Diamonds Aren’t A Girl’s Best Friend

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Ice is one of the top news stories right now, and I am not referring to what’s on the roadways as a result of the current blizzard.  I’m talking about the ice a guy buys for his beloved.  In particular,tongues are wagging about the colossal diamond in the engagement ring Mariah Carey received from her billionaire boyfriend, now fiancé, Australian businessman, James Packer.

The rock in question is not really a rock; it’s a boulder weighing in at 35 carats and costing about $7.5 million.  In the abstract it is hard to visualize the size of a diamond that big.  Let’s put it into perspective.  The average diamond in an engagement ring is only 1 carat.  Kim Kardashian’s diamond engagement ring was 15 carats.  Probably the most famous diamond in the world, the Hope Diamond, which has a rare blue color and is on display at the Smithsonian, is 45.52 carats.  The bottom line is that Ms. Carey, soon to be Mrs. Packer, has a massive gem on her ring finger.

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Once we’ve picked our jaws up off the floor about the number of Ms. Carey’s carats, let’s think seriously about this gift from the (current) love of her life.  A diamond engagement ring is meant to be a token of love, a tangible representation of the man’s love and the couple’s commitment to be married.  Maybe it is just me, but a 35 carat, $7.5 million engagement ring smacks of Mr. Packer’s closing a huge business deal, not presenting his girlfriend with a sweet sentiment of his deep feelings for her.  Is Mariah being married or bought?  Is Packer planning a wedding or a merger?

When it comes to a diamond in an engagement ring, size is not the ultimate consideration.  It is the thought behind the gem that is.  I’d rather my man be counting the ways he loves me than the number of dollars that he spent buying me a bauble. An engagement is supposed to signify romantic love and not conspicuous consumption.  Putting an engagement ring on the finger once believed to contain a vein leading to the heart is sweet.  Putting a ridiculously gigantic engagement ring on that finger because you can  is showing off.

Now I am not just pointing my ring finger with an average size diamond engagement ring on it at Mr. Packer or men in general.  Let’s face it.  Mr. Packer and Kanye West wouldn’t be plunking down big, big, big bucks for bling for their woman if said women weren’t sending the message that BIG bling was wanted/expected.  Why Mrs. West (better known as Kim K.) even took to her website to discuss how she’d really like to receive a ($1 million) diamond choker as a push present for presenting her hubby with baby #2.  Push is the right word here and not as relates to the baby.  Let’s push the man in your life to buy you ice, ice, baby.

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While diamonds are supposed to be a girl’s best friend, they really are no friend at all.  A friend is one with whom you share a bond of mutual affection.  If a diamond is your best friend, you are enamored of things and things for yourself.  If the size of the diamond you receive is evidence of how much you think your fiancé loves you, then you are comparing apples and oranges.  Diamonds are merely things.  Love is an emotion shared with another human being which is not predicated on or measured by the presentation of bling. A diamond is the hardest known natural material.  If your heart is set on diamonds, then it is a hard, cold heart indeed.

The word diamond comes from a Greek word meaning “unbreakable.”  If men spent as much time and money on preparing for an enduring marital relationship as they did on picking out the perfect ring, maybe marriages would be less breakable.  If women demanded more character and values out of their future husbands than they did big bucks on bling, then they might find a gem in their mates and not just on their fingers.

Let’s make sure when it comes to marriage that the diamonds are the only things being bought.  Marry your best friend; don’t marry the man who gave you a best friend for your finger.

 

 

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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What the world needs now is not only “love, sweet love,” but also “just a little bit” of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”  Right, Aretha?  Many of our societal problems today stem from a great lack of respect for others and, in particular, respect for authority figures.  Often not even “a little bit” of respect is shown for parents, teachers, police, and government leaders.

Exactly what is “respect?’  The word means to esteem or hold in high regard.  You mean that guy that I didn’t vote for in that other political party who won the election?  Yeah, him.  You may not agree with a governmental leader’s view on various issues, but you have to give due respect to the leadership position which he holds.  It comes down to separating the person from the position.

