cause to find objective solutions and often use the “Conditional Formula,” meaning, “if this, then that.” Therefore when it comes to social and political issues, my life-long, number-one issue is the human population, because there is not one problem that isn’t rooted in our ability to manage 7+ billion humans. I figured someone has to opt out. So I did.

I, hereby, out myself with this deeply-held conviction. Not to compare or minimize what LGBTQ folks endure, but as a straight woman in a society with a near idolatry of all things children, I usually keep my position to myself, thus feeling closeted. I’m a liberal and believe in free will and understand the human desire for fulfillment through parenting. I understand for those with children nothing is more important in life, as nothing should be. I derive an equal level of joy knowing I am mitigating my impact on this planet the best way one can and in alignment with my core principle. I don’t hate children but I don’t want any. Nor do I think that 250 live human births every minute is a miracle. But I do think describing natural, human biology as a miracle is part of the problem. My parents raised me with free will and not only abhorred the idea of imposing one’s beliefs upon another, applauded and agreed with my decision. However I have been chastised and ostracized.

PopulationBabiesThanks to the Internet, I don’t feel quite as alone as I used to with my choice, although most of my friends (no coincidence) don’t have kids, either. The “childless” stigma has abated somewhat in America but is far less taboo in Europe. I share my choice with Helen Mirren, Gloria Steinem, Stevie Nicks, Oprah Winfrey, Chelsea Handler, Jennifer Aniston, Ashley Judd, Marisa Tomei, Margaret Cho, Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres, Dolly Parton, Katharine Hepburn, Betty White, Lily Tomlin, Anjelica Huston, Liza Minnelli, Kim Cattrall, Candace Bushnell, Cameron Diaz, Zooey Deschanel and lots of not famous women, all who have spoken out about their choice. (Guys, not that you don’t count because you have options, you just don’t have a womb.) Fortunately being first-world females, we have the choice and the ability to live and support ourselves without needing a husband and a family for sustainability.

While I realize there is more emotion tied to human procreation, I submit it took decades to convince the majority that the responsible thing to do was to spay and neuter dogs and cats to avoid over-population. Except for a few who still breed animals for financial profit (and the dopes who support the industry), this is now the norm. Human overpopulation is far more devastating and we have long surpassed the tipping point to our survival. I know how gloom and doom this sounds to some and I know how defensive people get about this. Unfortunately, every reason I chose for not having children has come true and at a faster rate than predicted. We’ve long passed our planet’s optimal maximum for sustainable quality life (depending upon the study, sustainability is between 1.5 and 3.5 billion) well over fifty years ago. Life as we know it, as we are living, is simply unsustainable. But let’s see if my premise is correct; that population is the root to all our problems:

The environment. First, the only reason we call a “natural disaster” a disaster is because it causes harm to people. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, forest fires, floods, blizzards, mudslides, volcanoes are natural events. But the more people inhabiting the planet, the greater nature’s impact upon us. But the actual, poisonous damage done to the planet is human caused. And the faster we use up our planet’s resources, the harder it will be to continue to sustain 7+ billion. The western world may feel cushioned but not so for island nations in the pacific that are disappearing under water due to the ice cap melt. Still, Florida is raising their highways because of rising water levels, while California is in a drought and has a year of water in reserve. Our ecosystem depends on the rain forests, which is vanishing at a rate of 80,000 acres a day as land and lumber is needed. Fifty thousand species go extinct every year. Our meat-eating costs an exorbitant amount of land, water and resources. And we continue to disregard the need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

Drought

The more people, the easier to exploit labor with more people than jobs. Wages fall. More people means more traffic and more aggressive wear and tear on roads and bridges. The more people, the more hungry mouths to feed and the higher cost to produce more food. And poor countries have a higher death rate so people have more babies so some make it to adulthood. So the birth rates in poorer countries is much higher, putting a bigger drain on limited food and water. One third of our global population is under 20 years old and in under-developed, poor countries. We are in military conflicts for natural resources (oil), which is depleted faster due to more people. And the Syrian conflict is actually over water.

Of course there are other factors that impact society’s problems. But the suffering is greater on 7 billion than three billion. It breaks my heart what we did to this beautiful planet. I know no decision we make is more personal. But it also has the greatest impact.