Trump’s House of Cards

cardsThe implosion of our current administration is imminent and patience is necessary for those waiting in the wings. President Donald Trump hit the ground running on his first day with a to-do list that stoked the fire of his base. One thing we can say for sure is that what we see is what we get. Everything being signed by the president is consistent with what he promised. The attitude is also no surprise. He was tweeting before and he will continue to tweet. Many Americans knew about the character of Donald Trump before the election, which is in part why they did not vote for him. It is the character, not the politics or policy that is dangerous.

A simple clue as to what type of person our President is can be seen in his reaction to situations. When called upon in public life to behave in a certain way, follow a particular protocol or honor a tradition, the expectation of decency and respect are accepted norms. It has become quite obvious that our new President does not care to adhere to these norms and continues to use that rogue attitude to fan the fire of his supporters. Though this is disappointing and frustrating, if it were only misogyny or non-nonconformity we might still be okay. The danger is that the vulgar lack of decorum is just the tip of the iceberg. We also have a man in the oval office that is not a fan of facts.

So how do we deal with a President who refuses to read, study, listen or adhere to basic protocol? What can citizens, agencies, officials and the press do to monitor an elected official who is paid by the people but refuses to allow transparency and follow guidelines? Normally the press would inform the citizens of all activities, the laws and protocols would ensure fidelity, and voting would make the changes when necessary. The difference in 2017 is that President Trump is attempting to block the ability of the press, citizens, law and protocol to do anything that might interfere with his agenda.

There is, however a weakness in this administration. It is the need to be “the greatest,” and a strong drive to be on top which elicits emotional reaction to any obstacle or opposition. The aftermath of this weakness is public tirades, poor judgment and decision making or revenge. While a bit scary regarding international affairs, rest assured that the obvious and most egregious missteps will not be allowed to come to fruition by the seasoned members of the administration.

The typical result of continued unchecked reactional behavior is an implosion as self-control becomes difficult and outbursts become regular. The only defense for the person is excuses, blame and untruths which become difficult to manage. Once their defense begins to unravel the person must create diversions with unsubstantiated accusations or fabrications that bolster their own cause. Here then lies the weakness. The same ego that drives the madness will also refuse the rules that maintain integrity. Security involving communication, language that may be misinterpreted, delicate relationships that have been built over time all become the weapons that eventually turn on the irrational user. Additionally, the tendency to use vocal and written propaganda that rallies the base will also become a weapon of self-destruction after reacting inappropriately to baiting by those with more intelligent and shrewd strategic skill. Patience and strategy are not the strong suit of one who operates through uncontrollable reactionary emotion.

How do we deal with this new administration? Just keep telling the truth, pushing the buttons, throwing out the fishing line loaded with bait, show a rising number in opposition and build an army of qualified individuals to wait in the wings. @womensmarch  @indivisible @factcheckdotorg are just a few of the watchful entities that are doing what is necessary to monitor the situation. As citizens we must stay informed, be patient and allow the ego driven administration to implode. Much like a neutron star, what will be left is a harmless but heavy mass to be moved aside and replaced by a strong and steady balanced system.

 

American Stew – A Recipe for Greatness

“The New Colossus,” written by American poet Emma Lazarus, is forever etched in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty. While the bronze Lady Liberty has symbolized many things over the years since placement at her permanent home on Ellis Island (then Bedloe’s Island) in 1886, today she represents the beacon of freedom for any and all who desire to take up the challenge.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”    —Emma Lazarus

The words “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” remind us that the wealth and power of established old world nations are not America’s story. The nationalistic and patriarchal protectionism of the old world will not fit the developing philosophy of freedom in the new. Though this may not have been the expanded mindset of our founding fathers, it most certainly has become the mindset of today’s Americans.

