November 30, 2012

Musings on Time and Life and Love and Stuff

(Some of this is based on different quotes I've heard and seen around.  Some of this is from lil' old me.  All of it, though, is from my heart.)

It's heartbreaking when the people you know become the people you knew.... 

And when you can walk right past someone like they were never that huge part of your life.... 

And how you used to talk for hours on end about everything friends talk about, and how now you barely speak to one another....

Life takes us all in different directions, but who says we have to grow apart?  Or lose each other?

If you want each other, fight like hell for each other.

Guard your friends like a rich man guards his treasure.... because of all things God and His wisdom has granted us, friendship is the greatest.

And in the chaos of this world and this life we can't afford to lose it.

Be a friend.  A real friend.  Not a fair-weather friend.

No matter how busy life gets, spare a few minutes for a letter, a smile, a night out, or a phone call.

Because life goes by too fast to forget.

The trick is hard, though.  You can't care too much, because you will get hurt.  If you care too much, it will just hurt more.

Life is a flashback.  A question, a photograph, a statement, a story, a struggle, a chance to laugh.  

Laugh.  With your friends.  With your enemies.

Don't use time or words carelessly, because you can't get either of them back....

Treat your friends like treasure.  They are treasure.  

"Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter.  He who finds one finds a treasure." (Sirach 6:14)

"Faithful friends are beyond price.  No amount can balance their worth." (Sirach 6:15)

Keep them.  

Love them.  

Be there for them.

Remember them, even in the craziness of everyday living.

Some people say that time changes everything, but I don't believe that.

Doing things changes things.


Four things I've learned in my short years:  Life goes on.  Love doesn't always last.  People change often and fast.  Friends die when you're least expecting.

Love is a gift.  Use it.

Friends are a gift.  Keep them.

Life is a gift.  Don't waste it.

Jusqu'à ce qua la prochaine fois,

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November 29, 2012

The Hunger Games {movie review}

I couldn't help but to ask myself, what's with all this hype over the Hunger Games?  I'll admit, the excitement has died down considerably (since the movie has been out since March), but occasionally I'll overhear some OMG-I-LOVE-HUNGER-GAMES ranting.

Hunger Games (2012, PG-13), directed by Gary Ross, is set in the futuristic and filthy ruins of North America. There are only two groups of people in this dystopia: the super-rich and the dirt-poor.  The nation is called "Panem,"and each year, the Capitol draws the names of a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of it's twelve districts.  The teens are called "tributes," and must participate (willingly or not) in the Hunger Games, a twisted punishment for a long past uprising and a continual intimidation strategy by the government.  The Games are televised across Panem, and the Tributes must fight one another until only one remains alive.  From District 12, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark must utilize their instincts in order to survive as they battle the highly-trained tributes from other districts.  The two are given a mentor, alcoholic past victor Haymitch Abernathy.  Chock full of drama, mystery, and suspense, Hunger Games took me on quite an interesting adventure.

The film has some undeniably good messages in it. There is a true sense of heroism from the beginning of the film.  When the name of Everdeen's sister, Primrose, is drawn from the glass bowl as tribute, the protagonist Katniss voluntarily goes in her stead.  This is the clear reflection of the principle found in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,"  in this case, her sister.  Proud and strong, Katniss refuses to show her fear, as is the expectation of the dictatorship.

Also a skilled hunter, a master of the bow and arrow, Katniss is horrified by the idea of dying - and her worst fear as she participates in the Games is the fact that she will need to kill other people.  She holds a great value for life, and she is determined to respect it.  In order to do this, she risks her own life quite a few times.  As the story plays out and the contestants in the games become more desperate, Katniss, Peeta, and their silent young friend Rue (from District 11) help one another survive, despite the purpose of the game.  

Peeta Mellark, the other tribute from District 12, is equally self-sacrificial, especially when it comes to protecting Katniss.

The film is superbly  acted, and the cast was chosen well.  Jennifer Lawrence played the role of independent and headstrong Katniss Everdeen, the 16-year-old left to hunt and trade illegally in order to support her family.  Josh Hutcherson was cast in the role of sweet, fair skinned, blond haired Peeta Mellark, who has a "thing" for his district partner.  

