Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Inequality Normal

It isn't usually my tendency to write posts about the current world situation, or politics, or other similar topics.  Today is an exception.

Two things have influenced my decision.  First, I'm reading a fascinating book edited by David Cay Johnston entitled, DIVIDED - The Perils of our Growing Inequality.  Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize winner author/journalist who has assembled speeches, articles and essays by some of the best minds alive on the subject of the disparity of our society.  He covers the financial chasms under such subheadings as education, policy, family and health care, among others.  I devour good non-fiction reads and this one I can highly recommend.  It gives me new views on my inequality normal as I term my everyday life these days.

In that thought-provoking vein, my second influence came from viewing the latest installment of my favorite television series, Downton Abbey.  I realize that the book and this show may not seem to have any connection, but stick with me. 

When I use the expression, inequality normal, it's to give a name to how much my middle class existence has withered away in the last decade or so.  At first, I was oblivious to it, as were thousands of others, and until recent research reading, I also wasn't privy to the decades of downward spiraling our entire economy experienced that brought us to this unwelcome state.

I've had to face the not-so-welcome fact that the lifestyle my husband and I took for granted as normal during childhood, young adulthood, our married years, etc., just doesn't exist for us anymore. It's not because we've changed how we live; it's just that the financial circumstances of our country have shifted so radically that our middle class is no longer - and along with that goes our prosperity, growing incomes, and the rest.

We don't expect to be supported by the government; we just want to be able to finish out our lives as we've always done - working hard and looking forward to better things because of it.  In other words, we want the word hope to still have a ring of reality for us.

Our children and grandchildren are primary in my thoughts as well.  I see them struggling as they work even harder than we have, and seeing no concrete results for their labors. It certainly isn't the legacy I wanted them to inherit.

So, you may ask, what does Downton Abbey have to do with this?  Well, it isn't the first time that the brilliant writer of that show, Julian Fellowes, has managed to parallel the upper class scenarios of early 20th century England with those of current day situations.  And it was my favorite character from the series, the dowager countess (played by Maggie Smith) who invoked the line that hit home for me:  "Hope is a tease - designed to prevent us from accepting reality."

It may be a sad commentary, but, unfortunately, it is a truism for me of late.  I don't like to admit it, and I am lucky to have friends and family who give me love and support, but, in my private moments of contemplation, it's something I can no longer dismiss or wish away. In accepting the reality of my circumstances, I do find it much more difficult to think about hope  and inequality normal as parallels.   And it was important for me to say that in print.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"The Year of NOT"

I read an inspiring piece of writing this morning, by a writer whose advice always seems to inspire me:  C. Hope Clark.  Her words struck home, yet again, because my week has been hectic and I was berating myself for not getting a blog post written.

If you are a writer not familiar with Hope's work, or her wonderful newsletter online, I encourage you to become familiar.  And please read her post this week about "The Year of NOT".  Without condensing the entire piece, suffice it to say it will give you some breathing room.

She addresses the many, many, many things that writers are "pushed to do" in order to "be a writer". And, in her research, she has discovered that many writers have called a halt to much of it.  The last sentence of her essay was this: "This is the year of NOT; the year of not letting others interfere with the writer you were meant to be."  I agree.

So, here's my promised weekly post.  And, even if you're not a writer, Hope's words may speak to you. Check them out, and let me know.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thoughts on my Milestone Day

Yesterday I celebrated what is referred to as a milestone birthday.  Since I consider that reaching every new year is a milestone, I'm not sure I agree with the designation of that term.  The day was, however, one I will always remember because of the myriad ways I received special attention.

To begin with, I am so grateful for the social media contacts that allowed me to receive dozens of congratulatory posts; friends, relatives, and contacts from around the world.  I am a lucky woman to have those people in my life, who take the time to send well wishes and words of love. I even had phone calls from a couple of friends I don't get to speak with as often as I'd like, and that added to my joy.

My children, and theirs, contributed to my Happy Day with phone calls, gifts, etc., and my husband (the artist) made me a singularly wonderful card and a decorated cake.  Last evening, he and our oldest, grandson, Alex, treated me to a dinner out at a special Italian restaurant near us.  The attention from the two of them, as well as the restaurant staff, added to my overflow of happy moments.

I guess, in this busy, busy, busy society we call normal life these days, it means even more when you realize that others consider your special day a day to make sure you feel special.  So, my milestone day served to remind me that I am more than lucky to have such people around me  It also strengthens my resolve to work toward better days ahead this year, because I know I have all of them cheering me on.

I still subscribe to the quote, "To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am", so I don't plan to ever quit celebrating - whether it's a milestone, or just another year.  Having so many others celebrate with me, though, is what it's really all about.  Thank you all.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Everything's New!

Wasn't sure just how to start this one.  After all, it was May something when I last posted.  Thought about explaining why I have done no real writing since then: not a blog, a short story, the beginnings of another novel - nothing.

But this past year hasn't been about me.  It's been about the man I've known longer than anyone (except my parents); my beloved R.J., and he's the one who got priority over everything in 2014.  Not to dwell on too much detail, but he suffered a severe concussion that prevented him working for over four months, then had two injuries and a virus that escalated his enforced leisure into a couple of additional months.  I became caretaker, nurse, and person in charge of all things business and home. And his good health and well-being were all that mattered to me.

The good news is that he is now back to his old self, busy creating new projects, and encouraging me to resume my writing career.  So, with a New Year in front of me, I decided it was time to explore my creative bent.

I'm starting with this blog because it's "already out there", so to speak.  My plan is to post something here at least once a week.  There will be a variety of subjects: old topics, new interests, some critiques, etc., even recommendations of good books I read.  Of course, I will be keeping everyone apprised of my published writings.  I've even decided to include photos, occasionally, to make the look of the blog more inviting.

Thanks to those of you who continued to check in here, and your searches will no longer be in vain, I can promise you.  I'm eager to be back at my keyboard, and I have lots of ideas in my head.  Please comment on my blogs - first of all so that I know that you're reading them, but, more importantly, so that I know what you most want to read about, and to learn from you how I'm doing.

These past months have made me much more grateful for all the wonderful avenues of my life, and I'm eager to explore new ways of appreciating them.  That's the reason for this post title, and now it's time to begin.