Learning & Leftovers!

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

I love to learn new things. I attempt to discover something new, take up a new hobby, or just read something outside my comfort zone at least once a month. Learning, reading, growing should be a part of life until the day you draw your last breath. Unfortunately, too many people hit a certain age and abruptly decide they’ve learned enough, they know it all and close their minds to the input of any new data. This closing of the mind, I believe, leads to many of the problems we have in today’s society.

People read only materials that agree with their viewpoints. They only hang out with friends who completely concur with their ideas. We categorize and pigeonhole, usually at a fairly young age and then would rather die than deviate from our perceived ideology. We decide that we’re Democrat or Republican. Vegetarian or Meat Eater. Atheist or Christian. Mormon or Buddhist. Fox News follower or CNN acolyte. Glenn Beck disciple or Rachel Maddow devotee. From our selected vantage point, we begin to think of those who differ as the “Other,” someone to be suspicious of, and certainly no one to whom we would listen. Everything the “Other” says is suspect and they are likely attempting to cause the annihilation of society, or at the very least, the destruction of our ideals.

The media constantly bombards us with information, telling us how we should think and how we should feel! We have forgotten how to reason for ourselves. We have lost the skill of trying to comprehend what an opposing voice might be trying to say. We talk too much and contemplate too little.

I sincerely believe that someone with differing political or religious viewpoints from myself probably has more in common with me than less. I’m certain that my Republican neighbor, like myself, wants schools where kids can learn in a secure and scholarly environment. I have no doubt that they want safe streets where children can ride bikes and neighbors can walk dogs. They’re saving money in a college fund and hoping that they’ll be able to take a nice vacation in the summer, as am I. Just because our opinions differ on some fairly major issues (such as abortion and gay rights) doesn’t mean they are evil or that they are so different from me that I could never speak to them. We have let the media tell us that our differences are so vast that we must, in fact, be mortal enemies. Both “sides” of the media do it. They tell us that the agenda of the Other must be feared.

I’m here to say FALSE. I’m calling bullshit on the media and their constant blathering about how Americans should think and feel. It’s time to turn off the noise and turn on the learning. Pick up a book or magazine that represents opposing views from your beliefs. Read it cover to cover. You might find that some of the arguments represent valid ideas. Maybe you won’t, but you’ll be able to debate your point more effectively knowing what constitutes the contrasting perspective. Have a neighbor over for dinner or coffee whose religious beliefs differ from yours. You don’t even have to talk about religion – just listen and get to know them as people, not as Mormons, Buddhists or Baptists. Read, read, read. Read books, read newspapers, read magazines, read cereal boxes. Get informed, learn and arrive at your own conclusions, free of Beck ranting in your ear, or Maddow bellowing in your face. You don’t need someone interpreting information for you. You are smart. You are capable. Just like Dr. Seuss says, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” You might find yourself going places that you never dreamed, lovely places of understanding and cooperation, all because you chose to read, grow, learn.

Reading, growing and learning can take a lot out of a person. It’s possible that you won’t want to stop and cook a full fledge meal while you’re taking in all this new and wonderful information! On those days, I like to go to the fridge, pull out all the leftovers and make a “Learning Day (or lazy day) Leftover Salad.” Last night I had one of these and it was delicious. Use whatever you have, but mine consisted of the following items. Keep Learning. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Leftover Salad

One LARGE ceramic bowl. I suggest buying some pretty ones. It always makes leftovers more appealing if served in a nice dish. You can find inexpensive ones on-line, at discount stores, or at thrift shops.

Organic baby greens

Leftover kidney beans (about 1 cup)

Leftover brown rice (about 1 cup)

Leftover corn (about 1 cup)

Leftover guacamole to taste

Olives

Jalapeno jelly (homemade by a friend)

Jalapenos

Sambal oelek

Balsamic Vinegar

Put a LARGE amount of greens in bowl. Add beans, rice & corn (I don’t even heat them up). Top with guacamole, olives, a dollop of jalapeno jelly, chopped jalapenos, Sambal oelek to taste and a dash or two of balsamic vinegar. Toss. Enjoy.

Note: This is what I had leftover last night. Other nights, I might top the greens with leftover soup and tamari sauce. Soups, lentils and beans serve as wonderful salad dressings. Use whatever you have. Get creative!

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