Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Give us your poor, your tired

A book that I am feverishly consuming discloses the nature and complexities of America’s assimilation of millions of immigrants during the first decade of the twentieth century. To my knowledge, all four of my grandparents arrived in the US from Eastern Europe during that time.

Because the last of those family members left this world in 1968, I have no access to their stories. But I owe a great deal to this book for enabling me to recover some of my history that was previously unavailable.

Many of the amenities that are commonplace to us were phenomena for these new Americans. The Victrola was introduced by the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1906. It was so popular that the newcomers would complain that no matter where they went, they were assaulted by music. Imagine what they would be saying now about music in every venue.

Newcomers were often unfamiliar with indoor plumbing, a mail delivery system that was convenient and consistent; and public libraries that allowed you to remove the books you wanted at no charge. Education was free, women worked outside the home, frequently in sweatshops and transportation was generally comfortable and affordable.

The entry process at Ellis Island was long and convoluted, with many immigrants being returned to Europe because of a contagious eye disease. There was so much to comprehend and process, I now have great appreciation for my family that moved to the Midwest, secured jobs and raised families. In many cases, they initiated all of this with no money, no family in the US and no ability to speak English.

As we ponder and analyze the subject of immigration then and now, we must consider the immense challenges that they faced. Thanks to despots and pogroms in Eastern Europe, life free of tyranny, endless laws and prohibitions and a compulsory military service became a solution with multiple joyous freedoms. Who wouldn’t want to live here instead of there? If you’re not familiar with “Give us your tired…,” it’s the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

While we debate immigration and all its facets, we must remember the terror of life outside our borders, situations we can only imagine. We can’t liberally integrate all those who want part of our American blessings. But we can improve our understanding of their eagerness to partake of what we cherish. Shalom.

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

 

 

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

When I grow up

A short and somewhat chubby third grader tells me, “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.” His classmate, a very thin and fragile little girl, advises that she wants to be a firefighter. Very often, I ask my classes what they aspire to become in their lives.

Under no circumstances and for no reason will I ever criticize, contradict or minimize these dreams. To begin, I have no right to do so. More importantly, we adults do these children a huge disservice by suggesting that their expectations are unrealistic.

If I think about my own childhood, women either got married or became teachers but rarely both. My dad was forever reminding me and others that I was going away to college to acquire my Mrs. degree.

For fear of sounding as if I am grandstanding for women’s rights, I’m extremely glad that opportunities for women have dramatically improved. Would my life have evolved differently if he had encouraged rather than insulted my intentions? It’s difficult to say. Ultimately, I achieved what I intended, often in the face of gender discrimination.

But I won’t allow my students to ask that type of question of themselves. What characteristics present in third or any other grade are nearly irrelevant. That generalization, however, does not apply to passion.

Passion is an emotion that I seize and explore as thoroughly as possible. We can’t create it but we can identify and champion it. If you want to be a police officer when you grow up, I’m sure that you’ll be able to become one. No matter what and no matter who tells you otherwise, you can be what you want to be.

It used to be that height, weight, gender and other factors served to prevent us from pursuing various endeavors. Much less of that now exists. But our students may continue to receive negativity from parents, grandparents or classmates.

Many of us can speak literally about the teachers or other adults who had lasting influence on us. My experience suggests that most of this takes the form of enthusiasm and encouragement. We can also learn from those who worked to discourage or insult our aspirations.

Help those who can benefit the most from the help to build dreams. It’s likely that each of us who touch the lives of others have the potential to make profound impacts on them. As I often mention, we will never be able to calculate or measure how much influence our words and actions will have. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you in any of your writing endeavors, it will be my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Encyclopedias

My quick search on the internet discloses that encyclopedias have been around for about 2,000 years and continue to this day. In our mega-technology environment, I suspect that most reference is done online. But I clearly remember using this valuable creation as a frequent and trusted source of information.

