Posted by: ritagone | November 7, 2018

And We’re Off!!!!

This is my last post in Rita’s Ramblings for a week, as tomorrow Michael and I leave on an adventure – our first trip to the Holy Land!  It’s called Not Your Grandmother’s Holy Land Tour – an intriguing title to begin with, which should give you some idea as to the nature of the adventure.  Our friend Brian Newman leads it along with Elias, a friend of his, and we’re looking forward to about a week of walking, hiking, climbing, talking, mostly listening, and mainly being where the Saviour lived and moved and existed for his 33 years in a human body. And then some.  Places to see that we have only read about in Scripture, places that will I’m sure come alive in a unique and different way than they ever have before.  Those who have traveled to Israel before us have all verified that it is indeed a life-changing trip, something to be savored and enjoyed every minute of every day.

I’m planning on posting photographs along the way, if I can remember to take my phone (iPhone 10S with great camera capabilities, so I can only take excellent photos) out of my backpack and use it.

I’m also planning on absorbing every second of this trip, because it will most likely be a one-and-only for us.

So wish us well, pray for us if you think about it, and I’ll be back, God willing, writing a deliciously interesting Rita’s Ramblings on November 21, one day before Thanksgiving, with much to be thankful for.

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Posted by: ritagone | October 31, 2018

Casting Stones

 

 

I don’t mind a public figure ranting and raving against the powers that be, those powers that be usually being politicians or anyone else.  Well, I do mind a bit, but that’s not my point here, so for the sake of argument, let’s say I don’t mind as much as the point I’m going to make in a minute.

The other day I streamed a British awards program which honored a handful of artists — actors and producers and directors –among them comedian/actor Jim Carrey.  Jim Carrey was the last honoree to speak toward the end of the show.  He got up and received his award and then proceeded to deliver a speech that was politically charged and hostile and nasty.

Again, not unusual.  And in this climate we live in, well received among his artist audience.

But what made me think was this: what if every person who ranted and raved against the government and the social ills of our day stopped and instead looked inward and made a commitment to make themselves better, to turn a flashlight on their own problems and disasters rather than hurling stones and rocks outwardly?  A bit of Jesus’ throwing the first stone by he who is without sin?

It’s so easy to yell and scream and accuse everyone else of bad behavior.  I’m sure Jim Carrey felt really proud of his assault on the world around him, like a hero, having spoken his piece.  But I wonder if Jim Carrey’s own interior life and behavior could stand up to scrutiny by someone else and what that would feel like for him?

Get your own house in order, I guess I’m saying.  It’s easy to look elsewhere.  It’s much more difficult to make the commitment to clean up our own space.

And that’s what Jesus asked us – commanded us, really – to do: the hard work of self-fixing, self-examination, before we look around us to condemn and castigate others.

Right now we have a President who makes it so easy to look away from ourselves critically and instead hurl insults and criticisms at him. Whether he deserves them or not is not the issue; what’s at issue in my mind is how much time and attention we need to spend on ourselves before we go looking for others to whip.

Right now, again, to go against the grain and stop criticizing others, no matter who they are, and concentrate on what we need to fix in ourselves is the much more difficult path.

Jesus never said it would be easy.  And He was certainly right.

 

You know already how much I like Seth Godin’s writings.  Here’s another of his blogs that I share with you today:

 

 

We are not the enemy (if we try)

Fewer than 1% of our population works hard to divide us. To pit people against one another for their selfish aims.

These are the pundits, divisive politicians, media companies and short-term trolls who have decided that schisms and fights are a good way to achieve their aims.

But if everyone is demonizing the other, then everyone is the enemy to someone.

We end up spending our time fighting each other instead of fighting for the things that really matter. We end up focusing on the current thing while something more important shrinks away in the background.

It’s possible to be fierce, fierce in your dedication to change, to what’s right, to making things better–without finding the source of your power in the destruction of others.

We ought to be fighting inequality, corruption and inefficiency. Working to stamp out ignorance and missed opportunities while creating access and possibility. Keeping our promises and making things better.

Every system is improved when it’s in sync, and the narcissism of small differences is a seduction that keeps us from focusing on creating real value by doing important work.

Realizing that things can get better (they can always get better) opens the door for productive conversations, conversations that aren’t based on prior decisions about what team someone is on, and instead, on putting our shoulder to the work, taking responsibility and actually making things better.

