Another “Note From the Universe”

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Here is another insightful and encouraging note from the “all-knowing” universe:

“S-o-o-o-o-o-o-o…

How’s it going down on earth?

You know–in time and space, where thoughts become things,

all things are possible, and dreams come true?!

Are you totally kicking butt?

Oh, I see…

Yikes…

Uh-huh…

Oh dear…

You don’t say…

Pssst… I want to let you in on a little secret:

Everyone has issues.

Everyone. Even those who don’t appear to.

Because without those issues, nothing would be worthwhile.

Think about that.

So glad we have these little talks…

The Universe”

It is so easy to forget that EVERYONE struggles and falls short of their ideal vision at some point in life. Often, I get down on myself because I am not living up to the expectations of others, or worse, the expectations and standards I set for myself. But in reality, if I were able to meet all of my expectation and accomplish all of my goals after the first attempt, then I would earn a place next to Spider-Man and Captain America, superhero codename: The Over Achiever.

Yet, as I think about it, even  the greatest superheroes struggle, possess weaknesses, lose fights, and even occasionally get captured. Inevitably, they need to regroup, rethink their approach, or perhaps team up with other superheroes to “save the day.” They are superheros not because they are perfect, but because they refuse to be defeated, always finding a way to use their unique abilities/powers to beat the enemy, despite the odds, challenges, or disadvantages. Superheroes simply do not accept defeat. So, I suggest we can all be Superheroes, be victorious, and always save the day by:

1. Finding a way to use our strengths and unique abilities to work through and overcome challenges (we all have a special skill, talent, attribute, etc. that we can use to our advantage to help navigate through any challenge)

2. Considering regrouping, rethinking the approach, or enlisting the help of other “superheroes”  when faced with a challenge (it usually results in a new plan, or even better–victory!)

3. Nevering accept defeat!

It is important to remember that our struggles and challenges are just temporary road blocks or pit-stops on the journey to success and eventually being able to live life on our own terms. The trials and tribulations of life help us empathize with others, and provide us with the experience to grow and understand (and appreciate) ourselves and the world in greater depth–on multiple levels, from various perspectives.

Only after experiencing the cold and darkness from a storm, do we genuinely appreciate the warmth the sun brings, realizing and understanding its value.

“Notes From the Universe”

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My aunt found this great book for $2 at a tag sale; she let me borrow it because she knew I would appreciate it, but she doesn’t yet know that I have no intention of giving it back–at least until I get a copy of my own.
The gem she found at this tag sale is: Notes From the Universe, by Mike Dooley. This clever text delivers encouraging, insightful, and enlightening notes from the universe. As the reader turns each page, he or she will encounter a different message from the universe that helps the individual reflect, reassess, and rejuvenate the inner spirit that says, “Anything is possible!”

Everyone can use a little help navigating through life’s various challenges; why not consider taking a little advice from the universe?

Here is one insightful message from the “big guy”:

“You want what you want because you know it’s possible. If it wasn’t you wouldn’t. This is powerful. Embrace it. For whatever else you believe or don’t believe, this belief alone can take you the distance. Please, want what you want. Dreams don’t come that can’t be won.”

Don’t ever stop believing in your vision–the universe has proven the impossible is indeed possible, time and time again. I didn’t think there was any way George W. Bush would get elected for a 2nd term…anything is possible–don’t ever doubt it or take it for granted.

If “Birds of a Feather Flock Together,” I’m Flying Far Away From Romney and His Camp.

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The saying, “Birds of a feather, flock together,” is not working in favor of Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. I recently had the pleasure of watching Richard Williamson, his campaign advisor, provide insight on…actually… nothing, during CSPAN’s presentation of the July 25, 2012 press conference on the U.S. presidential Election and Foreign policy. In fact, Williamson’s inability to directly answer a plethora of questions about the economy and important international relationships, has me flying even farther away from idea of Mitt Romney being the future President of the United States.

As I watched Williamson struggle to construct a coherent argument to support any one of his claims, I wondered, “Is the Republican’s game plan: When in doubt, just talk negatively about Obama?” While Michele Flournoy, Co-chairman of the National Security Advisory Committee provided insightful and enlightening facts and concrete examples in her responses, Williamson proceeded to talk in circles, seeming only to provide opinion based and speculative information that expressed how he does not believe President Obama is the “right man for the job.” Yet, without any reasoning, Mitt Romney will immediately possess the Midas touch upon presidential inauguration.

