Musing

Space Cowboy

architecture dark dawn duskI have a vivid memory of waking up early to sit on my grandmother’s pea soup green Naugahyde couch so I could watch the first shuttle launch in April of 1981. I was six years old. My Grandmother believed if God had intended for man to fly he’d give us wings. I knew better. I knew he’d give us the brains to get there and I wanted to go. When I was 6 years old I still believed I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t yet know I absolutely sucked at math or that I’d fail algebra twice and just get through geometry by the skin of my teeth. I genuinely believed if I wanted it bad enough I could be an astronaut too one day.

A few years later, in January 1986, I happened to be home on a snow day. Of course, I was watching the first teacher in space take off on the ill-fated Challenger. It broke my heart when it exploded a few seconds into its flight. I remember not only feeling sad for the loss of life but fearful the program would be over. When the program did get scrapped in 2011 I was sad but not surprised. The Space program costs a lot of money. And, like most government entities it was full of pork and ridiculousness. My brother in law, an honest to goodness rocket scientist, worked for a Nasa contractor when it all went down. The stories he used to tell of the way Nasa was run, the inflexibility of the program, etc. why it’s no wonder the program ended.  It’s hard to make history and be innovative if you aren’t willing to take risks and think outside the box. 

Today, Space X in collaboration with NASA is launching a manned rocket into space again. It’s groundbreaking because NASA made a deal with weird AF Elon Musk and purchased passage from a private space exploration company instead of building their own rocket. I’ve been watching the preparations off and on since about noon today. In fact, I had live coverage blaring in the background as I was writing this today. And, I just heard the flight is being rescheduled due to weather. It will take place this Saturday, May 30.  I know what I’ll be doing on Saturday. I just wish I could be in Florida to watch.

Photo Credit: Space X free on Pexels. 

 

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Musing

ADHD

white and blue crew neck t shirt

At least once or twice a year I come across some article written by some person with a host of letters behind their name claiming ADD/ADHD is made up, not real and just another way for drug manufacturers to bilk us of money.  To say these articles piss me off would be a gross understatement.  Imagine Hugh Jackman as Wolverine when he busts his claws out.  Yeah, now you’re getting how I feel about those articles. But, before I get myself all worked up, let me talk more about why it gets me worked up.

Almost everyone who knows me, knows I have ADHD. I have never made it a secret and I often poke fun at myself for my disorder.  I have had it since childhood although I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was an adult. As a kid, I was the wild, impulsive, talkative, smart but bad kid. I was super disruptive and a little combative. I had cute on my side but that only took me so far.  Most of the time it ended with me being grounded (rarely) or with a spanking (typical).  As I got older,  I developed some coping mechanisms and I naturally possess some personality traits that enable me to help cope better than others but my symptoms were always the elephant in the room.  Even though the condition ADD and ADHD has been used since the early 1900s – yes you read that right the early 1900s. It didn’t get a lot of attention until the 1980s and then it was generally your completely over the top out of control cases and almost 100% of the cases were boys.  For the longest time experts thought only boys could have ADD or ADHD.

Fast forward to the 2000s and everyone you know is on some kind of medicine for their brains.  Everyone knows someone who takes medicine or has a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, bipolar, ocd, autism spectrum, etc.  For some reason, no one blinks when all those other issues are treated with medicine but the minute you mention medicine for ADHD half the people in the room will break out their armchair quarterback medical license. So yeah, I get a little Wolverine about it. Imagine if you will that your brain is constantly saying the following when someone is speaking to you.

Ah, yes cool topic. Okay, okay I’m following you. Oh that reminds me of something. Wait your turn, wait your turn, focus, listen, don’t interrupt, wait your turn, focus, don’t interup, wait what were they saying I stopped listening to think about something else, oh my gosh what are they talking about now, I must have zoned out.

Yeah, that’s my brain nearly every time someone speaks to me. It’s frustrating for both the speaker and me.

People are really hating being away from others right now.  I can’t say it’s bothering me that much. My brain doesn’t have to deal with as many people in my head.  Incidentally, I wonder if I start doing what that lady in the picture is doing if people would stop talking until I get my thoughts in order.

