Saturday, May 26, 2012

I need to choose LIFE!

So I have a friend who is dying of cancer. It is in her bone marrow, her entire body is consumed with it. It is very sad and has caused me to do a lot and I mean  A LOT of reflection. In studying the Gerson Therapy: Homeopathic cancer treatment along with reflection of my own health and we all are "killing" ourselves with the crap that America calls food, I have spent the last week educating myself on food and nutrition. It's the beginning of a long process and making small changes to lead up to long-term, life-style and educational changes. I love the Raw Foods diet. I love the information. I don't feel it necessary to do any extreme of dieting. Rather, eating more raw, organic foods, reading labels and making healthier, natural choices.   As a single person, I imagine this is much easier than a married person with a family too. There, I am lucky. 

When I moved back in March, I decided not to have a microwave.This has forced me to cook. Which I like. Admittedly, I grab things on the go when life gets too busy.. which defeats my goals. SOOOOOOOOOOO, here I go! Making baby steps, but it starts with education. It's been fun... My physical fitness goal is to run. So, with my lame foot, I will start small and work my way up. Today, I'm gonna start with two blocks and go more if I feel like it won't compromise my foot. Might seem lame to some of you, but that's okay. For someone who doesn't run at all, I'll take the two+ blocks today. 

I've always known I have an "all or nothing" personality. In so many ways in life, it's terrible. So, I'm also working to get away from that. It's unrealistic for me to expect myself to start a workout regime that requires 3-4, 40 minute workouts a week when I don't do any. Baby steps, Brit... Baby steps. 

Here goes!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life, or something like it

I have to say that I feel very blessed. I have had this week off from school and I read a fabulous book by Steve Harvey, "Act like a Lady, Think like a Man.

I have spent many hours deep in thought pondering my life, my goals, giving thanks for all the blessings in my life that come in the shape of health, a home, family, friends, a job. I love life!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simply Put...

Relationships aren't easy. I've seen the ups and downs of everyone around me and the struggles within their relationships. I have my own. It takes work, understanding, patience and forgiveness. Most of all it takes communication. While not all of these areas have come easily in my relationship, I have always been treated respectfully, never talked down to, never made fun of, accepted 100% for me the way I am. I have a very sweet, gentle, giving guy. He even cleans without being asked.

I know no relationship is is easy. I'll take the trials we have any day over being made to feel less than important or loved or respected. It's invaluable to me that through it all, ups and downs that I am emotionally, mentally, and physically treated with so much love!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy. ~Gretta Brooker Palmer

I have been thinking about "happiness" lately. Happiness is different for every person. For some it's sourced from their family, friends, God, religion, success, job etc. Everyone's perception of happiness is different too. For example, I don't source happiness from a job, or my car or success. Having those things make me happy, but I don't source my sense of happiness and who I am from these things.

You see, things add to my happiness but aren't what I live for and why I want to wake up every day. When I'm feeling down and out, my family and friends and faith and prayers keep me going. I always remind myself that even though things suck at the moment, it ALWAYS works out. One thing I have learned is to be grateful for my trials. I do believe that we will never be given something we can't handle. I've survived some pretty terrible things in my life. I have felt lower than low and almost got in my car and drove away from everyone I knew. I used to scratch my arms to the point of almost causing them to bleed! I was told I was doing what cutters do but without cutting myself. I was manifesting physically, what I felt emotionally. I will never forget those feelings. Most of these things were triggered by inner struggle and the fear of choosing what I needed to do for me, and NOT worrying about everyone else.

It took me 4, VERY long, grueling months of counseling. Endless tears, anger, reliving things I had suppressed for years. I knew I had to face the ugly. I was ready. And you know what, it wasn't easy but so completely worth it.

I feel alive again. I am happy, to the core. It doesn't mean life doesn't suck and I don't have bad days. But in the end, take away everything I have and as long as I have my family, friends and the ability to pray, I'll be okay! And I'll be happy.

I feel terribly sad for those out there who cannot source happiness from within, from their faith and relationship with God or have something at the center of the heart and mind that offers up genuine happiness.

