Have Opinions, Will Travel

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kathy John's

Traveling to my alma mater can result in some poignant moments.  It has been a while since I visited so the opportunity to attend a play there last Friday night was a welcome and appreciated event. 

Being spring weekend, there were a couple of sobriety checkpoints that I went through, sign of the times, I guess.  But what got my attention more was something that had been replaced, the old dark reddish brown building that once held the ice cream and sandwich shop known as Kathy John’s. 

Those of us who were students at UCONN in the 70’s may remember it as ‘the place to go’ when parents visited, things needed to be celebrated, and diets needed to be ruined.  Hodgepodge Soup and Turtle Sundaes were the order of the day many times.  Of course, as poor college students, we often had to decide on one or the other.  Turtle Sundaes usually won out.

I remember the day some of us decided to walk to it from campus.  Not really too far but far enough for us to decide we didn’t want to do it again.  No sidewalks and a winding road that isn’t very wide made it not all that safe a walk.  Ah youth, and the crazy things we did.

KJ’s, as we called it, closed down many years ago, but not before being immortalized in a song put to the tune of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads, Take Me Home’.

Huskey’s Pizza, Kathy John’s
Goin’ back now, won’t tell Momma
What we do, at Conn U.

Never did know who wrote those lyrics.

And now, it’s a Cumberland Farms.  Nice, new, clean.

And boring.

Part of the property was a garage, so it makes sense to build something with gas pumps.  But I miss the place that I remember, where there was a little gift shop and you had to wait in line on weekends, where the local teens often got a first job.

And where memories, though faded and fading, were made.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Year Without Opinions

About four years ago, during the last election cycle, the idea was presented to me to try an experiment. While testing myself in areas of personal growth are not that unusual, this one seemed a near impossibility. I was going to, for a time, not allow my usually clearly expressed views on things to be uttered. This resulted in what became known as ‘The Year Without Opinions’.

Now, for anyone who knows me, such an experiment especially during an election year is nothing short of an act of God. And, yes, it was such an act. My usually freely divulged ideas and suggestions were kept under wraps, as it turned out, for over a year.

This was a good social experiment for me, as I spoke less and listened more. I still had my opinions, kept in my own thoughts, but some of them became refined, defined, and adjusted as I took the time and effort to actually hear what other people might be saying.

I learned a lot, about myself and other people.

I learned that my opinions, while valid, needed time to mature. I learned that other people have a lot to say and while I may not agree with all they express, it has a right to be said. I learned that there are times when ‘Silence is Golden’, and that quiet really does allow for wisdom to surface. I learned that sometimes people just want to vent and don’t need advise, just a listening ear.

Well, here it is, four years later and another national campaign cycle is in full force. Barak and Mitt are going into the trenches and their supporters on both sides are taking up their positions…

Let the comments begin!

Maybe not, maybe more of us could benefit from a year with our opinions. Maybe our political conventions, conversations, and indeed the election itself could benefit from people who choose to attend to facts and don’t spend time trying so hard to prove themselves right. Sometimes we’re not right and have been so intent in the process that a lot of negative energy and hurt feelings have been produced, and resulted in a waste of time and resources.

Am I suggesting that we not talk at all? Certainly not! One of the most valuable things I learned is to think before I speak. My first thought was “Is this an opinion?”, If it was, I didn’t say it. That took lessons in self control, self discipline, and the beauty of silence to a whole new level.

Now the thought process goes like this; “Is this an opinion?”, which leads to “If it is, is it appropriate?”, which leads to “If it’s appropriate, is it necessary?” Silence and thought for that long can diffuse many an argument.

So, as a suggestion in this election season, stop, think, express lovingly, and let your opinion be known appropriately, in the voting booth. That might soothe many a rattled nerve and save many a strained relationship.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Go on Living

Lord, I can’t believe he’s gone on to be with You. What do I do now?

And the Lord says, “Go on living.”

Oh, I know that’s what he would want me to do, but it’s so hard. I miss him so much. How do I deal with this?

And the Lord says, “Go on.”

How do I go on? He is so much of my life. I don’t know how to go on...

And the Lord says, “Look to Me.”

Help me, Lord! I don’t know what to do!

And the Lord says, “I love you and he loves you. Yes, he’s gone from you and is with Me now, however his memory, his life, his victories, yes, even his mistakes are a part of you. You can learn from all of it, and so can others, and you can go on living. Your life is fuller because he was in it. You have more to share because you know him.

Let Me comfort you in this loss, I love you and I will be your Father, now more than ever.”

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:13-14