Archive for the ‘Positive Thinking’ Category

A lot of people ask me if I like living in India.

The answer is absolutely.

Well, except for the air quality. 😦 No good.

Also the temps are starting to rise a bit. Today it is 102 degrees (F) or 30 degrees (C).

Despite those two things I do enjoy being here.

I love my neighborhood. Every day I discover something different, new or exciting. I’m totally learning.

We are getting ready to move. Again. LOL. But only a couple of blocks away. Same ‘hood.

Our house is in a lovely area. But the construction next door was/is driving us batty. It is like Chinese water torture. Every. Single. Minute. Drip. Drip. Drip.

We considered moving to a popular expat area across town.

Big skyscrapers in a gorgeous golf course setting. The apartments are ridiculously spacious-like 6000 square feet. The building boasts a movie theater on ground floor. Along with a gym, coffee shop and restaurant. Even a pub.

The outdoor pool would put you in mind of a Caribbean resort. Swimming through a labyrinth that’s shielded by towering palm trees.

Went to dinner there with my husband’s associate and his wife. They reside there and love it. Who wouldn’t? Very nice setup.

Couldn’t punch holes in it if I tried.

The wife of the associate was gracious. Explained how safe it was.

We totally figured that one out.

Had to register with guards to enter the gated community. Told them who we were visiting. Then we were on our way.

Came upon another gate at their actual building. Same drill. Security fellows allowed us entry.

Last line of defense against solar panel guys, Jehovah Witnesses and people like us who slipped past the first two gates? Yes, you guessed it.

One more smiling fellow on the ground floor of the building. Located near the elevators.

I was impressed with all of the amenities that the community offered. The woman told me about yoga classes, golfing, groups, etc.

She continued, “You’d never have to leave here.”

Ahhhh. And there it was. My hole punch.

I tried to hide my “deer in the headlights” look.

I’d never have to leave the grounds of this secure and closed community.

Which is totally fine for a four day stay at an island resort.

Okay, I understand that there are a lot of folks out there that would love this. Never have to worry about a thing. A pristine, sanitized, happy bubble.

I’m not knocking anyone. It’s just not me. At least, not the me I am today.

I know that no one stays in the community all of the time. They do leave the compound. LOL

We don’t drive here in India (company doesn’t allow) so I do a lot of walking. We have a driver but I have him drop me off at a park or I will just roam our neighborhood on foot. I always feel safe and I am careful.

You lose some independence by not driving. So I regain a bit of it by walking and exploring the dusty side streets. Never knowing what I will see. Monkeys, mongoose or sick bat stuck on a fence.

Strolling through the acres of the public parks with the funky birds and different sights.

I told my husband (we were waiting to hear on one last house in our current neighborhood) if the last house didn’t pan out then we needed to do what made the most sense financially, work transportation, etc. If that ended up being this expat spa resort then so be it.

I’d find friends and make the best of it. And leave the compound every now and again. 🙂

 

In the end, the house in our current neighborhood did pan out and we will move there in the next week or so.

Yay!

It really made me realize just how much I enjoy discovering something different, new or exciting. Each and every day in my wonderful host country. In my colorful neighborhood.

I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you.

 

 

 

 

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When I wrote about Kyle, two postings back, it was prompted by a few different things.

Yes, a pal and I were discussing him because one of Kyle’s friends recently passed away.

But there were other reasons that prompted my writing. Soon realized it would result in more than one blog posting.

Here is one of them.

I was reading an article that disturbed me. It was the story of a decorated veteran, like Kyle, who also brought back something from Vietnam.

This hero’s name was Andrew. He came from a Southern military family. His father and brothers served our country. Andrew volunteered for Vietnam.

His position was “Forward Observer.”

The following is a quote from a guy who served with him.

“During the period when Lieutenant Brannan served, the Forward Observer had the shortest life expectancy of any category of soldier in Vietnam.”

Can you imagine what horrors he witnessed? What horrors he might have inflicted?

All accounts show that Lieutenant Brannan returned from Vietnam a changed person. He had experienced warfare. Like Kyle he had been exposed to Agent Orange. Family loss and weakening mental health only added to the trouble that was brewing ahead of him.

It just sounds like he couldn’t get it together after the war. He isolated himself. Couldn’t finish school. Wasn’t successful with his marriage. Was eventually put on meds. Lived in a plywood shack he constructed. Spent lot of time trekking alone in woods.

He was off his medication for a few days when he was pulled over by a young police officer for a traffic violation in 1998.

The end result is that Andrew Brannan killed a Sheriff’s Deputy. There is a video of the actual confrontation and crime. No disputing the video.