P.S.  I kinda took the lazy route this week. I’ve had the bones of this entry for a while. I have something else brewing but I’m finding a hard time organizing my thoughts.  Pretty hilarious sense this is all about my brain working differently.

Photo Credit: Atul Choudhary on Pexels.com.  

 

 

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Musing

Changes

autumn autumn colours autumn leaves blurI’ve been thinking a lot about changes. In nearly the blink of an eye, our lives have completely changed. We are working and schooling at home.  We are cooking, cleaning and doing our own yard work instead of hiring it out.  We have resorted to cutting our own hair.  Frivolous spending has drastically dropped off.  We are faced with shortages at stores either due to demand or due to genuine shortages in the food delivery systems.  Up until March, the only people you saw taking a walk in the middle of the day were fitness nuts and old people. It all happened so quickly yet right now things aren’t too different from the life of our grandparents and great grandparents lived.

Less than 100 years ago no one used to work out. We got our workouts from walking places instead of driving. Our work consisted of more manual/physical labor and less sitting around.  Our food availability was not as streamlined and interconnect as it is now – much to our detriment in this pandemic.  People were skinnier.  If your garden or farm didn’t grow, you didn’t eat. If you were out of a job you didn’t eat. There was no government welfare system. There were soup kitchens and poor houses but no one was getting three square meals a day.  It was just enough to keep you from starving.  We didn’t see a therapist or talk about our feelings.  We didn’t have as many diagnoses.  People just died.  We didn’t have less cancer or less autism we just didn’t diagnose. Well, John just up and died yesterday he’d been looking bad for 3 months oh well.  Pets lived outside and ate scraps. Now there are people on the internet asking about daycare and enrichment programs for their pets. True story, I saw a lady asking about enrichment programs for her corgi on our neighborhood Facebook group right before this pandemic hit.  Are you freakin’ kidding me?  There are still children out there with crack head mommas that can’t bother to feed them and yet some bougie ass lady is worried about her dog.

Now that we’ve pretty much been stripped of everything non-essential and for God only knows how long, I wonder what we will keep and what we will let fade away when this pandemic is but a horrible memory.  Will more schools be held online? What about work? We’ve proven that so much can be done at home. What about the people everyone used to ignore – the grocery store and warehouse workers – the ones keeping the wheels turning right now. Will they get paid more and be shown a little more appreciation?  Now that folks see that life does exist outside of being busy all the time will they slow down? Or, will we be forced to slow down because of economic restrictions?  With so many people laid off will life change because no one can afford to do anything? It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Personally, I wish I had a crystal ball. All of the uncertainty is making me anxious. I’ve realized it’s not the change that bothers me. It’s the fear of the unknown. Will the change be a good change? A tolerable change? Or, will the change be something we have to grit our teeth and slug through to get to the good outcome?

Photo Credit: Free from Pixbay on Pixels. 

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Musing

Nothing but time

img_1126Well, folks, we got nothing but time these days, am I right? For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a home improvement project keeping me busy. Those projects are now finished.  This week I forgot my normal posting day was yesterday and didn’t write a thing. I’m feeling a little disjointed and not focused. I’m having trouble sleeping. I think its stress of sorts although my life isn’t too stressful at the moment. I think I’m stressed from watching the news and hearing about all of these closings, restrictions, loss of lives and jobs. I feel like I need to be informed but right now everything looks so bleak.  It doesn’t help that it has rained so much here we can practically swim in our grass.

I had to go to the grocery yesterday. I wore a homemade mask made from a bandana and two hair ties. Here’s the video from Youtube. A fellow shopper (not wearing any PPE) saw me in my homemade mask. She rolled her eyes, made a loud hmmp sound, and started to whisper something to her adult daughter who was shopping with her.  I responded with, “Keep talking bitch, I’m not getting the corona.”  I doubt she heard me from behind my mask but I felt better. Plus, I looked like a bandit with my red bandana so the joke is on her. Yes, in some ways I feel I am devolving. But, then again, I find I don’t really care.

