Don’t blame Obama

President Obama Courtesy of

I think Americans are too hard on President Obama.

 I watched a news report this morning on the gas situation and people were blaming Obama for it.

Excuse me, but is he running the oil companies?  Just last week he stood in front of millions of Americans and vowed to come down hard on price gougers and traders who were using this opportunity to make billions of profits, which they already are. But is this the president’s fault?

 Most Americans want the freedom to do whatever they want without the government stepping in and restricting their activities.  Some people are asking, shouldn’t that go for oil companies, too? Aren’t they allowed to make as much money as they can, even at the expense of hard-working Americans? Where do we draw the line?

Obama has had a lot on his plate since he took office in 2009. He’s had to contend with the health care issue, the horrible economy, and the lack of jobs.  He has had to deal with war, and disasters, and the Republicans. How can one man be expected to do it all?  He’s not God.

We wanted change, and as most people know, substantial change doesn’t come quickly. It takes time to set into motion.  When you think about it, we need to change a lot. It doesn’t help that so many people are fighting him on those things that need changing.

I heard a few people on the report say that “No way, am I going to vote for him again.”  But if we don’t re-elect Obama, we might just put someone into office who decides that things need to be done their way, and all the changes that Obama has been trying to do for America will be forgotten.

While there really haven’t been significant changes apparent since he took office, one thing is certain. He has succeeded in breaking the race barrier. Having a black president was probably the one major change that Obama has succeeded at, which just might open the door to a female president one day.

We blame our presidents for everything when they are in office. If we have major catastrophes while they are in office, it’s their fault.  If we enjoy prosperity during a president’s term, they were the best ever.

No one seems to notice that we Americans are more to blame for the disarray of the country than the president. We are constantly fighting each other because we think that we know better because we want it this way or that way.

If we would just work together to find a solution rather than behave like spoiled children, I think we’d be surprised at the results.

It’s true; Obama needs to crack down on the oil companies who are making billions in profits. America’s spending needs to be cut and more jobs need to be created. But the negativity that surrounds are politics just creates more negativity, making it impossible to come to a workable solution. We need to support our president instead of questioning and fighting his decisions. We need to keep the faith and trust that he is still the best man for the job.

Chocolate by any other name, is not the same

Easter candy, a conglomeration of sweetness

My family has many traditions for Easter but one of the most loved is the old-fashioned Easter Egg Hunt. It started long ago when my mother would fill the eggs with candy and money. I have kept the tradition with my own children and now, my grandchildren.  Three out of the four years we have done this have had to be held inside, the weather just not willing to cooperate.

This year I sat on the floor of my room and filled 100 eggs.  Not nearly as impressive as the 1,000 eggs that Mount Mercy students filled for their egg hunt, but still, for four children, that’s a lot.

As I sat laboriously filling those eggs with chocolates, I sampled one, then two, then before I knew it, the chocolate craze came over me and I found myself sampling one of every kind of chocolate I had. Little Hershey bunnies, Hershey Bliss eggs, Nestle Crunch eggs, Reese’s eggs and cups, Rolos, Russell Stover eggs, Kit Kats, and a variety of mini candy bars lay strewn around my floor.  I felt obligated to try them all, just to make sure they were all up to standard.

Every piece of chocolate I ate was like Heaven, the smooth and sweet chocolate melting in my mouth. That is, until I got to the Crunch eggs. They were a disappointment and tasted a little old. That’s when I decided that not all chocolate is the same.

While it really depends on personal preferences, there are chocolates that just can’t compare to the others. So here are my top five picks for the best chocolates at Easter.

5. Mini candy bars-great if you just wanted a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

4. Reese’s-Good if you like peanut butter, which I do, but only in small doses.

Peeps-a great alternative to chocolate

3. Hershey’s chocolate-great no matter what


2. Hershey’s Bliss-I always wondered why they chose to create a “better” chocolate, and I’m not sure what the difference is.  Whatever the reason, I would rather have a Bliss than regular Hershey’s any day.  Too bad it’s so expensive.