The film really brings home the idea that wealth makes humans less compassionate toward one another.  The excessively rich inhabitants of the Capitol do brutal injustice toward the district of Panem, living in pomp and amenity while being more than sure to keep the rest of the population in miserable poverty.  The ability of the "first class" to empathize with those less fortunate is portrayed especially well.

Panem greatly resembles Ancient Rome (the nation's very name means "bread"), and one of the most puzzling aspects of the film is the obsession and glorification of the Games, bringing us back to gladiatorial entertainment, warriors fighting to the death as entertainment for the citizens of the Capitol. Many of the characters in the film have names that are regular in the history of Rome, including Flavia, Cato, Octavia, and Portia.

Ultimately throughout the film, I noticed the themes of government outreach, corruption and desensitization of the powerful and wealthy to the struggles of the "masses."  It can be viewed as an accusation against our usually manipulative, selective, and coarse media.  Gale, a childhood friend of Katniss', says before she leaves for the Games, "What if for one year everyone just stopped watching?  Then they wouldn't have the games."  I couldn't help myself but see the logic in that remark…. even if the show didn't feature the barbaric blood fest of the Hunger Games. 

There was basically no graphic sexual content, apart from a few teeny-bopper smooches between Katniss and Peeta, and the exploitive dress of one of the tributes. The most problematic element of the movie is the violence, which might be too much for certain children. There is a great amount of violence throughout, but it is shown in quick, desultory fragments, and the shaky, hand-held cameras lessen the brazen bloodshed.  Older, well-trained tributes travel the country-like arena and kill as a pack (and seem to have a good time doing it, too….)  Killer wasps swarm the group, and we see the mangled body of a tribute.  Giant dogs attack some of the tributes, and Katniss shoots one with an arrow as a sort of "mercy killing."  A young girl's neck is snapped in half, another pulls a spear from her stomach, and Katniss is severely burned in a fire.  Toward the end, Katniss and Peeta both threaten to commit suicide by eating poisonous berries, since they can't bring themselves to kill each other.

This casual savagery disturbs us, as it should; the culture of Panem demonstrates a blatant disregard for the dignity of the human person. The citizens of the Capitol are so infatuated with entertainment that they forget about it's implications - the loss of human life.  They even give these teenagers a label to dehumanize them, treating them like toys.  I firmly believe that any time humans hunt other humans, it is obvious that a society's perception of humanity has taken a serious wrong turn.  It just goes to show what a society without any reference to God will lower itself to. To the inhabitants of Panem, the rich are the "god."  They rule as kings and queens, and their word is law, including their sick methods of entertainment.  The comfort is, though, that human dignity can indeed be preserved, even in such a dark time ruled by such heartless dictators.

Hunger Games is a compelling and interesting story that provokes some reflections relevant to our own day and age, and after watching it a few times myself, I'm beginning to see it as the revolutionary masterpiece some of its admirers would make it.

Because of the violence, I rate it a reluctant two out of three.

November 28, 2012

Bliss Baby & Kids

Located in beautiful downtown Northville, Mich., Bliss Baby & Kids has provided its customers with baby gear, kids toys and clothing for many years, and with the Christmas season coming up, this is the place to shop for the wee ones.

"After our third child was born, we wanted to make our internet business a retail store," said Colleen McInnis, owner of Bliss Baby & Kids with her husband, Trevor.  "Our mission is to offer the best children's products at the most affordable prices.  Between our experience parenting four children and the experience of all our friends and family combined, we have found the must-have products that make parenting easier."  McInnis said that she loves running the store especially because she and her husband have met so many great people who started out as customers and are now friends.

Offered a tiny retail space on Main Street in Northville, Bliss Baby & Kids began in Sept. 2005.  "The store was only about 350 square feet, but we maximized our space by getting creative in our displays," said McInnis.  Four years later, they moved to a location next door that was twice the size of their first store.  On Oct. 1 2012, the McInnis couple moved their store between the children's Marquis Theatre and Great Harvest Bread Co. and across from the city's clock tower which is located adjacent to Northville's downtown activity square.  "While it is a smaller place than our previous store, it is truly the best spot in all of downtown Northville."

