Walk A Mile In My Shoes

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What you are about to read is how I feel. It is not meant to offend anyone. But I felt compelled to share what’s in my heart. 🙂

Many years ago, I worked for a conservative news/talk radio station in the Wilkes Barre/Scranton area. I wasn’t a talk show host, but I sold advertising. On this station we had guys like Rush Limbaugh who, at the time, was an incredibly highly rated program. Businesses were flocking to pay the highest rates to run ads on his show. I listened to Rush faithfully when I was on the road and honestly, so much of what he said rang true. Yes, I realized he was an entertainer first and foremost, but I was generally agreeing with most of his views. There was also a talk show hosted by Tom Leykis. His was a left leaning show that was basically the antithesis of Rush Limbaugh. I listened to his show quite a bit as well. And what I found out but listening to both of those individuals was interesting. Both gentlemen, although spinning rhetoric to get ratings, had some incredibly valid points. And both truly believed in what they were saying.

I will never begin to pretend that I know what the answer is. But now more than ever there exists an us versus them mentally in American politics. I guess it always existed but now because of twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites we see it more than ever. It’s ugly isn’t it? I see pictures of people with their veins popping out of their neck. I see hateful signs held by people whose only goal is to incite “the other side”. What the heck has happened to us? I put up a post yesterday that was purely non-partisan because I found a website that I thought was pretty cool and one of my friends decided to make it partisan. No, I wasn’t offended in any way because human beings have the ability to feel and believe what they want. But my heart sank a little because I wasn’t trying to start an argument. If you are a Trump supporter, God bless you. You know your heart and have your reasons for wanting him to be our next president.  And if he happens to get into office, America will not crumble. If you are a Clinton supporter, God bless you. You too have your reasons for wanting to see her run the Executive branch of our government. And if she does, America will not crumble. However, if we cannot get along and appreciate each other’s differences of opinion America will suffer. There will always be debate in this country. There will always be valid reasons to support many different approaches to solve our countries problems. But I can’t help but feel our problem is that we don’t listen to each other anymore. My views are based on my experiences and yours are based on your experiences; plain and simple.

I’ve failed miserably many times to see the world through others eyes, but I’m truly going to make a concerted effort to be more empathetic to those who see things differently than me.

Finally, all of this reminded me of a great song from the early 70’s. Take a moment and listen to the lyrics.  They’re pretty cool.  Lots of love to you all!

Walk A Mile In My Shoes – Joe South

Who do you side with?

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Boy it’s difficult to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed any more. And yes, I have indeed blocked quite a few friends and family from showing up in my newsfeed temporarily. I honestly am finding it increasingly harder to stomach some of what I’m reading. When it comes to the Democratic and Republican nominees I now know that Donald Trump is the next Adolf Hitler and Hillary Clinton is a rich, privileged, lying politician who only cares about herself. I also know that Bernie Sanders, although no longer a candidate, is either an unrealistic communist or the potential savior of our country. Then there is Jill Stein, Gary Johnson and Darrell Castle that very little written about because no one believes they have a chance to win the election. But I have to choose someone right?

My intelligent step-daughter posted a link to a website recently called isidewith.com. And although I took the online questionnaire last year at the beginning of the primaries, I decided to take an hour or two and fill it out again.  There are questions on domestic policy, the economy, social issues, foreign policy, immigration, the environment, healthcare, science, education, crime and the election process itself. The first thing that struck me was how many things I didn’t know! The questions really made me think and on many occasions, to research these issues further.  Because the truth is, I wasn’t sure how I felt about some the things mentioned. For most questions you can answer yes or no, but I found myself never able to choose that option. Because rarely are things ever that simple. So there is an option to write your own answers to the questions. I did that quite a few times.  But my goodness, they really opened my eyes to who these candidates are and what they stand for.

It took me about an hour to answer all the questions because like I said, many of them cause some serious reflection and investigation. But when it was all said and done, I finished and it told me which candidates I was most in line with. Not surprisingly, Mr. Trump and I are not even close on most issues. The Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle and I aren’t on the same page either. But my stance on things was very similar to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian in the group, and I agree on about 53 percent of the issues raised.  Why is any of this important?

In the past month or so, I really had to look; I mean REALLY look; to find any information on what these candidates want to do for the people of the United States. All that everyone ever talks about are the scandals, the conspiracies and the cover ups.  Character assassination is the flavor of this election cycle and people have taken their respective sides on the character battlefield.  I’m so weary of it.  I really am.

