Here’s a timely blog from Lady P. Good advice for the times in which we live.
Being alone often can make suicidal thoughts worse.
Reach out to friends, family, and people who care about you. Attempt to be social; even if you don’t feel like. Avoid doing things that make you feel sad, such as
visiting a loved one’s grave,
re-reading old mails
or letters that remind you of a sad past. All these can increase suicidal thoughts and negative feelings.
Find a distraction; cuddle a pet, meet up with friends to play soccer or your favourite outdoor games, count 0-100, read positive quotes online to lift your spirit, sing aloud, say affirmations aloud or sing with it, and watchfunny videos on social media, find new hobbies or develop new interests.
Try volunteer activities.
Volunteering helps people feel more socially connected and provides a sense of purpose, pride, accomplishment and fulfilment. Volunteer duties expose you to people with common interests and broaden your support network.
This is the season to grab a firm hold again onto the hope that is ours! Let’s choose to focus on the most amazing gift that was given to us by our loving God. That will calm our hearts and brighten our spirits!
The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.
J. I. Packer
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
Many of us have bemoaned the year 2020. And there’s still some year left to feel disappointed and dejected about. I’m writing this piece without much thought. It’s Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving Day. I was just in the kitchen preparing to bake a couple of sweet potato pies for tomorrow and it occurred to me how much complaining I’ve heard about this “year of the pandemic.” I, too, have made a sizeable contribution to painting the image of this being the year from hell. I can certainly understand how we’ve been disappointed by so much this year: family reunions have been cancelled, vacation to that spot you’ve been longing to visit for years has been postponed, little league baseball games didn’t occur. The list of events that didn’t take place this year is longer than you care to think about. Thinking about what didn’t happen only makes you feel more disappointed.
As I was chopping, dicing, and mixing various ingredients to cook the usual Thanksgiving edibles, it occurred to me that there is a ton of small things that are always there to enjoy. Thinking on these things can make this year’s holiday season an enjoyable one despite the dark cloud that seems to follow all of us. It’s autumn. This is a great time of year. I can still sit on our back deck and enjoy the seasonal changes in foliage. I can sit and watch birds of all kinds playfully fly and soar in the winds. I can throw my dog’s ball from one end of the back yard to the next and watch her gleefully chase after it. I can take a walk through my neighborhood and enjoy the brisk air that causes me to wear a light jacket. Tomorrow, although our gathering for Thanksgiving dinner will be small, our son and one of our daughters, it will be a blessed event. The technology that’s available will allow us to connect with whomever we wish, letting them know that we’re thankful that they are yet in our lives.
I’m sure you have many small things that have worked well to get you to this point during 2020. Take a break from the coronavirus update your mayor, governor or other government officials give and meditate on them. Let the spirit of thankfulness overpower you and help you realize that the small things are important always, but especially during times like these. Thank God for the small things; they are pieces to the big picture.
This past Saturday was one of those unusually warm, late November days in Little Rock. I felt a strong urge to get out of the house. I would imagine you can identify, since you’ve probably been trying your best to stay away from the Coronavirus, too. I just needed some time out to breath fresh air. So, I decided to let the top down on my toy that I keep in the garage and take a ride down to the 7th Street murals to look at the artwork that has taken over the place. The murals are on the walls of 7th street under the train-track overpass.
The area has had smidgens of graffiti on the walls for a few years that have probably meant more to the graffiti artists responsible for putting them there than anyone else. Since the recent incidents of police killings of young Black folk, protests in the streets for justice and peace, and the crazed political environment we currently find ourselves there has been a rapid growth of socially conscience artwork applied to the walls. Progressive minded people have felt a need to express themselves, using this public venue. The overpass is a few blocks west of the state capitol grounds, making an interesting juxtaposition for the artwork to occupy.
While viewing the artwork and snapping a few pictures, I noticed a couple of artists there applying their skills to the walls. With mask on and social distancing operational, I stopped to engage in a brief conversation with each. Both artists seemed to be folk of good character, troubled by all the social, political, and cultural conflicts that have troubled our society over that last four years. Of course, they both realize that what we’ve seen during this time hasn’t been a recent development, but a burgeoning of symptoms manifested from a disease that has lied dormant for decades.
