What I learned from my mother, though she has passed, continues in daily, silent epiphanies. I think of her often. Sometimes it's regret for not being a better daughter to her, for not being a better friend to her, for being a miss-know-it-all and not really listening to everything that she wanted to teach me. I remember as a teenager she wanted to teach me how to crochet and knit. Being the tomboy that I was, I was just NOT interested in knitting. Here I am knocking on 40 years of age and desperately cruising youtube crochet tutorials so that I can finish a beautiful quilt she started. She was such a talented lady. Why did I brush it off when she was here on this planet? I'm sorry mom.
The truth is that I try not to live in the regret of all the things I could have done to honor my mother while she was here in the flesh. I can't say that I feel guilty nor do I feel excessive regret for not cherishing her more. And that sounds very arrogant and ungrateful but I really had to make peace with my weaknesses in my relationship with her. The day after she died, I went to Pounder's Beach. I witnessed the most glorious sunrise unlike anything I had ever experienced before or since. While there I put my feelings out into the universe. I forgave myself for not being everything I should have been. And I knew then as I know now that there was no need for apologies or forgiveness - only love and compassion.
Since that day I love differently. I look at people differently. I look at situations differently. I stand in the truth of unconditional love and the purity of my thoughts. I don't gauge situations based on rules or on doctrine published somewhere. I listen to my heart. I listen to my gut. I listen to that still, small voice that beckons me to love people on purpose…. to live ON PURPOSE.
The Same Sex Marriage debate has reached the shores of O'ahu. Governor Abercrombie has called a special session to hear public testimony on SB 1, the "Hawai'i Marriage Equality Act of 2013". The first public hearing is this evening. The news is reporting that over a thousand people have signed up to bear testimony. As I write, I hear testimony is still being given, six hours later. I have thought about the issue for quite some time. The Democratic agenda has definitely pushed the issue since the military's policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" came tumbling down. Last Labor Day, a friend of mine and her girlfriend did their paperwork to cement their relationship with a civil union. Now, marriage is on the table for homosexual relationships.
A family member brought up the issue yesterday to hear what my opinion is. Given that I was raised with a staunch Christian background, the natural assumption is that I would be anti-same-sex marriage but I don't think I fit into that category. Over the last week or two, I have witnessed my small circle of friends on FB post about the topic. The anti-same-sexers have been quoting scripture and talking about God's wrath and asking, "Whose on the Lord's side?" While the other camp(ers) have been spouting Civil Law, Federal Law, and all types of mandates and acts. Who is right? How do you pick a side? Do we even have to pick a side? I don't know the answer to any of these questions but each of us, as citizens in the U.S., are tasked with figuring out our own opinions. This post attempts to explore my own thinking about same sex marriage that started when a family member asked me, "Where do you stand on this issue?"
The other day I seen sign-wavers on the side of the road in La'ie. The sign said: SAY NO TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. The other sign (pictured above) said: KEEP THE FAMILY, FAMILY. I can't help but think of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's, headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Would I have been on the policeman's side, spraying down innocent people who were asserting their rights as human beings?
As I spoke with my family member about this, I told her that I was neutral about the subject. I did not have a strong opinion either way. I asked her to tell me why she felt the way she did.
Her main points as to why she is AGAINST Same Sex Marriage:
The LGBT agenda is pushing to have this movement included in the history books thus forcing the public to include it in curriculum as part of "social studies".
Children need both a mother and a father in the home.
Same-Sex Marriage changes society.
I can understand her point of view. Her view is driven by her religious doctrine and the concept of an ideal society. Strong ideals are not flaws. People with strong convictions should voice their concerns from either side of the argument. I was surprised that she did not talk about the religious philosophy behind the anti-gay movement.
My responses to her main points are telling of my neutrality.
The LGBT movement is very strong. They are changing how our society thinks of homosexuals. If teaching about this movement in social studies is an issue for people against SSM then they have the option of sending their children to private schools or home-schooling their children. This is a tough issue because every child has the right to a free public education. Every parent must scrutinize the curriculum of their child, if this is important to them and judge for themselves where they want their children to go. I was listening to the radio and the newscaster said that this last year's graduating seniors scored the lowest EVER in the history of public education in the U.S. Maybe it's time to home school your child.
