What is Old?

It’s pouring outside. Thundering, lightning and going crazy outdoors… especially in front of my condo! Needless to say because of inclement weather I didn’t take my mid morning walk. Instead, I switched on the TV and flipped through the stations and had a second cup of half caff.
I discovered a “Murder She Wrote” marathon was in progress. In the 80’s and early 90’s I used to love that show and looked forward each week to a fun cozy mystery with a female protagonist at the helm. I loved that she was ALWAYS the smartest person in the room. However, I thought Angela Lansbury was an old lady back then. I was so wrong!

Today when I looked at her character that isn’t at all who I saw! Yes, she was a woman over 50, but her back was perfectly straight, she had a fabulous figure, and she ran around in heels with ease and grace. Like a youthful dancer might move. So I googled the marvelous actress who today is an impressive 95. That would have made her only 60 when that notable series began. And I would have been a young woman of 37.

At age 72, I am seeing things quite differently. Ms. Lansbury now looks young and vibrant to me on the show. And then it hit me!! I thought the actress Angela Lansbury was an old lady when she played the character Jessica Fletcher because society conditioned us to think that women over 50 were old . She was not old! In fact, she was 12 years younger than I am now. And while society may think I’m old, I still feel like a cool girl inside. I still love rock music, I’m still protesting for equality, and I’m very much the creative soul I’ve always been. So what determines being OLD? A date on the calendar or a person’s spirit? What constitutes youthfulness?

I suppose age is all relative isn’t it?
Perhaps Agatha Christie’s, Miss Marple wasn’t that old either.
My conclusion for today? NEVER underestimate the deductive reasoning skills and cleverness of an intelligent woman over 60! We are still pretty awesome! ❤️💪✌️❤️ And because of our years of gained wisdom, WE ARE ALWAYS THE SMARTEST PEOPLE IN THE ROOM! 😉✌️❤️

Memories From the Past…

Mr. Darcy

Sometimes being in ones 70’s is a uniquely weird experience. I often wonder if strange things happen simply because I’m getting older, or if life in general is just really bizarre. Perhaps people notice things more clearly as they age.

Today it all started when I heard the sound of rain on the back window of my condo, and I rushed to check it out just to make sure there wasn’t a leak coming from the unit above me. My cat, Mr. Darcy was sitting on the dresser totally mesmerized by humongous droplets colliding against the glass.

And as the rain became increasingly louder, for some reason I started to recite, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” putting extra emphasis on “Water water everywhere nor any drop to drink”, all while Mr. Darcy rubbed his furry face in mine.

I then proceeded to tell him about Samuel Taylor Coleridge (the poem’s author), and about all the Romantic poets. Obviously, my cat was genuinely interested in my literary lesson…😻

But, I began to wonder how I could recall and recite an epic poem (lyrical ballad) that I learned back in high school, when I have difficulty remembering what I ate for breakfast this morning. I even had to rack my brain this afternoon to recall if I put my clothes in the dryer. But, somehow I could still remember large portions of the longest poem Coleridge ever wrote.

How is it that I can vividly recount information about Byron, Shelly, Keats, Blake and Wordsworth, and even giggle like a school girl realizing I STILL have a crush on George Gordon Byron (Aka Lord Byron), who died in 1824 after writing such magical lines as, “She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies…”

And yet I’ll forget whether or not I took my allergy pill today. Sheesh!

Is it because I’m 71? Or maybe it’s because the breathtaking beauty of perfectly strung together words are so exquisite, that once they are heard, they can never be forgotten.

Is it that outstanding poetry or prose endures though the centuries and stays within each soul it touches? Does it linger on in the cosmos for eternity?

My cat, Mr. Darcy thinks that is the case, and so do I.

Today the rest of America is thinking about the super bowl. Not me. I’m remembering…

“Though the heart be still as loving,

And the moon be still as bright…

By the way, don’t you just love a cat who enjoys poetry?😻😻😼🙀

What Fools We Mortals Be…

Yesterday, I cried for joy. I was so proud of America. Proud of diversity, and proud of the three past Presidents who stood united to support our traditions and our democracy. I wept at our National Anthem, powerfully sung by Lady Gaga, and then again tears flowed when I heard Jennifer Lopez sing Woody Guthrie’s song, “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land”. Countless moments at the inauguration had me tearing up with pride and love of country.

Especially, listening to our Youth Poet Laureate,who moved me beyond words. Amanda Gorman was extraordinary. This was personally rewarding to me since I have judged our local YPL competition for several years. In fact, two years ago our local YPL winner reached the national finals and made the top four. My hope is that Amanda’s poem will inspire young people around the nation to write, and to realize just how powerful their words can be. Poetry can change lives! I hope to continue judging our future poetic superstars and I’m hopeful that one day soon, a South Florida youth poets will be standing where Amanda stood today. I still believe that anything is possible in America!

So, after a gloriously ecstatic day yesterday, after washing away tears and frustrations from the last four years, and realizing that love and not hate won, I finally slept peacefully. And I awoke this morning all bright eyed and bushy tailed as I turned on the news while sipping my morning cup of half caff.

But, to my dismay, I learned that there is no vaccine distribution plan put in place by the Trump team. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by Trump’s incompetence, but this is like he purposely planned to screw over America the minute he realized he lost the election and he couldn’t bully public officials or judges to overturn the results.

What I don’t understand is, why didn’t anyone else in his administration take care of this vaccine distribution? Where was Pence? I mean in spite of enabling 45 to appease him, why didn’t anyone on his staff accomplish anything? And why did they take such a cavalier stance regarding this pandemic? 400 thousand dead and numbers still climbing and I blame Donald Trump!

Forgive me, but I’m still angry and devastated by the numbers of people who died unnecessarily. And those who will continue to die until we beat this disease. I’m heartbroken for the families who have suffered.

On the positive side, I am confident Biden will do everything in his power to fix things, but that will take time. I pray that this nightmare of covid will end soon and that Trump supporters will wake up from their blind slumber.

This complete blindness to reality reminds me of Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” where Oberon puts magical flower juice in Titania’s eyes and she falls in love with a Donkey Man.

“I pray thee gentle mortal, sing again, on the first view, to say, to swear, I love thee.”

Obviously, this is a comedy. The audience knows the Fairy Queen is blinded by a love potion and it’s not real.
However, America lived this dream in real life, where people were blinded by the words and rhetoric they wanted to believe, because they came from a President who lied to them. I hope they wake up soon and shake off the dream they were in!

And as Titania says when she realizes the truth…
“My Oberon! What visions I have seen. Methought I was enamored of an ass.”

And that, my friends is what happened to this country! Part of our population was enamored by an ass. I certainly hope, that real life ends like the play did. Otherwise the words of Puck will ring true.

“Lord, What fools these mortals be!”

TODAY!

It is 10:00 am and I am just waking up this morning.

I actually slept well last night! I can’t believe it! It’s the first time since Hillary lost in 2016 that I woke up stress free. I feel lighter. I can finally breath a sigh of relief. Soon there will be dignity and reason back in the White House. The crazy bully will hit the road and his bigot minions will go back to hiding under the rocks they crawled out from under.

At this moment in time my cancer antigen numbers are in the normal range and the President elect is not a fascist who wants to deny me healthcare because I have a pre existing condition. Right now, in this moment, the world is a beautiful place.

Oh sure, I’m aware a storm is brewing. Metaphorically, and also a few miles from the state of Florida. But, for this moment in time, I feel safe. I’m going to live! I will have more time on this earth and I don’t have to fear that racism and anti Semitism will escalate because of some wacko leader.

In a few weeks I will begin a new maintenance chemo treatment to keep my cancer at bay, and I’ll probably feel crummy again, but NOT today. In a few weeks I will remember all the people I know who allowed themselves to be influenced by a deranged oppressor and let their basest instincts rise to the forefront. But NOT today.

Today I will just be grateful that Democracy and decency won and that I am alive to see it happen. Hallelujah!

Are We Past Hope?

It is the morning after the election and I woke up feeling numb. I probably only slept about four hours as nightmares of angry Trump mobs kept jolting me up all night. I’m in disbelief that half of my country is clearly racist, ageist, uncultured, unable to research fact from fiction, and that hate apparently is winning over love. That is what 45’s strong numbers seem to exhibit. I’m devastated and broken hearted. And my kooky imagination keeps hearing lines from Shakespeare.

