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People

Nancy

This year celebrates 90 years of Nancy Drew mysteries.

I, like many others, grew up on Nancy Drew. I read each book more than once and couldn’t wait for the next new one.

Through Nancy’s adventures, I learned the meaning of the words “sleuth” and “titian,” gained an appreciation for small details, and took my first steps toward a lifelong interest in understanding human behavior. Her curiosity, creativity, and confidence were inspirational.

I also admired Nancy because she wasn’t superhuman. She solved every mystery, but she made mistakes and sometimes found herself in some troubling circumstances. Still, she never failed to keep going, to do her best to achieve a positive outcome.

Nancy was polite and helpful, humble and kind. She waited her turn, gave credit to others, and generously shared with others. She was respectful when stating her opinion, used facts to make her case, and enjoyed learning new things. She was a good and loyal friend. Of course, solving mysteries meant that she had to take some risks, but they were carefully calculated. Responsibility was her hallmark.

Nancy was a stellar role model. I wanted to be just like Nancy.

Recently, I learned that when the first books were published, some book stores and libraries refused to carry them. The reason? Nancy didn’t behave the way a young woman of that age was supposed to behave. Her unconventional actions and independent nature simply weren’t acceptable.

I’ve always thought of myself as being influenced by a Good Girl. Who knew that Nancy was actually a Rebel all along?

“The young sleuth smiled. Although she was glad it was all over, she could not help but look forward to another mystery to solve.” – Carolyn Keene, The Hidden Staircase

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People

Friendly

The other day, I was thinking about the long-term implications of mask-wearing and social cues.

I will clarify that I am 100% pro-mask as a means of minimizing the spread of disease, of keeping myself and others as safe as possible in the midst of the current pandemic. My musings aren’t related to an anti-mask perspective. Masks = good.

I also know, however, that facial expressions play a key role in communication. We smile, we frown, we show surprise and anger, fear and joy, all the feelings with our faces. These actions emphasize and reinforce our words, voice tone, and body language.

As babies and young children, we learn how to interpret and use these expressions by watching and mimicking other people. As adults, we depend on these learned cues to evaluate and choose our actions when interacting with others.

Sometimes, we make a conscious decision about what we see; for example, we walk into a room of smiling people and conclude that we’re in friendly territory. Sometimes, our interpretation is more of a gut-level reaction; for example, a tight-lipped expression with the words, “I’m fine” warns us that things are not, in fact, fine.

So, if the lower half of the faces of great numbers of people aren’t visible for significant portions of time, what’s the eventual outcome?

It will be interesting to revisit this question after we have a vaccine, after masks have been unnecessary for a while. In the meantime, our challenge is to work around the situation, to come up with creative options to cope with any communication gaps.

I learned about one such option yesterday. FriendlyFaces.com is a website offering personalized masks for purchase. You take a selfie, upload it to the website, and then select the size and other details of your mask. When your mask arrives, you have a means of safely presenting your face, with your chosen expression, to the world.

There’s no requirement that the expression be a happy one, of course. “Resting bitch face” is certainly an option. I suspect, however, that most people who order a mask end up choosing a smiling selfie. Humans are social creatures, after all. It’s hard to resist a friendly face.

Categories
Good People

Racing

2020 can be defined in a lot of ways. One way that I define it is as the Year of Racing.

Racing to keep the numbers under control. Racing to find a vaccine. Racing toward the election and then the ballot counts. Racing to figure out how to manage things remotely, work and school, social life and grocery shopping. Racing to plan for, to manage, to cope with the consequences of life turned upside down.

It often feels like there’s a need for urgency, even as we must wait patiently for results. And, we don’t always have control over the circumstances; we can’t always see the finish line. No wonder one of the most common feelings these days is exhaustion.

It’s refreshing when we have the opportunity to influence an outcome, to participate in ways that clearly and meaningfully inch us closer to success. Even if we know that “big picture” remains, even if we’re aware that our efforts won’t solve the entire problem or fix the whole situation, it is comforting – and important – to do what we can to create an impact.

Which leads me to the story of Orion Jean.

Orion is a ten-year-old boy who participated in a speech contest. The topic was National Kindness, and Orion was the first-place winner. With his $500.00 prize, he bought toys for a local children’s hospital, eventually leading to the creation of his broader effort, Race to Kindness.

Orion’s point of view is that every gesture of kindness, big or small, counts. Kindness can change a nation.

After his toy collection ended, Orion set his sights on a new goal: collecting 100k meals to distribute to people in need. He recognized that the number of people who are food insecure is rising, and this need is especially relevant right now.

The Race to 100k Meals deadline is November 25. If you’d like to know more about Orion, his vision, and ways to contribute, please check out his website: https://www.racetokindness.com

Here’s to Orion, who’s figured out that focusing on what we can do, what is possible and helpful even if it doesn’t fix everything, creates a positive change in perspective. Exhaustion turns to energy, and the finish line doesn’t seem quite as far away.

Categories
Life People

Daughters

I have sons but no daughters.

I am, however, a daughter myself, and I have several nieces. I also have a mother, a sister, aunts, grandmothers. I have friends who have daughters, who are also sisters, aunts, grandmothers.

In other words, I may not have the experience of mothering a daughter, but I do understand the daughter experience.

Yesterday, the daughter experience had a First. Yesterday, a woman – a daughter – did something that took 200+ years and the combined hopes, dreams, blood, sweat, and tears of countless other daughters to achieve.

I know that not everybody is as happy with these circumstances as I am. Not everybody agrees with the positions and perspective that this woman, this newly-elected Vice President, holds. Even those who voted for her may have reservations. That is true in every election; there is no perfect candidate, and there are no perfect outcomes, even for the winning side.