Furthermore, at no point was Williamson clear on any details of Governor Romney’s economic policies, which are going to miraculously stop the recession in its tracks and restore prosperity and American growth. When asked, repeatedly, “Where will you get the money from?” in relation to Governor Romney’s proposal to increase both the Army and the Navy, Williamson explained, “Defense is the first responsibility” of the country and the American people.

True, after 9-11, the security and safety of American citizens is a top priority; however, Flournoy thoroughly explained that the Army is currently slightly larger than at the time of 9-11. In addition, Flournoy articulated the reality that the defense budget under the Obama administration is actually larger than it was during the Bush administration. Yet, Williamson was adamant about the increase of funding for defense. Again, this time someone from the audience asked, “Where are you going to get the money from?” I was not the only person who realized Williamson never answered, the question; he simply conveyed his support for Romney and disdain for Obama and his administration. Nevertheless, during Williamson’s second attempt, he illuminated the overall agenda and goal of Romney and Republicans alike.

So where exactly would the money come from to increase the Army and Navy? To answer this question, Williamson again struggled before he circles around to discussing the philosophical differences between President Obama and Governor Romney. Williamson’s lose elaboration revealed, without getting into specifics, that Governor Romney would eliminate billion dollar stimulus bills, “that he would argue are a waste of money versus trying to support and unleash the private sector for growth.” Is Williamson referring the stimulus bills that allowed for the bailout of Wall Street and enabled many Americans to feel a moment of relief and survive financially for another day? Now it is clear; the middle and working class will be the ones funding the increase defense budget, as well as the growth of the private sector.

As Michele Flournoy pointed out, the Bush administration employed the same types of policies now advocated by Williamson and the Romney campaign, and these tactics have proven they do not work. Williamson rebukes, “I understand the desire to run against Bush a second time but this is Governor “Right,” he mistakenly called Romney, desperately searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.

When asked, again, “You think it’s possible, short of an agreement on the economy and the fiscal cliff that is described for the end of this year, you think it’s possible, short of an agreement to increase the navy and increase the army and put more money into defense; do you really think that’s possible?” Williamson’s response, I believe we can, should, and need to have an adequate defense,” completely sidestepping the issue, yet again.

It finally occurred to me that there is no plan for the economic growth of America; there is only an agenda for economic growth in the private sector. In all of Williamson’s rhetoric, two aspects of Romney’s future economic policy became transparent; one: America will increase the defense budget to enable financial dominance over other nations, and two: America will heavily invest money into the private sector to promote economic growth and resurrect the nation. However, there are three glaring omissions from Romney’s policy.

One: there has been no discussion about the lack of integrity, unethical practices, and disregard for social responsibility rampant throughout the private sector. Two: Romney’s vision would hardly result in tax cuts for middle or working class Americans, not to mention devastating effects of the projected reduction in money for stimulus packages (most likely unemployment, but even in education)  that create revenue and help many Americans survive. Three: It is unclear what is preventing the private sector from helping with economic growth and creating jobs for Americans. Since 2001, the private sector has continued to grow and profit at a much faster rate than the average American, even if it is not at the rate they desire. In fact, despite the reports of the economy’s dire state, many Americans (within the elite one percent) continue to collect hundred-thousand dollar bonuses, living lavish lives that stretch beyond what my fantasy fathoms.

Let’s face it; the Republican party is nothing short of socialism for the wealthy. But, instead of paying higher taxes to ensure the greater good of their society, the Mitt Romneys and Richard Williamsons of the nation fund their utopia with the blood, sweat, and financial sacrifices of the “middle class” and working poor of America. The Republicans at the top thrive at the expense of those at the bottom. As you descend down the totum pole, meer survival is nearly impossible. Why does the private sector feel entitled to billions, when the average American struggles to bank in the thousands? Why does the private sector feel entitled to exploit the American people, especially the youth, and abandon the working poor in order to build personal empires? Why does the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” have to be so  wide?

Republicans clearly intend to renew the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to maintain economic growth for the private sector, but in that investment lies no guarantee for a positive chain reaction for the average Americans. For the struggling mothers, high school English teachers, students in debt, and the unemployed, there is no guarantee that the Bush tax cuts will have a significant effect on improving the lives of citizens in impoverished areas.  Many cities in our nation: Detroit, Compton, East L.A., Miami, New Orleans, New York, (or any other low-income neighborhood infested with gangs, guns, and drugs) are home to honest, hard-working citizens, who are held hostage by the violence, neglect, and the failure to adequately educate and integrate all members of America. These members of society are excluded from Mitt Romney’s list for growth and prosperity.

