Things Effie Wants You To Know #1 ~ Give Yourself A Break

Having empathy for others is a great thing; and you have it in abundance. Your heart is always hurting for someone else that has been hurt. Sympathy for other is also a good thing but not as good as empathy; feeling sorry for others is not as important as feeling for them.

Having sympathy or empathy for yourself is even better. And self-pity, self-indulgence and patting yourself on the back don’t count. What matters is that you not be too hard on yourself when you make a mistake, have sympathy for yourself; everyone makes mistakes. Have empathy for yourself when you are having misgivings, doubts or fears. It is important to be kind to yourself even when you are disappointed in what you have done or accomplished; when you feel you have failed.

If you do your best, then you have done your best. And if you have, give yourself a break because that is all anyone can ask of you, including you.


Democracy Is Not For Whiners

Ok, I am so tired of everyone’s facebook entries, tweets, etc., today. I can’t say how many people said, in essence, my vote doesn’t count.

What part of your vote always counts do people not understand? As a woman, all I have to do is think about how recent it is that women were allowed to vote. All I have to do is think of the suffering, the beatings and jailings, that brave women endured to give me the right. How dare I squander the privilege. But… There is a difference between winning and having your vote count.

I am a constitution defending geek. And in that tradition I say, and believe, that your vote is the most precious gift your democracy gives you. It is your voice, your chance to say “I disagree”. If one side won by 100% of the vote because the other half stayed home there would be no mandate for elected officials to think about all the electorate once they take office. When you win office by 1% of the vote you darn well know that there is power in the other 49%; that your political life may be short lived.

You vote to be heard, you vote to participate, you don’t always win. That’s the thing about majority rule… the majority rules. You speak your piece and then move on with the business of life, or governing as the case may be. The whole issue of gridlock and elected officials who don’t seem to get this currently is a discussion for another day. But this is the nature of the democratic process.

It is hard to say your piece and lose. It is demanding to accept the will of the majority, particularly when you deeply disagree with the apparent will of the majority. But there is no alternative. There is however, good news ~ there will be another election, another chance to speak, to vote, to win. But you have to wait and work for that day. Those of you who are like minded have to work together to convince another 3 or 4% (in the 51% scenario) that you are right. When that happens, you will win and the other will be the 49%, waiting for you to forget that they are almost half of those represented.

Nobody likes to lose but all of us must, from time to time, in a democratic society. Clearly, democracy is not for whiners.

Practical Advice For My Son #3 ~ Count Three Seconds To Stop

You will learn, soon enough, that one of the scariest days of your life will be the day you hand the car keys to your child and they drive off alone. Why this is scarier that riding with them when they have never driven at all, I can’t quite fathom; a parent is equally powerless either way, from the passenger seat or from the sofa.

Nevertheless, every time you drive away, my stomach turns over. So here you get a little practical advice that isn’t normally included in driver’s courses. You have hard some of it, but a reminder never hurts.

Learn to drive a standard shift, if you do you will never be stranded and you will understand how your car works a little more. This is a dying skill except amongst serious car aficionados. Remember when I reserved a moving truck and went to pick it up on a weekend, ready to load and leave only to discover that it was a standard shift truck (split shift at that) and the truck rental people had gone home for the weekend! Good thing I knew how to drive it.

When you feel sleepy, dizzy, lightheaded or generally weird, pull off the road. Don’t endanger yourself and others; no matter how much of a rush you are in. Late is better than dead every single time. Remember when Bob crushed his face.

Remember that if you count three seconds from the time the car in front of you passes a fixed point until you pass the same fixed point you will pretty much always be far enough back (relative speed). Nobody does this all the time but check it every once in a while to remind yourself of how much distance you need. When somebody cuts in front of you, reducing your space, make more space. Playing chicken is stupid and you don’t get there any faster.

Change your oil every 3,000 miles and generally do the maintenance on your car. Most cars will serve you well and much longer than the average American keeps a car if you just take care of them. It is nice to have a fancy new car, it is nicer to have no car payment! It is amazing how much money you can save when you don’t have to replace your car but can drive it past the end of the payments.

You have learned the hard way that when you don’t take care of things, you have to spend money to replace them. Imagine, if you took care of your stuff, how long it would last, how much money you could put in your pocket. This goes for your relationships as well. The more you care for them, the less energy you will spend and the longer they will last.