Taking my life back …

I made a small public service announcement on Facebook and received an overwhelming amount of support.  My announcement: “I AM TAKING MY LIFE BACK!! I’m so DONE with all the crazy family drama, deadbeats, fake friends, friends and ex’s that badmouth people — all that crap. DONE. DONE. DONE. So, be honest, be real or get out of my way … I am going to be the best person I can be – just not taking the crap. It is OK for us to say “no” when we need to. I am so happy – beyond words happy. Thanks. Have a great day!”

What made me declare my epiphany – my “AHA” moment.  I was DONE.  Over it – the drama, chaos and all the negativity all of that crap brings.  It is ok to say NO.

We all make decision based on information we have at the time.  Sometimes we make the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons but sometimes we make the right decisions for the right reasons and the wrong decisions for the right reasons.   You get the idea.  But, hopefully, we always learn from our past and move forward.  For me, I would rather make a bad decision than  no decision at all.  I do not like limbo or ambivalence.  Sometimes we weigh the good v the bad.  The cost v the outcome.  Like litigation – how important is it to be right and to pay a bunch of attorneys fees?  For example, a family member owes my mother a LOT of money.  But, if we spend a ton of money collecting the money that we have little hope of ever recovering, was it worth it?  For what?  To be right?  To make a point? And, the worst outcome, she will not go away. It is always something with her.

So many people stay in unhappy relationships for a variety of reasons.  I decided to get out and I’m relieved.  I’m happier.  I feel free from the pressure, the unhappiness, all of that stuff.  I discovered that this man was bad mouthing me and my kids to his kids, our neighbors, his friends, and anyone that would listen.  He didn’t think of the consequences of such self-serving actions.  His kids resented me and my kids over his lies.  Untruths. Yes, I was angry. Even after the truth was known, the damage was done. How could I stay?

For years, I stayed in a family relationship that was draining, unhealthy and chaotic.  One of the best decisions I ever made was I decided to let go of that crazy sister and cease contact with her. But she is like gum on my shoe – she isn’t ever really gone …

It is always something … storm damage/good neighbor

Just when I think I am getting ahead – financially and making a serious dent in my never-ending “things-to-do” list, something happens.

There was a severe thunderstorm last week.  I parked in my driveway as usual. I even thought about the possibility of flooding.  We had a “freak flood” in April 2009.  My home is not in a flood zone yet it flooded.  But that is another story … but let’s say the City of Houston (Mayor Bill White), TIRZ 17, developers Trammell Crow, Fidelis Investment, Memorial City entities, et al. all had hand in that “freak flood” because they allowed development that they KNEW was going to cause flooding in my neighborhood but developed anyway.  They had several engineering companies tell them that the development with no detention or retention was going to cause the area to flood.  If we have rain, I always think of flooding.  PTSD?  Horrible flashbacks … but thank goodness I had flood insurance; otherwise, this damage would have bankrupted me.  Flood insurance is not required except for my peace of mind.  I have seen people in ruins because they didn’t have flood insurance just because they weren’t in a flood zone, therefore, they thought they didn’t need it.

But, back to the recent storm.  There is a large tree on my neighbors’ property which hangs over their house and my driveway and roof.  During the storm with 68 MPH winds, a large dead branch fell from their tree and hit my car.  Other small branches pelted my car and there are a lot of scratches as well as many dents.   The damage is several dents in several places along the car – hood, roof, side/top near the windows, the side of the car and the windshield.  It looks more like someone took a bat to my car.  What a nice surprise to walk out to go to work and see the car that I have only had for less than 6 weeks with dents all over it.  But, time to go to work – busy day ahead.  I just shake my head – it is always something.  Not in a self-pity way, more of an “OMG, are you kidding me” way.  Add that to the ever growing “to-do” list = 1) call the neighbors regarding the tree; 2) call the insurance company; 3) make appointment to get the car repaired; 4) call the rent car company; and 5) whatever else.  One incident, several more things to do.  Check.

I get a frantic call from my neighbor who told me about the large branch and several small branches in my driveway.  She wanted to report that her tree dropped the branches and was happy to report it did not hit my house.   I had to break the news to her – it damaged my car.  She expressed shock that I hadn’t called her.  I told her it was on my list of things to do but I had been busy at work.  She felt horrible about it.  She thinks she is responsible.  I’m not sure who is – yes, there had been issues with the tree in the past and yes, we talked about it.  But, there was a windstorm aka “act of God.”  But, the tree limb was completely dead.  She was horrified she had not noticed that the branch was dead.  I just want to be a good neighbor.  I’m not angry, not accusatory, and just not sure who is responsible.  If it were just the storm and not a long history with the tree, I think we should just chalk it up to one of those things and my insurance will pay (great – another claim on my policy).  She reported it to her insurance company. The adjuster called me the same day.  As soon as he asked about my insurance, I knew they were going to deny liability and coverage.  In her defense, I have not ever demanded that they completely remove the tree although we tossed the idea around.

