Tag Archives: friendship

Republicans Are From Mars, Democrats Are From Venus

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“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

We are a polarized country. The 2016 presidential campaign saw the popular vote go to the Democratic candidate while the electoral vote went to the Republican. Now, two weeks after Republican Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, the two sides seem further apart than ever with neither listening to the other. They are shouting past each other on a daily basis.

The lack of understanding from both sides reminds of the very popular 1990s novel, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” that explored the differences between men and women.

I was talking with a friend today about the state of current politics, noting that I had never seen the country so divided. And then I stopped, thought a moment, and said, “But when George W. Bush was elected, everyone was polarized, and then it continued into Barack Obama.” And she said, “I wrote a paper in college [for her political science class] on how polarized the country was at that time.”

That was in the 1980s.

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Quiet thoughts on New Year’s Eve … pondering the loss of a friend

New Year's Eve 2By Lynn R. Mitchell

The Christmas tree lights are on and candles are lit. Outdoor lights glow in the darkness as I sit with laptop and ponder the past year.

This New Year’s Eve finds me returning to join the crew at Bearing Drift. Somehow it seems right. I’ll continue with LynnRMitchell.com — I kept my own blog in the past when writing with the guys — but it’s nice to be back. As I reacquire my sea legs, it feels good to be “back in the fold,” as blog son Matt Hall likes to say. The intensity of politics is not a sideline sport here as all are encouraged to debate, comment, write, opine, and research. Politics 101? Ha. This goes far beyond that. And I love it.

So while my photos and easy-going commentary will continue at my blog, don’t be surprised to occasionally see some of it cross over to Bearing Drift to soften the political manly atmosphere.

Debbie Nelson AllenBut tonight I am finding myself thinking back on the past year. There were many changes that I didn’t expect at this time last year so I force a smile and move on … but there was one loss that stings my heart. That was the death of my friend Debbie who lost her two-year battle with brain cancer in October at the age of 56.

I couldn’t even write about it at the time. The words wouldn’t come to me — so unusual to someone who pours out words on a daily basis — and so I celebrated her life out among the colorful October autumn leaves that she loved so much. It somehow seemed fitting that she slipped away during one of her favorite times of the year, and every photo I took was with her in mind. But tonight I’m reflecting on this extraordinary woman.

We met at work in Richmond while in our 20s. She was vivacious, zany, a prankster, a thinker, spunky, and always full of life and laughter and fun. We had that special bond that can be found between close friends who have worked and played together, shared confidences, and gone through life’s ups and downs while remaining in touch, no matter what.

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Christmas offers a time to show appreciation for those in our lives

Christmas giftsBy Lynn R. Mitchell

When I was a little kid, Christmas was a magical time to pick out a special something for my sisters and parents to show how much they meant to me. Today the same applies for family and friends who are the reason my life feels complete.

While growing up in Bon Air across the James River from Richmond, shopping opportunities were few for two young sisters with limited financial resources. There was the Buford Road Pharmacy and the Bon Air Hardware, both a short one- or two-block ride on our bicycles, so that’s where we did our shopping.

Two very patient older gentlemen worked in the Bon Air Hardware and I’m sure they smiled to themselves as my sister and I walked among the rows of familiar plumbing supplies, carpenter needs, and other materials necessary for the upkeep of a house. Our young eyes wandered up and down the shelves as we searched their contents, hoping to find just the right gift for our parents that was within our price range, as the gentlemen offered kind suggestions for us neighborhood kids carrying only a couple of bucks in our pockets.

I say the gift was for our “parents” but it was usually more suited for our mother, and our good-natured Dad just got his name on the tag.

One year I decided on a paring knife for them. A paring knife. The cost was within my paltry budget so I proudly took it home to wrap but it was so small that I decided to find the biggest cardboard box I could to wrap this prized gift to make it seem more impressive. I rolled the knife in tissue paper, placed it at the bottom, and then proceeded to stuff the box with wadded-up newspapers. It must have taken an entire roll of wrapping paper to cover the thing and, of course, it had to be topped with a bow.

If my mother was disappointed on Christmas morning, she never showed it. Looking back all these years later as a mother myself, I know the corny saying is true … it is not the gift that counts but truly the thought. I had wanted to be able to give more so the box seemed to represent my desire and the lonely little paring knife was the reality.

There was the year one of my younger sisters wanted the Magic 8 Ball that was all the rage. I scraped together enough money to get Christmas cookies 1that one special gift for her and stored it in the closet of our shared bedroom. Unable to contain my excitement, we ended up playing with it before it was wrapped and put under the tree. Ah, the impatience of youth.