You know, the interesting thing about being a former actress and a teacher for 36 years, is that lines from countless plays and novels swim around my head and contuously rise to the forefront of my brain on just the right occasion. I have recited so many lines over the years from plays I performed, or novels I either read or taught, that at the drop of a hat a quote will pop into my consciousness.

Some say actors are odd creatures who are too sensitive and slightly peculiar. Well, think about it. What kind of uniqueness does it take to absorb words and portray them with such passion that you have the incite and ability to jump into a character’s soul and bring her or him to life? Not everyone can do that.

And what kind of sensitivity does it take for a teacher to turn words into a life lesson? To make students think? In my opinion it’s the same gift that brings an audience to tears, to laughter, or to understanding. It’s imparting knowledge and enlightenment.

So, this particular morning when every news station in America has Biden and Trump running neck and neck, and my hopes of a President who actually follows the science that can end this pandemic and bring back our good standing on the world stage, seem to be flying out the window…I’m being bombarded with Shakespearean phrases that I can’t get out of my head!

What keeps rolling around my brain in a never ending loop are Shakespeare’s words that I recited long ago when I played the role of Juliet. I just can’t shake the words! Over and over I hear myself saying the lines. I feel my tears from 40 years ago. I hear the rustle of my gown as I knelt upon the floor, and the pain and desperation my character felt when she said…

“Shut the door! And when thou hast done so,
Come weep with me, past hope, past cure, past help.”

What a Difference a Year Makes

Photo taken two months before I learned I had stage three ovarian cancer.

A little over a year ago I was embracing turning 70. The only care I had in the world was how I would handle aging as I began a new decade. Little did I know that a few months later I’d be fighting for my life.

Of course now I realize how shallow it was to be concerned and consumed with the aging process when I should have been incredibly grateful for every day I was given, and for the many blessings I have been granted over the years.

I’ve always been a reasonably appreciative person, but it took cancer to truly see how oblivious I was about what really matters. Before cancer I usually woke up happy, but clueless. I’m fortunate that I’m a pretty positive person, however now I realize that I stressed about the silliest stuff. I worried that my hair wasn’t perfect, or that I had put on a few pounds, or if I shopped too much. Yes, I wanted to change the world for the better, and I fought for countless causes. But, I took my own life for granted.

And then one day life throws you a curve ball! You are told you have a deadly disease and if you don’t treat it with extreme measures you’ll die in a matter of months. Suddenly, everything but survival seems trivial. And the people in your immediate family become even more special to you than you ever imagined. You want to drink in each essence so you can cling to it for as long as humanly possible.

I remember asking my oncologist what happens if I don’t do chemo, and he gave me the cold hard facts. So… I chose to live and never looked back. Chemotherapy is not something I’d wish on anyone. Frankly, it’s miserable. But, it’s also quite miraculous in how it shrinks tumors. And my doctor’s brilliant surgeon hands were indeed magical in the way he removed multiple tumors and organs. I was very lucky to find such an amazing oncologist/surgeon. The stars were aligned when I discovered him.

After surgery he was surprised when I said it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But, who knows what kind of pain medication he had me on. When I returned home from the hospital about five days later, I became fully aware that the pain was pretty intense and yet I was just happy to be alive and able to walk a bit so none of that mattered. And so I slowly healed and a few weeks later I began chemotherapy once again. My cancer numbers didn’t go down as quickly as the doctor had hoped and I had more blasts of chemo than most people. But I survived.

I admit, I did cry when my hair fell out, along with all my eyebrows and eyelashes too. However, I embraced the new me and drew on some brows so I didn’t look quite so much like an alien. Lol

In my mind I was still just Lesley, not cancer girl, and I suppose I thought I looked much better and healthier than I actually did. I say this because when my son or my sister would take me to the infusion center, I’d often have to sit on a bench as they’d go get the car and drive around to pick me up. There would always be someone who’d walk by, take one look at me, and say something like, “I’ll pray for you.” Often times people would stare and then start to cry. So, I suppose I was pretty scary or pathetic looking.

My doctor had me on a special protein drink for a while because I became painfully thin from so much vomiting. Months and months later I got back to a normal weight when my medication changed and I could eat food again. Thank goodness!

I still have a long journey ahead of me, but on this road, I’ve learned to appreciate EVERYTHING! Yes, everything!

I knew my sons loved me, but I had no idea just how much. I am overwhelmed with how incredible they have been during my cancer battle. I knew I had a great sister, but didn’t realize that she’d be there to hold my head up when I couldn’t keep my food down. And I knew I had some wonderful friends in my life but I had no clue how amazingly thoughtful they were and how the local people helped and visited, and how the rest called, wrote me, showered me with presents, and kept telling me the most positive, kind words to push me forward and keep my spirits up. I learned that I’m truly the luckiest girl in the world.

I really am. I have no idea how long this battle will endure, but I’m ready to take it on. I have no choice. I love living! And I love all the people around me.

I’ve attached some photos of some of my journey this past year…

Continue reading “What a Difference a Year Makes”

VOTE!

Here I am with my newly grown hair after a year of chemotherapy. To my surprise it came back all gray! I had a few white strands going in, but this new sassy look is surprising. I’m thinking …gray is the new blonde! So I am delighted that I finally have some hair and a few eyebrows! AND that I survived long enough to vote! Yay!

Ovarian cancer is a beast. Remission isn’t an option at this stage, but treatment fortunately is. I’m alive and I was able to vote blue by mail to “bring back better”. The link in Florida let me know my vote was received and counted! Boom!

It’s been difficult enough to deal with cancer and to also have to turn on the news every day and watch our inept leader mishandle a pandemic. I’ve fought way too hard to live to succumb to COVID just because our President wants to deny scientific safety measures for his own political gain!

Well, he’s not going to defeat me! I voted, my entire family voted (in different states) and we ALL crushed it! I pray we made a difference so that intelligence, reason, kindness, science, and constitutional knowledge will once again find its way back to Washington  DC. It will take time to undo the damage and division created in the last four years, but I am confident we can fix things!

I’ve been off WordPress for months. This site has changed considerably and I’m clueless how to manipulate or manage the settings. But, on days when I am not throwing up or feeling crummy, I will try to write a little. I hope to be back. And, when I figure out what happened to the settings that allowed me to change my profile picture I will update to my new gray look.

The times they are a changing… and I am so grateful I am alive to see things improve. ✌️❤️🎸

Out, Out, Damn Cancer!

The hospital just called and told me I have to arrive at 6:00 am on Monday to prepare for surgery. And that Surgery begins at 8:00 am. Suddenly this all is becoming REAL!!! Yikes!

So Early Monday morning it’s SHOWTIME! And I will be taking on the most challenging role of my lifetime. One that requires me to dig deep down and re-discover my Stanislavski method acting training that I learned in the late 1960’s where subtext and sensory imagery took my mind to other places so that I could draw upon all the courageous women who walked upon the stage before me. I need to use them now as my guides and my muses to become strong enough to endure this new role I must face.

When I was younger the part I always wanted to play was Lady Macbeth. I was told back in the days when I was still acting, that because I gave off a “virtuous” or “righteous” vibe, I was more suited for such roles as Juliet, Cordelia, or Ophelia etc. I was young and exuded way too much innocence to play the wicked Lady Macbeth. Sigh…

So sadly, I never got to jump into her murderous skin on stage. For years I thought that was the role of a lifetime and I missed it. Now I know there is a more difficult and important role that I must play. However, in the Lady’s defense,I never really saw her as evil per say, but rather easily corrupted and unscrupulous when the play begins…And yet Shakespeare’s character moved me to tears as well. (Especially the way Judy Dentch played her.)

I always thought my version of Lady M would transform her into goodness as she slowly descended into madness. In my mind, I would often see her represented as if she were walking down a grand staircase and by the time her character finally reached the bottom, she would have totally redeemed her soul and found virtue once again.( BTW, At fifty, I think I would have played an excellent Lady Macbeth and could have pulled her off to perfection. I am not quite sure why I am suddenly thinking about a role I always wanted to play but never had an opportunity to audition for. Perhaps, because her character was brave, even though she was dastardly. I just found her brilliantly written and never got to play her… oh well.

On Monday I want to draw from all the brave women written down in books, or in plays, and mostly in real life that I have met…. I want to capture their energy when I get to the hospital and go under the knife.