Gwyneth Paltrow said something recently about how with all this time on our hands we need to be learning a new language or writing a book.  Well, this old dog is learning new tricks. It’s call Zoom. I have had three Zoom meetings this week. One was me and my boss trying to figure out how to use it.  They’ve all been fun because they’ve also included wine or some other adult beverage. I also made the quarantini out of vodka and Emergen-C.  Yes, I know the Emergen-C company said don’t do this. I’m a rebel and I don’t care.  Furthermore, this blog is as close as a book as I can get right now. So, take that Paltrow.  I’ve also started bird watching. Which is really weird because I’m not a bird fan.  However, a mallard drake and his hen keep showing up in my back yard and I can’t help but watch them.  I have named them Phyllis and George. Above is a picture of them feeding my super soupy back yard.

Yes, friends, this is what our life looks like right now. It won’t be like this forever which is a blessing. I just wish I had a crystal ball so I could see what the other side of the curve looks like.

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Irony, Musing

Made in China

photo of man wearing maskThe whole world has heard of the Coronavirus and how half of China is under quarantine.  Over the last couple of weeks, it’s been announced Disneyland in Shanghai and Hong Kong are both closed indefinitely.  Apple has said they will lose money this quarter because factories are shut down in quarantined cities. Last week there was a report on my local news station about how many wedding and quinceanera dresses are made from fabric from China.  The factories haven’t been sending shipments since the quarantine and that means no dresses.  What most people fail to realize is these things are only the tip of the iceberg. It sounds like I’m fearmongering but I’m not.

Many years ago, I read a book called A Year Without Made in China by Sara Bongiorni.  The book follows a family who decided to forgo buying anything made in China for a whole year.  It started out as sort of a social experiment but it became more than that. The family found it virtually impossible to buy certain things not made in China.  In some cases, the things they needed (parts to repair something) were only made in China.  There was no other alternative. After reading this book I began taking stock of where the things I bought were made. I noticed a fair bit of China as well as other Asian countries and India with a few other places scattered here and there. At the time that I read the book, I just thought it was a sign of the times that American factories were dead. It never occurred to me how a disruption in the manufacturing of goods in another country could affect day to day life in our country, yet here we are. I’ll be honest I don’t remember if that was even touched on in the book.

This virus induced disruption of goods is definitely a wake up call. It throws into sharp relief how dependent we all are on other countries and how interconnected we have become.  I wonder if this disruption will be the catalyst for bringing manufacturing back to America. For decades, America has all but outsourced the manufacture of most everything to other countries. A few years back there was a new push to “Buy American” but if there’s anything American’s love it’s cheap crapola and American made products aren’t cheap. After all, American made products have to be made by Americans who need to have a living wage which means the factories can’t run sweatshops and sell cheap goods. However, if we can’t get the goods from cheap labor places what is the alternative?  You know what they say, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.”  Maybe it’s time we did it ourselves or maybe we’ll just find a cure for the virus.  The sad truth of it is this probably won’t be a catalyst to ‘do it ourselves’ again because the start up time for a new factory would be years. We no longer have the capability, facilities and manpower to do it ourselves. We’ve essentially outsourced the things we don’t want to do which is another topic for another day.

NOTE: If you are looking for a new read, I highly suggest reading A Year Without Made in China.  It really is quite fascinating. Click on the title about to go directly to Amazon or you can be cheap and get it for free at the library.  

 

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Musing

Making Speeches

black microphone

We’ve been inundated with speeches this last week. First, we had President Trump’s State of the Union speech last Tuesday, February 4.  We also had his speech at the National Prayer breakfast two days later.  We’ve had numerous grandstands with the Iowa caucus bru-ha-ha and the New Hampshire caucus last night.  Plus, we’ve had another debate in preparation for the New Hampshire caucus. And, finally, we had a whole night of speeches at the Oscars.  All of those speeches I just talked about were very scripted in that the person delivering the speeches knew exactly what they were going to say when called on.

Of course, we all expect these things to be scripted but the thing that bothers me is the debate speeches.  No, I’m not some naive babe in the woods type. I know those candidates must have some canned answers but sometimes it feels like the whole thing is a canned statement. Almost like a press conference where the PR people have told the talking head, “Hey man just keep repeating this phrase over and over no matter what they ask.  If pushed, just reword our key phrase and just keep on trucking.” Back in the B.C. (before children), when I did work in public relations that was exactly the type of thing we’d tell our figurehead when at a press conference. We didn’t want the press asking too many pointed questions and having the talking head going off-script thus making more work for us in the damage control department.

