So who could use a $50 Amazon Gift Card to do some last minute Christmas shopping?
We got into Shanghai last night late, but this city is like New York. It does not sleep. The number of high-rises astounded us. Chuck says it reminded him of New York on steroids.
When we finally got to our hotel, which is the Hilton Shanghai, we were even more amazed at the number of high-rises we could see from our window on the 30th floor. We went up to the 39th floor to have a drink at the Penthouse Bar.
The view is awesome from our room both night and day.
Many knew Shanghai as the Paris of the East during its hey day before the communist revolution. A guide met us at the airport and told us about the city as we drove to our hotel.
She even explained to us where the term shanghaied came from. It came from the number of kidnappings that happened in the city during the last century–around mid century.
Chuck and I woke up late this morning, but we tried to meet up with our group at the Yu Yuan Gardens in the Old City. We took a cab, and finally found our way through the crowded old city streets to the entrance of the gardens.
I am so glad we did this. The gardens were absolutely beautiful.
My favorite was the dragon on the wall,
And the rock features.
As always the pagodas were special, too.
We looked hard for our group, who should have been in the gardens following a guide with a yellow parasol; but the gardens were super crowded. We never found them.
So we finally took a cab back to the hotel and waited for a call from Ping our host.
While in the gardens Chuck got a little dehydrated and light headed, so we decided to sit out the afternoon. After lunch at the hotel, we took a walk down several canopied streets. Our hotel is in the French Concession area.
We are captivated by this city. I guess we were shanghaied after all. ?
Rest sometimes escapes me. Even now that I’m retired, I find myself pushing too hard–to finish a post even if it is approaching midnight, to keep up with every tweet and Facebook post, to simply over achieve.
Now days, I only have myself to blame. I’ve always been a self starter, but there’s no boss other than myself now. I don’t rest enough. I stay up later than I should, and seldom a day goes by that I don’t work on this blog or the book.
I know better about over working myself. The first time I suffered physically from not getting enough rest was when I worked for the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission back in the 1990s. I worked long hours, because that was what it took to get the job done.
I remember realizing when my health started suffering. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I internalized a lot of negativity and eventually lost touch with my own body. The lack of rest resulted in much emotional turmoil.
I became the worst version of my own self. I went from being simply stressed, to tired, to mentally slow and finally physically vulnerable.
I developed back problems, I gained weight, and I became chronically tired. I felt like an old woman. even though I was barely 45. I finally quit the job that maybe I loved too much.
Recently, our interim pastor David Garnet brought us a sermon about the sabbath and what the Bible says about this special day of rest. This concept, though certainly not new, was something that stuck in my mind for some time afterwards. It made me rethink myself.
I remember Sunday’s when I was growing up. It meant getting up and getting dressed up, then going to Sunday School and church services. Afterwards, it could be dinner on the grounds, which was simply a big assortment of covered dishes brought by the church ladies. There was no better eating than maybe my Grandma’s own cooking.
Or we would go to my grandparent’s to eat Sunday dinner and then sit a spell and enjoy one another. Granddaddy would likely wonder off for a nap, and we would play outside with Grandma’s neighborhood kids.
My best friend Brenda Cone lived next door. Later, we went home and Mom and Dad relaxed and visited with each other or friends who dropped by. Occasionally, they took us down to the river to swim.
Somewhere since then, my Sunday’s became full of other things like sleeping in, shopping, or catching up on a project needed for Monday. In time Sunday became like all the rest of the days, and it got so bad that I frequently slipped back down to the office to catch up.
I know that the sabbath wasn’t the same for my ancestors. About fifteen years ago I had an opportunity to interview a 97-year old cousin, who grew up in our family not too far from where I was raised. She made me realize that my forebear’s sabbath was very different.
Sunday’s of yesterday especially in rural areas, that is until the invention of automobiles, were usually church meetings that met only once a month. She said that they didn’t have a full-time pastor, and that he just came around once a month. I know from interviews that this was typical in the rural parts of our country, where most people lived a hundred years ago.