According to McInnis, customers can find all the essential items a new parent never knew they would need at Bliss Baby & Kids.  The carried toy brands include Melissa & Doug, Haba, Plan Toys, eeBoo, Green Toys Inc. (which are made in the U.S.), and Uncle Goose (which are made in Grand Rapids, Mich.).  "We have the best baby carriers including Ergo and Maya Wrap," she said.  Bliss Baby & Kids also carries baby and kids shoes including Robeez, See Kai Run, and Squeaky Shoes.

The customers of Bliss Baby & Kids are happy with the products and service provided there.  "I started shopping there in 2009 when my son was an infant," said Tanya Juarez Lundberg of Northville, Mich., mother of a 3 year old boy.  "I believe I found it through Google."

"I needed more BumGenius diapers in anticipation of a trip we were taking and didn't want to drive all the way to Ann Arbor.  I placed my order online," said Lundberg, "and Trevor had it waiting for me when I arrived at the store - any mom can attest to how helpful it is to have your order waiting for you when you walk in!"  Lundberg said she has also purchased cloth diapers and accessories to toys and shoes, and Kleen Kanteen.

"The McInnises are fabulous people, honest and helpful" said Lundberg.  "They have such a huge selection of quality products, and their prices are more than reasonable, especially for what they carry."  According to Lundberg, Northville is lucky to have such a great natural parenting resource right downtown.

Amy Ekblad, shopper at Bliss Baby & Kids for 7 years, is also very happy with the services, and says she would definitely recommend the store to others.  "My favorite thing about Bliss Baby & Kids is the personal and honest service that I get when I go there," said Ekblad.  "They never make a hard sell, and they want you to be happy with your purchases.  Also, their products are great quality and there is lots of thought that goes into each product that they will carry in their store.  I was there the day they opened 7 years ago and have been going there ever since!"

Ekblad is an advocate for local businesses, and would recommend Bliss Baby & Kids for that reason.  "It's how communities have thrived for hundreds of years," she said.  "I recommend supporting businesses that put thought and care into their products and who want you to be satisfied more than they want you to make a sale."

"I have purchased too many things to name them all," said Ekblad.  "I have purchased everything from baby carriers, clothing, diapers, and shoes to board games, card games, toys, and jewelry.  I have purchased diaper cream and hair bows, dress-up clothes and puzzles."

"I think I may own every product that they sell, but don't tell my husband."

  • Bliss Baby & Kids is located at 137 East Main Street in Northville, Mich.  
  • It is open Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday thru Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

November 27, 2012

Phillip Campbell, Mayor

For my journalism class, we were instructed to write the profile of a locally influential person, and I decided to write about a dear friend of mine who just happens to be the mayor of Howell and my former Sacred Scripture teacher.  Here it is!  God bless Mr. Mayor!

Phillip Campbell is the youngest person to serve as mayor of the city of Howell, Mich.  Victorious by 60 percent of the vote in 2011, Campbell has striven to bring excellence to the city since his election.

Of all his achievements, Campbell is most proud of the good he has tried to spread throughout the city.

“People truly know that their mayor cares about what is going on in their lives and wants to listen to their needs, which they appreciate,” said Campbell, 32.  “Whether or not I can help them, they know they are listened to and respected, and this is extremely important for a government official.”  Campbell believes that without this, all the policy in the world wouldn’t make a difference.  

Before the election, a great sense of antagonism was found between city hall and the people, and different groups within the town, said Campbell.  There is much more sense of cooperation now.  

Campbell doesn’t believe he has really changed much since his election, though.  “I just put my two cents in whenever I can and try to act in the best interest of the common good,” he said.  “I have to act in concert with six other people, so I can’t do a lot of things unilaterally.”  Douglas Heins, Howell council member for 13 years and friend of the Mayor, and says Campbell has injected energy into the city.  “It was once said that the difference between being old or staying young is the old talk about memories and the youth of aspirations,” said Heins.  “Phil looks to the future, talks about the future, and is the future of Howell; he personifies the next generation, or maybe I should say NOW the generation, because of his use of social media for information and discussion makes him more in touch with Howell’s residents than any other Mayor in Howell.”  As the new Mayor, said Heins, Campbell is tireless.  This may come from his youth, but nevertheless, he has gone far beyond what is expected of any person that (who not that) becomes the elected leader of its residents, according to Heins.

Campbell has lived in Howell all of his life, either in town or in the outskirts of the city.  He did not always have an interest in politics, though. 