How basic is the concept of respect for authority figures?  Well, honoring your father and your mother comes in as #5 of the Ten Commandments.  Honor means HIGH respect. Regardless of your religious persuasion, a reasonable man must admit that the family is the backbone of society.  It is also a microcosm of society.  Children who disrespect their parents won’t think twice about mouthing off to a teacher or a police officer.  Being raised to honor one’s parents trains a person to honor other authority figures such as government leaders, employers and law enforcement officers.

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Some will respond that the Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament and are not really relevant today.  Well, the directive to honor one’s parents is also found in the New Testament.  It is the only command of Jesus’ that promises long life as a reward.  There is nothing magical about obeying that instruction.  Families with members exhibiting a healthy respect for all authority figures will be strong families which are the building blocks for a vital and lasting society and nation.

And honoring one’s parent is not a requirement for children just in the sense of minors.  No matter how old you get, you will always be your parents’ child.  Having to honor your parents does not cease when you are able to vote.  Even if children are no longer under their parents’ authority, i.e., adult members of society, they can never outgrow the Biblical command to honor their parents.

How exactly does a “child” (in the sense of offspring and not minority) honor his parents?  He needs to be respectful in word and action.  Respect does not mean that the child needs to agree with all the opinions of his parents.  It does mean that the child should agree to disagree in an agreeable manner.  Issues will come and go, but family connections are permanent.

My dad and I did not see eye to eye on politics when I was growing up.  Thus, we tried to avoid political discussions or at least terminate them before they became heated.  He was a staunch conservative and I, being young and knowing everything (or so I thought), was a bit more moderate.  I was a strong supporter of Gov. Jimmy Carter when he ran for president.  Dad was not.  When Gov. Carter won the presidential election, I baked Dad a peanut cake and lovingly gave it to him without saying “I told you so” as to who would win the election.  We both enjoyed a good laugh and some tasty cake.  Although I didn’t see eye to eye with Dad, I did not speak disrespectfully to him or belittle him for his views.  After all, he was very well educated (had a doctorate in education) and had a great deal more life experience than I.  He also took time out of his busy life to have me and raise me correctly.

Respect, however, is a two way street.  Any individual, no matter what his age or relationship to you, should be treated with respect.  Being in a position of authority does not give anyone a license to be disrespectful or abusive to those over whom he has said authority.  And, if you treat people with respect, they are much more likely to return the favor.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”  Let’s all sing it together.  Then let’s put those lyrics into action.  What a wonderful world it might be if we had “just a little bit” more respect for others in it.

 

 

 

 

 

Legacy Of Letters

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Can you remember the last time you received a letter in the mail?  No, not one that tells you that you may have won a contest or that you  are eligible for a great insurance rate.  I am talking about an honest to goodness personal letter with news and expressions of affection or friendship.  That long, huh?

Letters today have apparently gone the way of the dodo bird.  Perhaps they are used in business, but rarely are they seen in personal communications.  It is much quicker to shoot an e-mail to someone or to send a text than it is to draft a letter containing complete sentences and words which are spelled out completely.  On the bright side, you are less likely to receive a Dear John letter today; however, you are also probably not going to get a tangible communication from a friend or loved one that may be stored and treasured.  E-mails are here today and gone (deleted) tomorrow.  Handwritten notes are more likely to be saved and reread because they are more personal than a typed or electronic  message.

I  was fortunate to have received quite a few letters in my younger years.  As a college student, I was assigned a mailbox in the lobby of my dorm.  About the only thing I ever received in it was letters from my Dad.  He wrote me weekly during my entire four years in college and continued to do so even after my graduation.  The letters lessened in frequency in his last years when he was busy caring for Mom as well as tending to his own health issues.  When he was on his deathbed, I told him that the thing I would miss most about him going to heaven was that he couldn’t send me letters from there.

Written letters preserve communications between the parties.  Moreover, they serve as a primary source of information as to what occurred during a specific time period.  They are a gift that keeps on giving.  In the present letters provide updates and heartfelt statements.  In the future, they give the reader a glimpse into and a feel for the past.

