How Did We Get Here So Fast?

KindergartenWasn’t it just yesterday my baby was waving to me from the step of the kindergarten bus on her way to the first day of school? I can picture her shy smile and the blue dress she wore perfectly. Her back pack on, she was exited to start her adventure. People told me the time would fly by and it surely has. Tomorrow she will walk across a make-shift stage in the parking lot of her school (thanks to COVID-19) to receive her high school diploma, while we watch from our cars.

Words to describe the pride, love and bittersweetness of my oldest daughter’s graduation escape my mind. I’ve thought all week about what I wanted to write on this occassion. How can I encapsulate this moment in time and do it justice? Not just a cliched, “I’m so proud of you” sentiment. Where do I start?

Who is this daughter of mine? Is she the toddler taking her first steps? Or the “watch me, mom!” girl going down the slide by herself? Is she the beautiful smile that lights up her face when she dances with her friends? Or the tears that stream down her cheeks when she heard school would close the remainder of her senior year? Is she the nervous girl applying for her first job at the movie theater? Or the confident young woman with her driver’s license in hand?

She is the excited preschooler running down the hall to announce the arrival of her new baby sister. She is the patient young girl that waited all day to “practice” show her new rabbit because her first rabbit died before fair and was disqualified. She is the stubborn child that refused to take her medicine, stayed up all night and still didn’t swallow it. She is the student-athlete that ran track not to win the race or score the winning basket, but because she enjoyed being part of the team. She is a dilgent editor that spent hours working on school newspaper. She is the kind young woman that helps an older woman from church put up her Christmas decorations each year. She is the thoughtful daughter who willing picks up the groceries for me every week. She is all this and more.

She has the grace and poise to realize that bad things happen, but how you react to those things is what’s important. She has an independent mind, thinks things through and stands up for herself and others. She has humilty and can admit her mistakes. She has a heart full of love, generosity and forgiveness. She will go off into the world and do great things. I have no doubt.

From the moment she was but a flutter within me, I loved her. When her tiny hand grasped my finger through the opening of her incubater the first time, my heart overflowed with love. I didn’t think I could love her anymore then, but I do. My job as her mom may be coming to an end, but she will always be my little girl.

I love you Emily Pearl! Congratulations on all your hard work!

The Path to a Better Garden…

Spending time outside in the sunshine and working in my yard is one of my favorite theraputic past times. Over the years, mainly by trial and error (mostly error!) I’ve learned a few things as I’ve tried to turn my yard into a cover shoot for Better Homes & Gardens magazine (never going to happen, ever, never). Actually that has never been my goal. I am proud of the hard work I’ve put in and while the results aren’t always what I’d hoped, I am content (for now). And so, I thought I’d share some helpful tips so maybe you can avoid some of my stumbles or at least get a little chuckle over my missteps…

1. When you get the urge to plant flowers in the spring, wait!
Every spring the sun starts shining and it’s finally warm enough to go outside without a jacket. It’s May and snow and frost seem to be a distanct memory. I get the fever to plant my flowers and tomato plants. It never fails, a week later the temperatures take a huge dip. Trying to cover my newly planted flowers and vegetables with a drop cloth and some bricks in the dark (because I never remember to do these things in the light!) Was not much fun! The next morning, the tarps were blowing in the wind and the plants were “sort of” covered (not really). The following night of low temps, I didn’t even bother. This year I think most of my plants made it through. Time will tell. This is a reminder to myself for next spring, to wait one more week! Probably won’t happen though!

2. Disconnecting your hose in the fall is actually important!
When my dad reminded me to disconnect my hose last fall, I put it on my mental “to do” list, but never actually got around to doing that task. I figured if the hose got ruined, I’d just buy a new one this spring. Turns out, it’s not the hose you need to worry about. It’s actually the pipes leading to the hose that are the issue. Go figure! The water from the hose backs up into those pipes and those pipes break when winter freezes them. This leads to a flood in your basement, when you turn the hose on the first time when you are planting those flowers too early!

3. Self-propeled mowers are only helpful if….
You know how to use them correctly! You have to push the handle-thing foward to make the mower move forward by itself. Doing so, you can then walk behind the mower without exerting too much energy. Pushing the mower without this power assistance exerts much energy!