I feel that happiness closely correlates with gratitude. Those who aren't grateful seem to be the most miserable people I've met in my personal experience. People want to have bigger and better "things" and go into great amounts of debt for them. People want to be skinnier, prettier, more popular, rich and/or famous. Some think another human being in their life will fulfill them and make them happy, or having a child or a yacht. It's simply an unhealthy outlook to not be grateful for what is given to us, to continually want more than we have and to forget to acknowledge God in our lives.

I read in my Psych 100 class that the best cure for depression is service. Is this not a principle that the Savior himself lived? Forget about yourself, take time daily to list the blessings and gifts granted to us. And in those really dark moments, and believe me I've had some, sometimes the only thing you might be able to be grateful for is the fact you're breathing. But it's another day to better ourselves, educate ourselves, help each other out and LIVE!

This topic is on my mind with significant amounts of my brain being sucked up in thought about this because I have a sibling that suffers greatly from lack of happiness. As much as I get angry about it, at the end of the day, it's really that I'm very sad for this person and wish I could make it better. Sometimes, all we can do is pray for others.

I can't imagine waking up each day and feeling unhappy. I am grateful that is not a burden I have to carry.

Most people would rather be certain they're miserable, than risk being happy. ~Robert Anthony

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost. ~H. Jackson Browne

Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible. ~St. Augustine

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour. ~Author Unknown

He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kennewick, Kids, and men Oh my!

I've had a wonderful weekend down here in Kennewick! Lot's of loves and snuggles and laughing and giggly little girls. I won't say I'm caught up on sleep because I have this very cute, 5 year old with big brown eyes who likes to snuggle up with me for the nights when I'm here.. well... she snores, breathes loudly cause she has a constant stuffy nose and she kicks me in my ribs an butt on and off throughout the night... and I wouldn't give it up for anything! These are the memories that just add on to my inner happiness... and in the moments when I don't feel so happy, I dig in to my "Auntie bucket."

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep, I stared off into the darkness full of memories of living here before. I moved to Kennewick in September of 2009. The first part of that year was tough. I went to counseling for 4 months and came out of it feeling like an entirely different woman.

Summer of 2009 was fun and I reconnected with some people I knew from when I was younger. My first night in Kennewick was fun. DeAnne and her family were in Spokane and I had the house to myself. I talked on the phone with a friend and the rest is history. Fall of 2009 to fall of 2010 was so fun! Life-changing. I felt alive! I was free, happy, and uninhibited in a way...

Alaina was a newborn baby. Kate was 3 and loved doing homework with me. I remember doing homework and sitting on my big bouncy ball/desk chair and bouncing lil Alaina to sleep. I loved helping Big D out and being an Aunt fills that "mommy" in me. Child birth terrifies me! I can't imagine. Ugh!

Kennewick was good for me. I really found myself and that year of my life offers some of my happiest moments and memories. I'm grateful for my friend that was a huge part of my life then, and I'm grateful for my little babies that make my heart smile!

Being and Aunt is the next best thing!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Life is too short!

I sit here, in the last quarter of the year and have the same feelings and thoughts I get every year. The end of year is one of my favorite times in a year. I love the cool, crisp feeling of the fall air. I LOVE Christmas music and I LOVE Christmas. You know, the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Christ?... When communities come together and help take care of each other.

I love the holidays and I think that I still have my youthful, innocent hope of these times. Why innocence? Because every year these feelings of overwhelming happiness come around. And every year, they seem to be shot to hell in a hand basket real quick!

When I think of the holidays, I think of family. I grew up in a religion that family is one of the MAIN points of this life and the next. I don't think that's the case in my family most of the time! While I am not perfect, I am inactive from church, and I'm single, there is nothing more important to me than family and sometimes I wonder if my family remembers the teachings of the scriptures and the prophets.

Now I realize that when someone gets married, that family becomes priority. Maybe because I am still unmarried, do I still look forward to my family getting together. I look so forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. I think about when I was a kid and the fun times. Getting up in the middle of night and undoing our stockings. I remember sitting in the living room and talking with my siblings all night, enjoying the Christmas lights. I remember we weren't allowed to wake the parents up before 6am. I have fond memories of Christmas and always want to make new, happy memories each year.