We can fight injustice without becoming pawns in a boxing promoter’s game.

Posted by: ritagone | October 17, 2018

How to Remember a Name

We were in Dublin, Ireland, having lunch in a cute little restaurant on a side street.  I even remember the name of the restaurant, first, because it was a catchy one – Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill – and secondly, because I kept a business card, which, as an aside, is not a bad thing to do as your memory gets a little more “flexible” with age.

The restaurant had “celebrity” 8”x10” black and white photographs hung all over the walls, reminding me of the old Brown Derby in Hollywood, but of course many of the people in those photographs I didn’t know, because they were Irish actors and actresses.  But nearby our booth was the photo of an actress who I did recognize…except that I couldn’t for the life of me remember her name.

You know the situation: you look at someone’s face (usually this happens with a live person) and you know them, but their name is somewhere out there in the ether.  If a gun were put to your head, as the saying goes, at that moment, their name would still escape you.

So I did the smartest thing I could think of to do: I asked our waiter, a young lad who was brimming with enthusiasm and energy.  He didn’t know, of course, but he said he had a friend who might, and he would contact him.  So he took a picture with his phone, and off he went, presumably to turn in our food order and find out who the mystery lady was.  The funny thing is that by then, the couple seated next to us, a woman in her 50’s and her mum, had gotten involved, staring at the photograph too and trying to help…all to no avail still.  Amongst the four of us, the name still proved elusive.

You’ve probably had this happen too, haven’t you?  That name you can’t place, the word that escapes your mind.  It’s frustrating and a bit frightening all at the same time.  My husband cannot for the life of him keep actor Gene Hackman’s name filed in his brain.  Hard as he tries, Gene comes and goes at whim, so that Michael is constantly asking me, “What’s that actor’s name that I can’t think of?” and I know the answer is, “Gene Hackman.”  It’s always going to be “Gene Hackman.”  It’s a thing between us.

So there we were, in Dublin, Ireland, in a restaurant, with the same thing happening, but to me!! What was her name? It would have helped if I could think of something I had seen her in, but I couldn’t find that file in my brain either, although I remembered seeing her in a few things, both film and TV.

The young waiter came back after texting his friend.  No luck there.  Apparently his friend wasn’t as brilliant at naming people as the young waiter thought he was!

And then someone – I think it must have been the restaurant manager himself – was brought into the fray.  (It was a slow time of day as far as business in the restaurant was concerned, thank goodness.) “Oh, that’s Claire Forlani!” he said, as quickly and easily as if it had been a photo of his sister and she had just been dining in the place.

And the windows of my mind flew open and I knew immediately that YES!!!! It was Claire Forlani of “Meet Joe Black” movie fame (with Brad Pitt) and “CSI:New York” TV fame and many other film and TV projects, and I thought, “How could I not have known her?” and many such thoughts.

And my day got much better, after many sighs of relief.

And to this day, I don’t think I’ll ever forget Claire Forlani.

So the lesson here is: if you want to remember someone’s name, you must have this kind of “forgetting and then remembering” encounter around them, because then there’s a better chance that they will become embedded in your brain forever.

Is that scientific?

I don’t know.  Probably not.  But it sure has worked for me and Claire!!!

Posted by: ritagone | October 10, 2018

A Guest Blogger

Here’s a blog from one of my favorite bloggers, Amy Downing. I think you’ll all enjoy what she writes in place of my writing this week.

A Letter for the Greatest Letter Writer Ever

I believe that as we learn and grow in different areas, it is helpful to express our thoughts in a creative way to help us process. It doesn’t matter if you are studying science, grammar, or some sort of religion. Draw a picture of what you are studying, write a poem, photograph a story of pictures. Inevitably, it will give you a new perspective on the information. I’ve been studying a series of letters in the New Testament, written by a guy named Paul (or Saul depending when you knew him). I believe I will meet him one day, but until then, I decided to write him a letter . . . .

October 4, 2018

Hey Paul.

You scare me. I have to say that up front because I know everyone is thinking it. You are so, so INTENSE. Like when you talk, you must wave your hands a lot and your voice gets loud and you probably spit a little when you emphasize certain words. And that’s when you are feeling joyful.

I marvel at how you were raised to head down one very distinct path—everything you learned was to fight for the cause, to take down that new religion of following Jesus. And yet, yet . . . Paul! You figured It out. (Granted you had quite a bit of help from the blinding light, which caused you to lose your sight for three days. Yes, I think that could snap even the hardest hard-hearted people into seeing Truth.)

But I marvel even more at your perseverance through the crap after you “saw the light” so to speak—the beatings, the prison terms, the shipwrecks, the thorn in your side (you’ve caused quite a stir with that one), the snake bites . . . the loneliness, the rejection.

I ask how you managed it and in the very same breath I know exactly how you managed it. You tell us in your letter to the Philippians: “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

You were able to forget what was behind you? You make it sound so simple. It must have been easier back in your time when there wasn’t so much pain in the world.

But your life did carry pain, a lot of it, I know.

And you pressed ON. Paul, thanks for pressing on. Because you had a choice—when you were in chains, you literally sang songs of praise. When you were imprisoned, you wrote letters of encouragement to the early churches.

You strained forward to what was ahead—and that was Jesus. Thank you. Thank you for not giving up, so that we today have a real chance to not give up, too.

Grace and Peace, brother.

 

Posted by: ritagone | October 3, 2018

What You Keep and What You Replace

 

 

My treadmill died yesterday morning.

I was walking on it, as I do most mornings, when it just stopped.  If I hadn’t been holding on to the side bars, I might have been thrown, because the momentum of walking stopped so suddenly.  This treadmill is so old that there are no safety measures, not the usual clip that goes from the machine to your clothes just in case something like this should occur, so that in case of failure everything shuts down and you don’t get catapulted. (There’s no safe place for an iPad either, since this treadmill was built pre-iPads, which explains why a few months ago when my iPad, balanced precariously on the one ledge which can serve as a place to put your device, flew off and to the rear of the treadmill, I instinctively turned around to go for it and wound up on the floor akimbo, slightly injured but fortunately with nothing broken.)  It is an old treadmill, as I said.

So when it died on me yesterday morning, my first reaction was to call the repairman who has come out several times in the last few years to fix “her.”  But then I remembered him saying that the repairs were going to be more frequent and more expensive, and I thought, “It’s time to replace her.  She has served me – and others – well, but it’s time to get a new one.”

So off I went and did just that. I’m pretty impulsive about things like this; just ask my husband.  When I make up my mind to do something, it happens pretty definitely and rather quickly.

The new one is coming Friday morning, and I must confess that I’m excited.  I’m quite sure this will be the last treadmill this old lady will ever walk upon.  I didn’t get all the buttons and whistles because I know what I want, what I need, and what will take me through the rest of my treadmill-walking life.  Nothing fancy, just minimal requirements: quiet, handlebars that suit me, a deep ledge for my iPad, readable digital numbers on the screen, and a few other things that I have come to appreciate or desire in my early morning walks.

And on a related matter, today, October 3,  I have had the same husband for 48 years.

In this day and age, I consider that quite an accomplishment, even better than a treadmill that has hung around my home office for a few decades.  He’s not a 2018 model, for sure, but then, like my treadmill, he’s served me well, and I’m going to keep him.

After all, it’s too overwhelming to get a new treadmill and a new husband in the same week!!!!

 

Posted by: ritagone | September 26, 2018

“We Learn As We Go”

If we stop going, we stop learning…

and

If we’re not willing to keep learning, we should probably stop going.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2018

Seth Godin’s short and pithy blogs always challenge me, because he packs so much thought into so few words.

In his blog from yesterday, he spoke about the ability to keep on learning as we age, as we move through life, and that’s a subject that’s near and dear to my heart.

So true.  So true.

May we never stop learning something every day, may we read and watch and listen and appreciate all the things we don’t know so that we can learn a new thought, a new way of doing something, a new skill, something that pushes us, prods us to be better, sharper, quicker.

“If we’re not willing to keep learning, we should probably stop going.”  Words to live by.

Posted by: ritagone | September 19, 2018

Pay attention!

My friend Ann Steigerwald introduced me to a great quote in a Mary Oliver poem (Sometimes is the title of the poem) which is quite applicable to our life right now:

“Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.”

