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March 2017

This Month In Review - March 2017

Month_rev

Another month has past and Spring is here yet it still doesn't feel like it as I'm wrapped in a blanket and a Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the area (although it's technically not Winter anymore).  

I did start something pretty awesome this month, I started practicing Yoga again!  I can't wait to talk about it here. Once upon a time, I was a serious Yogini and practiced a lot. I even had a blog dedicated to it which is still online!  My practice was pretty strong and then life got in the way, money became an issue, and I put that off to the side with the occasional attempt to practice on my own but nothing regular stuck. Needless to say, I'm happy to be moving again.  Yoga is essential in my life. Now I just need to get back into walking/jogging again.  This winter messed me up.

What else was new in my blog in March? I have to say, I love putting these monthly blog recaps together!

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Where Is Your American Pride?

Where Is Your American Pride?Is America great again yet? It's only been two months but is it safe to ask this question?  I've been reading a lot about the rise of Nationalism in Europe since November, it's no coincidence.  Many say it started with Brexit vote last Summer. The latest is an article from The New York Times, How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe's Rising Far-Right Movements.  This resonated with me because it kind of reminded me of where I live now, not my town specifically but in the mid-Hudson Valley.  

Growing up in New York City and then moving to a suburb is quite a change and has broaden my perspective.  The Hudson Valley has a history of artsy, liberal-minded "River Towns" with lots of older hippies who want to protect the Hudson River, the environment, shutting down Indian Point, and are down to protest just about anything related to the environment.  I get it. But there's another history not talked about much that involves the KKK....but they're gone now, I think??  I had no idea until I moved to Dutchess County that there was a thing going on in Putnam County up until the 80s with the KKK, whoa.

So, come 2016 and I was surprised at how many Trump bumper stickers and lawn signs I would see.  Where the hell am I?? I had a discussion with a friend who moved out of NYC a few years ago and is now living some place that is less liberal-minded, not a total shift, but it gives you perspective, a broader perspective.  When people think of "New York", they think of this: 

New York City Skyline

This is just a very, very small (although heavily populated) snippet of New York state. New York has 62 counties, NYC is only 5 of them.  New York is also suburbs, picturesque small towns, mountains, rural farmlands, blue-collar towns, college towns, and straight up "Country."   It is so easy to live in a big city and think that since you are exposed to so much diversity, this is something that the rest of the country will welcome and is okay with.  Nope.  There is so much to New York that is not "Blue."  Our State Senate isn't even Blue, it may be on paper, but there is a thing called the Independent Democratic Conference kind of throwing a monkey wrench in things.  There are a few New Yorkers who want to set this country back 50 years and they're not even old enough to remember how it was the first time!

To bring this back around, I started writing this with the idea of Nationalism in this country. 45 was really pushing that message that we need to make America a country to be proud of again.  This is happening in other countries but it's being depicted as a bad thing. It's being seen as anti-Muslim, anti-foreigners.  Are Europeans talking about the rise of Nationalism in the United States and saying the same?   You are less likely to see USA pride in NYC.  You'll see Puerto Rican pride, Italian pride, Irish pride, Ethiopian pride, you get my drift.  You'll see more American flags displayed outside of houses the more outside the city you go.  

This country is not perfect, it's got a lot of messed up history it may not want to acknowledge and it still has problems with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a bunch of isms and phobias. This country also has a serious problem keeping religion and state separate (someone forgot to tell them about that.) I would still rather live here than anywhere else.  I can write this blog, criticize the President, and not have to worry about someone knocking on my door (yet..maybe.). I can go out by myself where other countries require a man to be with you, I can drive a car by myself, I can wear whatever I want.  I'm fortunate to live here but I'm still aware enough to know that there are others, who live in the same country, that may not feel as comfortable, and that sucks. I'm not proud of that.  The last administration tried very hard to get us all past that and I'd hate to see all of that get erased.  I don't have a problem with national pride as long as it includes everyone who chooses to live there, even if they came from somewhere else. 

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Know Your History, Don't be a Tree Without Roots

Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Garvey

I came across this quote and it stuck with me. There is so much concern of history repeating itself with this current administration.  While there is more information available for everyone, there seems to be less education.  All this nonsense about "fake news" and "alternative facts."  Can history be made up? No, it happened, look it up!  Deny history as much as you want, it will bite you in the ass sooner or later.  The Holocaust happened!  Protesting can change things! Slaves were not immigrants who came here by choice!  