I don't quite agree with the argument that every child needs both a mother and father in the home or that the mother/father presence somehow prevents dysfunction(?). If both parents are constructive parents then having both parents in the home could be a good thing. However, people cannot stipulate that this is the best and only way to raise children. Does having a mother and father in the home GUARANTEE a non-dysfunctional child? Absolutely not. So I offer my opinion that prohibiting people from being able to marry or raise children based on their gender identity and marital status, homosexual or heterosexual, is kind of ridiculous.
SSM changes society. This is a true statement. I cannot refute it. SSM will definitely change society and it could be in a good way. Acceptance and tolerance are worthy characteristics of a healthy society - it begets love and kindness. The opposite is non-acceptance and intolerance - it begets hate and violence. What are people really teaching their children? That God doesn't love ALL his creations? We fall down a very slippery slope when we think it through, logically.
In terms of legality -- I think it's a slam dunk that the bill will pass in favor of legalizing SSM. Homosexual people pay taxes as do Heterosexuals, which means they should have full protection and equal rights under the law.
Some people are arguing that the people of Hawai'i have voted and decided that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, DOMA was struck down and SB1 explains it. Thus, the natural reaction to the unconstitutional DOMA is to get rid of laws that are similar to DOMA. A portion of the citizens here in Hawai'i have been campaigning to LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE. I think this is weird because the U.S. government was not set up as a democracy but as a republic. (Say the Pledge of Allegiance in your mind or out loud. "…and to the ____________ for which it stands….") When I think of democracy and majority rules, I think of a lynch mob choosing to hang a person for not agreeing with their ideals. So - I prefer that constituents let their representatives know how they feel about certain issues and let them weigh out the decision. This is the importance of getting involved in local government so that your representatives can hear your opinion.And of course you want the best person in office so that your opinion is met with agreeable ears. You have to be your own lobbyist in the same fashion that big corporations lobby in their interests. (Think of the monster corporation Monsanto. They have their hand in EVERY aspect of government both local, national, and international. Now that's scary!!!)
For religious zealots -- I find some of their behavior absolutely unnerving. I lived in Kansas ten years ago and whenever I went to the mall in Topeka I had to pass the Westboro Baptist Church to get there. I was always so bewildered that a church that espoused characteristics of Christ would treat another human being in that manner. Westboro's website: http://www.godhatesfags.com/ . Can you believe that? Their web address is telling. Their approach is bordering on a federal hate crime. Bringing that closer to home, people campaigning and picketing against allowing another human being the right to marry who they love is a crime against humanity. People love who they love.
Finally, If you're afraid that a homosexual person will influence your children in an ungodly way then you DO NOT have enough faith in how you are raising them. You are operating out of fear rather than love. People could/should teach their children that love and compassion for all living things is more important than your fear that your child will be corrupted. **heavy sigh**
Why can't we all love each other unconditionally? Isn't that what Jesus taught? Why do we have to qualify each other and judge each other when none of us have ever walked in someone else's shoes?
Today, right now, my neutrality ends and I choose inclusion over exclusion.
I choose to build bridges over drawing lines.
I choose tolerance over intolerance.
I choose love over hate.
I choose people over policy.
I choose love over fear!
**DISCLAIMER: This is NOT advice. This is a narrative of experiences that I have had. I repeat, this is NOT advice.
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I am pretty vigilant when it comes to my credit report. Both the husband and I watch it like a hawk. I think if more people were aware of how easy it is to watch your credit, we would have less businesses wanting to do this service for us. Normally, when I receive a "collection notice" I research the claim.
RESEARCHING THE CLAIM
Q. Does this organization have a valid claim against me? In other words, have I contracted to do business with this entity?
A. If it is a collection agency, almost 100% of the time, you have not contracted with the agency. What I suspect happened is that the collection agency purchased the debt from another company you or I have contracted with. For instance, I just received a letter from XYZ Collections. Normally, collection agencies send a half page letter with required legal verbiage along with a claim. Their claim looks something like this:
I may have done business with 123 Company and I may, in fact, owe $15 dollars to 123 Company. So the next step would be to attempt to settle the debt and/or dispute it. If it has gone to collections then you will be doing both.