I have no idea what condition I will be in when I wake up. The Last time the cancer was too large and too plentiful to be removed. This time I am hoping my doctor can remove it all and that chemo shrunk all the tumors enough so that he can get them out of my body. That is why Lady Macbeth came to mind. She said… “Out out damn spot.” For me It is “Out Out, damn cancer!!!!!”

And so I am going to go on Monday and try to conjure up method acting skills from long ago when I used to transport myself to different places in my head when I was a young actress. Back then I donned my soft ballet slippers that would delicately glide across the stage and often I’d be wearing a long gown as I turned myself into someone else. Whether it was the fair Juliet, the pleading Cordelia, a tragic Ophelia, or a comedic character mimicking Judy Holiday, and even the extraordinary young Anne Frank, being dragged off by Nazis yet still believing that mankind was basically good.

Before I took my first step on stage I believed in myself enough to BECOME that character. On Monday I have to believe that I am strong enough to handle whatever happens. And so my costume this time will be a green hospital gown, not the soft flowing medieval garb a beautiful maiden might wear. And my hair won’t be braided and set with pearls or ribbons, I will be bald. But in my mind I will be playing the role of survivor. I got nervous each time I went on stage but the applause abated my butterflies. This time whatever they inject me will ease my nerves I suppose.

I must tell myself what always got me to take that first step through the curtain… “ YOU CAN DO THIS, LESLEY! YOU CAN DO THIS!”

Cancer!

How on earth do I write this post? Carefully I suppose.

Two weeks ago, I went into the hospital to have some biopsies and a hysterectomy done. Or that’s what I thought would happen. I woke up to learn I had a stage 3 cancerous tumors that were too large to be removed. Shock is a mild description of how I felt hearing that news.

My doctor decided that after I healed from the surgery he’d start me on chemo with a goal of shrinking the tumors first and then removing them. So next week my oncologist will let me know the kind of chemo treatment I will be facing. There’s a lot more to this story but I’m not brave enough to write everything down yet.

As I heal from the initial surgery I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. Lots of crying, feeling numb, disbelief, more crying, feeling scared, and a million other emotions.

I think I’m getting to a more positive place. One where I can take on this fight. But, my body is pretty much in pain all the time and that makes it challenging. The doctor was honest. If I do nothing I’ve got about 6 months. Chemo can hopefully shrink the tumors and give me some added years so that’s the option Ive chosen.

I’ve received a great deal of love and support from family and friends and that is very appreciated. But at the end of the day my mind wanders… you see everyone tells me how strong I am. But, I’m not. I’ve been a fighter for truth and justice, yes. For my children, yes. But never for myself.

Spiritually I’ve always prayed for others, but not for myself. It’s not something I’m comfortable doing. I’m not used to asking for help, I’m used to offering it to others. I don’t know how to play this new role. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

So, here’s to the future… I’m hoping the Universe gets some good vibrations to send my way.

One Giant Leap…

It is difficult to believe that it has been 50 years since we put a man on the moon in 1969. I was in college 50 years ago, and that seems equally hard to believe!!! But it is true none the less.

In the summer of 1969 I decided to stay at the University of Miami because I wanted to graduate in 3 years rather than four, and so I took summer classes. Now that I think about it, that seems like a ridiculous plan because I should have just cherished my youth and my freedom and enjoyed every second of my college days. However, I thought I knew everything back then and so I had other goals.

Anyhow, I can clearly remember watching the moon landing in the dorm room of a girl on my floor. She had a tiny TV set up on her desk. The only other television in the entire dorm was downstairs in the lobby, so a group of girls gathered around and we huddled together and watched in amazement as a hazy black and white Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon. It was surreal. I recall getting chills at the wonder of it all. It is complicated to explain the feeling to someone living today where technology is everywhere you turn. But, back in 1969 it was like seeing a Jules Verne novel come to life.

In fact, my memory of the event is so clear that I even recall every detail of what I wore because I had just come in from spending time with a group of my Theatre friends and had made sure I dressed extra “cool” before going out with that “groovy” gang. After all, we were all actresses and actors and needed to stand out in a crowd!! LOL (Funny what one remembers 50 years later).

I wore a bright yellow peasant top, long black hip hugger bell bottom jeans, and weaved a flowing flowered, multi – colored scarf/sash through my belt loops that hung to the floor. In my hair I had the left side partially braided and clipped a flower to it with a bobby pin. (I made the sash myself out of a mixture of bright prints and sewed fringe on the end so it would sway as I walked.) On my feet I wore what were referred to as “Monster shoes”. They were large healed slip on oxford like clogs that got the nick name Monster because they were reminiscent of something Frakenstein’s monster might wear. 

So, there I was, the epitome of what a cool girl in 1969 looked like, sitting on the floor in my bell bottoms, amongst a group of girls from a variety of different backgrounds watching American Astronauts land on the MOON!!!!!!!

The girl whose room it was stood up and began explaining to everyone what was happening. She said she wanted to be an astronaut and was studying engineering and majoring in math. I remember being impressed with her knowledge of space travel and asked her this question, 
“Do you really think in our life time that girls will actually be allowed into the space program? And if they are, do you think they will really let you go into space?” 
Everyone became quiet as she answered. 
“I honestly don’t know. But, I am still going to try! I am going to study hard and apply for a job working for NASA. I won’t give up and if I get the chance to train I will take it. It’s my dream. I have heard that they are starting training programs for women and I want to be apart of that. “
I told her how brave she was and that I hoped her dreams would come true. I also said I’d be rooting for her. 

So while I watched everything that was happening on the moon and found it unbelievable…. I kept my eye on the girl whose name I don’t remember. She wasn’t one of the girls I knew during the regular school year, she was just there to take classes during the summer and I didn’t get to know her well. But, I was as impressed with her determination and the lust in her eyes for space travel watching Armstrong, as I was with the whole experience of seeing our men jump around the moon. Yes, there I was, a little hippie flower child watching the moon landing and standing next to someone I knew would be one of our first female astonauts.

I figured, that if we could put a man on the moon, then girls could do anything too. THAT is how I remember 1969 and the moon landing. One giant leap for mankind and also as the day I became a feminist.

So This is 70!?

BIRTHDAY GIRL AT 70

I made it! This week I turned 70!!! I was surrounded by my two sons, my precious grandchildren, and my sister. What could have been better?

My children planned a Sherlock Holmes Escape Room Mystery Birthday Party for me and we had a fabulous time deciphering challenging puzzles, figuring out unusual clues, and finally solving where the mystery person was hidden, and still found our way out of the locked room before our time was up! It was the best birthday ever! I highly recommend an exciting event room party! It stimulates the mind and is filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Or legs actually, since you will be running around finding clues!!

I have been a Sherlock fan for decades, so being able to shout, “The Game is Afoot” after walking into a duplicate version of 221B Baker Street was absolutely delightful!!! I can’t tell you how much fun I had!!


I learned that age is indeed a number and as long as you spend time with those you love, the number isn’t important. But, solving mysteries is ageless!

Come celebrate with me as I dance my way into my 70’s. I plan to have an exciting decade ahead!! So WordPress buddies, rock on with this gal and keep on dancing right along with me!!! I’m going to tell old age to just “Hit me with your best shot. Fire Away!” Because I am still dancing!!!!

The Woman

The Woman 

Down a narrow corridor the image of a woman approaches far in the distance.  A soft stream of light dances off the walls and casts an ethereal glow in her direction as she slowly glides towards me. I am instantly intrigued by her familiarity and mystery.

The illumination of her face enables me to observe segments of her features in the hopes of discovering who she is. Attempting a closer glance, I study her face and notice a faint smattering of freckles sprinkled across her cheeks and a wide-eyed astuteness in her demeanor. I am puzzled by her contradictory expression. She somehow blends innocence and experience together painted with a splash of wisdom as she gazes in my direction in bewilderment.

I’m temporarily surprised by her youthful aura, since my eyes tell me she has walked this earth for eternity.  I see fine lines at the corner of her eyes revealing a life’s journey well traveled. Young and old co- mingle together, as if in a dance, whirling to form a pirouette swaying jointly to create an enigma.

Hers is a face that has experienced the complexities of life; the power of love, exciting adventures, births and deaths, sorrows and joys. Her eyes stare right through me, twinkling as if they hold all the mysteries of the universe deep inside.

We smile at one another and she nods knowingly in my direction. Sudden laughter erupts from her lips and it is instantly contagious. I catch myself laughing along side of her creating a synchronized sound.  As I continue to examine her image carefully, my confusion becomes amplified.

