Stronger Than Hate!

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Today eleven Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were gunned down in cold blood by a crazed, anti-semitic white nationalist as people of faith were in Temple praying.  I am weeping as I try to write something to reflect how I am feeling.  Eleven people killed, 6 wounded, at The Tree of Life Synagogue. The largest mass murder in the Jewish community in the United States of America.

I grieve, and I hurt. I do not personally know any of these people,  but I feel like they are my family.  You see, we all share the same faith.  We are Jews. And we all come from a community of peace loving people, brought up to believe that it is our duty each and every day to do a “mitsvah” (a good deed) to help other human beings.  Our responsibility in this life is to give back to our communities and help our neighbors.  And therefore, Jews anywhere in this world become my family. My “mishpucha”. And I cry because I feel a deep sense of loss today. This could have been any one of us.  I have known this reality since I was a child.  But, during my 6 decades on earth I have come to feel safe in this amazing country of mine.  It is only in the last two years since this President has been in office, have I begun to fear for my safety  and the safety of my family.

The President says an armed guard could have stopped this madman with deadly weapons.  There were trained officers trying to stop the shooter and four of them were wounded. So, respectfully, Mr. President, an armed guard wouldn’t have stopped an Anti-Semitic monster with a machine gun and other firearms. He was  hell bent on killing Jews in the middle of their morning prayers.

And what kind of leadership does it show this nation when our President didn’t even bother to cancel his political rally tonight after such a tragedy occured? He has trivialized the deaths of my fellow Jews and those brave officers and citizens who were injured along with the families who are grieving the loss of loved ones.  There are no words strong enough to express my disappointment in American leadership today and the pain I am feeling along with such helplessless.

The Prime Minister and President of Israel have offered their condolensences and prayers and offered sanctuary to the grieving families, and yet our own President has not done as much.  To say I am disappointed and angry is an understatement.

I ache inside. But I rise up. We Jews are stronger than hate!  We have survived miraculously through the centuries and held onto our faith. We will continue to pray and be strong. And we will persist in helping our neighbors of all faiths during this violent time in America. Yes, we will continue to fight for justice, even when the world around us seems unkind and unfair.  The history of my people is immortal.  We always survive as a people. ALWAYS!

I look to my faith tonight and pray that I can protect my children and grandchildren from the rising hatred and anti-semitism that has lifted its ugly head during the current administration.  And I vow that I will do whatever I must to keep my loved ones safe.  We will survive and defeat those that try to take us down. And we will not do it with hate. We will do with it with kindness and love.

“To Life! L’Chaim!”

Please join me in the prayer for the dead.  The mourner’s kaddish.

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A Bomb Scare In My Neighborhood!

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This morning suspicious packages were sent to CNN, The Clintons, The Obamas, and Representative Debbie Wasserman- Schultz’s office. (There may be more as the day unfolds.) Besides being shocked, worried, and angry, I am also afraid! Why? Because my neighborhood is currently under a bomb watch. 

You see, I live in Florida and my community is not far from Representative Wasserman – Shultz’s office. Apparently, if you are a Democrat in this country you are no longer safe in your home or at work. Especially, after the President holds one of his MAGA rallies and stirs up hostility.

Those of you who still support this administration, and yes, you do have that right, seem to be living with blinders on. Can you not see the hatred and division this leader is creating? He is inciting violence every time he speaks to a crowd.

When my home, my safety, and the safety of my family and friends is threatened each and every time the current President has a hate rally, then I say enough is enough!!!  We are living under the threat of home grown terrorism every single day in this country. If you haven’t figured that out yet, then you aren’t listening.

Only Democrats were targeted along with the free press today, and that speaks volumes. Especially, when the leader of the free world says to his fans that he will reward those in the crowd who go after the free press and the Democrats. What kind of leader does that? Our President, no matter which party he supports, is supposed to represent ALL Americans. His job is to unite us, not divide us. And he is hell bent on dividing and taking away our freedom and our rights.

 By the way, I do have to thank the secret service for their bravery in protecting the citizens of this country and my city this morning. However, in the mean time, the local news stations say my city is under a bomb threat because as I stated, DWS’s office is just down the road from my home.