SETTLE THE DEBT
Q. How do I settle the debt?
A. If you find that you do, in fact, owe 123 Company $15 dollars then contact 123 Company to arrange payment. Speaking only for myself and not attempting to influence you, the reader, I am not going to pay XYZ Collections for this debt. I will contact 123 Company to settle it. I do it this way so as not to acquiesce to XYZ Collections that we have a contract because we do not.
DISPUTE THE DEBT
Q. How do I dispute the debt?
A. Contact the Collection Agency in writing. I normally write a letter in direct response to the notice they sent me. I indicate key factors:
Ask them for proof that there is a binding contract between you and XYZ Collection
Set a time limit for them to respond and the result of not responding within the time period.
This is an example of a letter I wrote recently:
This is as simple as I can explain the process I use. Sharing my process for dealing with collection agencies was actually not what I intended to write about. This was just the back story.
The letter above was also sent to the Federal Trade Commission since they are tasked with protecting consumers. In my attempt to search for a mailing address for the FTC, I came across their Organization Chart, which is a downloadable pdf. What blew me away is on page 6. The Human Capital Management Office! What is the capacity of the Human Capital Management Office?
Chief Human Capital Officer
Assistant Director for Employee and Labor Relations
Chief Learning Office for Employee Development and Training
It just sounds all wrong! I am assuming that this is now the new title for Human Resources. All of it just makes my skin crawl. I am a human so this department probably applies to me. However, I do not agree with the government thinking that I am "capital" to use as they please.
I attended a conference several years ago that featured a workshop on the social security number that most American's are required to sign up for and willingly comply. In that workshop, the keynote speaker discussed the fact that the enumeration of each person is essentially a way that the government monetizes the labor of a human. Our Birth Certificate becomes a paper that is publicly traded on the NYSE and in the world markets. There are several videos on youtube that talk about this. I would advise looking them up. Because this information is not new to me, I am not blown away by their information but you might be and this might help you begin the research to counter what you learned in government-sponsored school.
The way the money system works in this world is based on paper trade/fiat currency/debt. I am pretty sure that all currencies that are traded are fiat and have been taken off the gold standard meaning that it can be manipulated by the IMF, as they please.
The reason I bring this forward is so that the average reader can be empowered and understand the true goings-on of this world and at least start opening your mind to what is. Some of us prefer to walk around with blinders so as not to have to deal with reality. That's not me! Hopefully, you can start searching on your own and start acting locally to make REAL CHANGE because the powers that be truly do want to reduce the population on the earth DRASTICALLY.
**DISCLAIMER: This is NOT advice. This is a narrative of experiences that I have had. I repeat, this is NOT advice.
I'm sad to say that my vacation has come to an end.
Husband and I have made it back to the island. I'm so glad to be back in my own space. We arrived from Atlanta on Friday afternoon and decided to cab it home. I was so happy when a limousine picked us up. It was a great, luxurious ride home. I love how husband and I work together. Even though the cab ride was expensive, I couldn't see calling someone from the North Shore to take husband and I to Mililani then they have to drive all the way home to the North Shore. On top of that, husband and I like the independence of not needing to call anyone. Sometimes it's just easier that way. Sterile. No strings attached.
I don't know when I got so sterile and so detached from the world. Well, not really detached from the world; more like cautious about who I let in my circle. I don't like to owe anyone any favors. It's so not who I used to be as a teenager. In fact, I used to bend over backwards for friends. I had a serious need to please. Now, I'm not so emotional. I have way outgrown the desire to be needed or wanted by everybody. The emotion of my youth have given way to logic and reasoning. Sometimes I think I am numb and yet I tear up when I watch Undercover Boss.
I love my inner circle. It is very small but it works for me. I seem to work best with my inner circle.... in my personal life and in my work. I trust very few people at work. The functions of my job are easy enough, challenging enough. No amount of work scares me at all, physical or mental. The biggest challenge are the personalities on the job. For the most part, I love the people I work with but some are really difficult to work with. Their emotion over really silly things are beyond me.
Husband and I rode along with the in-laws to Camden, Alabama. It was a three and a half to four hour drive. I slept the entire way. If I had thought about it, I would have taken a pillow because when I arrived in Camden I had all kinds of kinks in my neck. Anyway, Camden is a little town southwest of Selma. History enthusiasts might recognize the town of Selma because it is the location where Martin Luther King, Jr. organized thousands of non-violent demonstrators to march on Montgomery back in the 60's. That is some serious history in this part of Alabama.