I notice her strength, determination, and the plethora of memories she embodies. I can detect that she carries a reflection of childhood playfulness, teenage angst, young love, ambition, a carefree spirit, peace protests, rock concerts, limitless novels and plays, motherhood, a successful career, and being called grandma for the first time.

Glimpses of a life filled with unusual adventures and ordinary daily events pass before me as I approach the tall mirror in the hallway.  And for an instant I see a flash of mini skirts, bell-bottoms, guitars and peace signs transforming into the grandmother standing before me in the mirror. I see myself.  

I see me at 16, 20, 40, 60 and today. I see 70!

Suddenly, I look away for a split second to double check if the girl I used to be is still there behind my reflection. I need to know that she still exists in the likeness radiating from the hallway mirror.

I blink to make sure the essence of who I was still lingers somewhere in the glass before me and I let out a gasp.

YES!!!!! Oh, YES! I see her. She is indeed still there!

Older, softer, rounder, not quite as tall as she used to be.  Hair drizzled with a few silver streaks but ever full and luxurious, Eyes, expressive and large, ready to explore the unknown, all while surrounded by laugh lines from decades of smiling.  And as I recognize my reflection I sigh and then speak aloud.

“Hello old friend. I see you in there, I’m so glad you’re still here to continue this journey with me.”

And a few tears softly slide down my cheeks as I realize that years and age cannot change who I am inside. I tightly shut my eyes and envision that vibrant and vital young girl protesting for peace. I open them again and stare into my reflection. I inspect the determined woman I am today. Older, smarter, and ready to keep fighting for change.

I may walk a little slower, but I’ve become quite a bit wiser. I take nothing for granted and appreciate every moment I am given. Always trying to find a new pathway to creativity, and ready to gain more knowledge with every decade I’m allowed to endure.

I take one last look at my image in the mirror and then smile.

“So this is 70? Happy Birthday to me! 70 doesn’t seem quite as old and scary as I thought it would be.”

And then I hum a few bars from a song that I identified with in 1967 and dance my way out the door.

Where Have All My Blog Posts Gone?

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WHERE HAVE ALL MY BLOG POSTS GONE?

Where have all my blog posts gone?
Long time passing
Where have all my blog posts gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the blog posts gone?
I have avoided them every one
When will I ever learn?
When will I ever learn?

(Adapted from the song Where have all the Flowers gone by Pete Seeger.)

Dear Readers,

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted on my blog since the beginning of 2019.The good news is… I haven’t stopped writing for months; I just haven’t posted anything on my blog. I assure you that I still write routinely and produce daily Facebook posts about current events and do my usual grandma bragging. I also respond frequently to Word Press friends with lengthy philosophical answers, as well as working on my current novel. But, I have certainly neglected and avoided my Word Press blog.

Why you ask? Well, I’ll attempt to explain. You see, In January I set a personal goal/promise to myself, to write less about politics and focus more on positive topics. So, I told myself when our current President did something extreme, to wait at least a full week before freaking out and writing yet another political blog. In trying to avoid posting something negative (brought about by the madman in White House), I discovered that I was unable to write anything at all. My hands were tied because “45” was always doing something infuriating! And in my intent to avoid continuously writing how frustrated I was with this administration and the lack of courage and core values I saw in many of the current GOP representatives, I was left helpless and unable to abide by my promise to myself.

Therefore, every time something happened, I took a deep breath and decided to wait before blogging about it. And so I waited, and waited, and waited. A full week never passed without our President behaving badly, acting ridiculous, inept, or unconscionable. Since he couldn’t make it an entire week without a crazy tweet, or a rambling unintelligible TV appearance, or a bizarre trip to meet with one of his favorite dictators, I  was forced to stay away from my blog lest I succumb to discussing his appalling behavior. And because his actions were worse than ever  I tried my best to ignore what was happening…  However, I was unable to turn on the news without hearing about former colleagues or WH staff members being sentenced to jail.  AARGH! How could I write anything positive with a daily Trump corruption soap opera revealing itself? I promised myself 2019 would be more upbeat and less about this administration or politics around the world. But today I had to go back on my word and forget the goal I made.

With the horrible tragedy that happened in New Zealand I just can’t stay quiet any longer. I care too much about humanity to remain silent. I am terrified of the hate crimes inundating the world. I will never understand this! No group of people should ever be targetted because of their faith or their color. There is no logical reason for this kind of bigotry!!!!!

In my every day life I am a happy person. I share peace, love and joy to those around me. But I care way to deeply about the world in which I live to turn a blind eye. I want this country and the entire world to be safe for my grandchildren and all the children who will be around long after I am gone..

And so I must do something!!! I can protest the high prices of medicine in my country (Which I do), I can protest for equality and stand up for safer gun laws, I can write my representatives and volunteer to help others. I do all those things. But I NEED to write about politics too. My voice, your voice, WE THE PEOPLE have a voice and need to use it! And so I write.  My blog will continue to be about politics when it needs to be.

Righting the wrongs of the world is who I am. It was who I was in college when I protested against the Viet Nam War. When I fought for women’s rights. It was who I was when I marched outside the campus library wearing jeans with protest signs because girls could only wear skirts in the library and to class.(This was 1967, girls believe it or not had to wear dresses everywhere in public on campus.) I wanted equal rights. BTW, my protest got news coverage and the next school year women were allowed to wear pants or jeans in class AND in the library!!! VICTORY!!!!

I played in the first all girl’s rock band in South Florida and my political voice was heard through my music and my lyrics.

I could go on and on about everything I have stood up for over the years and how I protested for what I felt would benefit women, children, minorities etc. It is who I have always been. So why should I stop now? If you are looking for contests on my blog site you won’t find them. I spent 36 years teaching and every year I created a  million poetry or writing contests for students. So I am done with that now. I write to enlighten and to blow off steam. I write to find joy and I write because I must!  Freedom of speech.  I am woman hear me roar!

Yes, at the beginning of 2019 I wanted to approach the new year with a different vibe but I have decided that the old vibe is working just fine. So, since next month I begin an entirely new decade (I will soon write a blog about that.) I had planned to turn over a new leaf. Instead, I am embracing the old leaf. It might be turning brittle, cracking and breaking apart. (That happens when living things age). But, like a leaf, I am as colorful and vibrant as ever. And I will be blowing in the wind for as long as the universe allows me to do so.

Note to you younger folks…I got the title for this blog from a Pete Seeger song I used to sing. In fact it was the very first song I learned to play on my guitar when I was in middle school. I heard it on a Peter Paul and Mary album and by ear I figured out the chords. It was my introduction to folk music and I strummed away and sang this song along with many others by PP&M, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger etc. After that I wrote my own protest songs and eventually saved up for an electric guitar and switched to rock music. But this particular song has always stuck in my head and seemed the perfect title for my blog.

Yep, I suppose I am just going to have to write what is in my heart. I’ve fought for change for too long to give up now. So where have all my blog posts gone?? No where!!!!! They are right here. I’m back baby!!!! I have never really been gone…

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Happy 2019!!!

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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

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!”

 

 

 

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.

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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quietly

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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Rain Rain Go Away…

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What a gloomy, rainy day it is. It has been raining, (thundering and lightning) since the wee hours of the morning and now way into midday. Not that I mind the rain, its rather cozy and a nice way to spend a Sunday.

However, I must admit that last night before the huge storm began; I got a text from my oldest son saying that he was taking his family up the state to enjoy the Labor Day weekend and give my grand daughter a LEGOLAND Birthday. (LEGOLAND is my grandchildren’s favorite place in the entire world!) And he wanted me to know he was not going to be in town and to stay safe.

He is so sweet. I know he worries about me because when he leaves the local area then both my boys, (I mean men) will be gone, and I am alone.  I have to admit that it IS a strange feeling. I have gotten used to my youngest son living in Georgia but it IS an odd feeling to think both my sons aren’t around the corner any more. I suppose moms always want their children close, no matter how grown up they get.

In any case, I was awaken this morning with a face time call from my younger son in Atlanta, who was off today, showing me his organic garden and was very concerned because his home grown cucumbers that were a delectable treat last week, were now filled with little worms. We had a discussion about organic gardens and he said he had to get an organic spray that wasn’t harmful to the soil or humans and animals, but would drive away the worms. (Yes, that is what we really discussed.)