There's so much spinning, it's hard not to get dizzy.  I've been revisiting U.S and Global History.   I grew up in the New York public school system in the 80s and early 90s and honestly, I didn't learn much about our history (cue What a Wonderful World).  It was very safe - Lincoln freed the slaves, the US freed the Jews from Germany and got us out of the Depression, Blacks had to drink from different water fountains in the South until Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came along, uh...there was a war Vietnam. It's embarrassing now that I look back.  I don't entirely blame my schools, I'm pretty sure I spaced out a lot during history. I remember taking a history class in high school which was all about Europe from like the 1500-1600s, I don't remember shit.

Now I love history, I want to absorb as much as possible - mostly in the form of documentaries.  I love what people like Ken Burns and Tom Hanks are doing to keep history alive and interesting in this world of super short attention spans (guilty). Oliver Stone has a great documentary series on Netflix, The Untold History of the United States, worth checking out.  I can understand why World War II isn't covered much because it was pretty fucking huge.  Vietnam War was a cluster fuck which made the U.S. look really, really bad so let's just gloss over that. I wish they talked more about WWII and Vietnam because I knew (from movies, of course) just how bad and ugly it was and felt it was important to learn more about.   I'm curious about what schools are teaching now about 9/11 and the never ending war in Afghanistan.  

I hope schools are more open and honest about how U.S. History is taught. It's not all great and moral and the bad stuff didn't only happen centuries ago. I know there are concerns about parents getting butt hurt worried about brainwashing their kids. Whatever. Maybe I'll save that for another time.  Is that what college is for?

J_belushi_college

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Grab a Cup & Blanket: Good Reads This Month

Good articles and blog reads this month

I've been doing SO much reading lately, my eyes are about to bug out. I will come across a great blog post or article (are they the same thing?) and think "I'd like to share this sometime" and then forget about it. Not today!

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Things To Do On A Snow Day

Snowday

I am in the middle of a blizzard, I think it's called "Stella" (??), which is impacting most of the entire North East. Where I live is looking to get AT LEAST a foot of snow!!! This is how my bench looked this morning.

IMG_9473

I still love the start of a snowfall.  I don't get to enjoy "Snow Day" since I work from home but it's nice to not have that pressure of wondering how I would get to work or if I should even bother.

Last year I talked about my love of breakfast, reading ebooks, and binge watching my Roku.  Not much has changed but I'll add a few more things to the list of things I enjoy doing on a snow day: 

  CoverStory-Hanuka-Garden-1000x1364-1488923832
I'm still going through my subscription of New Yorker Magazine.  I'm currently 2 weeks behind with their issues.  Once this subscription runs out I'm looking to start another, I'm thinking National Geographic.  Any suggestions?

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Preparing my coffee in the morning has become a different kind of ritual.  It takes longer now, but I can afford the extra time to make my coffee.  I've gotten into grinding my beans which I purchased from Irving Farms Coffee Roasters in Millerton, NY.  It is the only coffee I drink black because it's that good.

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Listen to more records!!  Last Friday there was a Vinyl Record Pop-Up in Beacon, NY so I had to check it out. I found some good stuff.  This is my half of the loot, Mike brought home some good stuff too.  This is a good day to spin some records all day, as long as the power doesn't go out.

My latest vinyl record scores

Are you snowed in today? What are you favorite things to do on a snow day?

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Isn't Everyday International Women's Day?

IWD

Yesterday was International Women's Day, did you do anything?  I must admit I didn't do much, except work - yes I worked.  Honestly, it was not a date I had engraved in my mind as a plan of action, it never was.  I shared some tweets, that's about it.  It's not that I don't care, of course I do!  There are just SO many calls to action now, my head is spinning.  It's kind of like "Earth Day", I don't need a day to remind me that the planet is changing and we all need to do our part to take care of it, it's a part of who I am.  

I do want to acknowledge those of you who did take a stand, marched, wore red, and made a statement. It's great to see the momentum of the Women's March still going strong.  It's important to keep pushing for equality for women and non-binary people in the workforce, education, and right to life.   I guess my problem is wishing we didn't need annual dates as a reminder to be better people, you know?   But I get it, some people are hard to educate or they'll say something stupid like "When is International Men's Day?"  Ignorant people can try to blow it off as fluff, but they can't ignore the issue forever.

