The 25 Most Important Things

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The 25 Most Important Things To Pass On To My Children and Grandchildren:

1. Be honest and kind with yourself and others. You will save a lot of pain and suffering while attracting more honesty and kindness into your life.

2. Exercise often and as aerobically as you can because 4-6 days of exercise will:

  • Help you sleep more soundly
  • Keep your immune system strong, thereby reducing sick days and health care costs
  • Prevent injuries
  • Increase your memory and learning capacity
  • Release stress from your body so it won’t impact your health
  • Keep you fit and healthy and toned
  • Increase your options in life and recreation with a working body
  • Decrease anger
  • Balance your hormones and best of all
  • It’s completely free if you need it to be!

3. Eat real food, especially veggies, legumes and whole grains and eat everything else in moderation. Remember that children’s tastes are developed by what is in the house and what they eat and drink in the first few years. Each food is designed perfectly balanced as nature intended to nourish our bodies. Each step from food’s original form is substandard and less nourishing for our bodies. Our bodies are our vehicles for everything we do and want to do in life so they deserve the best!

4. Develop an appreciation for reading because once you can read, you have the entire world and its history and cultures and fields of study at your fingertips.

5. Education is the key to giving yourself the best chance in life but you also have to give your best to get the full benefits. This means sacrificing personal time now, which you will get back later because then you won’t have to work as hard as a person without an education. Education also means experience. Make an effort to travel out of your home country to understand a little about how the rest of the world operates from direct experience, not heresay. Traveling is some of the most valuable education that you can experience.

6. Do at least 1 thing very well in your life! Devote enough time, even before you are an adult, to become an expert at something! When you are an expert at something, you will always have this expertise to fall back on, even if you don’t decide to make it a career.

7. Forgive yourself and others for anything in the past. It does not serve you to carry the weights of blame or regret around. Not only do they weigh you down, they can also make you physically ill. You will be closer to realizing your dreams and personal well-being when you learn to let go.

8. Visualize yourself doing what you dream to do and remind yourself of this vision frequently! Do not let others dictate your future or change your dreams. A delay or detour does not mean destruction; it may just mean a lesson you need to learn before you are prepared to soar!

9. Start small. Make small changes in yourself before uprooting everyone and your own life. Big changes = big risks. Each time you start over it costs in more ways than one. A person can never get ahead by starting over continuously.

10. Practice compassion with everyone, especially with people who aren’t like you. They may need even more than your friends and family. (Remember that compassion is different from enabling.)

11. Practice service to others as a necessary part of your spiritual fulfillment and soul requirements during your lifetime.

12. Express yourself creatively. Creative expression is a necessary part of each person but it is up to each person to find their own and commit to it, even as a hobby.

13. Addictions are the suffering of tortured souls. If you ever become tempted by an addiction or start suffering from an addiction, you may be suffering from a lack of #11 and/or #12. Start with those first for a deeply lasting solution.

14. Time with family is important, things aren’t. “You can’t take it with you.” Be sure to balance your time with yourself and your loved ones and only have things that serve you in your life, not as items of worship.

15. Learn to listen to, understand and trust the real needs of your body and spirit and obey them. You will save yourself a lot of pain, suffering and money if your body does not have to be sick to rescue you from your own deafness. The more you listen and obey, the more you will develop trust in your own intuition to know what is best for you, thereby leading to more effectiveness.

16. With any new plan, life change or strategy, remember the 3-day, 2 week rule. The first 3 days are the hardest, but you should see some improvement by the end of the 3rd. day (or 3rd.time). The habit and adjustment will become a part of your life after 2 weeks of consistency. Do not deviate if you are experiencing positive results. It is often right when things seem toughest that the light of day is approaching, but we need to stick it out so we can reap the benefits. If you do something 3 times and you see no improvement or progress, move onto plan B. This may just mean a small adjustment or a total 360. It depends on the situation. Listen; really listen for the answers on this one.

17. Maintain your financial reputation, regardless of what you earn. Treat personal debts as seriously as others. You will hold your head higher and will have more opportunities to reach your goals when you are respected by others by keeping your word & commitments. Do not waste your precious dollars on unnecessary expenses like late fees, tickets, overdrafts, higher interest rates & deposits from bad credit, etc. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses and you will have more for the things you really need and want, including an emergency fund.

18. Make sure you  get yourself into natural surroundings as frequently as possible. Oftentimes when we don’t feel right it is because we are out of balance. Nothing helps more than a day outside, especially surrounded by trees.

19. Be accountable for your life and ensure your children are accountable for theirs! If you find yourself blaming others and are angry at others for your situation, look in the mirror instead for the solution to your challenges! There is no better way to take back the control of your life than by looking in the mirror and taking responsibility.

20. Clear your head of all responsibilities before you go to sleep at night to ensure a restful sleep & take time out for yourself every day. A neutral book is helpful here (and maybe a notepad to write things down so you can let go of them until morning).

21. Only buy what you need and avoid purchasing what you don’t. The benefits are many, but at the very least you will have more money and less clutter to contend with during your day.