I shared with him my time in California where young hippie- Lesley was living on a farm in Sebastopol and I had my own organic garden. I returned home one afternoon after work only to discover that the cows from a neighboring farm had jumped the fence and eaten all my sunflower plants that were almost ready to eat. We then had a long discussion about how fragile crops were to the elements and how difficult life must be for farmers. But the best thing was his literary reference. (Keeping in mind I AM an elementary school teacher who has a vast Children’s literature collection and read to my children endlessly when they were little.)
He commented,” You know, this experience of growing my own food makes me much more sympathetic to Mr. McGregor and his garden and less understanding of Peter Rabbit and his pesky sisters, Flopsy and Mopsy!” I got hysterical laughing. That kid!!!! Kiddie Lit. humor is right up my alley!

Son, Johnny then proceeded to take me on a face-time tour of his garden and one of his neighbors (Who I met during a visit last summer) came out to say hello and she wanted his opinion about plants to use for her newly built front porch.
I left them chatting and felt like I had been virtually with my son. And before I could even get into the shower my other son text a group of photos of the grandkids having a blast at LegoLand. And several comments checking on my well being.

It’s nice to know that even on a rainy, gloomy day when my grown children are miles away, they are still thinking of their mom and sharing their lives with me.
Gosh,I feel very, very lucky. Let the storm rage on, because I feel enveloped in love.

                        My sons and I                    Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor

He Came To Me In A Dream…

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I had one of my “unique” dreams last night…
I was at John McCain’s funeral and his family was standing, lined up by his casket. I walked by and nodded paying my respects, but then looked up and saw John himself standing beside his children, dressed in full military garb. His face smiling, young and full of life. His arms and body repaired and once again whole from the tortures he endured as a prisoner of war.

I started crying when I saw him and he walked over to me. I spoke to him softly and said, “Sir, what is our country going to do without you? How is Congress going to proceed without the voice of reason? I fear there aren’t any decent people fighting for ‘We the People’ any more.”

He smiled and then put his hand on my shoulder. I could feel his strength and his warmth and heard him say,  “Don’t despair. Don’t stop fighting because it WILL eventually be alright. I’m not giving up the fight. I’ll still be there fighting for you, I promise. Even death cannot change my commitment to America.”

I looked up at him through tears and saw him grin. And then I asked, “But, how? I’m the only one who can see you.”

He laughed that maverick chuckle of his and replied,  “That’s true, but, some will feel my presence, and that will be enough. I promise you, I won’t stop fighting and you cannot give up either. Never ever give up! Will you promise me that?”

I nodded.  He once again put his hand on my shoulder and then turned around, looking  at me smiling as he walked back to his family who were kneeling by his casket weeping.

I waved goodbye and walked on… and abruptly woke up.

I have had many “special” dreams in my lifetime. Mostly from friends and family who have passed away. But when John McCain comes to you in a dream and tells you to keep fighting for freedom and liberty, you listen.

So that, my friends, is the message I share today. Keep up the fight for freedom because “WE the People” must be the conscience of America.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (Review)

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Last night I watched the movie, “Goodbye Christopher Robin”. I thought I’d watch it first and see if it was appropriate to show my grandchildren, to whom I have recently introduced the poems and stories of A.A. Milne.

This is NOT a children’s movie. Instead, it is a touching and heart-wrenching story of a man haunted by the ravages of war and suffering from PTSD. A man trying to find happiness again while running from the bombs he still hears in his head long after the First World War ends.

Alan Alexander Milne was a fellow who stumbled on precious moments here and there when he was able to escape real life and delve into remarkable adventures with his young son, Christopher. Together they discovered a magical place bringing stuffed animals to life and filled with wonderous imagery that can only be conjured up by the innocence of a child.  This movie tells a gut-wrenching story revealing much more than I ever knew about the author whose books I have cherished and read to countless children over the years.

My copies of Milne’s poems and Winnie the Pooh stories are from my own childhood collection. (Reprinted from the 1926 originals and were given to me in the mid 1950’s.) Yes, my own well-loved books graced my shelves for decades and then sat in my classroom for 36 years so my students could enjoy and delight in their magic. And they currently are back where they belong… with me, on my shelves once again, to love and cherish for as long I am able to delight in them.

My grandchildren read them to me when they visit. They too have fallen under the spell of Christopher Robin and Winnie just like I did.( And like children all around the world after WWI.)
If you want to see an excellent film I highly recommend this one. I shed a lot of tears, but then it may have touched me in particular because of my connection to children’s literature and the incredible world of Winnie the Pooh. Such wonderful stories that got me through the 1950’s, and enchanted my own children, and now my grandchildren.

In the mid 1970’s I remember sketching out figures of all the characters from the Hundred Acre Woods and painting them around the bottom of my son’s bedroom wall when he was little. I even used colored contact paper for their clothing. That way, each day when he awoke, he could see Winnie and his friends there to greet him.

I personally found this film extremely touching and also quite sad. It reminded me just how damaging war is to those young people who are in the middle of battle, and how society just goes on and simply ignores the inner turmoil our veterans are feeling when they return home. A poignant statement.
If you get a chance. Check it out.

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When Will This Nightmare End?

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I remember being a little girl watching the trial of Adolf Eichmann on a black and white television.
He sat in a little booth- like cage at his trial for crimes against humanity. I vividly recall hearing witness after witness tell their heartbreaking stories.
The survivors…sobbing, fainting from the horrors of their memories, as they testified against the monster of a man who sat in the booth. One after the other told atrocities Eichmann committed or ordered others to commit. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing.

I was just a child and yet I closely watched the face of the man who murdered countless innocents without a second thought. And what shocked me the most about his expression was his total indifference. He had no remorse. No sympathy for any of the murders he had committed. He accepted no responsibility, and even scoffed at those who had been tortured while watching their families killed in front of their eyes.

I was sure nothing like that could ever happen again in my lifetime, but I was wrong. Evil is alive and well and living in Washington DC. I see the same bone chilling depravity when I look into the eyes of our “Liar in Chief”.

I hope and pray that 45 and his entire administration, including any of the silent members of Congress, who allowed his barbaric actions and decisions against people living in this country, are brought to trial for crimes against humanity and for TREASON. These monsters do NOT represent America. They do not possess any of the values epitomized by our founding fathers. When did America tear children from their mothers and put them into camps? This sounds way too much like Nazi Germany.

I hope the lot of them rot in jail for their brutal, sadistic behavior, and that the history books reflect truthfully what happened to our country during this corrupt administration. I am disgusted, saddened, and angry that America has fallen into the depths of hell under this new leadership.

And today to hear Bible passages being spoken out of context to justify horrific acts is the epitome of corruption.  May G-d save us all.

When will this nightmare end?

 

Am I A Geek Because I Like Royal Weddings?

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Am I a Geek because I like Royal Weddings? Probably, but, I really don’t care. You see, I find royal weddings enchanting, charming, and totally romantic. They bring back fairy tale dreams most little girls, including myself, had when we heard all those magical princess stories back when we were children.

I think the majority of little girls wanted to grow up to become princesses. That is of course, before they fully understood the difference between fantasy and reality and that life goals needed to be realistic, not a fairy tale illusion.

I know I wanted to be like Cinderella when I was growing up in the 1950’s. (Except for all the cleaning she had to do).  Or, a bit like Snow White.  She was lovely and had a way with animals. (But no, NOT the parts where she had to cook and clean for 7 little men. I always wondered why she did that. Goodness that was bizarre!!!)

Countless stories from books and Disney movies glamorized becoming a princess, and falling in love with a handsome Prince was standard reading in just about every story for girls back when I was growing up. Is it any wonder why every little girl wanted to grow up to become a princess? Even my grand daughter walked around in princess gowns, princess sleeping attire, and donned a tiara for quite a while after seeing the movie “Frozen”. So many themes enticing girls to meet their Prince Charming and live in a castle. Story after story revealed a prince or a knight saving a beautiful fair maiden and inevitably they’d end up living happily ever after. The princess was ALWAYS beautiful, (Princes never seemed to save ugly girls, only the prettiest girl in the kingdom.) AND she usually had blonde hair. Thank goodness Snow White was a brunette!!  Five year old Lesley had at least one princess with dark hair to look up to. My grand daughter has curls and she cried because all the princesses had straight hair.  (Who writes these princess stories anyway?  They are traumatizing our little girls!!!)

