• 7 Risky Reasons to Want a Baby

    7 Risky Reasons to Want a Baby

    (3 minute read)

    Disclaimer: This article is not about birth control methods, infertility, accidental pregnancies, or abortion.

    It is about these common ideas women get in their brains when it comes to babies.

    Here are 7 risky reasons to want a baby:

    1. He will marry me. Wrong! Ok he might, most likely not, but even if he did do you think this is the type of foundation you should seek to build a lasting relationship on? By in large this scenario leads to a woman in poverty, with a baby to raise on her own. Sorry ladies, but this is the reality. No one is going to make him do right, pay up, or be a good daddy; not you, your friends, law enforcement, the court system, not even the government.
    2. It would help save my marriage. Wrong again. If a man is not content in your marriage what on earth makes you think he is going to like it more with the responsibility of having a baby in the house? Again, the logic fails here. If you are having relationship problems, the root of those problems needs to be tapped and helped. A baby will not fix anything. Again, this scenario most often leads to either an even more tumultuous marriage or to you living as a single mom.
    3. I will not be lonely. She who does not enjoy her own company will not find the company of any other to help.
    4. I feel broody. Ah, hormones. These biochemicals are not valid measures of how, when or why we should take action. Think about it, these are the same root cause of menopausal symptoms like lashing out with death threats to loved ones, followed soon afterwards by, “hold me.” They are the same cause of postpartum depression, and premenstrual symptoms as well. Need I go on? Hence, you should never follow hormones to want a baby without your brain in gear and following close alongside.
    5. All my friends are having babies. Well, there are a lot of comments I thought about adding to this one but then again this should be enough. This is junior high logic at work.
    6. I will get unconditional love. The need to feel loved is strong. Yet, bringing another life into this world to fill your hearts vacancies is not the best of ideas. One night we were having dinner with friends who had children. The wife said something to the effect of, “But if you don’t have kids you will never get that unconditional love they bring.” For starters their children were still in the young and innocent stage where this was true. They had not yet reached the age where they can indeed decide to love you or not. Besides this fact, the husband responded with quick and wise words, “Come on honey, for real? You can get unconditional love from a dog and it will last the dog’s whole life. You don’t need a kid to get that.”
    7. I want to feel needed. Women have a strong desire to feel needed. As a result, many times we weigh our self-worth by how needed we feel. This is part of the reason we can become obsessed with being “busy”. Try this, instead of running around frantic to convince yourself and those you come in contact with you are a “busy mom” and so needed, seek rather to create self-value through character, knowledge, and wisdom.

    In conclusion, there are plenty of good and healthy reasons to want a baby. None of them are listed here.

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  • Vern Clair Baum

    I Stopped Honoring My Gramps on Memorial Day. You Should Too. Here’s Why.

    Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who have died while serving in the armed forces of the United States of America. This differs from Veteran’s Day on which we honor all those who have served in the armed forces.

    This might seem a bit perplexing to some, or even a little redundant. I have thought so too in the past. This year, however, I have been thinking a lot about my gramps, Vern Clair Baum. He was a drafted US Marine who served on Iwo Jima as well as the following occupation of Japan. Iwo Jima was one of the most brutal of WWII battles.

    Vern lived to be 81 years old. He died on January 9, 2001. Almost to the day 55 years after being honorably discharged from the Marine Corp January 31, 1946. I cannot imagine the horrors he saw. How he maintained any faith in humanity I do not know. I am not even sure how he maintained his senses. Yet, he did; all the while creating a simple, rich life for his wife and children and his grandchildren to come.

    My gramps deserves honor. Both for the service he gave our country and for the life he lived thereafter. Hence, Veterans Day makes sense to me. I can relate.

    Memorial Day is another story. I cannot relate. I don’t know anyone who has lost their life in the armed forces. I struggle to even think of a distant acquaintance. I suspect I am not alone, if for no other reason than this: there are two things you can count on, one is you will die, and two, you will soon be forgotten.