22. Take care not to waste what you can prevent from using. We are the stewards of the earth and can get by with so much less. Remember that everything we buy or use requires energy and resources from somewhere and usually involves polluting the earth, water and sky. Any food thrown away has used precious resources (and money) for nothing.

23. When dealing with children, remember who is in charge and it is definitely not the child! Take care to phrase your language to make children accountable for themselves as soon as possible. Take care to phrase your language to make sure they know that you are in charge, not them (even if you have to fake it).

24. Respect all elders by speaking and treating them with kindness and interest for they have seen and experienced many things you may never see or experience. You too will be an elder someday and will deserve the same respect, regardless of your mental or physical limitations or personality.

25. Treat each of your family members and friends as if they won’t be here tomorrow. This will lead to no regrets if ever they are gone; it will make them feel loved by you because we can never have too much affection and caring from those we love!

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9/11 & Another Perspective on “Imagine”

   September 11, 2001 became an inspiration for me to dream the most fantastic reality possible to rise from the ashes of thousands of lives lost. As CNN replayed the twin towers imploding and news journalists interviewed survivors and first responders, my child’s mind formed an image I wrote in a poem I called “Imagine.” It seemed to be channeled by a combination of John Lennon’s idealism and Steven Spielburg’s creativity to transform the supernatural into a story on film for us to embrace.   

After a few laptop crashes, several moves and ten years later, I am not able to locate  my original poem or file, but that vision in my mind of an idyllic world following our American 9/11 tragedy is still within me. I can see it on the big screen, but at the very least, here on my blog on this day, 10 years after the events that sparked my imagination of what could be, if only we would allow ourselves to go that deep:

“Imagine”twin by Christina Ivazes

Is it possible for you to imagine a horror so penetrating that it shatters all material, trivial, gossip and power-driven superficial reality?

9 11   Is it possible for you to imagine a figure three days later, emerging from the rubble of the fallen towers?

Is it possible for you to imagine this figure, a man crawling out virtually unscathed by the devastation around, walking peacefully and calmly?

Is it possible for you to imagine a sleep deprived reporter and cameraman rushing over to the figure to interview him?

Is it possible for you to imagine yourself as this reporter for one moment, a reporter that is just as wounded as every other American by this violation on our soil?

Is it possible for you to imagine this man that walked out of the rubble actually looking into your eyes as the reporter, and causing you to drop to your knees sobbing because instead, he is asking you what you are feeling, where you really need to be in that moment and who you really need to be with?

Is it possible for you to imagine this man asking you a question that completely transforms your idea of what is real and what is not?

Is it possible for you to imagine something that someone could ask you that would actually explode all of your present beliefs and paradigms and replace them with a new set of higher-minded paradigms that insist you change the way you live from this moment forward?

Is it possible for you to imagine this person that climbed out of the rubble of destruction is walking throughout the ruins asking the same questions of every reporter and every last person he can find in his vicinity?

Is it possible for you to imagine a deep sense of inner longing becoming unlodged by his questions to every person he meets and that this person sets off a chain reaction throughout the entire city, the entire country, the entire planet?

asd   Is it possible for you to imagine that with this chain reaction, another reality is created based on the authentic and connected values of human, animal and natural life that respects all living beings and elements on our planet?

Is it possible for you to imagine that out of such a tragedy of immense magnitude can come an even larger healing of our planet and people, creating the Utopia we all deserve; a Utopia every living, breathing thing on our planet deserves?

Is it possible for you to look so deeply inside yourself right now and acknowledge that that person from the rubble is you and that you can find that authentic and deeply connected purpose and way to relate to every person you come in contact with from this moment on?

WE CAN BE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!

THE FINAL QUESTION IS: WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?

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Jobs and the Elephant in the Room: Immigration Reform (via Granny Pants Speaks About Everything)

We will not stimulate job growth successfully until the 11+ million undocumented immigrants in the US can come out of the shadows and participate in our economy without fear! Immigration Reform IS our jobs solution!

Jobs and the Elephant in the Room: Immigration Reform  When Over 11 Million People Residing in a Country Are Not Allowed to Contribute, Everyone Loses! ____________________________________________________________________________________  (This post is for serious policy makers and those who influence policymakers.)   The following negative consequences should be enough to spur a sincere effort to address our crippling immigration system during an election season when everything is on the line: Incre … Read More

via Granny Pants Speaks About Everything

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Who’s My Daddy? (So I can wish him a Fabulous Father’s Day)

My mother went to her grave without disclosing the fact that I even had a different father. She was an airline stewardess with American Airlines in the late 1950’s close to the time she became pregnant with me. I was born in early November, 1958. She worked out of Buffalo, New York. She was also a jazz groupie and hung out with the Stan Kenton crowd in upstate New York.

She put the name Jordan on my later adoption papers (which I received years after her death). I am listed as Christina Jordan on those adoption papers which were filed in Queens, NY in 1962.

She moved across the US to Monterey and lived in the basement of Kalisa’s for a few months when she was pregnant with me.

