I’ve been homesick for countries I’ve never been, and longed to be where I couldn’t be.
I’ve been homesick for countries I’ve never been, and longed to be where I couldn’t be.
Valentine’s Day. It’s coming this Saturday whether you like it or not. Such a peculiar holiday, one that seems to draw lines in the sand between the supporters and haters. Each year I hear echoes of naysayers, “It’s a made up holiday by the greeting card companies…” Despite this, I still appreciate the holiday. The idea that, for one day a year, everyone thinks about love. Even when people condemn having a designated day about love as stupid, their thoughts are still focused on love. And what’s wrong with that? Here are some common arguments against V-tine Day and why they just don’t cut the mustard.
Yes, yes it is. But this point is but moot compared to every other holiday. Name one other holiday that isn’t tainted by the almighty hunt for the buck. In our capitalist society it only follows that if there’s a market with a demand, there will be a supply. If it bothers you, find a way around it. Make something, go rogue with no gift and create a memory instead. Hike, watch a sunset, play in the snow. But by George, for this girl, there will be chocolate on Valentine’s Day (except Hershey’s. The punks) and there will be a lot of it. I will regret nothing.
Forcing love to happen
I ask again, what’s wrong with carving out a day a year just to celebrate love? Remember that it is your choice how you commemorate it. If you treat the day as a commercial nightmare then that is exactly what it will be for you. Putting a price tag on a holiday does not invalidate it. If you’re with someone who demands a giant bear/flowers/gift/spendy dinner/etc. and wouldn’t appreciate a handmade card from the heart and a homecooked dinner, that’s your struggle. Don’t blame Valentine’s Day. And express those feelings to this person you are supposed to love. If they don’t see eye to eye, maybe you need a new partner. Love takes work, but it shouldn’t feel like work. If you’re trying too hard, you might be doing it wrong.
Reminding people of their loneliness
Lonely people do not feel more lonely on Valentine’s Day. This is some weird myth floating around that people persist on believing. Hollywood and television help to ram this idea down all our throats, typically because playing to stereotypes means the plot and writing can lapse. The truth is, lonely people are going to be lonely until they find someone, or at least start putting themselves out there. Doing a quick search online leads to singles events at restaurants, libraries, and Meetups. Follow the advice of Theresa Christine from Tremendous Times and choose from 5 Kickass Alternative Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day. Take this day and seize it. I can’t think of a better time for a lonely person to get out there and look for friendship than this day of the year. (Love doesn’t happen in a day. Make a friend and maybe you’ll fall in love someday). The couples out there celebrating their togetherness should be a confidence boost. “If they can find love so can I.” Let’s face it, there are some really strange people out there finding happiness with another. Embrace this day and find a way to meet someone new. When love is on the mind and in the air, the odds of finding someone special just might be better on this day than any other all year long.
Be Mine – Be Ours
My favorite part of any holiday are the traditions that come with it. The big ones like lighting the Menorah, hanging the stockings, dressing like ghouls and goblins, fireworks, etc. are all wonderful. But the traditions that mean the most to me are the little things, like getting to open one (and only one) gift under the tree with family on Christmas Eve. Like screaming the countdown of the last seconds of the year across our neighborhood from one house to another. Devouring my Mama Peg’s twice-baked po-date-ahs (potatoes, for the rest of you) at Thanksgiving. So, what about Valentine’s Day? The only two I can think of personally are my Dad always sending his girls a card, and my husband and I dining out to celebrate our engagement anniversary. What else do people do to celebrate this holiday and make it special? Maybe that’s why there’s resistance against it, there aren’t enough ways to make it ours. It’s time to put more traditions in place to effectively take back the holiday from the commercial death grip that leaves a storm cloud hanging over it every year. Let’s put an end to the feeling that this isn’t a “real holiday” and make it just that.
This Valentine’s Day, make a new tradition that’s special to you and share it with your friends and family. Do it every year. Oh, and tell me about it too, I can’t wait to make it one of mine. I’ll share one I come up too. In time, this holiday might finally feel like it’s worthy of all its potential. Here’s to our Valentine’s Day!
My blogging assignment this week: write an open letter. This week I’ve been heated about The Hershey Company and their most recent bogus moves, so I chose to focus this assignment on them. Bear with me, this isn’t my usual area of expertise. Here goes nothin’.