So, I went on to this website and I now know which candidates most closely represent issues that are important to me. Of course the website doesn’t cover ALL the issues, but there is a great deal of information on there. And of all the current presidential candidates it seems that I’m closely aligned with Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton. Now, I already know that Mrs. Stein and Mrs. Clinton’s views are similar to my own, but I truly don’t know that much about either of them. I hear nothing but negatives about Hillary Clinton, but next to nothing about Jill Stein.  So, I’m going to spend the next three months finding all the positives about both of these incredibly intelligent candidates. And in November, one of them will get my vote.  Please, please, please, don’t respond to this entry with any negative rhetoric regarding Mrs. Stein or Mrs. Clinton. Instead, go with isidewith.com and fill out the questionnaire. Take your time, really think about the questions, do research if you need to, get informed, answer the questions, and in the end, see which candidate you are most aligned with. I found it incredibly enlightening and helpful! I hope you will too!

Hiring POTUS


Did you happen to notice it is an election year? Okay, that was a bit snarky but if I weren’t following the cable news, political websites and social networking I wouldn’t know anything.  Then again, I am following cable news, political websites and social networking and I still don’t know anything.  Perhaps in my 50 years on this planet I had my head in the sand, but I really can’t remember an election year where so little positive was being reported. No wonder so many Americans are thinking about not voting at all. It’s not that I agree with that sentiment, but I can definitely relate. I am genuinely tired after watching cable news and reading political “reporting” on the internet. I can sit here and shout, “Shame on you cable news!” Or I can get on me soapbox and exclaim, “Let’s hear about the positive attributes of the candidates and not the negatives!” As I discovered, if you want to find positive things about any of the candidates, you have to really do your research.

What I discovered is there are indeed positives about all the candidates. Truly, there are! However, I’m going to ask you to discover them for yourselves. I know who I’m voting for and I have my reasons. But my reasons for not voting the other candidates, truly doesn’t have anything to with any meme, broadcast news story or any other rhetorical smear I read daily. My choice, in my opinion, is simply the most qualified to head the Executive Branch of our Federal Government.

Have you ever had to hire someone? Sitting in a managerial position and having the power to give someone a job or not isn’t always a pleasant one. I recall too well the many resumes I looked through before deciding who to call in for an interview.  Then, after the first set of interviews, there was whittling down to a select group who I felt best fit the position. There was sometimes a second interview where, usually, my choice was made.  What were the criteria I used? I quickly found out that there were usually many people who were qualified on paper. Their experience and education were usually very similar.  In the case of radio where I was doing the hiring, there was also the quality of their work. That too didn’t always weed out people because there were some very talented candidates. I usually came down to sitting across from them and talking. I didn’t believe in standard interviews, I usually like to just chat. And that’s where, after all the other criteria was met, I would make my subjective decision as to who to hire. So in the case of hiring someone to be President, I kind of think of it the same way.

From the start of this election process I looked at the many candidates and who I felt were qualified. Party or gender was irrelevant. I quickly was able to narrow it down to about six individuals on both sides of the aisle. And that was simply a matter of a good resume that best fit the POTUS job requirements. Then I imagined interviewing these people and finding out a little more about them. How effective might they be? Is what they are proposing, good for the country? Watching all the debates, and I only missed one or two, I was able to see some true candidates appear. Unfortunately, the candidate I felt was most qualified at this point in our history, didn’t get the nomination. But that’s all part of the system we have here in America. So now we have candidates who weren’t my first choice. But we do have qualified people who I feel could head the Executive Branch effectively. And I’ve made my choice.

I’m purposely not saying who I’m voting for because I don’t want to turn this into a back and forth battle of he said/she said. I’m writing this because perhaps it’s time for all of us to reevaluate why we’ve decided to vote the way we have. And if you haven’t made the decision yet, imagine you’re running a company and you had to choose one of the people out there as your successor. And don’t necessarily look at the negatives, look at ALL the positive attributes and qualifications and go from there. As I discovered from hiring folks, there were always things about people that could sway me from hiring them. But, there were just as many positive things about them to help me make the decision TO hire them.  What do you think?  Is it possible to stop posting horribly negative things about the candidates we don’t like and start informing people about the positive qualifications our candidates have to take over as President of the United States?


Children will listen

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My Mom used to have this medical dictionary.  And when I was younger she would reference it to try and identify what was wrong with me when I was sick. But instead of making me feel better by helping identify my malady, she would locate something in her dictionary that my illness could be, and it was usually the worst possible scenario.  By the time I was in my early teens I was, without a doubt, a hypochondriac. The thought of getting a deadly disease triggered so many anxiety attacks that those in themselves created many mental and physical issues I’ve had to deal with in adulthood. As I sit here reflecting on those fragile moments I uncovered a stark realization. We all have those “it could be” thoughts but I took it one step further. Those little thoughts became troublesome “it could be” ideas.  I realize now I always thought the worst and I never imagined the best. Could it really be my upbringing?  Or was it something more?