This very personal information is meant to attract someone who may have known my mother at the time and may have known who the man with the last name of Jordan was. Was he a saxophone player? Was he an airline pilot? Was he actually my father? If the Mr. Jordan she dated around this time was an African American sax player, he is not my father and a name she just put on my birth cerficate to satisfy the name in the box titled, ‘Father.” I need to know this to in order to eliminate his search.

My mother had me when she was around 22; she was born in 1935. Her name: Roanne Milga Lindquist. She was blonde, beautiful and very intelligent.

ANY clues are important!

Thank you and praise those who know their birth parents! You are blessed more than you realize!

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Jobs and the Elephant in the Room: Immigration Reform

 When Over 11 Million People Residing in a Country Are Not Allowed to Contribute, Everyone Loses!

____________________________________________________________________________________

bnm (This post is for serious policy makers and those who influence policymakers.)

  The following negative consequences should be enough to spur a sincere effort to address our crippling immigration system during an election season when everything is on the line:

  • Increased border violence between the US and Mexico
  • Decrease in consumer confidence for 11+ million people in US
  • Decreased local, state and federal revenue feeding education, health care, social security and all operating costs
  • Increased oppression, abuse and violence against undocumented females
  • Decreased employer confidence regarding hiring undocumented immigrants
  • Lack of tracking and accountability for undocumented immigrants

Keeping the 11+ million undocumented immigrants in the US living in the shadows is hurting our economic recovery more than anyone dares to assert. What follows are some convincing perspectives on why we need to hurry up and pass immigration reform because the only people that are benefitting from delayed reform are criminals and organized crime.

In a 2007 report by the PEW Hispanic Center, “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill,” over half of the adult US Hispanic population worries “that either they, a family member or a friend could be deported.”  Three years later, the 2010 U.S. Census estimated a more accurate number of over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.  Hispanic attitudes towards immigration policies are absolutely pertinent when considering the total US social and economic impacts.

Back in 2003, journalist Jim Wasserman wrote an article in the Oakland Tribune reporting on the repeal of California’s SB60: “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” It was published well before the economic downturn giving us the window into the future as we now experience the impact of these policies on the total US population 8 years later.

The 2007 article, “Domestic Poverty” (Billitteri) from 2006 Census data shows the growing rate of poverty in the U.S. while the rate of millionaires has also increased. A poor America is a lose-lose for all! Income disparity in the US has resulted from the Bush tax cuts as much as from our remiss as a nation to fix our broken immigration system.  Creating economic, educational and emotional freedoms will create more revenue and opportunities for everyone, both citizen and immigrants. As we know, these statistics of income disparaties have only broadened since Billiteri’s article.

Before current Arizona policies were enacted targeting undocumented immigrants, an analysis was presented by the University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy, “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts” (Gans, 2008).The economic model included as an appendix projects over 16 million dollars in savings for Indiana. By itself this report could tip the scales in congress in favor of a “Driving Privilege Card,” and for immigration reform. One of the most impactful statements in this report is “In addition a 2005 report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, University of Georgia, reported that the current buying power of Hispanics/Latinos in Indiana for 2005 was $ 4,866,103,000.00” (3). But economic consequences of delayed reforms are not the only casualties.

The emotional consequences of living in fear also play a part in the immigration equation. The Psychology of Men and Masculinity is an APA publication covering a wide range of male oriented issues from gender stereotypes to fathering pertaining to males from all backgrounds. A March 2011 article was based on a study titled, “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico” (Galvez, et. al.). It offers an unlikely, yet powerful approach to this argument in favor of legalizing driving for undocumented immigrants. No matter what your perspective on immigration is in the US, dominating vulnerable populations is just plain Un-American. The emotional consequences of harsh immigration policies, such as denying driving privileges, are the final arguments in favor of a more humane immigration reform.

The most cost-effective and humane way to recover our economy and dignity as a great America is to put immigration reform in front of all other issues today and begin by allowing undocumented immigrants to be accounted for by issuing special driving cards. Then, we can really begin the recovery by engaging the resources and   cnv contributions of 11+ million people! 

Below is an expanded version of this text for those who wish to read about this issue in more detail:

In a 2007 report by the PEW Hispanic Center, “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill,” over half of the adult US Hispanic population worries “that either they, a family member or a friend could be deported.” The report highlights the domino effects of delayed immigration reform on the total US Hispanic population from “stepped-up deportations, more workplace raids, and restrictions on access to driver’s licenses…” By randomly interviewing over 2,000 Hispanic adults, asking a variety of questions, the study authors found that over three quarters of the 47 million Hispanics in the US disapprove of the current enforcement tactics on undocumented immigrants. This is almost the direct flip-flop of what non-Hispanics feel (PEW). Despite the risks, Hispanic families, both documented and undocumented believe that their children will have more opportunities than themselves by living in the US.

Opportunities are tenuos for a shadow population. The reality of successfully creating jobs and the innovation that leads to jobs under a shroud of the fear is unlikely. The only innovation that takes place in a climate of fear is carried out by criminals, who thrive underground and who have thrived in recent years.

