Everything Changes

Have I used this title before? I am pretty sure I have. I have written countless blogs over the past 8 or so years, and change is a pretty constant theme of mine.

I have a book by Neale Donald Walsh that sits on my desk downstairs with the sincere intention of reading. I bought it last year during a trip to Barnes and Noble and set it aside until I had more time. Because I am still working (which I have a feeling will change soon), I haven’t had the time, or the patience, I suppose.  There’s always work to do, which takes precedence over leisurly reading.

The title of the book is, “When Everything Changes, Change Everything,” and I can’t think of a better time to start reading it.

For those who don’t know, Neale Donald Walsch is the author of the “Conversations with God” books. The premise of the series of books is that Walsch sits down at his computer one day, frustrated with his life, and writes a letter to God, demanding to know why bad things were happening to him. Though it is Walsch typing the words, he states they are not his words, but God’s.

I have read most of the series, which I think there are four or five at last count. Walsch has written other books, too. One of his books, on relationships, helped me understand that we enter into them for the wrong reasons. It was only after his words helped me understand that I was looking for someone to save me, that I could see why I was doomed to singlehood. He wrote that I needed to learn to love myself first and then enter into a relationship in which my partner and I helped each other grow. I learned that I had been self-centered and selfish in the way I was thinking, and I needed to look at relationships in a totally different way including how I saw myself in the relationship.

Needless to say, this man’s writings had a profound effect on my motivation for becoming a better person, which is why I value his knowledge so much.  However, an open mind is a prerequisite. Walsch indicates that God is not vengelful, who expects his children to be perfect. Instead, God wants us to experience life to the fullest, to do something with it, to make mistakes so we can learn from them, and be the best human beings we can be.  Walsch also writes that there is no right or wrong, only choices, which also explains his idea that there is no Heaven or Hell, only that which we make for ourselves.

His books are eye-opening, to say the least, but what it did most of all, was to help me understand that there is much more to life than what we allow ourselves to see, and what we choose to believe.

The title of this particular book suggests that when things change, we need to change the way we look at it.  We can embrace change, strive to know more about how we can learn and grow through it. Or, we can fight and resist change, which only frustrates us and makes us feel bad.  Any way you look at it, the result will eventually bring you to the same conclusion: Everything changes, regardless of what we want or don’t want.

Change Isn’t Always Easy

McDonald’s Restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa

My favorite cartoons growing up were the Looney Tunes; Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and all the rest.

The older ones were great; I learned about life from the 3 minute shorts, but what really intrigued me were the cartoons about the future, particularly the one about the House of Tomorrow. It was supposed to be funny but it sent my imagination into overtime, and made me wonder if that’s really what the future held.

Looking back at it, I think the writers from the 1950’s had some insight into what to expect from the 21st Century, though most people just saw it as goofy entertainment.

Though I have been keeping up with the latest technology, I am sometimes take back by how much technology is changing all of our lives. We have an Echo Dot that plays our music whenever we want and of course, my computers, and cell phones, and tablets.

I see people walking down the street or sitting in coffee shops and restaurants, their eyes glued to their devices instead of talking to the person in front of them.  My own adult children have their phones out as I am trying to have a conversation with them. I don’t feel like it’s my lace to say, “Hey, put your phone away.” They aren’t 10 anymore and should know better, right?

But the changes aren’t just socially; they are starting to hurt our livelihood, as well.

I took my grandson, Thomas, home last weekend. He lives in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston. He was hungry, so we stopped at a McDonald’s close to his home. We walked in and I was expecting to see a long line of customers. It was just past 1 on a Sunday afternoon, after all. Instead, just a few people milled around the lobby, looking a little confused, including us. I started toward the counter to order.

“No, Grandma. We order over here,” he told me nonchalantly.  He pointed to a kiosk off to the side with a large sign hung above it that said, “Order Here.” I looked back at the counter (which had shrunk significantly in size from our last visit) and saw a sign above it that said “Pick Up Order Here.”

Wow, I thought. McDonald’s is losing it. Sure, it’s more convenient for the customer, but it’s missing the personal touch. It’s one of our basic needs as human beings. Why even bother going out to eat if you order your food from a kiosk?

It’s happening all over; the lines to the self check-outs at the big discount stores are starting to be longer than the regular check-outs. Jobs are being eliminated, one by one. Who will be next?

Those who are graduating high school may want to think about where the job market is heading and pick a career more suitable to the changes.

Sure we have the technology, but when are we going to realize that maybe crossing that line between convenience, and changing the way we live, is not always a good thing?




