Essays/Opinion

Recent Articles

Senator Jimmy Hickey, Getting The Job Done

Laws and requirements are always changing no matter what state you live in, but when a law changes, you expect a certain level of cooperation from the government that changed the law.  Unfortunately, that cooperation does not always come as easily as you might think and sometimes you just have to have an act of Congress to get anything done….or in my case an act of a State Senator. When I went to get my updated driver’s license, I had been warned in advance that a new law required me to have my birth certificate with me for my CDL renewal.  Like a good driver, I carried my old CDL, my birth certificate, and my checkbook down to the revenue office.  After taking a number and waiting my turn, I finally got to the counter and to a new surprise.  I told the lady that I had a CDL and that I understood I had to have my birth certificate to get it renewed.  She agreed, looked at my birth certificate and then told me that it would not work. The problem was I did not have a certified birth certificate.  I had the only copy I have ever had in my life.  I had used it for school, college, proof for my first driver’s license and everything which has ever required a birth certificate.  Nonetheless it wasn’t good enough now.  It had to be a certified copy from the state. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Isolation Increases Risk of Suicide

Last night I was surfing social media when I came upon a friend’s post stating that upon reflection, he was taking a break from social media.  He stated that since the passing of his wife six months ago, his opinion posting had become offensive to his son.  He was confused and hurt by his son’s chastisements, and to discontinue causing his son discomfort or embarrassment, he had concluded that his withdrawal was in order.  His post was filled with sadness, despair, pain, and anguish.  Regret was apparent that he had not foreseen that his posts might wedge a wound in his father/son relationship, and he was solemnly announcing his intention to bend to his son’s harsh rebuke. To show my support of this man’s right to post his opinion on a social media platform based solely on opinion posting, I went through his history and began liking every one of his opinion posts with which I could agree.  It was not enough though.  As I lay in my bed last night, I found that sleep was elusive.  I tossed and turned all night worrying about this friend.  
Grief Brief 7
Social Withdrawal
People who have recently lost a loved one may tend to withdraw from family or friends in intimate and social situations. This tendency is generally brief and usually corrects itself without intervention. If one continues to withdraw from social interactions over an extended length of time, one might find it comforting to consult with a counselor. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

July 4, Fireworks, Shows, Parades, and God

It started with a suggestion in June, followed by a meeting on July 2, and finally a formal signing on July 4, 1776.  From that moment on, the cry would go up around the world that the colonies of the North American Continent, all thirteen of them, had declared independence from Great Britain.  Like any country, Britain would not take kindly to losing the colonies.  In fact, no country in the history of the world has ever simply said, “Sure, go ahead and leave us and take all the investments we made into your area with you.”  No, instead the greatest empire in the world set out to reclaim the colonies and force them back into the British realm.  The rest of the story, you know as the United States won independence in the war that followed.  To this day, we still hear our friends across the pond in England wish us a “Happy Traitor’s Day.”  Naturally, this is done more in good humor now that we are friends so many years after the revolution. The founding fathers were by no means blind to the fact that they were setting in motion something that would be celebrated for years, and perhaps forever.  John Adams wrote to his wife of the importance of the entire event that officially started on July 2 and ended on July 4.  He sent his letter on July 3, 1776 that included the following statement:

“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Thrifty Bird Brings Walmart Markdowns To Email

