Why Are We So Afraid to Show Love?

In the wake of that horrible shooting in Roanoke, I have been thinking a lot about the people left behind. Alison Parker’s boyfriend, her family; Adam Ward and his fiancée and family, how they must be feeling. I know we are all talking about gun laws right now, but behind it all are people hurting really, really bad. This isn’t a statistic to illustrate a cause, for them. This is their whole lives.

Alison’s boyfriend, Chris, got on social media to talk about how he was feeling in the days after her death. He was very open about the deep love he had shared with her: “We didn’t share this publicly, but @AParkerWDBJ7 [Alison] and I were very much in love.” A few minutes later: “She was the most radiant woman I ever met.”

Why did it take her dying for him to be public about his love for her? Why is it unprofessional or weak or silly to share with people – the same people you share enthusiasms about little things like your favorite foods, your sports affiliations, even what kind of car you drive – how much you love someone? Why is it embarrassing to love deeply? Why is pretending to be an emotionless robot the way you have to behave almost all the time unless you want to make a fool of yourself?

When you read those articles about things people wish they had said and done on their deathbeds, and how so many say they wished they had loved and shown love more, it makes you wonder why hiding your feelings is still the way so many of us live, and why we ridicule people who have the audacity to be vulnerable in front of us.

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Just Because You Retweeted It, Doesn’t Mean You Wrote It

Does anyone else, when they scroll through their social media feed, get super annoyed by people that just post articles that they think make them look intellectual? I know I shouldn’t care, and I can unfollow, and blah blah blah, but there just seems to be a movement (for lack of a better word) of people who post links to things they think make them look smart, without ever producing any original writing or thoughts of their own. Every so often, you’ll get a clickbait, “I could have written this,” (obviously, you couldn’t) or, “Can you believe this is happening?” (as if you made the first discovery) or some other backhanded way of taking credit for ideas and writing that they didn’t produce.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be a writer. I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t share news we find interesting with the people in our lives. But I am saying that when you sit there and retweet crap you didn’t research, write, have thoughtful commentary on, or do ANYTHING but click a button – yet still exude this aura of, “Because I found this link, I am now an expert on this subject,” it’s incredibly annoying and makes you look like a lazy fraud. Congrats on using an RSS feed and demonstrating the incredible skill of clicking a button on your smartphone screen. Way to not use an iota of critical thinking. It’s this type of crap, the mindlessness of it, coupled with the possessiveness people assume over the things they post, that starts us all down a shaky path: groupthink, online witch hunts, social justice warriors so hellbent on their version of “justice” that they stop seeing reason completely.

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Assateague Island: How I Love Thee

Maureen and I went to Assateague Island National Seashore again over the weekend and it was just as delightful as always. I can’t say enough about how much I love it, and I know I’ve talked about it on this blog before. But it’s just so wonderful to be able to get to the ocean beach and back in a day, bring your dogs, AND be able to see wild ponies while you do it.

The only thing I would change about these trips is that we desperately need to get one of those beach carts with the big sand tires. We are laden down with coolers and umbrellas and bags and worst of all, dogs, when we carry stuff from the car to the beach. Anything to not have to make two trips, though!

I can’t tell who has more fun!

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Ever Feel Anxious? Try Box Breathing.

I can say this unequivocally: I despise shopping in Walmart. I know, I know, it’s very trendy to hate Walmart these days, and probably hypocritical considering we seem to think Amazon is okay and their treatment of employees seems to be no better. But there is just something about being in a Walmart store that drives me to the peaks of anxiety almost instantly. I think it’s how gigantically huge, disorganized, chaotic, and artificial they all are. Not to put too fine a point on it.

Anyway, I was forced to be in one recently to get an umbrella on the way to the beach. It was a SuperWalmart, no less, so that means instead of just the usual headache, you tack on the world’s hugest grocery store with the world’s tallest shelves. It’s like 17 football fields of store, I swear. I am immediately overwhelmed because I don’t even know where to BEGIN looking for what I came for, there are kids screaming, stuff is falling off the shelves, beeping from indeterminate sources that drones on and on, babbling over the intercom…I can feel my panic rising just remembering it.

But never fear, I have a solution a friend taught me. It’s called box breathing, and you can do it anywhere, even in an aisle at Walmart. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this knowledge on that fateful day and ended up spending nearly half an hour wandering around, angrily searching for one lousy beach umbrella, but I have it now, and I’m going to share it with you. First, you breathe in for a count of four. Now hold for a count of four. Now exhale for a count of four. Now hold for a count of four. Do this until you feel relaxed.

The modern world is a busy, beeping place for our poor prehistoric brains. But I have no doubt we can learn to navigate it if we just listen to ourselves and use natural tools at our disposal. When I learn of more, I’ll be sure to post them.

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I see people proudly being proud for the strangest things. The one I find probably the strangest is being proud of where you’re from. Because I can tell you this much, you had absolutely zero to do with where you were born, and therefore can’t take credit for any of it.

Now, perhaps the place where you’re born has a really excellent human rights record. They just treat people well. You can be proud of the voting you personally did, or the policies you personally enacted to make that place so welcoming and just.

Or say the landscape is unsullied and beautiful. And say you personally help with that, either by creating policy, or voting for people who enact policy, or even showing up on trash cleanup day and helping keep the area clean. Then you can take pride in the part you play to keep the landscape pristine.

But just being proud of being BORN somewhere, and usually it’s somewhere you don’t even live or have anything to do with anymore, why? First of all, what right do you have, but second, why do you even care? What good is it doing you? Most of the time it just ends up being a way to divide yourself from others.

You know, the more I write and think about this, the more I see it’s rooted in that deep, aching need all humans seem to have to belong to something. Everyone has to feel like they’re a part of a group, and I guess pride in birthplace is just another club to belong to and help you feel more special than other people.