4. The grass needs to be dry when you mow it.
Mowing the yard in early morning shade before the sun starts heating things up seemed like a brilliant idea to me. If it weren’t for dew, it would have been perfect! Unfortunately, there is a reason for not mowing wet grass, besides wet shoes. Wet grass clumps together and sticks to the blades of the mower. When enough wet grass adheres to those blades, the mower stalls and quits running. You will then spend the rest of your morning with the lawn mower on its side, removing said clumps of grass. As an aside, waiting until the next day to remove stuck grass is a bad idea too. A better idea is to wait until early evening to mow.

5. Lowering the wheels on your mower to the lowest setting leads to brown grass.
Depending on your objective, this may or may not be good tip for you. Mowing is not one of my favorite lawn and garden tasks. I have a hate-hate relationship with the mower. So my logic followed that if I put the wheels on the lowest setting possible, it would cut my grass extra-short. If the grass is extra-short, it followed that I wouldn’t need to mow as often. My logic wasn’t completely faulty as it did indeed lessen the the number of times I stood in the driveway cursing and pulling that stupid cord to get the mower started. However, it wasn’t because the grass took longer to grow in between mowing, but rather because it was brown and had stopped growing all together. Lesson learned – leave the wheels where your dad set them.

6. Leaf blowers are over-rated.
I imagined myself blowing my leaves into to neat piles that I could then vaccum up and easily bag to take to our city’s compost pile. (Our city does come around and suck up leaves every fall from the curbs. However, I rarely meet that fall deadline. I tend to wait until all of the leaves fall so that I only have to rake once. Typically by then the warm fall weather has been replaced by brutal wind, rain and snow. So the annual leaf raking chore tends to be in spring in my world. But, I digress….) Back to the leaf blower… My imagination and reality were vastly different. In reality, I had leaves blowing every which way, in my hair and stuck to my sweaty skin – no neat piles. I bought an electric blower to avoid having to use a string to start it, but that meant a l-o-n-g extension cord that kept coming unplugged. Reversing the blower to suck up the leaves and grind them up was tedious. Leaves (possibly because they were wet) kept getting clogged inside spout-thingy that sucked the leaves up. In the morning, I had an extremely sore shoulder and a back yard full of leaves. Rakes are better for this task.

7. Expect bugs, varmints and droughts
I’ve learned to adjust my expectations when it comes to gardening. If I end up with one or two tomatoes at the end of the season – hurray! Anthing more is a bounty. There will be good years and bad years. A squirrel will take one one bite out of every tomato and leave the remains to rot. A rabbit will eat your tulips before they bloom. Some unknown animal will dig up all your marigolds. You will go on vacation the hottest, dryest week of the year and return to shriveled, wilted, dead petunias. You will wake up one morning to find your plants covered with Japanese beetles. A toad village will take up residence in the pit where your dryer vents. Cicacda killer wasps will move in under the bushes. I’ve learned to let these set backs go (of course I will still rant to my friends about them). There’s always next year.

8. Triple the hardness-level and time commitment to any major project you tackle.
When I first moved in to my house, there was a row of over-grown, ugly (imho) bushes growing along the front-porch railing. I envisioned beautiful flowers growing here. The bushes needed to go. I started by clipping and pruning them back. My arms were scratched and thorns lodged in my finger tips (this is when I learned that gloves are important.) It took over a week of hacking and digging to get the first bush out. In the end, my ex-husband took pity on me and pulled the other three out with his truck in less than 10 minutes. Sigh. But at least they were gone. I also had a brick path in my back yard. Unforunately, weeds sprouted between them. In pulling those weeds, the bricks came lose. This led to weeks of pulling up those bricks, stacking them and trying to knock old cement off them. I purused Pinterest looking at beautiful brick patios and imagined my beautiful new path. That was three summers ago. Making those photos a reality was MUCH more complicated than I anticipated (it always is!) The bricks are still stacked along the side of house and I extended my flower bed and mulched over where the patio was meant to be. This summer’s project is scraping the peeling paint off the back yard fence and repainting it. How hard can that be?

All of this this all leads me to the most important tip of all.

9. Some things are best left for the professionals…
Or at least your teenage children. Last summer I hired someone to pull out the bushes that were home to the cicada killer wasps. This summer I passed the mowing and raking torches on to my teenagers (well, mostly anyway). I’m getting better at recognizing my limitations before they turn in to diasters (well, most of the time) (maybe some of the time is more accurate) (OK, I confess it’s rare. But, if I didn’t make mistakes how would I learn? And what would I write about, to make someone else smile.)

Thanks for reading!

On Mother’s Day

20200509_123443022_iosFor as long as I can remember (at least 30 years), a book mark with a cute teddy bear holding a heart that reads “No Matter What, I Love You,” has been stuck in the corner of my bedroom mirror. On the back a message from my mother reads, “Shar – I hope your day went well. Love, Mom.” I have long forgotten the occassion or what I was doing that day to warrant the card, but I do remember the warm feeling of her love that washed over me when I found her note. Every once in a while I will pull it out to read her words, and tuck it back in the corner of the mirror. It makes me smile and feel special. I am blessed to have a thoughtful, caring and supportive mom. I am even more blessed she is still in my life. Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you.

Right above the card from my mom, is one from my youngest daughter, written in her then-kindgergartener handwriting, “I love you mom. I love you just the way you are,” it reads. Above my desk in my office cubicle (which due to COVID-19 I haven’t seen in a while) is a painting by my oldest daughter. She painted the undefinedword M-O-T-H-E-R along with descriptive words for each letter: aMazing, lOving, beauTiful, Humble, patiEnt, cReative. When I’m feeling like a “bad” mom, lacking and not enough, they remind me I am enough and I’m doing just fine (I had wonderful role-models – see above and below). Being the mother of these two kind-hearted, thoughtful, loving daughters makes my heart burst. I love them beyond words on this page could express. I am grateful that even though this quarantine is far from ideal, I was given a pause from all the craziness of life to be able to spend time with them, getting to know them better, laughing with them, crying together, arguing with each other, learning from each other and making memories. Our time together is fleeting – my oldest graduates from high school in two weeks and my youngest is in junior high. Sooner than I would like I know they will be out on their own and I will be an empty-nester. I am thankful for this time now. I am thankful I am their mom.

I admit I am sometimes sentimental. I tucked cards in my mirrors and saved letters in a shoe box. On Mother’s Day, not only do I reflect on how much I appreciate my own mom and the joy being a mother myself brings, but I reminisce on the smiles and love of my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother passed away 8 years ago this past week and my paternal grandma will be gone 23 years in July. Wow, I just realized I’ve been alive longer now without her than with. While I miss them both, I had a special bond with my paternal grandma. We had a life long letter writing campaign. She and my grandpa would pack up the pick up in October and head to Florida, returning in May. Right around now, they would be coming back to Ohio. The excitement and joy in my heart when they pulled into our driveway that first time after the long winter without them still brings a smile to my lips. In undefinedbetween we would write each other letters. The happiness of an envelope in the mail addressed to me in her handwriting never failed to make my day. I saved all her letters. Imagine my surprise after she passed away when I received a shoe box full of all my letters to her! I put our letters together in a huge binder. Now, on days like today, when I am missing her, I read through our letters. They still bring me joy! Happy Mother’s Day in heaven, Grandma A and Grandma C! I love you both!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandma’s out there. Enjoy your day!

Spring has Sprung

This morning I am sitting on my front porch. A warmish breeze is blowing a rogue strand of hair across my face and I tuck it behind my ear. A take a deep breath of fresh air and let myself relax. A robin just ran across the brick path in front of my house and the the wind chimes are chiming. I hear birds chirping and the occassional car drive by, but for the most part I am alone, but not lonely. Everywhere I look I see flowers and signs of new life. Hope plays a smile across my lips.

As the girls and I went on our evening walk with the dog, we noticed the trees started to leaf out. Yards have been neatly mowed and fresh mulch laid. The forecast for today is for a high of 76 degrees and sunshine. Spring has definitely sprung and summer is on its way. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Unlike autumn, a beautiful season for sure, but bittersweet as its warmth soon fades to the cold, darkness of winter, spring’s beauty becomes summer, sunshine and warmth. Although spring’s unpredictable moodiness brings lots of rainy days and unwelcome snow falls, I love those unexpectedly, wonderful days of warmth, the predictableness of the various flowers that pop up and bloom, the longer days of light and the knowledge that summer is almost here.