As I left the overpass, I decided to drive by the capitol grounds. The overpass is at the bottom of a hill that rises to several acres of more level land where the state capital building, the state justice building, the state revenue office, and other stately looking buildings are located. As I approached the top of the hill, I quickly noticed a four-wheel-drive pickup truck coming towards me, with American flags and Confederate flags flapping in the wind. A glance to my left revealed several vehicles arrayed in similar fashion parked on one of the large parking lots. There were also signs which clearly indicated why these folks were there. These Trump supporters were making it known that they don’t agree with the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. They obviously believed all the unfounded conspiracy theories that have been put forth by the Trump administration of how the election has been manipulated in favor of the Biden gang. I thought for a second about parking across the street to take a few pictures. My good sense quickly told me that that was a bad idea. My electronic version of the Sunday morning edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, our state’s daily newspaper, confirmed what I saw on this fine, autumnal day.
With all the bad stuff 2020 has visited upon our country, wouldn’t working together to bring about healing be a better kind of drama?
A few years before I retired ( January 2013) from my position as associate vice chancellor for Human Resources at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, I wrote a piece for the campus’ diversity and inclusion newsletter. I’ve had a strong interest in diversity and inclusion work since the late 1980s. I just ran across that piece from years ago in my archives…thought I would share it:
A few years ago, the Chancellor’s Diversity Committee invited Judge Wendell Griffith to campus to be our annual Diversity Week speaker. Being a Trekkie (or is it Trekker?) from the early days of the 1960s television show “Star Trek,” which aired with Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and crew, I remember being transfixed when Judge Griffith began his talk by describing the bridge occupants of the Star Ship Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the “Star Trek” series, had a vision of what…
Art put me on trajectory fifty-five years ago that has contributed to landing me at this point of being sick and tired of the world being hung up on the false construct of race. It was in 1965 when this TV show, called Star Trek, came out. I don’t need to tell you what it is. It’s become part and parcel of the very fabric of society. What started to change thinking about race was watching the image of the star ship Enterprise’s bridge. Each week I was carried 300 hundred years into the future when humankind had finally realized that life and all its imagined sentient representations was inherently valuable, each no more or less than the other. You might be saying right about now: That was a fictional representation of a world, a universe that will never be. If you are saying that I beg to differ. The older I get, the more I realize that anything conceived can be achieved. Doesn’t the mind create images from its inventory of experiences? I believe the expanse of thought is limited, except when seemingly unlimited parameters are brought to bear by innovative thinkers. Some of us can rearrange human experiences in our mental incubators to such a degree that the visual product looks like something that was delivered from some far-flung corner of the universe never visited. If you think of Star Trek as a metaphor for how we humans will get along with each other in the future, you might have less difficulty dealing with the concept of alien differences working together on the bridge of the Enterprise.
Recently, Chris and I were out and about on a beautiful fall day. It was one of those days when you just had to escape the self-imposed confines many of us live within due to the pandemic. I don’t remember the full scope of the conversation we were having; however, I do remember Chris referring to some celebrity as being bi-racial. Of course, that has become a commonly used term these days to assign a box for people of mixed-race to reside. For some reason, when I heard the term, I was bothered. My internal voice posed the question to me: Aren’t people in this box humans too? I tried to explain to Chris what I was feeling. I’m not so sure I did a good job. The point I was trying to get across is that I’ll be glad when we look at each other as one individual representation of all. Collectively, we run the gamut of colors, styles, models, as if we were automobiles. But when was the last time you saw people voicing sheer unadulterated hate against any automobile, except for the potentially explosive Ford Pinto?
This mess we’re experiencing now called 2020 has put many of us in the deepest of funks. The corners many have been backed into seem so deep and so expansive, that the idea of escape is a mere flicker in the dark. With all the challenges the world is facing now, why is race a major factor in the general elections in America. As I write this piece, it’s been three days since election day, and we are still waiting on a winner to be decided for our President of the United States for the next four years. News programs are saying this was an historic election, prompting rarely seen numbers to the polls to cast ballots for their favorite candidate, favorite doesn’t necessarily mean most qualified. Having been around for over seventy years and being familiar with human nature to a certain degree, I’m sure race, gender, age and a number of insignificant factors played a factor when each of us marked our ballot.