Never mind the fact that the tree had done previous damage to another one of my cars during another storm.  Never mind the fact that the same tree cracked my driveway with its roots which also cracked the wall in my house.  I was assured that severing the roots would stop causing further damage to my property and the neighbor’s tree company said that severing the roots would not compromise the tree.  Never  mind the fact that the same tree lost more branches and damaged the neighbor’s garage roof.  Never mind the fact that the branch was dead (no leaves, hollow … obviously dead).  Never mind the fact that the neighbors accepted responsibility for the damage their tree caused.  I understand the “act of God” reasoning regarding liability.  However, with the history of the tree, should they have reasonably known that the tree had potential for liability and damage?  Should their insurance pay?  If not, would a good neighbor pay my auto deductible?  They offered but I’m not going to hold them to it.  Truth be told, it could have been a lot worse.  I am thankful the dead branch didn’t hurt anyone.  I’m thankful that it didn’t smash the windshield and cause water damage to my car.  I’m very thankful it didn’t damage my house – I have a huge deductible on my homeowner’s policy.

For the record, it is not just a simple situation of insurance coverage.  I want to be a good neighbor.  And, I think they do too.  We talked about the tree again after the latest incident. We like the tree.  It provides great shade.  Although at certain times of the year, I don’t park in my driveway because it drips sap all over my car. How much damage to  my home and cars should I suffer because of a tree?   I told them that it is probably time to think about getting rid of the tree.  The plan is that they will have a tree guy come out to determine if the tree is dying or if severing the roots caused some limbs to die.  They don’t want the liability but they really don’t want to get rid of the tree either.   While this is fresh on my mind, I also hired a tree guy to come trim all of my trees.  Some limbs are getting close to my house, my other neighbor’s house, too close to the power lines, etc.  Well worth the $500.00 for my property to look better, avoid liability and to be a good neighbor.

Just my luck that I have had the car for only about 6 weeks and now it is at the Lexus dealership being repaired.  Estimated time:  3 weeks.  Seriously?  The repairs are a little complicated because of where the dents are.  The insurance company will probably send their own adjuster instead of just relying on the dealership because the extent of damage. When the estimator looked at the car and said “oh wow that is a lot of damage” I knew it was going to be expensive and take a while.  Rough guess of damages?  $5,000+.  So, I am in a rent car for approximately 3 weeks.  Oh joy.

Oh well.  These things happen.  Deep breath.  $250 deductible.  Another claim on my auto policy. $500 to trim my trees.  And, I’m a good neighbor.

Food for thought.

Questioning With Boldness...

The following is a transcript of a letter to the editor that first appeared on June 9, 2010, in the Iosco County News Herald. It is attributed to someone by the name of Ken Huber from Tawas City, Michigan. I feel that is equally relevant 6 months later and maybe it can be a barometer for how the Republican Congress is doing at making inroads into changing the current state of ship in the U.S.

What has America become?

Editor,

Has America become the land of special interest and home of the double standard?

Lets see: if we lie to the Congress, it’s a felony and if the Congress lies to us its just politics; if we dislike a black person, we’re racist and if a black person dislikes whites, its their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools…

View original post 321 more words

Black or white?

Is anything ever really black and white?

The Rutgers’ student, Dharun Ravi, was found guilty for an invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, a hate crime. Ravi used his webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after he discovered Ravi spied on him and tweeted about him – apparently outing him as gay.  There is no doubt that Ravi was at the very least morally wrong in using his webcam to spy on someone.  I think we can all agree on that.

The verdict … guilty.  It was deserved.  The punishment …  does the punishment fit the crime? Obviously, I only know what the press reports.  I was not in the courtroom and I do not know anyone associated with this case.   I did not follow the case closely but the verdict and punishment has me thinking …

I remember when this tragedy was first reported.  My first thought was “OMG how horrible for the victim.”  How can someone do something so thoughtless and insensitive?  More importantly, WHY?  People who know me are all painfully aware that I hate bullies. I am passionate about bullying and will speak out against bullying at every opportunity.  I believe that people should help, not hurt, others.  I believe that we should speak out and stand up for what is right even when it is unpopular.   I do not understand what drives people to be so hateful and mean to others – especially kids in school.

I have learned that bullying means a wide variety of things to people.  “Bully” almost seems like a childish term – an act that we associate with elementary and middle schools.   But for a lack of a better word, I will continue to use the word “bully.”  Bullying happens daily everywhere – in schools even high school, the workplace, in the community, on the internet … everywhere.  Was he a bully?  Was this a hate crime?

Bullying is just wrong.  It destroys people.  Why can’t people just leave others alone instead of bullying them?  I struggle to understand WHY WHY WHY.  The consequences are serious and sometimes deadly.   I believe that bullies should face consequences if they are responsible for pushing someone to suicide but is that really the case here?  Ravi is not being held responsible for the suicide in this case.