This PEW study on Latino attitudes towards immigration was done in 2007, just prior to the US Recession and the escalating drug war violence in Mexico. Today, as economic opportunities have decreased with increased enforcement in the US along with a climate of intolerance, young Hispanics rejected by US policies are embraced by drug cartels and gun runners from the US to Mexico, vice-versa. This is a situation where we all lose. These concerns and others brought up in the PEW study have only magnified since its publication. These and others are deep threats to quality of life in the US from the perspectives of the people who are most deeply affected.

Three years later, the 2010 U.S. Census estimated a more accurate number of over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.  Hispanic attitudes towards immigration policies are absolutely pertinent when considering the total US social and economic impacts.  Lack of opportunities for such a significant percentage of our population is worth deeper consideration. Many opposed to allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally do not fully understand the negative implications of purely punitive immigration policies.

In order to learn how to create immigration reform that works, we also need to understand the evolution of this situation as it has transitioned from bad to worse for most of us in the US, not just undocumented populations. Back in 2003, journalist Jim Wasserman wrote an article in the Oakland Tribune reporting on the repeal of California’s SB60: “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” He describes how opponents of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants proposed that California’s SB60, signed by then Governor Gray Davis, presented a security risk to the US. California’s SB60 allowed undocumented immigrants the right to obtain a driver’s license. Governor Schwarzenegger made repeal of this bill a campaign promise for his first 100 days in office. The article emphasizes opinions by the Governor and his supporters, who believed that by preventing undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses, our streets and country would be safer. There was no mention of the potential domino effects associated with this pivotal event that began the economic downturn along with the free for all policies in the financial market. The repeal of SB60 has negatively affected both the US and Mexico’s economies and national security.

Wasserman’s article touts the Governor’s tough talk and focuses on his promise to keep his word, a promise that failed to recognize California’s status as a high-ranking global economy and the impacts of its’ policies on the US and global arena because, “As California goes, so goes the nation” (Author unknown).

Regardless of illegal status, when you deny 2 million people in California alone the right to drive, this affects their ability to secure employment and to be the consumers our global economy depends upon. Local, state and federal sources lose several revenue streams from driver’s license fees, employment taxes, social security, Medicare, and sales taxes. The lack of opportunity presented by delaying immigration reform has affected buying power, but most importantly, has promoted a climate of fear creating an insecure and apprehensive market even more impactful than Wall Street traders. As an example, both California and Nevada tightened driver’s license eligibility in 2003, denying access to undocumented immigrants. They now have the highest US unemployment rates at 11.9 and 12.5 respectively (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011). Cutting off economic opportunity has not created jobs.

 “Opponents labeled the law (SB60) a reward for lawbreakers and said terrorists could take advantage of it, easily getting drivers’ licenses and slipping into society” (Wasserman). Isn’t a driver’s license a method of tracking people? Isn’t it difficult to track someone who has no record to track? I and many others believe that having a shadow population operating without accountability only increases the threat to our national security and feeds the need for underground crime. Not only has border crime increased on the US/Mexico border since the repeal of SB60, state and federal revenues have decreased while poverty rates have increased across all cultural lines in both the US and Mexico.

Popular opinion is swayed by political rhetoric and Wasserman’s article depicts the historical rhetoric of 2003. It was published well before the economic downturn giving us the window into the future as we now experience the impact of these policies on the total US population 8 years later.

The 2007 article, “Domestic Poverty” (Billitteri) from 2006 Census data shows the growing rate of poverty in the U.S. while the rate of millionaires has also increased. It highlights that low-skilled immigrant populations are becoming the growing poor in America even as immigrant populations increase, leading to a higher percentage of people in the US living below the poverty level.  It depicts striking statistics of income disparities. As the author exhibits a variety of factors and populations most effected, it is obvious the immigration and tax policies of the past designed to address poverty in America still aren’t producing the desired results.

Articles like Billitteri’s are powerful, yet frustrating illustrations about how ludicrous our economic design is in the US. With objectivity, he recognizes the growing poor among all populations, but especially in the Hispanic community. A poor America is a lose-lose for all! Income disparity in the US has resulted from the Bush tax cuts as much as from our remiss as a nation to fix our broken immigration system.  Creating economic, educational and emotional freedoms will create more revenue and opportunities for everyone, both citizen and immigrants.

Every state has had their own method for tackling the issues of undocumented immigrants. The Indiana Commission on Hispanic-Latino Affairs (ICHLA) worked to create a case presented to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) in 2005. This report “Follow-up Report on the Challenges of Obtaining an Indiana Driver’s License” was submitted to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Jr. and the Indiana Legislative Council, making it a part of the official Indiana record. It was an appeal in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants the rights to obtain driver’s licenses. It thoroughly outlines safety and national security considerations in favor of allowing licenses. From Indiana’s rural, agrarian culture void of public transportation to the safety benefits, the ICHLA addresses the economic benefits of increasing state and local revenues for relocating immigrant populations.  The report addresses the nuances of documentation and the values of immigrant populations that will only create benefits when they are seen as contributors. It makes detailed recommendations for the development of an accountability program with a “Driving Privilege Card” meant to boost Indiana’s economy and create safer communities through legalized driving for immigrant populations.