I am a woman who has lived more than 6 decades and I have seen many Presidents come and go. But until now I have never feared for my life, or that of my family, or my community. Not until number 45 took office. 

I guess this is what happens when our President makes friends with dictators and murderers, and preaches hatred to win votes. My life and the lives of my state representatives, Republican or Democrat, should not be threatened in a democracy. My fellow citizens should not be told to stay in doors because of a bomb threat. We are not supposed to be at war here in America. And not amongst ourselves!!!!

As long as this President continues his attacks on Democrats and the media, then these home- grown terrorist attacks against American citizens will continue. And people will get hurt.  The leader of the free world needs to “man up” and tell people to STOP! And he needs to cease creating division and hatred whenever he speaks!! If he continues to act like a white nationalist then he alone is the one responsible for these Nazi- like tactics and terrorist behavior that occur shortly after his rallies. 

Yes, I blame this President for preaching animosity at every one of his gatherings. I have yet to hear him say anything positive. Why can’t he have only positive rallies? Remember when the crowds shouted “Yes We Can.” People were motivated to make changes for the good. Now all they want to do is kill anyone who looks or thinks differently from the President. I say let the President tell his supporters about all his constructive ideas and stop with the fear mongering. His scare tactics are frightening our children and hurting our country. My grandchildren think he is a big bully. They are afraid of him. No child should be afraid of the leader of their country. I always revered our Presidents growing up. Now the President scares little children.

The GOP better open their eyes and step up. They need to develop the courage to stop supporting this man when he makes abhorrent comments and threats. Or tell him no when he decides to pass ridiculous policies that go against good American principles. I have to believe that there are still some decent Republicans left and that all the good ones didn’t give in to Trumpism after John McCain died.

This President needs to take some responsibility and start thinking before he makes fake accusations against people. Because every person he denigrates in his speeches is now being attacked with bombs or bomb threats.

We can’t let this continue to happen in our country.  Stop the hatred! #Stop the violence!  #VOTEBLUE!

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How Do We Fight Washington Bullies and Still Retain Our Dignity?

 

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I had an epiphany of sorts this morning while watching AM Joy. As I drank my morning cup of half caff listening to Joy Reid and a panel of mostly women discuss the Kavanaugh hearings, a young combative woman, who was defending Brett K, started shouting. She was talking over everyone else, spewing utter nonsense, blaming every Democrat on the planet. It suddenly hit me!!!! This belligerent behavior is being demonstrated by not only angry old white men, it has become the new acceptable temperament of right wing conservatives.

Now, this revelation may have already been figured out by most of you, but I tend to be stuck in La La land when it comes to thinking people have an agenda. I am naive that way and still back in a 1960’s frame of mind. (Where I think everyone believes in peace and love, and cares about their fellow man.)
So, it is difficult for me to think human beings, especially women, can just shout down and bully others to deflect opponents from presenting their truth. But, suddenly, when I realized this young girl (I originally wrote lady but her behavior was so uncivil that I couldn’t call her a lady), was pulling a “Trumpism” and saying anything just to fill in the space so the other women on the panel couldn’t be heard. I understood that this belligerent behavior is a tactic used by many Republicans. They shout, scream, blame any Democrat that comes to mind, deflect the issues to go somewhere else, and hope their accusations make everyone at the table so uncomfortable that they forget the real facts.
No wonder Lindsey Graham and Kavahaugh went full on Trump at the hearings. That kind of shocking aggressive behavior stops serious, mindful Democrats in their tracks. That is why Hillary ignoring Trump’s crassness was considered weak, instead of her taking the high road and just ignoring his brashness. If she lost her temper they would say she was just a female having a tantrum. If she ignored his ridiculousness she was considered fragile. If she confronted him she was told she was shrill. She couldn’t win because she wasn’t male.

We are now living in a time when reason is being overpowered by rude absurdity! Where adults acting like toddlers having irrational tantrums are applauded rather than reprimanded.

Apparently, now that John McCain is gone the truth doesn’t matter to the GOP. Kindness doesn’t seem to matter either. We all know it is considered by our President to be a weak strategy.