“I grew up very interested in history, and a large part of history is the study of politics and political figures,” he said, “but I never really envisioned a future in politics for myself until much later in my adulthood.”  Campbell said that after the city initiated a very expensive and unpopular street reconstruction program, his political interest grew.  He became curious as to where the money was being spent, and began following local events and finally decided to get involved.

While identifying himself with most Republicans, Campbell says his thinking is formed by the Tradition of the Catholic Church, and the Church's authors, like Augustine, Aquinas, Chesterton, and the popes.

“I consider myself a Catholic Mayor first and foremost,” said Campbell.  “I default to the ancient Greek view of politics, which is that it is the art of pursuing the common good for the people and is the most excellent of all sciences on a strictly natural level.”  Local politics are especially important to Campbell because he believes it to be the only level of politics where the people have direct and immediate interaction with their government, and where they can have an individual influence, know their elected officials in a very personal way, and get involved without a lot of money or experience.  “It is politics at its best possible incarnation,” said Campbell.

His devotion to the Catholic Church also serves to influence his politics, and, he says, one of the great reasons for his interest in local politics.  “I believe that the Church and Catholic tradition have the answers to all of the world’s problems, and I wanted to get into office in order to bring a distinctly Catholic approach to problem-solving to the local government,” said Campbell.  “Every question in life can ultimately be boiled down to a question of philosophy, and ultimately theology, and I prefer thinking of the world and is problems in these terms, because it is only in them that it becomes intelligible to me.”

Campbell attended Ave Maria University from 2002 through 2005, where he obtained a BA in Liberal Arts, and received his Secondary Education Certificate from Madonna University with a Major in Social Studies and a Minor in English.

November 26, 2012

Shutter Island - R {Review/Opinions}

I recently watched a movie called Shutter Island, and boy, what a twister of a film that was...  I was exhausted yet fully awake by the end of it.  I guess they don't call it a "physiological thriller" for nothing!

Spoiler Alert!  Read on if you dare...

The movie is set in 1954, and United States Marshall Teddy Daniels is sent with his partner, Chuck Aule, to the Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital (for the criminally insane) in the Boston Harbor in order to investigate the mysterious disappearance of patient/prisoner, Rachel Solando, incarcerated for murdering her three children.  Daniels had wanted an assignment on the island for a while because of personal reasons.  He is still traumatized by the memories of his involvement in the liberation reprisals (the killing of German camp guards and POWs in the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945 - thank you, Wikipedia).  He is haunted even more by the death of his wife, who was killed in a fire lit by arson Andrew Laeddis.  A gale-like hurricane disables any transportation to and communication with the mainland, and as Daniels works the investigation of the missing patient, the jagged pieces of a gruesome puzzle begin to fit together.  Toward the end of the movie, the plot takes an unexpected and clever twist based around the character of Daniels himself...

(Shutter Island was produced by Martin Scorsese, and was released to theaters in 2010.)

In my opinion, Shutter Island is a very... interesting ... film.  Something you really have to be in the mood for.

I have always enjoyed the psychological twists and turns of thrillers such as these.  I find the fragility of the mind and spirit of humanity to be a fascinating thing - the mind is a beautiful thing with remarkable abilities - and at times even more remarkable when there are troubles or inconsistencies within it.  The things that our mind can make someone with deep psychological wounds believe can make or break that person's entire existence.  In Shutter Island, Laeddis' world was built around the fact that his wife had been killed in a malicious fire, and his mission was to find the murderer.  He shows no thought of revenge however, which I found to be interesting.

Laeddis' mental illness is laden with conspiracy theories... the greatest of which is the idea that the government-controlled hospital staff is performing lobotomies on patients, creating ghosts, and that brewing in the place is nothing but a cacophony of lies and vindictive tricks.  The idea is originally planted in his head by "Solando," who he finds hiding in a cave on the side of a cliff.  It is both chilling and possible, considering the somewhat hostile and shady attitudes of the staff, but the ending mystery leaves the decision to the viewer.