A few months ago a friend of mine shared a new business he has running with me called Thrifty Bird (Thriftybird.com).   He signed me up with my permission and I started to receive daily emails at roughly 3 a.m. each morning.  By the time I would stumble out of bed, I could pull my Thrifty Bird email and see all the latest mark downs at my local Walmart stores. Now I’m sure that a lot of folks are thinking, “Big deal, I can see the sales paper or go see the mark downs myself.”  Yes, that’s one way of doing business, but then you miss the bigger picture.  Thrifty Bird does something that sale papers cannot do.  It captures daily mark downs.  Did you know that Walmart marks prices down daily on many items?  With such a large inventory, they have clearance items, stock reduction items, and even outdated items – think digital copies free with a purchased DVD or Blu-ray that have expired.  These items do not always make the local sales paper because the item or items may be exclusive to one or a few stores.  Let’s say that all the Walmart stores nationwide sell out of a “Top Notch” television sets – don’t worry, there is no such thing to my knowledge as “Top Notch” – but the store in Texarkana, Texas still has three units on the shelf.  The main Walmart sales paper- which goes nationwide – is not going to advertise that those “Top Notch” televisions are about to be marked down.  You cannot have people in Dallas running to a store, searching for a “Top Notch” and then not finding one!  So, “Top Notch” never makes the main sale paper.  If you happen to go into Walmart in Texarkana, Texas, then you find “Top Notch” televisions have been marked down from $300 to $75 and they only have three of them left.  Because you happened to go into the store, you lucked out and got a “Top Notch” television for a great price.  But, what if you don’t go to the store that day?  You miss out and there’s no “Top Notch” television in your future.  Enter Thrifty Bird! Thrifty Bird will send you an email with your selected store – in this case Texarkana, Texas – and you’ll see a post that says something like this:  “Top Notch” Television set, 3 in stock, Reg. price $300, marked down $75 in electronics row 33”.  Now you know how many sets are there, what the mark down price is, and where to find the television once you get to the store.  You’ve received your email early in the day – remember, they just marked it down around midnight – and you can quickly run to the Texarkana, Texas Walmart and buy your set.  Thrifty Bird brings you the clearance or reduced prices before anyone else gets them…. well, before anyone other than other Thrifty Bird uses. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Youth Programs Can Lead to Future Careers

 

Oklahoma-I had the great pleasure last week of visiting a summer youth program at Bridgestone Intermediate School in western Oklahoma City.  This group of about thirty students in the 5th and 6th grade was a joy to meet with, and many of them were already expressing an interest in politics. They asked me to share my story with them: how I became a state legislator, a gubernatorial candidate and now the director of OICA. As I related that story, I realized that many of my lifelong passions developed when I was only slightly older than them. My interest in politics really started in earnest when I served as a page for Senator Ray Giles as a high school student.  From that experience, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to a career path of helping shape policy and working in the best interest of my fellow Oklahomans. I had this experience thanks to a 4-H award which I won my junior year.  I had joined 4-H when I was the same age as the Bridgestone students I met last week, and I experienced many wonderful leadership development opportunities which not only took me outside the town limits of Rush Springs, but all across the United States. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

USS FITZGERALD – The Co-Victims

This past week was a particularly sad one for our entire nation.  As the world held its breath, my husband and I awaited news of the seven missing sailors on the USS Fitzgerald broadsided by the 29,000-ton container ship ACX Crystal off Japan’s Izu Peninsula.  During the days that followed, we monitored social media awaiting any news from families who had loved one stationed aboard the USS Fitzgerald.  As communication slowly trickled out to families anxiously awaiting word, our relief for them was great.  One by one, the list of possible victims narrowed.  One by one, families without word grew more and more anxious.  My husband is a retired US Navy Sailor.  I recall a time when I was one of those family members waiting anxiously for news of my beloved sailor. The seven bereft families from the USS Fitzgerald live in an age where the news is everywhere.  They were able to see the details of this event unfold before their very eyes half a world away.  Does that make it any easier for them?  I think not.  Unfortunately, for these families, the deaths of their loved ones fall into two different categories.  These family members will suffer the effects of sudden death as well as those of high profile deaths with heavy media coverage and speculation. Greif Brief 123
REGRET (SUDDEN DEATH)
Sudden death can bring feelings of regret to the survivor. Regret for things said or unsaid, actions, inactions, and lost dreams.
Counseling can serve to redirect these regrets allowing a better grief recovery experience and closure. (Mourning Light II, Tracy Renee Lee 2016)
 

