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Path

This is an excerpt from Tara’s upcoming book Speaking Truth; Words that Matter co-author, John Glass. More details can be found at www.SpeakingTruthTheBook.com

“If you don’t have a plan for yourself you will end up being a part of someone else’s” –Jim Rohn

“It is much easier to act yourself into a way of feeling than to feel yourself into a way of acting.”

Many of us wonder what we are meant to be doing with our lives. We wait for some sort of emotional sign to tell us that we’ve found the right path in life. Some people do have a certainty about the direction they want to go. They are the lucky few who just know what their life is for. The rest of us search for our place in this world or just go along with the plans others have for us.

But we are given only so much time on this planet and we each have to decide how we want to spend that time.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

It is a common mistake to wait for the “right” feeling before you make a decision. That may happen. Or it may not, keeping you rooted in place while you wait for what may never come. Love, for instance, is all too commonly misunderstood as an emotional state. We want the fireworks and the “chemistry” to be the indication of who we should choose to be with. And when the emotional state changes or fluctuates we fear our love has died. But in fact, love is not an emotion. Love is a decision.

That’s a big left-turn from where most people sit so I’m going to say that again:

Love is not an emotion. Love is a decision. It’s a decision you make every day to act in someone else’s best interest. You don’t always feel the sparkle. That comes and goes. But you DECIDE that each day you will make the choices that support the well-being of your spouse, your children, your students, etc. We don’t always feel like cleaning up after a sick child. But we make the decision to do it because that is the logical extension of our love for them.

“Love is not a feeling. Love is the will to extend yourself for your own or another’s spiritual growth and well-being.” -Dr. M. Scott Peck

The same holds true for personal choices of career and lifestyle. Yes, there ought to be a balance between what your rational brain tells you needs to be done and the life choices that will affirm the spiritual and creative sides of your being. But those are also a product of your own understanding of who you are – an acknowledgement of the gifts you’ve been given. Not a surrender to an emotional state that may or may not have any connection to real world circumstances.

I knew a man who use to make decisions based on whatever popped into his mind first. He thought there must be something magical about that first thought because it came along with a feeling of discovery. That feeling trapped him into many foolish decisions and he continued to pay the price for his bad choices until he gave up the notion that it always has to “feel” right.

It all comes down to deciding what’s really important for you to accomplish before you die. Picture yourself on your deathbed looking back at the course of your life. What will you wish you had done with the time you were given here? I don’t mean take a cruise to Greece or play the harp. I’m talking about the activities that connect us to our communities. Things we can do that make the world a little better place to be. When you define what that is and decide to act on it then you will know you’ve found your path. And the better choices seem to be those that involve us in something larger than ourselves.

Another reason many of us don’t see our way clearly is the fear that we will be making the wrong choice. But there are very few choices that are so irrevocable that we cannot change our minds and say, “Well, I tried that and it wasn’t right. I’ll try something else now.” It is not unusual to reinvent yourself over and over as you grow and learn and change.

You only have one life. Figure out what is most important to you and you’ll know how you want to spend the time you’ve been given.

“The choice may have been wrong but the choosing was not.”
-Stephen Sondheim

“Where your talents and the world’s needs intersect, there lies your vocation.”  -Barbara J. Winter

With the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire coming up next Friday the Progressive Jewish Alliance has put together some materials that commemorate this tragic event and invites you to discover your own connection to a dark chapter in our country’s history.  A very familiar Jewish perspective says “Those who do not remember history are bound to repeat it.”  In light of the recent attempt to strip the American worker of the protections of Union membership, collective bargaining rights, etc., the timeline, history, poetry and writings of the survivors seem particularly timely.

Progressive Jewish Alliance

Local elections are generally poorly attended.  It’s been difficult to get people to understand just how local politics affects their lives. This Letter To The Editor appeared in today’s Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times and it states the case beautifully:

I would like to thank the 82.41% of registered voters of the great city of Los Angeles for having such trust and confidence in the 11.59% of us who voted in Tuesday’s election. 

 Half of the City Council, half of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and half of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of  Trustees were picked. Voters also weighed a bunch of ballot measures that will decide where some of our tax money will go. 

 Yes, less than 12% of us decided how the city will be run for the next few years.

Dorit Dowler-Guerrero, Los Angeles

It’s very simple.  As long as we still have a democracy, get out and vote. It’s the way our voices are heard.

