Who and Why

Hello, I am JJ ODonnell.  This post is about who and why I am starting this blog.  I have two main reasons for starting it. One I hope this can be a form of therapy for me and hopefully can help others with this blog.  Second is to practice my writing skills.

When I was young I used to like to write.  I would write poems and short stories, unfortunately many of them have been lost in my many moves over the past two decades. Then for some reason I stopped in my early 20’s, most likely I just got to wrapped up in the chaos that was my life for so long.  I have been diagnosed and dealing with Major Depressive Disorder.  I have a hard time finding enjoyment in many things,  I am always tired and I hated myself and others. I have secluded my self in my home, except for work and even that is hard at time and of course the really bad thoughts about myself.

Over the past couple of years I have been trying to get stuff together.  Before that my depression had taken a large toll from me.  I had 2 hernia surgeries in the span of 2 years. My family had moved back home to Minnesota from Florida, where I was still living with my with and step daughter.  This is where I really felt trapped I loved my wife and step daughter, I still do care for them dearly.  I also despised living in Florida  and missed Minnesota so bad.  I ended up moving back to Minnesota and filed for divorce.  She was not a greedy person despite what some people would have you believe.  All she wanted was for me to be happy and get the help that I needed.  The only material thing the divorce took from me was the lawyers and court costs.   I could go on but I will save the rest of the details of my descent in future blog posts.

Fast forward 2 years, In 2014 I here on the internet about this Young woman who stood up to the Taliban in Pakistan so that girls had a right to an education.  Malala Yousafzai’s story stirred something in me.  “With all the death and destruction in this world here is this kid at the age of 15 was shot and came back a couple years later to win the Nobel Peace Prize.”  I said to myself.  ” This young woman can take on a ruthless extremist like the Taliban. Look at me I am almost 40 and have not done?” I asked myself again.  So I decided to make a loose plan to get me on the right track.  What am I good at? What inspires me? And what do I want to do?  I realized I wanted to go back to school to become a teacher, specifically Social Studies.  I also realized I want to try and help people as much as possible.  So, I also want to join the Peace Corp and help out around the world. I also feel if you are going to teach about other cultures I should at least experience a few other cultures than just the American Culture.  This way I can be able to put context into my teaching tool chest.  I also had to get help to battle through my depression and went to the VA.

Which leads me  to here. I just finished up a group counseling class at the VA (Veterans Administration) Hospital here in Minnesota.  The class was called CBSST (Cognitive Behavioural Social Skills Training). In this class we are taught how to think of things in different way using critical thinking skills.  I started this class 3 months before I started back to college, in September of last year.  Now I am About to go into my Third semester of college at the end of August.  I use school as a form of therapy for me.  It is a place where I can exchange ideas with people and become a custom to more social situations.   Instead, of hiding from the world.

I am doing this to learn as much as for therapy.  So if you have constructive criticism it is welcome.  If you have questions or need clarification about anything do not be afraid to ask.

Birthday Fundraiser

March 19th is my birthday and I have decided to do a Fundraiser, Not for me but for the Malala Fund.  I am looking to raise $200 by  March 31st.  I have set up a Facebook page in order for people to donate.  It does not have to be much just what you can afford.

The reason I chose the Malala Fund, is because Malala was my inspiration to go back to school and become a Social Studies teacher.  Since then I have started studying cultures and world history.  It was because of her that I chose for my History of World Civilization project the Arabic or Muslim Empires after the fall of Greece.  I learn how they contributed to Astronomy. Navigation and Medicine.  I knew virtually nothing about there culture and in my younger years fell prey to misinformation about the middle east and Muslims in general.  Now I see the contributions they have made through history.

If you would like to help me and donate the link is below:

I thank you in advance for any help.


It has been a while since I have posted anything here.  Many things have changed in my life in that period.  I graduated from Normandale Community College and now have my first degree.  My brakes went out on my car and I had to struggle to get the money together to fix it.  I am thankful for my brother in law and his friend for helping me with the repairs.  I have started a new job this week as a educational paraprofessional substitute.   I am working to pay off a student loan before I can go for my B.A. in Teaching Social Studies.  So, I am currently not in school for the time being.  I hope to have that all paid off before June, that way I can get back to work on my degree.

