Obama, you should have known better…

I just got done watching the speech that Obama gave tonight regarding the attack in San Bernardino, CA.  And I have one thing to say to him…

Why, oh why, would you bring up gun control??

Most of the speech made sense!  Stronger screening of people coming into this country on visa’s, determining if they have been to war zones…  authorizing the continued use of force against ISIL targets…  continuing our current efforts against the threat…  the need to be “strong, smart, resilient, and relentless” in this fight…

But, gun control??

No one on a no-fly list should be able to buy a gun?  

Yes, common sense, but irrelevant!

The individuals responsible for this attack, as far as I am aware, were not on any no-fly list.  Were they on a no-fly list???  They were not suspected of being terrorists!  They were your average, under-the-radar, American Muslims who happened to be radicals!

It must be harder for people to buy semi-automatic weapons?

Without even going into my personal opinions on gun control….  THE TERRORISTS DIDN’T BUY THE WEAPONS THEMSELVES!  The news reports so far have stated that someone bought the weapons for them, in a state that has strict gun control laws, and then they modified those weapons to turn them into fully automatic weapons!  How does this statement help, if they didn’t buy the weapons??  How does this statement help if they had to means to turn “appropriate” weapons into something far more deadly??

I feel as though a lot of what he said made sense…  Unfortunately…  it will be overshadowed by these two irrelevant statements.  They comprised only a minute or so of the speech, but they will be latched onto.  Already I am seeing news articles focused on Obama’s gun control statements…

OH NO!  He’s gonna take our guns!!!!

He should have known better than to even bring that up, considering how insignificant it is to this most recent scenario.

Shame on you, Obama.

Categories: Government & Politics | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just be happy

I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. — Groucho Marx

Happiness is a choice.  I’ve heard this so many times…

Unfortunately, when all of those negative thoughts keep running through your mind, over and over and over, it’s not so easy to tune it out and “just be happy.”

I find myself constantly searching for answers.  Constantly dwelling on the past.  Constantly wondering what I’m doing wrong.  And constantly kicking myself for not being the person I truly wish I could be.

I’ve been in a bad place recently.  This is not unusual for me, it comes and goes.  However, even with how depressed I’ve been, I recognize that there are a few things in my life that I need to change, and that changing those things will go a long way in my quest for true happiness.  For some reason I have been unable to just make those changes.

I have always said that if you are unhappy with your situation you should just change it.  I never want to be the person who, in the end, regrets not having done the things I said I wanted to do.  Why sit around complaining about your job when you can just find a new one?  Why dream about what could be when you could be taking steps to make those dreams reality?  Up until the past few years that idea has driven me to act, even in the most difficult of situations.  Lately I find myself beating myself up over what I haven’t accomplished while sitting in my recliner binge watching “The Good Wife.”

This isn’t me.

One of the changes that I know I need to make, and the one that I have decided to start with, is getting back to writing.  I love writing.  I’m not sure it even matters if anyone reads this, the act of actually putting my thoughts into writing forces me to delve further into them, to work out some issues in my own head.  Trying to convey what I’m feeling to someone else pushes me to really come to terms with, and evaluate more thoroughly, what those feelings are and what they mean.  And how I can change them.

So I shall write…  and I shall write often.

It won’t be entirely negative… some will be negative…  and some will be positive, and some will be random, and some will be stupid…  but I will continue to write, and we’ll see where it takes me.

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Consistency redefined.

A few days ago I blogged about being the most inconsistent person in the universe.

I said I was okay with that….  but I’m reconsidering.

I think that I have always seen the word “consistent” to mean something good, but always as something that I couldn’t achieve.  I happen to be, for better or worse, a person of extremes.  I go all in, then I lose interest and drop completely out.  I have done this with fitness, with hobbies, with topics that interest me, with TV shows… you name it.  However, I have always seen consistency as meaning that once you decide to do something you just do it.  And you don’t stop.