Yes, being a princess might have been a sweet dream to imagine when I was five. However, I learned early on that I didn’t need to be saved and if there were any dragons to be slayed I could handle those myself. I always thought I was adventurous enough to do what the boys in the stories did. Perhaps, because I had an older brother and I took great delight in trying to beat him (and his buddies) at running, basketball and all other sports. (BTW, I could hit a soft ball out of the park.)

But, in the 1950’s and early 60’s my mother reminded me that the boys wouldn’t like it if I beat them at everything. So, eventually I stopped out shining the males around me when it came to sports and moved on to other adventures. Like reading writing, dancing, drawing etc.

Yet, secretly, I think I still thought coaches made out of pumpkins and fairy godmothers who turned rags into ball gowns and delicate glass slippers, were incredibly special. The problem was, that as I grew up the majority of princes I met (or married) were nice enough fellows, I just discovered that it was “moi” who did ALL the saving. I remember thinking “When do I get saved? “ AND the parts of the fairy tales I didn’t like, (You know, all that cooking and cleaning stuff), I had to do that anyways as a wife and mother. I couldn’t win!!

So, I began to live my own real life fairy tales, since the ones in the stories didn’t seem to work on feminists very well. Especially during the turbulent 60’s and 70’s.

But, still …somewhere, deep down inside, I must have retained a tiny bit of the Cinderella story because I am sucker for a good romance. I do seem to love, love!

So… yes, royal weddings make me feel a bit nostalgic for the days  when I still thought my prince would come charging in on a white horse. It wasn’t until I realized that I was afraid of horses that I figured I’d have to scratch that fantasy. Besides, in a crisis, afraid or not, I always seemed to take control. Perhaps that’s because I was a divorced, single mother and single moms learn VERY quickly how to fill in and do any role. We’re really good at being a Mom OR a dad, a teacher, OR a super hero. Women are strong as hell and we can do just about everything!

I even became proficient at throwing around a football and a baseball to my sons, and I could hit a mean curve ball most of the time. So, you’d think that a strong, independent woman like myself wouldn’t be a sap for love stories involving princes and princesses, but I am.

Royal weddings give us all hope. They bring optimism that real life fairy tales can actually come true. And they are even better when the bride to be is a so-called commoner. That just tugs at my heart and brings the age-old stories right into the 21st century. Especially when our bride is an independent American feminist. How awesome is that??? It means that true love may really exist! And happily ever afters do too.

So… I am here to confess, that I too am caught up in the Megan and Harry love story. Corny you say? You bet. Shallow? Perhaps. But, I am a true romantic at heart and I enjoy a good love story. I always have.

And the fact that Harry was Diana’s baby boy and all of us, who were around during her tumultuous lifetime and adored her, makes this wedding even more meaningful.

I was teaching when the news of Diana’s accident hit the airwaves. My young female students came back from lunch in tears. Word had spread of her death. I was forced to address it in class and we shared a tenderhearted discussion about her good qualities and how helping those less fortunate was her legacy. It led to an essay of what each of us could do to exemplify her charitable character. I believe that spontaneous lesson was one of the best of my 36-year teaching career.

I have a particular fondness for Diana’s children. I feel like all of us mothers out there are watching over her boys because she can’t. And I think Diana would be very pleased with her darling Harry’s choice in a bride. He is marrying a strong young woman who seems to care a great deal about human rights and she clearly adores her soon to be husband. What more could any mother want for her child?

So… Yes, I’ll be watching the wedding. Not as it is happening… (Goodness knows I am not getting up that early), but I will watch it as they replay it during the day and feel that love won this time around.

Love beat convention and social guidelines. It beat prejudice and boundaries, and two lovely souls will be brought together as one. And I am sure I will cry. (I always cry at weddings.). And then no doubt, I will probably be subconsciously humming “Some day my prince will come” from one of Disney’s Princess films. Not a bad way to spend the day when Harry and Megan walk down the isle.

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Oh Please!

Sharing a delightful poem by my dear long time friend, “POETLADYUNIVERSE”.
This is certainly what we all think about as watch the years go rolling by.

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Sometimes I wish
I could do it all over again
My mother always said
If I knew then
What I know now

What would be different?
We were so certain of things
Things we loved
And things we hated
Things that we forgot about
As soon as we could

Now in an older age
We are not so certain
Maybe if I
could have
Or should have
Or would have

We look back and wonder
All those roads not taken
Oh please!
We didn’t want to go there anyway!

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Varying Degrees of a Dilemma…

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Different stages of life bring varying degrees and interpretations of what constitutes a dilemma. Here is my example for today…

I woke up earlier than usual this morning because I am scheduled to be a poetry judge  for “Louder Than a Bomb Florida”. I have been looking forward to hearing students share their poetic voices and express themselves in a lyrical format. The finals to this competition will be later in April and my small role is to help narrow down the best poets and poetry teams by judging today’s competitors. (Keeping in mind that poetry is subjective. However, based on a given criteria, the group of judges have their scores tabulated and score keepers come up with an average for each individual poet, group, and school to see who moves on to the semi finals.)

Anyhow, I started thinking about the young poets I’ll see and hear today. I had a fleeting moment of recollection of my own youth when I used to write poetry, turn it into songs, and then play my poems as music on either my folk or electric guitar. I lamented momentarily for my long lost youth, which ironically still seems very alive to me, until I happen to walk past a mirror.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for every gray hair and every line because I have survived life, when so many others have not. And so I rejoice each and every day that I am still alive. A part of me has been shouting to the heavens my gratitude that in less than a week I will reach the last year of my 60’s, but another part of me realizes that I am verging on the decade I have set aside in my mind and called OLD age!!!

Whenever I refer to myself as middle aged, my older son in his 40’s, laughs at me explaining that HE is middle aged and therefore I cannot possibly be middle aged too. I tell him he cannot call me old until I approach my 70’s and as long I am still in my 60’s I am indeed middle aged, at least as far as I am concerned!!! (I’m a junior senior and that’s that!!! End of discussion!!)

So, with 69 lurking in the wings, and a little envy at the young fresh faces and outspoken words I will be hearing today, I have a plethora of mixed emotions this morning about getting older. There is still that young rebel inside of me and I envy the poets of today, who with their words have the power to change our world. I rejoice in their passion, their strength, their physical beauty. But most of all, I admire their energy.  I still feel like just like they do deep down inside.  That is until I actually look in the mirror.

This morning I stood in front of my reflection to slap on a little blush and lipstick and low and behold, in front of my face I saw a huge red ZIT on my left cheek!!! I burst out laughing and actually jumped up and did a happy dance. YES. I jumped for joy! I mean, if I can still get a pimple, doesn’t it mean that I am still young inside??

Gone are the days when a blemish was the end of the world. I used to agonize over those period pimples that would pop out of nowhere when I least wanted to see them. But today, I rejoice that I have a large red zit on my face. I feel young again! Hoorah!!!

Now, my dilemma is this… I don’t have pimple cover up since I am 68 years old and never get break outs anymore. I suppose under eye concealer will do the trick. Or maybe, just maybe, I will let that big old red sucker shine brightly proving that this old girl is still young enough to break out! Hahaha isn’t life something???  I have a pimple today. Yippee!!!! I feel young…. or at least 40 again. I can’t believe it!  I am going to a poetry slam and I will fit right in. I’ll have a pimple.  Isn’’t life grand???!!!!!

Moi with Judges for “Louder Than A Bomb Florida”

An Evening With The Bard!

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Tonight the newest movie version (2013) of Romeo and Juliet was on television and I decided to give watching it another try.

Those of you who know me well, know R & J is my absolute favorite play of all time. Without a thought I can recall just about every line from every character in that play. So when this particular film version first came out I couldn’t wait to watch it. But, a few years ago I turned it off before Romeo ever set eyes on his beloved Juliet. Why? Because the director had it rewritten so that it was in every day language and thus despite the exquisite scenery, gorgeous costumes, and beautiful actors, it was a mockery of that which we call Shakespeare.

However, this time when I flipped through the stations, I came upon the scene where Romeo first gazes at our gal Juliet. He went right into his original lines. “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! ” etc.
And so I gasped…and tears instantly welled up because their “meet and greet” scene was exactly as it was originally written. Just as I performed it in college back in 1970, and just as I taught it to my students year after year. And in that moment I was immediately drawn back into the world of blank verse. (Better known as unrhymed iambic pentameter).
Yes, to my delight, the director was at least clever enough to use The Bard’s original verse for most of the important lines between the world’s most famous lovers. Thank goodness!!!!!!