My sister and I made a coupon book one year for our parents with each page representing something we would do when presented with said piece of paper, i.e., washing dishes, babysitting our younger sister, and other chores that we were actually already assigned to us. I don’t remember ever having a coupon redeemed, perhaps because we were already expected to fulfill those obligations around the house.

I find gift-giving to be easier with those we know well. A friend may have expressed a like for a particular quote so it gives pleasure to print and frame the quote and gift-wrap it as a surprise. I truly enjoy finding something that fits the person, sometimes falling flat on my face with my selection, and sometimes over the years I’ve had to resort to the ready-made one-size-fits-all category.

When funds are short, ingenuity goes a long way. During the years when our children were growing up and we were a one-income family and very pinched financially, homemade gifts were necessary. If you don’t think you can be creative, try coming up with something made by your own hands for someone you love, respect, or appreciate. After all, it is meant to be a reflection of how you feel about the person and gratitude for their place in your life. Homemade, or maybe handmade sounds better, for me has included everything from hand-dipped candy and festive decorated cookies to evergreen wreaths that I fashioned from greenery on our property to hand sewn items to arts and crafts.

One year with two young children and more time than money, I sewed two Christmas aprons for my mom — one red and one green — complete with holiday appliqués. Those aprons hang on a hook in Mom’s kitchen to this day.

Christmas gifts 4On the farm where we lived in North Carolina when our kids were born, we had a huge old sweet gum tree beside the front porch that dropped hundreds of gumballs in the yard every fall. One year I eyeballed those pesky little things — they are prickly — and then smiled. That was the Christmas I made dozens of miniature gumball wreaths complete with tiny bows and gave them to friends and family. Another year I husked and cracked open black walnuts from our trees and gave the shelled nuts as gifts.

I remember years ago when one of my sisters found herself financially strapped when Christmas rolled around. She was living in Colorado and working her way through graduate school with limited resources. Mom bought her an airplane ticket to fly home for Christmas in Richmond so we could all be together and, when she arrived, she came bearing gifts. On Christmas morning, I opened my gift from her and it was a rattan lamp from her Denver apartment that I had admired. She didn’t have the money to buy items for us so she had shared her own possessions. That lamp still sits in my house.

Maybe I learned over the years that to receive a gift — any gift — is a kindness of the giver who took the time, whether a few minutes toChristmas 3 purchase something or hours to handcraft it, because they cared enough to show a gratitude for the people in their lives not only throughout the year but especially during the holiday season (see Gigi Engle’s Why the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the best time of the year).

Now I have to get back to work because there are some gingerbread men in the kitchen waiting to be decorated as gifts for a friend who absolutely loves the holiday spirit that comes through in that personalized holiday treat.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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How will you be remembered at your funeral?

Smiley noteBy Lynn R. Mitchell

David Brooks poses an interesting thought in today’s New York Times (see The Moral Bucket List):

 It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

Brooks’ thoughts began after realizing some people he encountered along the way were different in the way they interacted with others:

About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

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A Valentine’s Day message to my children

Valentine 2By Lynn R. Mitchell

A Valentine for my children…

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

“But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.”

— Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

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Christmas is a time to show appreciation and gratitude for those in our lives

Christmas giftsBy Lynn R. Mitchell

When I was a little kid, Christmas was a magical time to pick out a special something for my sisters and parents to show how much they meant to me. Today the same applies for family and friends who are the reason my life feels complete.

While growing up in Bon Air across the James River from Richmond, shopping opportunities were few for two young sisters with limited financial resources. There was the Buford Road Pharmacy and the Bon Air Hardware, both a short one- or two-block ride on our bicycles, so that’s where we did our shopping.

Two very patient older gentlemen worked in the Bon Air Hardware and I’m sure they smiled to themselves as my sister and I walked among the rows of familiar plumbing supplies, carpenter needs, and other materials necessary for the upkeep of a house. Our young eyes wandered up and down the shelves as we searched their contents, hoping to find just the right gift for our parents that was within our price range as the gentlemen offered kind suggestions for the neighborhood kids carrying only a couple of bucks in their pockets.

I say the gift was for our “parents” but it was usually more suited for our mother, and our good-natured Dad just got his name on the tag.

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Gillespie relays story of Bush #41 respecting office of Bush #43

George W. Bush 47 with GHW BushBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Talk to any of the Bush alumni and they are full of stories about their time in service to the White House. Today on Facebook, Ed Gillespie relayed just such a story that happened during his time in the Bush #43 White House, and it had to do with Bush #41.