It occurred to me that it would be helpful if we could create our own encyclopedias instead of trusting our brains to access important information. Those of us who remember using encyclopedias can probably understand this better than those who grew up only with online access. Asking my elementary school students if they are familiar with the word encyclopedia, I generally get blank stares. In addition to avoiding multi-syllable words, they have never investigated the value of said miracle.

When I speak of my own reference document it would work like this: In the late 60s and early 70s, I worked at a very large bank in Chicago for a collection of distinguished gentlemen. This was during those bleak days when women couldn’t wear pants to work and in a very large institution such as this, there was only one woman officer. In any case, there was a sweet man named Frank who frequently took me to lunch at a legendary Chicago restaurant. Because I can’t remember his last name, I have no ability to pay tribute to him.

Likewise, I would like to remember  my first voice coach, the name of a bar where I celebrated my 21st birthday, the people who helped me celebrate my graduation from college and the restaurant where we had spaghetti in Rome. Who taught me how to read music? Who was my first guitar teacher? What was the name of the man whom I met several months ago who was a film producer interested in my work?

Clearly, it would be desirable to have access to as much information as we seek, as easily as possible. Maybe we simply don’t have the ability to retain all of this data and the brain filters out a portion that it deems unessential. Regardless, I still think that we owe it to ourselves to chronicle as much as possible, especially when we realize that information will be vital at a later date. Write it all down and you’ll never need to wonder. Shalom.

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. You can reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Variety

Almost daily, I find myself at the mercy of things that I have been doing the same way for as many years as I can remember. Most of these are minor and include the order of actions that I take in the morning after getting out of bed, the way in which I set a table for dinner or the number of minutes I spend on my stationary bicycle.

Recently, I have wondered if it is a good or bad habit to do exactly the same things exactly the same number of times on exactly the same days. Can it be that human beings require this type of ongoing repetitive behavior in order to achieve some secondary consequence?

It may be that we succeed in accomplishing more in any given day if we adhere to a schedule. If I try very hard, I can convince myself that my morning routine is efficient and especially on those days when I am in the process of getting somewhere, it is the most direct method of getting out the door. But I also believe that it’s something else.

Most of us spend our days thinking about concepts that are substantially more important than the methods by which we brush our teeth. If we adhere to routines that eliminate thought processes, we can reserve our brain time for more significant issues. That’s one way of looking at it.

In spite of this efficiency, I find it liberating and occasionally fun to change it up in small ways. If I adjust the way I set the table for dinner, adding something and subtracting something else, it results in variety and a change of pace. The process of changing it up also makes me feel more creative, if only in very minor ways.

My recommendation is that it’s a good thing to stretch your creativity and do things a little differently. Use muenster cheese on your burger instead of American. Add some dilled garlic to your baked chicken and see what happens. Your particular circumstances will determine the size and complexity of your variation from mediocrity. And you may be pleasantly surprised at the results that evolve from your new accomplishments. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you in any of your writing endeavors, it will be my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

 

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Simple logic

A lady we recently encountered reported some of the events experienced by her eight-year old in public school. From what she described, the child was guilty of several relatively minor infractions.

Apparently, the behavior misdeeds were in rapid succession. Because I’ve seen all ranges of mistakes and unfortunate behavior by students, it’s difficult to surprise or shock me. But these were minor – get in line now and your homework was due this morning.

The teacher’s responses were extremely harsh. Now you’ve lost your field trip privileges for the week. Next time you do this, you don’t have any free time for the rest of the school year.

Unlike most of us who reside either in the past or the indefinite never never land future, kids understand only the present tense. Why would you threaten an eight-year old with a long-term deprivation?

If I were the child, I would think, Why should I behave? What else can you take from me? My question becomes, what happened to asking why work wasn’t completed or why are you having such trouble following the rules?

There’s plenty of time for kids to endure sincere hardship and scarcity. Rather than demonstrating power, the teacher might have witnessed more positive outcomes with understanding and empathy.

