Monday, March 23, 2015

Politicians - I don't know how they sleep at night

Seriously! And not for the obvious reasons. Yes, many of them are conniving, nefarious, fill-in-the-blank-individuals, but even politicians who try to be good - I don't know how they sleep at night.

Unless you include shouting at the telly and leaving the odd comment on The Guardian discussion boards, I don't really get involved in politics. A few years ago I went to some neighborhood meetings about the re-development of a local hospital building and I swore I'd never do that again. The wheeling and dealing that went on was enough to keep me up at night in a tightly wound ball of rage and indignation.

Yet here I am again. We have an election for mayor and city Aldermen coming up in a few weeks. The mayoral race will be interesting as it's between Rahm Emanuel, (one-time Chief of Staff for Obama and pitbull-in-training) and Chuy (pronounced Chewey) Garcia, a long time local politician who has actually garnered some support despite his plans having no financial explanations.

A friend of mine is challenging our local Alderwoman so I've been quite involved in "getting the word out". The incumbent Alderwoman has basically turned this ward into the laughing stock of Chicago - every single issue that comes up results in pitched battles between various warring factions. It's a fairly well-to-do ward so we don't have quite the problems other wards do, (half empty, run down schools, gangs on every street corner, drive-by shootings etc.) which makes the constant battling all the more ridiculous. Talk about first world problems.

My friend is trying her best to run a positive, forward-looking campaign but my oh my, it's hard when your opponent is leveling every claim she can at you. So far we've had the usual, "She's going to raise all your taxes". (she isn't), "She's against development" (she isn't) and "She's not looking out for the whole ward", (she is). Then it went one further last week when my friend was accused of not paying her property taxes - with no shred of evidence. Despite paperwork proving that she had indeed paid, the Alderwoman continued to accuse her of under-payment at every debate. I was livid on my friend's behalf. It's one thing being lambasted for your point of view, but quite another when you're being accused of something you 100% haven't done - and the accuser knows this! Ugh. Like I said, I could never be in politics.



Happy ending though - our big local newspaper took up the story, had an independent tax consultant look at the facts and concluded that the Alderwoman is totally and utterly wrong. We are now expecting her to be looking at my friend's library account and parking ticket history.

In the meantime, they have their final debate tonight and I really hope my friend wipes the floor with her opponent.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Big 5 Life Lessons

First off - sorry about the silence. I'm recovering from a big bout of stomach flu and well, you know how that is....

Anyhoo, I've decided to join in his meme I found over at Older Single Mum's blog. Actually it was started by Mummy from the Heart - the Big 5 Life Lessons we want to teach our children. Now, this isn't me saying "Look what a great parent I am"; it's an interesting exercise in itself and some of the tips I've been reading are great to take on board.



So - without further ado, mine are:

1. Be Kind. There is never a reason to be mean or uncaring to someone else. Whenever you find yourself listening to the devil on one shoulder, try to think about how your words or actions might make someone else feel. Above all, be kind to people who don't have as much as you; share your stuff and do what you can for others.

2. Sort of in the same vein - "Be the change you want to see in the world". Yes, it's nicked from someone like Gandhi but my goodness, things don't improve on their own. You can't just sit around whining about child slavery, cruelty to animals, local politicians, toxins in food or whatever your big beef is. (Sorry about that pun.) To go with that "You can't change the world but you can change someone's world", should help get you motivated. (We can call that 2A.)

3. They can only say "no". I spent my early years not being very daring because my glass tends to be half empty instead of half full. As I've aged, (and become a writer used to rejections and the occasional iffy review) my skin is tougher and I don't let fear of rejection hold me back. It probably also has something to do with living in the can-do USA, where it's their mantra here. But hey - I want my kids to reach for the stars (if they want to), never under-sell themselves and just ask "What's the worst that can happen?"

4. Have Music in your Life.  I danced a lot till I was 18 and although I studied music at school, I never had the time to become really proficient in an instrument. I wish I had. My three kids all played various interments growing up (and not by being forced either, although there were a few evenings when I had to remind them to practice). One is now pursuing a musical path, and the little guy is proving to be a great drummer and a talented pianist - and I have background music in the house almost 24/7. (Yes, the drums could be a little quieter but hey...). Music really is the food of life.

5. To Thine Own Self be True - this time nicked from Shakespeare, but a must. You'll be much happier with your life if you're living it truthfully. Don't try to be something you're not, especially when your own self is more than good enough. Stand up for your beliefs and if something makes you uncomfortable, (other than eating veggies and doing homework) don't be pressured into doing it.

God, I sound like Oprah! I'm supposed to nominate people to do this but please, feel free to join in.


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