Ed Gillespie wrote:

With President George W. Bush’s new book about his father coming out, I want to share this memory from my time in the White House.
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Remembering Dennis Burnett 1964-2014

By Lynn R. Mitchell

???????????????????????????????Looking out over Elliott’s Knob in western Augusta County. This one’s for Dennis.

[Editor’s Note: When I left Augusta County almost two weeks ago to spend time with family in Florida, Dennis Burnett was working at his job bringing jobs to the Valley. When I returned last night, he had passed away and been buried. How quickly life can change in the span of a week. I wrote this while in Florida, reflecting about this friend to so many. See also Augusta County’s Dennis Burnett passes away and Memorial Service today for Dennis Burnett.]

“I like your pictures of the county!”

Dennis Burnett was across the room heading my way after a board of supervisors meeting at the Augusta County Government Center, trademark reading-glasses-on-top-of-head, with that wide Dennis grin on his face. I looked at him quizzically. Had he been looking at my blog?

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Cherish sunsets, friends, and memories … ‘the moment might be gone too soon’

By Lynn R. Mitchell

“Cherish the moment of togetherness, because the sun will fall beneath the ocean, creating a sunset, and the moment might be gone too soon.”–Unknown

Thinking tonight of Dennis Burnett of Augusta County who passed away this morning. It was an honor to know him the past 14 years (Augusta County’s Dennis Burnett passes away). Thoughts and prayers go at this sad time to his wife, family, and incredibly huge network of friends….

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The happiest of days

[Earlier this week Mike Thomas celebrated his grandson’s eighth birthday with a Facebook post that was, quite simply, a love letter from grandfather to grandson. If having grandchildren is even half as much fun as the relationship he has with Aiden, bring it on! Mike graciously agreed to share his post that began, “The happiest of days …” Thanks, Mike.]

Mike Thomas 4 with AidenBy Michael Thomas

Eight years ago today, God blessed us with the birth of our first grandchild, Aiden.

Energetic, curious and focused – all at the same time – Aiden has a heart that is much, much bigger than most kids his age (certainly bigger than mine). He is a protective big brother, a loving, cuddly son (with exceptions, of course) and an encouraging, fun loving grandson.

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Be careful of those you trust

Jerry LesterBy Jerry Lester

Why family or friends back-stab: trying to understand why some people “back-stab” or double-cross

A backstabber is someone who pretends to be your friend, or to be on your side, and then turns around and does or says things that lead to you being harmed, exposed, or treated badly as a result of things they suggest or reveal.

Backstabbing is a form of manipulation and reveals a person who is disloyal, insecure, and very unsure of their own place.

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Show hospitality to strangers

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,
for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
— Hebrews 13:2

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Day 25 … @BobMcDonnell: Closing arguments to begin

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Day 25 … @BobMcDonnell  #standwithbob  #prayforvictory

Closing arguments set to begin in McDonnells’ trial by Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Mary Pat Flaherty with the Washington Post.

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Politics: Friends, allies, and betrayals

By Lynn R. Mitchell

While reading the news wrap-ups this morning about Governor Bob McDonnell’s trial that is underway in Richmond, something he said struck a nerve with me. He noted that he had thought Jonnie Williams, who received blanket immunity from federal prosecutors and turned on the McDonnells, was a true friend.

I wrote on my Facebook status:

All of us have at least one “Jonnie Williams” in our lives — those people we trusted as friends who turned on us, plunging a knife deeply in our backs. They will live with the knowledge of that betrayal the rest of their lives. If you are lucky to have one true friend in politics, you are indeed lucky. They are rare.

In politics we have allies. They are with us until they aren’t. They aren’t our friends and will plunge a knife in our backs in a heartbeat to better their position, side with those in power at the time, or to climb on our backs to reach a higher rung on the ladder.

A true friend is a gift from God. Our job is to recognize them.

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Back in the homeschool classroom … the pain of grief

school booksBy Lynn R. Mitchell

[Originally published two years ago today on August 13, 2012.]

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” –Philippians 4:5

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound….

Twenty-seven is too young to experience the painful, dark world of death while others continue the business of life.  And when cancer creeps in to claim a young life, it leaves those behind feeling empty with a hole in their hearts left by the absence of the one who is gone.

During our homeschool days, as my children grew older, a particular joy was to be involved in the lives of many home-educated students during my years as teen coordinator with the local homeschool organization. I grew close to dozens of young people who remain friends to this day, years after they’ve grown to adulthood and moved on into the world, some even beginning families of their own.

One of those was 27-year-old Hannah whose heart is breaking tonight at the loss of her best friend after death crept in today and took him away.  As it often does, the insidious, evil, life-draining disease known as cancer claimed another victim and, when it did, deeply wounded my sweet friend.

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