So what do we do next? Lose our dignity and become monsters as well? No, we don’t do that. But…
They want force? I say how about might instead? We liberals, progressives, whatever you want to call Democrats; it really doesn’t matter. Those of us who want the truth, who care about minorities, healthcare, and equality, and want all citizens to be as empowered as the white men currently making our laws, need to be united (NOT squabbling over minor particulars or how progressive we are).
We need to fight back barbaric behavior with facts, force, and fundamental reasoning.

We CAN overpower the GOP with the power of numbers at the polls. By reminding them what our constitution really says, and by standing for human rights and equality!

We can never back down. We must DEMAND justice. We cannot cower in the shadows because shouting entitled males in the majority think they can bully us into silence. NO! We keep repeating our truth to them over and over and over again!!! In numbers.

Forcefulness does not mean we lose our decorum, our integrity, or our kindness. We do not need to play the blame game or lose our souls by putting party over the people of this  great country. But, we do need to expose the truth. And keep throwing that up in the face of liars who were elected to represent us, not their pocketbooks, or the President.

We can do this! Get out and let your vote be your voice! Be heard! Let’s get back our dignity and our Country! Our fight is not new.  Women (and men) have always fought for change. But each time we join together we reach new heights.  Join me!!! #Voteblue

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Make America Smart Again!

Future, present and past U.S. Presidents meet at White House in Washington

I turned on the TV tonight and decided to see what movies were on since I had a bad headache and was not in the mood for politics, which I knew would only make my head feel worse after the events of the past few days.

The movie “Olympus has Fallen” came on. A film I have never seen, but I knew it involved The President and the White House. Yes, The American President! Remember that guy? Once upon a time it was a person we all revered . Good looking, classy, intelligent. I started to cry recalling when I used to admire that office so much. Now, I am embarrassed by it.

The current resident of the White House is brash, uninformed, and a bully. In fact, it is his bullying tactics that have ruined this country. His bad behavior has carried over to the Senate and how our representatives now treat one another. This Trump “Thuggism” has taken over Washington DC and I fear we may never regain our decorum and decency again.

These days when I think of the Presidency, I see a crass old man with a bad comb over, who snorts and sputters incoherent phrases that do not connect, or even make sense. He can barely read speeches that were written for him, and his tweets are middle school inappropriate. Intelligence is still cool where I come from. Dumbing down America is NOT ok with me.

Yesterday, an interview for the highest court in the land revealed temperamental tantrums from Brett Kavanaugh, showing the public his arrogant entitlement and lack of control or respect for our elected representatives. He too was thuggish, just like the bully in charge.

So now we have “Trickle Down Trumpism”. (And people wonder how the Nazis took over Germany?) Evidently, bad behavior empowers weak insecure men and makes them act out against their peers.

The TV movie reminded me of why we have to bring back respectability to Washington, along with intelligence and decorum. That should help in giving us back some worldwide respect.  We as a country need to Make Intelligence Great Again. Because stupid is just not working!!

We need to vote in kindness and caring back to DC. And “We The People” must remember how to be compassionate again. NOT great again, but kind again.

And somebody needs to explain that to the President. I know he thrives on chaos and anger. But,the rest of us don’t want to live that way anymore. And we sure as hell do not want to see a panel of old angry white men yelling at each other.  We have had enough of that nonsense.

I sure miss the Presidents of the past.

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Do Self Help Books Really Help?

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Do Self Help books really help people?  I don’t think so.

Last night I was watching “The Great American Read” on PBS, and thought what could possibly be better? An entire show dedicated to exceptional novels and reading! That’s right up my alley being a teacher. And I have to admit; it was simply delightful hearing ordinary people, from all walks of life, sharing their relationship with some of the best books ever written.

In the middle of being enthralled with a myriad of viewpoints, one of the women being interviewed said something I found to be truly profound. It was so inspiring that I literally jumped up from my chair and shouted, “YES!!” Usually that kind of animated response from me is reserved for the likes of Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Barach Obama, or Benedict Cumberbatch.