The very design of the Statue of Liberty is symbolic of every struggle we’ve experienced in America. From the broken chain at her feet, to the torch she holds above her head, there is a hint toward the freedom and progress of all people. The creator, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, dressed her in flowing robes as a symbol of peace and softness, though her build is decidedly strong.  Her gaze is like that of a protective mother, welcoming and lifting those who are seeking a better life. Rather than the masculine figure and stance of a guard protecting the nation, Lady Liberty stands as a light in the darkness welcoming all to the shores of opportunity.

It seems as though Bartholdi held a vision of the coming America, one which rose to the symbolism of Lady Liberty. The struggles of our young country include the violent clash of diversity out of necessity, for without the history of such divisiveness we would not experience the glory of overcoming. We are still in the midst of this struggle, but there is a rising up of feminine wisdom, a quickening of new birth. The birth of an age of balance between all people. This change will bring the true meaning of both the Statue of Liberty and the words of Emma Lazarus full circle.

Today, July 12 of 2016, we are on the verge of an election that may result in the first female President of the United States.

Photo by Jason Lavengood
Photo by Jason Lavengood

Our Olympic team looks like the face of America with its grand diversity. The Roman Goddess Libertas, our Lady Liberty’s model, shines brightly in my mind.

My ancestors have been in America for multiple generations, reaching back to at least the 1700’s. My children, grandchildren, cousins, nephews and nieces make up a tapestry of culture including African-American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Navajo, Filipino, Hawaiian, Romanian, Dutch, English, German, Irish, Scottish and who knows what else.

We are American Stew. The recipe for greatness begins with diversity, different ingredients that combine for a perfect whole. Let’s make America the beacon she was meant to be, let’s show the world what united means and how freedom works. We have begun to fit the Lady Liberty mold, let’s keep flowing into that form of greatness!

Hillary, Bernie, Donald and the paradigm shift

Background text pattern concept wordcloud illustration of paradigm shift

The year 2016 will be forever known as the moment everything shifted. From politics to social issues to climate, nothing is or will ever be the same. This kind of shift happens in each generation to one degree or another, but for those of us born between the 1950’s and 1970’s it has been exponential. And this particular shift comes with a move toward a great balancing.

I was born in 1960, the year when much of what we are now experiencing as Americans was also being birthed. Consider the following list of important happenings in and around 1960, and the comparison to today:

  1. Four African-American men sat down at a  Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina and were refused service. This sparked a peaceful protest and ignited a movement to end racial inequality across the South. Though we have a long way to go, we have achieved laws that protect every American from discrimination and are soon to pass more. We have seen in just the past decade LGBTQ rights come to pass, right to die became a legal choice in some states, progress in equal pay…and etc.
  2.  Official United States involvement began in the Vietnam War. Today, our Vietnam Veterans are aging and some, after experiencing years of neglect by the country have spent much of their lives in mental and physical agony or homeless. According to the Vietnam Veterans of America, vva.org, Veterans Advocacy, Government Relations, two-thirds of the some twenty-one-and-a-half-million veterans in our country do not interact with the Veterans Administration. Though progress has been made, we are still far from where we should be in caring for our nation’s veterans. Yet, even with the analysis of the purpose and outcome of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, we engaged in a similar situation in the Middle East. Another generation of young people are forever changed by a never-ending war and its repercussions.
  3. The U.S. launched the first Weather Satellite and the first Navigation Satellite  Each day we take for granted the technological advances in communication and global positioning systems while our once giant computer that filled the basement of a building is now a wristwatch, and global positioning satellites can pinpoint our location to within as close as 1 meter or better.
  4. The Civil Rights Act of 1960 was signed by Dwight Eisenhower ensuring voting rights for African-Americans. Voting rights continue to be a source of battle for opposing political sides. The fact that gerrymandering has been allowed to run wild with the specific goal of limiting the votes of one party is finally being discussed and changed, with the true motive exposed.
  5. Oral Contraception (the “Pill”) was approved by the FDA. Advances in medicine and the understanding of human biology have produced a variety of methods of birth control. Since the approval of “the Pill” and the rise of other types of birth control, coupled with media campaigns and public schools teaching sex education, the total number of teen pregnancies dropped 44% between 1990 and 2009.
  6. Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) won his first professional boxing match, later converted to Islam and refused the draft based on religious beliefs. When I was six months old in September of 1960, Cassius Clay won the Olympic Gold Medal in boxing. As political tensions rise in the 2016 Presidential campaigns, the subject of Islam and the Muslim faith seem to be at the center of discussion, and the passing of the converted champ now known as Muhammad Ali seems all the more poignant given his devotion to humanitarian efforts. 
  7. The approval of oral contraceptive was a shot of adrenaline for the Women’s Movement. In 1960 the Women’s Movement shot into overdrive. Now, in 2016 we are on the verge of making history in the United States with the highest seat in the land potentially being handed over to a woman, and not just any woman, Hillary Clinton is a woman who epitomizes the strength of American spirit (more on that later).
  8. Charles David Keeling’s publishing of his findings describing the seasonal pattern of CO2 variations led to the study of Global Warming.  Air pollution in Los Angeles, California was so bad in the 1960’s that people could not continue with daily activities outdoors due to the physical effects of the rise in ozone concentration. Children were kept home from school, athletes worked out in doors and farmers stood by helplessly as crops withered. The combined pollutants stood at 100 parts per billion in volume in 1960, but with an aggressive campaign to reduce, limit or outlaw certain types of pollutants the result has been a declining factor of 4 in nitrogen oxides, 50 in volatile organic compounds (which produce ozone and particulate matter) and 130 in peroxyacetyl nitrate (which causes eye irritation). While these changes are encouraging, without the cooperation of the entire country and a global effort, our human habits have contributed to the natural rise in temperature of the earth thus resulting in an earlier and more rapid climate change than normal.
  9. American Socialism had become unpopular due to improved living for the middle class and the negative influences of McCarthyism among other things. There is no question that America’s form of capitalism and democracy is a successful example of growing a country from birth to dominance in a short period of time. Two hundred and forty years is a blip of existence compared to the rise of other countries, many which have fallen or changed drastically since their inception. That being said, there is room for improvement. The United States of America has been an experiment in freedom that began with a simple set of assumptions. Today, with increasing complications that are inherent in a free society, we are facing difficult choices that challenge the original plan. Socialism became a dirty word to many in the 1960’s, but with examples of success in parts of the globe, some young people are looking at the system with fresh eyes.
  10. According to the 1960 U.S. Census, 85% of Americans were white. Our nation is on track for becoming the true melting pot we were labeled in 1908. According to the U.S. News & World Report, 2015, July 6, “It’s Official: The U.S. is Becoming a Minority-Majority Nation,” the 2014 census revealed that over 50% of the children born that year were classified as minorities. This tips the scale for the number of white versus non-white citizens and will forever change the face of America.
  11. According to a Pew Research report, in 1960 on 25% of households had Dual Income. A final comparison is that of the 1960 household income with today’s. Then only 25% of Americans had a dual income, by the year 2012 that number rose to 60%.

This data comparison leads to a conclusion that 2016 is a year of turning corners. A shift in the structure built by the “good ole boy club” who controlled everything. There are signs of a waning guard and a waxing new mindset with our future generations. The youth of today are the majority of tomorrow and they come in all gender configurations, colors and methods of communication.

The fact that a woman, Hillary Clinton, battled it out with an admitted Socialist, Bernie Sanders,  for the Democratic nomination (as of this writing she is the presumptive nominee), and will most likely be competing against the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, a wealthy man with no political experience who is being accused of misogyny and racism is ironic. I say that because Hillary represents the story of American spirit for women during a time when women have to fight just to be heard, Bernie is indicative of the new mindset that the younger generation is developing about what type of government system they see as effective, and Donald is the epitome of the old guard in his last spasms of life.