I have a good friend whom I have always considered to be the most consistent person I have ever met.  She decides she is going to do something, and she just does it.  And I watch in awe.  I’ve seen her do this with running, with education, with photography…

Project 365, if you aren’t aware of it, is a photography project where you take a photo a day for a year.  She started this project with me a while back, I dropped out after a few months, and she’s finishing up her THIRD YEAR!!!  She took one look at that concept and said, “Project 365?  Ha!!  Try project 1095!!  Bwahahaha!!”.

I’m not kidding when I say that I am absolutely in awe of this type of consistency.  She’s amazing.

However, I think that I have always seen this as THE definition of consistency.  And I have always paled in comparison.  And since I see consistency as good, and I see this as the definition of consistency, I see my approach towards things as a failure.  I failed at Project 365, just like I fail at other things in my life.  Like I failed at fitness, because as soon as my schedule wouldn’t allow for my current level of activity, I used it as an excuse to give up altogether.  Because when I attempted to document my year by taking a photo a day, I got angry and gave up when I missed just one photo.

I’m okay with being inconsistent when consistency has such a strict definition.  That’s just not me.  It’s not how I operate.  And it’s okay to admit your weaknesses, so I’m cool with that.  But I don’t think consistency necessarily has to have such a strict definition.

Instead of just accepting that I am “inconsistent”, I think I’m going to try and redefine the word “consistent”.  I’m going to start viewing the term in a much broader context.

Instead of believing that I am a failure at photographically documenting my year by taking “a photo a day”, I’m going to accept that documenting my year might not require exactly 365 photos.  If I end the year with 200 that give a clear and honest picture of my year…  well…  that’s good enough.

I don’t normally make New Years Resolutions, but I think this year I am going to try and be more “consistent”…  just using the new definition, that’s all.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The person you don’t call

I have had a lot of friends, and I have lost a lot of friends.  Friends come and go, it’s just a fact of life.  Someone once told me that relationships are funny things…  sometimes they just fall apart.  People change, grow in different directions, lose touch.

Sometimes relationships end in emotionally violent ways.  I’ve had my fair share of those endings…  and then some.

Some friendships just sort of drift off into nothing, with no rhyme or reason, they just disappear.  One day you find yourself wondering, “what happened to so-and-so?”  That’s happened to me as well… at least a couple times.

Through all of these friendships, though, one thing has been a constant in my life.

I am the person you don’t call.

You don’t check up on me.  You don’t pop in and post a “Hey, how are you?” on my Facebook wall.  I don’t find messages from you in my email inbox.  You don’t text me.

What little contact between us that you actually initiate…  most, if not all, of it seems pretty shallow.

A Christmas card that makes me feel like I am just a name in your address book.

A “Happy Birthday” post on my wall when we all know that Facebook reminded you.

Phone calls only when you think I might be able to do something for you.  Like you need to fly somewhere and you think I might be able to get you a cheap ticket…  that’s a pretty common one.

There are a few exceptions to this.  I have one long term relationship that consists of almost no real contact between us but is strong enough to withstand the distance, and a relatively new relationship that has grown very close very quickly and consists of regular contact.  And, of course, I have to mention my husband…  someone who contacts me multiple times a day, every day, and even though I sometimes get irritated when his phone calls constantly interrupt my reading, TV shows, and/or blog post writing…  I love him that much more for calling all the time anyway.

But for the most part, no matter how I try and build friendships, it almost always comes down to this…  I put in a lot of effort until I tire of it…  then I sit back and wait to see if you will reach out to me… and then it all just falls apart.  Because you never reach out to me.  So when I stop reaching out to you, there just isn’t anything left to keep it going.

I think that I have often put more into relationships than was necessary or appropriate, and I think that I often have much higher expectations of others than I should, and I think that, sometimes, I want more from people than they are able to give.  It has taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t do these things.  It’s taken me so long to figure out that I should not expect anything from anyone and I should just allow relationships to follow whatever path they are destined to follow without getting too wrapped up in them.  Without asking much.  Without expecting anything.