Dear Hershey Company: It’s over. And it’s not me, it’s you.
The Hershey Company,
Today, we’re officially over. It’s true we’ve been on-again, off-again for years now, but I’m breaking up with you for real this time. I gave up Hershey Bars in my s’mores years ago, thanks to my introduction to Cadbury Dairy Milk on a visit to my sister in Vienna, Austria. However, after the recent announcement of your scandalous lawsuit, I’m upping the ante. I’ve purchased my last package of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I will seek out an alternative candy to replace my Rolo pretzel bite recipe as my go-to Potluck dessert. There will be no more Reece’s Pieces purchased at the movie theater to add the sweet to my salty popcorn. We’re done.
You, the corporate king of candy, have decided it would be in your best interest to prevent your oversees competitors at British Cadbury from distributing their products here in the United States. You sued, and we all got the news that you won earlier this week. Your excuse was that the product packaging was too confusing to consumers. I can’t help but be offended. Rebecca Orchant in her post on the HuffPost Blog explains it perfectly: “That’s right, they are actually saying out loud to our faces that they are protecting us from being too stupid to know which chocolates we are buying.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, The Hershey Company. But wait, hold the phone. While making claims of consumer confusion, you are actually counting on us to not know where the candy is coming from, because now YOU are going to be the producers of Cadbury candies, with your own inferior formula taking the place of the British Cadbury product. But these products will be branded as Cadbury. I see what you went and did there. How disgustingly deceitful, and such a double standard!
This lawsuit is a prime example of your desire to create a monopolistic stranglehold on this country’s chocolate candy supply. It hurts specialized American candy store owners by limiting their product variety and reducing their ability to compete with giant retailers. “I don’t know how we’ll survive,” says Nicky Perry, a chocolatier interviewed in the NY Times article After a Deal, British Chocolates Won’t Cross the Pond. Don’t think this means these little stores are going to bow down and cave in to selling your products instead. Not when they taste like the crap they do.
And then there’s all the other dirt about you, The Hershey Company. One doesn’t have to dig very far before uncovering a whole lot of question marks involving your potential child labor violations. Well, those do remain to be proven, since you’d been so swell at suppressing any and all information about your history of child labor and fair trade practices. Until the 2014 lawsuit forced you to open your records to your shareholders. Not to us, the public, the consumers, but at least to the people most closely invested in your company can have a look and help you figure out what best to bury for the biggest buck. Well played, my chocolate adversary. You win again.
Personally, I have a particular bone to pick with you because of what you have done to my favorite candy. Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai candies entered into my life on a Costco run, and my return trips there regularly involve at least one bag of them. Well, until two weeks ago, when upon opening the bag of deliciousness (our housemates all lovingly refer to them as “crackberries”), we discovered that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The “crackberries” didn’t squish the way they used to. They didn’t stick in my teeth the way they used to. They are almost chalky to taste compared to the juiciness of the before. And lo, right on the package, a new word glares out at us: FLAVORS. This candy used to be made with real fruit pieces. That was the appeal. That’s why I would pay more than $10.00 a bag for them. That’s what I used to justify them to myself when I ate way more than I should. Now they do not only taste weird, they’re made with even more artificial ingredients than before. A Google search led me to the reason why the “crackberries” have turned into “crapberries.” The reason, Hershey’s, is YOU. You bought out Brookside and ruined a perfectly wonderful product. You took out the real fruit and put in artificial flavoring and continue to market it at the obscene price it was offered for when it was actually worth it.
By writing this letter to you I’m not only declaring my own personal distaste for your abhorrent business practices, but also for your far inferior products. The most recent fight banning imported competition is in the process of blowing up in your face, as hundreds of thousands of consumers out there are learning more about your products than you ever wanted them to know. I hope it leads to more discerning chocolate lovers finding domestic producers with integrity and quality. And more trips to Europe to get a chance at the real Cadbury. Because we real chocolate lovers, thanks to the combination of your expensive legal team and dubious practices, won’t be able to get them here at home anymore.
So goodbye, Hershey’s. Don’t call me. And don’t even think about sending chocolate to apologize.