When the crewmembers of the USS Fitzgerald left base Friday for “routine operations” they probably experienced a “routine farewell” from family members.  After all, when things are routine, they are usually mundane and do not call for any sort of special recognition.  It was not as though they were leaving for a six-month deployment; right?  If you have not ever realized it before, being in the military is not routine.  The men and women of the US Military risk their lives each and every day at work.  Their routine jobs put them in harm’s way almost every moment, even when they are on US soil.  Their jobs are not like civilian jobs.  Their jobs are to die so that civilians might live.  Yes in truth, a service member’s job is to do whatever it takes to protect your life, up to and including sacrificing his or her own.  Moreover, they are honored to do it. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Emergency Responders Working Together in Miller County

Miller County, AR-On June 15, 2017, the four states region received news from the Miller County Sheriff’s office that the body of Ryan Shane Johnson of Fouke, Arkansas had been recovered from the Sulfur River at the Smith Park Landing.  While the news was devastating to family, friends, and the community, there was a positive side regarding the efforts that were made to find Mr. Johnson.   The search for Mr. Johnson was not an exclusive Miller County Sheriff’s Office operation.  The fact is, much like any disaster or search to take place in the area, the entire region came together. For the search for Mr. Johnson, there was no concerns about state boundaries, districts, county lines, city or county officials.  There was only a concern to search and find Mr. Johnson.  That concern transcended boundaries not because of pay, or legal standings, but because Mr. Johnson needed people to care and search for him, and they did just that.  People came from the city, from Texas, from other areas of Arkansas and all around to help.  In the words of the Press Release from the Miller County Sheriff’s Office “Each of these entities devoted many hours assisting in the recovery.”

Too often we limit ourselves to our own cities, towns, states, or counties.  People sometimes think in terms of “Well that’s a county problem” or “That’s a Texas side problem” or “That’s an Arkansas side problem,” but we forget that the people acting as responders do not think that way.  Their thought patterns are different and instead they think, “Someone needs help.”  These people, regardless of boundaries or their assigned areas, are the ones you see running toward a disaster, or a need when others are running away.  When the call goes out for help, they are the ones who come. When the call went out for help to find Mr. Johnson, true to their oaths, their dedication, and their training, they came.  Below is a list of those who crossed the lines and boundaries because someone needed them.  They are owed a huge amount of gratitude from everyone in the area and especially from Miller County, Arkansas:

Corp of Engineers

Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Salvation Army

Red Cross

Bowie County Sheriff’s Office

Genoa Volunteer Fire Department

Boggy Creek Volunteer Fire Department

Mandeville Volunteer Fire Department

Doddridge Volunteer Fire Department

Bowie County Dive Team

Miller County Office of Emergency Management

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department

Bright Star Volunteer Fire Department

Many volunteers from several communities

 

We should all be thankful to know that living in this region affords us access to some of the finest emergency response people in all the country.  The groups above dedicated many hours and for that the entire community should show gratitude and thanks.   Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Cherished Memories