But, on the other hand, if everyone took this stand offish approach, how would any relationship ever progress anywhere??

A couple years ago I just dropped the expectations.  Sometimes I still get offended or upset.  Then I remind myself that I am judging unfairly.  That this person meant no harm to me.  And I should accept people for who they are and for where they are in their life and in their relationships.  And I let it go…

If you are reading this and you actually know me, please don’t take this as a guilt trip.  Don’t take this as a cue to call me…  I am generally a quiet person who likes to spend time alone; sudden phone calls from everyone would just piss me off, quite frankly.  And I have to wonder if maybe…  just maybe… the fact that I like to just be alone sometimes is a vibe I am subconsciously giving off to others.  Maybe… just maybe…  I only want others to reach out to me because I am lacking self-esteem in certain areas and I am hoping for some sort of validation…  validation that needs to come from me, not you, anyway.

I’ll leave you with this…

Freeing myself from worrying about what other people are thinking in terms of my relationship to them has freed up some space in my mind to focus on other things… like where I am at with myself.

In the list of qualities that I am okay with vs. ones that I need to change?

I’m okay with being the person you don’t call.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The most inconsistent person in the universe.

It has been over a year since I have posted on this blog.

It has been a year and a half since I mentioned that others expected me to give up on blogging, and I vowed to continue.  Though, to my credit, I did end the blog by clarifying that there was no guarantee that I actually would…

It has also been a year and a half since I posted about how determined I was to work my way through the “Simple Living Manifesto”.  The 72 steps to a simpler life.  I completed step one: Create a list of the 4-5 things that are most important to you.  Not only have I made no progress on the rest of the manifesto’s 72 steps, but I have actually moved backwards on a few of the 4-5 important things I listed.

My health and fitness goals have resulted in a sixty pound weight gain.

I have taken less pictures of my family, a lot less, even though I stated I would be taking more.

Blogging??  I said that I would keep up with this blog?!?!  Ha!

Lately I have been struggling with the conflict between the person I am and the person I want to be.  Figuring out which qualities are ones that can be lived with vs. ones that really need to be changed isn’t easy.  I’ll probably have more on that later, but for now I have decided that being the most inconsistent person in the universe…

I’m okay with that.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Gifts & Foster Children

Angel Trees. Those trees you see every year around the holidays, covered with tags on which are written the names, ages, and wishlists of children in need.

You’ve seen them, right??   They can typically be found in the malls as well as at your local Walmart, Kmart, and various other department stores.

Name: Michael  

Age: 10  

Wish list: Skateboard, Xbox games, iPod…

For a number of years I bought gifts for the children on these trees.  I turned it into a family event.  I would take my children to the mall where we would carefully choose one or two children from the tree, then we would go shop for those children together.  I had this image in my head of these poor children who aren’t going to get anything for Christmas, and those children deserve a good Christmas.  What a simple thing I can do to put a smile on those kids faces.

My husband and I relied on charity once for Christmas.  I was shocked by the number of gifts they gave us for our children.  We felt like we had hit the jackpot, and we were incredibly grateful that so many people were willing to give of their time and money to help us out in our time of need.

When we reached the point when we could afford to give back, we did so.  Every year.

At this point I never thought to distinguish between a one-time need or temporary situation vs. more long-term situations.  I also never considered the difference between low-income families vs. children in foster care.

Recently I have been working for companies that do gift drives for foster children every year for the holidays.  They “sponsor” a foster child, and everyone in the office buys for that child.  Some organizations just buy gifts for an organization that passes them on to foster children.

Until recently I always tried to help out with these drives.

I’m going to express to you what is likely to be a very unpopular opinion on giving gifts to foster children.

I will start by saying that I believe that everyone should give in whatever way they feel is appropriate and in whatever way they can.  Whether that be by giving gifts for the holidays, as is so popular, or by giving money to, or volunteering your time at, these organizations that work with these children.

I do not criticize the manner in which people give, and I applaud any efforts that are put towards helping innocent children who have been affected by horrific circumstances beyond their own control in their lives.

