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June the 12th

June 12, 2017

Pulse Remembrance Day. One year ago today, the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killed 49 people. Many of them gay, which seemed to be the only reason the shooter targeted that location.

In my local paper yesterday, the remembrance quoted someone (possibly the Orlando police chief) saying that he calls the day, “June the 12th.” I interpreted that as being comparable to “September the 11th.”

Two days in American history, in my lifetime, filled with such vile hatred and evil poison. I do not – cannot – understand how our world can have so many people who are so wicked. I have begun to think that, in addition to red and white blood cells, they have ‘hate’ blood cells coursing through their bodies. It is as if it is in their DNA, which is of course impossible and means they choose evil.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. I encourage everyone to visit if they get the chance. America’s civil rights movement of the 1960s is not something I remember, other than from history books. In recent years, we’ve seen a renewed attempt at a civil rights movement. (Sadly, in my opinion, the violence in many of the current attempts thwarts their messages.)

So, reading again about and seeing again all the absurd laws and rules whites put in place, makes me sad. I don’t understand how anyone thought the oppression and segregation were appropriate. And, as I left the Center (#GetCentered) that afternoon, I was sadder because it seems we still haven’t learned the lessons of that time.

Fear makes humans do stupid things. This hatred out of fear because of skin color or sexual preference seems ignorant to me. Some people ‘wrap’ it in religion, which I don’t accept. My God loves all people and only God will judge someday. I don’t have to understand others’ choices. If they do no harm to others, who am I to deny them the privileges I have?

While we humans often act out of ignorance, we are also resilient and hopeful. I am hopeful that we will continue to make progress and learn from the current day atrocities, like the Pulse shooting, the Sandy Hook heartbreaking shooting, the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting.

We seem to have already forgotten the lessons of September the 11th, and we seem to have long ago lost the lessons of the Holocaust. We must work to remember – to remember so that we can learn, grow and change. People are people, after all. In a country like America, we should be able to set the worldwide example. We can seek to understand and, live out that understanding. Every day, in every encounter.

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Happy Mother’s Day 2017

May 14, 2017

Today I wish a lovely Mother’s Day to everyone. Not all are mothers, yet we all have mothers. Some biological, some maybe not. This is a day to celebrate being a woman and girl.

We nurture others in so many ways, whether as mother or not. I became a mother 34 years ago and now, I would say I’m a better mother than daughter. I’m not a very good daughter but I try to be better.

As my mother ages, it is easier to be better … most of the time. I remind myself that the world’s fast pace is difficult for her and she doesn’t like it. She wants to have the world in which she grew up. That’s not wrong or bad. Impossible, but not wrong. Who am I to judge or try to sell her today’s crazy?100_3562

I know that she did not ask for the aging that her body has experienced. Of course, she’d still like to be agile and spry, and especially pain-free. That’s out of her control at this point.

As daughter – and as mother who must model the way for my daughter and in time her children – I must be patient and tolerant. Those are not always my best traits. From this life lesson, I can increase both and be the daughter I should be.

In many ways, it would be a Mother’s Day gift to myself, as well as my mom, my daughter.
Time is precious and limited and I have no excuse to make it anything less than happy for these dear women in my life.

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Unity in frogs

September 21, 2016

Are you tired? I’m tired. Seems like all around us is unhappiness, fear, poverty, anger, violence, terrorism, racism, unrest. It wears on me and I think it wears on you and others, too.

It wears on me in part because I don’t understand our responses to it all. I want to fix the problems somehow but no one – no single person – seems willing to step away from his or her firm opinions.

Isn’t it possible that in all these issues, we have nuggets of truth on all sides? In my life experience (which is starting to add up in the number of years), there are almost never absolutes in any situation. Especially when they involve people.

We have racism in this country. I see it across all people and in varying degrees. Law enforcement did not and does not cause racism. I and the people I know didn’t cause racism.

In addition to the horrible, deadly terrorist acts, we have deadly violence in this country among our own citizens. We have neighborhood drive-by shootings where the flying bullets strike and kill young children doing homework on their beds. We have an ex-boyfriend who fatally stabbed his girlfriend in Walgreens while she worked; her mother says her only crime was loving the guy. We have justifiable officer-involved shootings and we have questionable officer-involved shootings. We have people killing people on the street every day in this country over Lord knows what.

