There I was, minding my own business…listening to a little Christmas music…

If you missed my previous post about the outrageous desecration of ancient California Native American petroglyphs you might want to catch up here.  I assure you I have no intention of continuing with themes related to negativity and odious behaviors, but based on a morning encounter with a billboard, I just couldn’t resist sharing what occurred this morning–a final emphasis on how much work goes into maintaining balance, while cultivating positivity!

It’s kind of tricky business to put yourself out there as a positive outlook blog–breathelighter’s primary focus is towards encouraging general well-being and the ways that I maintain balance, then this week I switched gears quickly and talked about being outraged.  My natural set-point is balanced more heavily towards optimism, but sometimes I lose that perspective, despite my best efforts. Occasionally I realize that although I don’t very often lean into depression, if I’m not careful, I can swallow a heavy dose of cynicism.

It’s not my best trait. But when I don’t actively affirm more positive attributes in others I fall into a well-nursed  negative and complaining tone.

I  know to take responsibility for how I feed my emotions. It’s my problem if I listen to others complain, or digest non-stop media messages designed to elicit a negative emotional response. It’s certainly my own fault if I choose to be addicted to the daily news…most of it is rubbish.

When I realize I’m tumbling into the abyss of gloom, I usually know what works to lift me out.

So that’s what I was doing this morning.  On the way to work I chose to keep the radio off, and as I was cheerfully listening to a favorite Christmas CD I pulled up to the first large intersection and quickly glanced to my right. Whoa! My head did one of those whiplash hard snaps! Where just yesterday a billboard promoting a local health food store stood mighty and tall right next to a “Christmas at Disneyland” advertisement, this is what I read.

Well, that will wake you up!  It wasn’t even 7:00 a.m. yet!  Even Christmas music can’t quite calm that jolt!

The San Gabriel Valley has the largest concentration of Chinese Americans in the entire United States. You can see the message is printed in English and Chinese. I won’t comment on the board’s content except to say that I feel ignorant of the issue. The billboard did its job in raising some level of awareness and I’ll fact check as soon as I’m able.

Sobering.

So where do I go from here?

I have an activist nature…I don’t ignore problems very well (not that I don’t sometimes try…)

I wonder if young people know of Helen Keller?  She inspires me.  As a deafblind social activist–did you know she helped found the ACLU? –she lived her own words:  “Although the world is full of suffering it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

She doesn’t sound cynical, does she?

There are so many people doing really GOOD things to the benefit others.

I have been hearing some wonderful stories of examples of hardworking, committed people not necessarily actively seeking global change, but  finding creative ways that make a difference right on their doorstep.

So that’s my focus for the rest of this week.

My next post will share a couple of stories highlighting people/places or things that inspire me. Maybe you’ll also enjoy the benefit of a little shift in focus.

I hope you’ll come back and be buoyed along with me.

And the music I was listening to on the way to work? Music always elevates my mood.

I’ve added a page at the top of the blog banner where I’ve listed some of my favorite holiday tunes. It’s just for fun. Maybe you can leave a comment there and let me know what you are listening to this holiday season.

I suggest we all turn down the noise! If you’re more disciplined than I am, try turning it completely off!

42 thoughts on “There I was, minding my own business…listening to a little Christmas music…

  1. Wow! That is scary! I’ve heard of things like this happening in Indonesia. I had friends that were drugged eating in a desolate resturant and he was a cancer survivior so he was very aware of his body and was smart enough to get his girlfriend out of there, they walked all night to the American Embassy trying to stay awake together. When the Embassy went back they found an area loaded with commerical freezers and as nasty as this is but organs to be harvested on the black market. I got chills reading your post it always makes me think of them. Sooo scary!! Proud of you for putting the word out. I think this country can really be naive to what is really happening in the world.

    • I’m afraid I KNOW I am naive when it comes to this kind of thing…or many international conditions, quite frankly. I have never seen anything quite like this billboard, and it is my understanding that we have ordinances regulating what can be displayed. Whether or not that supports the idea that this is a credible message or not I can’t say. But I will be looking into it.

      The story of your friends is indeed horrific! My gosh! It’s really so frightening I can’t begin to understand. I’m so glad you’ve shared. I hope I can be much more upbeat throughout the holidays at least! Too much of all this can’t be good for anyone!