Personally, my family has decided to no longer give gifts to foster children.

I think we all have this image in our heads of these poor children, and we have this desire to provide them with a wonderful Christmas.  It’s what we want for our own children, and it is wonderful to imagine the smile on their face when they open those gifts.  And these children most certainly deserve a wonderful Christmas, I’m not denying that.

However, these kids don’t *need* gifts.  These children need stability, they need people in their lives who truly care and want the best for them, they need adults to encourage them and increase their feeling of self-worth, they need to feel loved and valued and important.  They do not need an iPod, an xbox game, or a skateboard.

We can never know the particular circumstances of a child we give to, so the end result is entirely out of our control, which is why I say it’s still good to give even though I personally choose not to.  But, unfortunately, some of these children are showered with more gifts than you can possibly imagine.  And our own experience of Christmas, if we’ve never lived in foster care, is not adequate to process the potential end result of such a focus on materialistic things.  The excitement and satisfaction we experience when we open those longed for gifts while surrounded by loving and supportive family members, it’s nothing like the short lived satisfaction that those same gifts will bring to an overwhelmingly unhappy child who is searching for happiness and can only seem to find it in that iPod.

Studies have been done that show that children are highly susceptible to being influenced by advertisements when they are unhappy.  Children who do not have a solid basis in life, who are not satisfied with their home life, their family, friends, school, etc., are much more likely to search for happiness elsewhere, and are much more likely to believe the TV commercials that tell them that happiness can be found in a Barbie Doll.  This can lead to materialism, a search for acceptance and status based on the clothes a person wears or the electronics they carry in their pockets.  This materialism may seem harmless in a child, and it may lead to a temporary happiness in an extremely difficult time, but it leads to a much less than satisfactory adult life.

I’m not a psychiatrist, and I don’t claim to have all the answers.  But if foster children are not unhappy with the foundation of their lives, I don’t know who else would better fit this description.

Yes, the kids deserve Christmas.  No, you can’t know what affect those presents will have on whatever child receives them.  Yes, giving is good.

So continue to give.  The children thank you.

I choose to help in different ways.

Please respect that.

If you are able to give in other ways, I encourage you to research the various ways you can make a real difference in the lives of these children.  Be a volunteer or a mentor.  Foster.  Adopt.  Or give financially to the organizations that contribute to this cause in ways other than just giving gifts.

Categories: Adoption, Children & Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Journalist’s Responsibility?

Monday morning I picked up my daily issue of the tbt and was struck by the headline: “Trapped in Sexual Agony”. I didn’t read the story immediately… I read it last night. It was about a woman in my town who suffered from a disorder that caused persistent sexual arousal. A condition that had become debilitating, but one that is, as far as I know, absolutely unheard of.

Today, just two days later (less than one day after I actually read that first story), I picked up my daily tbt and read that she had committed suicide.

The first article talked of how embarrassed she was by the situation, and how she had attempted suicide in the past, so initially I thought that maybe she regretted talking with a reporter and decided she’d had enough when she saw her life in print…  When I initially read the story I wondered about the responsibility of the reporter…  this woman obviously was struggling, she was obviously emotionally disturbed, she obviously needed help…  she didn’t need her story and her name and her picture in the local news.

So is this an issue of journalistic irresponsibility??

Maybe…

But the second story indicates that she committed suicide on Saturday, before the first article even appeared in the paper.  Now I’m left thinking maybe this was just her way of getting her story out, raising awareness, making a point, before she ended it for good.

Either way, it’s so sad. When I read that first story I was struck by how close to home she was, and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was anything that could be done to help this woman.  And now she’s gone…

poof…

just like that.

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Up Yours, Romney.

I am an American citizen.  Born and raised here.  My feet have never even touched foreign soil.

I have always believed in the American Dream.  Work hard and you will be successful.  I have also always believed that when you reach success you should turn around and give back to those behind you.

I have never accepted government help, and only rarely have I relied on charity.