The next few months are going to be tight but I believe I will be able to make it through.  If I do not make my deadline of June I will head back to school by next spring.  It is good to have goals but they should not I believe, so rigid to the point that if you do not make it with in a time frame it kills your motivation.  This is what does happen to me a lot.  I sometimes push myself, to the point where I start to question my own worth and get down on myself.  Then I let everything go and just give up.  I have to make sure I have a secondary plan of action, because shit happens.

Things happen in our lives that change us for better or worse.  The thing is when we are in a down spin we have to gain our composer and level ourselves off and change direction accordingly.  There is not just one way to get where you want to go in life there are many.  Some are short and sweet, and others may take a bit longer but you will still get there in the end.

Why Should We “Shit Hole Countries”

Over the past few weeks I have been hearing and seeing people talk about want Mr. Trump calls “Shit Holes”.  Did he even think about why these countries are the way they are or does he just assume like many others that it is just the people.  Most of these countries were colonised by white european countries like Britain, France, Denmark and Spain, also the United States of America.  Over the past 200 years or more the pure capitalization of the world have raped and pillaged these countries for their resources.  Giving little regard for the people of these countries.   We have built a world on the back of the less fortunate and people like Mr. Trump are personally responsible for these crimes against humanity.

They care little about anyone but themselves and how they can exploit people for their own personal gain.  They destroy the potential of people who could help develop the next big enhancements to the human condition, all for the a piece of green paper that if we were not around would not contribute anything to this world.

So, why should we help out the people of these “Shit Hole Countries” and Mr. Trump puts it.  We should help them out of the kindness of our hearts.  But, the real people who need to help them are the extremely wealthy and those whose money has been handed down from generation to generation.   If it were not for them exploiting these people they may have developed much differently.  Hell, their quality of life could be much better and we may have actual peace in regions that are now in a state of perpetual conflict.

It is time for us to grow as not just a countries or continents, it is time for us to grow as a species.  We must learn to not take advantage of each other and build a better world together.  It can be done, maybe not in my lifetime, but it can start with in it.  I am not naive to think it will happen overnight or it will be easy.  It will be a long and hard change and there will be many who will die before we evolve to that level as a society.   But as long as we push for the change and leave the world better than when we found it.  We have a chance.

A Reaction to the “I’m Not Racist” Video

I posted the “I’m Not Racist” video yesterday on my Facebook page.  Knowing that many will find it offensive.  It was actually in brought to my attention from a person I worked with at the diversity center at school. The video uses the N word a lot from both a white and black man. It was made to make people feel uncomfortable but you must watch it all the way through in order to get the message that the person is getting at. I left the diversity center because I was hearing the N word being thrown around a lot and it disturbed me. But, it is not up to me or anyone else to tell someone what they can or can not say. It is only when we listen and wait till the person is done talking that we start to understand what they are saying. This is one of the hardest parts of living in America. We must listen to the other person and not try to formulate our responses to what they are saying while they are saying it, even if it is hard to hear. This is how we become better as Americans and as human beings. It is through being willing to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations that we learn and grow as people. Those who know me, know that I help to defend the rights of others especially the right to free speech which in my opinion is the most important of all our rights as Americans. This is why I feel we are having so many issues in our country no one is listening to each other. I have the same problem. I have a tendency to start thinking up a rebuttal without listening to what the other person is saying completely. I have also had it done to me as well. Most of us do not even realize that we are doing it, it is just a natural reactionary response that we have.  I have posted the video below.  Please watch it all the way through before passing judgement.