While this spring and potentially summer may be devoid of the usual hustle and bustle of activity usually associated with it (out stay at home quarantine has been extended for the second time until May 29), I am grateful. I knocked the wall in my way last week down. I am focusing on what I can control, doing my part to keep others safe, connecting with those I love and finding the little things in life that lift me up. Life has slowed down for sure, but that’s not all bad. In fact, I am confident I will energe a better person for it.

The Wall

I would be lying if I said this past week hasn’t been hard. I officially hit the wall yesterday. With a pounding headache and an inability to focus, I called it and went back to bed. I shut my eyes and tried to block out the negative thoughts and sad feelings for a bit. I’d also be lying if I said that worked. It didn’t!

As I scrolled through my Twitter feed, I came across this quote from Brene’ Brown, that rang so true and summed up my week perfectly:

undefinedWhen we hit that wall, sometimes courage looks like scaling it or breaking through it. AND, sometimes courage is building a fort against the wall and taking a nap. Hard days are real because this is hard. Stay awkward, kind and brave enough to rest and feel.

Brene’ Brown (@brenebrown)

Isolation has been hard, especially for my two daughters, but for me too. This past week school was offically cancelled for the rest of the year. This news was hard to swallow for my HS senior. We knew it was coming, but having it become official slammed the door on that glitter of hope we’d kept alive. Each day that long, look-fowared to event that was supposed to happen that didn’t passes (Costa Rica trip with Spanish Club, prom, track season and soon to be senior skip day, commencement, and graduation parties) we mourn again. No one died, yet the grief feels unbearable at times.

This past week unbeknownst to me (until an argument about grooming the dog caused my youngest to rat out her sister), my oldest daugther saw a friend when she was out picking up takeout for us. Because of the shelter-at-home order, we are limiting who we see and practicing social distancing. Excited to see her friend, whom she hasn’t seen in weeks, they hugged. In the scheme of life, a two second hug should NOT be a big deal. It’s a normal, every day occurence. It’s what friends do, when they miss each other. However, it became a big deal.

My youngest is a worrier. (Hell, I’m a worrier). So, when she woke up with sore throat Thursday morning, she became convinced she has COVID-19 now. Does she? Probably not. Is it possible? Maybe. Her logic is that because her sister hugged her friend, the virus could have gotten on said friend’s clothes (because she works as an essential worker in a restaraunt), the virus could have jumped to sister’s clothes when they hugged and then jumped on her clothes when she was playing basketball with her sister, then it could have jumped on her hand when she touched her shirt and into her mouth when she accidentally touched her face and boom now she has it.

I’ve read articles about how contagious the virus is and her logic is not that far off, but still unlikely? The oldest who is young and healthy, thinks everyone is over-reacting. Her friend isn’t sick and takes precautions after work. The problem is that her friend could be sick without knowing she is. My boyfriend lives alone and has been working from home as well. He also spends minimal time with his parents (whom I have been missing dearly. I can’t wait to have Q’Doba with them again) as he has medication for his back that he can’t apply without help. We had been spending time together at his house and ours. Our thought was that we have two homes that make up one household. We live 40 minutes away from each other. Were we breaking the rules? My daughter thinks so. I get to hug my friend and she doesn’t. He is family. I see it differently. It is different.

We have decided not to see each other in person for at least two weeks because of the two-second hug. Following my youngest daugher’s logic, the virus could jump on my clothes or have already infected me, and then jump on my boyfriend and on to his parents. His parents and mine are in a higher risk category. So while it is seeminly, dizzying logic, we simply aren’t willing to take that risk no matter how small it may be. My oldest thinks the whole thing is stupid. And, I agree with her, the whole thing is stupid. I hate the situation and I want it all to go away ASAP (hence pulling the covers over my head). My youngest feels bad for being a tattle-tale (you did the right thing sweetie) and keeps asking me if I am mad and why I look sad. I have reassured them both that I am not mad, and yes I am a bit sad, but I am OK.

I remind them and myself that this will pass. This isn’t forever. I chide myself for feeling sorry for myself – what right do I have? My family is healthy, I still have my job and can work from home, I have a home and food. I am grateful and blessed. I force myself out of bed and get ready to face the day.