Remember, this is the same private sector at the heart of mortgage crisis. Yet, only four years later, the American people are supposed to not only trust, but “support and unleash” a deregulated private sector as a means to restoration? With Mitt Romney as president and the implementation of economic policies like the one Williamson “outlined” in this press conference, I can only see growth for The Republican Socialist Nation of America, not all the citizens of the United States of America. I welcome an explanation from a member of the Republican party that would make me reconsider this conclusion Richard Williamson helped me reach.

As Williamson continued to talk, he confirmed that Mitt Romney’s dream for America would be a dismal nightmare for many Americans, like me, who live in the real world– outside the boundaries of the private sector. If birds of a feather flock together, I am flying far away from Mitt Romney and any policy represented by Richard Williamson.

Obama, on the other hand, seems to be flying in good company. Michele Flournoy soared above Williamson, presenting the Obama administration as knowledgable, transparent, and actively working towards rebuilding the nation as a whole and improving international relationships through means other than exerting our military dominance. But, you are entitled to fly with your own flock; view the press conference on the U.S. Presidential Election and Foreign Policy, featuring Michelle Flournoy and Rich Williamson, respective Obama and Romney campaign advisers. Let me know what you think.

Fortune Cookie Wisdom- Discovery #1

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AS if Chinese cuisine isn’t already satisfying enough, at the end of every meal, you are fortunate to receive insightful or positive probverbs that last long after the meal. Here is the insightful wisdom from a random fortune cookie:

“Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart, what is true.”

So simple, yet so true. “They” say human beings have incredible intuition, but we allow our conditioned brains to ignore or deny our instincts. There are parts of our existence and the universe that even the most knowledgeable brain in our world cannot explain. Therefore, find the time to embrace silence and connect to the energy of the universe– where unimaginable, unexplainable, unprecedented events are real, even if the mind cannot explain or understand any of it. The heart always knows what is true.

Mariah Carey is getting what?!?

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WELCOME to another episode of the Twilight Zone, where our society does not have money to adequately fund public schools; yet, some member in our society has enough money to pay Mariah Carey $18 million to be the newest judge on American Idol. Wait, here come the music….and Rob Sterling confirms, “You are now entering the Twilight Zone.”

Enraged, I realized even in 100 years, at my current salary, I would not earn close to $18 million. Is this why wealthy Americans deserve the tax breaks they currently receive from the government? The argument is that these tax breaks allow the wealthy to create jobs for the middle and working class in society, no? I hadn’t realized that people like Mariah Carey, and Britney Spears, who was paid $15 million when she signed on as a judge on the X-Factor, qualified as middle or working class.

It is irrelevant how much money they have grossed in the past “x” number of years, the demand for their brand, or the extent of their talent. I simply cannot understand, and will never accept, a society where money, “politics,” and man- made formulas take precedent over humanity, equity, and the universal truths/virtues of life.

No matter how you look at it, that’s $33 million for the employment of only twopeople. Imagine how many teachers you could employ or the number of schools we could better fund with $33 million.

Teachers “step on stage” everyday and assume a variety of roles: singer, actor, author, comedian, therapist, motivational speaker, IT technician (then we improve) in order to reach and teach students. Still, many Americans think teachers are already overpaid and privileged, despite the insurmountable challenges. Perplexed I ask, “If teachers are overpaid and privileged, then how do you explain the paychecks cashed by celebrities, professional athletes, and even reality television personalities?”

Hollywood stars definitely entertain the masses and generate revenue, but as a nation, we need to get our priorities straight. No product exists without a source or creator. In America, once we receive the product, we ignore, neglect, and forget about the creator– that is until the consumer has a complaint, needs more, or is looking for an upgraded model. Mariah Carey, and any other celebrity or professional, is a product of teachers encountered along life’s journey.

Now, I believe that as individuals we all sculpt and build who we become in the future, but we need to remember that we are all products of countless teachers; how can we neglect the ones who provide us with the tools to manifest dreams in to reality? Entertainment over education– this is what needs to be reformed. If this nation does not have the money to employ teachers, then Mariah should be standing with other Americans in the unemployment line.

Ira Glass on the Creative Process

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Feeling defeated? Need a little inspiration? Check out this clip from Ira Glass. http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=US#/watch?v=PbC4gqZGPSY

Penn State Sanctions: Does the punishment fit the crime?