The status quo is no longer working for the youth of today, let alone tomorrow. The comparisons made are evidence of that. The interesting thing about it all is that I have witnessed such a shift in my lifetime. Everything we are currently debating from Civil Rights to Global Warming began and mutated during my life up to this point. Women are currently fighting for the right to breastfeed in public, we are fighting over what bathroom we can use and trying to justify the average citizen’s right to own a gun that can mow down 50 people in seconds.

There is a paradigm shift happening. A shift that the youth are bringing. The old ways are not going to work in this new world. Our Constitution needs to be seen as a living document if we are to develop beyond this first quarter of the 21st century. Religious and racial intolerance, gender bias and discrimination, hate and fear are all things that will hold us back or keep us in a perpetual battle with one another.

Bernie Sanders shook things up, he opened Pandora’s box for the youth of our country. The interest he generated in financial responsibility and economic fairness, gender equality and a win-win philosophy will most likely inspire many young people to further investigate public policy that will make positive changes for social reform.

Hillary Clinton showed women of all ages that even during times of oppression, developing a fortitude that will carry you to achieve your dreams is meaningful and effective. While the strength some women display may be offensive to some, their perception is not what matters, it is the individual woman’s personal goal that does. When the ignorant and small-minded were (and still are) critical of Hillary for staying with her husband in light of his transgressions, the confident and focused woman measured her options and made decisions strategically based on what would suit her future endeavors. Staying consistent in her attitude, method and mission, Hillary Clinton is a determined strong person with years of experience developed through the trials and tribulation of a navigating a man’s world.

Donald Trump is representative of the fading face of Andrew Jackson on an old $20 bill. He may be worth a lot down the road, but his true usefulness is outdated. The rhetoric, strange ideas and outlandish comments seem to be contrived in a purposeful way to make things easy for his Democratic opponent. It reminds me of a man playing at 50% assuming the woman will be easy to beat, but in this case wildly underestimating the talent and strength of his female competitor.

We are witnessing changing weather patterns, technological and medical miracles, scientific discoveries that rock our very foundation of belief and understanding, worldwide social upheaval…is it the end? No, I believe it is a turning, a re-balancing of masculine and feminine. A quickening in the womb of our existence before the birth of extraordinary change. Are you ready? This child of the 60’s is.

 

March, Women and America

EveThe month of March is significant to me personally for a variety of reasons. March is my birth month, that makes it special, but the celebration of women in history and recognition of their contribution to the progress of the world make March an important month. This year it is especially important due to the upcoming election. During this amazing month of discovering women I never had the privilege to learn about in school, it is good to also recognize the importance of the feminine half of our social equation, that feminine quality in all people representing wisdom, patience, nurturing and softness.

There is a movement that has been building for years, quietly and strategically, to raise the awareness of an imbalance in society. The violence, chaos, greed, destruction and so many other threats to society are closely correlated with the attitude toward anything feminine. The fact that we as women are still fighting to breast feed our children in public, receive equal pay for equal work or even be considered for leadership roles proves that society is out of balance.

Beyond gender equality is the attitude toward empathy, compromise, compassion, and sharing. It seems that any discussion alluding to anything altruistic is seen as weak, liberal or worse. I find it interesting that we are considering presidential candidates that represent extremes of ideals that take us back to the time of my birth in 1960. We have come such a long way in many respects regarding equal rights, but political platforms and cries of “make America great again,” and the desire to go back to “the way things were,” prove we have a long way to go.

In the mid 1960’s President Johnson was able to move forward with a plan to eliminate poverty and racial injustice in America. The Medicare and Medicaid programs giving the poor a hand up, not a hand out, was instrumental in lifting elderly and low-income individuals pay for health care, Head Start helped prepare young children for school and the Job Corps trained unskilled workers. These programs coupled with the Civil Rights movement and urban redevelopment brought many people up from poverty and gave many youth a brighter future.