Week 13–A turning point

I have to admit that I am a little superstitious, though I know people who are worse. I don’t panic when a black cat walks in front of me, and I don’t walk under ladders, just because I don’t want anything to fall on me.

I am aware of the number 13, but I think it’s because so many others make such a  big deal out of it. All my life I have been warned to watch out for the number 13 or take extra care on Friday the 13th. I guess my turning point came when nothing bad ever happened on that day, nothing out of the ordinary, anyway. I concluded that bad things could happen anytime, not just on a particular day or because of a particular thing I did or didn’t do. But that’s another story…

Another turning point happened this past week. Week 13 of the preparation for the Hiawatha Advocate’s launch date finds me a bit confused and perplexed at how fast things are changing. I consciously knew they would, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on me.

I am returning to college for my last term and though I am still on Mount Mercy’s newspaper staff, I am no longer the editor. I was a bit sad and tried to put on a brave face. I tried to put it in a different perspective; yes, I am no longer the chief but I can still contribute to the success of the paper.

Yeah, that just didn’t cut it in my mind. The fact is, I liked being the editor in chief. And stepping aside to let someone have the  opportunity to grow as an editor really was the right thing to do. But I had a good experience and it was tough to let go.

I began letting go last year when Ryan was named the editor, but I didn’t realize that there was more to it than that; I had a transition to make, a transition from being editor in chief to web editor. It wasn’t just a change in name but a change in my role, and it was hard to do.

It really only took a few days to see that Ryan was going to be a great editor and I was going to be a great web editor. But this whole experience made me see that I am going to go through many, many changes in my quest to reach my goal, and I don’t think I can be prepared, no matter what I do. I hadn’t seen this reaction coming and maybe if I’d realized that it was a natural process, I wouldn’t have fought it so much.

Instead of fighting them, I should try to figure out a way to use it to my advantage. Change is inevitable, but I am understanding how change can also be a good thing, a sign that I have exited one chapter and entering a new one.

I’m not a superstitious person, nor am I am unlucky. Actually, I really don’t believe in luck in all. I believe life is what you make it. And a positive attutude goes a long way.

The Hiawatha Advocate

The challenges of living in a different world

My 80-year-old mother can’t understand texting, or Facebook, and wants to know what googling means.

She said that she sometimes gets overwhelmed trying to understand it all. “I’m living in a different world.”

She is. And so are millions of other people. Things are changing so fast it’s hard to keep up.

“Why do kids need to text when they’re standing right next to each other? Why don’t they just use their phone to call? What’s an ‘App’? Why do so many people want to “friend” me? Why do my grandkids tell me that they have to ‘google’ it when I ask them a simple question?”

My mother has seen a lot of life. She remembers the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because, she said, she was walking home from the Paramount Theater downtown and was crossing Green Square when someone started yelling.

“They were yelling ‘Extra! Extra!’ like you see in the movies,” she said. “That’s what they did back then. All we had were newspapers and the radio to find out what was happening in the world. Sometimes it took days and even weeks. Now we know everything in a matter of minutes.”

She said their first TV was not very good but they were in awe of it.

“We thought  it was the greatest thing in the world! But then I thought that about cable TV, too,” she said with a laugh. “Now I go to watch TV and there’s nothing on I want to watch!”

She admits that she is kind of leery of the computer. “I’m afraid I’m going to do something to make it crash,” she said. “I’m thinking about getting a laptop, though. But then I think, would I use it?”

My mother retired from Rockwell as an editor and said their computer took up an entire room. “We had to cut and paste our manuals, so we couldn’t make any mistakes,” she said, after I explained to her that we do all our layout for the newspaper on the computer now. “We’d get them done and see an error after they were printed. My boss didn’t like that,” she said with a chuckle.

“I had to input codes into the computer to get it to do anything,” she said. “One wrong code and it wouldn’t work.”

It’s almost too easy nowadays.

She said the only time she uses a computer now is to order things online and for e-mails.

“Does anyone use the postal service anymore?” she asked. And then added, “Probably why so many are closing their doors.”

It must be hard for her to watch so many things changing in the world. She uses a walker and has a difficult time getting  around. She just sits at home with her dog and watches the world from her chair. She has a lot of visitors, who fill her in on other changes in the world.

She confides to me that she has a hard time understanding her grandchildren and sometimes I have to translate, but then she laughs about it.

“I remember when…” is usually followed by a quick story of simpler times.

I often wonder what the world will be like when I’m 80. More than likely, I will be asking pretty much the same questions, “What’s this?” and  “When did everything change?”

Don’t blame Obama

President Obama Courtesy of NYDailyNews.com

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.