In taking a position in favor of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, the 2005 ICHLA report outlines many of the same issues others have considered. It provides a strong case countering the policies that have led to devastating consequences to national security by creating an unwelcome climate of discrimination.  As part of building an argument in favor of permitting licenses, it also includes how other states like Utah and Washington support a more pragmatic and compassionate policy. It provides pages of wowing statistics on the economic contributions of Hispanics to the US and that there is overwhelming support of other Hispanic organizations for more humane immigration policies. The economic model included as an appendix projects over 16 million dollars in savings for Indiana. By itself this report could tip the scales in congress in favor of a “Driving Privilege Card,” and for immigration reform. One of the most impactful statements in this report is “In addition a 2005 report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, University of Georgia, reported that the current buying power of Hispanics/Latinos in Indiana for 2005 was $ 4,866,103,000.00” (3). But economic consequences of delayed reforms are not the only casualties.

The emotional consequences of living in fear also play a part in the immigration equation. The Psychology of Men and Masculinity is an APA publication covering a wide range of male oriented issues from gender stereotypes to fathering pertaining to males from all backgrounds. A March 2011 article was based on a study titled, “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico” (Galvez, et. al.). It offers an unlikely, yet powerful approach to this argument in favor of legalizing driving for undocumented immigrants. The study and the assertions it makes from the focus groups involved offer a deeper and more compassionate window into the immigrant dilemma and the emotional issues surrounding the driver’s license issue.

One of the most underestimated consequences of delayed immigration reform, combined with increased federal and state enforcement of immigration violations, has been the emotional impacts on the families of undocumented immigrants in the form of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Through four focus groups of men in intervention programs after battering their partners, this research illustrates the many ways that the stress of being undocumented in the US deteriorates the mental and emotional well-being of individuals and their family members, resulting in increased violence directed towards partners. The descriptions of the barriers Hispanics face and how the males experience demasculinization by methodical immigration policies is illuminating. The study also describes tactics male partners use to control undocumented female partners precisely due to harsh immigration driving restrictions, “Many of these immigrants have not had driving experience or a driver’s license issued from their home country, but increasingly are living in urban areas in which driving can be considered a necessity of daily life. This need can be exploited by an abusive man to surveil and control his partner” (Galvez, et.al).

In this heart-tugging case in favor of driver’s licenses, for undocumented populations in the US, nothing strikes deeper than physical abuse and conditions that enable domination over vulnerable populations. No matter what your perspective on immigration is in the US, dominating vulnerable populations is just plain Un-American. The emotional consequences of harsh immigration policies, such as denying driving privileges, are the final arguments in favor of a more humane immigration reform, but perhaps we need more statistics to drive this point home.

Before current Arizona policies were enacted targeting undocumented immigrants, an analysis was presented by the University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy, “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts” (Gans, 2008). This analysis projected fiscal and economic impacts of immigrants on the state of Arizona. It was conducted with the input-output IMPLAN® model of calculating cost versus revenue. It considers in great detail factors such as tax revenues, health care costs, education, sales and property tax, motor vehicle taxes, business taxes, consumer spending, incarceration, etc. Through this input-output model for 2004 costs and revenue of immigrant populations (both documented and undocumented) it was found that immigrants produced tax revenues of $2.4 billion and cost the state of Arizona a total of $1.4 billion, netting a gain of $940 million.

This prescient analysis of political battles to come seems not to have made it to the general public in Arizona, or to Governor Jan Brewer’s office. As an in-depth look into the real numbers of both cost and contributions, this report gives immigration opponents something to chew on. It is yet another example refuting the idea that the costs outweigh benefits. It illustrates with current relevance that by creating economic opportunity, everyone wins. Judith Gans’ extensive experience in immigration policies outlines the contributions of the immigrant community to states in the form of tax revenue generated, especially when immigrants are allowed to contribute. The real test will be in Arizona’s 2011 Fiscal report at the end of this year. Again, driver’s license and immigration reforms will create economic prosperity through tax revenues and this report proves immigrants increase tax revenues when they have the freedom to work and contribute to state economies.

We all know the US cannot deport 11.4 million people (the estimate of undocumented immigrants in the US). If you deny them the freedom to work and contribute to tax revenues, they only become liabilities. It is clear that we need to change how we approach this challenge by elevating immigrants to a point where they can contribute and pay their fair share in running the US.

A driver’s license is the first ticket to economic independence and contribution to society. In the US we sympathize with females in the Middle East, where few have the right to drive a car. We know that preventing a person from having the right to drive is a form of oppression, yet we insist on carrying out these same policies for a significant percentage of the population residing in our own country. Isn’t the bottom line to ensure that those who are here in the United States are accounted for, follow the laws and contribute to our system as a whole so it can run properly with the revenues that equal the population it serves?

