Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Political Dialogue and Social Media

I love social media. I enjoy checking in with friends near and far, following their adventures, and listening to their ideas and opinions. Things can become tricky when politics becomes the hot topic online. That has been the case for the past few weeks as the Republicans and Democrats have held their National Conventions. I have watched discussions on all manner of topics.....some of which have become heated and downright ugly. Is it possible for friends to openly discuss important issues during this season without damaging relationships when we disagree? I think so. Here are a few things I've observed and learned that might be helpful.

Warnings will be appreciated. I've noticed lots of recent posts that have included "rant warnings" at the beginning. Whether this is an actual header to the post or an introductory statement, the warning allows readers to move on if they are not currently in a mindset to discuss political issues. (Face it...we all reach points in this season where we don't want to read one more comment about a Wall or Email server!) I gained new respect for a liberal friend who advised her Republican-leaning friends to unfollow her posts for the next week while she commented on the proceedings of the Democratic National Convention. She explained her reasoning for making the posts (to have access to the material later) and that there would be no hard feelings against those who "disappeared". Her intention was clearly not to offend or create strife with her posts and I appreciated her desire to create a comfortable online experience for all.

Know your friends. Let's be honest....we all know who is trying to fan the flames with their comments and who is interested in non-combative, intelligent discussion. Allow this knowledge to shape your responses -- or lack of. I have several friends who will openly post on my comments that will never receive a response from me. Why? I value their friendship, but I know that any response is going to turn into a war of words that will ultimately become personal and hurtful. On the other hand, I enjoy conversing with other friends who hold differing political views because we temper our comments with mutual respect and don't let things spiral downward into personal insults. The dialogue is about the issue and not the person. These are opportunities to learn about the other side's perspective and can often result in realizing that we are ultimately after the same goal....we simply disagree on the best ways to achieve the goal.

Not every comment demands a response. One of the beautiful things about social media is that it allows for the open sharing of ideas. If you feel compelled to respond, write your comment, re-read it, and reconsider it before posting. I find that this helps me identify comments that are inflammatory or not beneficial to the conversation. Once we become comfortable with not always having the last word on every topic, we will begin to engage in more meaningful dialogue.

Moderate the conversations on your wall. While every comment does not need a response, every comment posted on your wall deserves to be read. Follow conversations carefully and be willing to jump in when the tide begins to turn to insults. A simple comment to "keep it classy" or to "stick to the issue at hand" can ensure your wall doesn't become a war zone while still allowing for the sharing of ideas. When comments are especially offensive, deleting the hurtful post is a possible course of action.

I think this is an important election year and that the issues need to be discussed. Social media can be a great tool in the exchange of ideas as long as we all remember that we still have to live together after the November elections are over. Speak truthfully, passionately, and intelligently. Share your views and ideas. Just make sure that your comments are tempered with respect for those with whom you are speaking.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hits and Misses (July 17-23)

Here's a look back at the week that was...
  • Although I've still had a few rough days, my blood pressure finally began to settle down a bit more by week's end. I'm not thinking that this ordeal is over, but at least I've felt like moving again.
  • Nothing is better than whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies with Mom on a Saturday afternoon. Add a little vanilla ice cream between a couple of warm cookies.....yummm!!
  • As things settled down, I finally got back to my reading routine. Check out my review of James Patterson's 4th of July.
  • Getting a much needed massage is always a hit.
  • It's been hot this week! Triple digit heat is nothing to joke about.
  • I'm still frustrated by the lack of care I received from a local physician. My earlier rant is going to be enough on that topic though. I'm not ready for my blood pressure to boil again.
  • You've gotta love when a pop up afternoon shower manages to knock out power to our small community. The Geriatrics and I met up with the Junior Geriatrics for dinner. When we returned home, we still had no power; thankfully Bubba we crashed there for a few hours as we watched AGT.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Tale of Two Exams

This summer has been filled with exams for me -- doctor's examinations and exams of my car by mechanics and body shops. Yesterday, I visited both places and had significantly different experiences.

