Happy 2019!!!

Happy

We are about to embark on another new year. How exciting!

In the past, I’d always make New Year’s resolutions. Being a teacher, it would be the first assignment after winter break, and my personal list would be the example I’d show my students. Then, our individual resolutions expanded into a discussion, which led to a creative writing session. Year after year a variation of this activity transitioned into a positive goal experience and a way to allow the students to get back into the swing of things.

This year I think I might try a little mini version of that concept with my grandchildren that involves crayons, playdoh, and perhaps hand made sock puppets, culminating in a puppet show presentation of their goals for 2019. Yes, I am always using my teacher brain to think of new and excting ways to enlighten children. And I must admit, it is even more fun when the lesson is created for my own grandchildren!

However, now that I’m in retirement, this year I think I’m going to skip making my own list. Why? Because I always tell myself to drop ten pounds, to exercise more, to read more, and take more “me” time to write, or finish projects etc. Bla bla bla. 

I think perhaps, I’m just going to try to survive this New Year. I’ll do my very best to endure this administration and make it through until “you know who” is either voted out or impeached. And I’m going to trust in our newly elected representatives to bring a sense of calm, rationality, and decency back to our government.

Also, my little goals are rather petty in comparison to the resolutions our nation needs to make in healing the divide created by the current resident in the White House.

So, Happy New Year dear friends! Here’s to a better future! To a 2019 that brings us more peace and calm. More hope, more world allies, safer schools for our children, more kindness given to our neighbors, more empathy and tolerance for our fellow human beings, and more love in our hearts to share.

And if we ALL just resolve to show kindness and respect to one another, then 2019 will be a fabulous year.  Happy New Year! Good health to you all! ❤️xo

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Chanukah, Christmas, New Years, Oh My!

2018 is almost over and what had been a dreadfully turbulent year, ended with the most delightful holiday season, filled with love and joyous memories spent with my beautiful family.

December started off with a Chanuakah filled with laughter, spinning dreidles, candle lighting, and holiday songs.  Then Christmas Eve began with my youngest son flying home in time to spend the rest of the holidays with us. So, I had both my sons and my grandchildren with me, how perfect!!!!  A year that started out so filled with turnmoil ended with complete joy.

I thought I would post a few family photos of my precious blended family. We celebrate everything and embrace it all.  So, take a look at my gang. We even were able to take a train ride on the Polar Express.  In MIAMI!!!!!!

Happy Everything! From my family to yours, may you all have a very Happy New Year.

Haunted By The Past

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I have a peculiar feeling deep down in my gut as I write this post…

My newly discovered Kluchinski cousin who lives in France, is working on our family tree. One that includes pictures of our blended relatives.

So, here I am staring into the faces of Kluchins (Kluchinski’s) and I am wiping away tears looking at relatives that I never got a chance to meet because the majority of them were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

These people are so beautiful to me. They look like my father, his brothers, and a lot like my sons. And they look like ME!!!!

These pictures are the faces of my relatives who died in Auschwitz. Good people I never got to know. Adults, teens, and children, who were never able to live their lives because Hitler’s Nazi’s cut them down in their prime. And I am literally sobbing because they look so much like my family. Like the people I love. It is like staring into the mirror and seeing MY eyes, my smile… And I am utterly heartbroken.

It is one thing to read the names of someone on a wall. It is another thing to look into their eyes. For the first time seeing my Father’s side of the family, the Kluchin relatives, I feel like the wind has been punched out of me. I have a lump in my throat from forcing back pain. I so wish my Dad were still alive and could see their faces too. All we knew was that my grandfather took his family and left Paris to come to America around 1918.  I didn’t know that he had several brothers and sisters that stayed in Paris. What my siblings and I assumed was that my father’s side of the family was lost in the war. But none of us could have suspected that one of my father’s first cousins survived because she hid from the Nazis, and years later her daughter found me while doing ancestry research.  She thought she was the last surviving Kluchinski, until she discovered me. Pretty miraculous I’d say!