 

I’m telling about it here: my oldest granddaughter, Margaret (we call her Meg) left for college (Seattle Pacific University) yesterday with her parents, to get settled in and begin her life as a college freshman.  How did that happen?  I remember clearly the day she was born, in Cleveland, Ohio, because I was in “the room where it happened.”  Life goes by too fast.  I’ve paid attention to hers, because she’s a star: an artist, a sweetheart, a gem.  I’m astonished that I’ve gotten to share in that life.  And I’m telling you about it.  I’m being faithful to the great instructions Mary Oliver gives to us, brilliant instructions.

You should be following these instructions yourself.  What do you need to pay attention to today, what do you need to be astonished about and tell others about?

Do it!!

Posted by: ritagone | September 5, 2018

Contradictions

 

 

I’ve been reading one of the “hot” recommended new novels in the last few days, called “Vox,” by Christina Dalcher.  Very similar to the plot-line of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, it’s a dystopian setting in the United States (of course) where women have been given bracelets or “counters” to limit their number of words to 100 a day, and shocked severely should they over-step that count.  They are no longer allowed to work, Scripture regarding their role in the home as subservient to their husbands (and male children) is everywhere for them to read (although of course they cannot read the Bible for themselves), and on and on it goes, with restrictions and limitations imposed by a government that claims to be making America moral again.

As always, Christianity is the culprit, or rather, the misinterpretation and abuse of Christianity.  But it’s easier for Jesus and His followers to be branded as the enemy than it is to present a healthy, understandable argument for what went wrong in America, land of the free, home of the brave.  Instead, we have seen the enemy, and it is the Bible and God, those who thump it, and anyone who believes that there’s a God up there who pronounces stuff we don’t like or believe in.

And of course for women these days, it’s mostly the men who are behind it, behind every evil being committed.  In Margaret Atwood’s book, written over 30 years ago, there were good men who had not been turned by the political power that believing “the right way” would bring them.  Men who would risk their lives to help a lady in distress.  So far I haven’t discovered a man like that in Dalcher’s novel, only sexual partners, which, by the way, amazes me, since I’d have thought that by now women would have turned completely away from men in that arena too and become total lesbians.  But no, heterosexual sex still sells novels, I guess, so there it is, an affair with a man who was nicer to her than her husband and oldest son were.  Wouldn’t you know it?

Anyway, the contradictions in this novel abound, I must say, as I read it, and I see them in other dystopian works both in writing and on the screen.  It’s as if the female writers can’t seem to condemn outright their male characters and just be done with it; they want desperately to find something redeeming in them after all.  (This is better than my cynical side that tells me that heterosexual sex still sells novels, as I said before, so you need a few nice men with whom the female heroines still want to have sexual adventures.)

I’m plowing through it, not because I’m loving it, but because I’m a bit OCD about finishing a book that I’ve started reading.  I keep bumping into the similiarities between this book and “The Handmaid’s Tale” and wondering, “Am I the only one who feels that it’s so similar as to be just this side of plagarism?”  Doesn’t anyone want to say that?  Is there a silent conspiracy because someone doesn’t want to use up her 100 words?

Okay.  I’m getting silly.

Could something like what this book promotes – or what “The Handmaid’s Tale” so vividly described – really happen in the U.S.?  I used to think not, but then again, other societies and cultures have said emphatically no and then watched helplessly as it happened.  And things being as they are, nothing is impossible.  Nothing would surprise me anymore.

But I do hope that at least we’ll keep our contradictions to a minimum as we slouch toward our doom.  That was meant to be sarcastic.  If we’re really on our way to purgatory, contradictions will truly be the least of our worries.

Lots to think about.

 

Posted by: ritagone | August 29, 2018

Seth Godin’s The Paradox of Popular

As most of you know, I love Seth Godin’s blogs.  Here’s one I particularly like for its social relevance.  It’s short but pithy.  Read it and enjoy.

 

Most things are liked because they’re popular.

I know that seems to be a redundancy, but it’s worth decoding.

Pop music, for example, is a must-listen among certain populations because that’s what “everyone else” is listening to, and being in sync is the primary benefit on offer.

The paradox, of course, is that you have to walk through a huge valley of unpopular before you arrive at the population that will embrace you because that’s the thing to do.

The focus on mass acceptance, on the big company or the mass market embracing you, distracts from the difficult work of being embraced by people who lead, not follow.

 

 

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