Posted by: ritagone | March 20, 2019

Paranoia! Conspiracy! Deception! Lies!

Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you about an HBO Documentary I just watched –The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley – which I think every

one reading this should find a way to see if HBO is not readily available to you.

It’s the now famous story of Elizabeth Holmes, wunderkind who started the company Theranos promising to revolutionize blood testing by using a simple finger prick instead of (what often seems like) vials and vials and vials of blood from your veins.  With people on her Board of Directors like former Secretary of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, with her blonde good looks and personable ways (although the fact that she hardly ever seems to blink is, I found, a bit off-putting), she built an office building/laboratory in Silicon Valley after dropping out of Stanford, razzled and dazzled everyone for years, even when the promise became impossible to fulfill.

What amazed me as I watched whistleblowers and journalists as the heroes of this story, was that how often we are bamboozled by the things I mentioned in the above paragraph: promises, well-known names attached to the project, an attractive founder who can be very articulate about its prospects, and other factors that just turn our heads and make us believe, as one writer said, “in unicorns.”

        The story behind this documentary is all too familiar, and illustrates to me a very definite point: we can be pretty gullible, pretty susceptible to the lies and deceptions of other people too often.  Why is that?  Sometimes it’s because we want to think well and positively of the people we know.  Other times it’s because they are so adept at pulling the wool over our eyes.  Elizabeth Holmes appeared so sweet, so earnest, so enthusiastic about her mission in life, to bring this one aspect of health care to as many of the general population as she could, with her mantra being, “No one should have to say good-bye too soon,” that it was hard to resist her appeal.

And yet.  And yet.  Beneath the sales pitch, beneath the enthusiasm, machines were being switched, patients were being fooled, and staff being asked to lie and cheat if they wanted to keep their jobs. It got more and more out of hand.

Thankfully, the company is no more.  What was at one time a nine billion dollar business is now worth zero.  But it makes me wonder what other companies and people are out there trying their best to swindle, to lie and cheat and deceive us.

No wonder we need a free press to get to the bottom of things, to expose these kinds of deceptions.  No wonder we praise the whistleblowers (sometimes, whereas sometimes we don’t) who are brave enough to take a risk to come forward and speak the truth.

You don’t need to go hunting for a good fictionalized movie to see this weekend.  Just find this documentary, sit back, watch, and be amazed once again at what people are capable of.

 

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Posted by: ritagone | March 13, 2019

A Simple Thought

So simple.

And yet so eloquent.

A great, powerful, wonderful society is all of those things when old men plant trees knowing they will not live to sit under the shade of those trees.

In other words, when those old men sacrifice for the next generations willingly and generously.

I don’t think I need to say much more than this.

Think about it.  Ponder it. Process it.

It’s so simple, yet so profound.

Posted by: ritagone | March 6, 2019

Even This Day???

 

One of my devotional books this year is “The One Year Book of Hope” by Nancy Guthrie, a woman who sustained great loss in her life yet chooses to love and honor God and Jesus anyway.  Anyway.  That’s the key: being able to go on and go on well.  Here’s her writing for one day that moved me greatly, and I wanted to share it with you.

 

EVEN THIS DAY?

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!” – Psalm 139:16-17

 

On the days when life seems good, it is easy to say to God, “Every day of my life was recorded in your book.” But on the day tragedy strikes, on the day our lives are changed forever by loss, we wonder.  Was this day of my life written in your book, by your hand? Is this the story you have intended to write for my life, or has there been a terrible mistake?

On April 20, 2001, missionary Veronica Bowers was in a Cessna over Peru, holding her seven-month-old daughter, Charity, in her lap. With them were Veronica’s husband, Jim, and six-year-old son, Cory, when Peruvian authorities mistook them for drug couriers and opened fire on their aircraft. One bullet passed by Jim’s head and made a hole in the windshield. Another bullet passed through Veronica’s back and stopped inside her baby, killing them both.

We can’t help but wonder, Was April 20, 2001, written in God’s book?

A week later Jim Bowers said at his wife and daughter’s funeral, “I want to thank my God. He’s a sovereign God. I’m finding that out more now. Could this really be God’s plan for Roni and Charity, God’s plan for Cory and me and our family? Roni and Charity were instantly killed by the same bullet. Would you say that’s a stray bullet? That was a sovereign bullet.”