The civil rights movement resulted in such protection as the Equal Pay Act for women, Civil Rights Act against discrimination and the Voting Rights Act. My first ten years of life were experienced in this tumultuous but meaningful time. We were going into space, we were recognizing the equal rights of all Americans, and we were growing in so many new ways. Those were good days that we should be proud of. Yet here we are in 2016, and some are trying to go backward.

If we consider the attitude of those who would like to turn back the clock, it seems that the competitive need to be the biggest, the greatest, the one with the most toys drives many with the need to conquer. It is a fear of losing that drives this need. Unfortunately gentleness, compassion, empathy or a win-win philosophy represents weakness to these types of people.

A truly sophisticated and successful society should not still be arguing about the morality of a woman’s breast showing in any capacity, let alone when using it for its purpose…feeding her child. A well-balanced society should not be arguing about the validity of mistreating certain groups but instead should be discussing the resolution of any situation that hints at the possibility. True freedom in any society is only as free as its citizens allow one another to express that freedom.

As a woman I am not compelled to vote for a woman simply because she is a woman. As a liberal I am not compelled to vote for a socialist simply because he represents progressive liberal ideals. As a white middle-aged woman I am not compelled to vote for a white middle-aged man. As an American I am compelled to vote for the person who represents the progress and movement toward a healthy, strong and respected society that understands we are only as strong as our weakest member and that all people should be welcome at our table. This is balance. This is our path back to a strong America.

I am just a woman

Eve“I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! I have borne thirteen children, and seen most of ’em sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me!”

Strong words spoken by Sojourner Truth in May of 1851. She was responding to other speakers on the subject of women’s rights. An emancipated slave, Sojourner became a champion for women and the poor. Even President Lincoln was moved by her. During a meeting between the two of them, he wrote a note and signed his name in her little notebook stating “For Aunty Sojourner Truth, A. Lincoln, October 29, 1864.”

My Grandmother raised her four children and four of her sisters in a two room house she shared with her husband and her father. They did not have running water or an indoor bathroom, she did not drive or have any money of her own. She made their clothes, their toys, their meals, washed everything by hand, grew most of their food, milked the goat, tended the chickens…and she was just a woman.

In 1960, only 40 years after women won the right to vote, I was born. My mother raised me and my three siblings while she finished high school and then graduated from nursing school. I remember her studying anywhere she could, in the sun waiting for ball practice or ballet to finish, late at night after getting us off to bed, sometimes at the kitchen table while we all watched television. Just a woman.

By 1972 when I wanted to learn how to pump gas and work on cars at my Dad’s gas station I was told no. When I wanted to play Little League Baseball with my brothers I was told no. When I could run as fast and throw a football better than my brothers and their Junior All American team-mates I was given pom-poms instead. When I asked why I couldn’t play they said I might get hurt. Because I’m just a woman.

So I started gymnastics instead, where I jumped backward from my feet onto my hands then back to my feet landing on a four-inch wide piece of wood, four feet off the ground. Then I would swing myself around on parallel bars and fling into the air from the top bar twelve feet off the ground to complete a full flip with my body before landing on the mat below. Hmm. But I’m just a woman.  Years later I gave birth to four children without any medication and became a working mom when things didn’t work out with their father. I’m still just a woman.

When I was the Executive Director for a well-known non-profit and was asked to complete a financial report I did so without hesitation. When several men on the Board of Directors asked me who prepared the report for me I told them, “No one, this is my own work.” When asked how I did it by myself I answered, “With a calculator, and a computer.” They were puzzled. Still just a woman.

When the new CEO of that same non-profit grabbed my wrist and said, “Don’t leave the room when I’m talking to you,” and I jerked my arm out of his grasp telling him, “Don’t ever touch me.” I was just a woman.

When I created a new program and wrote up a business strategy to save our company thousands of dollars but my male co-worker “forgot” to mention to the Board of Directors that it was my idea…I was just a woman.

