Monday, January 14, 2013

Support Girl Scouts!

Yes, internoodles, it's that time of year again here in the Midwest--Girl Scout Cookie Time!

I've got scouts of both the boy and girl variety, and Lord knows my kids have hit up everyone they can think of to sell, sell, sell.  Yeah, my kids are born marketers.  This year, Brownie made her own video on my phone, showing cookie options and texted it to random people in my contacts.  Some she knew well, some not at all.  It's made for some funny texts in return.

This isn't about a plea for more sales (but hey, if you don't HAVE a local girl scout, LET ME KNOW) but to publicly appreciate and explain the connection scouts has had in all our lives and tell you more about what you're supporting. 

When I was a kid, my mom was a single parent, my dad flitting in and out at unexpected and random moments.  We were both very fortunate that my grandparents were involved and in the picture, but they lived about 45 minutes away--in good Chicago traffic--and since my mom was the oldest of seven, there were still kids at home for my grandparents to raise when I was a child.  My mom also had a fabulous network of friends who helped out by keeping me overnight while she went to her night job.  But my mom felt guilty, possibly treading into using those options TOO much.  Summer Girl Scout camp was her break.  Not that my mom didn't love and worship the ground I walked on (I mean who wouldn't?!) but every parent needs a break.  My mom would scrimp and save all year to send me to at least one full week of camp in the summer.  As I grew older, multiple weeks were saved for.  They represented her chance to rejuvenate and come back to parenting fresher and better.  It gave her a chance to miss me.

Did I mention I LOVED girl scout camp? I was able to assert my independence without being told "no" unless it was something flat out dangerous.  I learned how to ride horses English style, I sailed a small boat by myself then taught others to, I took a three day canoe trip with 10 other girls, I built fires, planned and cooked meals by myself, and on rainy days, I mastered the ability to French braid hair (something I've put to GOOD use with a daughter), and I started a real love affair with camping and the outdoors that's lasted me my whole life, all by age 14.  Had my mom tried to give me all those opportunities individually, the costs would have been monstrous, and I wouldn't have been able to do even half those activities.  But Girl Scouts provided a way to give me solid skills in all those areas.

For my kids, I look around the world today, and I see how heavy competition to the point of crushing one's opponent into dust is valued.  I see the disconnect between people and their communities, and I feel acutely the ways our children no longer value our connection with nature.  We recycle and all, but there's little to no appreciation for nature anymore.  There's teamwork, but the end result doesn't always translate into having humanity for one's opponents--win or lose.  Scouting provides children, no matter what their income levels are, a sense of purpose not just for the self but as a part of a community.  It teaches girls and boys to lead with compassion and respect for ALL others--people and nature.  Specifically for girls, in a world where youngsters from the earliest ages today are overwhelmed by examples of how the world wants them to be women, and the overwhelming majority of those examples do not involve thinking, Girl Scouts teaches girls to lead, think for themselves, and not to be afraid of their own voices.

So please, if you have a girl scout in your neighborhood, or you see one at the store selling cookies, help to support this cause.  If you don't want cookies in your house because of that spiffy New Year's resolution, donating to send cookies to our overseas troops gives individual Girl Scout troops the same benefit as buying a box for yourself.  Help us to continue to create girls of courage, confidence, and character, and thank you in advance for your support.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Really wealthy celebrity? Really?

Free admission, I used to be a big fan of Oprah back in the day when she was new to Chicago's talk shot concept, and she was closer to transvestites and relationships gone wrong than she was angels and giving out her favorite things.  Somewhere along the way, however, I've noticed that while she believes in her heart of hearts she's still a "regular gal," she's wrong.  "Regular" kicked her off the bus long ago.  I've seen bits of shows where it's obvious she doesn't understand the struggles of daily life at all.

So keep that in mind as you read along.

I've been a little absent.  The holidays usually hold a fair amount of melancholy for me.  I miss key members of my family who have passed on, and I spend way too much time worrying I'm not giving my kids the Norman Rockwell Christmas I, at least, had a taste of, if, you know, Norman Rockwell painted about Eastern European immigrants and their progeny.  This year had the added excitement of my husband's joblessness and cringing at every gift request my kids made. 

I'm folding laundry last night, being all domestic and what not, and the TV is on for noise.  Now, this was an edited commercial I heard, so I'm HOPING there was more humility to it than I heard. 

Oprah is on screen, and she says, "Really, I have the most stressful life of anyone in the world." I will freely admit there is probably great stress involved in maintaining an international media presence, along with the company and employees that go along with that branding effort.  But of ANYONE? In the WORLD?  Like I said, I'm hoping in the original that's followed by "but still there are many worse off than I am" or something akin to that sentiment, but I'm guessing not.

Specifically for Oprah, then.  (Feel free to pass this along if you are intimate BFFs with Oprah):
  • There are people who are stressed beyond belief because they lost their children in either recent super storms or senseless killings.  They feel more stress than you do.
  • Soldiers who couldn't be with their families this holiday season and wonder if today's the day they might not come back in from maneuvers, they have more stress than you do.
  • My friend's 24 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with stage 3 brain cancer and was given 2-3 years to live. I'm sure there are many like her.  They have more stress than you do.
  • My husband has been out of work for three months, and only two years ago he ended an almost 3 year long streak of unemployment.  There are COUNTLESS people like us.  All of us have more stress than you do.
  • There are people who feel defeated in life for no other reason than the chemistry in their brains isn't right, but they don't know how to solve it.  They have more stress than you do.
I pretty much consider this the short list. Perhaps Oprah needs to start employing censors to keep her from sounding stupid.  It would be money well spent.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Confidence? Yeah, she's got it

Brownie: I think I want to be a chef. I'm good at cooking.

Me: Yes, you always help me cook. You could do that.

(Insert big sigh from Brownie)

Me: What, dearie?

Brownie: It's so hard to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'm SO talented. I like to dance, I like art, my singing is great, and I write great books. I guess I'll need to be more than one thing. People deserve it.

Me: Okay! (I'm actually a little afraid we'll all be working for her one day).