Saturday, August 19, 2017

Prairie on Fire ~ Coming Fall 2017

"There's a wild fire catching in the whip of the wind
That could start a conflagration
Like there has never been..."

~ Natalie Merchant, This House is on Fire

On the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, Native American U. S. Army veteran, Devin Goes Along the Road, finds himself thrust into a prairie fire that threatens to rage outside the borders of North Dakota.  Without warning, armed men swarm the Four Bears Casino and Lodge, ordering everyone out, triggering Devin’s secret that he brought home with him from Afghanistan.

High atop the butte, Crow Flies High, on the opposite bank of the Missouri River, Blake Eldridge, a Homeland Security agent, keeps watch over the Four Bears Bridge and the deserted casino. Distracted by a small twin engine plane, flying low over the river, he doesn’t hear the men, who will change his life forever, sneaking up behind him. Held captive in a cabin in the middle of the vast emptiness of the prairie, Eldridge has to formulate his escape, before the men make good on their promise to behead him on live television.

At the Capitol Building in Bismarck, Governor Mark Danielson agrees to a meeting with the Tribal Council of the MHA Nation, regarding the closing of the casino in New Town. Tribal Chair, Ronald Yellow Feather, is whisked away to the hospital, while the throng of protestors that have gathered on the Capitol lawn ignites out of control and the Bismarck S.W.A.T. team moves in assisted by the North Dakota National Guard.

In a small diner on the main street of New Town, patrons watch in anticipation of the most horrific thing they have ever seen in their entire lives: the beheading of the Homeland Security agent. Devin, along with his fiancĂ© and her mother, is among the patrons. Devin replays the event over and over in his mind. It wasn’t real. At least he doesn’t think it was. Leaving his fiancĂ© and her mother at home, Devin follows his instinct to leave no man behind, and goes in search of the agent, that only he seems to know is still very much alive.

Lying helpless in a hospital bed in Bismarck, Ronald Yellow Feather makes a confession to his wife that will end their forty year marriage ~ for good. As far as she is concerned, her husband is a traitor, not only to their marriage, but the tribe, and all the Native American people of the world. Medicine Man, and Ronald’s life-long friend, John Big Bear, has the evidence in his hands that will throw Ronald not only out of his office as Tribal Chair, but out of the Tribe as well.

In the hunting shanty that had belonged to his grandparents, Devin and his best friend Paul, learn that America’s greatest fear has come to pass. The men, who had held Eldridge hostage, are not foreigners at all. They are Americans; men in the employ of a megalomaniac, who is sick, twisted and sadistic to the core. The man who is now hunting them.

Lake Metigoshe, North Central North Dakota on the Canadian Border, near the Peace Gardens: Governor Mark Danielson ponders the chaos that has set his state on fire. Danielson commandeers the Humvee of the Guardsman tasked with the protection of the Governor and his family, and heads southwest to the Minot Air Base, where he finds the answers to all his questions ~ answers that shock him to the very center of his being.

Alone in his hospital room, Ronald vows to redeem himself. There may be no redemption from his wife, Elizabeth, but he has to make it right for the Tribe. He confesses all he knows to General Ryder at the Minot Air Base, promising to testify in exchange for leniency. He may spend the rest of his life in a Federal prison, but at least the Tribe will have the hope of a future. His only regret is that it will be a future that won’t include him.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Letting Go - Becoming an Empty-Nester

We spend a minimum of eighteen years as parents, feathering our nests, taking care of the children, and running a hundred miles a minute, all to ensure that our children are well taken care of and their every need is met – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As summer comes to a close, many parents are posting pictures of the iconic moment in their lives - the moment they become empty-nesters. The proud, smiling faces in the pictures hide the heart-wrenching actualization that this chapter of life is also coming to a close.

There is no sound in the world more surreal than the final closing of the door. We find ourselves in an empty house or apartment that seems so much bigger than it once was. The only sounds being those we make ourselves.

The vast emptiness of the home expands into the abstract of life. The questions start to form in the depths of the night.

  •          What do I do now?
  •          How will I fill my day?
  •          What is important?
  •          Do I still have a purpose?
  •          What is my purpose?

Our lives don’t end when our children leave home. You would think we would know that as our parents survived our own departures. Yet, we struggle. It would be more concerning if a person didn’t struggle with the change.

The truth is that becoming an empty-nester requires that we allow ourselves the time to grieve the loss of our parenting role in their lives. Once they become adults, we have to let them live, grow, and master adulthood – without our interference. As much as the Mommy and Daddy in us wants to be there to hold the safety net, and smooth the rocky road for them, our children will experience failure, no matter how much we don’t want them to. We have to take on the role of the advisor or mentor, anything less is a disservice to their overall well-being and ability to handle life as it is.

Looking forward into all the possibilities can be energizing and exciting. The future is a canvas waiting to be painted, a story yet to be written, an experience yet to be had. The attitude in which we approach the future is the key to the unveiling of ourselves.

I have been an empty-nester for six years. It’s been an exhilarating time in my life.  At first, I wasn’t sure of my path or direction. I assure you, no matter what stage of empty-nesting you are in, that it will get easier with time. You will find an entirely new and different relationship with your child(ren). It will be the time when you find that your adult child is now one of your oldest, closest, and dearest friends.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Downscaling is a Necessity for Women 45-54

Change is an event in everyone’s life that happens by circumstance or choice; and sometimes both. For those of us living in the afternoon of our lives, we seem to have a heightened sensitivity to change. We are a bit more cautious in our decision making. We quickly sense when change is about to occur, whether we want it to or not.

However, in the first quarter of 2016, most women 45-54 did not expect to see this:

After a hopeful spike in full-time employment in the last two quarters of 2015, full-time employment of women (45-54 - excluding self-employed), began to plummet, plateau, and then dive again. As we see in the first two quarters of 2017, full-time employment for women in this age group is seeing an uptick, albeit a small one. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 8-5-17.)

Women are becoming more cautious in our choices as to what we will buy, what is important enough to spend money on, and why we are making purchases at all. This is significant to consumer based companies, because the single-woman rate in the 45-54 year old age bracket is still hovering around 50% (approx. 21.4 million).

Due to the fluctuations in the job market for women in this age group, our buying power has been significantly reduced.

In the 45-54 year old age bracket here are some things to consider:
  1. Many are the mothers of children under 18, or college aged;
  2. Many are driving cars that are 7-10 years old;
  3. Many are opting for the apartment life vs. home ownership;
  4. Many make approximately 90% of the home purchases; and
  5. Many are notorious comparison shoppers.

We are hunkering down, shedding debt like so many pounds at the home gym, and pinching pennies wherever we are able. We are downscaling: buying store labels over premium, frequenting stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart and even shopping on Amazon to get the best and most for our dollars.

Women who are 45-54 can see the writing on the wall. It’s clear as day to us, and instead of becoming fearful of what is to come in the future, we are preparing. The minimalist lifestyle isn’t all about less stress; it’s about survival in an uncertain future.