 

In the face of  the massive, ongoing power-grab by the right-wing conservatives in the service of their corporate masters there has been little to cheer about in recent months.  Item by item we have seen our constitutional protections threatened, our rights degraded and our societal safeguards pulled out from under our feet. 

Underlying so much of these losses is the fact that our politicians are almost completely bought and paid for by corporations looking to curry favor from elected officials.  And in the face of such large amounts of money, most politicians lose any shred of integrity they may have had and think only of how they will win re-election when their current term is up. By accepting large corporate campaign donations the elected official feels obligated to make political and legislative decisions that favor their corporate donors – usually at the expense of the middle class, the working poor, seniors, the mentally ill and other vulnerable groups, not to mention the environment.

BUT!  We finally have  some good news as a result of the passage of Ballot Measure H which passed in yesterday’s Los Angeles election. Measure H is the first step in changing the way elections are held in the state of California.  Establishing public funding for political campaigns is the only way we will ever get our democracy out of the clutches of big money and level the playing field so that qualified candidates can run for office without having to seek out or accept corporate or private donations.  When elections are publicly funded the elected officials will not be beholden to any donor. They will be able to do the job they were elected to do without corporate influence and without spending – as they do now – almost 30% of their day fund-raising for their next election rather than doing the people’s business.

Public funding for campaigns exists now in 7 states and it works!  Read on for a statement from the California  Clean Money Campaign:

http://www.caclean.org/progress/

Yes on H logo -- Support Fair Elections!

Voters Resoundingly Say “YES” to Fair Elections in Los Angeles!                                                                               

Last night, Los Angeles residents sent a message to  leaders across the state and across the country:  It’s time to end corporate and big money special interest control of our political system.

By an overwhelming 3-1 margin, 75% of Los Angeles residents voted “YES!” on Measure H, the Los Angeles Clean Money, Fair Elections measure.

The immediate ramification of Measure H is that bidders on large city contracts will no longer be allowed to make campaign contributions to elected officials who decide who wins – some of the most potentially corruptive campaign contributions one could imagine.

But the most important result of Measure H is lifting the maximum balance in the City’s public financing campaign trust fund.  This will eventually allow L.A. to move to full, Clean Money, Fair Elections public funding of campaigns, so that candidates don’t take big money from any special interest donors and are accountable only to the voters.  And believe us, when the time is right, we’ll be asking you all to help demand that it does!

This victory has statewide and national implications.  As Nick Nyhart, President of the national Public Campaign said:

“There should be no doubt about it – this is a victory that will boost the fortunes of money and politics reform far beyond LA.”

My last post titled “Are You Sick Of Highly Paid Teachers?” generated quite a bit of buzz. At last count 122 comments on Newsvine.com  [http://tinyurl.com/hue99jl]

Although clearly labeled satire there were those who took the piece at face value and went to great lengths to argue with what they thought the article was saying. Others expended a lot of energy talking about the “privileges” of being a teacher (short hours, 3 months a year off, etc. ) and asserted that teachers need to step up and shoulder their fair share.

Without re-hashing the conversation (you can read all the comments and my replies on my Newsvine page by using the link above) let me just say that, when read as intended, what is offered is a sarcastic title with a Stephen-Colbert-style text that actually DEFENDS teachers and shows what nonsense it is to think that teachers aren’t already shouldering more than their fair share for far less than they ought to be paid.

Sarcasm:  Stating exactly the opposite of what you mean.

Satire: Using humor to show that a point of view or behavior is foolish.

Just recently I’ve seen a number of examples of sarcasm and satire that got interpreted by the viewer as though they were serious statements and a truly surprising misperception of a song lyric that really threw me for a loop.

The focus here is accepting that sometimes the world looks so completely different to the person standing next to you as to be unrecognizable.

The song in question was written by my good friend, singer/songwriter John M.  The title of the song is “My Mother In Me” and is, to most listeners, an ode to his mother listing the many ways John’s mother contributed to what is good and right in his life.

“She taught me how to walk in the light and live by the golden rule

And sometimes how to stand and fight. My momma didn’t raise no fool.

What you see is what you get and if you like what you see

Look a little closer – That’s my Mother in Me.”

Someone took great offense to the song hearing – I know not what or why – that it was an insult to mothers.  (??!?)

(By the way, it’s a great song. Click on over to John’s web site and give it  a listen.)