But, last night what she said, (I am paraphrasing) was something that I have always found to be blatantly true. She stated, “People get a lot more out of reading a novel than any self- help book on the market. Because a novel allows you to use your imagination and create possibilities. It forces you to think and come up with alternative solutions.”

I so agree. So much so, that I had to wipe away a couple tears after she expressed her thoughts. I know I am a geek, but I get all weepy when it comes to good literature. Why? Because when you read a good book, you become “one” with the main characters. You jump into their heads and feel what they are feeling. You temporarily live through, and react to what they are experiencing. The world in a book seems to be happening all around you, just inside your head.

You laugh when the protagonist laughs. Cry when she or he is hurting. In essence, you become the characters, or at least transform into a fly on the wall observing all the action in the story.

When I open up a book it comes to life! Be it through actual pages or my iPad, it doesn’t matter.  The people, places, and events in the narrative take me to the past, the present, or even into the future. The possibilities are endless!!! I am taken away on an adventure. And often, while I am on that reading journey, I’m taught lessons in life from the stories I have read.

I learned way more about internal strength and survival from the likes of Elizabeth Bennett, Jo March, Jane Eyre, and Scarlet O’Hara growing up, than I ever learned from a self-help book. I was inspired by each of those female protagonists during my youth, and I drew from their characters unique and powerful qualities. I discovered the standards I wanted to live by and see in myself. And I understood the steps I needed to take to over come diversity simply because of how the women in my favorite books prevailed.

They were strong and independent, even when society frowned upon it. I admired the authors too. For only through such determined creative spirits could these  brilliant characters have been created.  And as I lived my life, I mustered up my own inner strength and creativity from what I learned from my favorite literary heroines and the writers who conjured them up. They were the best role models a girl could have. Perhaps, that is why I still have each of those novels on my shelves today. Some are quite dog-eared, but all well loved, and read dozens of times.

So, the comment this one particular woman on the PBS special made, was something I could easily have said myself in my own classroom. That there is nothing quite like a well-written novel to change or affect an individual’s thought process and behavior. A book can inspire and uplift you. It can motivate and teach you lessons. Or help you understand the human condition and find compassion for others.  It can introduce you to other cultures and those less fortunate. Reading books allows a person to feel a gamut of emotions that one doesn’t necessarily get to experience in real life.

Now, I am not saying that if you enjoy self- help books to stop reading them.  If they motivate you and you enjoy reading them, then by all means, continue on. After all, happiness is created when we do what we enjoy. And that’s all that matters.  Do what works for you. If self-help videos, books, or blogs are your thing, then go for it.

I just have a different point of view.  It seems to me that everyone these days is writing a self-help book or blogging about how to be happy and live an amazingly, fulfilling life. And goodness knows now a plethora of people are making self help videos on youtube. And quite often, most of these people are not qualified to tell anyone how to live their lives. Sometimes they are out of touch with reality or have no life experience to draw from. Other times, their comments may be relevant, just not for me. I am an out of the box thinker, so lists of ordinary solutions don’t work for this gal. They never have. Just this morning while searching for something interesting to read, I came across half a dozen self-help blogs explaining how various writers could help everyone on the planet become happier. (Perhaps these authors really do know the secrets of the universe), but, I highly doubt it.

In fact today, even though I usually never read that sort of thing, I decided to be open-minded and peruse one of these blogs. First, I burst out laughing. (The advice was something my 7-year-old grand daughter could have given me.  She is very logical.) The outline/ lists were categorized and so lengthy that I almost fell asleep trying to read all that nonsense. And doing that made me very unhappy!!! It wasted my time! (I could have been reading a novel or writing a new chapter to my newest book.)

The funny thing is, I was happy BEFORE I started to read HOW to be happy. By the time I pored over this particular blog, I was miserable! Plus, I was annoyed at the gall of the author deciding she knew what would make ME happy. How could she? She doesn’t know me from Adam. I don’t like to climb mountains. (I have vertigo.) I don’t want to sky dive, I am afraid of heights. How is that going to make me happy???? ICK! Let me read a classic novel. Give me a lesson to create. Hand me Shakespeare and I will be in seventh heaven. So, no way would anything on the list of this professed guru of inner peace, give me contentment. Let me listen to Jimi Hendrix or dance to Harvest Moon’s “Dancing In The Moonlight.” THAT will make me happy.