The video shows a man (who did not know he was being filmed) exhibiting erratic behavior. Dancing around weirdly. Then he grabs a rifle from his truck. If you notice his stance and movements toward the policeman’s car it would put you in mind of a soldier during the middle of a war scene.

No disputing the man wasn’t right in the head.

This veteran murdered an innocent, young man that day.

A heart-breaking tragedy for the family of the deputy. And so many others.

On January 15, 2015,  Andrew Brannan was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia.

His lawyers tried to get his sentence commuted to life without parole. But they lost their appeals. So Lieutenant Brannan, decorated veteran with severe PTSD, ceased to exist.

Just feels kind of rotten to kill someone who served our country by killing for us. So much wrong with that sentence. No pun intended.

In a prepared statement given to his lawyers, he said: ‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them.’

In his official last statement, moments before the injection was administered, Brannan said: ‘I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children.’ 

I was discussing the death penalty with my friend, Jenny, on a recent visit to Malaysia.  There are many viewpoints on this very hot topic. We touched upon a few.

There is this one. How about we don’t kill anyone at all?

The guilty could suffer every day. Just like the surviving victims of their crimes. Or become remorseful. Or get help if they are mentally ill.

One “newly available” cell will not make a difference in America’s already over-crowded and over-burdened prisons. The death penalty does not deter.

Evil exists. I have no doubt about that. But not all criminals are evil. That’s another blog posting.

No one is above the law. Whether you served your country or not. Everyone needs to be accountable in a courtroom in they committed a crime.

The punishment, however, is the tricky thing. Especially for the U.S. because we actually have States that still practice the death penalty.

Side note: Along with more than fifty countries in the world. If you look at that guest list you’d reconsider going to the party. Not exactly the finest bedfellows.

So can a person who is or was mentally ill be executed?

Sure.

Usually not mentally retarded folks. But history will show more than a few, with IQs less than 70, got the chair or injection. More than a few.

Mentally ill? Jury is still out on that one.

Is everyone who commits an act of murder mentally ill? Even if it’s temporary?

I do not believe that the late Lieutenant Brannan, Bronze Star recipient, was evil. He was just very ill.

Andrew Brannan was a fresh-faced young man from the South who proudly served his country. He came from a family who all served their country. He was one of the “lucky ones” who came back.

But he brought something back from those jungles and it was called mental illness. In the form of PTSD.

Honestly? I think we killed him twice.

His lawyers might have failed him by not getting the “life without parole” sentence but it sure is tough for folks not to be emotionally moved by a young widow with small children. Especially when it’s the family of a police officer.

But who is really responsible and could this all have been avoided?

We (our nation) is responsible and yes it could have been avoided. If we never sent our boys off to war. If we never exposed them to chemicals and atrocities that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

 

But that horse is already out of the barn.

Nothing to be done for Kyle or Andrew. Too late.

What can be done for the many others who are still out there suffering?

Maybe every time we say “Thank you for your service” to a veteran it’s not just a rote “see how patriotic I am” reaction. Instead of that gratefulness recusing any work, charitable or not, on our part why not explore how we can actually support them. What if every “thank you” prompted a knee-jerk act of kindness of compassion? Being an advocate for their needs. Donating time or resources. Reflect on those suffering. Before posting passive-aggressive memes “Helping homeless U.S. Veterans before refugees” without doing anything except moving digits on a keyboard maybe take the time to actually help homeless U.S. Veterans.

So many opportunities to help so many.

In memory of the Kyles and Andrews who sacrificed their minds and their bodies.

For us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My girlfriend and I did some exploring near the newly purchased home. On this particular day it was a lunch at “The Square Peg” in the historic, waterfront town of Warren, Rhode Island. Followed by us checking out some of the local shops.

I’m compiling a list to share of fun places to see/explore in the area for my female friends.  Work in progress. So wait for it.

For now, though.

Lunch was so good. We enjoyed it very much. Had street tacos, I believe. I don’t consider myself a fan of corn tortillas (I am a flour girl) but I really liked these. The place was bustling with activity. Older couples possibly retired. Ladies who lunch. Even a couple of families. Not a tourist among them.

I recommend the restaurant.

Now, onto the shops.

Stopped by a welcoming and brightly decorated storefront and decided to enter. A beacon of warmth on a cold January day.

Whimsies.

We loved the shop. From the minute we walked in and saw a dog standing behind the cash register. LOL.

We got to chatting. I’m always curious about a person’s journey.

Andrea, the owner, was super nice. Her store is filled with the work of local crafters and artisans. Takes in items on consignment also. She had a look at the upcycled furniture pieces my friend had on her Etsy website. Liked them and said she was certainly welcome to bring them into her shop. See if they would sell there.