Minneapolis Institute of Art Floor 3 Part 2

Top right photo

Madonna Enthroned in Majesty with the Christ Child, Late 12 century


Top Left Photo

Virgin and Child, 14th century

Stone, Polychromed


Large-Leaf Verdure Tapestry Fragment with Birds, 16th century

Wool, Silk Tapestry weave

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Circle of Gil de Siloe

Virgin of the Milk (Virgen de la leche), 1500

Poly Chromed Wood

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Signed Saomotome Iechika

Helmet, Early 17th century

Iron, Gold, Wood, Lacquer

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Giovanni Battista Caccini

Bust of Emperor Hadrian as a Young Man, 1590


Richard Stankiewicz

Untitled, 1954

Iron and Steel

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Ship Of Virtues, 1528-1540

Wool, Silk, Tapestry Weave

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Asa Ames

Portrait Bust, 1830-1845


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Lucille Corcos

Macy’s Parade, 1942

Tempera on Masonite

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Henry Koerner

My Parent II, 1946

Oil on Masonite

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Andrew Wyeth

Christmas Morning, 1944

Egg Tempera on Gessoed Board

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Gaston Lachiase

Woman in a Chair, 1924

White Marble

Elie Nadelman

Draped Standing Woman Figure, 1907-1908


Edgar Degas

Dancer Putting on Stockings, 19th Century

Bronze_MG_3831 (2)

Anders Zorn

The Girl from Alvdalen, 1911

Oil on Canvas

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Franz von Stuck

Portrait of Beethoven, 1902

Parcel Gilt and Polychromed Stucco

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Paul Signac

Blessing of the Tuna Fleet at Groix, 1923

Oil on Canvas

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Theodore Rousseau
Autumn at St. Jean de Paris, Forest of Fontainebleau, 1846

Oil on Canvas

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Aime-Jules Dalou

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1743-1794), 1891


Randolf Rogers

The Lost Pleiad, 1874 (modeled)



Minneapolis Institute of Art Floor 3 Part 1

William Edmondson

Ram“, 1938-1942


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Jean-Baptiste Auguste Clesinger

“Bacchante and Satyr”, 1869


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Antoine-Louis Barye

“Theseus Slaying the Centaur Bianor” ,1850 (Modeled cast, 1891)

Bronze, Caster: Ferdinand Barbedienne

Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse

“Pair of Torches”, 1862

Bronze, Gilt, Silver, Black Onyx, Red Marble

Henry Bannarn

“Cleota Collins”, 1932

Plaster, Pigment

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Jean Hanau

“Pueblo Indian Group”, 1928

Oil on Canvas

Harry Jackson

“Stampede”, 1958-1959

Bronze, Wyoming Jade Base

Wenzel Friedrich

“Platform Rocking Chair and Stool”, 1880-1890

Horn, Ivory and Glass with Ocelot Upholstery

Herman Atkins Macneil

“A Chief of the Maltnomah Tribe”, 1905


“Writing Desk”, 1760

Wood, Paint, Gilt, Gilt Bronze

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Bertel Thorvaldsen

“Ganymede and the Eagle”, 1817-1829


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Nicolas de Largilliere

“Portrait of Catherine Coustard, Marquise of Castelnau, Wife of Charles Leonor Aubry with her Son Leonor”, 1699

Oil on Canvas

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After Gaspard Marcy

“Boris Abducting Orithyia”, 1700

Bronze (Reduction cast)

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Joseph Venache

“The Borghese Gladiator”, 1680-1685



Pierre-Phillippe Thomire

“Clock with Vestals”, 1790

Bronze, Gilt Bronze, enameled dial, Marble

Fernandi Tacca

“Satyr and Nymph”, 17th century


Unidentified Designers and Cartoonists

“Waiting the Chase”, 1650

Wool, Silk, Tapestry Weave

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“Funeral Torch”, 1620

Gilded and Painted wood and wrought iron

Attributed to Jose Montes de Oca

“Saint Benedict of Palermo”, 1734

Polychrome and gilt wood, Glass

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Aaron Spangler

Songbird”, 2006

Carved bass wood, black gesso and graphite

Hans Schaufelein

“Roundel Set”, 1500

Stained Glass, Lead


What Type of Society Would You Like to Live in?