I got a glimpse into my family’s past by reading a handwritten letter found in my father’s effects after his passing. My immediate attention was drawn to the age of the letter (yellowed paper) and the postmarked date–July 4, 1943.  The letter was written to Dad  by my grandmother (after whom I am named) when he was away at U.S. Army training during World War II.  Although it was penned in July 1943, I am able in January 2016 to read this epistle and go back in time to view the world as it was then and to learn about its author.

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What a history lesson I got.  Wages were much different way back then.  My grandmother reported that her youngst son, my Uncle Jimmy, made 15 whole cents raking someone’s yard that morning.  He was working hard at yard jobs to save up money to buy “some of those rubber things to go on his bicycle handles.” The world was at war, so gas was being rationed.  My Uncle Bob had a visiting friend with “all the gas tickets they can use.”  This resource apparently made them quite popular as they were “going to a picture show with two girls” that night.  Attending movies at the Vogue was typical entertainment.  However, my grandmother had recently gone to see a “depressing” John Steinbeck movie, “The Moon Is Down,” rather than a movie about wizards, spies or vampires.  Eating out was a special occasion in those days and not a regular activity.  My grandmother reported that the family dined out for the first time “in about a year.”  Rather than burgers or pizza, my grandmother feasted on chicken pie, turnip greens, cottage cheese and tomato salad, corn muffins and raisin pie.  Mmm, mmm, good!

Reading the letter gave me the chance to develop a better image of its writer, my grandmother, in addition to learning about the world in which she lived.  She died when I was in elementary school, so my view of her was through the eyes of a child.  As an adult, I gleaned quite a bit about her from reading her own words.

First, she had a good sense of humor.  She told my dad that she had done the “unusual, the unbelievable” that morning, i.e., she stayed in bed until nearly 9 a.m.  Second, she was extremely detailed.  She explained in depth how my Uncle Jimmy had convinced my grandfather to take them out to dinner by stressing to his father that his poor mother “has to cook every day.”  She included quotes, her exact dinner order, etc.  Third, she was an honest person–one not afraid to admit she was only human.  My grandmother acknowledged that “I do get impatient and discouraged.”  However she was also a woman of faith.  She explained that she asked the Lord every day to give her patience and courage.  She recognized that “We are so short of vision we don’t know what is really best for us.”  The solution was to ask God to take care of us “believing that he knows best.”   Finally, my grandmother was a good mother.  She clearly wrote to Dad on a regular basis.  She sent Dad clippings from the local paper and regaled him with the goings on involving neighbors and friends.  She put his focus on his family and his home thereby helping him to stay connected.  This undoubtedly took his focus off of his Army training (at least for the brief time it took to read the letter) and the unknown and scary future lying ahead after Army training. [He was ultimately a part of the post-war occupation forces in Japan.]

I probably learned more about my grandmother from reading this letter than I did during all the time I spent with her as a child.  And what I read made me even more proud to be her namesake.  Reading the letter also made me realize without a doubt the positive influence she had on Dad and why he felt it important to communicate by letter with me after I left for college.

With my grandmother’s letter in hand, I have something tangible of both Dad and my grandmother.  I am able to touch an item they each held and to read my grandmother’s thoughts as captured on paper.  Writing letters was a wonderful act of love that my grandmother performed for Dad and that Dad in turn did for me.  What a lasting legacy I have of each of them from letters they penned.

Why not make your own legacy for a loved one?  Commit your thoughts and feelings to paper in a letter. It may take longer to write a letter than to communicate electronically, but a letter will last longer not only in your hand, but also in your heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Two-Faced Thinking In 2016

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Happy New Year!!  Today, January 1st, all things are new again.  It’s a new month and a new year.  Time to start off with a clean slate.  The masses will be erasing 2015 from their memories and aiming high with a list of resolutions for 2016.  Sounds good in the abstract, but something’s wrong with this picture.  If resolutions and a new start were the answer to all of our problems, why then do we still have the same ones year after year?