When my second husband left me because of wrongs he committed, and I was approached by two male neighbors who thought I needed help with my “out of control” daughters, I was just a woman. I was accused by my ex-husband of raising my daughters to be man haters because I told them they should not measure their value by whether or not they have a man by their side. Yet today all three have grown to be strong successful women who see a partner as a joy not a necessity.  And still, just a woman.

Today, we are trying to protect equal pay for women, and cannot get a bill to pass or a law renewed, yet women earn more than 40% of the average family income. Harvard Business School did not allow women to enter until 1962, yet women make up 41% of the school’s 2015 graduating class. Still, according to the Washington Post article “At this rate American women won’t see equal pay until 2058,” we have a long way to go. Since 1959, the year before I was born, the rate of change between what men make and what women make has been quite different. That gap will not close for at least another 43 years.

At 55 years old I may not live to see that equalization, but I have faith that it will happen. I know that my children and my grandchildren will have a different view about the value of all people, but especially women. Sojourner Truth said of the Biblical Eve, “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now that they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

I believe that the imbalance that started with the story of forbidden fruit will right itself when equality in all aspects of life has been achieved. But what do I know, I’m just a woman.

Ten Ways To Make A Marriage Work

So you’ve decided to take that plunge into everlasting bliss with your soul mate?  Well if you want to make it past the first year or the first kid then play your cards right.mike&me

I am ten years into my third marriage.  Maybe that qualifies me to advise others, maybe not.  But this third time is definitely the proverbial charm.  What I learned over the past thirty-three years since my first marriage is simple.  The getting along thing begins with me and my choices.  Choice one is marrying the right person in the first place.  Choice two is being mature enough to be honest with myself and the other person.  Choice three is marrying FOR the right reasons.  Once you’ve made these choices correctly, the rest is a matter of the following ten suggestions.

1.  Admit (at least to yourself) when you are wrong.

There’s nothing worse than to carry on with an argument or ruin your entire day because you refuse to be wrong.  That’s really just plain stupid.  Always look at your own part in the situation…and if you’re not wrong at least attempt to understand why your spouse thinks you are.

2.  Know that certain events in life will affect you differently.

Births, deaths, money issues, etc. affect women differently than they do men.  Men tend to look for comfort during trying times and need more sexually charged physical contact, while women want to be comforted and cuddled and have no interest in sex.  Becoming a mom is usually the beginning of this scenario.  It is natural for a mom to become absorbed in the child and its needs versus the husband’s.  A new dad will score much more often in bed if he recognizes this and talks openly about it, giving mom some time to just be appreciated.  But the new mom needs to remember that hubby is feeling a bit neglected and do what she can to make him feel important in this new baby thing (and that doesn’t mean just changing diapers!).

3.  Be respectful of each other’s pet peeves (even if they are ridiculous).

The toilet seat can quickly become the object of tension in a household.  The best way to solve the problem is to make a rule that EVERYONE should close the toilet lid.  This means that even the women in the house must open and close to use it, and finally the men will feel equal in the bathroom.  Other suggestions are clean up your own stuff (sounds simple and silly, but think about it).  Do you leave your socks all over the house?  Do you leave your shoes all over the bedroom floor?  Do you use all but the last little sheet of toilet paper so you don’t have to change the roll?  Do you only wash the clothes you need because you “don’t want to mess up anyone else’s” or only dry the shirt you need and leave the rest in the washer?  Oh the tension and fights we can avoid if we only take one minute more!

4.  Marriage means everything is shared…even money (yes it’s true!).

Does your spouse work the same hours each week but get paid less?  Does that make you feel like you earn more and therefore should have a say in how money is spent?  Does your spouse stay home with the children and that means you budget an “allowance” for that spouse?  Do you spend what you want without letting your spouse know but want a discussion first for anything else purchased?  Perhaps instead of an allowance it should be referred to as a paycheck for domestic duties.  Remember that each spouse contributes to a marriage in his/her own way, and each should be respected for that contribution.   If you are a stay at home spouse your contribution should include a clean environment for the family.  If you are the working spouse your contribution is not only financial but also showing a mutual appreciation for the person that makes your house a home.  Seems so simple…doesn’t it?

