Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A chance to be grateful instead of focusing on gift-giving and gift-receiving. Family, friends, bountiful feasts and football are at the forefront of our minds rather than cocktail parties and gifts. Think of it as a time to pause and give thanks before the whirlwind of December.
Part of the allure and fascination of politics is that you don't know what's going to happen until election night is over and all the votes have been counted. It is real-life, high-stakes drama. In the 1970s, it was volunteers who would call in the vote tallies from the precincts. They would be written on the blackboard and the totals calculated as the votes were called in.
Prognosticators are predicting a Republican takeover of the United States Senate, and a pickup of a few seats in the House of Representatives. Driven in large part by the unpopularity of President Barack Obama (latest Gallup poll 42 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove of Obama), this potential change in control provides both an opportunity and a risk for Republicans.
My mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer in the mid-1970s, when I was in grammar school. Her goal, at that time, was to stay alive to see my older sister Kathy and me graduate from high school. She neither dwelled on the disease, nor on why she was stricken with it, but instead focused on getting rid of the cancer and living for her two daughters.
While new and novel might be exciting, routine and habit can help create a structure and framework for success. From eating breakfast, brushing our teeth or exercising every day, much of our lives are driven by routine. This reliance on routine behavior can startle us when we are driving and find ourselves not at our planned destination, but at our routine destination.
Ever since the 1976 election, I've understood the importance of voter turnout. My father was running for United States Congress in rural Georgia, having lost in 1974. He realized in early 1976 that running as a republican in Georgia, while Jimmy Carter was topping the democratic ticket, was going to be a hard feat to pull off, but confident of his ability to work hard, he trudged forward.
The director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, was questioned this past Tuesday by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding lapses in Secret Service Performance. The hearing focused primarily on an incident that took place on September 19. Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, allegedly jumped the White House fence, ran across the White House lawn, ran up a flight of stairs and through the North Portico door. He then allegedly entered the entrance hall, turned left and headed into the East Room, where he was tackled and subdued. A knife was allegedly found in his possession.
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What are Americans interested in? According to a Gallup poll released on June 14, it's the economy, in a variety of forms.
The poll found that "68 percent of Americans mention some aspect of the economy when asked about the most important problem facing the country today, with the economy in general (31 percent) and unemployment (25 percent) most often mentioned as specific concerns." (Poll of 1,004 adults, conducted June 7-10, with a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4 points.)
There is something special about looking forward to something. Knowing that there is something good that is going to happen, or even might happen, gives us a reason to get up a bit earlier and work a bit harder. Optimism is the fuel that leads us to put our noses to the grindstone and persevere in the face of the inevitable setbacks.
We declared our independence from Great Britain 236 years ago next week. It was a declaration long in coming, brought about by the overreaching rule of King George III and Britain's insistence on taxation without representation.
John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, crossed the ocean from England to New England aboard the Arabella in early 1630. While aboard, he penned a directive that he read to those traveling with him either while they were still on board the ship or shortly after they had disembarked that June in Salem. Most of them were Puritans, who were leaving England for religious freedom as well as to start afresh in a New World, as directed by God.
In January 1995, I made a list of 18 attributes that described the type of man I wanted to marry. The list included "wants children," "high family ties - loves his mother," "secure in himself" and "social."
Three years later, I married such a man. A man who more than met the list, Jimmy Cushman.
Words have power; they create images and possibilities, and provide a window into the future of what could be.
An 8-year-old boy loses his father to an execution squad. Imagine the shock, questions and hurt at losing his father at such a young age. Why did his father have to die? Could his death been avoided? Why did he have to lose his father?
If you are lucky, you have people who you love in your life. If you're really lucky, you have people who inspire you, as well. I love my sister Kathy, but she also is an incredible inspiration to me - and might be to you, once you hear her story.
As a child, I was a voracious reader, mostly of fiction. I would read during class, during lunch, during the bus ride. When I was reading, I was not part of my boring normal life, but part of a deeper, more compelling story.
Fiction has the ability to transport the reader into a different world. The same holds true for movies and television shows. Stories of all types capture our attention and imagination. Even news is told in story fashion.
For mothers with children at home and in school, May can bring madness. It's a month that tends to be filled with end-of-the-school-year projects, performances, concerts, dress rehearsals, parties and more.
Monday night, my husband came home around 8:30 p.m. and was surprised to find me painting my office. Early that morning, as I lay in bed, unable to sleep, I decided to paint my office. The deadline was driven by a Tuesday installation appointment for a TV. After all, why hang the TV on a wall with old paint, nail holes and patches of paint missing where the dry-erase squares had been removed?
Driving my children to and from various events earlier this week, we had a discussion about what makes a good story. They are both working on writing a book (as am I - we'll see who finishes first).
Stories, I explained, are interesting because they have conflict. There are most often two forces that push against each other. In classic stories, it's good versus evil. Really interesting stories have subplots, which reflect conflicts within conflicts.
Growing up in rural Georgia, Easter meant not only the resurrection of Jesus, but also a new Sunday dress, a hat, gloves and more chocolate than I could eat, at least at one time.
My sister Kathy and I would wake up before dawn, rush to our Easter baskets, eat a few bites of chocolate, get dressed in our brand new Easter dresses and head out for the sunrise service, with candy stashed in our purses.
Lent began this week on Feb. 22. It ends April 8 with the celebration of Easter. In the Christian tradition, the Lenten period is a time of fasting and prayer, preparation and reflection in anticipation of Easter, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus.
This year for Presidents Day, instead of buying a new appliance, I'm urging all of us to mark the holiday by reading George Washington's Farewell Address and Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural. I know. Focusing on two great presidents on Presidents Day. It's radical, but at least you won't be stuck in traffic on the way to the mall.