      • It’s great to make people aware of it! I think we all tend to ride around in our bubbles most day, hustling about the day! We really have a lot of freedoms here that I think most of us tend to overlook and take advantage of. It’s sad and scary to think there’s so much uneccessary suffering. Breaks my heart!

  2. It shocks me to think anyone, anywhere, would think something like this is okay. People can really be horrible to each other, can’t they? Please keep us updated on what you find out about this issue, Debra.

    • The billboard was indeed shocking, Andra, but my Google searches haven’t actually informed me of anything I could verify as a real threat. The billboard calls for signing a FB petition! That doesn’t seem like a very effective tool to modify behaviors in China, do you think? I will keep listening…I’m hoping someone will respond to the post and give me more information! Thanks for sharing Christmas music with me! Much more satisfying! :-)

    • This is a very beautiful arrangement, Frank. Thank you. I’m not familiar with Chip Davis…but I am going to see what else he has arranged. Lovely! Much better focus for the day and the whole season! :-)

  3. I was a bit appalled reading that billboard for several concerns that will not be mentioned here in your good blog. Still a shock, though. And there are many positives to enjoy as you say. But like you, I hit a dip in the road sometimes and scrape bottom. Surely, January 1 will not have the same joy for me as in the past. :(

    • I don’t have enough background or any information to comment on the billboard at all…except that I have strong doubts that an American petition on FB is going to affect anything in another country. I don’t want you to feel you can’t say something stronger supporting your own thoughts and understanding…it’s just possible that most of us won’t know how to respond in kind! I’m always interested in knowing how others process this kind of information. I will certainly leave it up to you, Koji!

  4. I actually started to watch the news last night. Our rain storm that started last night was being hailed as the next apocalypse and the lead story was about children being saved from a burning bus. I really don’t do well with the news, I am an accomplished ducker.

    • I think I just need to practice, Kay! I am a little too “all in” with radio news. I don’t watch it on TV, but messages are messages! I do have to laugh at our “apocalyptic rain” warnings. They are humorous, but certainly gives us a clue about other heightened fears building ratings. We were watching Dr. Who the other night and you know there’s more to this when a SciFi show tackles this very subject. Thanks so much for commenting…I always love hearing from you. I’ll let you know if I learn to “duck” better! :-)

    • Thank you so much, Nancy! I did a little cursory search and didn’t come up with much, so I appreciate this. And I’m glad you posted it. Perhaps others will read your response. I hate to say I look forward to reading this info, but you know what I mean!

  5. Signs, signs, every where signs (words in a song I can’t right now remember). It is hard to avoid being negative sometimes with all that surrounds us visually and through media, isn’t it? I’ve been purposefully making quiet time each day and it helps keep me centered – as long as I don’t fall asleep, tee hee.

    I’m looking forward to reading your inspirational post, Debra. There is always room for the positive, and you dish it out in heaps, my friend, for which I am grateful.

    Okay. Gotta go check out your playlist. Thank you.

    • I remember the song you’re humming, too, Penny. I can hum it anyway! :-) I love the idea of deliberate quite time. I try to do the same thing, and my regular yoga practice is one way. Sometimes I do laugh that I have to actually go to a class to achieve that silence. I’m not sure what that says! LOL!

      I think a daily nap would help ALL of us! :-)

  6. When I first read “Live organ transplants” I thought I’d misread the billboard. Sheesh!

    I went to the first link Nancy provided and read this shocking statistic:
    “Up to today, there is no effective public organ donation program in place in China, yet the Chinese transplant system performs 10,000-20,000 transplants per year since early 2000.”

    I thank you for sharing this with us Debra.

    • It stopped me in my tracks, Rosie. I was almost late to work, but I found a way to pull over and take a picture. I was stunned. I probably won’t revisit the topic publicly, but I’ll be following up to try to understand better. I think most of my advocacy roles, however, are best served close to home. oxo

  7. It really is hard, Debra, to remain positive when so much of what is passed along as “news” is really just plain awful. I No matter how much one might try to filter it, there will always be a billboard out there, trying to undo your best efforts. I’m certainly not advocating a head-in-the-sand approach but, in this Information Age, there is such a thing as too much information. I’ll keep abreast of a wide variety of things but some, I’m afraid, I’ll just ignore. And be much happier for it.