5.  Having a social life is important and necessary.

Just because two become one is no reason they cannot have friends.  It also does not mean that they cannot have separate activities.  Individuality is important in our lives.  We need to be free to express ourselves in order to feel human.  Of course, there are those activities that may cause friction.  If you are going out to a bar with your friends after work every day while your spouse is home alone then you are not getting the point.  If you and your friends take off every other weekend to hit the casinos without your spouse something may be off a bit.  Healthy activities and the occasional “out with the guys or girls” is perfectly fine, but when your activities become an escape from your family instead of a fun outlet you may have a problem.

6.  Resentment and hanging on to past battles or hurt is a true marriage wrecker.

If you bring up old stuff or wallow in the pain of the past you are really only destroying yourself.  All that ugliness will eat you up and keep you from enjoying the things about your spouse that you fell in love with in the first place.  Do you know how to forgive?  Are you free from any mistakes or screw-ups?  Can you look at yourself in the mirror and honestly say that you’ve done nothing hurtful or have never betrayed the trust of another?  Unless you can look in the mirror and see perfection then holding on to past stuff is hypocritical.

7.  Someone’s got to be the grown up.

Yea, it’s true that your spouse lets one fly and blames it on you but at least you know who the mature one is between you.  Then again, isn’t it nice that your spouse is still playful?  One of you needs to loosen up and the other really should try to set a good example for the kids.  But a balance of grown up and child like behavior provides for a healthy environment for children.  Besides, when your spouse blames you for the obnoxious sound and smell you can smile proudly and say “I learned it all from you.”

8.  So you had a hard day…maybe everyone did.

When you come home from work and your spouse or kids want a bit of your time do you brush them off and say you’re tired and want some time alone?  Do you get annoyed when your spouse tells you what a rough day at home it was because the kids were fighting all day?  Does your spouse come home wanting time with you, but all you want to do is talk about the things around the house that need to be fixed?  Can’t we all just get along?  Everyone has rough days and everyone needs to feel like they have a shoulder to cry on.  However the opposite is also true in that everyone needs some kick back time after a long day.  When we respect both of those very real needs and allow some settling down time, then our together time can be much more pleasant.  Kids however, are another story.  Give them five minutes to say anything they need to say and then they will happily move on once it’s out of their system.

9.  Dreading social obligations can fester into a blowout.

Your spouse does not like your mother because she is a know-it-all and thrives on making you look bad.  Your sister-in-law brags about her great job and how perfect her children are then cuts you off every time you want to talk about your own.  These are every day issues that each couple has to deal with.  Yet, family is important so you must be the bigger person.  Your spouse may complain and put down his or her own family members but you should never cross that line.  Be sympathetic but do not agree…it may be held against you later.  Just go to the holiday dinner with a smile on your face and imagine them all in clown makeup making complete asses out of themselves.

10.  Don’t go to bed mad, just go to bed.

We’ve all heard this one, but it is easier said than done.  If you broaden its meaning we should not leave our spouse with anger at anytime.  Whether to go to sleep or to go to the store we never know when it may be our last time together.  Life is full of surprises and the more we forgive and forget the more joy we allow into this life.  Be willing to make the first move toward peace.  “I’m sorry” is not always the right thing to say.  Something like, “I never realized I was acting that way let me know next time if I am starting to do that again.”  Or maybe, “I know you didn’t do that on purpose, I was just angry about it and took it out on you.”  These little words can make all the difference.  If all else fails do something stupid and silly…laughter can sometimes break anyone’s anger.