It’s funny, maybe it’s always been like this but I’ve been noticing how everything seems so curated and staged these days. Family, friends, even casual acquaintances have social media posts that seem so staged and contrived.  Look at me at this fancy work thing, see me picking up trash at the beach (just doing my part for the environment), see how hard I hustle. It’s not just the selfies but also the words.  Personal interactions aren’t much better. The bragging about CrossFit and who has the most ridiculous after school schedule is just absurd. The other night a friend texted that they were at a band concert and the lady next to them was snapping pictures and uploading it to Facebook whilst doing the humble brag about their kid being in the honors band.  The school doesn’t even have an honor band program.  It’s keeping up with the Jones’s on steroids. The one-upmanship is out of control.

Despite many years in PR, I find that even though I can write this drivel for others, I cannot craft a speech or image for myself.  I am way too what you see is what you get and it cannot be helped. This blog and my big mouth are about as close to a speech as I get. And, if you know me in real life you know I just spew it out without a whole lot of thought.  I’d love to know the logic behind the social media crafters. Is it attention seeking? Is it poor self esteem and the need for validation? Is this the new currency – instead of flashy cars and vacation homes you show how well you’re doing online? I’m genuinely curious to know how these people tick. Too bad we can’t don a pith helmet and hide behind some bushes and film these folks in their natural habitat like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I fear it wouldn’t be too exciting. It would just be some random person looking down at a phone. Boring!

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Musing

Kobe

candlelight candles

Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

I’m not a sports fan – like not at all. Over the years my kids have played nearly every competitive sport known to man but I have never been a fan. I wanted my kids to run around, get exercise and work out their competitive streaks. Having said that, I know who Kobe Bryant is and this crash has me shook. The boys I grew up with in high school were heavy into basketball.  I remember when Michael Jordan and Shaq where kings and Kobe was the new kid. He is not that much younger than me.  It’s hard when someone in your age group perishes so suddenly.  But, it’s not just his age that has me shook. No, it’s all the other things.

It was just released today that not only was Kobe and his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, killed but also a couple of Gianna’s teammates and some of their parents and coaches as well as the pilot. They were going to a travel basketball event.  Many of my friends and family members do travel sports with their kids. I took care of my boss’s dogs this past weekend because her three kids were all at travel ballgames and she would be away from her house for over 12 hours. The same could have happened to my boss, or my cousin or my brother and sister in law all of whom were gone to ballgames this weekend. That hit hard.

Also, I too, have a 13 year old daughter. The thought of losing her to some freak accident makes my stomach churn.  Gianna’s mother had no idea she was saying goodbye to her baby girl for the last time that day. The thought of that alone just wrecks me. One should never have to bury a child yet it happens every day.

Then, I remembered Kobe was not only married but also had other children at home. And, the other people on board also left family behind. I can’t imagine going about your day and then all of the sudden half of your family is dead. At some point, we all bury a family member but thankful it’s usually due to a tragedy like what happened yesterday.  I can’t imagine what those left behind are feeling right now. The pain, the grief, the holding it together for your surviving family especially when the survivors are children and are having a hard time processing their grief as well. My heart goes to all of those left behind. I pray I and whoever is reading this never have to endure that type of heartache.

We say ‘hug your family a little closer’ when this kind of thing happens.  It sounds trite but it’s true. One never knows when the last goodbye will come. So, hug those closest to you a little tighter the next time you see them.

 

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Musing

Worry

photo of woman covering her face

Worry. It’s such a small word for such a big emotion.  We worry about so many things all day long – from little things like what am I going to make for dinner to giant things like how am I going to afford to pay the rent and put food on the table this week. Many spiritual texts will tell you not to worry because other forces are in control. I have yet to meet any person who has heard that advice and truly taken it.  I mean like for real taken it. They may know God or whoever is ultimately in control but deep down the thoughts and self talk still happens. So, what all is there to worry about and how does one cope?