I asked her if she remembered them meeting in between these visits, but she said no, just once a month. I should have asked her how the other Sundays went, but didn’t. I think they probably rested, though, much like my parents and grandparents did.
I’ve always looked upon the sabbath as something for God, to praise him…by keeping it holy; but Pastor Garnet talked to us about what Jesus taught. Jesus said that the Sabbath was meant for man, not for God.
Our pastor said that the origin of the word ‘sabbath’ is a little unclear, but the Hebrew word sabbat seems to have been derived from the verb sabat, meaning to stop or to cease. Its theological meaning is rooted in God’s rest following the six days of creation.
So because words like this intrigue me, I went looking for more information. Most religious leaders say that rest is essential for the soul. Not only do Jews and Christians believe in this, but also those of Buddhism, Islam, Baha’i, and even Wiccan (among others) teach the importance of setting aside a period of time for rest. Our soul requires rest.
Our pastor showed us several passages from the Bible about the sabbath, but three were of special interest. In the Old Testament we are told to remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
It says, “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.”
Two thoughts here. First, this is exactly what I thought the sabbath was. Second, did this mean that the wife didn’t get a day off? It looks like everyone else in the family and even the guests, cattle and servants got the day off, but why not the wife. This is in Exodus 20.
By the way the part about keeping the sabbath holy was the 4th of the 10 Commandments. All of this was in the Old Testament.
By the time of the New Testament, though, the Priests had added all kinds of rules and regulations for the sabbath, so Jesus added his own interpretation.
In Mark 2:27 “Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” He went on to explain, “so if your heart isn’t a heart for man—if it is not a heart of love—you cannot see the meaning of the sabbath. For the sabbath is a gift of love to meet man’s needs, not an oppressive burden to make him miserable or proud.”
Today, many of us put too much emphasis on ‘doing’ and not enough on ‘resting’. We push, push, push until we become stressed out and incapable of being our best. I’m as guilty as anyone. Even now in retirement I do not take enough restful time for recharging.
Pushing my body into overdrive makes for a stiff neck and a dull throb in my shoulder muscles. It also causes digestive malfunctions such as gas, bloating, acid reflux and all the symptoms that accompany an imbalance of good and bad gut flora. And some of the new studies are showing that a lot of our allergies and skin conditions trace to this, as well.
When I worked for Game & Fish, I developed hormonal havoc and later learned that the constant pulses of cortisol and adrenalin being pumped through my blood boosted this causing adrenal exhaustion and an overall hormonal imbalance that led to even nastier complications such as the weight gain mentioned earlier, but also estrogen dominance and chronic fatigue.
I was lucky that I stopped when I did because it could have also led to depression, insulin resistance (stress has a direct impact on your blood sugar levels), and even fertility issues.
And did you know that the it can accelerate the ageing process! Like wrinkles!!
Deep down I knew that I could come back later in a more productive and enhanced way to do my work, but I pushed on undaunted and unrested anyway. And people like us are everywhere–moms, students, office workers engineers, lawyers, truck drivers, store managers, and even retirees.
So keeping the sabbath was simply God’s wish for me, because I simply need to rest.
Rest allows my physical muscles to repair themselves and to prevent injury.
Rest is needed to form and maintain deeper relationships. It can provide time for us to visit and to enjoy each other’s company. Long talks help build community, whether it is family or the neighbors down the street. It is hard to do this while driving the kids around or while shopping at the mall.
I believe that when I finally learn to relax again that I will actually be more present and have more energy for myself, my friends and my family. I also believe it will help with better clarity of mind for when I do work.
I have been stressing over growing my social media sites for this blog. I spend far too much time trying to turn this corner.
I believe that I need to get myself back to being a more centered and well-rounded individual. I need to stop focusing on what I don’t have and start enjoying the things that I do–my family, my friends and life in general.
So What Does It Mean to be a Fifth Generation American?
In my last blog post, I posed the following statement and questions:
You’re a fifth generation American. What does that really mean?
