Don’t Let Fear and What-If’s Change Your Behavior

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

posted the week of July 9, 2018 in the Albert Lea Tribune and The Courier Sentenel

 

Growing up in a small town I felt a sense of safety most of the time. It was during my childhood I learned about the “what-ifs” of life. It was taught to me unknowingly by my mother. She had no idea her anxiety about the evils of the world lent itself to my childhood fears.

Of course I was scared of the dark. What child isn’t? That was not anything my mother worried about. She worried about my health — what if you eat that and you get sick? She worried about my having an accident —what if you go with another family and they are in a car accident? And she worried about someone snatching me even if in those times kidnapping wasn’t a well-known problem.

We lived by the railroad tracks, and it wasn’t uncommon for hoboes to stop by and ask for money or food. They would often talk to my uncle when he was across the street with the horses or cows in the pasture. I was never allowed out when they were near. I was told they might kidnap me, and my parents would never see me again.

Gypsies were someone else to be afraid of in those days, at least from what I garnered from my mom. I was told they stole kids and did terrible things to them. I was terrified. I remember one time when I was home alone with my wheelchair-bound grandmother — I was around 9, a woman who dressed somewhat like I thought a Gypsy would dress, came to our door. I was afraid to go to the door. I opened the inside door but left the outside door latched.

The woman wanted to know if my mother was home. Of course I didn’t know what to answer. She wasn’t, but did I tell the woman that? The woman tried to get me to come outside, but I refused. She finally went away, but I was scared the rest of the day with visions of me being pulled out of the house and stolen.

Another time while in kindergarten, my mom wasn’t on the corner where she usually met me to walk me uptown to my dad’s store. I was terrified, because of the anxiety of what-ifs that mom wasn’t there. What if she had an accident? What if someone kidnapped me off the street?

Having been taught by a loving overprotective mother about what-ifs, my life continued and still does to this day to be fraught with scenarios when presented with something out of the ordinary or scary — scenarios that the majority of the time never come to pass but in my mind they are bigger than life and make me react out of fear to a situation, rather than thinking it through and coming to a sensible conclusion.

Right now I am in a book study which helps us confront our what-ifs and it is helping me immensely overcome those messages. But the vibes and messages of what-ifs and fear unknowingly sent to me in my childhood by my mother have had lasting consequences.

The other evening I attended a community meeting. A Level 3 sex offender is moving to my community onto a street with many children, close to parks and near the school. The community meeting was to give us information to make our community stronger and to alert us what to watch out for when it comes to our neighborhoods and children.

I thought it was well presented and felt the monitoring system in place was well thought out, along with the fact, well known in a small community, we all know what our neighbors are doing before they know it. We look out for each other. But the level of panic and anger outweighed any information attained to help us deal with the situation.

The “what ifs” were rampant. “He’s going to rape someone.” “What happens when he kidnaps one of my children?” “My son won’t be able to ride his bike safely to the pool anymore.”  “My children won’t be safe in their own yard.” “He’ll grab a child and put them in his car and we’ll never see them again.”

The tears fell, the anger built and some were out of control with their accusations. Some blamed our law enforcement for letting this person move into our community but the law is the law and they had no say in the decision.

I experienced something similar when my children were growing up in a different community from where I live now. The difference is the person hadn’t been caught yet and lived next door to me in a very old house. As neighbors, we watched as the men in the house enticed middle age school children to their home. I watched one day as one took a knife to another’s throat. The entire neighborhood was concerned, and we worked with the local police. This was a person detrimental to children but because he had not been charged, etc. we received no warning he was moving in.

Our neighborhood banded together. We calmly talked to our children. We took to the street. By that I mean, the kids went out into the street to play and we adults went out with our lawn chairs when we saw activity we were suspicious about at the house. We could track everyone coming and going because we were having neighborhood picnics. Soon, the neighbor moved because we were interfering with his activities. Soon after he moved he was arrested.

Were we angry? Yes. Were we scared for our kids? Yes. Were our kids scared? No. They were not scared because we worked together and the neighborhood did not show our children our fear.

We have a Level 3 sex offender coming to our community. We should be worried. We should be upset. We should have a plan, and we should be watchful. What we shouldn’t do is let our fear and what-ifs change our behavior so we teach our children that fear. Our fear should not be so out of control that it makes us act irrationally because that could have dire consequences not just on our future, but on the future of our children.

We as a community have to work to put safeguards in place to make our children safer and stronger. We need to work with local law enforcement to change laws in our community and with our legislature so offenders are not put within a close distance to day cares, schools and parks. In the meantime, new community residents need to know that small town residents watch out for one another. They care. Remember the “Sesame Street” song, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” In my community we know the answer to that question.

Presidents and Their Best Friends!

Column the week of February 20, 2017,Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday in the Albert Lea Tribune. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

FDR at a picnic on "Sunset Hill" near Pine Plains, NY. Fala is 4 months old. The doll next to the president is a handmade shaker doll made by Mary Garettson of Rhinebeck, NY. August 8, 1940

FDR at a picnic on “Sunset Hill” near Pine Plains, NY. Fala is 4 months old. The doll next to the president is a handmade shaker doll made by Mary Garettson of Rhinebeck, NY. August 8, 1940

Today is Presidents Day. Do you know why we celebrate this day? I am one of those people who have not paid much attention as to the observance, other than it is a holiday to shop and have a long weekend.

I decided to look up a little history, and then I thought it might be fun to look a little into the history of first dogs, too. Those presidents loved their animals.

Following George Washington’s death in 1799, the day of his birthday, Feb. 22, became a day of remembrance because at the time he was venerated as one of the most important people in history. It wasn’t until 1879 that President Rutherford B. Hayes signed a law declaring it a national holiday. Presidents Day isn’t celebrated on any president’s actual birthday but on the third Monday of February. Today it is a holiday to recognize the achievements of all of America’s chief executives.

If you enjoyed the little tidbits about the day, visit the History Channel at history.com for more.

In researching some of the information for Presidents Day, I found many of our presidents had first dogs. I always feel you can tell a lot about a person by the animals they have. Or the fact they are an animal lover at all. Our past presidents loved animals.

In fact, Franklin D. Roosevelt had a Scottish Terrier named Fala. Fala had his own press secretary.

Did you know John F. Kennedy was allergic to dogs, but in spite of his allergies they had nine dogs, one of which was named Pushinka, which was a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

Herbert Hoover used his dog, King Tut, in his campaign photos in 1928. They say it could be possible it was his police dog that helped him win the election.

During George W. Bush’s reign his Scottish terrier, Barney, was an internet sensation with his “Barney Cam” videos.

The website dogtime.com has an impressive list of presidents and their dogs, plus the other animals in their lives.

George Washington had interesting names for his dogs: Sweet Lips, Scentwell and Vulcan were American staghounds. I can guess what President Washington had on his mind when he named his black and tan coonhounds, Drunkard, Taster, Tipler and Tipsy.

Maybe the name Fido for a dog caught on when Abraham Lincoln named his dog, Fido.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House.” He certainly had the dogs to back up his statement.  He named his dogs, Peter Pan, Paul Pry, Calamity Jane, Tiny Tim, Blackberry, Ruby Rouch, Boston Beans, King Cole, Palo Alto and Bessie. The most famous of their dogs were Rob Roy and Prudence Prim. These dogs got baths with bluing to make their coats look whiter.

These are just a few of the White House dogs. My research found 32 presidents owned dogs, but this number is a little fuzzy depending on the resource. These dogs came in all shapes and sizes from terriers to collies to sheepdogs and yes, let us not forget Bo, President’s Obama’s Portuguese terrier. That I could find he is the only president that brought a Portuguese terrier to the White House.

Richard Nixon’s dog, Checkers, is immortalized in history in the Checkers Speech. Unfortunately Checkers’s life ended and Checkers never made it to the presidency, only the vice presidency.

Other animals that helped the presidents in the White House were  mockingbirds, parrots, an alligator, silk worms, horses, tiger cubs, a goat, a cow, an elephant, white mice, cats, a Piebald rat, a zebra, a hyena and many more usual and unusual creatures.

Perhaps Dwight D. Eisenhower summed up the reason we have had so many first dogs.

“The friendship of a dog is precious. It becomes even more so when one is so far removed from him … I have a Scottie. In him I find consolation and diversion … he is the “one person” to whom I can talk without the conversation turning back to war.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today let us also remember those first dogs, that as Dwight D. Eisenhower said, bring consolation, diversion and solace to the past presidents. We might owe them more than we know

Unlimited Coffee Doesn’t Pay The Bills

11048645_996381253719106_4106219762973711992_oSomething About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published the week of February 6, 2017 in The Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel

Memories light the corner of my mind. Misty water-colored memories of the way we were. Those lyrics from the song “The Way We Were,” sung by Barbara Streisand,  brings to mind all those favorite places of mine that have closed over the years but hold precious memories. I remember eating at the Canton Cafe in Albert Lea and loving their pork tenderloin dinner along with a bowl of oxtail soup. What about collecting Santa Bears from Macy’s or Hanthorn’s Store, which we called the dime store, here in my hometown? I have precious memories of my dad’s successful hometown shoe store and the whirl-a-whips at Hanson Drug Store. Time moves on and businesses change. Some go away just because of time and change, and some go away because we are more mobile, more prone to buy on the internet than to be loyal to brick and mortar stores and our hometown businesses.

My community no longer has a clothing store or a shoe store. We are down to one drugstore. Our department store closed and a chain store replaced it on the outskirts of town. Kiester lost its grocery store and the city decided to revive it, but still it struggles. Our loyalty has changed, and we, the hometown consumer, are somewhat responsible for that change.

When a business in a small community closes, we hear various opinions as to why the business could not succeed.

“They were too expensive.”

“They didn’t have enough variety.”

“The service was terrible.”

“The staff isn’t friendly.”

“It doesn’t surprise me. They weren’t open on Saturdays or in the evenings.”

“The business was better when it was owned by the former owner. There’s too many changes. It needs to go back the way it used to be.”

I must admit I have probably said some of those things a time or two about some business or other in my community or other communities I have lived in. If I did, I apologize because I wasn’t being fair. I didn’t look at it from the side of the business owner.

I grew up the child of a small business owner at a time when people stayed in their communities to shop. People appreciated the businesses in their own hometown, and those businesses flourished.

I like to have coffee with friends in restaurants and coffee houses, but I haven’t thought about the cost to a small business owner for me to sit all morning and coffee in their establishment. I may have a cup of coffee and a piece of toast or a donut. The cost for that is probably around $2.50 in a community cafe. If I have 10 friends join me and we stay all morning and are waited upon by the waiter or waitress and have endless coffee flowing, the cost to all of us would be $12.50.

Think about the cost to the establishment. They are paying the service person, a cook and all the utilities, plus the cost of coffee. I don’t think what we paid would begin to cover the costs the business shells out to be there. We could add eggs and toast or a sandwich to the mix, but still we were sitting there swigging down coffee or pop all morning, and yes, it is easy to drink coffee for hours.

Many restaurants have specials. How many $4 burger baskets must you sell to pay the utilities and help and still break even? The same can be said for department stores, grocery stores and other businesses. We all want those bargains, and if stores don’t offer them we chose to find a place they do. As a consumer, I look at what it is going to cost me and don’t look at it with the business owners point of view. What does it cost them to keep the business open?

We have a new business in our community. It costs $5 to have all-you-can-drink coffee and unlimited sweet treats. The coffee is roasted at the business and the unlimited beverages includes lattes’ pour overs, hot chocolate, tea and other specialty drinks, but yet I have heard the rumor that people think it is too expensive to have an endless supply of those items. I guess it isn’t a $1.50 cup of endless coffee. Think about it from the owner’s standpoint. How many customers do you have to have to pay for the cost of the roasted coffee and unlimited baked goods? Will $5 do that?

I am good at complaining and my friends will tell you that. I don’t always shop in my community, but I don’t shop much. I stay hunkered down in my house, and if I do buy groceries out of town it is items I cannot get in town. The same can be said for our hardware store. We use it frequently, but for those items I can’t find there I do need to go out of town. So I do admit defecting from community businesses from time to time.

We had a wonderful department store for years, but a chain store was built in our community and people seemed to prefer that to a store that was established, and had the same variety and items if they would have taken the time to check it out. The store closed.

I am going to make more of an effort to support my local businesses and to be aware of the costs owners shoulder to keep their businesses running. I am going to try and complain less and not listen to unsubstantiated rumors. Rumors can close a business whether they are true or not.

We want businesses to be here when we want what we want, or when we feel the need to indulge ourselves in town. We complain when the businesses are gone because we miss them, even though we visited them on a sporadic basis. We can’t have it both ways. Which way will win out?