WORKS CITED

  • Billitteri, Thomas J. “Domestic Poverty.” CQ Researcher. September 7, 2007. Vol. 17 Issue 31.              
  • PEW Hispanic Center. “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill.” PEW: Washington, DC, December 2007. PDF. 28 April 2011. http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=84
  • “Follow-up Report on the Challenges of Obtaining an Indiana Driver’s License.”  The 2005 Driver’s           License/Immigration Subcommittee on The Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (ICHLA).  Web. 2 May 2011.
  • Galvez, G., Mankowski, E. S., McGlade, M. S., Ruiz, M. E., & Glass, N. “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity. 21 March 2011. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 28 April 2011.
  • Gans, Judith. “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts.” The University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy. 2008. PDF. Web. 28 April 2011.
  • United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Local Area Unemployment Statistics. April 2011. Web. 7 June 2011. http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
  • US Census Bureau. “2010 Census Data.” 2011. Web. 3 May 2011. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/index.php
  • Wasserman, Jim. “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” Oakland Tribune. San Ramon, CA. 4 December 2003. ProQuest Newsstand. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.

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My Life is Like a Pearl Necklace

bnm(of Itty Bitty Miracles All Strung Together.)    by Christina Ivazes

This story is dedicated to the parents of Joanna Newsom, who nurtured an angel!

 

Although it was obvious there wasn’t much living going on in our living room, I never thought of it as being empty until the morning after that magical night.

The temporary territories we called “home” only contained necessities and usually didn’t include things like couches or coffee tables, and definitely did not include anything decorative hanging on walls. Our family necessities were mattresses, cooking and eating utensils, a few pieces of clothing each and a kitchen table with chairs. As a child, I never questioned the need for more furniture to create the warmth of a home. Our view of what was normal was designed by what we saw and experienced, not by what we did not.

In between homes, my father must have scavenged assorted pieces of furniture quickly to provide us with the basics until we moved onto the next house or apartment. We only carried what we could fit into the trunk of our car and a few toys, though there were still the instinctive and repetitious fights with my siblings over who got the ‘baby spoon’ or ‘baby fork.’ It mattered that whatever it was stood out from the others because in a family of five children, standing out was the ultimate goal and a complete set of matching silverware and dishware was something only Grandmas were made of.

Or perhaps baby spoons and those other coveted objects disguised the fact that there were much deeper terrors in my life. This may also explain why I have guarded a few precious and seemingly insignificant memories, elevating them to the prodigious events of my otherwise tragic childhood recollections.

Something else I should mention is that even though we didn’t have living room furniture in that short-lived Mountain View home in California, we were blessed with two new sets of second-hand bunk beds while we were living there! It felt to me like we had hit the lottery when my parents carried them into our house. I don’t know how they did it. These beds were the first real bedroom furniture for us older kids. One set was made of wood and the other set was metal, which I distinctly remember being painted a pale green. They were each put in a separate bedroom. I remember the thin, green metal railings. I slept on the top bunk because I was the oldest. I must have been about six or seven years old.

Though the arrival of bunk-beds was monumental, it doesn’t compare to the unexpected event that highlights this home like a blazing light in my childhood. And forgive me while I explain a bit more about my father because he was the conductor of this particular event. Daddy was a house painter by trade in those days before he became a chimney sweep. But foremost, he was a musician.

Daddy played the horns. He played trombone, baritone horn, and the trumpet (which he played in the military service). He must have been quite good because when I was older Daddy told stories of two famous brothers who had big bands in the 40’s who were fighting over who would have him in their band. He decided against their offers. He also boasted that Martha Graham had offered him to be her lead musician when she went out on tour, but he turned her down too. Even back then, Daddy’s brilliance was overshadowed by his eccentricities that became the theme of my childhood. Eccentricities that made poverty pale in comparison. Like when Daddy eventually added giant gongs to his instrumentation, but those gongs are yet another story.

Yes, Daddy’s passions lied in his life as a musician. Ironically this same lifestyle, the lifestyle that attracted Mommy to him the night he played at Nepenthe in Big Sur (with Henry Miller in the audience), was where many of their marital problems erupted. As the eldest, I observed and experienced the tensions between Daddy and Mommy more directly than my siblings as Mommy spilled her anger and frustrations onto me in the form of yelling and beatings. All of this going on while Daddy dedicated his evenings to music after a hard day of work.

Though my story takes place in the late 1960’s, Daddy was known as one of the first people to perform during a ‘light show’ for the other counter-cultural Beatniks in San Francisco from the 1940’s. (A light show is a moving picture of swirling food coloring and oil on a projector that is displayed on a screen while spontaneous instrumentation is played in the background, most closely related to the ‘acid jazz’ of our modern era.) Daddy was way ahead of his time with the ‘in crowd,’ so he said, although I never understood any of this stuff until I became an adult. I was just a kid.  I didn’t really understand what he did late at night in the garage with other people that never came into our house, with the exception of this one night.