I asked her, “So you love coming to work every day?”

And she said, “I love it.”

Now, this is not something she has been doing all her life. She raised her people and enjoyed it. Then was sort of in the right place at the right time. And took a risk. Starting and running your own business always includes risk. Along with hard work and a whole lot of faith.

So, Andie, as it states on her website, is not only living her dream but helping local artisans pass along their gifts. How cool is that? Really?

See the site here.

What did I take from the shop that day? By making the decision to cross that threshold?

Besides a couple of framed pieces.

Reinforced that the whole notion of kindness and friendliness should be a rule and not the exception. That we need to lift each other up. Always. Women and local artists. People in general. We should shop local. A realization that the journey is not always easy. And that there are people out there actually living their dream. Who will inspire us.

Andrea also recommended other places to shop like Cerulean. Another lovely place with beautiful, locally made items and a friendly atmosphere. Owned by women. They will also be on my list of “fun places to visit” especially when they expand their shop with the next door property and begin to offer classes.

Whimsie’s also has an active Facebook page. Send a request to Whimsies. She posts new shop pieces and links to other fun stuff going on in the area.

I just noticed a link posted about an apothecary class she took at a place called “The Stitchery.” That looks fun! I had a glance at their site and checked out the different offerings.

Also saw photos Andrea recently shared of a facility in Fall River, Massachusetts where a fellow is focusing on bringing back the lost art of scrimshaw. His pieces will be in her shop. So wonderful!

There are so many fabulous people, places and things out there. Just have to get out there and make an effort to connect with your fellow humans. You’ll take away so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not turning into a health nut. Honest.

But I was watching “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” on Netflix last month. It’s about an Australian man who juices his way across America. He is obese and not in good health. Focusing on turning his life around.

He’s successful. Ends up clearing up his afflictions and getting off all medications.

One sentence in his documentary sort of struck me. Was something like this.

“I wasn’t being kind to my body.”

It was in an Australian accent so it sounded like, “I wasn’t being coined to my bawdy.”

This sentence stuck with me.

We put garbage in our mouths every single day. Processed food. If we can’t pronounce the ingredients or even know what they are then why would we put it in our body?

Like we only get one body in this life time. And if it’s been kind to us shouldn’t we return the favor?

My brother (who recommended the film) and I were discussing it. He mentioned Diet Coke. Which I loved. It was the actual jolt I loved.

I eventually stopped drinking it in India. They have it here so I am not sure why I actually stopped buying it. But I did.

I’m glad I did. I had it in the States a few times but stopped drinking it by the end of my visit there also. It’s said that the combination of the caffeine and the aspartame is a deadly one. In so many ways. Possibly cancer. Damage to the brain. And more.

Now, I knew that aspartame was never my friend. Or a friend of lab rats. And yet, I welcomed it into my body every single day.

I smoked. I certainly knew that was bad for me but the addiction had me just hoping I dodged the bullets that comes with it. So I kept smoking. Because I felt good and I didn’t have any coughs or other things ailing me as a result of it.

I invited cigarettes into my body every day. Numerous times a day. Glad I stopped.

No such thing as a perfect person. But we can be aware of how we treat our bodies. We need them to carry us for a few more years in good health. We probably should be conscious of the ways we can be kinder.

Shouldn’t we be kind to our bodies?

 

 

 

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I was reading the newspaper this morning. There was an article about a couple of prisoners and their resolutions for the new year.

Hmmmm. News does tend to get stale and I suppose something a bit different is needed to catch the reader’s eye.

After reading the piece I thought a little more about resolutions.

This new year tradition is not really about keeping the promise we make to ourselves late in the evening of December 31st. It’s not about commitment or will power. Or the disappointment when we fail to follow through on our declaration.

It is about hope. Pure and simple.

We make resolutions, year after year, because it represents hope. To be a better person. A healthier person. A kinder person. Whether we even realize it or not. It’s the hope for improvement.

Renewable hope.

Those two guys are in prison but they can still make resolutions. Hoping to be better in the new year. In some way.

We all can.

I wish you a new year filled with health and happiness. And that you carry hope in your heart all year long.

 

 

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Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

Yesterday I received a notification on my phone. From an app I’ve installed.

“Congratulations! 1000 Hours Smoke Free.”

The app “Smoke Free” isn’t responsible for me quitting. But it does reinforce that I made the right decision and I think it prevents me from sliding back into the habit. It charts how much time spent not smoking, money saved, physical changes, goals, cravings, triggers, etc.

All positives.

Quitting a decades old habit is not easy. Even if a person smoked one cigarette a day it’s still a habit. And kicking it can be difficult.