Seasons

Daffodils

My clock reads 12:58 AM. I’m not asleep. I’ve tried. Believe me. I’ve tried. My bedroom is a cool 67 degrees. It’s dark. It’s quiet minus the rythmic breathing of my dog and the whir of the fan app on my iPhone. I powered down my devices at 10 pm. I read a chapter of my book. My first and last cup of coffee was at 9:35 AM. Yet, I lay there awake, not sleeping. First, I lie on my right side and my arm goes to sleep, but not my body. I flip to my left side and now my hip hurts. I try lying on my back instead. I concentrate on my breathing. In, out, in, out. Come on eyelids, please get heavy. Just…drift off into that peaceful slumber. Count backwards from 100…99…98…97…. My mind wanders through a check list of to do’s for tomorrow. Wait…I’m supposed to be counting backwards from 100. Damn it! I’m still awake.

So….I gave up for now. My clock reads 1:07 AM and now I’m sitting in my living room. The glow of my laptop screen the only light in the room. My fingers tap across the keyboard. A blanket around my shoulders, I decided to write and empty my thoughts and frustrations on to the page. I’ve struggled with insominia off and on througout my life, but these past fews weeks it’s been an unwelcome guest that won’t go home. My sleeping powers have left me. It has been four weeks of quarantine. Four weeks of not going in to the office, not dining in restaraunts, not going to events, not seeing friends and family.

I’m an introvert, but this “alone” time is a bit much even for me – a homebody at heart. As I adjust to this new normal, my mood swings from being anxious to depressed to optimistic and back again. It is scary thinking about this invisible, opportunistic virus that is floating around out there waiting for me to make a mistake (Did I wipe down that door knob? Did I just touch my face? Was I 6ft away from that person in the grocery store?) and infect me. Maybe I have the virus now? When will the symptoms appear? What if someone I love gets the virus? What if they die? What if I die? These are indeed unpresedented times. Are the experts and the media over-blowing this pandemic? Is COVID-19 just another flavor of the seasonal flu? I don’t know 100%, but I trust that our govenor is doing the right thing with the “stay at home” orders and Ohio’s curve is flattening. Would it have flattened without these drastic measures? Some would say there was never a threat to begin with. I am grateful our government has erred on the side of caution.

When the sun is shining through my window in the still of morning, I take comfort in the little things that make me smile. In the dark as I try to fall asleep though, my mind takes a turn toward the unknowns lurking out there. I know this too will pass and this won’t be my life forever. In the meantime, I’m enjoying watching movies in the evenings with my daughters, listening to them laugh as they FaceTime their friends, watching them play basketball with each other in the driveway and taking the dog for a walk. It won’t be long before my oldest (a senior) and my youngest (a seventh grader) will be off to college and then living their lives and having families of their own. It seems only moments ago I was holding them in my arms for the first time. I know it won’t be that long when I look back on the pandemic of 2020 and we’ll remember and tell stories about our “stay at home” time. We’ll remember the courage and empathy of the frontline workers and the way our communities pulled together.

I’m glad that it’s spring here. I can’t imagine how much harder this would be in the middle of winter. I love to wander around my back yard and enjoy the flowers that one of the previous homeowners planted long ago. This is my favorite time of year. First the crocus bloomed, now the daffodils are blossoming and next the tulips will come and the peonies and day lillies. They bring me hope after a long winter that summer and warm weather is on it’s way. They remind me that long after I am gone, the cycle will continue.

And now, my clock reads 1:50 AM. My eyes are a little heavy. Well, not really, but I am going to go back to bed and try once more to sleep. At least it’s Saturday and I can take a nap later! Goodnight all.

Conundrums

unsolveableWhen I close my eyes and think about the all-loving God that I grew up knowing, I feel comforted like a warm blanket around my shoulders. The idea that if I pray hard enough, am good enough and it’s God’s plan everything will be OK, is one that I’ve subscribed to most of my life. The thought that having a “mustard seed’s” worth of faith can “move mountains” sustained me when questions and doubt have plagued me. Especially now — in such uncertain times when the COVID-19 pandemic, our government’s response to it and our actions and reactions to that dominate headlines and our social media feeds—this should be enough to see me through, but it’s not.