It seems this is not ever going to happen in my family again. We've gone from being a blended, strange mixture of people being kids, to grown-ups with their own kids and all but hating other family members for various reasons. It seems like my mom especially, can do no right in people's eyes. Siblings can't stand each other for various reasons, and some just seem to get snottier and "better" than the rest of us as each year continues. I feel that some in-laws think their family is better than ours and would rather stick fire-burning coals in their eyes than spend time with my family! We as adults, can't get past our differences for even 3 hours out of one day in a year! Most of us don't even call each other anymore. So Christmas gathering is a bunch of already pissed off adults before they walk through the doors, dreading seeing the family member they can't stand the most, waiting for some drama moment to happen, sitting there with attitude and watching the clock til this has to end, unhappy, un-christian like adults. HOW SAD and SHAMEFUL!

I realize we aren't gonna all see eye to eye all the time. We all choose to live our lives how we see fit for us. That's fine. But WHY can't we all put our differences aside and put the spirit of Christ and of Christmas in our hearts and enjoy a beautiful, short amount of time with each other?

The Savior, family and eternity, service, love one another, bear each others burdens.... all of these are values that are instilled and ingrained in us as members of the church. You can all sit and think I'm a hypocrite for sighting these things since I don't go to church. No I'm not perfect and I don't pretend I am. No I don't go to church,but before you all sit in judgment of me and my post and get pissed about it, how about a little self-reflection first.

I would love to sit with my parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews and be HAPPY!!!! Watch the kids all play with each other, enjoy the music of the season... Is it really so hard to put on a smile, come with a good attitude rather than one of dread (which I'm just as guilty of in the past) and have fun! Crap, we can't even have a peaceful white elephant gift exchange without someone getting pissed.

My resolve this year is to have fun, show up with a positive attitude and enjoy the little time that my family actually will spend together for a few hours out of 365 days with each other. Life is too short! I love my family and imperfect and silly as each of us are! I wouldn't trade it for any other family!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A dying Education in America

Higher Education: The dying American Dream

"The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered." ~ Jean Piaget

As a young girl, when asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I always replied, “I want to be a mom and have 100 kids.” As I pressed on through my education that is required as an American, I never had the desire to go to college. I was a great student, loved to learn, loved to read and did well in school. I did not even take the SAT’s because I knew I was not going to pursue higher education. Out of high school, I received a promotion into management at Godfather’s Pizza when I was 18 years old. From the restaurant industry, I went to retail, which finally led me to the wonderful world of dentistry. As a 22 year old, I was running a 1.5 million dollar dental practice in Park City, UT. This is where I developed my love for developing teams, helping to staff properly, teach employers to value their employees and receive a great return on investment, as well as teaching customer service. This in turn set me on my way in my life. I moved to Spokane in 2005 and began employment at an Orthodontic office to staff and increase revenue. I worked in the office for five years. In my fourth year at the office, I realized that I love working with people. I enjoyed educating providers how to run a business and building a team that produced and worked cohesively. I was offered a consulting job with a well-known orthodontic consulting firm. However, they wanted me to finish my education first. I was excited to be in college. My second year into my higher and education, and I feel as if I am being set up for failure.

I made enough money that I do not qualify for financial assistance. Yet, I do not make enough to be able to provide for myself and pay for the cost of tuition, books and fees. I am only attending community college, so you can imagine the cost that waits upon completion of my AA degree. In America, as high school students we are taught that the key to our future is higher education. What we as high school and college students in America are not aware of is the political dysfunction that is taking place in the education system and setting us up for failure. Thanks to George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, teachers of primary education are being forced into teaching to standardized tests; higher education is mainly being paid for by student loans, and in today’s economy, the student loan bubble is well on its way to burst. This is not comforting news to me, as a single woman, wanting to feel confident that I can secure a good education and be able to provide for myself in the future.