    This fact is the crux of the reason we have Memorial Day and not only Veterans Day. Because those who have given their lives are in grave danger of being forgotten too soon. My gramps would often say, “The real heroes are the ones who never came home.” This is so common a phrase among combat veterans it is almost a mantra. This is the haunting chant of the likes of Ira Hayes who came to ruin by the pomp and circumstance surrounding his part in the raising of a flag for an “after the fact” photo atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. So popular was the photo the Marine Memorial in Washington DC is a depiction.

    While I seek to honor my gramps every day of my life by the way I live, and in a special way on Veteran’s Day, I will not be honoring him on Memorial Day. Rather I will memorialize those who I don’t remember. Those I never knew. Those who never had an opportunity to influence the world beyond the battle field. You likely don’t know them either. They are heroes. Gramps would want it that way.

    I realized when I was formatting this article to post I had cropped my gramps’ buddy out of the featured picture. It occurred to me perhaps he is one of those who deserves special honor on Memorial Day. No one in our family knows who he is or was. I am compelled to put his picture here.

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  • Graduation Gift

    The Most Revolutionary Graduation Gift You Can Give Your Kid: I Know Because I Got It

    (2 minute read)

    “To buy a gift is kind, but to give a gift for free that brings a lifetime of ever growing reward is pure genius.” –Jamie Cearley, PhD

    I was not deprived as a child. I had nice clothes, cool shoes, and a car of my own. I confess, most of the time I got what I wanted.

    By all accounts I was a successful high school graduate. I had a good GPA. I would be attending an excellent private four year liberal arts school out of state on a combination athletic and academic scholarship. There I would receive an outstanding education both in life and academics.

    Yet, without one special gift my parents gave me upon graduation, to this day it would have been a disaster. It is the only gift I remember getting from them for graduation. I am sure there must have been some money in there somewhere; or a book filled with wisdom. Perhaps I got one of those fancy Cross pen and pencil sets that were so popular, I don’t know. I do remember getting some towels for my dorm room. Why would I remember the towels? Because I still have a semblance of one of them in my rag cabinet after all these years.

    While the towels lasted as long they weren’t as valuable as the other gift I remember. A gift every kid deserves to have. A timeless gift that will benefit them for a lifetime.

    Best of all it’s free.

    A budget.

    For the first time in my life I was managing my own money flow; or should I say trickle. I got $100 a month deposited into my bank account at school and the rest was up to me.

    My mom had helped me to calculate the cost of my needs and to keep track of my spending the summer before I left for school far away.

    Allowing me to live with an unlimited flow of cash, or worse yet plastic would have been the single greatest long term disservice my parents could have done.

    No one lives on earth for free and the younger a person has this principle embedded in their mind the better.

    Learning to not spend more than you have is a priceless lesson at any age. But, college is a time when the credit companies are like piranha after you.

    Whether you’re child goes away to college, stays home and attends the local school, or works to acquire a trade, help them set up a budget and put a cap on the amount of money put into their account each month.

    I would also encourage you to not allow adult children to continue to live at home for free.

    There are more adult children living with their parents in America than ever before. Many of these are living there for free, creating an unfair financial burden on their parents. What’s more, many of them spend their days playing video games and such like and at best have a part-time minimum wage job and yet still contribute nothing to their care.

    There is no greater disservice to a child I can think of. They are being set up for a lifetime of hardship and disappointment. At a minimum they should pay rent in an amount disproportionate to their income. Why disproportionate? Because they need some motivation to improve their circumstances in life. Becoming financially independent, which by the way is my definition of a true adult, should be attractive.

    To all those out there with a dependent graduating this year. Give them the gift of a lifetime. Give them a budget. They will thank you for decades to come.

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  • Who Else Wants to Know When Enough is Enough

    Who Else Wants to Know When Enough is Enough?

    (4 minute read)

    “Enough is a tiny space tucked between too little and too much. Find it and stuff yourself inside for in this little space lies life in abundance.” –Jamie Cearley, PhD

    Most Americans will admit to having more than enough. More than enough stuff; so much so people make a living teaching people how to get rid of stuff, how to organize stuff, and how to keep from getting more stuff. What’s more, we have more than enough to do. We are so busy we need pills to calm us down, pills to help us sleep, and drinks to keep us awake. Yep, it can be crazy out there. Add to this, many of us have had enough of the job it takes to keep us busy and buying more stuff. Yet we often find ourselves asking, how do I know when enough is enough? I mean where is the magic line in the sand between enough and too much; too much stuff, too busy, too long at a job I hate?