Yes, I realize that I’m hearing only one side of the story. But the lesson remains: Give children (and adults) as many chances to excel as you can create or promote. The possibilities are excellent that remarkable actions will ensue. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you in any of your writing endeavors, it will be my privilege to do so. You can reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Guys

Make a list of all of the world’s injustices and crises. At the top will likely be crime, world hunger, discrimination and the worldwide need for quality education. While I understand that this list will vary according to philosophy and society, my guess is that this covers some of the most crucial. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that the use of “you guys” is among the top ten of issues that I would change if I could.

There are several explanations for the origin of the word “guy.” One is from the French word guier that means to guide. Another explanation is from the old Germanic word that means woods. No matter the origin, the American version of this word is used so often and so disrespectfully (in my opinion), that I have come to dislike being called one of “you guys.”

You hear this term everywhere you go. On the internet, I hear one of my husband’s American favorites use the term at least ten times in each occasion that he posts a video. Likewise, I just heard one from a non-American who has adopted this unfortunate habit, repeatedly referring to his viewing public as “you guys.”

If I could, I would ignore it. Yesterday, an otherwise excellent restaurant server stopped at our table at least four times to ask, “You guys doing okay?”. It amuses but doesn’t surprise that there exists a verb form of guy that means to ridicule. But the term disrupted me far before I discovered that.

My hope is that I don’t unknowingly use the term, especially in the classroom. Students need to be addressed as students or class or boys and girls, never as guys. The fact that we use it so easily and repeatedly makes the term unexceptional and crude.

While I realize that I will have a better chance at correcting world hunger than eliminating “you guys,” I will continue to point out its offensive nature. In a restaurant, I am a guest or patron or client, not a guy. Maybe if I am an example to enough people, I can watch it disappear as effectively as “my bad” or “at the end of the day” or “reach out.” Being a one-man band allows me to select my music, regardless of the size of my audience. Shalom.

If I may assist you in any of your writing endeavors, it will be my privilege to do so. You can reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

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Versatility

Have you ever opened your eyes in the morning and wondered how it would feel to be versatile? Probably not. It’s likely that the chances of that are equal to wondering how it would feel to be a camel.

It appears that we are teaching our children about many traditional subjects, but not versatility. Why is that important, you ask? Quite simply, it’s to reinforce your value to humanity.

Among all the horrible news stories of kidnapping, rape and murder, we occasionally see stories of extraordinary courage. I read one today about a rabbi and father of six who gave his life to rescue an 11-year old student who was drowning. Was life saving part of his rabbinic studies? Certainly not. But he was selfless and versatile enough to save a young life, sacrificing his own in the process.

While I haven’t hired anyone in quite a few years, I always paid special attention to a candidate who was self-describing as versatile. No employer wants a staff member who is too important to make coffee or go to get lunch. Chances are, that person can’t be relied on to write a critical report or attend a last-minute conference.

When we flex, we improve ourselves and those we touch. It’s true in many of our life adventures. If you’re stuck on eating at nine, noon and six, be sure not to travel with me. And if you would rather do a guided bus tour than a walking journey through Florence, your versatility may need to be tweaked.

This is not to say that my way is the same as versatility. My point is that when you begin and end at no particular time, set out to see what you can see, the options are limitless as are the opportunities to do good deeds and change lives. Shalom.

If I may assist you in any of your writing endeavors, it will be my privilege to do so. You can reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

21st century adventure

It began as a day similar to many others. We set out to find a business on a busy highway but suddenly found ourselves in the forest, surrounded by the beauty of massive pines and rolling hills.

While we knew that somewhere in this direction was a small town that we wanted to see, there were no road signs other than, “Icy” and “Watch for snowplows.” Useful though these may have been during the winter, they provided no assistance whatsoever in our forest wonderland.