Before my father died he began an ancestry quest to find out about his family and my sister and I, in our retirement, took up where he left off. And luckily our precious cousin, Sandrine is compiling a tree filling in the blanks with the Paris Kluchinski’s. We are seeing new names, new faces, and it is overwhelmingly emotional.

It is wonderful to say their names aloud so they can be remembered. (Judaism says our loved ones need to be remembered in every generation. We say their names and give our children their names so their memories live on.)

But this is gut wrenching too. My heart literally hurts. These souls didn’t deserve to be dragged out of their homes and killed. Nobody deserves to die like that. These people need to be more than just a name on a wall. They need to be a face with a smile and a name that my children and grandchildren can look at and remember. Because their lives mattered!!!!!!

Now perhaps those of you who read my blog will understand why I am continually fighting for truth and justice. Why I persist and resist the madman in the White House. Because, I understand how dangerous fascism is, and how easily corruption can take over a nation. How hatred can take away those we love.

I am going to take one more look at the faces of my long lost ancestors tonight and say a prayer to let them know they are still loved. Below are just a few.

Thank you, dear cousin Sandrine for this gift of placing faces to names.

*On the memorial wall in Paris, the names of those who died in Auschwitz were based on Nazi records, which were spelled phonetically. Therefore they spelled Kluchinski with a C. (Cluchinski )or in other areas of the wall just Chinski.

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My newly discovered cousin, Sandrine on the bottom, facetiming me from Paris. I am in the top of this picture using my phone to snap a pic as we are chatting on my iPad. The wonders of technology and DNA!

Tumultuous 2018

Tumultuous 2018 – A spoken word poem about the past year.

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2018 began with a frightful flu that quickly turned into pneumonia; grave enough to produce an awakening of my own vulnerability and mortality.

And as I struggled to breathe and gain strength, our country also gasped and choked, coughing up discord, bellowing chaos and despair, coupled with unprincipled deeds pushing us further away from democracy and decency.

While I healed, the nation came down with a poisonous affliction. America was heavily infected with bigotry. An ailment that previously hid in the shadows of every city and slithered out only in darkness. 2018 saw it vaulting into the sunshine to spread its deadly tentacles into the light of day.

Hatred was no longer disguised and concealed. A horrific epidemic rapidly spread across the country that was cringe worthy to the majority, yet targeted the minority, as safety became less accessible day after day, and ordinary citizens found there was nowhere to hide and no one to save them from the storm troopers infected with the Trump Plague, carrying out orders that were cruel, demented, and often lethal.

Schools transformed from places of learning to halls oozing blood. Babies torn from their mothers’ arms as dogmatism reigned from sea to shining sea. Cries of children, not soldiers, rang out in the night, their moans wafted in the wind from “California to the New York Islands” to verify if America still had a conscience.

This virus begged us to ask and update the age-old question; “If a tree falls in a forest, does it still make a sound?” to “If children weep in cages does a nation still hear their cries?”

2018 was headed by a leader who alienated our allies and embraced our foes; took away our clean environment and our food regulations. Our health care was at risk, and our debt piled higher with each tick of the clock. And a madman in DC smiled and wanted parades while shaking hands with dictators. This was the 2018 I remember.

Yes, as I recuperated from illness and regained my own strength, our nation came down with a sickness that I fear may never heal. Not without preventative medicine.

I learned this year that preventative medicine is needed to care for our bodies and also to cure our political souls. Honesty, integrity, and simple kindness can wipe away greed and corruption as effectively as antibiotics cure disease.

Our nation is sick. It is time for it to heal. We must wipe away the germs that destroyed its health and find a way to bring it back to its former glory.

The cure is a simple one. The vaccine is written in the words in the poem engraved on the statue of Liberty. Every time a person reads it they will heal. Share the cure! Save a life.

THE NEW COLOSSUS by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”