A return visit to the body shop was prompted by the check engine light on my car. Since regular maintenance had been performed, it seemed as though a sensor was effected by May's accident. (This was actually confirmed by a diagnostic test at the dealership a few days earlier.) The body shop's technicians listened to my concerns, examined the car, identified the problem which they then promptly fixed. I was without my car for a total of 5 hours. When I picked up the car, the gentleman carefully explained what had been done and proceeded to tell me what actions to take if the indicator turned on again in the near future. I left feeling empowered, respected, and appreciated.

A return visit to my former general practitioner was prompted by a long week of fluctuating blood pressure after a change of medication. After examining the readings, the doctor informed me that I was too obsessed with the numbers and proceeded to tell me that the problems were all in my head. As I described feelings of fatigue after beginning the medication, he told me that the "high" readings he saw on the chart would not cause tiredness and proceeded to suggest therapy for my mental and emotional problems. I admitted that I'm fighting the blues at the moment, but identified that those issues began after first experiencing the effects of the new drug. As though he had not heard a word I was saying, this genius proceeded to tell me that I was also fretful about returning to Texas in a few weeks. I left this appointment with feelings of frustration and insult as I realized this man was only interested in dealing with problems he could quickly see and solve rather than my long term health. Any compassion he had ever possessed was not going to be wasted on me and my concerns.

All I want from professionals who are caring for my body and my car is someone who will compassionately listen to my concerns, help identify and solve the problems I am experiencing while explaining the process to me in terms I can understand. Realize that I do not enjoy visiting you and am not making up issues to create a problem. I am aware of the normal workings of my car and my body......and probably know when something is out of the ordinary far sooner than you do. Listen to me and together we can correctly diagnosis the problem...even if it doesn't show up immediately on your numerically-driven diagnostics. Yesterday, I saw examples of the best and worst. One of these has gained a loyal consumer; the other has guaranteed that as soon as this "issue" stabilizes he will never see me again!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hits and Misses (July 10-16)

I'm back from vacation, but I'm definitely not rested. Here's a look back at the week that was....


  • One of the best things about my week off was the ease of driving to and from Houston. With last week's events in Dallas, I decided to avoid the interstates and take a route I've avoided in past years. A wrong turn took us through some beautiful areas of Texas and we still managed to make the drive in just over 9 hours.


  • Before heading out for vacation, I visited the doctor to check on a dry cough that had developed. With very little evaluation, it was determined that my blood pressure medicine was the culprit. Starting a new prescription while on vacation is not fun at all.
  • While in Texas, Dad developed a cough that was deep, rattling, and worrisome. He visited a minor medical center after being in Conroe for 2 days and started a Z-Pak. By Tuesday, he informed Mom and me that he was ready to return home and visit his primary physician. Vacation was cut short, but we were glad to learn that we were not battling pneumonia.
  • During my time away and the drive home, my blood pressure fluctuated and made me feel horrible. On Thursday night, things increased to a level that required attention and a visit to the ER. I didn't have to stay long, the staff saw my BP return to normal levels and said the issue was probably associated with dosages of meds and adjusting to the new drug. Needless to say, I'm ready for things to settle down so I can finally begin to feel normal again and get back to living my life!

Friday, July 8, 2016

On the Road Again

If you know my family, it comes as no surprise that the Geriatric patients and I are making our way to Texas today. It's time to head to southeast Texas to visit family north of Houston. We will spend a quiet week by the lake. Dad will do plenty of fishing. Mom and I will split our time between the couch and the kitchen before returning to Arkansas for the last few weeks of my summer break.

To make this a true vacation, I'm also going to take the week off from blogging. Look for Livin' Life to return on July 18.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hits and Misses (June 26 - July 2)

Here's a look back at the week that was....

  • I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend a little time with extended family this week. I wish the circumstances had been a little happier, but it is always nice when we are able to get together. Now that the Geriatric patients have seen that Jerry and Gail are doing better after a health scare, I think we will be heading to the Houston area very soon.
  • I continued to enjoy some down time this week and got in some more reading. You can check out my thoughts on Toni Morrison's God Help the Child and 3rd Degree by James Patterson on my book review blog, Reading for Me.
  • Before I left Plainview for what was supposed to be only a few weeks, I left a copy of my key with one of the WBU students who lives next door to me. I knew it would be a good idea for someone to have access to my place in case of an emergency and this young man has earned my trust over the year that I've gotten to know him. While sitting at dinner with family on Thursday afternoon, I received a text message from Choncho letting me know that he had entered my apartment because he had been experiencing problems with insects after the recent rains and assumed I would have the same problem. So he took it upon himself to spray my apartment after he finished his and will be making a minor repair for me as well. It was just a great reminder that I am truly blessed to work at a place where everyone -- students and faculty -- are like family and take care of each other. Even though I've definitely enjoyed my summer in Arkansas with my parents, I'm looking forward to getting back to Plainview in a few weeks.