Even as a single pregnant teenager I worked two jobs to pay for my medical care.  I purchased much of what I needed for my baby at garage sales, and, be it furniture or clothing, I have never rejected a hand-me-down.

I met my husband when my baby was 3 months old.  I moved in with him after two weeks, and 18 years later we are still together.

We didn’t have much when we started our lives together, and two children later we realized that something needed to change.  I came to the conclusion that working at a Walmart snack bar just wasn’t going to cut it, so I registered for classes at the local community college.

That was in 1996.  For the next 8 years we were barely scraping by, worrying each week about how we were going to put food on the table, juggling the bills, trying to decide which one had to be paid in order to avoid being disconnected vs. which ones could wait until the next paycheck.  My husband was working as much as 70 hours a week to help put me through school, and at times I was working a second part-time job in addition to my full time job and full time course load.

I remember well the days of looking out the window when a van came down the street worried that it might be the local utilities coming to shut off our water.  I remember when we would be watching a movie and the TV would suddenly shut off because the electric company was tired of waiting for us to decide to give that last little bit of money to them instead of paying our children’s school fees or buying them new shoes.

I remember well the times when going to McDonald’s was a rare treat, and one to feel guilty about later when the next bill came due or the next catastrophe struck… a broken down car or leaky pipe wasn’t just an inconvenience back then, it was a genuine tragedy.

I also remember very well the days of carting textbooks with me everywhere I went in case I found myself with an opportunity to sneak in some study time… sitting in a doctor’s waiting room… during breaks at work…  Everyone I worked with knew to leave me alone at lunch.  I didn’t have time to socialize, I had to write that paper.

I am also painfully aware, especially now, that I was a part of that 47% who Did.Not.Owe.Taxes.

In fact, there was one year during that time when we qualified for the earned income credit and the government actually paid us.

Was I proud of that?  No.  I have made some bad decisions in my life, and I have no problem admitting that.  But I was part of that 47% who owed absolutely no federal income tax for a number of years.

Am I lazy?  No.

Was I dependent on government?  No.

Did I take personal responsibility for my life?

You tell me.

Interestingly, I am not a Democrat.  Nor am I a Republican.  I am registered to vote with “No Party Affiliation”.  In the past I have identified as more Republican than Democrat, currently I lean strongly towards Libertarian, but… technically… I am a part of the group that Romney feels he should be convincing.

Yet I am so horrified by what he said, and I am so personally offended by the way he views almosts a full half of the American population, including me, I’m almost disgusted that anyone would vote for him at this point.

Romney, you missed the mark with me.  And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot, Government & Politics | 1 Comment

Your Power is in Your Vote

We are being manipulated.  We have lost control of our country; our voices aren’t truly being heard.  We think we’re making a difference when we vote.  But are we?

Most of us sit back and allow this to happen.  Many of us aren’t aware of the extent to which we have lost control.

But we are being manipulated.  We are being manipulated in ways that seem obvious when you really take a good hard look at our political system.  However, we are being manipulated in ways that are subtle enough that for the vast majority of Americans it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and say… “Eh, it is what it is”.

We are inundated with news coverage of only certain candidates, and we are vaguely aware that the process is controlled by those who have the most money.  However, we are mostly unaware that even the debates that we view on TV are controlled by the two parties that we hear so much about…

It’s the Democrats vs. the Republicans, right?

How many times have you heard comments like “Hold your nose and vote” or “Just vote for the lesser of two evils?”

My question is, why only “two” evils?  And why don’t we believe we have any options that are better?

It has been my experience, and the research I have done so far backs it up, that most of us are not fully satisfied with the republicans OR the democrats.  We don’t seem to believe that either of them is the answer, and we want a new option.  I even read an opinion piece on CNN the other day that stated:

This year, we’re already saddled with two candidates for president that leave you with the feeling that we should ask for more applications.

Here’s the thing though…  there ARE more applicants!!

When you show up to vote this year, you will not see only Romney and Obama.  There will be more options under “President”.