A sovereign bullet? Think about it. Jim Bowers went on to say that the people who shot the bullet were used by God to accomplish his purpose, comparing them to the Roman soldiers whom God used to put his Son on the cross (Acts 2:23). At first it can seem absurd to label what happened as anything other than a senseless tragedy. But Jim Bowers sees beyond the real culpability of those who fired weapons at their tiny plane and sees instead the sovereignty of God. His words reflect a ruthless trust in God.

Are you willing for your belief in God’s sovereignty to permeate your thinking and captivate your heart, enabling you to write across the arrows that pierce your heart and the hurts that invade your life: sovereign?

 

Writer of all my days, it seems a dangerous prayer to invite your sovereignty to rule what is written every day of my life, but knowing how precious your thoughts are about me helps me to trust you and entrust my life to you fully.

 

 

Posted by: ritagone | February 27, 2019

How Easy It Is To Be Hypocritical!

 

 

 

I watched the Academy Awards last Sunday night, like many others, rooting for my favorites and wondering which movies would win and which actors.  It’s fun to guess.  This year I had $5 in a pool of voters, so I had a lot at stake!!!!  (I lost, by the way, badly, but that’s another story.)

What I want to talk about briefly today is how easy it is to be a hypocrite and not even notice.  I say this first of all about myself, because the minute I use someone else as an illustration, I realize that I too make the same kinds of mistakes.  So know as I write these words that I put myself in this category of unwitting hypocrite too.

I’m speaking, though, about Spike Lee, the director this past year of “BlackkKlansman,” which, I will say, was my favored movie to win Best Picture.  I thought it was a well done film, memorable, with substance and gravitas, a film to last for a long while if it had won this major award.  Poor Mr. Lee has not done well in the awards department, having never won as Best Director, so he’s due.  He’s a good director, I’m told.  I wouldn’t know.  I always think I could direct a movie; it doesn’t look that difficult.  Then my husband rolls his eyes, my son walks out of the room in disgust, and I know I’ve said the wrong thing, made the absolute wrong assumption.

Anyway, just in case you didn’t watch the Awards program this past week, Spike Lee did win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “BlackkKlansman,” and at the end of his very muddled speech, he launched into a plan to derail Trump’s second run for the presidency.  “Let’s all mobilize,” he said. “Make the moral choice between love versus hate.  Let’s do the right thing!”

“Let’s do the right thing!”

“Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

Got it.

Only, not even a few hours later, Mr. Lee was criticizing the movie “Green Book” for willing Best Picture with some not very nice comments and unloving statements.  Where’s the love?  Where’s the right thing when what he wanted to happen didn’t happen?

It’s called hypocrisy when you say one thing and then turn right around and do another. Or say one thing and then an hour later say something completely opposite of what you said earlier.

We all do it; we’re all guilty of it.

I just wish that Spike Lee – public figure that he is, admired by so many that he also is – would recognize that words and attitude coming from him mean something and say a lot more than cries to do the right thing and make the moral choice between love and hate do.

And then I’ll also take what I’m writing here to heart in my own life.

 

 

Posted by: ritagone | February 20, 2019

Decisions, Decisions!!

Sometimes making a decision feels better even than eating ice cream.

Michael and I have been debating, talking, processing, thinking over the last year or so about our living situation: should we stay where we are, in a rather large (4,000 square feet) house with a big back yard and a pool and spa which are hardly ever used or downsize to a smaller house, even though the one we’re in now suits us as far as floor plan (no formal dining room, no family room, we each have an office, there are two guest rooms and a master bedroom, and all on one floor except for one guest room which we never ever go into) and location?

And then, through a set of circumstances, we found ourselves with lots of quiet time, so we set about talking to one another A LOT!!  And we listened A LOT to what we each had to say, how we felt, our dreams and plans for the future.

And we came to a wonderful consensus that we wanted to stay where we were, unused swimming pool and all.  (I must confess that the pool guy for some strange and unexplained reason doesn’t send us a bill and hasn’t for a few years.  So it’s essentially a free pool, which makes it a lot more palatable to own for when it’s wanted during the summer for grandkids and poolside parties.)