The thing is, I wake up every day smiling. (Especially after a cup of coffee. LOL) I am basically a very happy person. I have always been a glass half full kind of girl. My life hasn’t always been easy, but, I have enjoyed it so far. In fact, I consider myself pretty darn lucky. I have two amazing sons and three fabulous grandchildren. I’ve been married twice and for a certain duration of time, I was very happy in both my marriages. I think that is an amazing feat in itself. LOL Is that the norm? Probably not. But it is for moi!

My parents and one spouse have now passed away and I remember them with kindness, love, and am grateful to have had them all in my life. I had an amazing 36-year teaching career that I cherished, and I still remain in touch with a huge number of my former students while in retirement.

I have been an actress, a dancer, and a model. I have played guitar in an all girls’ rock and roll band when I was a teenager; I’ve been a teacher, a mother and a grandmother.

During difficult times to make ends meet I pain stakingly drew calligraphy for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, and I created watercolor paintings for baby’s rooms that helped pay for my son so he could be on baseball and soccer teams after school.

My first job when I was in middle school was going to the local record shop and being hired as a go go dancer to help sell Beatles and Rolling Stones albums. Yep, I got to dress in white go-go boots, a mini skirt, and wear a John Lennon hat. It was totally GROOVY! (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

I have been vibrant and healthy and I have had some challenging health issues and a couple of car accidents. But, I am still here, smiling and kicking and looking pretty okay for my age.  So why on earth would I need to read a self-help book on how to be happy?  I don’t get it?

All I have to do is wake up every day and realize that I can still walk and talk, I can see and hear, I can think, and I can create. I can even still wear cool embroidered jeans and enjoy my life. I get to see my grand children and children whenever I want to, and above all else, I can read! And download a book on my iPad Pro which lets me make the font as large as I want! AND boy do I love technology. I have an iPhone, an iPad Pro, and a MacBook Pro laptop. And I continue learning anything new in technology that comes out. I love staying current. I just got a Ring Doorbell and have fun talking to my cute UPS guy from my phone telling him to just drop off my package from Amazon. It doesn’t take much to keep me smiling!

So, you see, this groovy grandma thinks life is pretty damn awesome. Sure, I have some crummy days now and then like everyone else. But, I AM happy. So why would I want to read a self-help book/blog? Help for what?

I think a lot of folks are too consumed with all the negatives and that is their problem. People need to think for themselves, be who they want to be. Or just be who they are. If they want lists then they should create them for themselves rather then trying to copy someone else’s ideas. What’s the commercial say? Just Do it? That is great advice! Come on people, just do it! Or at least do what you CAN do. I have limitations some days. But so what? There’s no reason to be miserable. Do your best. Give happiness a try.

I say, forget about self-help books and just help yourself. Be happy. Look outside and see the beauty in everything around you. Be grateful for what you have and don’t obsess about what you don’t have. Self-help to me means help yourself. And THAT is Lesley’s self- help advice for today! Take it or leave it. Just be happy. Or don’t. It’s up to you. I’m going to download a good book to read and get happy! Why don’t you join me???

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Sharing a beautiful piece by my friend poet lady universe…

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One by one
They left this world

I didn’t know my grandfather
Heard he left on dad’s birthday round about 1950
Leaving dad
White as a ghost

Simon was next
Another grandfather
Didn’t know much about him neither
Except he was a big imposing man
With a strange resemblance
To a WWII hero

Mother’s mother, mother’s sister, dad’s aunt, dad’s mother, dad’s brother, a brother in law, a sister, 2 uncles, another aunt
Each one quietly slipping out of this world
The only traces left behind
Vague memories
Habits
A saying or two

Yet surrounded by ghosts
I live my life
As if they are all still here silent, approving, disapproving

Hah! They can’t touch me now
How I wish they could

Copyright M L Schaefer 2018 All Rights Reserved

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