I recall Daddy asking Mommy for permission to store an item for one of his friends, only overnight. Like a dutiful wife, she complied. Later that afternoon I walked into our stark, white walled living room and saw it. The most beautiful thing I had ever seen illuminated in the far left corner of the room as if it had its own stage lighting. It was a giant, magnificent golden harp as exquisite and curvaceous as a mermaid, as golden as an award’s statue, and as finely strung as if by a hundred angels. I am quite sure I lost my breath. As I moved in to get a closer look, Daddy blurted out in his firm, no messing around manner, “Don’t you dare touch it Christie!” Daddy’s wrath was my biggest fear. He was always the bad guy in every nightmare I had about Mommy and him fighting. The last thing I wanted was for one of those nightmares to become real.

bnj   So, to state the obvious, there was no way I was getting anywhere near that gorgeous instrument; even though I wanted to so bad I could feel it resonating throughout my entire being. I just planted myself on the bare wooden floor in the opposite corner of the room and studied it.

A child’s active imagination is an amazing pool of creative wealth and mine was extremely active in those days. My school report cards were speckled with comments about too much ‘daydreaming in class.’ In this particular moment, my eyes glued to the harp, I was liberated to daydream without teacher retribution. Familiar cartoon images of angels playing harps started racing through my mind. I envisioned full-sized and feather light angels dressed in gossamer fabric playing sweet melodies that drifted off in never ending sonorous threads. The imagined sounds and physical dimensions of this instrument seemed larger than life and much grander than I had ever realized the influence of a harp could be. It sounded luscious. It glowed profusely, filling the entire room with its beauty. It became my refuge, offering me a perfect and tiny, yet infinitesimal moment of peace through my eyes and imagination.

Today, I can only speculate that that was one night where I truly had sweet dreams, instead of the ritual nightmares of Mommy and Daddy fighting. Nightmares that always left me in a urine soaked sweat by morning. But on that following morning I wasn’t wet. Without hesitation, I jumped up and raced into the living room to greet my wonderful new friend.

My heart sank.  It was gone, taking my dreams away with it; taking its golden light from my otherwise dark reality. The living room was no longer a stage. It was just a barren, cold living room again, like the dozens of other barren, cold living rooms throughout my childhood. How I wished I had secretly snuck up to touch and strum those magical strings just once, to leave the room with its real, everlasting echoes of angels. Why didn’t I? I knew why.

But the feeling of its soothing sound and its golden glow beaming from the corner of our gallery stark living room will always sit inside me, illuminating a corner of my mind with magic and surprise. I had been very lucky and I knew it. I had been graced with the potential of the ever appearing surprises life offers when you least expect them. To this day, whenever I see a golden harp, I am transported. That warm glow becomes the present and I thank the harp for offering refuge to the little girl in me and for the proof in the miracles of possibility.

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Education Reform and the Over-Inflated, Over-Rated 4-year College Degree

by Christina Ivazes  

 The current state of the US economy, our unskilled labor force, the need for educational reform, and the skyrocketing costs of a college education demand we be smart and efficient about solutions that affect and connect all of the above. Perhaps a better strategy is to back away from the ideal that every American should go to college. Yes, we can all agree that every American should have the opportunity to go to college if they choose. However, to give our students and our nation the best educated and skilled workforce, we should not focus on every American going to college, but first, on every American graduating from high school with two years of career training. This pragmatic strategy offers numerous benefits to our country. 

vh   By becoming more efficient and effective in preparing students for the real world and college, the US will save money and jobs. In 2010, The Fiscal Times reports, “just 56 percent of those who enroll in a four-year college earn a bachelor’s degree…Some students drop out because of the trouble paying the cost—the average college debt upon graduation is a whopping $24,000” (Reynolds Lewis). According to the U.S. Dept. of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the cost of a four-year college education is from $18,900 to $35,500 and rising. We also know that these quotes are a low-average and not really what a four-year is typically costing our college graduates, where $50-$100,000 is a more common estimate today in 2011. And graduation does not necessarily equate employment as we see with a glut of unemployed college graduates today weighed down with inflated student loan and credit card debt. There are jobs however, that are immune to outsourcing and which do not warrant an expensive four-year degree.

Secondary and post-secondary vocational and technical training programs are historically lower in cost with competitive salaries to those earned from four-year college degrees. Matthew B. Crawford advocates for the many benefits of trade-based training in his bookShop Class as Soulcraft, “You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information system or low-level “creative” (53). The Houston Chronicle published an article supporting Crawford’s concept stating, “Mechanics of all types are in high demand and can command a high hourly wage… Many blue collar jobs require training through apprenticeships or vocational training programs and others may require on-the-job training or passing an aptitude test prior to employment” (Nielson). This is not a proposal to eliminate the college track for high school students in America.