So now we’re on a mission to rehabilitate our house so that it’s the way we want it for the remainder of the time we will live in it: new flooring (that is not carpet) in the bedrooms and two offices, new windows that will do a better job keeping us insulated and draft-free, tiles on the roof repaired.  You get it.

But what really feels good about all of this is that we have made a decision, we’ve made it together, we’re on the same page about it, and we’re moving forward!!!

Are there decisions in your life that you need to make, but you find yourself stalled, unable to pull the trigger?  I’m praying for you, even if I don’t know who you are  specifically or what the details of your decisions are.  Because I know what it’s like to be undecided…and then I know the wonderful joy and relief of decision making.  And I want that for everyone reading this.

Posted by: ritagone | February 6, 2019

Facing Something a Little Bit Scary

 

 

First of all, my disclaimer: what I’m about to share with you is not scary at all compared to what many of you reading this are facing.  I realize that.  So don’t shoot the messenger.  But this is my experience, and so I share it because it’s what I have, what’s happening to me now, and maybe it will help someone even a little bit.

I suffer from migraine headaches,  as many of you know, and have done so for almost 50 years.  They have morphed and changed patterns over the years, but they have always remained knock-outs when a bad one comes along, and in recent years I’ve had bad ones about six to ten times a month.  At those times I take to my bed, close up the room to make it as dark as possible, go into a fetal position (figuratively) and try to sleep if I can.  I lose at least a day in my life. (And losing a day at my age is no small thing anymore!). 

Now along has come a new migraine drug that is a co-venture between Amgen and Novartis, called Aimovig, and I qualified for the trials and had success there, so I’m now on a regular prescription basis: once a month I inject myself with an Epi-pen with the Aimovig and hope for the best.

So far, so good.

The Aimovig seems to be changing my headaches.

For the better.

So here’s the scary part: My headaches almost always start in the wee hours of the morning: midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m.  In the past, I would get up, take an Imitrex, go back to bed and sleep, then wake up headache free.  The problem is that you can only take so much Imitrex, as it’s not good for your organs or something.  Of course not.  There must be a catch if a drug does something as miraculous as getting rid of a migraine when it starts!  So whenever I have a clear day, with nothing going on, I have had to allow the headache to get worse and take to my bed, as described above, and waste a day.  Then for some strange reason my system re-boots itself and I can usually go about a week without a sign of a headache.  Don’t ask me why; in fact, don’t ask my neurologists why.  No one seems to know how the brain or the nervous system works for each migraine sufferer.

But now, with the Aimovig, there’s a new pattern: when the headache begins, if I get up and don’t take the Imitrex, there’s a good chance that the headache will go away on its own. 

I say “good chance” because there’s the possibility too that it won’t.  That’s the risk referred to in the title of this piece.  If it’s a day that has a lot to it: I’m teaching, we’re going out to dinner, the theater, whatever, can I risk not taking my Imitrex and winding up with a really bad headache that means I can’t function?

My neurologist has said that I have to push through this concern and take the risk to let the Aimovig do its thing.  Easy for him to say. But when you’re sitting up in bed at midnight and contemplating the to-do list for that day, and when you know that popping an Imitrex will quickly solve the headache problem, and if you don’t take it, your headache might get worse, what would you do?  I’ve even taken to getting up at midnight and going to my home office, because there seems to be something about getting up and starting to function normally that affects the headaches positively and sends them on their way.  But again, it’s a calculated risk. Every time I don’t take the Imitrex and let the Aimovig work, and the headache – however slight – does go away, I’m encouraged the next time to not take the Imitrex.

But it’s a risk.  Always a risk.  And always scary.

That feeling of suddenly realizing you’re headache free is one of the great wonders of my life now.  Makes me almost break into song.

What is there in YOUR life that scares you but that you try to do anyway?  I think we all have actions and deeds that we know we have to risk doing because we’re better people when we do.  But that doesn’t mean the scariness goes away.  And it doesn’t make the risk any less.

So I sort of know what you’re going through, and I do feel your pain, a bit.

Let’s try to be braver together.

 

Posted by: ritagone | January 23, 2019

Call Me Sucker!

 

I realize more and more that I’m a sucker for the ads on Facebook.