January may indeed provide a new beginning, but the beginning does not occur in a vacuum.   In fact, it was a whole lot of months.  The older you are, the more months come before the specific January.  Maybe we should pause to review our slates of months past before simply forgetting them and forging ahead with a list of resolutions in hand.

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The name of the month should be our first clue that we cannot focus solely on the future.  January conventionally is thought to have derived its name from the Roman god Janus.  In Roman myth Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions.  He is depicted as having two faces–one looking to the future and one looking to the past.  Let’s face it (no pun intended)–we are all products of our past and our experiences.  How can we move forward in the future without taking into account our mistakes and lessons learned from the past?  To phrase it differently, maybe we need to be two-faced at this time of year, i.e., look to the past to effectively plan for our future.

Being two-faced has a negative connotation.  It typically evokes the image of a liar–someone who says one thing while thinking/doing  another.  Why Josh Duggar is a perfect example of this concept.  He espoused wholesome family values while cheating on his wife and viewing pornography.  But my suggestion does not require one to lead a double life.  It merely calls for reflection on the past (looking back) before plunging into the future (looking ahead).  Making resolutions may be a positive action, but without learning from the past how do we expect to successfully accomplish these resolutions in the future?

One way to effectively make resolutions is to start off by compiling a reverse bucket list.  We’ve all heard of a bucket list, but what’s a REVERSE bucket list?  Such a list is merely one of our accomplishments.  By considering what we have done and how it came to be achieved, it may give us insight as to the best way to proceed in the future.

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In looking back over 2015, I immediately identified three things I could write down on my reverse bucket list–I started this blog, we took an Alaskan cruise for our 20th anniversary, and I finished some long-standing sewing and writing projects.  What guidance does this reverse bucket list provide about my future?

First, I have to be purposeful about my resolutions.  Having a dream or goal is great, but until action is taken on it, it is still merely a dream or a goal.  Thinking I should start a blog was a great idea, but until I made specific plans to sit down and figure out how to do it, that project was still just pie in the sky to be accomplished by and by–probably around the 12th of Never.  So, I need to figure out my goal/resolution, but I also need to consider exactly how and when I intend to accomplish it.  Setting deadlines and  making appointments for me to work on my resolution are crucial.

Second, I have to be realistic about my resolutions.  Remodeling my bathroom and setting up a home office are great projects.  They were, in fact, resolutions for a few years.  Nevertheless, I was not able to accomplish them while I was spending my money on putting my kids through college and one  of them was still occupying (at least occasionally on breaks and vacations) the room which is to become my  office?  More realistic resolutions might be to make specific plans for what I will do without being a slave to the calendar year to actually completely accomplish a project given  present circumstances.  I was realistically able to accomplish my resolutions to remodel and rearrange this year because I am now a  empty nester.  These resolutions were not accomplished in past years because they were not realistic at those times.

Finally, I have to prioritize my resolutions.  My resolutions are just that — MY resolutions.  Unfortunately, no man/woman is an island, and sometimes the needs of others must take precedence.  It’s certainly laudable to finish that stitchery project I have had going for years or finally complete writing that professional article that’s been percolating in my brain for longer than I’d like to admit.  But  I can sew and write for the rest of my life; I only got one go around to raise my children.  I won’t get a plaque to frame like my stitchery for the gazillions of miles I chauffeured my kids to band practice, church youth group, karate, etiquette classes, etc.  Nevertheless, I do have two responsible adult children who are assets to our society as a stay at home mother raising the next generation and as an R.N. giving loving and professional care to terminally ill cancer patients.  It was more of a priority in the past to focus on parenting responsibilities than to complete my resolutions to write, to sew and to take a romantic Alaskan cruise with my husband.

Just a warning to you.  I plan to be two-faced this year.  I have not yet completed a list of resolutions for 2016 because I am taking time to look back at 2015 before I determine how I should move forward realistically, with purpose and with proper priority.  Won’t you do the same?