    If you answer yes to some or all these questions you might have more than enough:

    Enough is enough Stuff:

    1. Are you tempted to “organize” often? Be honest, most of the time when we organize we are doing nothing more than arranging stuff we don’t use or need. Organization is good and necessary but recognize the difference in making what you use neater and more efficient and rearranging junk so it looks nice.
    2. Do you find yourself always having to move one thing to get to another? This one often strikes me hard. Like when I trip over stuff or the stuff I need to move weighs 50 plus pounds. If you become sensitive to when this happens, and in my case my toes and back are pretty sensitive, you can take note of what you are moving and decide whether you need these items and if not pitch them. If you do need it, work to find a better storage place. You know, like get rid of something else to make space.
    3. Are there clothes in your closet you have not worn in over a year? Safe to say if it hasn’t been in contact with your body for 365 days you have enough other clothes to wear.
    4. Does your stuff own you? If you have any of the issues described in this past post no doubt you have more than enough. If you are looking for tips on how to get rid of clutter check this out.

    Enough is enough to do:

    1. Do you feel rushed? Any time you feel your blood pressure going up to get somewhere or get something done you might have more than enough to do.
    2. Does fatigue overwhelm you at times? Does your schedule have you feeling like a hamster in a wheel? You can’t remember your name, how to get home, or you leave you kid in the car; yeah you have more than enough to do. Sometimes this is our own doing. There are too many good things to do in life for most of us. This seems to happen with kids a lot. Too many extracurricular activities can lead to mayhem in a hurry. With many kids even one extracurricular activity each can be enough to launch your family into chaos.
    3. Do you feel as though you are missing out on the important because you are always busy with the urgent? No time to sit at the table for supper, to call a parent and talk for a few minutes, hug a loved one for those magical 30 seconds causing pleasure and bonding hormones to release; you have more than enough to do.
    4. Are you sacrificing sleep on a regular basis? Or you sleep but never feel rested? Are you tempted to take something to sleep better? You have more than enough to do.

    Enough is enough of a job:

    1. Do you often leave work crying or enraged?
    2. Do you experience large mood swings from a Friday night high to a Sunday night low?
    3. Do you find yourself living for the weekend?
    4. Is your confidence diminishing? Do you find yourself questioning your abilities, worth, and talents?
    5. Are you trapped? Or at least you think you are.

    It can be difficult to make changes in any of these areas. You may find one easier than another. If so, start with what seems simpler to you. For me getting rid of stuff and keeping it from returning is the easiest of the three.

    Saying no to opportunities to do fun or good activities when I know our schedules are full is a bit more difficult. For example, I love to garden but did not plant the first tomato last year. So far this year only weeds are growing in my boxes. Gardening is a fabulous activity but with only so much time and energy to offer I decided gardening wasn’t important enough to me. At least not for now.

    My nemesis appeared in the form of a job. I confess, before this one could change for me the entire company had to close down and terminate us for me to see the light on this one. I could have answered a loud and clear yes to all five of the questions above yet I stuck with it.

    For me these changes are hard in part because they aren’t free. They all require the loss of something good. There is pleasure in obtaining stuff. But, it doesn’t last for long. There are benefits from many activities. Piano lessons, sports, scouts, pets; they all can bring great joy and teach lifelong lessons. A job can bring in income. It can allow you to use your talents or a degree you have earned.

    It is all a matter of prioritizing, focus, and knowing when enough is enough.

    Sacrifice the good for the best. Find enough, find life abundant.