So far this year I’ve bought a bracelet (which promptly fell apart), a bra guaranteed to be the most comfortable piece of clothing which you’ll ever wear, and which felt slightly less comfortable than a suit of armor when I tried to put it on (unsuccessfully), and a hand-held vacuum which supposedly gets into the hard to vacuum places like drawers and keyboards but which I failed to realize requires a real vacuum on the end of it to work.  (I thought it was self-contained, and so I marveled at the genius of it.  So much so that I bought one for my son and one for my daughter. Yes, I bought three.  Two of them are still sitting here at my house; one is still in the original box.  I literally can’t give them away.  I am out about $60 for that stupidity.)  I’ve also bought a few other items which I won’t share with you, because I think I’ve successfully made my point.

I know that Facebook knows full well that putting ads on its website is going to garner customers, because, come on, otherwise why are they doing it?  And I’m one of those customers, apparently, who sees something and can’t resist.  Everything looks absolutely wonderful when I see the little boxed ad in my post feed, and I must have it.

But when it finally comes to my house and I unwrap it, it’s never – well, almost never – as wonderful as it appeared in the ad.  It didn’t change my life and make me smarter, more beautiful, younger, sexier, cooler, or whatever else it was promising.  The shoes from Brazil are not that comfortable.  The pillow guaranteed to give me the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.  Nope.  Fail.

So I’m looking to join a support group called Suckers Anonymous, even as I know that writing this means I’m not anonymous anymore. I admit I need help.

And isn’t that the first step toward recovery?

So here I am, posting this on Facebook, and while I’m here….

 

Posted by: ritagone | January 16, 2019

Robbed…Almost

 

On a cheerier note than last week (note sarcasm), the house next door to us was robbed this past Sunday night.  I know this because at about 8:30 in the evening, a police officer knocked on the door to inform us of this and wanting to know if we had seen or heard anything unusual.  I was watching television in our bedroom, cuddled up with the two dogs, so, no, I heard or saw nothing.

But I can tell you that I heard and saw plenty in my mind all through that night: visions of robbers coming in while we were out, taking computers, TV’s, paintings, the dogs (sometimes that’s not a bad fantasy), that violation that happens when someone uninvited comes into your home and takes what doesn’t belong to them.  I thought how vulnerable my computer is; I put it to sleep every night, don’t bother to actually turn it off.  All my Excel files are there with passwords and account numbers on the spreadsheets, the computer itself can be turned on with a touch to the space bar, and everything is easy access.  (I’m saying this because by the time you read this, that will all have changed.  Safeguards are being put in place.  Two robberies in this neighborhood in the last year have assured us that it’s time for action.)

It’s amazing how vulnerable you feel and how fast when a burglary occurs even close by.  Therefore I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have that violation occur in your own home.  I’m looking outside into our backyard more often, checking the Ring application with a camera on our front porch frequently, more aware of noises and sounds that previously I would have ignored.

I don’t like this.

I don’t like the vulnerability, the focus away from other things in my life that are more important and more worthwhile.

But I’m trying to accept this as one of many life lessons to be learned: I’m not in control, things happen, keep on truckin’.  And hey, it hasn’t happened to me, so stop acting as if it has.

Sometimes we worry about things that haven’t happened to us.  Sometimes we worry about things that have.  That’s why we’re told in the New Testament: “Do not be anxious (or worry) about anything, but in every situation, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)  It does say don’t worry about anything, which I assume must include things that have happened to us and things that might, and it does say that in every situation we’re to tell God about it and let Him walk through it with us.

So I’m trying to do that and waiting for the promised peace of God to settle on me.

And I think – although a security system is not a bad idea and one we’re looking into – that’s a better answer than anything manmade.

 

Posted by: ritagone | January 9, 2019

Call Me Grumpy

I admit to being grumpy.  In fact, I think I’m getting more grumpy as I get older.  Things tick me off, more than they used to.  I often think I should have been a film-TV critic, someone who gets paid to be critical and grumpy; that would be perfectly in line with my current continual grumpiness.

I’ll give you a good example: “Madam Secretary.”  I used to enjoy this CBS show starring Tia Leoni and Tim Daly, two actors I have always appreciated, a show that was created by Barbara Hall, a lady who has similar spiritual values to mine, I believe.  Michael and I have followed this series since its inception four years ago, and we have admired the high moral ground it has always followed.

Until recently, it has been entertaining.