As I was preparing to leave my office at the close of a busy day, my phone rang.  A gentleman asked if he could speak with me about the recent loss of his dear wife.  His anguish was heartbreaking and as he recounted his experience and emotions to me, I was impressed in so many ways by the depth of his love for her, his devotion to her, his ability to evaluate his spiritual reliance on her, his awareness of his emotional wound without her beside him, his ability and willingness to express his loneliness and fear of life without her by his side, and his desire to openly seek assistance.  There were so many impressive attributes expressed during our conversation, that when it was over, although I remained worried and deeply saddened for him, I was comforted that he was on the right track for recovery. A loved one’s death is overwhelming.  Prior to your loved one’s death, you understand that you love that person deeply; however, you may not realize that without that person, your life is barely manageable; barely maintainable.  Upon the other’s death, your life is suddenly in danger as well.  Your life is filled with turmoil.  Disorganization rules every aspect of your functionality.  Indeed, at times, your will to live may be called into question.  These are very frightening facts.  Moreover, upon the death of a significant loved one, someone with whom you have been married for decades upon decades, with whom you have created generations of descendants, with whom you have established reputation, successful business, wealth, and happiness; these facts do indeed become burdens of distress, that if not properly managed will end your life.  The gentleman caller on the other end of my phone understood the gravity of these issues and wanted to understand and apply the remedies for them. Unfortunately, the only quick fix for grief is to be a shallow person – a person who does not love others.  To be this type of person is undesirable.  To live this type of life is empty and lonely.  For my caller to swiftly recover from his wife’s death, he would have to forget about the many wonderful years they spent together, the trials they conquered together, the foes they battled together, the fears they triumphed over, their accomplishments, their setbacks, their hardships, their disagreements, their makeup’s, their holidays, their illnesses, their recoveries, the births of their children and grandchildren, the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren, and the list continues.  These are things this man would not give up if his life depended on it, and at this point, it does. These experiences that have built his life with his wife, strengthened his resolve to be her eternal companion and solidified his love for her are exactly what have caused his grief upon her death.  They are also the exact same experiences that will save his life and cause his recovery as he begins to reorganize his existence without her by his side.  Day by day, he will understand more and more that these sweet memories are what get him through his days and allow him to keep breathing.  Although his heart is momentarily rent in two, these memories that he sees as reminders too painful to recall, are slowly turning into bandages that will spiritually bridge his existence to that of his wife’s beyond the veil.  As he opens his heart to celestial infusion, he will realize that his wife’s love remains with him, that she has not and will not forget him, and that she awaits his arrival with the greatest anticipation just beyond his view, but never beyond his reach, in that glorious place called paradise.  And that one day, they will reunite where families are forever, where love is eternal, and where the trials and sorrows of this life will become cherished memories. My name is Tracy Renee Lee. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Suicide, Recognizing and Preventing It, Part 3

This is part 3 of Tracy Lee’s Suicide Prevention articles.  If you missed the first two, please look them up in our history. SUICIDE PREVENTION TIP #2:  RESPOND QUICKLY IN A CRISIS

Once you have confirmed your suspicions that your friend or family member is indeed contemplating suicide, you need to evaluate their immediate risk level.  Persons intending (INTENT) immediate action upon themselves will have mapped out a specific plan of action (PLAN), they will have prepared their mode or means of action (MEANS), they will have planned or set aside a specific time for the deed (TIME). Exploratory Questions

Asking the following questions will allow you to evaluate their immediate risk factor. INTENT: Do you intend to take your own life? Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Bang, Pow, Zap –Goodbye Batman

I stumbled through the news reports this afternoon to discover that my world had changed.  It did not change from some crisis of a political storm in Europe, Trump had not released some new and informing Tweet, and no new war had caught my attention.  What caught my attention in fact was to most people likely only a small affair.  Adam West has died. Adam West was to me, and likely will always to me and millions of others, Batman.  He was the first to hook me as a fan of the Dark Knight.   During those three short seasons, we watched weekly as Batman and Robin battled the bad guys, got themselves captured, and waited for pending doom.  A week later we would find that Batman always had something up his sleeve.  What would follow next would be a huge fight with words like “Bang” “Clang” and “Bloop” flashing across the screen.  In the end, Batman and Robin would catch the bad guys, receive a hearty thanks from the commissioner, and drive off in the coolest Batmobile ever made.  For all the quirky little sayings, and there were plenty of them, all the silly little signs on everything in Gotham and the Batcave, and for all the “Holy” this or “Holy” that from Robin, everyone wanted to be on and watch Batman.  There were tons of stars that made guest appearances, and it is said that they pushed their agents to get the slots on Batman.  Those major stars usually ended up looking out windows and making comments to Batman and Robin as the dynamic-duo climbed the side of buildings with strings often visible holding their capes.  For a brief time in those wild 1960s,  Batman was the place to be. After Batman, Adam West had a hard time finding work.  He did make thousands of guest appearances, also became another fan-favorite character as Mayor West on Family Guy, and ultimately settled into a life of comic book themed appearances and autograph signings.  He signed millions of autographs – most are sure to skyrocket on EBay today- and I am blessed to have a few in my collection.  I am also lucky to have met Adam West once. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,