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  • Benefits to Being a Freak

    Benefits of Being a Freak

    (4 minute read)

    “Be a freak. Normal is mind-numbing.” –Jamie Cearley, PhD

    I am a freak. No matter what crowd or setting I find myself in I always seem to be the one who is more than a little odd. This used to bother me quite a bit more than it does these days. Yet, my husband still prods me to be more social on a regular basis. In a bit of awkward irony he just texted me, urging me to contact an out of town friend next week. Evidence, I don’t make this stuff up. As I age I am starting to see the underlying cause for this social paradigm of mine. It turns out there are some positive features to being a freak.

    Although I am sure there are more, here are 3 benefits to being a freak I have found:
    • I am versatile. I should have realized this back in high school when my senior class voted me most versatile. Back then, I interpreted this award went to the biggest freak in the class and was a PC way of picking fun. Now I look back on this award as the biggest honor they could have bestowed. Why? Because it meant I was different. I was more than a one trick pony. I was a good student; the only one who could find anything in the microscope in biology lab. I was an All-State point guard for our Alabama State Championship basketball team. I was the only one in Home Economics class to sew a sweatshirt instead of an apron. I thought aprons were boring and useless. Yes I know, it turns out aprons are far more useful than sweatshirts. I was 16 years old. Cut me some slack. I hot rolled my hair every morning, and helped my dad do things like dig trenches, and fix cars at night. I can identify more tools than the finest mechanic. What’s more, this ability includes kitchen gadgets. As it turns out being versatile has helped this freak out quite a bit in life.
    • I am interesting to talk to, if you are willing to give it a try. More often than not the world looks different to me than to most people. Part of this is because I don’t see the world through Hollywood glasses. My basis for relating to the world is reality. You might say I am “out of the loop” on most topics. I know a little about current sports, have seen a small number of movies, watch little television, and know nothing about video games. I once had to hastily dust my television when company was coming over to watch an event it had been off for so long. Of course I would have dusted ahead of time had I either a clue or interest the event was happening. My husband often teases me saying I had a deprived childhood because we did not sit around and watch Planet of the Apes! He gasped the first time he realized I did not even know the show existed. Turns out we were watching the Lawrence Welk Show at our house. It is the only show I have vivid memories of watching on a regular basis as a child. What I do know is how to play,  in the dirt, rain, and snow. I know how to spend 14 hours a day in a swimming pool. People tell me I have an opinion on about every topic. It is true, I am well versed in topics ranging from how to clone a mouse, which I understand few people care to discuss, train a horse, roast a turkey, or what to do when your car alternator is going dead and you are driving. I also enjoy reading about politics, religion, money management, nature, and science. The sad thing is most people either aren’t interested or cannot engage in a meaningful conversation for any length of time. Hey, is that a Pokémon over there? Hence, I am a freak.
    • I am true to self. In spite of immense pressure to conform I remain a freak. In case you know me or have looked at my website and are thinking, “I don’t see how she could feel like a freak,” here are a few points to consider:

    I do not have children. Most people my age do.

    I have a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Most people do not.

    I am a woman who does not do my nails or wear much makeup if any. I have never had a manicure, pedicure or spa treatment nor do I want to. The thought of a stranger touching me makes me cringe.

    I don’t wear jewelry other than a wedding band.

    My favorite all-time birthday presents include a battery powered hedge-trimmer, and a small shovel.

    I like to fix and take care of my own stuff when I can. This includes farm machinery, mowers, appliances, and a host of other things.

    I so dig digging. Except when it’s hot. I had to put in a disclaimer in case my dad reads this.

    I don’t believe in spending money I don’t have.

    I own one purse and it was a free gift for purchasing some riding boots.

    On an on it goes…

    I will never be what my culture thinks of as typical. I refuse to fit in.

    This post started out being my proclamation of freakishness to the world. Then I started to think, I bet everyone feels this way to some degree. Has our culture convinced us there is some kind of strict mold into which normal fits? Are we all pressured by thinking we are to look, act, and be this or that? I wonder; does everyone feel like a freak?

    Could it be we are a world of freaks struggling to change so we fit in? Would we be doing ourselves a favor to scrap any hope of normal and be our true selves? I say yes. I choose freak.

    As Albert Einstein said, “The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”

    How Strong is Your Will to be a freak?

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