  • The week began with heartache. On Sunday morning, I arrived at church and met my mother who had received a phone call that morning telling her that Mom's youngest brother, Larry, was in the hospital and not doing very well. Mom and I decided to slip out of the service once I performed the morning's offertory. When we arrived at the hospital, we found Larry in the ICU. He was conscious and coherent, but the overall prognosis was not good. Mom was frustrated to learn that Larry had been in the hospital for 3 weeks and no one had bothered to inform the family. During the course of our visit, we learned that Larry's fight with leukemia as well as his failing kidneys were so severe that treatment was not really an option; Larry would be moved to hospice care in the hospital later that afternoon to keep him as comfortable as possible. Around 2:30 that afternoon, I received the call from the hospital that Larry passed away shortly after the move. A visitation was held on Thursday evening; there would be no memorial service since the body was to be cremated. The saddest part of the entire experience was the refusal of Larry's son, David, to visit his father in the hospital or to attend the visitation service.
  • I continued to struggle with drainage this week, but now an unproductive cough has developed. It seems as though all of this began after the allergic reaction a few weeks ago, but there's also been a recent change to my drug regiment. A visit to the doctor is definitely in my future to see if I can get some relief from all of this mess!
  • I had forgotten just how complicated it can be to coordinate travel schedules with the Geriatric patients. They have such a high level of commitment to their jobs -- a trait that has been lost by generations after them -- that they refuse to take time off for rest or sickness if it is not convenient for the work that needs to be done. Good grief! They are both pushing 80 years old. I think your loyalty to your job can finally take a back seat to enjoying your life. But I guess that just shows the difference between me and them....
  • This week I sang on the worship team at AGM for the first time since leaving the position as worship leader. It was a good experience, but it goes under the misses because I haven't had an 8:30pm rehearsal on a Friday night in a very long time! I don't know if I've just gotten spoiled or if I'm getting too old for this. Either way, Saturday morning was a blur and I felt more like a mummy than a human being after a late session.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Birthday, America!

With the July 4th holiday upon us, my mind is flooded with thoughts about my nation. This weekend, people all over the country will gather with family and friends to celebrate the founding of the US. Fireworks will remind us of the 18th century's "bombs bursting in air" throughout the American Revolution. We will sing of her beauty "from sea to shining sea." Barbeques and picnic tables will be filled to overflowing as a reminder of how we have achieved the American Dream.

But why do we even celebrate another birthday? It seems that most of us want to forget about our individual birthdays and just pass them off as another typical day of the calendar. We fear growing older. We assume that aging equals being set in our ways and unaware of the "new" that is going on all around us. I fear that many in our country feel the same way about the United States. They think that we have become "out of touch" as a nation as we have aged and should become more like the "younger, more hip nations" in our global community.

I think birthdays are a reason to celebrate! We celebrate another trip around the sun thanks to the grace of God. We ponder our successes, learn from our errors, and strive to become a better country while faithfully honoring the wisdom of our past. Does America have problems? Most definitely! Do we need to make changes? Certainly. The real question is which changes need to be made.

On this 240th birthday of our nation, I submit that the most important change we need to make is to turn our hearts back to God -- from Main Street to Wall Street, from the poorest to the wealthiest, from City Hall to the White House. When we faithfully begin to honor God in our living rooms as well as the court rooms, classrooms, and sanctuaries, our choices as a nation will be clear and we will once again begin to experience the glory of living under the blessing of Heaven.

Regardless of your political inclinations and opinions, I hope you will pause during this weekend and take a moment to honor the Creator and acknowledge His role in our nation -- past, present, and future. If there has ever been a time that we have needed Him at the helm, it is now.


In observance of the July 4th holiday, Livin' Life will not appear on Monday. I'll begin posting again on Wednesday with this week's installment of "Hits and Misses."