Jim Varagona

Tag: birthday

Make Today a #DayOfHealing

Today I turn 34. This post originally was going to be me saying:

“Look I know many of you were wondering what to get for me or wanted to buy me a drink, but in lieu of that, please make a small donation to children’s cancer research through my St. Baldrick’s campaign here: https://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/jvaragona. I aim to raise $8k by March, so get me a nice head start.”

While, that still applies, my emotions run high today for my city. Images of a grieving family and community and separately, destruction of businesses and general mayhem are difficult to swallow. At the same time, I am moved by demonstrations across the country in the name of Michael Brown, aimed at drawing attention to a system that still needs much work. Let’s not get into an argument about this. I’ve seen enough on social media to see the varying opinions. It is dizzying and frustrating to see folks at both extremes not having any understanding for the other side.

My friend, Danni Eichenhorst, has proposed a #DayOfHealing for today (please see her post on ways to help move forward here: http://artofwellfare.com/2014/11/25/dayofhealing-ways-to-help-move-forward/). Yes, some are still grieving and going through intense emotions over this. It is never too early to begin healing though. No one is acting like any of this will turn around overnight. We can all be a part of making a change though.

I challenge everyone to do something, of whatever magnitude, to begin that process today. Post it on social media, not to brag, but to challenge others. Use the #DayOfHealing hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

As we go into Thanksgiving, I also challenge you this: go outside of your comfort zone.

  • Watch and read news sources other than your standbys.
  • Have a conversation with someone you know you will disagree with, but really listen to each other and ask many questions like: Why do you feel this way? What life experiences have led to this thinking (and consider that for others as well)?
  • That homeless person you see at that same spot, everyday — bring them some food and talk to them like a human being.
  • Instead of avoiding a neighborhood that you think may be violent because of images you saw at night on your TV, like Ferguson or South Grand in the City of St. Louis, make a point to drive through it rather than avoid it entirely. Patronize a small business or ten. People own those businesses and depend on your business and word of mouth to survive.

Why are we so apt to paint with a broad brush? Instead of blaming entire races or groups, make an attempt to narrow down those thoughts.

It’s a widely used quote, but “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Kindness and understanding can lead to greater things. Instead of criticizing, consider what leads someone to a behavior. I mean really consider it. Are you that much of a superior individual?

At Thanksgiving with your family and/or friends, challenge them. In my family, it never fails that there is some drama going into a holiday. 99% of the time, it is petty BS. We should enjoy those around us and be thankful of those moments. Challenging those around us to think differently may cause drama, but hopefully perspective is gained by someone.

Some may wonder why I’m not pushing for reforms to the system being protested against. While I do find it incredibly necessary, I realize that not all will agree with that. We should however be able to find common ground and healing through a greater focus on being mindful of others. Start there. And if your response is “so and so isn’t mindful of others,” start by reading this again.

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Murder Was the Case

The other night we celebrated my wife’s birthday. We hit up Boogooloo in Maplewood then capped the night off at a friend’s place. We were feeling good when we arrived home around 4 a.m. As we approached the front door, a middle aged, rough looking, white guy asked if we had a cell phone for him to use. I tried to blow him off by saying “not on us right now, sorry.” However the birthday girl decided to ask him what he needed it for.

“The cops questioned me and dropped me off over there, and I don’t even live around here. I just need to make a call and get a ride.”

My wife was intrigued. “They questioned you? For what?”

“Murder.”

We gasped. And he tried to explain.

“Well, I found a body and they just wanted to ask me about it. I just need to get out of here.”

At that point we went inside, but he was expecting to make his call after giving us his story. We argued a bit over why she even said anything more to him. I said my plan of blowing him off would have worked enough to get him away from our house. She argued that he would only leave if we essentially took part in his leaving. She went back out.

“So what’s the number? You stay down there (at the bottom of our steps) and I’ll call. I don’t know you and you’ve been questioned for murder.”

He proceeded to give his mother’s number and my wife called. She told the woman on the line that her son was questioned for murder, dropped off near our home, and needed a ride. My wife suggested a cab, but the woman was quite discombobulated by the situation, especially at her age and at 4 a.m. She said my wife should call the hospital and apparently a man in the background seconded that suggestion. My wife said either a cab would be called or the cops and after some more back and forth without any progress, she hung up. She called the police and told them the situation. They asked if he was armed, but we saw nothing–we just wanted him gone, because the longer this went on, the more he stared at our house waving his arms.

We went upstairs where my mother-in-law was sleeping. She had watched our son for the evening. She was planning on going home, but I told her to sit tight as I cocked a prop gun I had from one of my high school videos. I kept it to help myself feel like a hard ass in situations like this. I looked out the window and our new pal was looking right at me and waving frantically, wanting an answer from our conversation with his mommy.

The police arrived shortly thereafter. Two cars pulled right up to him and got out. They asked him if he was armed and what was going on. As he tried to tel his story, which stayed consistent, they had him put his hands on the hood of the cruiser. I tried to listen out the upstairs window while the ladies bickered behind me about what would happen. The cops put him in the car and an officer rang our doorbell.

I ran down to answer and as I did, I had a huge grin on my face. I was asked what happened and gave our account as well as what his own mother suggested we do with him.

“So like he’s crazy?,” the officer said.

Well put. She walked back to the car and we watched on. The paddy wagon pulled up as well as another cruiser. This was great excitement, like watching COPS at some strange hour of the night except in front of our own home. I doubt the guy’s story. If you find a body and the police question you, would they really drop you off somewhere? And why nowhere near your home? And why tell people that story, true or not? I should’ve just pistol whipped the dude with my fake piece.

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