Shouldn’t we beg the questions: Why are we so single tracked about how to create a productive & competitive job force? And, shouldn’t we think about downsizing the cost of education along with our lifestyles? The IES reports that in 2008, earnings for an employed four-year college graduate are on average of $55,000/males, $45,000/females per year. Compare the costly four-year college degree with training and apprenticeship (which can begin as a junior in high school) for an electrician who can earn from $34,000 and upwards with no student loan debt with just two more years of post-secondary training for $400-$1000/yr. “Semi-truck drivers…start out making $50,000 annually…and only requires about four weeks of training to obtain a license” (Nielson). Debt free high school training in the trades or technology/health careers can yield from $34,000-$50,000+ per year. Another pragmatic idea Crawford suggests is “even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers” (53).    By increasing high school career training programs, we can create a stronger buy-in for students, reducing training costs while also reducing the costs of high school dropouts for our society.

cgh  The costs of high school dropouts are far-reaching beyond the costs of college dropouts. According to the 2007 report The Economic Losses from High School Drop-outs in California, the significant impact from high school dropouts come from lost tax revenue, Medical and Medicare expenditures, fiscal costs to fight crime, prosecute and incarcerate felons, and increased assistance for both felons and their families. “The economic magnitudes are substantial” (2 Belfield, Levin). After deducting the cost of education, the average total lifetime social gains for a high school graduate is $391,910 per graduate in the State of California, with the savings for black males being the highest at $681,130 (Table 18, Belfield and Levin). My point is not to stereotype but to acknowledge that we need to do everything in our capacity to invest in our high school students to become ready employable adults and/or ready for college, not inmates and/or recruits for drug cartels.

Career and technical training can be a ray of hope for all high school students, not just the disenchanted. Crawford makes a strong case in favor of the trades in Shop Class as Soulcraft, including his highlight on their little recognized intellectual merit, “I quickly realized there was more thinking going on in the bike shop than in my previous job at the think tank” (27). With a PhD. he describes a collegiate fall from grace as a blessing because it led him back to his original high school training as a motorcycle mechanic.  Crawford describes his own cognitive journey as well as those of other tradesmen he interviewed. The conclusion is worth a new focal point in our education reform. In Crawford’s view “Given the intrinsic richness of manual work— cognitively, socially, and in its broader psychic appeal—the question becomes why it has suffered such a devaluation as a component of education” (27). Some may view this idea as undermining a college education, but what Crawford is really pointing out is that “Practical know-how… is always tied to the experience of a particular person. It can’t be downloaded, it can only be lived” (162). Children and teenagers have always responded positively to the value of hands-on learning, especially when it has a practical application in their lives.

At the age of 16, a teenager’s cognitive maturity starts him or her on the path towards the reality of the adult world and all that entails. You may wonder what cognitive maturity has to do with a broad-based high school career and technical training program, but if students are struggling in school, have no money or family support for college, many see no future in the value of their junior and senior years. Challenged students need full engagement to prevent them from becoming avoidable statistics. By focusing on Math and English proficiency by the end of sophomore year, juniors and seniors can take core subjects and science classes with their half day of training courses to ensure they are ‘college ready’ at graduation. This schedule does not limit a student’s education, it enhances it by making it relevant; it prepares the student both for life and for college should they choose to attend.

 cvb  Though career and technical training in high school is not the solution for every student, it can serve a healthy percentage of our labor force. Some model programs in the US illustrate the potential of every high school, such as the Howard High School of Technology in Delaware.  The 2010 report by the Delaware Department of Education declares, “Howard has a high graduation rate (97 percent) and daily attendance rate (95 percent) and a low serious infraction rate….In addition to an academic program, Howard students choose one of the following career pathways: finance and business; carpentry; computer network administration; cosmetology; culinary arts; dental assisting; electrical trades; engine technology; legal administrative assisting; medical assisting; nursing technology; public service; or structural steel detailing.”  This richly diverse program serves a variety of student and community needs. It is a model that deserves replication.

There are still many questions to address in more detail before programs like Howard can be implemented effectively across America.  Questions like: How will we pay for this?  How can we make a solid case for the benefits of high school career training that will not be sabotaged by budget cuts every time state and federal revenues fluctuate? How can we refocus dollars from punitive institutions to education so we can create a higher skilled work force, reduce high school dropouts and prison populations while also reducing student loan and credit card debt? The answers to these questions and are necessary for the design of lasting and effective education reform that will strengthen our economy and society.  Of course, to change the current system, we may also have to challenge for profit college and prison industries that have benefitted by the shrinking of high school career education in the U.S., but it’s a challenge worth taking up.

Work cited

Belfield, Clive R. and Henry M. Levin. “The Economic Losses From High School Dropouts in California.” University of California, Santa Barbara: California Dropout Research Project Report #1, August 2007. PDF.(Table 18) Web. 7 April 2011.

Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft. New York: The Penguin Press. 2009. Print.

Delaware Department of Education. “Delaware Partnership Zone: Howard High School of Technology.” PDF. 2010. 21 April 2011.

Nielson, Lisa. “Highest Demand Blue Collar Careers.” The Houston Chronicle. 2011. Web. 7 April 2011.

Reynolds Lewis, Katherine. “High College Dropout Rate Threatens US Growth.” The Fiscal Times. October 28, 2010. Web. 22 April 2011.

 Wei, Christina Chang. “What is the Price of College?” U.S. Department of Education. December, 2010. PDF. (Table 1). Web. 7 April 2011.

 

 

 

 

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