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Southern Man

I traveled down south recently and had some interesting run-ins with the men down there. In their defense, they don’t mean to be sexist and insensitive, and not all of them are, but, well…see what you think:

1) I stopped into an airport restaurant for a burger and beer before my flight home. The tater tots came with this AMAZING dipping sauce (you know how I am with my condis) and the waiter saw I had almost finished it and asked if I wanted more. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna finish the tots, so I looked at what I had left and indecisively said, “hmmm, maybe.” The man responded, “Yeah, ‘maybe’ sounds like a woman answer and I know what that means. I better go get some.”

2) In another restaurant, a Chinese woman with a very thick accent was waiting on a group of us very, very attentively. Some people in the group knew her and even worked with her, and one guy was like, “Isn’t she great? Always going above and beyond. [He then began using a Chinese accent.] ‘Can I get anything else for you, suh? You take this juice, I bring it for you special. Here, you have extra, you bring home for latuh.'” She walked in toward the end of this parroting, she had to have heard at least some of it.

3) Again at the airport, this big tall fella was sitting in a chair with his leg crossed and his foot a thousand miles into the aisle. There was a golf cart stopped in front of him offloading some elderly people, so to get around this guy’s foot, people had to bob and weave between it and the golf cart. He was totally oblivious to how much room his boat foot was taking up and how much it was inconveniencing the people who walked past it. Until my suitcase clipped it.

So there you have it. Nothing horrible, just…clueless I guess. Harmless, but clueless. The weird thing is, these same men will bend over backward to be overly polite in other circumstances. But even that kind of irks me, too. They will treat a woman deferentially to the point of seeming to pat her on the head.

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Why do people always forget what it felt like to be a kid?

I was in a museum recently during the day and it was just teeming with children. There was one little boy wearing a baseball cap and looking at something with his sister. An older, well-meaning gentleman tapped him on the bill of his cap as he walked by, in a gesture that seemed to me to mean, “Hey there, little guy. You’re cute.” But you could tell the boy was totally disconcerted at having been touched/tapped/messed with by this man.

It made me wonder, why do we think it’s okay to treat kids like little dolls to play with in ways we never would with adults? They deserve autonomy, too, at least as far as their personal space vis-à-vis strangers is concerned. I see adorable little old ladies and I don’t go touching their accessories cos I feel like it. Do you remember when you were a kid and adults touched you and it was annoying? God, I had this one aunt that I STILL remember pinching our butts and spanking us on birthdays. It was annoying for sure, but pretty humiliating, too! I know a tap on a ball cap is different than that, but come on, it’s not that hard to just not touch a child you don’t know (or manhandle one you do). They’ll come to you if they want to be touched or held, or you can ask first.

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Personal Trainer

As I was walking home from work, I passed a man huffing it pretty hard up a hill, with an incredibly tall and fit man jogging behind him. The incredibly tall and fit man effortlessly called out to the red-faced, huffing man, “When you get to the top, man, increase your speed just a little bit!” My immediate response, under my breath, was, “Make me.” I guess that means no personal trainer for Ginger.

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My grandma was making rhubarb crisp (MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE, BY THE WAY) and shouts out to my mom, “Jeannie, do you have any oley?” I’m sitting there laughing, “Oley, Grandma?” She goes, “Oleo!” People of a certain age and their oleo. It’s so funny/cute. She had to settle for butter – does ANYONE use oleo anymore?

Be still my heart.

This reminds me of when I was a kid and my friend Joslyn and I were making a recipe out of the church cookbook. It called for a bunch of ingredients we had, and half a cup of oleo. We were like, “what in god’s name is oleo?” We searched all the cabinets and fridge, nothing. Since this was before cell phones, we just had to wait for my mom to come home to tell her we didn’t finish the cookies cos we were missing an ingredient. “You silly girls! Oleo is margarine!” I guarantee the generation after mine will spend their entire lives not knowing the word oleo or what it is.

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Swimmin’ Hole

If you’ve ever hiked along Rock Creek in DC during the summer, trust me, you look at it so longingly, just wanting to take a quick dip to cool off like the dogs can. But you can’t. Because it’s polluted with sewage, especially after a big rain. (Let’s be honest, the dogs probably shouldn’t be in it, either, but there’s really no stopping them.)

I have a solution! Christopher and his sister found an article with a bunch of nearby swimming holes and there’s one only about half an hour away from my apartment. It’s in Seneca Creek in Poolesville, Maryland. He and I went to check it out last Friday. I most definitely got in the water and it was really fun.

You can get to it quite easily. Put Seneca Store at 16315 Old River Road into your GPS.

Park on the street in front of the store, not in the lot behind it.

To the right of the store, you’ll see a clearing, and beyond that, a creek. That there creek is your swimmin’ hole!

There are small, clay sand beaches on both sides of the creek.

The creek was only about thigh deep at its deepest when we went last Friday. I paddled around in it a little, but it’s mostly for wading.

Hapoo was the lifeguard.

The clearing I mentioned earlier is a great spot for a picnic and to dry off after you’re done playing. They keep it mowed because the general store and I guess this spot in the creek are historic landmarks.

Christopher said he felt like he was hanging out with Ray Charles all afternoon.

We headed out from Adams Morgan at about 4:00 PM on a DC summer Friday, which everyone knows means hellacious traffic – except there wasn’t any going that way. We took River Road and there was just… nothing. That might have been the best part. We got there about 4:30 and left about 8:00. It was the best way to spend a hot summer night, no sweltering on a rooftop, no languishing in soulless, sunless air conditioning, just enjoying the summer outdoors. Come with us next time!

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