But if that’s true, why don’t we know who these other options are?  Why do we hear nothing of them?  Why aren’t they covered in the media?  Why aren’t they included in the debates?

Someone once told me that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote.  A wasted vote?  I understand the logic… the third party candidates are not taken seriously enough, there is no way they will win, so we should cast our vote for the “lesser of the two evils who actually have a shot at winning the election.

Here’s what I think:

A vote for the wrong candidate is the only wasted vote.  A vote for the candidate you actually want to win is never wasted.

We have the ability to take a stand.  We have the ability to say “This is what we want for our country.”  But the way we do that is by voting for the candidate we actually want in office.  It’s the whole basis of how our system is supposed to work!!  And the more people say “I want to hear from the other parties”, the more legitimate they will become.

An uneducated vote is a wasted vote.  Go educate yourself as to what options you truly have. < —  That site makes it super easy to do!

Then vote for the candidate you believe is right, not the lesser of the two evils that the biased media is feeding to you.

Categories: Government & Politics | Leave a comment

Let’s Discuss Politics!! But first…

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I actually had a really interesting and enjoyable conversation about politics last night.  What makes this even more shocking is that the conversation was with someone who has drastically different views than I do.  We actually disagreed, but managed to do so in a rational and respectful manner.

I bet you didn’t even know that was possible…  Typically the second politics comes up in a conversation everyone involved gets defensive and the discussion quickly deteriorates into an argument.  An argument in which both sides refuse to even listen to or consider the perspective of the other, choosing instead to talk louder and louder to try and drown out the other person’s voice.

I should know.  I’ve tried to have many such conversations, and I have very rarely succeeded.  There are a few things that bother me about this, not the least of which is the fact that I really enjoy a good, intelligent political discussion and I find that I can so rarely engage in one.  Most political conversation is completely unproductive and not worth the time.

Which brings me to the most important reason this situation bothers me: the discussion is typically completely unproductive.  See, in my opinion, conversation should have benefits other than just the benefits that come from social contacts in general.  Political conversation… honest, open, political conversation… conversation where both sides are actually willing to consider the possibility that they may be wrong, has the potential to make a real difference in our society and for our country.  Generally in political discussions I find myself up against an opponent who spews biased nonsense with no ability to back up their opinions with facts or even with thoughts of their own.

We are each individually responsible for helping to make this country great by being involved in our political system, and everything we do to be involved… protesting, writing our representatives, even just showing up at the polls and voting intelligently… it all makes a difference.  We all must work together to make a difference and to find a compromise that will work for the country as a whole.  If only we could make that happen.

So, what is it that is getting in the way of productive political discussion among individual citizens?

I’m sure there are a number of factors, but I think I have pinpointed a big one. While resolving it probably won’t entirely solve the problem, it could be a good starting point if we could get enough people to understand it and put it into action.

We all have to stop trusting the media and learn to do our own research.  I don’t care what your favorite news source is, it’s not entirely neutral.  Everyone has a bias, the only difference is the extent of that bias or how extreme the views of that source are.  The bias, as much as we’d like for it not to be, is ALWAYS THERE.  And I am not saying you have to completely shun your favorite news source, they all provide some useful information and perspectives in this seemingly never ending search for the facts.

I’m saying that you should be reading ALL of the sources.  Not all at once, of course.  Not even all of the content on all of the sources.  Who has the time for that? Personally I read CNN, BBC, Fox News, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, and my local news website.  And I watch… Jon Stewart!  But there’s also ABC, MSNBC, and any number of other websites you can check out.

No matter what sources you choose, I truly believe that when coming to conclusions regarding political issues, you should be looking to see what the various sources say, and you should be comparing what those sources say to the actual facts of the issue at hand.

I know… I know… sounds crazy.

But since, as I noted above, so many people just don’t know where to start.  I have put together what I hope is a simple to follow, common sense guide to researching political issues and articles.  Read it.  Comment on it.  Help me improve it or expand it.

Looking forward to discussing politics with you!!

Categories: Government & Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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