Exciting things happening around here. I’m currently enrolled in two classes offered through the awesome magazine Creative Nonfiction. (Check them out here!) One of these classes is called “Blogging for the Writer.” This means that you can expect to see a lot of fresh posts on Meagzpeditions again, and possibly hear more about a new blog launching in the near future. We’re going to be writing across a lot of spectrums so some of the material may be untraditional for me, but it’s time to step out of the box. Hopefully, it will prove enjoyable reading for my friends and followers. Also, I have updated the web address for this blog so you may need to find me through http://www.meagzpeditions.com if a previous link isn’t working for you! There’s the update, you may now resume your normal programming. 🙂
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Maya Angelou over the past 30 hours or so since I read the report on her passing.
For some of us, there can be a desire within us to pay tribute to someone who influenced our lives, even if it is after the fact or something we fear will never reach the ears of those its meant for.
I choose to write of her, and for her, as my tribute to a life well-lived.
I grew up in a small New Hampshire town, fortunate in my family and finances. No sob story of any magnitude to be found in my childhood. No background of struggle that would lend to identifying with a life so affected by adversity and pain. So what happened when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Did I complain about it being boring required reading? Put up a fight that it was outdated or dull? Nope. Not once. I was blown away. I was moved. I was furious, hurt and scared. I was proud and then I was empowered. I connected with young Maya, with our shared love of the power of words and I felt her pain. I felt her anguish. How could I possibly feel that I could see so clearly through the eyes of someone so removed from my own life experiences? What right had I to feel like I could understand? Me, with my so-called-life and her, a vision of courage and strength?
Herein then lies, for me, the magic of Ms. Maya Angelou. She possessed the incredible ability to reach through the circumstances of anyone’s life, grab them by the heart and pull them directly into her writing. It didn’t matter where I came from, or what color my skin was, whether I was a boy or a girl or an adult. The burning desire of freedom from injustice can be felt by any human; if one can manage to pull back the curtain of differences that separate us and get right to the heart of it.
We are more alike, than unalike.
What is most often remembered about any incredibly influential author are the soundbites, the short quips and quotes that define a legacy. Ms. Angelou has hundreds, shared and re-shared across social media like wildfire over the past two days. And yet, are these the most profound words ever written? Maybe, but maybe not. Do they dazzle with complexity and mastery of language? Actually, they don’t. They are simple. Some of them are quite raw. But these words contain more power than literary prowess.
Maya Angelou understood how to turn her words into a mirror, so that each sentence became a reflection of your own knowledge. She could reveal to the reader truths held as self-evident, merely dormant, waiting to be uncovered.
A quick Google search presents two of her most oft-quoted idioms:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
I find it difficult not to clench a fist and exult an emphatic “YES!” after reading these sentences. Because I understand them in my heart to be true. I’ve always known them to be true. Ms. Angelou reveals to us the wisdom we hold in our own hearts and allows us to move into the space to embrace these truths and apply them to live a path we are proud of.
I have always respected Maya Angelou for her courage. I respect her for her wisdom. For her passion. But what I appreciate now is how much she has influenced my life, helping me find my strength as a woman, teaching me to ignore the comments of others seeking to belittle my choices. What I have come to know is how she believed in me. She believed that a little girl in a small town could understand the adversity she faced throughout her life, regardless of the perceived gap between us. She believed that I would find her messages reflected in my own heart and use them to shape my journey through my own life.
I remember reading her poetry aloud in a middle school performance, clad as Harriet Tubman, in unison with girl friends of mine filling the roles of other notable women through history.
I am a Woman
I have learned much from this sage author, and I continue to find truth in her words today. I’m sure I always will. Her wisdom in words have been a gift to me, and the only way I feel I can show my gratitude is to continue in her medium. Ms. Angelou: Here are some of my own words to interpret one of your lessons.
Thank you for the guiding light: past, present and future.
On a daily basis I find I myself asking why, with every passion in the world to write, did my attempt to blog fail so grandly? I’m haunted firstly by the clichés: All the best laid plans… Every good intention… etcera and so forth. Easy excuses come instantly to mind and sound so easy rolling off the tongue: “I got a big girl job.” “Work was so demanding.” “I live in Hawaii, I should be at the beach, not at the computer.” “I wasn’t generating enough readers.” All the excuses boil down to the next level of realization: self-depreciation: “I’m lazy.” “I have trouble committing myself.” “I’m overwhelmed.” “I’m a procrastinator with ADD and no follow-through.” “I suck at this.” “What was I thinking?” “I can’t.” It’s endless rounds of mentally punching yourself in the ear.