I say “until recently” because as I was watching the most current episode, I realized – and got grumpier and grumpier while watching it – that it was no longer entertainment but had become propaganda, as so many television programs (and movies) have done recently, since the election of 2016, when everyone, it seems, feels the necessity to let everyone else know that they have the moral high ground even when the Oval Office does not.

“Madam Secretary” does everything but stop short and have its actors deliver lines directly into the camera to prove the points they are trying to make, points that are always noble and altruistic and ones that only an idiot (of course) would disagree with.

So I wasn’t entertained.  Not at all.  I just was grumpy.

Same thing with watching the Golden Globes Awards ceremony.  Why can’t everyone just be entertaining and forget that they are not the bringers of truth and justice to the television viewing audience, who obviously, they feel, wouldn’t know truth and justice unless they were handed to them by celebrities who “get it” deeply and purely?  Except you and I know that this is not always the case; in fact, it’s almost never the case, so I get grumpier and grumpier as I watch the awards ceremonies turn into propaganda programs instead of the entertaining shows they are meant to be.  Everyone gets so sanctimonious as they deliver “sermons” that they each think will make them look superior to everyone else because they, yes, they have the moral high ground that everyone else seems lacking.  You see, I’m getting irritated and grumpy already, just writing this.

Yes, I know, just stop watching TV and seeing movies that take these positions.  I get it.

But hey, if they have a right to spout their platitudes, don’t I have a right to watch and be grumpy?

What I also object to, as long as I’m on a soapbox, is that there’s a lot of hypocrisy floating around when people rant and rave about how immoral and bad everyone else is, then praise characters – either real or make believe – that are extremely flawed.  I’m all for artistic integrity and creative license; I don’t expect every movie to be honey-sweet and about characters that are pure and flawless.  That would be boring and unwatchable, the worst of Hallmark made-for-TV movies.  I’d be the first to turn that kind of endeavor off.  But what I object to – what makes me grumpy – is idolizing the subjects of those films that are artistically well done.  For example, if you read legitimate biographies about Freddie Mercury, the distraught, disturbed leader of the rock group Queen and the subject of the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you will discover that he was not a nice man.  He was often mean spirited and treated people less than kindly most of the time.  So why do we bow to him as if he were a god and worship at a shrine that he doesn’t deserve?  He may have been a talented musician, but let’s stop there.  We can watch a well-made movie about Adolf Hitler without idolizing the man about whom the movie is made.

This  is yet another example of what makes me grumpy.

And so, you can see, much is making me grumpy lately.  And that’s my problem, no one else’s.  I can’t lay it off on the entertainment business or anything or anyone else.  It’s on me, mine to change, mine to cope with, mine to repent of.

And so I have another early New Year’s resolution kind of question for you, and this one may be a little strange, but it’s applicable to what I’ve been sharing here: what makes you grumpy?  And what grumpiness do you need to repent of?  I would say to ask those around you, but that may be risky business.  Do it at your own peril.  But at least let’s be honest with ourselves and evaluate our grumpiness at the beginning of 2019 and see what we can do to change to make ourselves more likeable to ourselves and others around us, no matter what’s going on.  It’s not about the Oval Office or current laws or who’s doing what where.

It’s really pretty basic: How far away from being like Jesus am I?  Because I don’t think Jesus was ever too grumpy, was He?

 

Posted by: ritagone | January 2, 2019

It’s 2019!!

It’s 2019.

I know you know that.

2018 was weird.  I know you know that too.

What do you want to do differently this year?  How do you want to make this a better year than the one before?

It’s a time for resolutions, for vows, for promises, for changing the behaviors we don’t like about ourselves.

Me, I just want to lose that last elusive, nasty 10 pounds that keeps making my jeans not fit right, first off.  Not the most important thing on my “to do” list, but it always seems to be hovering in plain sight on my mind.  Often while I’m eating another piece of the See’s Candy that were gifted to us for Christmas.

I want to read more.  I want to remember better what I do read.

I want to stay “in the moment.”  That seems like such a cliched phrase, but it’s true: often I find myself thinking about tonight or tomorrow or next week and missing what’s happening right now that could or should be significant and enjoyable.

I want to appreciate the people around me and let them know that I appreciate them.  Life’s too short to not tell them.

I’d be happy and content with those four resolutions.

How about you?

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