In a fascinating and infuriating article by Chris Hedges in 2010 titled, Why the US is destroying its education system, Hedges says, “A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs. Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.” Teachers are not granted the freedom to ask or challenge the testing. A teacher or anyone for that matter that thinks for themselves are systematically weeded out. The value of education no longer rests on the education itself but on the corporations who grant schools money. You bet they want a return on their investment. Most kids in the US that graduate are considered functionally literate and can hardly solve basic math equations. Teachers and education are under assault. Those whom do not comply or prove difficult in this new age of teaching are replaced with young, inexperienced teachers who are willing to perform under these tragic conditions and are “grateful” to have a job.

Where has the value of education gone? Schools run by superintendents who are making a great deal of money, teachers are leaving the profession as they see the value of education decreasing. Their jobs are on the line if their students do not pass bubble tests. A teacher interviewed for this article refused to give his name, as he feared repercussions says, “You have to ask yourself why are hedge fund managers suddenly so interested in the education of the urban poor? The main purpose of the testing craze is not to grade the students but to grade the teacher.” So students are being sent out into the world, unprepared, undereducated and products of corporate greed and ignorant politicians and sent on to the next chapter in their lives, which for many is higher education. The question is do they truly know what issues lay ahead in obtaining their higher education in pursuit of securing a successful, financial future.

The student loan industry is large, growing and most of the students in college are in debt. Alan Nasser says, “Debt is held by 62 percent of students enrolled at public colleges and universities, 72 percent at private non-profit schools and 96 percent at private, for-profit schools.” As of the summer of 2010, student loan debt is at $830 billion, surpassing credit card debt, which is at $827 billion. Student debt is growing at $90 billion per year. Lenders make their money from student loans when the borrowers default on their loans. They count on defaulted loans. The Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings announced in September 2008 “for community college students, the prospect of default is between 32 and 42 percent. Students at for-profit schools, the expected default is between 39 and 51 percent.” The price of tuition is increasing, Pell Grants are decreasing and the only option left is take on heavy amounts of student debt. In 2009, about 100 students protested the 32 percent hike in tuition at UCLA, Berkley. In the following spring quarter, an additional $585 would be added to tuition, prior to another scheduled increase in the fall of $1,344. In addition, the students had parents, members of the community, activists and union members all join totaling around 2,000 people. Police arrested about 50 of these students. Students are realizing exactly how powerless they really are in their own education.

Public education on every level is part of the capitalist state. In an article by the Socialist Labor Party of America we read, “One might think this would provide the capitalist class with a powerful motivation to exert great pressure on the state to preserve and improve on the quality of public education and to keep the meddlers out. Indeed, a great racket has been raised about how new technology is revolutionizing industry at all levels, and of the need for a new generation of workers trained and disciplined to operate them. What better motivation do the corporate owners of the country’s industries need to exert that pressure than their demand for workers capable of being employed and exploited? To understand the apparent contradiction it is only necessary to remember that “new technology” and “labor-displacing technology” are two names for the same thing. Capitalists need a new generation of workers to exploit, but not necessarily an entire generation. Automation means that fewer workers will be needed to operate the new industries. As for the rest of the new generation, capitalism will have no use for them.” If you have read Huxley’s A Brave New World, this sounds all too familiar. America is going to turn out workers who will benefit society and are trained to certain jobs.

Thirty years ago, Pell Grants covered up to 77% of a public four-year education. Today it covers about 35 percent. Low and middle-income students are finding it difficult to pursue higher education. Jesse Jackson said, “We can lose a greedy bank more than we can lose a generation of needy students.” Tolu Olorunda says, “These trends have abandoned most students at the mercy of five options: 1.) Drop out and transfer to a community college. 2.) Pick up a second job. 3.) Quit schooling altogether. 4.) Bear the brunt temporarily and hope a degree pays off in the long run. 5.) Take direct, non-violent action.” How are any of these acceptable solutions? He says most students pick option one or option four. The problem with this is that no matter what, once you acquire student loan debt, it is impossible to get rid of it. Bankruptcy is not an option if you do not finish school or become unemployed.