1.  Russell Stovers-There is no question that this is the best chocolate ever.  Unfortunately, it too, is expensive and is saved for special occasions. Beside, if it was affordable, I would probably want to have it all the time.

I can’t say that I have a favorite Easter candy, because I like a huge variety.  However, for those who aren’t into chocolate, nothing quite beats a Peep.

The (Mount Mercy) Times marches on

With only two issues left for the Mount Mercy Times this school year, it’s kind of fun to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Issue 18 of the Times

But being editor in chief of a college paper wasn’t what I thought it would be; it was much, much more. What I learned goes beyond the mere production of the paper. I found out what my limitations are, what I’m willing to put up with, and just how far I can be stretched.

All those stressful deadlines, the crazy Mondays, and the tearful frustrations; they were not in vain.  They taught me that I am human. No matter how hard I work to produce a perfect paper, it’s not going to happen. I have learned that you can do all the steps correctly but something is going to slip by you.  All I can do is train myself to do it right the first time, then I won’t have to worry about those silly mistakes sneaking through.

After each issue I have asked myself, how can I do better next time? What do I need to do different? What did I learn from this?

The first few issues that we produced were a bit rough.  I wasn’t too hard on myself because I knew that I was just starting out and I was learning.  But as we produced more issues, I was harder on myself because I knew they were silly mistakes and that we could do better.

But I suddenly found myself in a place that I didn’t want to be. I began expecting too much from myself and from my staff. I forgot that we are still college students, and we all had a lot of other things going on.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to put out a perfect paper, but “perfect” in the newspaper world is a myth. It’s never going to happen. What I can do is strive for excellence, something that is attainable, unlike perfection.

My year with the Times has been quite an adventure, another chapter in my life. I have written before about starting my own newspaper next year and the plans are coming along, slowly but surely. What I have learned as editor in chief is invaluable to me, something I couldn’t have possibly learned in a classroom. This is about as real as it gets.

My next adventure comes in the form of web editor for the Mount Mercy Times next year, another stepping-stone toward my goal. It will be good for me, and the Times, as well. I see the web dominating the media world, and something we need to keep up with.

I have bittersweet thoughts of moving on. I enjoyed my time as editor in chief. My education wasn’t just about the production cycle of a newspaper, but myself, as well. I’m even going to miss being able to call the shots, though, in reality, it wasn’t just me.

But this is just a lull in the excitement. I probably should enjoy it before the craziness starts next year with my own paper, The Hiawatha Advocate. I have a feeling that, though this is what I’ve wanted my whole life, it’s going to take up much more time than the Times ever did.

Am I ready? Looking at the latest issue of the Times, I’m more ready now that I ever was, but I think I have a term or so left to brush up on my AP styles. There is still so much that I need to learn, to remember, to integrate into my psyche, what it means to put out a really good paper. 

Ryan will make a good editor in chief next year.  Joe will mold him into a leader, just as he did me, just as he did Brian, and  all the other editors before us. He will learn all the ins and outs of the newspaper production cycle and he will have to contend with missed deadlines, mistakes, and mishaps. He’s going to learn more than he ever thought he would.

Being the editor of the Times has also enabled me to meet people I probably never would had I not had to write about them. I think I have said it before, but I will say it again; I love this job.

Being all I can be

Every day is a new adventure for me. I wake up with an inquisitive spirit, never really knowing what the day will hold, but ready for anything.

Everyday something exciting happens in my life, some days more than others, but I usually go to sleep at the end of the day knowing that I was able to learn something or participate in a memorable event.

Tuesday was a memorable day because I was able to share a bit of myself with a mismatch group of people at Mount Mercy. I was covering the JOLT event in the morning, hurrying to get there from a morning doctor appointment, only to find out that the speaker, Sarah Jencks, was ill and wouldn’t be speaking.

