Age of Contempt

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, recently commented that Americans don’t have an anger problem with one another as much as having contempt for one another. We see it in politics, but do we really have contempt for one another in our daily life? 
That troubles me.

Then I saw it happen. I was on the bus heading to the Seattle ferry. My fellow passengers included a business man with a briefcase, a couple about my age with large suitcases, presumably on their way to the airport for a vacation getaway, and a teen boy. Halfway there, the boy, who’d chosen the back seat, lit a cigarette. 
The smell quickly wafted through the air. The bus driver asked over the intercom if that was cigarette smoke he smelled. He pulled over.
The driver walked down the aisle to the source of the smoke, and sternly, but calmly asked the boy if he’d been smoking. “No Sir.” the boy lied, but responded respectfully. The older man sitting nearby, grumbled loud enough for all to hear, "…

Be Satisfied

Mom and I were sorting a box of old photos—a project she wanted to finish before her health worsened. At the bottom was a painting of a young woman I didn’t know. “That’s Gee.” Mom said.
I met Gee once in my life. It was a hot summer day in 1965. We were packed for a day at the beach. Then the yellow rotary wall phone started ringing. I watched Mom answer it. Her hand went to her heart, and she exclaimed, “Gee? Where are you?”
Dad didn’t know who Gee was, but reluctantly made a 60 mile trip to collect her from the bus station. Gee and my grandmother were best friends in nursing college. And throughout those years, Gee had been like a second mom to my mom. At the bus station, Gee quickly spotted Mom, and with energy I didn’t think an old person could have, she ran to wrap her arms around her. This woman looked ancient—with leathery tanned skin and gray hair spun into a tight knot on the top of her head.

It had been twenty years since Gee committed her life to serving the lepers in Haw…

National Recovery Month: Hugs not Drugs

Jackie’s son is battling to win a war with illicit drugs. On the final day of August, she joined a community of supporters as they took the Walk for Recovery on International Overdose Awareness Day. Her daughter, Sherry and husband Randy have lived out the terror and anguish of this war too. It’s about saving the life of someone they love. 
Standing with them in the photo are their friends, Toby and Linda. They know their pain intimately, because their son is a recovered addict. He now supervises a recovery home for men. 

As they talk about the sons they love, you can see a mixture of hope and sorrow—of lost years, but thankfully not lost lives. They’ve balanced their love with forceful demands for treatment.
The road to recovery isn’t straight for drug addicts, because each addict must battle the allure of the drug-infested detours along the way. 
Life isn’t easy, and drugs have become the escape.
That’s why when recovering addicts share their stories, they usually know exactly how …

The High School Challenge

Years ago, I felt like I was the volunteer of last resort. I sat next to Maddie in an empty classroom. Because of her obstinate refusal to do any school work, she was failing nearly every class. She didn’t care.
I gave her my High School Challenge:

Multiply the minimum wage by 160 working hours per month. 
Subtract taxes, rent, utilities, food, transportation, and medical costs.
What is the remainder? 
She sniffed and gave me a “So what?” look. 
Here she was, sitting in a publicly funded school, with an all-expenses paid opportunity to jump past the poverty line that awaited if she dropped out. 

High school is the best deal around. Some students can take college courses—saving thousands of dollars. Industrially-minded students can learn marketable trades that can lead to apprenticeships after graduation. Google, Apple, Costco, and about 10 other corporate giants are filling mid-management positions with people only having high school diplomas. It's about their determined work ethic. 


Watch My Time

Time didn’t stop, but my watch battery did. I held the watch and thought how much I’d done in the six hours since it had stopped running. 

Dr. Leslie Weatherhead calculated our lifetime based on the hours in a single day. 
So far, this is my day: 
At 10:25 in the morning I was age 15. I liked skiing fast and was learning to drive a car more slowly.
It was almost lunch time, 11:34 when I celebrated 20 years—thankfully I was half-way through college by then. 

By the time I was 25, married and with an active toddler, it was 12:42 PM. 
Even though I’d been told to dread turning 30, it was still only 1:51 in the afternoon when I did. 

Somehow age 35 didn’t faze me, and we moved our family 250 miles to begin an exciting new chapter in our lives. It was now 3:00 PM. 
I didn’t get any black balloons when I turned 40, but it was now 4:08 on the clock. 

The next five years rushed by with my daughter graduating college and my son entering high school. It was already 5:15. 

Turning 50 wasn’t as …

CMD and Me

My sister and I are traveling to visit our aunt, the last remaining relative on our mom’s side. 
My aunt is like a big kid. She never got the memo telling her to act her age. For her, it's fun to have fun.
As a child, she was rambunctious, and her parents sent her to a Catholic boarding school for a year. But she continually angered the nuns—following their strict rules didn't work out so well. She just couldn’t sit still—and eventually she stopped trying.

To call her accident prone would be mild. From being kicked in the head by her horse, to flipping her car off an overpass on the San Francisco freeway, she’s had her share of broken bones and bruises. But that just gave her stories to tell. Which she loved re-telling. And laughing as often as she could.

Helping others enjoy life has been her passion. 
After a decade in college she earned a doctoral degree in Recreation. Mom always said she was an expert at fun and games. 
But kids flocked to her—her silly songs and the game…

Too Soon

While pushing my granddaughter in the stroller, we passed a large boulder with a small plaque carved into its side. 
Two names were engraved in gold letters—a young couple sharing the same date of death. The large boulder faced a small fishing pond—such a peaceful setting. 
I read the words beneath the couple’s names:
“Celebrating... their love, fish caught, childish laughter, and time shared.”
I sighed. Who were Scott and Trina?

I found out. They’d been teens when they fell in love. Both hardworking –Trina loved people and had found the perfect career in a convention center—her boyfriend of five years was now an electrician in the naval shipyard. 
As I read more about them, they loved what they did, and they loved one another.
A couple days after Trina’s 23rd birthday, they’d taken their first vacation together. After a full day of exploring the Oregon coast, Trina was behind the wheel and was turning left off Highway 101. 
A speeding car, passing a line of cars of which they were in front, …