What type of society would you like to live in?  Collectivist or Individualistic?  This is a question we were asked in Pillars of Leadership program at school this week.  This is a very hard questions to be asked and takes a lot of thought as to not give people the wrong idea.  If you say you want to live in a collectivist society people in the states think China or the former USSR.  If you say Individualistic people think of America and the corporate plutocracy that runs it.  I would chose a combination of both a more socially individualistic and economically collectivistic society.

In America we have been traditionally a socially collectivist and economically individualistic society.  This means socially if you were different from the group you were labeled the outcast, different, freak, ect…  If you are are not white, Christian, hetrosexual you were the other and have historically been segregated against in one form or another.  Yet, if you raised have money, and power you were held in high regard even worshipped to some extent.  This paradigm has been hard for me to live in because I do not think the way I was taught to think.  I do not view wealth or power as a success factor.  I also see people as individuals and judge them on there actions not race, gender, sexual orientation, ect…  I view happiness and empathy as how successful a society is in the grand scheme of things.

I do not think that it is up to the government or corporation should  decide what you do as a career or job.  I feel we help people to reach their potential in the field they enjoy and are good at.  Yes, this is would not be a nice and ordered society but it plays to people’s strengths and move society in a more positive direction.  This allows people to find out who they are and what they are passionate about.  This also breeds a much happier society and less conflict.  I feel that when a society reaches a certain level of development that the government can not only help it’s people militarily but making sure that the basic necessities are taken care of like food, clothing, housing, ect… They would not get to chose these thing for them, but, helps people to afford these items making sure no one is left behind or falls through the cracks.  This way the economic schizm does not grow so great that a few people control the rest of the society against their will.

People will ask, “But, if we don’t have money to use as an incentive how can we motivate people to do the work?”  To them I answer ” There are many ways to motivate people like their passions. some people like helping others, some like to create things like art, science, or music..  Think of all the artists that have died in poverty, like Van Gogh, yet, after their deaths the pieces would have made them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.  Think of people in the scientific realm like Nicola Tesla who died in poverty not to be respected till well after his death.”  How many minds have we wasted because of the greed of our society?  How many more will not have the opportunity because others think that because they are wealthy they are the best?  How many ideas will be stolen because of greed and pride?  These are questions I asked myself when people ask me “What type of society I want to live in?”

I feel we need a combination of both in our societies and no pure system will ever work in a world full of differences.

Peace and Love To all who read this and even those who don’t.

Love Vs. Hate

I wrote this poem after have a what at supposed to be a discussion but, devolved into that person insulting me and calling me names because I did not agree the them.

Hate Destroys the heart

Gives the person hated power over your feelings

Hate is easy and takes no real thought

Love heals the heart

Gives power power to those who love and those who are loved

Love is hard, it takes strength and encourages thought

Hate acts like a cancer

eating at your mind and body

Hate breeds more hate

Love cures all ailments

It fills the mind and body with hope

Love breeds more love

Why do we hate so much? Why can we not love more?

We should love the world

As we love ourselves

Spread the love to as many people as we can

This Semester

This has been the hardest semester for me yet. I have been procrastinating too much. In away I have been doing a great job of self sabotage. In a way I  think I do not deserve to get my A.A.  Though I have put in all of the time and work that I need to, maybe even more.  I am less than two months away from finally getting my A.A. in Liberal Arts.  Maybe it is because I fear the success it could bring.  I do not want to let things go to my head.  I like the way I am now in a personal sense, I worry that I will become arrogant because of the success.  As I am now and how I hope I will see myself in the future is that I am just a guy trying to do more for society and not just for myself.

The class I am doing the worst in right now is Spanish.  At this point I just want to pass the course.  That is the first time I have said that about any of my classes.  My history class I am a bit behind in but, I can make that up no problem.  I have liked all my social science teachers.  Hell, I have a crush on the teacher I had last semester for U.S. history 2.  The current history course I am taking is History of World Civilization 3.  And I have been looking forward to this class for awhile.  The reason for that is I want to try and understand what the more recent history of the middle east is like.  This way I can help to figure out a solution to some of the problems over there.