The management at our rental unit had cautioned not to walk the area early in the morning or late at night. Asking what types of wildlife were present, she indicated that there were deer, elk, bear and mountain lions in the vicinity. So it wasn’t as though we were in benign farmlands.

Eventually, our trusty GPS system advised that we should turn left onto an unpaved road. Said road never materialized so we took the next available left turn that dead-ended and another left sent us back in the direction from which we had come. That road eventually became unpaved with no indication that it would ever end.

Having heard about the local wildlife, I imagined that a bear would be in our path at any moment. Is a big black bear big enough to tip over our car? Hoping that it couldn’t, I next visualized a mountain lion growling and appearing on our hood. Maybe it was an overactive imagination or simply the unusual experience of being in the middle of nowhere, with rough terrain and no visible human beings. The only creatures we spied were occasional horses, grazing in nearby pastures.

Ultimately, we found ourselves on a major county road with other vehicles. The scenery wasn’t nearly as magnificent, and it was well-lit and signed. Our New Mexican wilderness exploit was at an end, happily without incident. But to the next person who advises that our state is flat, brown and covered only with cacti, I suggest that you explore further, especially on those paths less traveled. Shalom.

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure to do so. You can reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Fair

What’s fair? Sometimes, it’s one level below average and two below good. In another context, it’s not fair that student Bob gets to carry the lunchboxes two days in a row and I never get my turn. And during the summer, some of us are able to attend the state fair.

This is one of those interesting and provocative words that has multiple meanings and interpretations. We all learn the word “fair” at a young age. But what’s missing in many cases is the reality that sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

For instance, it isn’t fair that a small child falls a great distance from a cruise ship. We can call it negligence on the part of the cruise line for not having windows to prevent falls. Or we can call it irresponsibility on the part of the grandfather who wasn’t paying sufficient attention to the toddler’s ramblings. In either instance, it isn’t fair.

Regrettably, we use the designation of fair as an excuse or superficial interpretation. Is it reasonable to expect that life is fair, regardless of the situation? When we hear from our children that this or that isn’t fair, I’m thinking that we haven’t done a sufficient job of educating on the realities of life.

It isn’t fair that we lose our parents when they (and we) are young. It isn’t right that children are struck with leukemia. Likewise, it’s not appropriate that there’s an accident on our path to an airport for a flight that we could miss.

Why is it that we continually pursue fairness? Maybe it’s because we want to see the world as inherently good and just. It may be that we want to think that good things happen to good people and when that doesn’t happen, it’s an aberration or unfair.

As an educator and a writer, it’s my responsibility to educate that life and fair shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. If life is always fair, why should we do good works? But as I always point out, we’re not in the contingency contracting world. Doing something commendable and generous doesn’t always result in positive consequences.

Doing good deeds is right for both parties involved. In those cases where a corresponding outcome is only going to be fair, we’re simply on the wrong track. Shalom.

 

It is my privilege and pleasure to assist with any forms of writing. If I may help you with any of your writing needs, please contact me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

 

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Make it matter

During my quieter and more introspective moments, I ponder the recommendations that I have for those near and far away –

 

Make

as many minutes count as are deserving of recollection.

certain to tell those close to you how much they enrich your life.

all of your affairs orderly and understandable. The future is always                                     uncertain.

more love than hate.

peace with those whom you have wronged or who have wronged you.

more friends than adversaries.

at least as many compliments as criticisms.

a difference for as many people as possible.

an effort to do acts of kindness on a daily basis.

it a habit to be grateful for all of your gifts and advantages.

others feel good about themselves as often as possible.

your parents proud.

your children and grandchildren proud.

it a point to withhold negative remarks about others.

more smiles than frowns, more laughter than tears.

 

And most importantly, you have the ability to make the world a better place.

 

Writing and editing projects are the most gratifying work that I have ever done.

If I may assist you with any of your writing needs, please contact me at csbutts19@yahoo.com. Shalom.