I sat down with Tricia Borelli, director of counseling services, and Jenifer Hanson, director of student services, to ask them a few questions about JOLT and overheard them talking about what they were going to do.

Send everyone home or ask the audience to tell their own inspirational stories? They decided on the latter, and asked for volunteers. Tricia nudged me and told me I should talk.  But as it were, Jenifer broke the ice and told us her story about attending a symposium last weekend.

“When I first got there I was thinking how I hated to work another Saturday, but when I left, I felt very inspired by it all,” she said.

After she was finished, I told the group how I have been inspired, ironically, by my own life. I found myself talking about things that I don’t normally tell people I don’t know, but my story seemed to inspire myself as I told it.

As I spoke, I realized that I was sharing a part of myself; who I was, who I am now, and how I got here. I found that it wasn’t the dreadful secret I thought it once was.

In the midst of my story, a feeling of accomplishment came to me, and I realized that I have overcome insurmountable odds to get to where I am today. I have been so busy trying to get to that place that I almost missed the fact that I am here.

It’s funny how many of us strive to get to a better place and when we finally get there, we don’t recognize it.  Maybe it’s because we don’t appreciate it or we always want something more.

My life is my inspiration. I made the decision to create a better life for myself and I have done that. I have had a front-row seat to obstacles that may have caused many people to give up. I have a drive inside of me that won’t let me give up.

I have consciously inspired myself to create a new experience every day. As I have said before, it’s all about attitude. I could sit around and wait for life to happen to me, or I can go out and create it.

What once was, isn’t always. And getting there is half the fun.

How does a government shut down?

The current news has me perplexed.  Seriously, how does a government shut down, especially one as supposedly sophisticated as ours?

Our local news had the countdown, in hours, displayed on the TV screen just when this shut down will take place if our politicians don’t reach an agreement about the budget.

That being said, what can we do about it now, besides worry about the consequences if a shut-down does take place?

The American people don’t need this added stress, especially now with all the other problems we are facing. It makes me wonder what’s more important to Capitol Hill; the welfare of its people or agreeing on how much to spend next year.

Let’s face it; other countries are probably looking at us and shaking their heads in disbelief.  How could a country such as the United States let itself fall to greed and childish behavior?

I have a solution; let’s fire all the politicians and start over with a better plan on how the United States should be run.  Obviously, the one we have isn’t working all that well.

Spring, finally

For me, spring holds many fascinations.

It isn’t just the  warmer weather that intoxicates me; it’s the rebirth of life itself that makes me appreciate the wonders of nature.

Life at its best

I have always been an outdoors kind of person. I’d spend my days hiking the woods and exploring the unknown terrain by our house. The only reason I would even come in would be to eat or use the bathroom, and even then it was difficult to tear myself away.

But as I grew older, communing with nature kind of lost a bit of meaning for me. Maintaining a home, working, and all those other distractions of life kept me from doing what I wanted to do. I think too, as I matured, that my feelings changed about bugs, worms, and snakes, and I found myself grossed out by them. Camping, something I once enjoyed, really wasn’t as fun as it used to be. The adventure turned into pain, the hard ground taking its toll on my aging body. The creepy, crawly bugs and annoying mosquitoes made me more frustrated than anything, so I often opt out of that type of recreation.

But working in the yard the past few years, playing with my grandkids, and taking long walks in the park, have made me regain some of the pleasures I used to find in spending time outdoors. The calming effect it has on me made me realize that I still find it enjoyable, and remember how much I loved it as a kid. I’m finding that those simple pleasures of seeing a flower make its way through the tough shell of its bud, and the happy songs of the birds, are just reminders that life is a cycle and we are all part of that.

I enjoy, too, seeing the fruits of my labor, knowing that I am helping to beautify the world a little at a time.

In the words of one of my favorite scriptures, this is the way it is supposed to be, the way God intended. The birth, the life, and the death, and the rebirth of everything.

“To  everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun; a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted,; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to lose and a time to seek; a time to rend and a time to sow; a time to keep silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8