In the fast-paced, ever changing and demanding world we live, do we really want to do it all alone?  Having a best friend to spend your time here with seems like a good idea to me.  Forgiveness, respect, loyalty and support are really what love is all about.

When Lust Borders on Treason

The recent scandal involving our top military and security officials that has rocked Washington and the country is not new and certainly won’t be the last scandal of its kind.  Once again we ask ourselves why men in important leadership positions take such risks and allow such damage to their family and career.  But I have a different take on it, one that holds the women accountable.  Not just for their betrayal to another woman, but for their betrayal to the country and the men involved.

When Monica Lewinsky was first invited by President Bill Clinton to his private study in November of 1995 during the government shutdown, she knew full well what she was about to initiate.  That first kiss in the President’s office was Ms. Lewinsky’s first step toward betrayal to the people of the United States.  Yes, President Clinton was guilty as well, but I am writing about the woman’s role in all of this.

Any woman who takes a job in a government agency, especially at the highest levels or with access to gentlemen in high level positions, must understand her allegiance to the United States of America and Its people.  By knowingly and willingly going into an extra marital affair without regard for what it will do to damage the partner’s family, job, co-workers, department and the entire country, that woman is engaging in treachery.

The current story of betrayal involving David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell cuts even deeper because of the sensitive nature of top secret security issues that she may have access to.  While I will be the first to say it is none of our business what two people do in their private life and that it is not for me to judge, that all changes when it involves our national security and respect as a country.  Affairs happen, and regardless of the underlying reasons for them, the consequences and disruption for families can be traumatic.  But when those involved are being trusted by the citizens of the United States to restrain from behavior that is inappropriate as a basic sign of high ethical character, the personal becomes national.

Though some may disagree with me, I do believe that successful men are able to function in their day to day capacity at a high level of focus and dedication separate from their personal physical needs.  It’s not that they “can’t help themselves” and therefore should be forgiven out right, but setting aside the moral and ethical duty to his family, if that man is still carrying out his job to the highest level of expectation, then he is doing what we pay him to do.  It seems that the “other woman” in most cases becomes obsessed, needy and reckless in her expectations of the man.  This behavior seems to stem either from a lack of self worth or a desperate desire to gain something material through the relationship.

Consider the other part of the Petraeus and Broadwell story.  Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family, received harassing emails that were traced to Paula Broadwell’s email by the FBI.  Just the fact that Broadwell felt it was okay to send harassing emails to anyone shows a serious character flaw, but Kelley’s lack of restraint in how she handled this turned a smoldering brush fire into an out of control inferno of accusations, and now government investigations.  As was so perfectly stated by Emily Yoffe in her recent article titled A Cheater’s Checklist, we should “Avoid Going Nuclear.”

It is most disconcerting to me that the two individuals who have suffered the most pain through all of this were the least considered.  Holly Petraeus has been betrayed by her husband David on a very personal level, but also by a woman who was documenting his heroic and dedicated service.  That biography will now forever be tainted by the woman behind the scenes.  Scott Kelley has already gone through his share of difficult challenges and tragedies, but now friendships and networks once very important to his professional and personal life are cut off and scandalized beyond repair due to Jill Kelley’s self serving actions.

The story between Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley sounds like something we would watch on a reality television show about wealthy socialites competing for the most attention and popularity.  It is the kind of behavior that is destructive to those around them and to themselves.  Where is their social responsibility as women?  Where is their patriotic responsibility as Americans?

One thing I do know is that as we place more women in public office at high levels, we must continue to educate our children in how to have respect for themselves and each other so that when their turn comes to lead our country it will be with a greater self control and sense of duty.  The honor and trust in high office of the United States does come at a price.  That price is a higher expectation of moral and ethical standard.  When a simple thing like lust can bring our great leaders down, what message are we sending around the world let alone to our children?  Step it up women of America, if we want equality we need to hold in reverence the opportunity and responsibility we’ve been given, even if it is still in a lesser role.