Tuition is rising in a time when our economy and income are declining. Of the $830 billion in student loan debt, about 40 percent is being repaid. The rest is in default. With the difficulty of procuring employment, rises in tuition, increase in student debt, it is safe to say that this debt bubble is set to burst soon. Two out of every five students is in default on their student loans within 15 years of the loans being issued. The “bubble effect” comes into play by not requiring credit checks to those who wish to apply for student loan funding. It is expected, in fact, hoped that students will default on their loans. This is how the banks make their money. Loaning money to anyone without prime qualifications is called subprime lending. We saw this with the housing bubble. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in December 2009, “most of the jobs will be low paying and will not require a bachelor’s degree.” One would think that the government would reflect and become involved in this arena. However, it is not just private loan lenders that freely give out money, the federal government does the same. The Department of Education makes more on defaulted loans than it does on loans is good standing. The government wants to make a profit as much as the next dirty, private lender next door. In August 2009, Congress passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. This eliminated private lenders from federal student loans and since then, private companies are raking it in. Sallie Mae’s loan portfolio grew 87 percent from 2000 to 2005. During that time, its fee income grew by 228 percent.

These are frightening facts that should cause alarm. Why aren’t more American students educated on this topic? Why are we not banning together, protesting and taking a stand? Why do we not demand a cap on tuition? I myself have tried to weigh out the consequences of borrowing in order to pay for my tuition. The very thought makes me sick. I find myself asking if it really is worth it. Prior to attending college, I had a great paying job with great benefits. I find myself in the category of sticking it out and continuing my education and hoping that it will pay for itself when I am done. It is likely that I will have to have at least two jobs upon completion of college. What is disturbing is that the value of education in this country is declining. As we know from the UCLA protests, it is easier to get thrown in jail, or even complain about the teaching styles and have a teacher fired than it is to stand up for our rights and demand a great education with affordability and an out if needed. We cannot file bankruptcy on student loans. I read about a woman whose loan payment was at $865 per month after defaulting. How is this not criminal? What are we as students and Americans going to do about this? Starting with primary education, we should fight on behalf of the teachers and our children. We should not allow the dictation of greed and standardized tests to be acceptable education for our future. We should follow suit of other countries and rally and protest in mass to demand equality for education and cap tuition. We as students feel powerless. We can complain about a teacher who presents views, opinions, theories and political propaganda that is different to ours and put an end to his or her career at a school. How is it that we are so powerless to have a voice and stand up to the greedy politicians and corporate greed about securing our future? How as parents, do you accept that your children’s educational and financial future is in severe jeopardy? Even peaceful protests result in arrests. Whatever happened to freedom of speech in this country?

Olorunda says, “But the struggle to lift burdens weighing heavy on the backs of students would have to involve more than young people: it would take the sympathy and sensitivity of adult working hand-in-hand, side-by-side with tomorrow’s leaders. It would take the empathy and energy of courageous intellectuals to step out beyond the academic bubble and stand for something worth more than a corporate handout. It would take the unwavering support of parent, community leaders, and educators to make good on the hope harbored in the mind of young people—hope that the society in which they live cares deeply about the future awaiting them.” I fear that too many American’s, young and old, feel that it does not affect them personally and are apathetic in regards to the situation. We have an attitude of, “If it does not affect me, it is not my concern.” This is a shame! It was not okay for the housing market and the same attention and concern must be given to the future leaders and stability of the American society. America is already falling behind in Math and Science skills. Where we once ranked number one we are now ranked number nine. Immanuel Kant says, “What brings us meaning and worth as human beings is our ability to stand up and pit ourselves against injustice and the vast, moral indifference of the universe. Once justice perishes, life loses all meaning. Those who meekly obey laws and rules imposed from the outside—including religious laws—are not moral human beings. The fulfillment of an imposed law is morally neutral. The truly educated make their own wills serve the higher call of justice, empathy and reason.” We need to revamp the educational system back to its roots. A student’s curriculum should include all areas of study including the arts, music and philosophy. We should not be cutting the funding for education and encouraging and accepting the massive debt of the leaders of our future. We are seeking education and it is time we serve that higher call of justice.