shuttin detroit down

My best selling photo on iStock is a foreclosure headline. It’s a best seller not only because of the timely subject, but because I put it up long before the crisis hit the rest of the country. And I was able to put it up there long before the rest of country knew what was coming because my home state of Michigan was the canary in the economic coal mine. The foreclosure crisis, unemployment, and the overall slowing of the economy took hold here over a year ago and as it began squeezing the life out of the financial health of our state we wondered why nobody seemed to notice or care.

Over the past two years we have watched helplessly as the recession has spread throughout our country and has gone on to become a global economic crisis. As I listen to our politicians (and many of my friends ) argue about the answers along strident partisan lines, that feeling of helplessness only seems to grow. Call me naive, but as far as I am concerned we are not a country of Democrats and Republicans, and the last time I looked on a map, our country was not divided up by red states and blue states. We are the United States of America and we are Americans first and foremost, and all those economic statistics that are being thrown around in Washington are not just numbers, they are people’s lives unraveling bit by bit.

Sometimes I think about what I would say if I could stand up in front of Congress, if I only had a minute to let my voice be heard by the people we have chosen to stand guard over this beautiful country we Americans call home. But the truth is, I don’t know what I could say that would have any impact on the way Washington does business. And maybe that’s the heart of the problem, this feeling that we have put our trust in the hands of men and women who have all but forgotten us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not without hope. I do believe that things will eventually get better and I also believe that we have a new president who is striving to lead with a sincere sense of principle and service.

Okay, I’m hopping off the soapbox and getting back to work, gotta make some money to help pay those mortagage payments. The YouTube video is of John Rich who wrote a great new song about Detroit and our country’s current economic troubles. If you don’t want to hear the interview part, just click on the round button and slide it to about the 2:50 mark.🙂

skywatch friday

I captured this shot when I got up this morning. I liked the way the sun was lighting up the flag and silhouetting the porch against the clear blue sky. Tomorrow it will cloudy with a chance of five to eight inches of that white stuff. We were going to get together with family for a winter birthday birthday bash but cancelled because we have some family with long drives. My sister is one of those and seeing the flag this morning got me thinking about her son, he may be in that next wave of Marines going to Afghanistan. So this post is in honor of Charlie and all the other brave men and women who serve in our military.

good news

We are so connected in this modern life of 24 hour cable news programs, cell phones, and the Internet that we can sometimes be overwhelmed by information burnout. And while I think it’s important to be an informed citizen, the negative angle local and national news media outlets serve up just plain gets me down sometimes. I want to know what is happening in the world and in my own community, but I don’t want to just hear what all the screwed up “bad” people are doing. I also (and more so!) want to be inspired and motivated by the goodness in the world, by stories of everyday people who are making the world a better place, not a scarier place. I want balance and apparently I’m not alone in my hunger for positive news. I’ve linked three websites that I sometimes browse that focus on good news stories. Daryn Kagan started her website after working for CNN because she wanted to, Show the World What is Possible! one story at a time. Good News Broadcast has a mission to Find, receive, create and broadcast to the world, life-affirming, thought-provoking, educational news, entertainment and events. On the Good News Network “about us page” they write, Local TV news, especially, has been continually feeding us junk food. We need to be informed by a world view that is not dripping with sensationalism and attuned to the police scanner.

So if the news is getting you down check out those websites, or better yet, go outside for a walk and take a closer look at the world right outside your door. Be grateful for the goodness in your own life, whether it’s a flower still blooming in the chilled November air (like the mum I photographed on my front porch this morning), or simply the fact that you have a safe, warm place to call home.

Whatever we focus on is bound to expand. Where we see the negative, we call forth more negative. And where we see the positive, we call forth more positive. -Marianne Williamson

one soldier, one story

Cpl. William A. Long, an Army honor guard member who helped bury about 600 soldiers before deciding that he wanted to aid the military effort in Iraq, died in a grenade attack while there and was buried at Arlington National Cemetary on June 27, 2005. Brig. Gen. John MacDonald presents the American flag that was on Cpl. Long’s coffin to his mother, Susan Cordner. (Photograph by Jay Talbott/Scripps Howard News Service)

“Our heroes are those who act above and beyond the call of duty and in so doing give definition to patriotism and elevate all of us…. America is the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.” David Mahoney

global hugging


This Sunday is Earth Day. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone did something this weekend (and beyond) for our planet? You could plant a tree, change your lightbulbs to those weird curly florescent bulbs, buy canvas bags to use at the grocery store, vacuum the coils in your refrigerator, recycle your trash and buy recycled products, adjust the thermostat at night and when you’re not home to use less heating and air conditioning…if we all do a little we can make a difference. Earthday Network has a lot of good info on how we can protect our planet and our children’s future. I just ordered some canvas grocery totes from St. Jude’s, they’re on sale for only five bucks, you can’t beat that!

We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road, the one less traveled by, offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth. ~Rachel Carson

gone too soon


We look at the empty eyes in a dead man’s photograph and we ask, why? The blame game has begun, the “if onlys” are ringing out on the airwaves, on web sites, and in living rooms across our country. But sadly and most importantly, those “if onlys” will haunt the hearts and minds of the teachers, administrators and students at Virginia Tech for many years to come. It is human nature to take the unimaginable and try to make some sense of it, to take a tragedy and try and break it down into digestible portions. We will hit the rewind button over and over again and say it is because we want to prevent another tragedy like this one, that we must learn from this incident so that the people who died did not die in vain. But I think what we really want to do is change the outcome of that terrible morning, and the reality is no amount of understanding, of well meaning “thoughts and prayers”, of misplaced blame is going to do that. Thirty-two people died because one troubled young man shot them—they did not die in vain—but they did die too soon. At the end of my first book the main character writes in a letter to her daughter;

While I do not pretend to understand the workings of the human mind, the failings of the human heart, or the forces that set one man against another, this much I do know. There is knowledge and there is ignorance, there is faith and there is despair, there is love and there is hatred, and in the end, it is simply a matter of choice, this is God’s gift to us.

I hope we can learn something from this tragedy that will keep it from happening again, I really do. But most of all I hope that the survivors and the families of those who died are able to let go of the “if onlys” before they become imprisoned by them, and that they choose to have faith in love—honoring and celebrating the lives of those who are gone too soon.

MSNBC has put up a nice page with photos and profiles of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting.