Lent – In My Opinion, Part 3

In my posts on Lent – In My Opinion, I wondered if my opinion mattered. A friend responded that my opinion DOES matter because in her words, and I am paraphrasing, “You have always given me good counsel.” I am flattered that she believes I have given her good advice, and she indeed is a wonderful reciprocating friend.

Still I pondered, “Does my opinion matter?”

All anyone need do is read social media posts, listen to television talk shows or news programs to know that most people have an opinion… STRONG opinions on any given topic and there are many controversial topics to choose from these days.

But does each of our individual opinions matter or only collectively… or perhaps not at all?

I only have to Google “Parkland” to read about the many opinions on school shootings, gun violence in America, gun control, the NRA, and even whether school kids have the right to speak out, rally and give voice to what adults are doing to protect them.

Parkland Shooting Survivor Calls Out Lawmakers in Chilling the NRA

How the Survivors of Parkland Began the Never Again Movement

A republican who called Parkland teen, a ‘skinhead lesbian’ drops out of Maine House race

Parkland Shooting Surveillance Video Shows Deputy Remained Outside


As I read the numerous articles, listen to the television pundits debating the tragedy with politicians and mental health experts, and read the public’s comments on social media threads, yes, I do believe each of our opinions matter.

The better question is, “Will my opinion matter?”

I would like to believe that shushing my opinion these last 20 days or so has led me to be less vocal in my coarse language (you still are right Vinny Sal, giving up the “F” word wouldn’t have lasted past a day). Yet abstaining from my voicing my opinion has caused me to become more introspective.

Am I abiding by my own mantra, “Resist Reaction Let Reason Rule?”

Many times, when I read a tweet or someone’s post on a social media thread, I just want to quickly respond in disagreement because what the person tweeted or posted was in my opinion just plain stupid, or ‘for the love of scotch’ how can you be so blind to what seems so obvious, so on and so forth.

Now, I ask myself questions. Do I really believe, think, feel that way? How does that opinion reflect on me? How does that opinion reflect on the issue at hand? Does it further the cause? Does it just get lost in the noise or will it collectively matter?

It is not a win or lose matter

My opinion will matter when I:

  • cast my vote in the election booth after careful study of the candidates.
  • seek to be understood rather than just to be heard.
  • my attitude about someone’s opinion is not to slam it but to try to understand it. Ask the open-ended questions – who, what, where, how and why does the person have this opinion.
  • help others to thrive.

Because when it comes right down to it, my personal initiative of being a Watering Can is is not about me. It is about helping others thrive. I can’t do that unless there is a ‘will’ to have opinions matter for the collective good.

Of course! My opinion matters and the goal is to have it matter where love and security in mind, body and spirit win out.


The Blogging Owl


(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone



Lent – In My Opinion


My husband, Vinny Sal and I were discussing the topic of the Lenten season that begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14th, this week. In the Christian faith, the Lenten season begins 40 days of “fasting” and often the faithful give up certain thing(s) in their life that replicates the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert. It is a time of self-reflection and personal development.

In passing, I said to Vinny Sal that I would give up my coarse language or in his words, my “potty mouth.” I never use God’s name in vain, but I can let loose with the “F” word, or the “BS” word, or just “shit.” (When I as five years old, I told someone in my kindergarten class that my dad made up the word shit. I don’t know why I thought that or why I am writing about it now for that matter but I’m sure all farmers say shit for a variety of reasons.)

Vinny Sal suggested rather than giving up something negative to begin doing something positive. “But that’s not the reason for Lent, is it?” I countered. (He was raised Catholic and I was raised a Lutheran. We have these faith-based discussions often.) His reasoning was if I began something positive it may allow someone else to forgo something negative.

Which brings me to the unveiling of the Obama’s portraits

The official portraits of former President Barak Obama and former First Lady, Michelle Obama were unveiled today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Their portraits were painted by African American artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald respectively. The portraits garnered varying comments and opinions on social media on the artist’s renderings of the Obamas.

In response to someone’s dislike of the portraits a the social media thread, the person posted if they did not like the portraits or took the time to get to know the artists’ work, then viewers should not express their opinion. (I am paraphrasing since the original post wasn’t very kind.) I appreciate art, but I do not have an art education, nor do I know these artists or their works. But their exchange did give me pause as to the matter of expressing opinions.

Is it okay to express our opinions/critiques of an artist’s work or is it best to adhere to my mother’s advice, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”

I posted this question on my own personal Facebook wall, but in retrospect I was thinking about opinions in general. As you can guess I received differing opinions.

One friend posted that she tries not to give her opinion unless asked. She reasoned that she doesn’t care about other’s opinions unless she has solicited the opinion from someone she knows/likes/respects.

Others stated that if the opinion is given “respectfully,” “constructively,” while others posted that “dialogue is good,” or “try to find a positive way to state it.” In her words, “spread the love not the hate.”

