Reciting the Pledge Every Day

As a substitute teacher, I get to visit many different classrooms in many different schools.  In many of these schools the students are given the “opportunity” to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day, usually at a designated time announced over the intercom.  This gives me the chance to observe what children of many ages do when reciting the Pledge.  Most stand; most put their hand over their heart – until you get to middle school and then the hand starts to sink lower and lower, until, in high school, it is much closer to the top of their chair.  Most say the Pledge.  Some just mumble in the correct rhythm.

I think reciting the pledge every day actually leads to complete disregard of its meaning. I am pretty sure that most of the younger students have NO IDEA what they are saying or why. And the older ones, who should have a clue, just mumble so that they appear to be patriotic, but they are really not thinking about it at all.

Yes, they do learn the words.  But I much prefer mindfulness in this regard.  If you are going to say the Pledge, you need to say it in circumstances where you are actually thinking about what you are saying.  It is much like the idea of praying for me.  If it isn’t done mindfully, it isn’t worth the time spent.

I stand, but I don’t say the Pledge.  I don’t say it, in order to respect those people whose beliefs don’t allow them to say it.  I don’t say it, because my mind is actually elsewhere, making sure the students are being respectful.  I don’t say it, because I don’t accept the inclusion of the “Under God” clause.

On the other hand, I love singing the national anthem.  Part of that is because I like to sing, but part of it is because I do so rarely enough that I can really think about what it means.

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Exercise Doesn’t Make Me Feel Good

I have heard them talking in the locker room; I hear them gushing about their latest workout.  On and on.  As for me, it just isn’t so.  No, I do not love exercising.  No, I do not feel great after a “good” workout.  No. No. No.

I have tried a LOT of different kinds of exercise, from weightlifting to dance to swimming to running to bicycling and even various team sports when I was younger.  Unfortunately, I don’t like ANY of them.  I don’t like to get sweaty.  I have never felt a runner’s high.  When I finish exercising, I don’t feel great.  I am just glad it is over.

My doctor has urged me to do additional exercise and occasionally, I try to do so.  But, the only exercise I seem to be able to sustain over the long run is swimming.  So, I swim – not gladly, but I do it.  I swim 4 times a week for a little over 40 minutes.  I swim 48 lengths of a standard pool (25 yards) – 24 laps.  I used to vary the strokes I did, but my knees hurt too much when I do the whip kick now and I never was good at backstroke or butterfly, so now it is just the crawl (freestyle).  Even so, by the time I finish, my feet are cramping and in constant pain.  I once asked my husband to look at my feet while I was swimming to see if they were either bright red or completely white.  I thought maybe the pain they caused me might come from circulation problems.  But he said they looked normal.

So, don’t ask me if I feel great after my workout.  I don’t.  I only feel relieved that I am done for the day and can leave.  I guess I should make the most of that.

Fat Advice

Why do people who are thin think it is their job to advise people who are fat on how to live?  I was on the bus talking to a woman I know about our similar interests, when she asked me what exercise I do.  It happens that I swim 4 times a week and, since I didn’t know where she was going with that question, I answered her straight.  She looked surprised that I would exercise so much.  She then told me that she uses the treadmill.  I told her I couldn’t do that as much, since I had hurt both knees many years ago.  She then started suggesting other forms of exercise for me – e.g., a recumbent bicycle.  I told her I had used to have a recumbent bicycle, but I found that it hurt my knees as well.  She finally told me that, well, at least swimming was good exercise.

Then she told me that several years ago, she stopped eating sugary desserts.  Now, it happens that I stopped drinking soda and I also stopped adding sugar to my tea, but now I could see where this was going.  She was trying to subtly or not so subtly advise me on how to lose weight.

I think people who are thin need to be reminded that people who are fat already know that they are.  If it were easy to lose weight and keep it off, believe me, they certainly would do so.  Our culture shuns fat people; it makes fun of them; it shames them; it discriminates against them in jobs.  Losing weight isn’t easy.  Several years ago, I lost 80 pounds, but that weight has been gradually coming back.

Please don’t offer me advice on how to lose it again.  I have tried this diet and that diet and this exercise and that exercise.  I am tired of viewing myself and my body as being in constant need of fixing.

Hey, I am a worthy person, anyway.  I have lots of things I can talk about with you.  Ask me about them.  But please, unless I ask you specifically about any of my problems, don’t just offer me advice – especially about being fat.  I am too sensitive about that.

The woman is nice and intelligent and I am sure she thought she was helping in a very subtle way.  It still hurts a bit.