Shutter Island is a brilliantly constructed mystery...  At the end of the movie, Laeddis tells his doctor (who he believes to be his marshal partner Chuck Aule) that something shady is going on at the island and that they need to get off it.  The doctor, Sheehan, nods to the warden and his companions who are standing in the distance.  Ultimately, again, it is a mystery left to the solving of the viewer.  It is not revealed whether or not Laeddis is actually Laeddis or the U.S. Marshal Daniels, although "Solando's" suspicion that the hospital staff was conducting unethical experiments on the patients seems unfounded.  I found myself wondering at the end of the film... and also rather exasperated.

The film's great question was asked by Laeddis in the second-to-last line of the film... "Which could be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man?"  This is the closest thing relating to clear morality, and as a Christian, I didn't find any deeper meaning other than Laeddis would rather be brainwashed/lobotomized instead of keeping his memories and living as the criminal he is.

At the end of the film, I felt as if I had taken part in a tragedy, and that Daniels is a sort of Everyman.  He has no one to trust, yet he stands up for what he believes is the truth.  He battles to save those he believes innocent victims of injustice while warding off his own haunting memories.  He is heroic, even in his troubled mind.

Cinematically, I thought the film was very well done, and the actors cast were wonderful.  I cannot say the scenery was beautiful, considering the glowering darkness of the film's general mood, but it was eerily alluring nonetheless.  Laeddis and his "partner" take shelter in a mausoleum when a rainstorm surprises them, and the long, foreboding, dimly lit, and leaky corridors of the facility were almost enthralling in a weird sort of way.  The "countryside" of the island struck me as a place I'd like to explore, but not alone in the dark. ;)  As for the actors, I've never been a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio (Daniels/Laeddis), but I was very impressed in his performance.  Mark Ruffalo (Aule/Sheehan) and also did a great job.  The actors were solid in their roles.

The music was excellent, and that coupled with the natural suspense of the movie, I found my heart pounding at times... drawing me deeper into the experience.

Three things surprised me, however, which I believe the movie could have done without, even though I understand the purpose behind including them in the movie: the sometimes incredibly gruesome imagery - especially in the flashback scenes in the Dachau concentration camp - and the very crude language.  The graphics I understand, as they were an (successful) attempt to show the intense trauma that Laeddis had experienced, leading to the viability of his mental insanity.  Call it just being a woman (which doesn't really work, considering my favorite movie), but I believe the extent of it was a wee bit unnecessary and unfortunately, God's name was blasphemed around 25 times... (I always believe this type of language to be unnecessary, no matter what the situation.)  Finally, the sexual imagery in the film is seen in a painting of the upper half of a nude woman, and several of the facility's male patients display full frontal nudity.  Crude conversation also took place... also something I deem unnecessary.

Apart from three two things, I was very impressed and satisfied with the 138 minutes I spent in front of the "tube" (an extremely rare occurrence, let me assure you).

Aaaanyway, I would recommend this movie (if you have the stomach for graphic dead people and are of age to legally watch a rated-R film)...  Definitely not for kids.  Like, at all.
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Something Blue

Something happens when a person comes in contact with so much death so often.

It's cold.  And numbing.

Almost like nothing happened, but obviously something has.

And then there's that hole in your spirit.

That chasm which can't be filled by anything except that one person who is no longer there.

You hear them talking and joking and you see them smiling.

Until you realize it's only your imagination. 

Charles Dickens once asked, "can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one creature makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up?"


Yes it can be.

And it hurts.

But a sweet, sweet friend reminded me, "In time, God will heal and mend this. Jeremiah 29:11. Something good will come..."

That's the good news.

We don't know what, yet.

We don't know when.

But someday we will understand.

November 23, 2012

Laugh Today

Truth:  Laughter is good for your health.

It relaxes the whole body.  A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

It boosts the immune system.  Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

It triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals.  Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

It protects the heart.  Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

November 20, 2012

I have God to Thank

This past year, I have been blessed in more ways that I can remember.    
So in keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving,
I figured to share just a few...
I have God to thank for all of it.

-✧- For all the blessings that God has given to me and those I love.

-✧- For the freedom to worship Him.

-✧- For the Catholic Church and all her magnificence.

-✧- For my family.  We're crazy, loud, obnoxious, beautifully imperfect, and I love you.

-✧- That my brother was able to have leave from the Navy to come home for Thanksgiving, and that his girlfriend Eileen was able to find a ride to our house from her college to be with us on Thanksgiving.