I am most assuredly a product of negative conditioning. As sure as I sit here I recall Mom prophesying, “Don’t do that you don’t know what might happen?” Or “You know what happened to him when he did that?” Or even “Oooh, he had that same symptom and died six months later!” Those types of things were said to me by other friends and family members as well. When I consider those poison words now I question, “Why in the heck would you ever tell someone those things?!” Not only did they help create hypochondria but it also trained me not to trust my own judgment.  Even my Dad would say things like, “You only feel that way because you’re young.” I was even encouraged not to feel a certain way because it was wrong. Even then I wanted to yell, “But I’m feeling it! How can that be wrong?” In the end my resolve usually crumbled because I eventually became convinced that the people telling me these things were adults. They were older, wiser and smarter so they were probably right and I was wrong. At least that’s what I thought then.

Earlier this year I have the privilege of performing in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”. One song in particular speaks to this idea of what is said to young people when they are becoming adults.

Guide them along the way
Children will glisten
Children will look to you
for which way to turn
to learn what to be
Careful before you say
“Listen to me”
Children will listen

Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you

Careful the tale you tell
that is the spell
Children will listen

The tale that was told me wasn’t all negative of course. My parents spoke of compassion, charity, morality and love. And I know they did their best as all parents do. But unbeknownst to them they also taught me other things; things that grew into nasty phobias, feelings and emotions.

Let me pause for a moment to say something important. I loved my parents very much and there was never a doubt they loved me. And although their words and actions were meant to make me a better person much of what was said and done had the opposite effect. It’s taken me years to rid myself of extreme hypochondria, anxiety and frequent bouts of depression. And that was after decades of self reflection, education and even therapy. As the song in Into the Woods says, “Children will listen.” So we must be very careful what we say to them. And I will add we need to be careful of our actions.

This entry was inspired by wonderfully insightful conversation with some of my younger cast mates concerning the state of humankind; specifically here in America. I have strong opinions on that subject but I was very interested in what our younger generation thought and felt about things. I started with the question, “Why there is so much anger, hostility, hatred, fear mongering and sadness in people today? What is the root cause?” One cast mate said ignorance was at fault. And yes, it is true that people seem to fear what they don’t know. Another of my young cast mates said she felt isolation was the key. Yes, so many young people don’t get to experience this great, big beautiful world with its incredible diversity because of economic, geographic and sociological factors. We continued our fruitful conversation and crossed generational gaps to agree that the lack of education was also an incredibly important reason much of humankind is so easily offended, fearful and often times hostile. And we all agreed that education isn’t just what is learned in public schools.

My public education on the whole was a good one. But my life education was sorely lacking. Yes there was plenty of love but because my most of my life mentors lived stifled lives that was what I was expecting my life to be. When I say stifled it’s because I saw so few people loving what they did for a living. My parents were excellent examples of people who were some of the hardest working individuals you ever saw. But my Dad was only truly happy when he was fishing, or watching football or eating ice cream. My Mom, although a loving, moral stalwart who would have given her life for her children, never seemed truly happy. Lesson learned for me. Add to that my Dad’s lackadaisical behavior and my Mom’s hypochondria and I’m learning a lot. I finish high school and enter college incredibly unprepared for what lies ahead. I had no idea how to be a happy adult. All I knew was to study hard, not party because it was sinful, graduate after four years, get a job that paid a lot of money, get a house I couldn’t afford, get married, have kids, be miserable at my job, retire at 65 if I lived that long, and hopefully have fun for the last 15 or so years of my life because I deserved it. That’s what I believed. That’s all I knew. But when I got to college all didn’t go as planned. And that’s what this is all about.

Before someone comments negatively about what I just wrote please understand this issue is MUCH bigger than what I just outlined. I’m completely aware of that. My cast mates understand that too! But I was reared in isolation like so many other people in the world. When I got to college I was unprepared for what I was exposed to. I started learning things that made me question deeply entrenched stereotypes that I’m ashamed to admit I carried. I met people with carefree attitudes who weren’t hypochondriacs like me. I became friends with people of all sexual orientations, religions and races. And I traveled to other states and countries and immersed myself in different cultures. But even then, the imprinting I underwent when I was younger always made me question all that was different. And as I said before, it has taken years for me to reach the point I am today. My childhood imprinting still rears its ugly head once in awhile but at least now I am able to recognize it when it does.

I can honestly say when I started this entry I never intended for it to be this wordy. Looking back, I rambled quite a bit too. But despite my ramblings I hope you can make some sense out of what I’m trying to say. As children we are exposed to so much input. And unfortunately much of what we see and hear is not good. As we watch our parents, our siblings, our friends and those people we admire we inadvertently take on those behaviors and beliefs. Add to that socioeconomic and geographical factors and we begin to create, in part, the society of human beings we are today. I thank my Creator each day I had the experiences I’ve had in my life. Even the negative things I adopted as a youngster and the relative release from those things helped make me the person I am today. But if we are ever going to truly change humankind, we need to be more educated. So much of the animosity, anger and violence humanity is facing right now stems from fear; fear from things some human beings know nothing about. There must be some way to teach children about diversity, acceptance and unconditional love. And we adults can learn a thing or two as well.