My husband told me he was quitting and I said, “I’ll stop also.”

I was just being a supportive friend to him. He didn’t ask me to quit.

I figured, “Why not? Let’s see how it goes. Maybe we will last the day.”

And we stopped.

Times have certainly changed when it comes to smoking.

Used to be everyone smoked. Everywhere!

At the kitchen table. In the bedroom. Watching television.

I remember men and women lighting up the second Mass was finished. The teacher’s lunch room in the parochial school I attended allowed smoking. When I got my first office with a door at the phone company I smoked while I worked. As did my friends who came and sat with me. At my high school lots of kids smoked on the property.  Alongside the teachers who were also smoking.

People smoked in cars, busses and trains.

I remember smoking on a plane to Ireland in 1983. Looking back I can’t imagine how the non-smokers two seats down felt.

That’s how different things were.

When the tides of change swept in it was sort of funny. You’d go into a restaurant and they’d ask, “Smoking or non-smoking?” If you chose non-smoking you were seated directly across the aisle from the smoking section.

It took years for the U.S. to create a non-smoking environment. But they did. Office workers are clustered so many feet from the entrance to their building. Airplanes have messages all over them. Campuses are smoke free. Even college campuses. Young kids are taught about the dangers of smoking at school.

My friend Mary Ann once said that smoking in some places would be akin to blowing your nose on a curtain in a restaurant. It really is that frowned upon.

I remember once having a cigarette after dining in a KL restaurant last year. You know the deal. Huddled up against the building hoping you don’t see anyone you know. Like I was smoking dope or something.

In the distance I saw one of my daughter’s teachers. I panicked and dropped it. Like I was smoking dope or something.

My daughter said, “Mom. Own it.”

I guess that’s the thing. I didn’t really own it. Because of society and its stance on smoking. I was embarrassed by it. But that did not prevent me from doing it.

I did not smoke in my car. Or in the house. But I still did it.

Even though it was a legal activity for someone my age it was verboten at just about every place I frequented.

Today I am smoke free. I do not consider myself a non-smoker yet. Maybe I feel that I  need more time to earn that moniker.

Not smoking is absolutely freeing.

I did not have to rush outside in freezing cold Boston once I got off the plane.

I did not have to go into the “smoking room” at the international airport. Which is the grossest place on earth. I felt that way even when I smoked. But I still entered.

I do not have to leave the dinner table when finished and go grab a quick cigarette.

You get the drift. It was inconvenient.

Just have to be conscious of “triggers.”

So I guess my message in this posting today is this. If you smoke and want to quit I’m here to tell you it is doable. I’m doing it.

It can be hard. We all know there are people who have/had scary health issues and they continue to smoke. It’s a terrible addiction. I know. I did it for nearly forty years. That’s a long time.

I also know loads of folks who were heavy, heavy smokers and are now happily smoke free.

It’s totally doable. And only positives will come out of the decision to quit. I promise.

One month, thirteen days and one hour……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was on one of my visits to New York City. This was a couple of years ago. Totally enjoyed it.

Happened to be outside the hotel one evening and a fellow strikes up a conversation. He was from England. First time in the States. Said that his fourteen year old daughter had wanted to see the 9/11 Memorial.

This guy had nothing good to say about his visit.

He talked plenty about his little garden in Leicestershire (or one of the ‘shires) and how peaceful it is. Also mentioned his work hours (an hour and a half for lunch and home by 4:30pm!)

Bemoaned the long lines (queues) and the expense of New York. He wondered how Donald Trump could have all that money when there are homeless folks in the city.

He said more than once, “How do people live here? How do they do it? It’s not for me.” And he apologized, “I’m sorry. This is just not for me.”

I told him there was no need to apologize to me.

He continued chatting. Said he did a lot of charity back home. His mother was giving and charitable. Had Diwali and Christmas celebrations where everyone was welcome.

He said, “But I guess we can’t change the world.”

I was quick to advise him that we can only do our part. That’s all you can do.

But I sort of felt bad for him. It did sound like he had a nice simple life (and schedule) back home. But he was on a holiday. No one was wanting him to give up his life in the garden or time at his Mom’s house. Cast it all away for a life in the Big Apple.

I kept trying to counter every negative (because there were so many) with a positive. “Well, did you see this? Did you go there? What about the food?”

No positive responses.

He was leaving at 6:00am the next morning.

Finally, I asked, “Did your daughter enjoy it?”

And he said, “Yes.”

So I said, “Well, alright then. There’s something.”

Hoping that everyone, as summer comes to a close, truly finds something to enjoy. It really is what you make of it.

 

 

 

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