-✧- For my friends.  Long-time friends whom I have known since childhood, and who have tolerated me for years on end, God bless you for your patience.  I love you.  The new friends I’ve been blessed to meet and grow to love during this past summer and semester.  And heck, the new people I've met in the past few weeks who I love already.  You are all fantastic.  The good friends who have died, leaving the memories that will be cherished forever.  I miss you.

-✧- For my former teachers who have now become my dear, dear friends.  I love you all, too.

-✧- For all my unofficial mothers and fathers (and an uncle) who are constantly watching out for me, and giving
me their wonderful advice.  I love you.

-✧- For time.  Even though I constantly complain about not having enough, what a blessing it is to have it at all.

-✧- For all the wonderful opportunities which God is continually placing before me: The opportunity to spend 10 days in California this coming March, and the opportunity to take a road trip across the country with some of my closest friends next spring, and to the March for Life for the 7th time.  The opportunity of being a college student, a dancer, an equestrian, a friend.  I am thankful for the opportunity to stay the weekend at Hillsdale with some dear friends this past weekend.

-✧- For the gift of adventurousness.

-✧- For experiences, and the gift of remembrance: my homeschool group, my closest friends, drama club, youth group, kidnapping my best friend from work and galavanting all through the city all evening in celebration of her birthday.

-✧- For my roots.  I'll always be a small town girl, no matter where I end up.

-✧- For Shakespeare (for more reasons than I can count).  "What a piece of work is man!  How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god.  The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!" (Hamlet, Act II, Scene II)

-✧- For literature, and for the gift of literacy.

-✧- For the beauty of nature, and the human’s ability to be amazed by it, gazing upon it for hours on end.

-✧- For the humans ability to think and reason.

-✧- For the beauty of music, which has the power to inspire, and to stop a person in her tracks and bring tears to the eyes.

-✧- For where I am today.  I've been up, down, and all around, and I most definitely wouldn't be here if it weren't for the grace of God and the undying support of my family and friends.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving... God bless you!

With love, from the Dork <3

November 18, 2012

A Weekend in the Hills

This weekend, I had the lovely opportunity to spend the night with some old friends who are at college in Hillsdale, Mich.  I have been there several times for different reasons, and being with these people (some of my dearest friends) is always a great pleasure, but it was especially enjoyable to be with them in their own element and meet some of their new friends.  After only a few hours, it felt as if I lived there, too.

We spent the hours galavanting about the campus and in the college Arboretum, battling at Mario Cart (Kart? - I am not a gamer) Wii, pool, and ping pong, hiking, relaxing and talking about life.

I find the the campus at Hillsdale College beautiful and peaceful, and the village is quiet, quaint, and wonderfully lovely...  It was nice to get away from the big city and out into the fresh air of Nowhere-land for a while.  It was almost like a mini retreat. :)

I was also blessed with the opportunity to catch up with an old friend I had not seen for quite a few years.  It never ceases to amaze me how fast time goes by, and how many things can happen in such a short time.  But even better is being able to talk and laugh just as if no time has passed between the two is such a wonderful experience.  

And a moment with friends is a memory for life.

Good weekend.  Good company.  God is good.  Always.

November 14, 2012

"The Obama Defectors"

Well, obviously the election results have been long decided (much to my dismay, but we won't go into that here), but I wrote an article last week about those who had switched their political affiliations since the last election.  Thanks again to my wonderful interviewees. :)

I hope you all find this somewhat interesting...


Livonia -- / Recent studies exhibit that a good number of previous voters who supported President Obama's campaign in 2008 are switching their political affiliations this time around.  These polls commissioned by the Washington Post show that 13 percent of Obama supporters sat they will be voting for Senator Mitt Romney in this year's election.

While 3 percent of American voters say they have not yet decided who to vote for or that they will be backing candidates other than Obama or Romney, the remaining 84 percent of Obama's supporters will do so again this year.

According to Washington Post, the single digit percentages of "Obama defectors" belong to the African Americans, Hispanics, and liberal democrats, but the numbers are significantly higher when it comes to conservative voters and deeply religious groups.

"I am satisfied with neither his [Obama's] fiscal nor social policies, as he has yet to take a hard line on anything from the left or right other than increasing funding and access to abortion," said Keisha Griswold, 39-year-old mother of four.  "Considering all that is going on in our country, there are far more pressing things he should've concerned with himself with."