This past weeks’ events in the Middle East has many worried. World War III has been bandied about quite a bit. Politics in our nation has many worried. Some would say the environment/climate change is a major concern.  Others would tell you that securing our borders and providing more jobs with a living wage should be a main concern.  While still others would say affordable housing and healthcare should have us all lying awake at night. Economists are warning about a financial correction.  These scenarios alone are enough to give anyone an ulcer. But most of us are worried about the stuff a little closer to home.  We’re worried about things like paying the bills, getting to work on time and how we are going to be in three places at once any given day.  And, while we are ticking off all the things we should be worried about let’s think about shoulds be doings like self care, staying in shape, eating right, keeping in touch with friends and relatives, making time to keep our romantic relationships alive and not to mention parenting a child or taking care of an aging relative. Have you started hyperventilating into a bag yet? Has panic set in while you count up all the stuff you think you should be worried about?

I ask all this because I had an ah-ha moment the other day. We cannot worry about everything. We physically just can’t. There is not enough time, brainpower or energy in our bodies to worry about everything that we “should be worried about” all the time. One must pick and choose what is important in life at that moment and focus or worry about that.  It seems like a foregone conclusion that one can’t worry about everything yet most days, myself included, we are inundated with real worries and contrive worries and life feels like one endless worry.  I love how all the gurus and self-helpers are out there telling us we need to read their book or buy their program to help us manage all the worry.  As if they have a lock on a damn thing.  Maybe that’s what all those spiritual texts mean when they talk about letting go and letting the higher power take care of things. Maybe it’s just the realization that we cannot think about another thing at this moment no matter how critical someone else thinks it is.  I have to admit I don’t know where all this is coming from – maybe it’s middle age talking or maybe it truly is an ah-ha moment but I cannot waste any more brain power on every little thing.  And, I refuse to feel guilty for not wringing my hands over what someone else thinks I should worry about.  So what that I drank a diet coke (poison) and I threw the can in the trash instead of recycling it (environmental monster) all while eating a candy bar (carbs) and ignoring the latest boneheaded thing a politician said. I cannot be concerned. I will do better tomorrow or I won’t but I can’t be worried about it. Sure, I’m still going to worry about something things.  I have a few biggies floating around in my brain right now but all I can do is work toward a good solution to those issues I’m worried about and try my best.  In the end, isn’t that all any of us can do? Try your best.

NOTE: My usual posting day is Wednesday.  I’m early this week as this week is really chaotic.
Photo Credit:  Free from the internet – Pexels.com

 

 

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Musing

Dolly Podcast

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For the past couple of weeks, you cannot turn on network tv without seeing Dolly Parton’s face. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining. I love Dolly. I have vivid memories of watching her variety show, simply named Dolly, which aired on ABC in the mid 1970s.  She used to come down on a swing from the ceiling.  I thought she looked like an angel.  Incidentally, if you’ve ever seen Country Bears Jamboree at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom you’ll remember the girl bear on the swing. Yep, that’s a nod to Dolly and her variety show.

Dolly is a musical and cultural icon. One of the reasons why she has been featured so much is that Dolly recently hit a huge milestone. She has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years.  That’s a helluva milestone.  I haven’t even been on this earth for 50 years much less had the same career for 50 years.  And, since she’s everywhere these days, it’s no surprise there’s a podcast about her. Of course, I’ve been listening to it.  It’s called Dolly Parton’s America.  It’s written and narrated by this really interesting guy from Nashville named Jad Abumrad.  He’s Lebanese-American with a perfect radio voice – which is to say he doesn’t sound Southern or like he’s ever said the word y’all in his life. It will be 9 episodes when finished and at the time of publication of this blog, I’m currently caught up.  It’s interesting hearing about Dolly’s career, especially her early years. I learned a few things. But, the podcast isn’t just about Dolly.  There a side tangent about Dolly and the people of Appalachia.  How the people are perceived, how today’s youth are leaving behind their Southern accents so they won’t be as stereotyped as well the argument that Dolly is or isn’t perpetuating the troupe of the dumb hillbilly. It’s also interesting hearing Abumrad’s take on things. We are about the same age so we have a similar frame of reference to our shared hometown of Nashville and the Tennessee of our youth.  He does a bit of self discovery in this podcast and it’s quite fascinating. I won’t spoil it in case you’d like to listen.

