FIGHT THE FEAR WITH KINDNESS

IMG_0671I’m starting to pull out of the worst hangover of my life. It didn’t come from alcohol. It came from my recent addiction to the news and the results of the 2016 Election. Since last Tuesday night, I stopped watching television. Yesterday, I finally forced myself to listen to NPR and to read the newspaper. But that’s it. I can’t listen to George, Anderson, Lester, or Scott say one more word. I feel betrayed, and I’m in deep mourning.

I know I have to pull myself out of this funk, but it’s difficult. The person who will soon be president of my country does not represent me. And I hate that feeling. Even when my candidates lost (or had the election stolen) in the past, I still felt respect for the highest elected office in my country. Why can’t I do it this time?

Because whenever I try to wrap my head around it, I hear the words–the hurtful, full of rocks and stones words–hurtled by the man who will soon occupy the Oval Office. I hear him referring to “the blacks,” “the Hispanics,” “the Muslims” without any recognition of why that is such divisive and fearful rhetoric. I implore others never to lump me in the category of “the whites” because that means you’ve just lumped me with Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, and David Dukes. No, thank you very much. Do not judge me by the color of skin I share with such deplorables.

Those who supported the candidacy of the president-elect tell the rest of us to get over it. I’ve heard them say they didn’t do this when Barrack Obama was elected in 2008 and 2012. No? First, did President Obama ever threaten to deport them? Did he ever call them rapists and murderers? Did he ever implore them to turn in their neighbors or risk punishment themselves? Did he ever threaten to take away their rights? Did he ever threaten to take away their health insurance? Did he ever suggest he would date his daughter? And did he ever indicate that sexually aggressive behavior was the privilege of the famous?

I argue they did protest by blocking the President’s attempts to appoint a Supreme Court justice and to strengthen our gun laws, just to mention a few ways the other side protested.

Fear rules now that a man who has declared that sexual harassment in the workplace can be avoided by a woman simply leaving a job where she feels it’s occurring, who wants to abolish health care for millions who can’t afford it otherwise or who have preexisting conditions (although he may be softening on that), and who has a vice-president eager to do away the any rights gained for our LGBT community. Fear reigns in the lives of anyone who is an immigrant.

Yesterday, I saw it displayed at the post office. A young woman from China was behind me in line. She spoke broken English when she asked me some questions about mailing her package. Before I was called to the window for my business, I tried my best to advise her. She went to the clerk right next to me. He didn’t understand her English and was becoming annoyed with her. She turned to me, and what I saw in her eyes devastated me. She was afraid. Fear poured out of her, and she looked to me to help her. I told the clerk I’d take care of it, and he immediately called the next person in line, eager to be rid of the problem. I pulled her over to a counter and went through what she wanted to do and told her what to say to the clerk when she spoke to him again. She smiled and thanked me profusely as she touched my shoulder.

I walked away feeling better. I’ve been listening to those who say we must go on living our lives with more kindness to counterbalance the hatred running rampant in this country right now. It worked for me because for the rest of the day, I felt as if the hangover that had been hanging over my head for a week, lifted.

I’ve blocked and unfriended several folks on Facebook this past week. When a twenty-something relative who only works sporadically and then sponges off other relatives and the government while she finds herself told those of us who didn’t like the election results to leave the country, I blocked her posts from my newsfeed. When a friend from high school posted that anyone who voted for Hillary was insane, I unfriended him. And when another relative posted about her grief and was attacked by another relative for that grief, I cried.

We have the results. This is the reality. If we’re happy about last Tuesday’s election or if we’re struggling with accepting the results, let’s all vow to be kinder. Let’s fight the fear and hatred with love and compassion for all people. It’s going to be difficult some days. Fighting the bullies who have been given permission to act like bullies in public will take stamina, especially when the president-elect doesn’t recognize that he threw this coming-out party for jerks. Hope is difficult to keep when I hear him asked if he thinks his rhetoric went too far in the election process, and he answers, “No because I won.”

But I’m working on it, one day at a time, one act at a time, one person at a time.

Secretary Clinton and President Obama have set our bars very high for graciousness in a time of despair for many of us. Let’s reach their bars and go beyond.

And then pray.

Florida Setting 2

 

 

There’s Gold in that there Yard

Hello – I published this post four years ago when I realized that so many of my neighbors were raking leaves and then giving them to the waste collector. Where they went from there, I had no idea.

And now that I’m back in Florida for the winter, my waste management collector reminded me about putting out my yard waste on the same day as recyclables and garbage.

Wait a second – those large sycamore leaves piling up in our front yard, are gold for other areas of our yard and garden. We will rake them into places where they can do their job – decompose and help other things grow.

So without any more hesitation, here’s how we deal with the autumn gold.

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Yesterday I read in the newspaper that leaf pickup begins in our area this week. I’m shaking my head in amazement that leaves are raked, put into garbage bags (biodegradable, but still. . .), and left on the curb for the waste management crews to haul away to where we know not.

But there are ways to know where those leaves go when you leave them in your yard. With that said, here’s my annual (second, no less) installment on the golden opportunity provided by those leaves littering your yard right now. So here goes:

Raking leaves into piles and then burning them was a tradition from my childhood. When I became an adult, I realized this was one tradition that needed to go. We don’t need to send more smoke up into the air. In many townships, municipalities, and regions of the United States, the act of burning leaves is in violation of the law. In in many areas under drought conditions, burning leaves is an absolute no-no.

The Environmental Protection Agency warns against the burning of leaves because it causes air pollution, health problems, and fire hazards. Sending them to the landfill is no longer an alternative in most communities because of already overburdened landfills. Besides, putting them in plastic trash bags and hauling away organic matter to the landfill makes little or no sense.

It’s still a good idea to get most of the leaves up off the grass. However, leaving a few on the ground will provide some great fertilizer on the soil as they decompose.

We have more than an acre in our backyard where three old maples made themselves at home decades ago.

Right now the yard is beginning to look more gold than green as the leaves begin their descent from the limbs. I wait to do my magic until most of those limbs are bare. Yesterday I mowed  one last time with our tractor. I mowed right over the leaves, chopping them into smaller pieces. I mow carefully making sure to blow the leaves into long piles. Around the trees, I make sure the leaves blow around the base.

With the remaining leaves,we load them either the tractor trailer or wheelbarrows and haul the piles over to the garden We place the chopped up leaves on the almost barren garden. We’ve never had a problem with mold developing as I’ve heard some people say, but maybe it’s because we use chopped up leaves rather than putting them on whole.

The rest of the leaves we put next to our compost bin and use them throughout the winter as layers between our food scraps. If you prefer, you could even bag them and keep them in the shed to use as needed.

If you don’t have a garden or you don’t compost, look for gardeners in your neighborhood. Some of them may be eager to haul away your leaves after you’ve raked them. But if you have shrubs, they make a good protective layer around those as well. Remember, the leaves are organic matter, so it just makes good sense to use them accordingly.

What do you do with your raked leaves?