Griswold voted for Obama in the 2008 election, but says she will not do so again.  She is supporting Romney this year.  She does so grudgingly, since she does not agree with many of Romney's fiscal plans, but came to the conclusion to support him because she believes him to be the most viable person to defeat Obama.

Griswold is unhappy with many of Obama's new policies, one of which is the Health and Human Services Mandate.  "The HHS Mandate is a blatant slap in the faces of not only us Catholics, but any pro-life person.  Obama has basically told us that we must set aside our consciences, close, or face a financial ruin," said Griswold.  "That is not okay to do to one of the largest social relief and educational agencies which provides 7,500 schools educating 2.3 million children, 230 universities educating 1 million students and employing 65,000 professors, and more than 600 hospitals caring for 1 in 6 patients in America."

"Obama is essentially saying," said Griswold, "that his ideas trump our ideals, and that he has a Catholic vice president who is using his interpretation of Catholicism to lie to American Catholics about the content of the HHS Mandate and the exemptions therein.  It is a slap in the face to our Constitution as well as telling the hungry, sick, and in need of education in America that they are less important than killing babies and preventing pregnancy."

Trinity Alexander, 23-year-old Accounting major at Michigan State University is also upset because of Obama's HHS Mandate, but other topics are of great concern to her as well.  "I am extremely unhappy with Obama's opinions on the abortion topic; it kills me how the moral standards of this country have dropped," said Alexander, "But putting all that aside, his long list of broken promises is the main reason I refuse to support him again this year."

"Obama based his 2008 campaign on the promise that he would cut federal spending, and now America is in more debt than ever before.  The numbers don't lie," she said.  "America is no better off then it was 4 years ago, and Obama has done nothing to make it better."  Alexander turned to the facts presented by  The cost of college tuition has increased by 25 percent in the last 4 years.  Unemployment has risen from 7.8 percent to 8.3 percent, and longterm unemployment has risen from 2.7 million people to 5.2 million, says Alexander.  Gas prices are staggering, increasing by $1.97 and in some cases, more.  

"I supported Obama once," said Alexander, "But I will not do so again."

November 13, 2012


Well, as you've probably noticed, I've changed up this blog of mine a bit.  Just a few cosmetic touch-ups, but don't worry!  Everything else will be the same - stories, poems, photos, and the boring old college stuff will still be posted here for your (hopeful) enjoyment. :)

I am, however, considering the creation of a new blog, dedicated to another one of my life's great loves, FOOD.  I've recently taken a great interest in healthier food and natural remedies for simple injuries and ailments, as well as household tips and fun projects. I'll keep you folks posted in that area!

God bless you all, dear readers.

With love,
from the Dork

November 9, 2012

Girl Stuff... and a First

Since I am a girl, I reserve the right to talk about girly stuff every so often.  And, even though I almost never make use of that right, I''''m going to today. 

So, HAIR.  I gave myself a haircut.  Finding myself bored one fine afternoon, I dug up some scissors, and snip-snip-snip, I now have bangs and layers.

In hindsight, I should've taken before and after pictures for the sake of my lady friends who would've been interested, but alas… I didn't think thoroughly enough.  Sorry.

Okay, done.

On a slightly less girly note, I went trick-or-treating for the first time ever last week with one of my best friends and her brothers ... and some other random kid that came along with us.  She dressed up as Lindsey Stirling, musical genius, and I dressed as Lucille Ball, comedy queen.  There was a lumberjack, creepy-dudes-with-masks, and a soldier in our company as well.   "Fun" does not even begin to suffice...  But even more amazing was the plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and mugs of warm cocoa which were waiting for us back at my friend’s house.  And, of course, there’s nothing like jamming with some of your best friends to fantastic dancing music in the wee hours of the morning. :)

 Just for fun, here are some of my favorite pictures from that night.

It was a good night.  I'm so blessed with such wonderful friends.God is good.

November 8, 2012

"Religiously Unaffiliated"

Goodness gracious me… It's been a while since my fingers have ventured into the blogosphere.  As I mentioned in my previous posting, a marvelous thing called college has happened, stealing me away from the world of leisurely creative writing and other such frivolities for quite a long time.  I have missed it!  But I’m back, at least for the day...