It’s tragic. Doesn’t it break your heart and make you tired?

How does more violence help solve any of that? I just do not understand how anyone can believe that violence and destruction are the right answers to deadly violence. More violence does not seem to me to be any kind of solution, particularly if our true goal is unity and peace.

Please don’t give me “racism” or “white privilege.” You don’t know me and I don’t know you. My white privilege includes a ‘father’ who abandoned his wife and three kids, living on food stamps while my mom tried to recover financially, working since age 12 to buy my own clothes, contacts, etc., and working full-time while going to college and raising my daughter so I could better my life, and still working hard today to have a modest home and an unlikely retirement. That feels like hard work, not privilege.

Somehow we have to find ways to come together in conversation. Leave the violence and firmly held ideas in the other room. We are, after all, just people. And we’re not really so different.

Sunday I stepped outside to clean my car and I heard, “Excuse me.”

I turned to see a neighbor who I don’t know and whose skin happens to be a different color than mine.

“Are you afraid of frogs?” she asked. One had jumped into her car.

“Well, yea, I sort of am but I’ll try to help you out,” I told her.

So there we were, two neighbors-but-strangers in Florida, one with a broom and one with a spray bottle, acting like ‘girls’ because we’re afraid of frogs. We’re not really so different and weren’t afraid to ask for or to respond with help. In those few minutes, I didn’t feel so tired.

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Day After people

July 10, 2016

This will initially sound absurd and I definitely am not calling for more violence or attacks. What I do want is, the Day After the attacks. I want September 12, 2001.

Remember that Day After. We mostly believed that no more attacks were coming. Our minds, individually and collectively, still could not wrap around the horrors we saw on TV, or from our own homes or workplaces the day before. The 9/11 attacks on America were a first for most of us, as is today’s civil unrest.

In that fear and horror, we united. To a person, we let go of petty and significant differences, those that matter for decades to come and those we wouldn’t remember an hour later. We held hands and shared hugs and wiped each other’s tears in comfort. We united.

On July 9, 2016, after the assault that killed five officers, we saw some of that in Dallas. We saw the citizens there make time to go to hug and thank the police officers. We saw similar acts across our country, because, I believe, we all understand that our law enforcement officers protect and serve us all – doing a job that most of us are not brave enough to do.

True, police officers and citizens alike are human beings who make mistakes. Some more grievous than others. Yet, do any of us truly believe that any police officer goes on duty each shift with the thought, “I will seek out and kill a ______ today.”?

But today, instead of true unity, I still hear labels and divisive talk. “They” not “us.” “Black” or “Blue” not “people.” One syndicated columnist in today’s local paper demanded that the Dallas shooter be called a terrorist. Why? How does that matter? He was a killer, plain and simple. Any other labels seem to me to add unnecessary layers and distractions, none of which have done a bit of good to try to resolve the root cause of violence in America.

I think economic equality rather than race may be the root cause. We have poor in all races. The common truth for nearly all of us is that to succeed, we must put in the hard work and discipline.

My father abandoned my mother, and younger brother and sister and I when I was 13. From that point on, nearly everything I had I earned. First through lots of babysitting, my first job, and sewing my own clothes. I shopped with the food stamps my mom had to get to be able to feed us. It’s been that way ever since – I worked for what I needed or wanted. Anything I have today, including a college degree, I worked long and hard to attain.

I mean that to be a ‘we all have a story’ story, not a ‘poor me’ story. If we can all acknowledge that most of us have the same opportunities and most of us want the same things, I believe we can unite to overcome today’s societal mess. We can be “The Day After” people who come together and stay together to make our country whole again.

Try to remember how you felt on September 12, 2001, or ask a relative how s/he felt that day. It’s in that anguish that I believe we can set aside labels and those meaningless physical differences – none of which mattered to us back then. Let’s leave them at the curb and walk forward together in kindness and compassion.

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I remember

September 11, 2015

We said we’ll always remember. We still say it and especially today, we say it again. I’m not sure we mean it.