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Let me begin by saying, there is no justification for the abominable actions of Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, and the other Penn State officials directly and indirectly involved in the sex scandal illuminated at the beginning of this year. Yet, certain aspects of the recent sanctions leave me confused, questioning the rationale behind the staggering penalties that effect past, current and future football players, indirect victims of Sandusky’s unspeakable vices.

To further complicate an already convoluted situation, NCAA President, Mark Emmert, borrowed the DeLorean from Back to the Future, traveled back in time, and in a matter of a few minutes, forfeited all of the team’s wins from 1998-2011. I kept thinking, “Are you serious? How did any committee come to the conclusion that this decision was a logical, rational, or just? My outrage and bewilderment peaked when I learned the NCAA strongly considered canceling the program for an entire season. Why are the players, students, and the community enduring these unprecedented penalties? Who is really suffering in all of this?

Not only is Joe Paterno now dead, but his insurmountable legacy as a coach and a humanitarian were shattered long before the sanctions committee could hold a meeting. Furthermore, Paterno endured a “fate [I consider] worse than death.” I suspect Paterno felt just as powerless as Sandusky’s victims as he watched his distinguished legacy disintegrate in front of his eyes (and the entire nation), just games before retirement and immortalization. Yet, most of the sanctions, with the exception of the $60 million fine, seem to have the biggest impact on the football players and the community of Penn State, who simply are not at fault in anyway. I couldn’t fathom my son’s past accomplishments negated and his future dreams destroyed because of my personal indiscretions, especially when he had no direct role or knowledge of my actions. It is a shame to think that the personal careers and childhood fantasies are being sacrificed to “send a message.”

As if nullifying team victories spanning over 13 seasons wasn’t already the illustration of the word absurd, the NCAA proceeded to ban the program from participation in post-season football bowl games for four years and reduce the number of football scholarships from 25 to 15 for four years. Again, I question the logic behind these decisions and ask, “Who really suffers from the recent NCAA sanctions against Penn State?”

Listening to coverage of the exploding story on ESPN , a tweet by former Penn State defensive back, Adam Taliaferro, illustrated the magnitude of the thoughtless and disconnect exhibited by the NCAA. Taliaferro tweeted, “[The] NCAA says games didn’t exist..I got the metal plate in my neck to prove it did..I almost died playing 4 PSU..punishment or healing?!? #WeAre” Another tweet from former PSU player, Evan Roster, a running back and the school’s all-time leading rusher, captures the preposterous nature of the sanctions with some humor in his tweet: “ah crap… so i lost every college football game i ever played in?”

Not even God has the power to change the past. Yet, Mark Emmert has been endowed the power to erase the accomplishments of so many hardworking athletes in less time spent at one intensive practice. How is it that the leaders of our nation so easily detach from the human elements of life? There are too many examples of iniquity within our pursuits for justice. Once again, “justice” in America is wrapped in an intricate, but subtle frock of incompetence and justice, (outfit complete with blinders.)

I cannot ignore the direct similarities between the actions of NCAA and the recent actions of certain politicians and education reformers. With both institutions, the arbitrary, theoretical decisions made in boardrooms, behind closed doors, often have a dramatic and negative impact on the futures of our nation’s children. What is even worse is the apparent ignorance of the inevitable ripple effects, reaching far beyond the PSU football program. With the significant loss of funding, scholarships and overall appeal, consider the potential economic catastrophe on the brink for the surrounding communities, dependent on the revenue generated by the university, especially the football team, for financial stability.

As a former collegiate athlete, I cannot imagine the devastation of the incoming freshman who dreamed of playing football at Penn State since he was five years old. I anticipate that many football players will return to the PSU football program, passionately committed to rebuilding and restoring a positive image of Penn State football. Still, at the end of regular season, for next four years, regardless of their record or diligent efforts, the graduating class of 2016 will never have the opportunity of experiencing the excitement and privilege of playing in a post season game, nor will they ever have a chance to win a championship. Even if the sanctions are geared towards penalizing the university, a substantial portion of the debt is being paid by the innocent, in turn creating more victims in this already heinous crime. From various angles, it is obvious that these punishments do not fit the crime, especially since the PSU football players are only guilt of loving the game of football. Remember: “Theory without practice leads to an empty idealism, and action without philosophical reflection leads to mindless activism.” (Elias & Merriam)

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