Here’s what the good life is for the president of the country of Uruguay, South America. He is paid $12,000 monthly and wears sandals. Drives himself to work in his 1987 VW Beetle. He and his wife were both guerrilla fighters and both have GodBoxLifeMission2been imprisoned while fighting for the rights of their people. They live in the country in a very basic house with lemon trees and his very small 3-legged dog. Oh, and he gives away 90% of his salary to charities, mostly to help with housing for poor folks.

Does he live his good life? I think, Yes. See what the media is calling the “immediately iconic photo” of him at work. Thus reported the Washington Post [.com] yesterday. This quote at the end of article by President José Mujica; “If we lived within our means – by being prudent – the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed.”

Three Compassionate Strategies for Living, a post from Inspire Me Today.com which I enjoyed reading, but got stuck. Summary; 1- Always do your best, 2- Treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve as human beings, 3- Help others with no strings attached. Now these are very commonsensical [is that a word?]. And I do my best, but I have to fall back on a truism; I can only change myself, I cannot change anyone else. What about when people you’re related to don’t treat you kindly, with respect or dignity? How do you

WondrousLight2live with compassion, which you really want to do, feel called to do, yet you’re only human?!

Then this quote which found me tonight, clarifying the whole thing; “Its a choice. You just have to decide that I’m not going to put my energy there. I’m going to decide to let this go. It’s your choice. You can embrace it, you can become a prisoner of bitterness and resentment, anger and victim city, or you can just say ‘I’m going to live my life and be happy.’”

I’m working on happy and not angry. It’s a difficult task. I’ve made it a priority though, so I’ll let you know how it goes. I intend to win this battle. Just saying.

**Two handmade pieces; first, God Box with quote on side, second, an Affirmation card — I created/gave to a bereaved friend. Do NOT copy my creative work.

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Chanukah is here and with it,  the misunderstandings, lack of knowledge… and this year for my older daughter with a son in 2nd grade; sheer stupidity. She may go in and talk about Chanukah to her son’s class, but she may not discuss any religious aspects of the holiday. Chanukah is not about gifts, or chocolate coins, or eating things cooked in oil. Chanukah is about the fight against oppression over 2,000 years ago. A fight to pray, express our beliefs and teach our children about Judaism. And Chanukah keeps reoccurring, needing us to remember- to BE Jews- and to be kind in the reflection that we all have our battles to brave and win in life.

Chan-new-shmoozIt IS a religious holiday. It’s about religious persecution and religious freedom, my daughter said. The reply; No way, take it or leave it. And so my best advice having dealt with all this through 5 children in schools… ask my grandson if he would like to present. Then if he agrees help him make a list with 5 or 6 points about Chanukah. How we celebrate at home… What’s special about Chanukah… And so on. Then with list in hand, a Menorah [candle holder for Chanukah] and some Chanukah paper napkins and/or Chanukah cards he will be prepared to “show and tell.”

Santa will be visiting my grandson’s school. They told her Santa is not a religious symbol, though Santa does not visit Jewish homes and has nothing to do with Chanukah, Kwanza, Chinese New Year, or any other religious or cultural holidays that occur in December/January. My daughter may offer the name of a Jewish song for the “holiday” assembly, but cannot hand it in with translations of words like menorah, hora- a dance,  because they want to observe copyright laws and obtain the music officially and legally. Yet if she does not provide the information she believes it will not be sought out.

Christmas is a legal holiday in the United States. So while a Christian will tell you that Santa is not a religious symbol, it is part of the decorations, family observances, stories, photographs and events surrounding the holiday. A tree is also not of religious significance, yet my childhood home never had a “Chanukah bush” and neither did the home I made for my children.

Chan-2008-shmoozWhy can’t we celebrate and embrace that which makes us each unique and special. For each person who is part of a religion that is part of who they are, their family celebrations and family memories.

And as far as Thanksgivvukah goes– don’t insult me with such a crude and meaningless made up word that can only confuse the many people who know nothing of Jewish holidays. Chanukah is 8 nights and days long. It begins each day at sunset because our learned leaders deduced from the book of Genesis which says; God created night and day, meaning a 24 hour period begins as night begins. And by the way we enjoy eating our foods cooked in oil [as unhealthy as that may be] for 8 nights because when the small band of Jews fighting the larger army of Greeks were triumphant and went to rededicate the holy Temple, only enough sacred oil was left to burn for one night, but it burned for 8 nights, hence 8 days of holiday.

And so, A Great Miracle Happened There. What do  I want for Chanukah? I want  humanity to respect each person’s rights and not allow anyone to be hungry, cold, treated as less than any other person, and allowed the dignity of each one’s life choices and innate paths through their lives.  And –  I –  want  –  peace.

** Two cards, top one recent, bottom one from 2008; both celebrating the uniqueness of Judaism and Chanukah.