I don’t know why this director felt the need to dumb down a good portion of the dialogue. Young people today aren’t stupid. They would still watch it, and still understand the content and passion this play evokes without ripping good old Will’s words to shreds. Thankfully, enough was left intact for me to enjoy .  But seriously, why would anyone want to tamper with perfection?
The director could have changed the costumes, the staging, and the set; modernize the make-up or hairstyles, but NOT the words! NEVER THE WORDS!!!

There is a reason this play and all of Shakespeare’s plays have survived for centuries. It’s because they are brilliantly written. His words fall of the tongue like musical notes and float up into the theatre, circle around, and touch your heart. And they stay with you for a lifetime.

So… tonight I found some unexpected joy when I watched my favorite play.  I now have yet another movie version to enjoy when I long to hear The Bard.
Sigh…An evening with Will Shakespeare and unrhymed Iambic pentameter. Ahhh… Life is grand!!!

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1970 University of Miami. Juliet AKA Lesley

 

 

 

 

The Mass Shooting Down the Road.

On any given day, at any given time, in any given school, in no particular order, any one of our children or grandchildren could be killed while trying to get an education.

Today it was the school down the road from my house. Today 17 people lost their lives just 15 minutes from my home. In a beautiful neighborhood, in an academically excellent school, while the sun was shining, while I ate lunch, a gunman murdered 17 human beings, just down the road.

This morning parents said goodbye to their children never realizing that their precious darlings would never return. All this happened in my perfect little Florida community on Valentine’s Day.

As a retired educator I spent 36 years of my life teaching children. I never dreamed that something like this could touch my community. Not mine. But it did, and just down the road from where my sweet grandchildren sat in their classrooms in a nearby elementary school.

There is a gun epidemic in America that is more deadly than any virus or disease. And It is destroying our beautiful bright future and killing our children. And what do I say to my grandkids who will now be terrified to go back to school? I don’t know how to make them feel safe again. This is NOT how we should have to raise our children. This is not how America is supposed to be on any given day, at any given time. Not America!

Dear neighbors and friends, together we must make this nightmare stop. It Is fixable! By voting for representatives and leaders who are bold enough and care enough about our families to pass safer gun laws, “We The People” can save lives. Together we can do this! Our children do not have to be sitting ducks any more. We can stop this slaughtering of innocents. But, we must demand change and vote out those who don’t care about our loved ones.

These home grown terrorists,who are mostly young white males, can be identified and denied fire arms if Congress passes new gun safety laws and enforces them to protect our babies.

The President and Congress can keep their prayers to themselves. It doesn’t help those students killed just down the road from my house. Only safer gun laws will protect the rest of our children. Not speeches or bowing down to the NRA. Until better laws are created, then we will continue to live in the Wild West of Ignorance . And Americans don’t want to live in that world anymore. Enough is enough!

What is Congress Teaching Our Children?

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I’m watching the news and waiting anxiously to see if we are going to have another government shutdown. The clock is ticking…

I am so relieved that I am finally retired and not teaching in the classroom any more. Gifted students ask questions and while I never got political or took sides (Not ever!) when I taught school, it would be really hard to answer questions honestly during these trying times.

With Congress acting like bullies and non compromising fools, how do parents and teachers expect children to “play nicely” when our leaders and representatives are always fighting and finger pointing? It’s like Kindergarten! My new name for them is: KINDERGARTEN CONGRESS!!!

And NOW we have a leader who wants to spend a fortune on a parade???? Good Lord, you just know gifted students would come into school and want to debate that issue. So, I would have to let THEM debate and stay out of any political implications (And boy would that be hard.)

But, teachers have NO business pushing any agenda in school. So, I would have the students brainstorm topics, let them break into groups, do research, and then based on their data have a debate. It sure would be interesting to see what the students  think about everything happening in the world right now. I wouldn’t rate them on being right or wrong, but on their research skills, presentation ability, logic, and teamwork etc.

And MAYBE, just maybe, I’d have a group of youngsters who actually learned a lesson from seeing all this bad behavior from the people who are supposed to be in charge. MAYBE they would learn that intelligence, reason, patience, education, compromise, open-mindedness, willingness to listen to one another, is the best way to help the American people.

And just MAYBE a few of those children might run for office some day. Now wouldn’t that be grand?

I am still hopeful that this mess we are watching every day will be a lesson for what NOT to do when our kids grow up. Let’s hope!!!

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       2017 – A Year of Losses.

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WHAT A YEAR!!!!  2017 began with heartache and loss. The loss of an election that shattered my hopes and dreams of seeing a woman lead our country.

The loss of decency in “The People’s House”, where buffoonery and illiteracy overshadowed intelligence and eloquence. The loss of a free press and of a nation that was admired around the world.

The loss of a country, which supported diversity. Replacing a true leader and gaining a figurehead that turned facts into fake news and who criticized, and accused rather than uniting.

Yet, all through 2017, I brushed away tears and persevered pushing forward to hold fast to the convictions that right defeats wrong, that good overcomes evil, that love trumps hate.  This year has been one of many losses and I am left hollow, bereft, and fatigued.

December rolled around with the passing of one of my dearest friends, who danced with the demon Cancer. That shadowy, smarmy figure that ravished her body but never touched her kind soul.

Yes, 2017 was filled with so many losses. But, I have never been one to hold grudges, or stay down for very long, so I will rise in 2018 to meet new challenges.

I go into this New Year NOT wiping away the slate. No, to me, wiping away slates erases history. Deletes the 6 million who died from the hands of a dictator, ignores bigotry, misogyny and evil. NO! I do NOT forget. Because to forget means we erase history and we cannot learn if we forget. But I DO move forward.

I pledge to move forward and continue to work towards equality for ALL in 2018. For EVERY citizen of the world. Every man, woman and child. For every gender and anything in between the lines. I promise to value each and every one of you. And I promise to help as long as I am able. THIS is what I promise to do in 2018. NOT to wipe away the past. BUT TO USE THE PAST TO MAKE OUR FUTURE BETTER!!!!

Because we have a leader who is obsessed with the word GREAT, I have thought long and hard about how to do my best to achieve that goal. Greatness is defined as being admired and respected; yet to me it is much more than that. In my opinion, greatness is promoting the welfare of others. Looking to those less fortunate than ourselves and helping them. Making sure they are clothed and fed, educated and given shelter. Helped to be able to stand on their own. And taking care of those who cannot stand any more. Those who are sick, or elderly need our respect and our kindness. THAT is what I will be doing in 2018.

I will be helping, working, dreaming, creating, and making sure that ALL our citizens get a chance to live, learn, and be productive members of society.

I am energized now. I look forward to helping change the lives of those in need. 2017 kicked my behind. In 2018, I kick back!!! Happy New Year.  Welcome 2018!

2782797-wonder_woman_new_yearHappy Happy New Year! Welcome 2018.

50 Shades of Sexual Harassment?

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50 Shades of Sexual Harassment?

After the surprising accusations regarding Senator Franken yesterday, I started thinking about the varying differences in what is considered sexual harassment. NONE of it is appropriate under any circumstances, but I am realizing that there are certainly varying degrees of harassment, and a huge difference between a sexual predator, a pedophile, and an inappropriate comedian.

If suddenly we hear more revelations against Senator Franken, then certainly this post will be updated, but for now, I realize that if we look for sexual innuendos on both sides of Congress, we are going to find them everywhere and probably occurring daily.  So, unless Americans want to kick out every man in Congress and replace them all with women, (Sounds like a good idea to me), then we pretty much have to look at each and every person independently and determine what was heinous or habitual behavior, and what was perceived as harmless, but incredibly poor and insensitive taste.

I do hope all these women coming forward will finally enlighten the vast amount of men on the planet who still haven’t gotten the memo, and allow them to understand that ALL sexual innuendos, unwarranted touching, and groping is WRONG! But, we also have to be realistic. In our society polite flirting and casual innuendos sadly, have been a way of life in this country as far back as I can remember. And evidently it continues to this day. We women have to clearly and precisely define to those males who are still behaving badly, just exactly what is NOT acceptable behavior towards women. Because apparently they haven’t been able to figure it out on their own. So I am suggesting we give them a step-by-step manual!!