Actually, I said a fifth generation Floridian, but somewhere during the debate, the conversation became nationwide. So for this post, I’ve changed everything to read American.
Now, back to the questions.
Does it mean that your great-great grandparents moved to the USA and became the first generation American in your family?
Or does it mean that the person who said this was the fifth generation of their family to be born in America? The first one born here being the second generation American to have lived here.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be a fifth generation American?
I asked you to please answer with an explanation of how you arrived at your answer. I had my own answer and rationale, but I wanted to hear yours.
Also, I truly believed and still believe there is no right or wrong answer. We can debate the issue, but I believe there’s really two answers. Different strokes for different folks.
The answers came not only on this blog, but also on Facebook, Twitter and in private emails. They fell on both sides.
Many said that it is determined by birth, end of question. They felt that only a person born in this country could be called a first generation American.
My cousin who is a fishing guide in Florida and is known on Facebook as Becky Captain Campbell said the following, “I read the article before I responded. I was taught we counted the ones who were born here. So am I also 6th through (the) Hamrick(s)?” She and I share this common lineage, and the question was for me.
She was not alone. Several had a very similar comment.
Karen Strawbridge said, “I am the 5th generation…children the 6th……grands the 7th and now greatgrands the 8th…..<3…..if you count the ones who brought us here….I am the 6th………Rawls…Locklear…Keen…..Edwards……”
On the other side, one person said that she thought the first person naturalized was the first generation American.
Sylvia Alderman had this to say, “Cindy Roe Littlejohn, there is a difference between the term ‘native Floridian’ and ‘first generation Floridian.’ I can’t claim to be a native but I can claim first generation. Maybe that is confusing some folks.”
Later, she must have discussed it with her husband, because she wrote back and added, “P.S. My husband, who is a fifth gen Floridian (counting from the first BORN here), and is an expert on everything, says I’m wrong so I guess I’m not first generation anything. But, at least with one line that is documented I am 8th generation Cuban, counting from those born there. That probably counted for something before Cuba went to hell in a handbasket. Oh well. Such is the plight of the exile. You start over and don’t even count. However, I am very happy to be here.”
Sylvia came here as a young girl when her family had to flee the Castro regime almost sixty years ago. Her mother brought her here, and her father got out as soon as it was safe to follow. If he had tried to flee with them, it would have endangered his family. He had been a high official, and it wasn’t as easy for him to leave.
I wrote back to Sylvia. I said, “I think differently. I believe you are second generation American. Your parents brought you here. How can we leave out the generations that suffered so much to bring us here?
I added, if you believe your husband, then all the military brats born overseas to American parents are not considered Americans. I’m with you, but there really is a debate about this. In our family we have a saying. You count the one who ‘brung’ you.
So I guess I’ve already given away my opinion on this issue. And like Sylvia the difference may be if they were born here or had lived here.
I sincerely believe that the one who brought us here was the one who made all the sacrifices. I believe he and she count.
Some of us have ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, yet they were born in another country. I couldn’t in good faith say that they were not first generation Americans, when they gave so much.
Eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born elsewhere, and yet they wouldn’t be considered the first generation of their family to be American?
Three of my Florida ancestors voted to make Florida a state in 1843; but they were not born in this state, yet many of us today would not consider them to be true Floridians. All three would be considered South Carolinians.
In my book “Palmetto Pioneers”, two of these men are characters; and it is hard for me not to consider them the first of my Florida generations. Those years when Florida was a territory were hard, very hard on these first settlers.
They were the ones who brought us here, who traveled so far with everything they owned. They were the ones who sacrificed so much, and some sacrificed all. One of my first ancestors was massacred by Indians, another died young of malaria. I cannot in good conscience say that they were not as Floridian as their offspring.
That is why in my family, they count.
So I believe as my family taught me and as my research has deepened my belief that those first Florida pioneers are to be counted as our first Floridians. And I likewise believe that the first American to live here in any family should be counted as their first American generation, too.
I just wanted to share that the authorities believe that the Ebola epidemic may be over. You can read about it here.
The article also includes information about what they have learned from all this.