So the answer to my question in this blog post is - no, not every day is International Women's Day. We need dates like International Women's Day as a reminder, a history lesson in progress and a measuring stick of how far we still need to go.

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Small Business: Do you get Political on Social Media?

Sm_bus_pol

When I had my jewelry business, I avoided talking about religion and politics online.  I did not want to have separate accounts for such issues so I left it alone.  Now I'm free to write and say what I want - I kinda love it.  It got me thinking, with this change in political climate, what should a business person do who strongly opposes what is going on in our government and their online presence?  I'm not talking about big businesses like Nordstrom or LL Bean.  I mean small business, mom & pop shops, etc. who can't turn a blind eye - especially if legislation changes may impact their business (ie: who they hire, where they get their materials, obtaining a loan). 

You don't want to scare customers away or turn off new ones because they don't agree with you.  When I had Pulp Sushi, I would not have written An Open Apology or You're Not A Feminist? on that blog.  As a business/brand, you have to think twice before shooting off online.  Ask yourself what you think could happen when you post something?  Let's say you sell knitted kids hats, your customer base is mostly moms.  Are you going to share a link to an article is against increasing paid maternity leave because you believe that maternity leave is generous enough as it is?  What if you share a anti-Hillary Clinton meme?  Do these things reflect what your business is about? Is there a chance that there may be a backlash? I said I wasn't going to talk about big business, but it's okay for Anheuser-Busch to make a political statement about immigration during the Super Bowl.  They have been around since 1852 and made the commitment to use their products to promote a better world.  For the most part, they keep the politics off their Twitter and Facebook.  

Let's flip this around. You're a handmade soap seller who locally sources their ingredients and rely on local farmers who employs immigrants, you announce in your shop that a percentage of all sales goes toward the ACLU and Sierra Club, you market your soap as a way to "Wash off 2016 election FILTH!!" (go ahead soapers, you can use that). How about you make cards that say "Orange you glad I didn't grab your pussy?" It is CLEAR that you promote your activism through your products and you are catering to specific group of people, more power to you, your social media can be a part of that branding for your business easy-peasy.  

Perhaps you're ready to make that change and you want to bring more social awareness in to your business. You can introduce issues into your business slowly, maybe donations for sales of one specific item goes towards a cause, and as you promote that item, you can share additional information on social media about the charity or the general cause.  Raise awareness without coming across as preachy. People don't like to be preached too. Just look at the backlash celebrities get when they get political.   While the "experts" say you may be killing your business, I think there is a way this can be done smart and tactfully. You may lose some followers, but you can gain so many more once you provide more meaning to your business.

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My Vinyl Record Soundtrack Collection

It took me a while to jump aboard the vinyl record collecting train.  I honestly didn't think I would be into buying records again. When would I listen to them? I can't burn them to a CD (although there is equipment that can do that) and I can't upload them into an MP3 player (is there something for that?).  But it happened and it started with movie soundtracks, strange.  We have one of those stereos that look like an old radio but it plays records, tapes, and CDs.  It is being put to use!

My Vinyl Record Soundtrack Collection

When I was little, my earliest vinyl record was the Grease soundtrack.  I need to track that down again *mental note*.  My brother also had soundtracks for a lot of movies - Star Wars, Halloween 1, 2, 3, Escape From New York, Jaws.  Fast forward to last year and I've been paying more attention to scores and soundtracks to movies, especially older movies - 80s being my favorite.   Now you have companies like Waxwork Records, Mondo, One Way Static - just to name a few, and they are going ALL OUT on the soundtracks!  Not just the music/score quality, but the whole presentation!  

Here are some of my favorites: 

Photo Feb 27, 10 14 04 AM
Photo Feb 27, 10 14 04 AM
Photo Feb 27, 10 14 04 AM
Photo Feb 27, 10 14 04 AM

It doesn't hurt when the vinyl is nice is pretty too. I'm a sucker for design.  I still have a long wishlist of soundtracks I'd like to own. Some I already have on CD but would like to have on vinyl (ie: Purple Rain) so the collector bug has definitely bit me.

Do you listen to vinyl records? 

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