Which brings me back to our discussion on Lent

Rather than give up coarse language which Vinny says is impossible for me…. “Why would you try to give up something you know you cannot be successful in giving up? It’s the same as trying to give up eating sugar.”

I hate to say it. He’s right.

I would fail at giving up my occasional coarse language and my occasional need for a cookie.

But what I think I can do, and what I would like to do is think twice about offering my opinion without being asked.

Let me be clear. Giving up my opinions is different than giving up my values.

In other words, does my opinion further the cause of a beneficial dialogue on a topic? Or am I just offering my opinion because I am disgusted, angry, or worse, feeling hateful. Because let’s face it, there is a lot in this country and in this world that gets me disgusted, angry, and yes, hateful. When the subject challenges my values I cannot remain silent, but I can process the opinion before expressing it.

So rather than just spewing my opinion to someone or vomiting it on a social media post, I’ll think twice and ask myself these questions:

(Hopefully my friends don’t think I do that too often. The spewing and the vomiting, I mean.)

Is my opinion directed at the right audience that can do something about whatever has challenged my values?

If no, don’t.

Does anyone really care about my opinion whether it is valid or not?

If no, don’t.

Has someone asked me for my opinion?

If no, don’t.

Is my opinion beneficial to others?

If no, don’t.

While I did not post my opinions or reviews on the Obama portraits, the commentary of those who did taught me that when I come through on the other side of these next 40 days, I will be more thoughtful in my opinions, in my reviews and in my response to others.

So, what’s your opinion?






A conversation on retirement… and mothers

My girlfriend, Mary, who is 9 years older and I have occasional discussions on retirement and our elderly mothers. Our mothers were born in the 1925 and 1939; her mother is 93 years old and my mother is 78.

We agree our lives are much different than our mothers. The world has changed a great deal in the way of technology and the pace of life. Our mothers do not grasp technology let alone know how to retrieve voice mail messages from cell phones or how to recharge them (including their hearing aids) or, like my mother who recently mistakenly washed her cell phone in the washing machine.

Yet the one thing our mothers have grasped is the cell phone is always with their children and grandchildren. So why don’t we call more often? “It only takes a minute,” my mother was lamenting to me yesterday about her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“Yes, it does,” I say, “I’ve spoken to the boys about this several times.” But I don’t defend my sons by saying, “But mom, you get up at 6:00 a.m. (why? you’re retired for goodness sake!) and you go to bed right after dinner at 6:30 p.m. When they think to even call me, their mother, it is well past 10 p.m.”

My sons are in college full-time, have jobs, and homework with small amount of time to socialize with friends. They love and adore their grandmother. They make time to see her just not as often as their grandmother would like.

My mother does not have hobbies. She is a white-glove housekeeper and loves to do laundry although she may only have her and her husband’s clothes from the previous day to launder. Besides laundry, church and trying to find one more wall to paint or change in the house, she does not have any hobbies except perhaps reading.

I love my mother. I do. Every telephone conversation, even after just visiting her ends in “when are you coming down to visit?” (she lives an hour away), or “no one ever calls me” (I call her 1-2 times a week.)

This is not how I want to be with my sons when I retire.

My friend, Mary does not have children. She dutifully calls her mother every Tuesday and Saturday. Mary’s father passed away over a year ago from Alzheimer’s. Her mother is despondent and is also showing signs of dementia. Her mother refuses to participate in any activities, even church on Sunday. She refuses to live in assisted-living facility where she could mingle and associate with people her own age. And no matter how involved Mary and her sisters are in assisting their mother with meals, doctor appointments, weekly telephone and personal visits, it is never enough or good enough.

This is not what my friend Mary wants to become when she retires.

I know one day I will feel as my mother does. I am preparing myself for it. I miss my sons when I don’t see or hear from them as often as I would like. I try to remember when I was there age wanting to be independent, creating a life for myself, and later in life getting married and having children. Life takes over our good intentions. If that is an excuse, so be it.

Preparing myself for when retirement finally arrives.

Writing isn’t my full-time job although I would like it to be. I write whenever I can at night and on the weekends. I have a full-time job during the week with a national mortgage bank.

When my sons ask me why I write and why I like blogging, I respond this is my retirement. This is what will keep me from annoying you when I retire, I say. This is what I like to do and what I must do. I must write.

World Beyond

Writing into retirement

Mary and I agree that retirement is about finally having the chance to do what we love to do. Hopefully, we add that we will still be healthy in mind, body, and spirit for when we do decide to retire.

What I love to do

Am I a good writer? Only my readers can tell me if I am a good writer. Good enough that maybe someday I can sell a book or get paid to do a little bit of writing. But even if I’m not good enough for all that I hope I am not like our mothers whose lives revolve around a cell phone or my children’s next visit.

I love my mother. I do. And one day she will no longer be here asking me the question, “when are you going to come down to visit?” And I know deep in my heart I will miss that conversation.