I too had a bit of a self discovery moment listening to the podcast.  Many of Dolly’s songs can be heard throughout the podcast, in fact, one whole episode is about nothing but her music and people playing it. But, one that is heavily featured in the first couple of episodes is My Tennessee Mountain Home. I hadn’t heard that song in years. It’s probably been since I moved away from Tennessee over 20 years ago.  The first time they played it and I heard those first few lines, my eyes welled up with tears and ran down my face.  In my mind, I was in the Smoky Mountains on a warm summer day.  I ached deep down in my soul wishing with all my might that I could be there. I still can’t explain why it hit me so hard or why that song conjured up such a visceral feeling. The only thing I can think of is the Smoky Mountains are one of the few places I’ve been that own a piece of my soul. I never lived in the Smokies. I used to visit both as a kid and as an adult but when I think Tennessee I think of those Mountains. I think of the clean fresh air and the way the redbud trees bring color to the bare trees in spring. I think of the little streams that run through the valleys of the ridges that are so cool and fun to play in in the summer.  I think of the beautiful leaves in the fall and the smell of woodburning fireplaces in winter. It is so beautiful up there.  I don’t get back as often as I’d like but it will forever hold a place in my heart. 

Photo Credit: This is the icon on my podcast app. I did a screenshot and cropped it so look for that photo when you are uploading the podcast. I’m not sure who this piece of art belongs to – probably whoever produces the podcast but I’m using it under fair use no copyright infringement intended. Consider this free advertising since I get no money from this little writing endeavor.

 

 

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Musing

Grit

person rock climbingI’m probably going to get some shit for this but I identify so much with the show Blackish. No, I’m not pulling a Rachel Dolezal. I’m not trying to pass myself off as anything but the generic white girl that I am. The thing I identify with is background – especially Dre’s lower income/blue collar upbringing.  Much of the premise of Blackish is how Dre and Bow have become upper class and have thus raised their children and how they have strayed away from their upbringing. Much of the last and the current season of the show has focused on how they are raising their children.  Dre and Bow recognize that their children have no real grit and their oldest son is essentially rudderless and it’s killing them.  Neither Dre nor Bow had that luxury and they have no idea how to navigate parenting the bougie children they have created. I have to admit that feeling is all too real for me.

Like the fictional character Dre, I grew up working class. We had enough. We received no public assistance. My parents had a mortgage and two cars – neither of which they could truly afford.  They worked hard but they lived beyond their means. We were chronically getting calls from debt collectors threatening to repo something.  We weren’t as bad off as our neighbors. Those folks were forever borrowing this big metal key thing my dad had that you could turn the water back on at the street or borrowing electric by running a drop cord from another house.  Despite not ever having enough money for extracurricular activities or vacations or most anything fun, I never felt poor. But, I do remember thinking there was no way I was going to live like that when I got to be an adult.  I went to college, got a degree and a decent job and have actively tried to distance myself from the dingy neighborhoods of my youth.

The funny thing about that “I will not live like that” promise is it gave me something that cannot be taught, manufactured or cajoled.  It gave me grit. Grit makes you want to do better so you do better – maybe not Oprah better – but better than you were.  (Whispers – Y’all knew I had to mention Oprah.)  My kids don’t have grit and neither do Dre and Bow’s kid on Blackish.  They’ve never had to have grit.  They always knew Mom and Dad would be there to pick up the pieces if shit hit the fan. I wish there was a way to foster grit in my kids without going back to the life I grew up in.  I sometimes think my kids think that having a good life just happens without very much work, determination, ambition, and grit. I’ve tried to tell them otherwise but I don’t think they get it. I’ve tried to tell them that they will have to struggle in order to get where they want in life. Maybe their struggle will hit when they get out of school and realize you really have to hustle with their job to make it happen.  Or, maybe they will just muddle through life and never attain grit. That scares me. I know I don’t have as much grit as my grandparents had.  You know the people who fought and won WWII.  Yeah, those folks had grit.  It seems to me every other generation since then has had less and less grit. At the rate we’re going the only grit anyone will have is the kind that resides in a Southerners’ pantry shelf.  Quick cook variety not instant if you please.

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