Fourteen years ago today, Americans came together as we had never before done in my life. Shocked and horrified by what most of us saw on TV, we turned to friends, families and strangers in solidarity. We hugged and prayed with each other, strangers and comrades, blacks and whites, heterosexuals and gays, old and young. We were one.
Fourteen years later, we seem to fight with each other at every turn. Blame and pointing the finger of accusation at others is rampant, with few looking at themselves to see they are part of the problem.WTC_Oct2013
I’m confident that the families of the 2,977 people who died in America that day always remember. I believe I remember it more than many, although I am guilty of getting caught up in the minutiae of life that didn’t matter that morning or for months afterward.
Like an enormous ink spot on the fabric of our clear blue sky, black smoke spilled on the New York City sky. That and so many other images are permanently imprinted on my mind. The contradiction of that image, I think, is what made it so powerful for me. A perfect fall day – no clouds, bright sunshine – marred by the literal and figurative blackness of death.
Still, we came together to stand strong in our cry of, “Oh hell no! You don’t get away with doing that in America.”
For some time afterward, we stayed united. In our uniquely human way, as time moved on, we began to forget those feelings. I hope and pray we can come back to that unity soon.
Unity will empower us with strength to address the problems we face today. The attitudes so many display today are not helpful and, by our refusal to work together in peace and compassion, we dishonor each one of the 2,977 who died.
Fourteen years ago we did it. We can do it again.
I believe everyone must look at the video and images of the 9/11/01 attacks every year. Reactivating those memories is a way to bring us back to the resolve we had that day to unite and support each other.
We can do it. We have 2,977 reasons to do it to honor their lives … and their FreedomTower_2_Oct2013deaths.
I remember 9/11.
http://abc7ny.com/weather/stunning-rainbow-begins-at-world-trade-center-day-before-9-11/977419/
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Luv like a goose

April 29, 2015
Geese

Poppa Goose, Momma Goose and goslings on a Tuesday afternoon stroll.

While they’re mean as all get-out and uber-territorial, I sort of admire the Canadian Geese that overtake our city each spring. As I understand geese, they mate for life. There’s a novel idea for people to consider.

Geese return each year to the same location – home. They remind me how important home is to family life. Each spring, which starts in February in north Florida, they show up to reclaim their nesting space. They settle in for two or three months to give momma goose a place to lay her eggs and nurture them.

Poppa waddles around to protect her and his family-to-be. Heaven help the pedestrian who wanders too close. Poppa sqwaks and hisses, and if necessary, makes physical contact to assure his family stays safe. Many of us know that not all dads show that kind of attention … or love.

Today I smiled when I saw Mr. & Mrs. Goose and family strolling in my neighborhood. I’m not foolish so I didn’t try to get close. Yet, in that instant, the geese and goslings represented the best of family that we seem to be losing in American human families.

Maybe these best practices of geese, can help humans ‘do’ family better. Perhaps we just need to keep it simple and turn to geese as a model for family life.

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Stewards of the Earth

April 19, 2015

My husband and I were in Boston last weekend for vacation. We attended the college men’s national hockey championship, the “Frozen Four,” which was at TD Garden.

In today’s social media-centric society, everyone wants to tweet, Instagram or Facebook about everything, including experiences at events like the “Frozen Four.” In fact, most events now give you a hashtag (e.g, #FrozenFour) to include in your message. At the live events, including this one, they display your tweet on the Jumbotron. Fun for all!

In fact, TD Garden so encouraged that social media interaction, the facility has a charging station so at breaks we could charge our phones. As a communication professional, I love that idea and I fully expect to see more and more venues copying that model.

Yet, as soon as I thought that, my thoughts went to how greedy and consumptive we are, especially Americans. Do any of us ever stop to think about the natural resource we use when we charge our electrical devices? I know that I don’t think about it often.

I try to be careful in my use to minimize waste. When I want a device to work, however, I don’t hesitate to use the electricity – or water, or gas in my vehicle, etc.

Often I thank God for the gifts He has given us that stem from the intelligence He’s given us. I don’t doubt that God created us, by design, to continue to innovate. Innovation has led to space exploration and advances in medicine. It’s led to development of these electronic devices that allow us to communicate from any place at any time. I think these are gifts.

As with any gift, we are responsible to care for the gifts and wisely use them. That includes preserving natural resources for future generations. Being faithful stewards means we will not exhaust every gift we have available and leave nothing for others.

Instead, God wants us to share and be generous with our gifts – today and into the future. I hope that as we continue to embrace social media, we all also embrace faithful stewardship of all resources.

1 Peter 4:10 (NRSV): Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.