    • I don’t adapt well to the head-in-the-sand outlook either, John, and I don’t think I’m particularly sensitive, but sometimes it’s the cumulative effect of just too many things requiring a level of critical thinking that pile up and I start to sink! I tend to be “all in” or “not at all” so I think my goal needs to be balance–that’s always a good idea!

      I am sure the reason this particular billboard was so shocking was of course the topic, but also it was blocking a Trader Joe’s sign (don’t know if you have those, but a specialty food staple around here) and next to a sign for Christmas at Disneyland. It would have been comical if not for the sensitive nature of the message.

      Back to my Christmas music! :-) Thanks for stopping by, John.

  8. It’s horrible! Last week, I was getting into a depression and I haven’t suffered from depression since I was 19, so that’s many moons ago, ;) because of the horrors that are going on in our planet. I shifted focus because I realized that I help the best when I am feeling grateful for our world instead of appalled.

    • We just need to keep encouraging one another on this journey. I would think that perhaps you do get a bit vulnerable because you are such a “giver,” Marie. I wonder if you don’t just get a little depleted sometimes. Blessings for today…and I know that one way I can capture a little moment of encouragement is to pick up your book and read. I’m going to purchasing a few more copies for some friends this Christmas. It’s a really lovely inspirational book.I hope you continue to “look up.” oxo

      • Ooh, thank you so much for mentioning my book and your words! It’s amazing how perceptive you are, I have been thinking this lately, that I need to take care of myself first as I do feel a tad depleted at times as I want to help, to encourage. In order to value myself I am starting to take care of self first so will make making a few changes here and there. You are my messanger for the day. :)

  9. The primary focus of my blog is laughter and making people feel cheerful, but I don’t always feel like that, either. I make a conscious effort to stop a bad or low mood but it doesn’t always work. I’m human :)

    China has a long way to go in catching up with human rights, as do many countries. A billboard is a good start.

  10. Dear Debra, your attitude toward life and your philosophy of breathing lightly on our planet and reaching across the spans that separate us have always inspired me. Jewish lore says that there are 10 good humans in the world at any given time. That’s all it takes to rescue us from ourselves. And I believe that you are one of those 10. Peace.

    • Oh my, Dee. That is an incredibly generous thing to say. I know I have many insensitivities that need addressing, but I trust the lessons to come to me as the Divine thinks I’m ready to respond. I do strongly believe that we can all greatly affect the world for good if we stop thinking in terms of holding out for the big things. It’s the small mercies right under our noses..and I KNOW you understand that. It is you who have inspired me. And that’s most sincere! Thank you, my friend. oxo

  11. I’m looking forward to your inspiring people posts. I could use a shift in focus right now too. I’ve been doing a pretty good job not trending toward depressive moods and thoughts. I focus on gratitude, and like you don’t listen or watch the news. Sometimes though despite best efforts, it’s hard to stay positive all the time. I so appreciate your outlook on life Debra. Looking forward to the next posts. :)

    • We have been away for the weekend, Kristy, so I didn’t take the time to post about the inspiring people…but I will this week. It’s a good season to focus on people who are generous and kind-hearted. I don’t want to be someone with my head in the sand, and I want to be aware of the world at-large, but the 24-hour news cycle doesn’t do us any favors! Balance is key, and that can be a challenge. I hope you, too, are having a good weekend! They go by so quickly, don’t they!

  12. It must have been very shocking to come face to face with this on your way to work, Debra. I’ve read something about it and I also know that there is a trade in organs (especially kidneys) sold by the very poor in other countries. I hope your Christmas music has lightened your mood.

    • I’m listening to lots of Christmas music, Perpetua, and getting into the spirit of the season. I am not sure what my response to that billboard should even be, or what signing a Facebook petition could accomplish, but it’s sobering and very disturbing. There are so many complex issues…I don’t know what makes me think I can understand them all! So more music it is!

  13. Maintaining a positive outlook takes energy and focus Debra, you are human my firend, although obviously a special kind of human being, you are human an dsometimes that NOISE creeps in there doesn’t it. You always brighten my day, always !

    • Thank you, Claire. I’m so glad you stopped by. I think we do try to maintain a positive outlook as much as possible. Life is always going to be a challenge…and you’re so right–recently it’s been the NOISE that has been getting to me! My weekend at the beach really helped with that! :-)

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