And since I'm having the biggest case of writer's block in the history of Schmooel, I've decided to post another one of the news stories that I wrote for journalism class.  Thank you to my dear friends who were so willing to be interviewed.  I know this is nothing fancy (I still have a lot to learn), and most of you probably know most of the information, but, what the hey... eh?


Livonia / -- A recent study released by the Pew Forum shows that one in five adults claim to have no religious affiliation.  Many have expressed their sorrow at this statistic, and hold that they are not only satisfied with their faith, but that it serves to help form their political views, especially Catholic citizens.

The Vatican published the most recent Statistical Yearbook in which it stated the number of Catholics has significantly increased by 11.54 percent from 2000 to 2008, 1.045 billion to 1.166 billion.  

The numbers of those who claim to be religiously unaffiliated have also grown over time.  In the last six years, the number of unaffiliated American adults has risen from 15 percent to just below 20 percent.  

"I wonder if they believe in anything beyond their earthly life.  If they don't, it saddens me because when I have considered that there is nothing after the death of the body, it is very sad and empty," said Gary Perrydore, 50-year-old medical device sales manager from Saline, Mich.  Perrydore was raised a non-Catholic Christian, but came into the Catholic Church as an adult.

Perrydore believes that American culture has become more adverse to the concept of authority.  Though it seems that the culture has some level of tolerance for authority, people do not respect it as in the past, he said.  This may be for many reasons, said Perrydore, but one that comes to mind is the abuse seen with authority - both in and out of the Church.  The other reason is that people have become more self-reliant.  Perrydore said that people believe all that is achieved is because of oneself, creating a notion of not needing God or any religion that is part of that belief.  People want to control their destiny and do their own thing.  They view religion as an obstacle to that as well as their "fun," said Perrydore.

Perrydore holds that his religious values and his belief in God serve to form his conscience as well as his moral framework, and this influences his political views.  He believes his religious affiliation and his political views should not be separate.

Amy Ekblad, 38-year-old wife and stay-at-home homeschooling mother of 10 children expressed her sadness and worry for those who have no religion.  She fears that without one, people are more capable of losing their moral compass, and that it is harder to cope with the normal stresses of life.  "We are members of the Catholic Church - partly because I was born into the Faith, but mostly because it contains the fullness of the Christian Faith and is the Church founded by Jesus Christ," said Ekblad. "I was baptized Catholic as a baby, and then strayed away from the Church after my Confirmation."  She came back to the Catholic Church 10 years ago.

Ekblad believes that people choose to drop their affiliation to religious groups because they see others who claim to be of one particular faith, but act in the same way as any other ordinary and worldly person.  They have the same divorce rate, same rate of premarital sex, same use of birth control, and other practices that are immoral by the standards of the faith they claim to be.  "They don't see these people take their religions seriously, and so figure, 'what's the point?'  We live in a society that allows people to act however they want, even inside our churches.  It's disturbing."

Ekblad also says her political views are influenced by her beliefs.  Her religion falls back onto the Law of One Who created all things, she said, and if the law of man does not coincide with the laws of God, then citizens must vote for the one who's ideas fall the closest to what God has in mind for the human race.  "I vote for the most pro-life candidate," said Ekblad. "I don't align myself with a particular party."

This school of thought belongs to not only a good number of homemakers and quite a few in the medical field, but some of those service in our armed forces as well.  "When I hear that one-in-five statistic, it is sad and yet it is no surprise because of the culture we live in now," said Pepin vonBuelow, 26-year-old United States Marine.  "I am Catholic.  I have found that the Catholic Church teaches the full truth because it is not a manmade religion, but from the one true God."  vonBuelow said that the people who claim to be religiously unaffiliated because they are lazy, and do not want to put their effort or time into an upright way of life.  He said they would rather do what they want, whenever they want, no matter what it does to themselves and other people.

vonBuelow says that right now he is part of the Republican party because of the fact that he believes it is standing up for human life.  He wants to live his faith and do good in the world, and so votes according to the teachings of his faith.

Especially in the Catholic community, people say that their religious views aid their political decisions.  "The two should not be separated," said vonBuelow.  "Our religious beliefs give us the standard of morals by which we choose our political leaders."