In my personal life manifesto, if you read it to the very end, I wrote, “Religion isn’t always truth. God is love. Fear is the enemy.” I believe this. I feel disillusioned with religion and have so now for several years. I’ve been afraid to write those words for fear of what others might think. Yet, my mind won’t let it go. If God has a plan and knows me, then He knows what paths my mind takes. He won’t let me rest until I write. And so here it is, my conundrum… Maybe like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, “God” is just another imaginary entity humans created to give us comfort in the knowledge that someday we all will die and hope that we will see our loved ones who have passed away again.

Even more so now, I’ve come to think that the world would be a better place with less religion rather than more. How many atrocities occurred and continue to occur in the name of a religion? It is just random happenstance, that I was born into a Christian family in the United States. I could just as easily have been born to a Muslim family in Iraq, a Hindu family in India, a Jewish family in Israel, a Buhdist family in China or an atheist family anywhere. People think strongly that their religion is the “right” one, but no one really knows definitively whose religion is the “right” or “wrong” one. Maybe they are all right or maybe none of them are. We are all biased. We believe what confirms our biases and dismiss or ignore the rest. My religion isn’t better or more right than anyone elses.

Politics and religion are typically two topics I’ve tried to avoid. Our country’s founders were clear on separating “church” and “state,” but they’ve become very entwined. Maybe, they always were? What’s the point of talking about something that riles everyone up and that you can’t really change anyway? Why should I care about public policies and agendas if they don’t affect me directly? Everyone has a right to their own opinions. Correct? On the flip side, why should I be afraid to share my thoughts and opinions? Our country was founded on freedom of speech. Why be afraid? Because, hate and retaliation are very real today. Name calling and belittling are not far-fetched responses to expect from those who disagree. Ignorance is bliss. Right? Am I better off not knowing what others’ political and religious views are? I long for the days of not knowing. However, I realize that this is not a luxury I can afford. I was privileged to not have to know as it didn’t really affect my life one way or the other. However, over the past few years I find it harder and harder to tamp down the uneasiness within me and remain quiet. Silence equals complicity. I believe this. Yet, reading posts and comments that are hateful, untrue and biased cause my blood pressure to rise, my stomach to turn and uneasiness to flow through my body. Responding doesn’t change anyone’s mind and seems to feed animosity. And so, I unfollow negative people, stop myself from reading comments on articles and limit the amount of news I view out of self-preservation. But does doing this, then make me complicit? This is where I struggle.

One of the basic teachings of Christianity can be found in Matthew 25:37-40

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. “

Matthew 25:37-40  – NIV

Jesus did not teach that you only have to help the least of these if they are Christians and U.S, citizens. Thus, I have a hard time understanding how people can reconcile supporting President Trump and still consider themselves to be Christians. You only have to actually read the president’s Twitter feed or listen to one of his speeches to know that he does not remotely align with any of these core teachings. What does the economy matter, when people are hungry, sick and seeking shelter and we turn them away? Will a great economy, make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren if our water and air is polluted? What does it matter if taxes are lower, when our national debt grows? What does it matter if business is booming, if people are dying from COVID-19 and our health care system is overwhelmed?

When do his supporters finally wake up and admit they made a mistake in voting for and supporting this man? He is more concerned about his ratings, blaming others (the Democrats, the Fake News, the elite academics, Obama, Clinton and on and on), than he is in taking responsibility for his mistakes and being an empathetic leader. Yes, we should rally around our president in times of trial and put partisian politics aside. However, there is also a time to take a hard look at whether this president can look beyond his own ego and selfishness to do what is best for our country. Yes, both political parties have their flaws. There is name calling, lies and corruption all around. However, two wrongs have never made a right. I may not agree with all of Governor DeWine’s policies, but he makes me proud to be an Ohioian. He embodies the leadership and empathy that we need right now.

I would rather pay higher taxes, if it means helping those less fortunate, ensuring everyone has affordable healthcare and housing and protecting our environment.  Sure, there will always be people that would take advantage of said help, who don’t really need it, but I’d rather the help still be available to those who do. If that makes me a liberal, socialist, elitist or any other “ist” so be it. I own it. I would much rather live in a kinder, less selfish world.