I also know that history is full of diverse opinions and different views. Yet, the tales of history are influenced by the storytellers. Now, we are poised for the history books to include the voices of women – of daughters – in a new way.

This event doesn’t have to diminish what came before. Nor does it mean that my hopes and dreams for my sons – and for all sons – have disappeared. As always, I want them to be able to achieve their goals and to be recognized for their accomplishments.

I also want them to know, however, that there is room for more. There is space for beyond what used to be. They don’t become “less than” simply because of change; instead, change makes new opportunities possible. Instead of either/or, the world can be full of and.

I saw this floating around social media yesterday:

Be sure to wear your shoes, ladies. There’s a lot of glass on the floor in here.

Daughters- and sons – everywhere…let’s celebrate.

Categories
People

Unnamed

There’s an army of people who arrived at polling places in the wee hours of this morning. They’re not there to vote (although it’s likely that every single one of them has already or will at some point before the day ends). They’re there to make voting possible for the rest of us.

Today, they’ll answer questions, fix problems, complete paperwork, give directions, and keep order. They’ll do it regardless of what’s happening elsewhere, in the news or in the neighborhoods. Many of them have been doing these things for days already, supporting the early voting process. They’ve given up time with family and friends and put themselves at greater risk during a pandemic because they know how much it matters, this process of choosing our nation’s future.

Here’s to the poll workers. You’re the unnamed patriots, making sure the rest of us are able to make our voices heard. Thank you for being there. We couldn’t do it without you.

Categories
Life People

Profanity

A friend has a cuppa with a really funny statement on it that includes a swear word. I was tempted to use it in my post today, but I decided not to because this blog is PG-rated. I don’t know who might read it; best not to risk offending.

But, as I told my friend, that doesn’t mean I don’t swear. There are moments when profanity flies out of me, vocal evidence of extreme frustration or anger, shock or amusement. In my experience, a curse word (or two or three) can make it easier to get through the feelings and move on.

I do have boundaries – I was raised to believe that there are some places, some situations where profanity is simply not acceptable. And, as with my written blog, I strive not to offend in my verbal speech. I try to communicate in a way that isn’t objectionable, which sometimes requires me to be creative with my word choices. That can actually be a beneficial challenge as it forces me to polish my language skills. It would be inauthentic of me, however, to pretend that I don’t know and never use “naughty” words.

I read somewhere that swearing can be a sign of intelligence. There appears to be a correlation between verbal skills and profanity use, as people who have extensive “regular” vocabularies often also have extensive swearing vocabularies. These vocabularies can play an important role in higher-level emotional processing and expression. So, perhaps profanity doesn’t always deserve its negative reputation.

Nevertheless, communication is a two-way street, so I’ll continue to keep my posts profanity-free. I have sarcastic cuppas and cuppas with pictures and colors, shapes and sizes that can serve to illustrate my feelings and points without swear words. That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t find a few fiery words contained in the cupboard where my cuppa collection is stored.

Categories
Election People

102

I read a story yesterday about a 102-year-old woman in Chicago, Bea Lumpkin, who covered herself head-to-toe in PPE so that she could go in person to drop off her ballot.

She was two years old when the 19th Amendment was passed. She’s never missed an election, voting in every one since she became old enough to do so.

Although she’s been isolating herself, avoiding exposure to COVID-19, she wasn’t about to miss this year’s election. So, she followed the recommended safety guidelines to minimize her risk and made her way to the nearest ballot drop-off box.

Given her experience and age, it might be tempting for her to approach this election as optional, her participation as unnecessary. But it’s those experiences, the awareness and wisdom gained from a career as a school teacher who’s lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, the 1918 pandemic, the space age, the focus on civil rights, and everything else that’s happened in the past century, that encouraged her to vote this year. Even as she nears the end of her life journey, she remains hopeful about the future – for herself and for all of us who will still be here after she’s gone.

Today’s cuppa is for Bea Lumpkin and all the others like her, ordinary heroes and role models, doing what they can to make the world a better place for everybody.

Categories
Life People

Power

According to the National Today calendar (nationalday.com), today is National Love People Day. It’s described as a day “dedicated to inspiring and supporting others with the power of unconditional love.”

I’m not going to pretend that I love everybody, unconditionally, all the time. I’m human; I feel anger, frustration, fear, confusion, all the emotions that make it hard to love.

When I do have the courage to choose love, however, I find that I’m able to see opportunities and potential, instead of barriers. Love clarifies, simplifies, inspires.

Today’s cuppa reminds me that it’s not always easy, but it’s also not complicated. Here’s to the simple power of love.



Categories
People

Tenacity

“I’m dejected, but only momentarily, when I can’t get the fifth vote for something I think is very important. But then you go on to the next challenge and you give it your all. You know that these important issues are not going to go away. They are going to come back again and again. There’ll be another time, another day.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Categories
Life People

Last

It’s the last day of the month. It’s a day for meeting deadlines and finalizing plans. Completion, then starting anew. A bit like punctuation at the end of a sentence, in preparation for the next one.

The last day of the month, today, right now, can also mean the end of other things, such as events or relationships or opportunities. Of predictability. Of safety. A shift from known to unknown, from expected to I have no idea.

For some, last is good. For others – many others, probably more than usual right now – it is not.

Thinking about the differences this morning, about the emotions and implications, how each of us is affected by last, the same and yet not the same.

It’s simply a calendar page to some. For many others, the ones who occupy most of my heart and my thoughts today, last carries meaning far beyond an x on a page.