Life Experiences

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I’ve had a tough fall keeping my mouth shut.  So many times I’ve wanted to say something, but know the people I want to say it to are deaf to my words.  I’m sure many of you can relate no matter who you voted for or what party you stand behind.

One of the things that were said was “I was wondering why people are voting (democrat/republican) because pretty much they do because they always did”.

Gotta admit this had me laughing …and then crying.  Let me explain…

How I have voted over the years has changed according to my life experiences…I think many of you can relate.

As a young college student living in a college town, I was all about politics.  I took Intro of Political Science and was all on fire with wanting to know all I could about the political science world and even had aspirations that maybe one day, I might be interested in holding an office…even a smaller office like being on the school board.

I campaigned for my candidates.  I went door to door.  Yep, I was all about it.  At the time, I was a political gal all the way….straight ticket.

Then life changed…

I found myself pregnant.  I found myself married, in a new town and chasing after little ones.  I didn’t have time to care about politics…and remember my two television situation, when we had two television stacked on top of each other, one with sound and one with picture….and only one channel??  There was no internet then.  It would have been hard to research anything, even if I would have had the time.

I still voted though.  I did the best I could with it all.  By this time…I was voting differently and it wasn’t a straight ticket.  Why?  Because life experience started to catch up with me.

About that time Kramer was forced to file bankruptcy and lost the ability to farm so we started to care more about farm policies, embargos, crop insurance, and interest rates.

Then there was getting married.  Kramer had his political views, I had mine.  As time went on and we talked more, some of our views began to mesh.  Some didn’t.  We’d joke if we voted for other people, we’d be canceling our votes.  Admittedly, sometimes we canceled each other’s votes, sometimes we didn’t.

When we were young we didn’t care what candidates said about retirement and social security.  We couldn’t see past the age and stage we were in.

We didn’t think about segregation.  It wasn’t in front of us.

We didn’t think about police brutality.  We didn’t hear about it on the news.

As we moved, as our family grew, we started caring about things we previously never cared about.  Our children were getting towards college age.  We wanted a candidate to be more supportive of cost-effective college.

As we had family trying to scrap together money to pay for adoption after years of fighting infertility, we started to care more about policies to help families adopt children.

As we had great-nieces and nephews die from SIDS we thought more about research to help prevent it.

As our children’s friends made the tough choice to come out and reveal their sexuality, I started to think, what would I do if that had been my child?  How would I have reacted?  I started to think about gay marriage.

As we watched our parents in the nursing home struggling with the end of life choices, we started to care about social security and medicare.  We could see that our turn was next.

I saw my kids become teachers and made friends with teachers, suddenly I saw there were two sides the education…the side of the teachers working with the children and the side of children who need to learn.

I became a childcare provider and listened as parents lamented about how hard it was to find affordable childcare.

Now I see my kids trying to juggle college loans, house payments, and childcare, I care more than ever that there are affordable options for kids going to college.  I don’t want my grandchildren to struggle the same way.

I listen to family deal with the foster care system trying to adopt a little guy who has come into their care, fighting to jump the hurdles that are put in front of them to make it happen.

I watch as family made the tough decision on whether abortion was the right thing when they knew their baby would be born without a spine and at best, had moments to live.  They opted to continue the pregnancy but I began to wonder, could I have?

When a young boy in my life lost his mother I started to understand the need for social security for him.

I have had nieces and nephews adopt hard to place children.  I have heard their stories.

I see family looking for laborers and can’t find them.  Who are then forced to turn to Mexico to find workers.  I see others condemning their business for it.  I see these workers as fine people doing jobs Americans won’t do.

I visit with friends my age and we talk about how we are so thankful we aren’t raising our kids in today’s world.  We talk about bullying, cell phones, and the privileged attitude of some youth.

I lived a life with a hard-working man who ended up dying young from cancer.  I saw all of the money he put into social security slip away.  I started to wonder if social security was the right thing.

As I lost Kramer, I lost my source for health insurance too.  I was forced to seek out Obamacare.  That made me see things too.

I watched as people have come in and out of my life and I’ve seen drugs and alcoholism and I’ve seen the toll it can take on families.

I’ve turned a family into DHS for suspected abuse and neglect.  I’ve seen first hand how that was handled.

I see two of my daughters work in health care and I hear their plight.  I hear them ask people to wear masks.  I worry about their safety.  I see them cry wondering if it’s safe for them to see me as they worry they might pass something from their work on to me.

I see the covid numbers in my state soar.

Living in southern Minnesota in the 70s and 80s, I had no interaction with people of color.  There were few, if any, people of color living in the area at the time.  I had never taken time to think about the plight of persons with skin color different than mine until I was exposed to more people.  For many years of my life, I am ashamed to say, I naively thought we all grew up the same.

I know now that we truly didn’t all grow up the same.  I know now that I grow and change as my life experiences and exposures to things change.  If you would have asked me in high school what I thought about homosexuality, I’m completely embarrassed and ashamed of what I might have said.  I’m so sorry.  If you ask me now, after life experience has changed me, after I’ve been exposed to people who are living, the answer is something kind… understanding…and human.  I want all people to experience love.  I’m so sorry it took the years it did for me to realize that I needed to change.  I will forever be ashamed of myself.

If you had asked me about Obamacare when it first came out, I don’t know that I was against it…I don’t think I had an opinion about it.  Nowadays because it affects me, because it affects farmers I know, because I had no other choice, I can see some kind of help is needed.  Yes, I’ve heard stories of people it hasn’t been good for, but I have seen many more people it was a lifeline for.  Does it need adjusting…likely, does it need to be completely abolished, probably not.  There is likely a middle ground.

I have had 54 years (almost 55) of life.  My life experiences to date at the time of each and every election have been the biggest determination of who I voted for.  I’ve never voted only because of the party except for the first time I voted in college. Since then, I’ve never voted only because of the person.  Since then, I’ve never only voted because of the party.  Since then, I’ve voted because of me.  I’ve voted because of my life experiences and the life experiences of the people and family around me.

I’m proud of myself and can say that I’ve looked at the people even beyond my little bubble.  I’ve listened to their life experiences.  I’ve thought about which candidate can do the most with my vote?  Who can help the most people I know?  What party, what person, can give me the most bang for my vote?

I hope you all do this too.  I hope that you take each and every life experience that you have had, I hope you take each and every life experience of the friends and family surrounding you.  I hope you looked beyond your bubble and ask what might be best for you and for them.  I hope you voted accordingly.

I know it’s hard.  I’ve had family have a bad experience with Obamacare and sometimes I have to weigh my experience against the experience of another and it’s challenging.

My vote was well thought out.  My vote wasn’t systematic.  My vote reflects me and my life experiences.  When someone demeans the vote I made and says ugly things about it, the soft part of me is really hurt because it makes me feel like they negated the hard life experiences that I have been through that got me to this point-that brought me to this vote…and honestly, that’s hurtful.

Likely many of you voted opposite of me, just like Kramer did from time to time.  I accept that.  It is a democracy and that is part of the process.  But, I’ll admit, I am struggling to accept the hurt from people I thought were close to me.  That was never supposed to be part of the process but sadly, it was.  Chalk that up to another life experience.

Whatever happens, when the electoral votes are tallied, I hope the hard negative comments can go away.  I hope our country can find peace.  The division, snide comments, rude jokes, and disrespect have been so hard to swallow…it needs to stop from all sides.  I pray that it can.


39 thoughts on “Life Experiences”

  1. What a beautifully written, well thought out piece. I appreciate your journey (being 68 experienced some similarities). I very rarely comment on blogs, but felt I should. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi Jo,
    What a thoughtful post.! Everybody’s life experience is not the same. All of the things you mentioned,education, lack of adequate income, poverty, lack of basic healthcare, lack of childcare, underemployment, racial and gender inequality, disabilities, and illness can devastate lives. Intolerance of other people’s opinions and disrespect of other people is something that this country needs to change. Sometimes I think everyone should have to spend a certain number of hours working with people who have been disadvantaged. Until a person has walked in those shoes, you have no idea what it feels like. Thank you for speaking truth to power.

  3. I loved your post. I’m old enough to be your mother, have children around your age, grandchildren older than your kids and a few great-grands, so I’ve experienced everything your have mentioned plus more. How or who you voted for is no one’s business including your children. We I was asked to today how I voted my reply was “Roll Tide”==I’m from Alabama.
    It will be what it will be.
    Just want to thank you for all that you do with the charity quilts. When my husband was in the work force I had the opportunity to travel to a 3rd World country. Haiti. Our poor in the USA is rich compared to those people. It sure made me feel blessed with how fortunate I am to live here in the USA.

  4. Dear Jo, thank you for your thoughtful post. It gas been a tough year for us to hear some cruel comments from people we thought were our close friends, including our daughter’s godparents.
    I am a few years older than you. My husband and I are an interracial couple, married for almost 35 years. My husband has tried to explain to our daughter’s godfather, whom we’ve known for 30 years, why it is hurtful to our family to hear him defend people calling COVID China plague, Wuhan virus, Kung Flu. He noted that the year I was born, it was illegal to have an interracial marriage (it wasn’t until 1967 that all states’ anti-miscegenation laws were struck down). But, he said, “I don’t mean her. She’s one of the good ones.”
    I don’t know that we will ever be able to get past this issue because we’ve lost respect for our daughter’s godfather’s character. And that makes me so sad.

  5. Thank you for so generously sharing your experiences as you do with each post you write. Your life is your life and your vote is your vote. Hopefully voters were both as introspective and as considerate of others lives when they submitted their ballots.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with your comments! I am saddened and frustrated by the number of self-centered people who have no empathy for others!

  7. Thank you for your thoughtfully post. I too have changed major life views because life. I call it moving from head knowledge to heart knowledge. It’s hard to lose friends over these issues.

  8. Gwendolyn Grant

    Thank you for your well thought out comments. I am old enough to be your Mother and this is the first time I have seen such hatred and misinformation connected to our votes. i live in the North and have not experienced the open hatred of Black people that abounds in my country. We all hope for a better country and not have to feel that we live in a third world country where we have to be protected by police to vote.

  9. I’m so glad to hear that you truely think about your political choices. Me too. I am mostly an independent, but have voted for 3 different types of candidates. I, too, have been thinking about what is best for people beyond myself and my tiny bubble. There is a huge big country we live in, so many differing opinions. I hope that everyone votes for their candidate, but not just on 1 issue.

  10. I appreciate your honesty and integrity written here today. You’ve grown in your experience, beliefs and acceptance and in no way should you be ashamed of the “unexposed” younger you. Look how far you’ve come.

    We all must take the time to evaluate what is best for us and vote accordingly. I worked my way through 1 year of college on minimum wage back in 1980. A 19yo cannot-but they SHOULD be able to do the same. We have so many issues in our country and how the younger generation is anything but despondent is admirable to me.

    May we all get good sleep tonight knowing that a poor night’s sleep will not change the outcome.

    Peace and hugs.

  11. As Kramer’s widow, I believe you should be able to collect Social Security’s Survivor Benefit. It wouldn’t be the full amount he would have received upon retirement but it would be available to you until you chose to collect under your own ssi account.

  12. Jo, thank you for a thoughtful post. Same as many others, I’ve been reflecting on political differences so much more than I used to. My husband passed away earlier this year, and our political and social beliefs were the total opposite of his brother and sister-in-law’s. We were never close but always friendly. Nevertheless they’ve been so kind to me during this sorrow and extended help and comfort. I don’t respect their candidate but I surely do respect that they’ve raised a fine family, treat others well and have a right to their opinion. We rarely discuss politics but there’s always lots to talk about. I think we need to remember that people aren’t just the sum of their political choices, and that disrespect doesn’t encourage change.

  13. Jo, I am 72 and I really understand how life changes our views. Our life experiences do open our minds to other possibilities. Try to not let others get you down. You vote for what is right for what you know, others do the same. Their experiences are different, so their views are too. I love checking in on you every day. You are doing great, enjoy life.

  14. Well said! I too cast my vote for the individual candidate, not the party. I’m saddened and ashamed of how people have acted this year, especially on Facebook. One lady, who wouldn’t hesitate to help anyone in need, was bad-mouthed and ridiculed by friends and neighbors because she voiced her political opinion. These are the same friends and neighbors that wouldn’t think twice of asking her for help if they needed it. I also wonder how the people who have said that COVID will disappear after they election will feel when they discover that it does not.

  15. Thanks for taking such care with your vote, whatever side you were on, Jo. Our family is split this year, so our votes cancelled each others out, but yet we did our right and voted. This year has been such a hard one. So many people fighting against one another. I pray for peace and unity for our country, wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

  16. Barbara Schamell

    Your post was just what I needed today. Like you thru the years my voting was never guided solely by party but by what I saw as needs at the time and the person best suited to accomplish them. This time is so different. People have become so hateful. I avoid news broadcasts like the plague. Everyone has the right to vote but they don’t have the right to belittle or disparage how others decide to vote. We should be loving and caring for our neighbors whether they be next door or 2000 miles away and whether we agree or not.

  17. Well written! I went to sleep just praying that the Lord would make sure the right person was elected! I voted, but mainly for the VICE PRESIDENT. I figure Trump will be recalled, and Biden won’t make it due to poor health or health challenges….the deciding factor for me was ‘who’s next?’ But most of all, I am hoping and praying for EVERYONE to be kind, to be considerate, to stop labeling people & to STOP making those who have a different opinion from yours the enemy! It puts people in categories, and that is never right. We need to look at each other as fellow humans, period, and look for the good whenever possible, and right the wrongs for fellow humans, PERIOD. Care about others & stop putting yourself first all the time.

  18. A well written piece and just what I needed this morning. We voted early and then agreed to stop watching the news until the election passes, it has made our lives more peaceful. Each of us takes a different journey in life and our votes reflect that. We also use the Affordable Care Act for our insurance and just started with SS and Medicare. We evolve and so does what is important to us.

  19. This was very thoughtful and understanding piece. I voted by ballet early, instead of standing in line on election day. I have had people question why I did that. My answer is I could have Covid, so I would not been able to vote. You have done the right thing, you voted.

    1. Shirley we voted early to. We dropped off our ballots in the appropriate box. We didn’t know what circumstances would be at the time of the election so we did it out of an abundance of caution.

  20. Thank you for voting. I’m Canadian, so I am just watching. It is amazing how life experiences changes us. It is very good to listen yo others stories.

  21. Beautiful words! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this difficult subject. We all have to see our situation and then look beyond to get a full perspective. If you ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, the decision is easy.

  22. Beautifully written! Your changes with life experiences reflect my own. Navigating this world, we may start out with one mind, but if we are willing to have an open mind and note what is happening to others as well as ourselves we grow and with growth comes adjustment and change. We need to take of ourselves, each other and our world, all from a loving, caring place.

  23. Bonnie Lippincott

    A great post. Your thoughtful explanation of your voting process through the years mirrors mine in so many ways. I have never voted the straight party line, and my husband and I gather together everything we can about the ballot measures and candidates and before we make our final decisions.

    I can safely say that I’ve never regretted how I’ve voted because I did the best I could with the facts at hand.

    My hope now is that whatever the outcome we, as a nation, can come together and do what’s right for the country and the citizens.

  24. I read this post earlier, but somehow didn’t get my comment done. I, too, have grown through life experience. I grew up in a small Iowa town, with little experience with other nationalities or races. I’m grateful that I somehow grew up to be relatively open-minded, yet we all have biases.

    Our son is gay and I love his husband. If all spouses treated their spouse the way they do, marriages everywhere would be better. My daughter was in a biracial marriage, hence my grandchildren are biracial. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. My son is a sign language interpreter, which lead to insight into the deaf world. My sisters and daughter are in health care, as well as your daughters. That leads to a ton of insight in many areas. Hubby and I both have had several surgeries – the other side of health care. Then, the Medicare arena.

    All of that to say, I agree with you. Life experiences open our minds, change our minds, modify our focus, and refine our priorities. Thank you for this post and your insights.

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