Ravi, 20 years old, was found guilty.  He spied on his roommate not just once but twice.  Clearly intentional.  Then tweeted about it several times.  Ravi has been described as arrogant and didn’t like “poor people” although his family was not mega-wealthy either.  Allegedly, there is evidence that Clementi was shy, introverted, didn’t have many friends, and had some issues.  He had confessed to his parents that he was gay just before starting college.  He asked for a roommate change after discovering what Ravi had done.  Clementi committed suicide–after his Facebook post “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.”  Was Clementi a fragile soul before Ravi or did this drive him to suicide?  Was he suicidal before Ravi?  Was this just the last straw?  Allegedly, there is a suicide note that not even Clementi’s family has seen.  He had previously made a comment about suicide and the bridge – way before even meeting Ravi.  There was evidence that Clementi checked Twitter over 38 times in two days before he jumped off the bridge.  Ravi is not charged with causing Clementi’s death. But, Ravi doesn’t seem to accept responsibility for his actions and even tried to cover it up once he learned of the suicide.

I don’t believe that Ravi intentionally drove Clementi to suicide.   In other words, he didn’t set up the webcam or tweet to cause the suicide although that was the outcome.   BUT, with all the media attention on bullying and suicides, isn’t that the assumption that it could be the outcome?  How many times do we have to hear about bullying and suicides before we take notice?  Were we surprised that the victim committed suicide?  So, was he just an extremely immature college student not thinking of any consequences?  Or was the roommate unstable?  Should he be held responsible?

My reaction when I heard the guilty verdict – “It is about time people are responsible for their actions. This guy was wrong in videotaping his roommate.”  He faces 10 years in prison and could be deported to his native India although he has been here nearly all his life.  Watching Ravi as the verdict is read is a little disturbing because he didn’t seem to show emotion but that could be a cultural thing.  My second reaction – I think the verdict is too harsh.  Right subject, wrong case for that verdict.  I think the young man was unstable before his suicide.

The entire situation is tragic.  We all feel bad for the victim and his family but do we also feel bad for Ravi and his family?  I do.  Many lives were hurt and ruined by stupid thoughtless actions but does the punishment fit the crime?  Is it too harsh?  Was this a case of severe consequences for the bully of an emotionally unstable roommate?  No punishment will bring Clementi  back but there needs to be some sort of punishment.  What is appropriate?  Does he deserve 10 years in prison for his actions and deportation?  Is ruining his life appropriate?  If this was a heterosexual couple in the dorm room, would the outcome be different?  He was offered a plea deal and turned it down.  The girl involved accepted the plea deal.  He chose to go to trial.

Rutgers said in a statement that freedom of expression, tolerance and the right to personal privacy are important to any university community, and added the “sad incident should make us all pause” to recognize the importance of civility and mutual respect.”

Well said.  My hope is that maybe this case will make another person to think before acting.  I firmly believe that people need to be held accountable for their actions.  There are always consequences.  But was this just? I am not sure that it was.  Is anything ever really black and white?

Blog? Seriously?

I always wanted to blog so here goes but WARNING … I still cannot find the time to blog so it will be sporadic at best.  I am quite sure I hear sighs of disappointment (yes, read with sarcasm).  I am interested in a variety of topics and very interested in others opinions on those topics.  I like to learn.  I like to hear opinions and to hear others’ point of view.  I like a good debate.  I firmly believe we can all agree to disagree.  For example, we can disagree on big subjects (religion, politics, parenting and so many other subjects) but we can still be friends because we have agreed to disagree on those subjects and we respect and actually embrace our differences. The point is, we can disagree with someone’s choices, beliefs, lifestyle, etc. and still get along and ALWAYS treat each other with respect and compassion.   We all need to respect our differences.  That is what makes friendships great –  honest friendships.  Friendships … one of the things that makes this world great.

My kids reallly don’t like the fact that I love to talk about feelings.  Actually, they do not like the fact that I can talk forever to just about anyone about anything.  I am truly interested in people.  What makes them do the things that they do?  Why did they make that decision?  Why do they think the way that they do?  What brought them here?  I like to ask questions, I like to gather information.  A blog seems to be the perfect forum to post, to get comments and to hear others opinions.

I know that every choice I have made in life is why I am where I am today.  The good, the bad, the ugly etc.  I want to teach my kids that every choice has consequences – every choice leads you down a path.  If I could, I would want to spare them the heartache of bad decisions but I also know, the bad decisions are important too.  They can teach us many things – that you can learn from them immensely and bounce back from bad decisions (and hopefully, not repeat bad decisions).  Be proud of the good decisions.  Always try to do the right thing – sometimes the right thing is not just what is good for you, but is what is good for all.

More later …

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