Friday, November 14, 2008

What Fun!

Listening to the news these days is such fun! The world is coming apart at the seams and I feel a bit guilty enjoying it all so much, but it is like watching a bad movie, it is so surreal. My son-in-law Justin, when I said what a good time I was having with it all, said, "Spoken like a woman without a 401K". Well...yeah...I guess if you don't laugh, you'll cry...
So here's my solution for the automakers' crisis of potential implosion: Have the oil companies bail them out! The oil companies have been pulling in record profits every quarter for over a year (although maybe that has come to an end with oil at barely over $50 a barrel) so they can just consider it as an expanded version of R&D, which is where we keep hearing they are putting all those stupendous profits (do I sound doubtful? tsk, tsk).
As far as the bailout is concerned, I'm not sure I get it (maybe that's the keep us all confused). Why not let anyone who is interested renegotiate their mortgage to a more reasonable payment (like maybe something affordable?), extend the length of the mortgage (I really think the time of 40 or 50 year home loans has come), and let the bailout catch up their payments for them with their mortgage companies. Then they are on their own. The folks stay in their houses, the banks start seeing payments every month again, and things can creak along ever so slowly. Sounds like a solution, but of course it isn't, because things just do not work that way. But I still don't understand why the bailout isn't directly with the homeowners that have these unaffordable mortgages, which incidentally, they were sometimes "tricked" into or they were approved for the loans with fancy footwork unbeknownst to the home buyer (we'll just add another '0' to your annual income on the loan application, then you can afford a $650,000 home on a $75,000 income). It seems as if we are rewarding the folks that created the problem in the first place...
My last bit of fun with the news is the problem that Nebraska is having with their "Safe Haven" law. This is a law that has been enacted in a number of states to keep from having infants dumped in dumpsters or dropped in alleys somewhere. An admirable law, to be sure, but Nebraska got in trouble when the legislators couldn't decide what age the cut off should be. So they just wrote the law using the word "child". Well, as of today, 34 children have been left at hospitals, the vast majority of them teenagers. Nebraska is kinda' freaking out at this...I mean, NOBODY wants an unruly teenager around, much less 20+ of them. So here is my solution, with some input from my husband (okay, okay, so it was his idea...nitpicker...) how about enacting a "safe haven" law for the parents??? Meaning the parents can drop themselves off somewhere, where it is quiet and no one is asking anything of them, where they can just be mindless for a while, do puzzles or read, or SLEEP, or watch stupid TV, or ANYTHING so they can recharge and not feel compelled to abandon their kids out of sheer anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed? When my kids were little, my friends and I use to call the time between 3 pm and dinnertime, "arsenic hour" because you wanted to poison your kids. So incredibly politically incorrect to say now, and of course, it was only a joke, but it was the most difficult time of day. What I would have given for a bit of a "safe haven" for myself during those times. It makes me wonder how many of the kids in Nebraska were dropped off between 3 pm and dinnertime?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Long Time, No Write...

I can't believe it has been over 2 months since I wrote...well, yes I can. I got so discouraged with this blog and so caught up in politics! Discouraged because everytime I thought about this blog, it felt so...prosaic...not at all what I intended it to be. I hesitated to continue in the vein in which it was heading. Yet now, when I go back and read it, it seems fine. Not stunning, but fine. And I'm sure most everyone can understand getting caught up in politics in the last few matter what your political preferences are! Needless to say, I am pleased about the election and feel a renewed sense of patriotism (a word that I feel had taken on such a negative connotation in the last 5+ years) and commitment to this country. I am coming to realize that, even though we have elected this amazing man as our next President, we are asking an awful lot of him, expectations are supremely high. Now is the time for ALL of us, every citizen of an age to do so, to take part in an effort to help this country along. What can you do, IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE, to help this country move forward in a positive and productive manner? I think the state of our country and the ground breaking election we have just witnessed brings new meaning to the saying THINK GLOBALLY AND ACT LOCALLY. Look around your community and identify its needs. Do you have a senior center that needs volunteers? How about the local food bank? Can you read to kids at your local library or to residents of a nursing home? Is there a nature center that is looking for volunteers? Or a museum that needs docents? Or a community garden that needs help? On an even MORE local level, can you drive your elderly neighbor to the grocery store once a week? There are so many areas of need in this country. Our financial situation is perilous, maybe we can now find pleasure and fulfillment in helping others. As a dear friend wrote to me recently, "Giving is receiving." It is such a simple statement, but holds so much promise. And I have always found it to be true.
When my oldest daughter was in her early 20's and having a serious meltdown, she called me at 2 a.m. I don't know about you, but I hate it when the phone rings at that time of the night as it is never good news. She was really caught up in the drama of her life at that time and could not see beyond it. We spoke for a while, her crying and me trying to speak calmly and I finally asked her to get a piece of paper and a pen. I then asked her to write down 10 things that she was thankful for in her life. She groaned between her sobs and told me there was nothing to be thankful for , that her life was a mess and this was a futile exercise. "Stick with me here, " I told her and I proceeded to give her a couple suggestions..."You have a roof over your head. You have food in your fridge. You have a car that you know what a small percentage of folks on the planet have those things?" We talked about that a bit and, as she began calming down she added a few things to the list. We didn't get to 10 things before I added a new idea for her to contemplate: Write down what you can do to help someone else, because the best way to get out of your "movie" (meaning your drama) is to step into someone else's in a helpful way.
Here was the concept of "Giving is receiving." She protested this idea, "Mom, it is 2:00 in the morning...there is NO ONE to help..." I explained that I didn't mean NOW, just write down how you can help someone tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Identify a need that you can fill. And it helped. It got her through that night and the next day and she continued to dig herself out of the rather large hole she had found herself in. Today she is a wonderful wife and mother, who holds a full time job and is in school pursuing a degree in accounting.
So, to my mind, our country right now is much like my daughter on that dark night so many years ago. Few options, much to be afraid of and disaster looming all around. And I happen to believe the solution, at least in part, is the same advice I gave my daughter. Recognize the things in your life for which you are grateful and then discover ways in which to help others. Identify a need that you can fill. Quite different advice than what was offered after 9/11-Go shopping. And the results will be so very different.