As a blogger, I try to always be on the lookout for something to write about. My hope is that whatever it is, at least one reader will find it interesting. Unfortunately, my observational antenna isn’t always tuned to the highest level of discernment I desire. This morning though, something came across my senses that stuck with me into the late afternoon. Thus, I had to write about it. I heard the phrase, “Love is a one-way street.” Mind you, I have always known this, but for some reason it resonated very loudly this morning.
As anyone reading this knows, living life has been adjusted in many ways since March of this year. One place where this has happened, leaving some people feeling a bit lost and disconnected is the church. Some members of local congregations have made the adjustment better, realizing that the church isn’t dependent upon a brick and mortar locations to conduct godly business. It’s the spiritual connection that keeps people and activities humming along well as God would have them. I’ve been blessed to be a member of a congregation that has been open to using social media in ways we had never considered before the curse of the Coronavirus pandemic. Older folks are utilizing Zoom, email, conference calling in degrees they felt improbable just a few months ago.
Please excuse the off-topic comments in the preceding paragraph; however, they do connect with the topic of this piece. I’m a Sunday school teacher, and our church has continued to have Sunday school even though we’re no longer meeting at the physical location. There are several classes, offering content and approaches for the diversity one could expect in a congregation of 1,200-plus people. My class meets using conference calling, other classes are using Zoom. Except for the members of my class not seeing each other, we feel a sense of connectivity just as strong as we did before the Coronavirus forced us to make changes.
This morning’s subject was, “The most excellent way”, with the text coming from I Corinthians 13: 1-13. If you’re not familiar with what’s discussed in these verses, let me give you a brief summary. There was a problem in the church at Corinth. People were giving far more value to the manifestation of Spiritual gifts, e.g., prophesying, interpreting mysteries and the like than demonstrating love (agape’ love, Godly love) to each other. The Apostle Paul was writing to make it clear to the members of the congregation that the love of Christ (sacrificial, unconditional, never-ending) had to be in the mix or all the miraculous things performed in the church didn’t matter, when all things are considered.
The class was being facilitated this morning by my co-teacher, who asked the question at one point: Is the love we’re studying about this morning a one-way street? We all knew the answer to that question, but I’m wondering why there was a brief pause before a response was offered. Christ died on the cross without any requirement that we demonstrate reciprocal acts of love. Of course, we can in no way do such, but He does expect us to show, as much as possible love as a one-way street, love requiring nothing in return.
Love as a one-way street is what our country, our world needs in over-flowing fashion right now. All of us going in the same direction. A prescription for a world never seen before.
My mind is whirring with a lot of unpleasantness. Perhaps yours is, too. There’s a lot of ugliness going on around us, no matter where we live or who we are. By evading words maybe I can sooth some souls.
This is my eleventh in the series, recalling events in my life from early childhood to wherever I decide to stop writing. I’ve touched on the fact that I was born into and brought up in poverty. Since reminiscing about ones past, tends to have an almost built-in romantic quality to it, I want to dedicate a few words to the more realistic elements of my less than materially blessed upbringing.
The lack of indoor running water, outdoor toilets, less than adequate home insulation to keep the cold of winter outside, bathing in a number 10 oval tub are just a few of the many inconveniences I recall being par for the course living in rural Cross County, Arkansas. These things might be roughing it to some middle-class, suburbanite today (which is what I am), but back in the 1950s and all the 1960s was how my family and I lived.
When I was a small boy, up until around ten-years-old or so, I never really thought that much about being poor, living without few material possessions. When we moved into the house my mom had relocated close to the gravel road, something happened that opened my eyes to just how poor we were. Although we still didn’t have indoor plumbing, we did have electricity and a television. The quality of the pictures was often snow-storm low definition, but Ed Sullivan, Captain Kangaroo, and a host of good old American shows, which had no cultural significance to me, became a powerful misrepresentative image of what America looked like. Looking at these examples of people dressed to the nines and living in homes that might as well had been the Taj Mahal to me, sounded a troubling alarm, “You are poor!” My mother getting us new clothes for school once a year, made possible by putting them in lay-away just didn’t cut it anymore. The Sears-Roebuck catalog was our Aladdin’s lamp, holding the answer to countless wishes for toys, clothing and a menagerie of things that could certainly rescue me from the wretchedness of poverty. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter how many times we might have rubbed the cover, what we desired didn’t mysteriously appear. Instead, basics like clothing and household necessities were the only things that were delivered by the postman or picked up by my mother at catalog store in town.