This is my second time visiting Camden. We are talking backwoods - deep - South - hear - the - whispers - of -
slaves - from - centuries - past - Alabama. I am amazed at how isolated it is. I know that seems strange coming from me being that I live in Hawai'i, which IS thee most isolated place on the planet. Thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean separates Hawai'i from all other land masses. Camden is another story. There is land everywhere. Poverty too. The last time I was there was back in 2009. Honestly, not a thing has changed. The Piggly Wiggly reminds me of the small IGA(Independent Grocery Association) grocery store that was in the town I grew up in.
My father-in-law's connection to his family reminds me of how my mother was. While we were in town, we visited with his mother whom we call Madea. She is very sickly and she suffers from dementia. She goes in and out of coherence. When we first arrived, she didn't recognize any of us. We hung out at the house for a little while. Madea's faithful pup, Lil Bit, was there to entertain us.
After a while we went out to get something to eat at a place called Dallas Soul Food. According to google, it's located on Claiborne Street. The left plate pictured is mine. Starting with the bottom left - smothered pork chops, potato salad, black eye peas on rice. The potato salad was a bit much. I tend to like a plain potato salad. This one had too much additions from sugar to sweet relish and pimentos (I'm guessing). I feel like I can make most of what I ate on that plate better but I was hungry and I devoured it all. I had a side of greens to go with it also. The plate on the right is husbands. He had ribs, yams, black eye peas and greens. Heaps of southern hospitality by the girl who served us.
After a late lunch, we headed to my father-in-law's uncle's house. He had broken his hip and was not recovering well. How my F-I-L attends to his family reminds me of how my mother used to do the same. No matter where we were, she always made it a point to see family. I think I should be more like that and return to the ways in which my mother taught me. Anyway, Uncle Charlie's wife is just the cutest lady. Her home is heated by a wood-burning furnace located in the living room. As soon as you open the door, the smell of the smoke hits you. It was a very humble home. I can't recall her name right now but I know it will come to me. Her dedication and love for her husband was very endearing.
When we returned to Madea's house she was wide awake and ready to talk. As soon as we walked in the door, she started hollering at us. We went to her room and chit chatted with her. She knew all of us including me. I love-love-love how she tells everyone, "You look fine. Big, fat and fine." It just rolls off her tongue. Madea has a booming voice that fills the room. She has beautiful skin and she has to be in her 80's, maybe even 90's. No wrinkles. Dark, flawless skin. They say she may not live long but she's been hanging on for a quite some time now. I'm just glad we were able to visit with my extended family. Who knows when I will find myself in Alabama again?
This visit was just for the day but this small post skims the surface of my experience there. I really could go on and on about the different people and events that happened this day. Please enjoy my pictures from Camden, Alabama (with my watermark on it). Click on the picture to see a larger pic.
This is the Courthouse/Library/Tax Collector all housed in one building. I love that. Their building serves all of Camden, maybe even all of Wilcox County.
Husband says this sign has been up since he lived there. I had to capture it. I wish I could see pictures of my grandmother's home. When she passed, her will directed the attorneys to sell the home and the profits be split equally between her children. This was one of the driving stories behind my desire to snap some pics
I went to bed late last evening. Woke up early. Waited two hours for husband to wake up. We finally got out of the house at 10am. Headed to Starbucks to get some caffeine in the system. It's my way of dealing with the jetlag.
Husband and I packed really light for this trip... so light, in fact, that I only packed one t-shirt with the express purpose of buying new ones here. That led me to Target where I hit the clearance rack and came away with a bunch of tshirts for $3 each. Can't beat that!
We closed out the day at the local Middle School football game. I am a big football fan... especially in small towns. I love hearing the bands battle each other, the way the cheerleaders scream at the top of their lungs for their school, the way the parents of the players coach from the sidelines. I love it all. It reminds me so much of my own high school experience with football games. It's so nostalgic. Even now, as I sit here and write this post, I am anticipating my alma mater's football game this evening that will be streamed live on oc16.tv @1230am central time. Yes... I am really sitting here waiting to watch Kahuku High School versus Farrington High... true rivals for decades.