Then you just feel shitty about the whole attempt and try to think about anything else.
Weeks went by without a post, then months, and lo, for no real good reason whatsoever, I had today. And today, I had a need to write. This post spilled out of the ashes of the blog bust, and something true has begun to emerge. A new vision; a new passion is germinating. These stirrings echo my initial intentions of blogging glory, but ring with a wisdom and an insight that none but time, experience, and yes, utter failure can bolster. Here I sit, after a grueling day at work, facing a grandiose void of 10 months between my last post and this, my staggering lack of successful attempts and still, I’m writing. The gaping void allowed me to analyze myself and see something real, something solid. I have burrowed to the roots of my failure. The rest of the excuses were merely symptoms.
There are two root causes of the epic blog fail:
1. I ignored the cardinal rule of blogging: to just WRITE. All the time. The End.
2. I stopped reading other blogs.
There they are. I’ve said them aloud. And what’s better: I’ve published them. No longer in denial: check. They say that’s the first step toward progress.
Why these two reasons? It is only through failure I have been able to recognize and understand them.
1. I’ve read a hundred blogs about how to be a successful blogger. They always have a common thread: just WRITE. They warn you, the words don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written. A blogger’s life expectancy is judged first on quantity, then quality narrows the field to what’s worth reading. I found myself trapped by an obsession with content and a determination that every piece must fit narrowly in my genre. I was my own worst enemy, letting the lack of an exciting subject or a need to produce something awesome every entry bog me down until I was subconsciously keeping myself from writing anything. No, I’m not a successful blogger. Not yet anyway. But I know how true the wisdom of those that are impart on us that aren’t (yet). Whatever you do, just write. Every. Damn. Day. It’s the only way to even start to ripple in this realm.
2. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. When I stopped reading other blogs regularly, I lost my inspiration/motivation/the spark/competitiveness/determination to succeed. There’s nothing more powerful a motivator than seeing someone you can relate to accomplish exactly what you desire. How can one emulate success when you lose the lodestar that launched you on your adventure in the first place?
So here we go. As with every good education, it all begins with reading and writing. Now that I’ve written, I’m off to read.
Want to join me? I’m going here now: http://www.candicedoestheworld.com/
This is it! My first post written and published in the skies, 30,000 feet above green patches and city squares (looks like I’m right above St. Louis as I type), all aboard a Southwest flight equipped as a WiFi hotspot. For $5 I have been surfing the net from Phoenix all the way through to Boston, and it has been a provocative experience. When the crew announced we were a WiFi hotspot I was both ecstatic and conflicted. How I love my in-flight rituals! I’ve gotten skilled at taking a certain percentage of the flight to write, devoting another time period to reading, then busting out some tunes to prepare me for acclimation back into the social grid. Throwing the opportunity to access the internet at me was a conflict of consternation and curiosity. Here’s an oppportunity to get blogging about flying from a place I never thought I’d get to: ON a plane! But then, when will I justify finishing Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton if not on a plane?
Welp, in the end, I fit it all in. I just had to overlap my tunes while I type and save my mental revisit and review of the conclusion of Pirate Latitudes for later.
Have any of you been WiFi-ed in the air yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m feeling a bit philosophical about it; I suppose later I can blame it on the altitude. Yet, in this moment, I’m blown away by how quickly technology has evolved to keep us always connected, and it seems the limitations of total network immersion grow fainter and fainter. I’m excited by this idea, yet humbled. I like the idea of being able to ‘unplug’ and be ‘unreachable.’ I think it’s healthy. We’re so innundated by the need to be up-to-the-minute-up-to-date that we’re becoming programmed into automatically updating our statuses and photos as if it’s how we’ve always operated. I’m working hard to adjust to this transition; but I struggle with the narcissism that haunts me as I post to this very blog via my cell phone or comment on a friend’s tweet she posted 15 seconds ago. I feel I’m developing a complex and learning how to socalize in this way has been like going back to school. It’s the new school for the old school. I’m seeking a balance between the A-D-D actions of tweeting-facebooking-blogging and the art of socializing with 3-dimentional people. It can be madding, trying to stay dedicated to the full-time job of building a online identity, while trying not scuttle the ship, lose my sanity and abdandon the whole thing. I suppose the best way to start was to embrace being online on an airline… and then tell the world about it. And thus I carry on…
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