There are experiences I had as a country kid that I’ve chosen to not write about. You see, the three school buses that transported kids from around the county to Wynne to attend school delivered victims of taunts to their destination of shame daily. The town kids felt that they were somehow better than us. And they made their best effort to choose the most cutting and demeaning adjectives to describe our existence on earth. In retrospect, they were no better than we were; their lot was influenced by the restrictions of racism and discrimination in the same manner as we country bumpkins. Of course, I now find it hard to see how living in a village of four to five thousand denizens, in a rural state would spare them from being categorized as anything but country? Enough. I said I wouldn’t write about this.
I remember seeing images of white guys on television wearing suits and carrying briefcases. They looked quite dapper, and they lacked the collection of dirt and grime about their being I saw on my uncles after they had been laboring hard on C.T. Gibbs’ farm for wages that only lasted from one pay day to the next. (I do want to make it very clear that my uncles and all the poor Black men who did this sort of labor were hard workers, without formal education, doing what was necessary to provide for their families.) I don’t remember any of them ever being unemployed. I told myself in a voice that still rings loudly, even today, that I wanted to be like one of those white guys, going to work in a suit and carrying briefcase. I’m not sure I’ll write more about that point, but I did end up being the first grandchild of grandpa and Sweet’s to attend college, and yes, I did wear suits and carry briefcases to work. My career took me to the point of retirement from the position of associate vice chancellor/chief human resources officer for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2013.
Looking back on my life as I grew up during the latter part of the 1950s and early 1960s, I now realize that my world was exceedingly small. I want to take a closer look at the small country community to which I belonged. I’ve mentioned living on my grandpa and Sweet’s farm. I also mentioned that the farm was located down a gravel road off Highway 64. I want to talk a little about the community that lived down this rough and dusty route to nowhere.
Although we were somewhat isolated, there was a sense of community. There were six Black families who lived in the area. Among them were Sweet’s brother Jessie and sister-in-law Hattie. Jessie and Hattie lived on land that was part of the land farmed by grandpa and Sweet. It had been parceled into three separate areas. All the land had been inherited from Sweet’s parents. Sweet was the oldest of the siblings. I remember the Britts, and two other families that made up this small community of folks who did the normal things small communities do: borrow a cup of sugar when necessary, share vegetables grown in their gardens, visit without announcing you were coming…
At some point after my father died, my mother either bought or was given a house that sat at the corner of Highway 64 and the gravel road. I remember her having someone move the house down the gravel road to a spot in front of grandpa and Sweet’s house. She also had electricity connected to the house. This was made easier sense the house was on land just next to the gravel road. The gravel road had electrical service lines that ran its length. At some point, we got a television and a radio. I remember this house had a living room, a kitchen, and an upstairs room which was accessed by a small set of stairs that led up from the kitchen. Grandpa used his carpentry skills to add two bedrooms to one side of the house. This proved to be convenient for all of us. Larry, William, and I shared a room and our sister, Terri, born later shared a room with my mother.
We were still poor; however, I remember folks down this gravel road helped each other. Uncle Jessie had a pickup truck, and several of us would fill the back on Saturday evenings when he would make his weekly trip into town (Wynne). As a kid I remember these trips to town as being exciting. I would be given a few coins to spend on candy. We would hangout around the Western Auto Store, which was a kind of general-purpose hardware store and Steinberg’s, the Jewish-owned dry goods and grocery store.
Life was simple, as I remember it back then, but I do remember some complications that went with being Black. When we went to town, we had to observe the white and Black signs that separated certain services. And even where there were no signs, we had to be aware of certain protocols. For example, I remember Black folks going to the back of a certain restaurant in town to order food. I don’t remember the name of the place. I now wonder why we even ordered food from there, especially since a short walk across the railroad tracks to what was then called colored town would have given us access to Ms. Evalena’s. Ms. Evalena’s was a greasy spoon that made the best juicy hamburgers you could ever want. And you could walk straight through the front door. For some reason, I can still remember the taste of her hamburgers some sixty years later. Hot, spicy, juicy…yummy!