Human Geography is another good class I am taking and I am all caught up in.  I only have a presentation, a short essay on urbanization and the final left for that class.  My teacher for this class I had last semester for Physical Geography so I kind of knew what to expect from him.  Then I have my Career Exploration class which helped me to decide to change my Major from Social studies Education to a straight History major.  I am doing this because I do not want to have to narrow of a major and a History B.A. can open a whole lot of doors as I found out.

The last class is not really a class but a certificate program called Pillar of Leadership.  In this program we go over the different types of leadership but, focus more on the Social Change Model of Leadership.  This is a pretty cool program and is going to look good on my resume.  Though the main reason I am taking this is because I do want to help change the way things are in this world, for the better.

I guess for me now it is crunch time.  I need to make sure I pass all my classes and by February I will have my A. A. degree in my hands.  Now I just have to find another job because the job I am currently working at is the student store on the Work Study Program.  So, I really do want to start looking for jobs and internships in my field of study.

Crying Spells

It sucks living with depression.  Not only do I sometimes have issues just finding reasons to get up in the morning.  I also have times where I can not stop crying.  This one I am in now has been going on since I gave my speech on Thursday.  I can stop for a while but then it starts back up again.  It doesn’t matter if I am sad, happy, hopeful or cynical I cry for it all it seems.

This past year has been herd for me.  I have been losing focus and not keeping up with my homework.  I think knowing this is my last semester at Normandale Community College has this affected me.  I have been comfortable there for the most part, though I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone more since I have been there.  I love the teachers and faculty there.  They have been really supportive and caring.   Hell, I am 41 I knew this was coming.  I just didn’t think it would come this soon.  These past 2 1/2 years have gone by so quickly.

I guess I might fear change a bit but, I know that is how life is and how we grow as people.  I guess I have just gotten so comfortable that it is really hard to do.  Especially, since I have not had a place where I felt I belonged so long before I came to school.

For the twelve years prior to me heading to school I bounced around a lot about 30 time in that time period.  I have had many jobs, 2 hernia surgeries, married, divorced, and lost my grandfather.  Though we had only met when I was 20 because, of my mom not thinking it was important for me to know them until that time.  She never even told me about them till I was 20 and I had not asked about them just my Biological father.  I remember one time when I was like 15 years old, when I got into it with my dad (the man who raised me) we almost came to blows.  My mom showed me a letter that bio-father had written me.  He told me he loved me and all that jazz in the letter.  To tell you the truth I don’t remember much of what it said because I was stuck in my own little world, after the fight.  I don’t know why my mom didn’t tell me about my grandparents then.  This to me seems like it would have been the best time to do so.  But, she waited.

It was always nice talking to my grandfather.  We could talk about anything it felt like.  We talked about our lives, politics, religion, ect… I always felt comfortable talking about these topics with him.  Not like now where I sometimes feel my head and ears burning when I talk about them with other members of my family or friends for that matter.  I never felt judged by him or my grandmother.

It is time now again to start feeling uncomfortable and push myself to do better.  Not just for me but for the world as a whole.  This is my philosophy of life “I want to make myself better in order to better help the world.”  I know this sounds Idealistic but that how I see things.  Do I think I am better than anyone else? Hell, No!  Do I think we are all the same? Once again, Hell, No. We are only the same as it pertains to us being human.  We are all a part of the same family in a sense .  We all have different talents and skills, this is why we are not all the same and why none of us is better than another, at least in my perspective.  There’s only one exception to me thinking I am not better than a person and that is if they see violence as the only solution.  Even then I think some those people can change their thinking.

We all have the potential to be both good or bad or fall somewhere on the spectrum.  We can all learn from one another if we are willing to put ourselves out there.  We can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere in life.  It is sometimes comes from the most unexpected places.  Look at me I am an Atheist but, I was inspired to go back to school by a young Muslim woman named Malala.  Her courage to stand up to the Taliban gave me hope for the future.  The fact that she is still pushing for Girls to have the right to an education even after she was shot, amazes me.  I just hope and wish I have the same amount of courage she has.