It was a very beautiful day today. It was hot. The skies were blue... the only thing missing was a cool breeze. The silence of the country is very "centering." As we drove around Madison County today, I admired all the cotton fields. Some fields are fully mature while others are green and still developing. I didn't have my camera handy but I will tomorrow as I travel about. When husband and I lived here back in 2009, the simple cotton plant had me intrigued. I dedicated an entire post to it.
My in-laws home is bordered by a patch of trees. In the day, it is dead silent. At night, a strange thing occurs and suddenly that patch of trees turns into a cacophony of sound. Husband says it's crickets. Me? I don't quite know what all the noise is. As we took a late night drive to find some midnight munchies, we discussed what things must have been like during the era of slavery. I am completely obsessed with that portion of American history. My heart feels heavy when I think of it and maybe that's part of the reason I couldn't be here in the south for very long. It's like the souls of the deceased and murdered slaves call to me. The sorrow of those times haunts me. So our midnight munchy mission had us discussing how lonely it must have been for runaway slaves. They had NOWHERE to turn. There were no safe havens for them and EVERYONE was an enemy. The loud cacophony of insect noises added to the fear and loneliness of runaway slaves. We see movies like Django and feel triumph that Django escaped and triumphed but is that really an accurate depiction of that era? Hardly.
Oh, Alabama -- what have ye in store for me tomorrow?
HNL - ATL. 10 hours.
The on-flight entertainment is quite extensive. I enjoyed two episodes of my current obsession - The Good Wife. I watched Iron Man 3. I watched a couple of excellent TED talks. I eavesdropped on an 82-year old woman that was leaving Hawai'i to return to work. Vacation was over. Her son had just purchased a home in Kapolei and that it was beautiful. When I heard her say 82-years old and still working -- that got my attention. She was as chipper as can be and introduced herself to everyone that she made eye contact with and then proceeded to have a 10 minute conversation. It reminds me of my father, who will be 71 at the end of the month and he will probably be the same as that 82-year old woman. I hope to be as healthy as my father is when I'm his age. Heck, I wish I was as healthy as he is right now. **sigh**
As I waited for the flight in Honolulu, I had noticed a marine in her Class A uniform. I casually asked my husband if soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen have to travel in their Class A's. He was clueless. His reason was because he's been out of the military for nearly 10 years and a lot could have changed. Before we landed in Atlanta, the pilot announced that we were carrying the remains of Corporal Robert James Tate and he was being escorted by Lieutenant Amy so-and-so. The pilot disclosed the nature of Corporal Tate's death. He was a Prisoner of War whose remains were recently recovered in North Korea. I was so moved by the act. I instantly thought of all the political manipulation that is ever present through all generations of time. My heart went very tender in those moments as they unloaded the remains of Corporal Tate. Delta Airline employees drove a cart with a trailer covered with the American flag and moved Corporal Tate along. The ceremony was very moving and I'm grateful that I was able to witness it.
4 hour layover in Atlanta. The husband and I just people-watched. I was tired as heck but determined to stay up instead of falling asleep and having other people-watchers observe how terrible I looked. After 10 hours in flight, very little sleep while aboard, I was feenin' for a bed and some serious shut-eye. We had breakfast at BoJangles.
ATL - HSV. 1 hour. The flight was ridiculously empty and my husband was not trying to sit in his own row. Ugghh! So we were stuck together through the entire flight. I should have just moved to lay down in the row across him. Ahhh but it was only an hour so I guess it was fine.
Yep. It took 15 hours to get to Huntsville, Alabama. Roll Tide! Glad to be here
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In other news...
Husband is a federal worker and is on furlough since the boneheads in D.C. manipulate the heck out of us. Tulsi Gabbard released a statement saying she would not take her salary until this furlough fiasco gets figured out. I wish all members in the Senate and the House would do the same.
While I'm criticizing the government, I do have a high level of distrust for the leaders in D.C. Alllll the alphabet-suit agencies and the ever-expanding government makes me wanna throw up. Citizens need to wake up and realize the error of our leaders and the institution as a whole. If I had to put a label on my political ideals, I would lean toward being an anarchist, which makes this "government shutdown" a manifestation of my persuasion but..... well... I'm not as prepared as I think I am for a total government shutdown. First I need some guns. Then some food. My 72-hour kit is just not gonna work. I need a stable food supply and water supply. **sigh**