It seems a great many people these days are looking at what they want to see rather than what is actually in front of them. Others project from within themselves something that isn’t there. Still others, I am told, have a physical brain configuration that makes them incapable of perceiving satire and sarcasm.

How do you talk to someone who is convinced of a reality that your senses and the best evidence available tells you doesn’t exist?  Our perceptions are a result of the long chain of choices we’ve made up to this point in our lives.  To change how you see something requires that you back-track and reassess previously held beliefs.   (Education, by the way, is a big part of how we’ve come to hold our current beliefs. If you have the ability to think critically and analyze your reality rather than just react to it thank a teacher.)

There is an old Jewish saying that goes like this:

“If one man tells you you are a horse ignore him.  If two men tell you you are a horse think about it. If three men tell you you are a horse – buy a saddle.”

I couldn’t have said it better so I’m quoting a recent post by Meredith Menden:

“Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET’S SEE….

That’s $585 X 180= $105,300

per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special

education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an

hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s

something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary

(nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days

= $277.77/per day/30

students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

Update: I’m glad that many people have shown their support for teachers by reposting this note, but I am not the original author. I received this as an anonymous chain letter email, and I wanted to share it to support the public workers of Wisconsin.”

California Gull

Image via Wikipedia

This is a reprint of an article from yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune:  I want to personally thank  Tribune columnist Robert Kirby for a welcome reality check.  In an era of absurd news items this is one of the more absurd of late.

The State Bird of Utah is…. the California seagull(!?!) And now they want a state gun!

“A bit of personal disclosure seems in order before I start. Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, is a friend of mine.

Carl and I live in the same neighborhood. I used to be his home teacher. His wife Sherry is a wonderful woman, who, like my wife, struggles daily with the misfortune of being married to a lunatic.

That said, I do not share Carl’s uber-conservative politics. He knows I don’t vote for him. In fact, whenever I see Carl on TV, I want him to shut up. He won’t, though, but then neither will I.

Carl is currently sponsoring a resolution that would make the Browning model 1911 handgun Utah’s official handgun, a move I find completely ridiculous.

First, because we need an Official State Firearm like we need a hole in our … um, never mind. We just don’t need one.

But if we did, it shouldn’t be the model 1911, even though famed Utah gunsmith John Moses Browning invented it.

I get that we have some official state symbols, including a few which actually make sense — the state animal is the Rocky Mountain elk, state fish the Bonneville cutthroat trout, and coal is the state rock.

Then there are the head scratchers, such as the state cooking pot, fossil, tartan, vegetable, HISTORIC vegetable, star, anti-depressant, grass, dance, colonoscopy, hymn, etc.

Note: I made up a few of those. I’ll let you figure out which ones.

I’m against the proposed Utah state gun for the same reason I’m against the California gull as the Utah state bird — it’s a poor fit and representative of Utah only by the thinnest of margins.

The seagull (flybyus excretus) became the Utah state bird not because it’s indigenous to Utah or, frankly, even motivational. It’s because of religion. Seagulls reportedly once ate all the crickets threatening Mormon pioneer crops.

Religion is also behind the official state emblem (beehive), state bug (honeybee), state flower (sego lily), and state vehicle (minivan). None of these are particularly inspirational or even solely specific to Utah.

Carl wouldn’t agree. According to him, the Model 1911 is “an implement of freedom that has defended America for 100 years. … This firearm is Utah.”

With all disrespect, no, it’s not. If you want a gun that is Utah, it should be the Hot Glue Gun. After all, more Utahns own one of those than a .45-caliber automatic.

Scrapbooking, church crafts, weird hobbies and jury-rigged fixes, the hot glue gun has contributed far more to making Utah what it is today than the Model 1911.

Like an actual firearm, a glue gun can be used inappropriately by fools and criminals. I’m both. Following a hiking accident last year, I tried fixing a split toenail with a hot glue gun. I immediately wished for a Utah state burn ointment.

On the bright side, perhaps there’s a loophole in Carl’s Utah state firearm resolution. If it is adopted, maybe then, like the California seagull, it will be against the law to shoot them.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com.


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As a member of the Americana-Folk/Rock band, John Zipperer & Friends, Tara performs in around Los Angeles, CA (with an occasional out-of-town appearance). Come see for yourself why John Zipperer's CD "Full Circle" has been on the top 25 of the Roots Music Report Album Chart for over a year!

Tara Sitser - Author / Singer/Songwriter

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