2015 in Review

I have not written in a while. I have been very down about national and international events. Honestly, I came unhinged with the lack of civility in our nation’s political conversations.

And yes, I’ve been occupied with my own personal business — producing A Christmas Carol to raise money for refugees, finishing my first trimester teaching, churning out articles for response magazine.

But I want to look at 2015 first nationally. And then, personally.

One sadness is the way politicians live in the pocket of gun lobbyists. I thought our representatives were supposed to represent We, the People. Not the Moneyed Interests.

Don’t take  my word for it. guns kill people every 16 minutes. Read Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times (August 27)

■ More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides every six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

The Paris shooting and the killing of civilians sickened me. We are to live the Golden Rule, regardless of religion. I will never forget the message from one of the three who died in the Boston marathon bombing in 2013. The message was pretty straight forward.

peace

The racism in society — the killing of innocent black people, children, women is ridiculous. I was especially upset by the killing of Sandy Bland, who seemed to me, someone whom I would have been friends with. She should not have died. Nor a child with a toy gun. WTF is the world coming to? Thank God for advocacy like Black Lives Matter.

If I were president, I would make every police force in the country train every one of its officers in diversity. When I was on jury duty last year — in the voit dire — the two majority opinions from the hundreds of ordinary New Yorkers — who were being grilled to become jurors – “I hate guns. I distrust cops.” It is more than a PR problem. Police departments are not seen as protectors of the people, they are seen as the enemy.

It may be that we are not attracting our best and brightest to the police force or to our political arena. Many of our candidates are not that bright. But Hillary is and so is Bernie. I support Hillary because she has experience in the Senate and as Secretary of State. Hil (and yes, Bernie, too) speaks civilly of and to others.

I met Clinton in ’95 at the Women’s Conference in China, she impressed me then — speaking on women and children’s rights. And she impresses me still.

I would not tolerate the meanness, closed-mindedness and xenophobia of our Republican candidates’ words in my classroom or on the playground. I certainly do not want it from my country’s chief executive.

When I was in Dublin this summer, a chatty Irish gent told me he used to dream about visiting the U.S. but not any more. He said, “Too many guns in the U.S.” We are on the verge of losing our international street cred.

I love when we tear down walls, not build bigger ones. Look at Germany. I love Merkel. Those Germans are amazing in their welcome and hospitality of refugees. Taking in a million. And our vast country, our America the Beautiful? We cannot even take in ten thousand? Please.

On a personal level, this year I have tried to engage in small acts of kindness. And make a positive difference right where I am.

I am proud Chris and I raised $850 for refugees through Rutgers Church and Church World Service at our staged reading of A Christmas Carol with Chris as Scrooge.

Professionally, I accomplished a lot. I am now a high school English teacher. And also managing editor of response magazine. I am blessed to end this year with two part-time jobs I love. I worked hard and put in my time, but career-wise, I was also lucky and at the right place at the right time in 2015.

Another personal achievement – I blogged every single day of October on mindfulness.

I got my first child off to college which has been bittersweet. Overall, I’m proud. Some days, I’m lonely. The family dyanmics shift.

This was a good year for my family and travel. I enjoyed my writing workshop in Dublin. My daughter Char traveled to Costa Rica and Bermuda. Catherine went kayaking in Alaska. Hayden went to Patagonia, Chile. Chris went fishing in Canada.

About Chris

This is often an interesting topic for people. But I am reluctant to share. As if it is not my story to tell. Let me say this.

Chris’s health is declining. Daily tasks, like shaving, are becoming more difficult for him. This is the nature of a chronic disease like Parkinson’s – it is not his fault or our family member’s failing. It is not that he is not loved enough or does not love enough. It is the way this disease unfolds – no one stays the same.

Yes, we all change, slow, grow, decline. We are not in stasis. Unless we die. Then we are done. And we are all dying but we are not all done. And though Chris is having more difficulty in tasks like moving from sitting to standing, he still has a great fighter’s spirit and a raging intellect. He still has much love to give and receive. He is not done. But we are getting to a point in our family where we need more help. (I have to finish this post so I can get to physical therapy for a bad back.)

Asking for help is anathema to me. I started counseling a couple of months ago to work on this.

I started a Caring Bridge blog for Chris (Although neither Chris nor I have updated it.) as a place to update people about Chris’s health in a smaller more private setting than this blog or on Facebook. (If you want me to include you on that, you can send me your email address.)

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