This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is a sexual harassment issue. If nothing is said and people are not held accountable then this good old boy mentality will continue on til the end of time. And by the way, teaching respectful behavior needs to start at the very top of our chain of command! (YES! I mean the grabber in chief.) And sexual misconduct should be made aware to both men and women so that neither gender behaves inappropriately. As a matter of fact, I questioned myself today on what exactly determines sexual harassment when women are in power?

Here is a scenerio: I moved into a 55 and older community after my second husband passed away a few years back and most of the residents here are widows of varying ages. And let me tell you, when the UPS and FEDEX guys come to deliver their medication or a package they ordered, they are all peeking out their windows giggling or running outside onto the catwalk to wave at them. Actually, it’s rather cute to see Granny smiling at Mr. Hunky UPS or FEDEX driver. I mean you know she’s NOT going to cast aside her walker and stick her tongue down his throat. (Like members of Congress have been known to do.) But, you see, society has forgotten that women over 50 are still sexual beings with brains and beauty, and some of these women rarely get to see a man under 70, so they do take notice when these muscular men drive up in their delivery trucks. Is that considered sexual harassment? I am not sure.

Perhaps these ladies are just trying to remember that once upon a time they were young, pretty, and desirable. To the world, or at least in the USA, women of a certain age become invisible. So maybe these ladies just want to take a peek so they can remember what a handsome man looks like. And I have to admit; there are even some days I’ve taken a quick glimpse at the drivers too. (Yes, I confess I have glanced their way. It is difficult NOT to notice them when everyone else in your community is 55 or older!

I will admit that I do have a tiny crush on my UPS guy. He’s a nice looking 40 something Hispanic man who is always friendly and pleasant. AND, because I live in Florida, he wears a uniform that consists of a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. (Like the uniform the guy in “Legally Blonde” wore). I don’t personally ogle, but when his truck shows up almost every woman in the complex runs outside to get a good look.

However, I can assure you that none of the ladies in my building, who probably represent the ages of most of Congress, have ever grabbed the behinds of a mail carrier, a UPS or FEDEX man when they turn and leave. That doesn’t mean they don’t check them out in their uniforms and then go have a cup of coffee together and giggle about what it was like to be young and in love. But there is definitely NO GROPING going on!

I think that’s probably the difference in how women behave as opposed to some men. However, now I am wondering… do these deliverymen think they are being harassed? Could that be possible?  I think harassment occurs when one person feels uncomfortable or threatened. And I highly doubt these mature widows threaten the UPS or FEDEX men. Then again, I’ve never asked them. So, I don’t really know.

For a year after I moved into my condo, rumors abounded that I was having an affair with the UPS man because I had so many packages delivered to my condo. The truth was that I was still teaching at the time and would stay late at work to write educational grants. So I ordered my coffee on line, used amazon for everything, including my shampoo, did holiday shopping online at Toys R Us for my grandkids, and my list goes on. I am always clicking away rather than dealing with going to a brick and mortar store. It is just easier.  That gave the ladies in my building the perfect opportunity to create fake news and fake gossip!  They all thought I was getting frisky with Mr. UPS man. Sadly, it wasn’t true and I only saw him in my dreams! Uh…wait a minute… Is it harassment if you wake up and realize that the UPS guy was in your dreams??? Hmmmm….

Seriously though, and THIS IS a very serious topic because there is nothing funny about sexual harassment or being physically assaulted by someone who forces himself on you. I know first hand the horrible consequences of being an assault victim, so humor helps me deal with this serious topic and allows me to be able to write this blog. But, I truly have been thinking about the differences between men and women and how we view sexual harassment.

I am sure there are some women of power who may use their sexuality, but I personally believe they use their power in different ways. I don’t see power for women as being predominantly sexual. They may show condiscention or leadership in strength by expecting perfection, or trying to prove they are in control at all times etc. but it isn’t about sex. With many men, it frequently seems to combine sex and power.

So I thought… was there ever a time in my life that I sexually harassed a man or used my own sexuality as a tool? I remembered being in middle and high school in the 1960’s and back then we had separate PE classes. Which actually was a good thing since the girls had to wear these shapeless bloomers that made us all look like potato sacks. However, since I have a name that can be male or female (Lesley), every single year I would be accidently scheduled to have PE with the boys. I dreaded having to go up to the boy’s PE instructor and get him to sign my schedule stating that I was indeed a female and didn’t have to attend his class. I received snickers and everyone pointed at me the first few weeks of school and I was humiliated at the beginning of every school year in junior high. By high school I really didn’t care any more. But, in those early years it was mortifying.

I DO remember one time, however, when I may have used my sexuality. It was in 1967 right before my 18th birthday. I got a draft card. I had to go down to the draft board and prove that I was a girl and didn’t need to be drafted. I called the draft board office and they said I had to show up in person with the appropriate ID. I asked my Dad to go with me since I did not want to be alone in a room filled with army officials. BUT, the rebel in me decided to have some fun with this. It was 1967 and I was already in an all girls’ rock band and fighting for equal rights, so I took this time to play a little trick because of the government’s mistake. I teased my hair, wore an iconic 60’s flip, used Twiggy style eye make-up and light pink lipstick, put on my best mini skirt and go go boots, and slid into the front seat of my Father’s car with my draft papers in hand as my Dad drove me to the local draft office. When I walked in every army officer about knocked each other out of the way trying to help me. I played dumb and batted my fake eyelashes. (Hoping they wouldn’t fall off since I wasn’t used to wearing them. I just wanted to look like all the female icons of the day.) I certainly did get their attention. Yes, THAT day I suppose I used my sexuality.

I innocently explained that I had received a draft card by mistake and since I was a girl would they please straighten out this mess and excuse me from being drafted into the United States Army. Well, they all thought it was adorable and the funniest thing they had ever heard. All these men in uniform, young soldiers, and even the older gentlemen responded with comments like these:

“Of course you are a girl, honey.”

“Now sweetheart, don’t think any more about this, we’ll fix it right away.”

“Well, aren’t you just the cutest little thing. A draft card? Doesn’t that beat all?”

“I can’t imagine a sweet little angel like you fighting in Viet Nam.”

The comments about how darling I was and how sweet little old me wouldn’t have to worry because all those big strong men would help me out of my dilemma went on for quite a while.

I knew enough to bring my father but I glanced over at my dad who was rolling his eyes and totally knew I was milking the situation. Now keep in mind, my father was Military. He was a decorated WWII Lieutenant with a drawer filled with medals including a purple heart. So he thought the men were acting like idiots fawning over me, especially since he knew his daughter well. He knew I could throw a football, play basketball and shoot hoops, run faster than a speeding bullet, swim under water in a flash, and do just about anything I set my mind to do. (Including playing guitar in an all girls’ rock band.) But, he let me do my thing and just let me handle it without saying a word. When we got back in the car to go home, we both cracked up laughing.

My father said something like, “Lesley, the ONLY reason you couldn’t go to war is because you’d hate the dress code and having to make your bed every day. NOT because you couldn’t fight. That being said, I am really glad my children don’t have to go into combat.  War is a heck of thing. A heck of a thing for anybody…” My father never swore into front me or any of his family, so he wouldn’t even say the word Hell. And My Dad never talked about his war experiences. It wasn’t until a few years before he passed away, and only because my youngest son interviewed him for a Veteran’s Day report that I heard him discuss some of what happened during those WWII years. My mom had already died and I was making him a lasagna and I held back tears as I listened.  I was really proud of him. He was a hero. He never bragged about it.  But he was.

My Dad is one reason it is hard to look at these old fools who are predators running for office when my role model was a man of integrity. He was always a gentleman. A real hero who respected human life, fought against fascism, and respected women. If he were alive today he’d probably go up to Trump and Roy Moore and punch them right in the nose for de-valuing everything he fought for. Both my parents would be shocked at what is happening today.

I think about this issue seriously and I hope that all these women will be believed, that men will reconsider their groping hands and their frivolous comments, and that more women will become leaders and stand up to the men who are still trying to keep them from speaking out and succeeding in this society of ours.

My humor in this blog was all true, but I used it to make it easier for me to discuss this topic. I had several uncomfortable harassment episodes when I entered the work force in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. And that still bothers me to this day. Most all of my female friends also had similar experiences. And as a young divorced mother in the late 1970’s, I had my apartment broken into and was stabbed and assaulted, so I understand how difficult it was in the past to be believed when something happened to a woman. I will never forget calling 911 after an attack and due to my shock; I didn’t notice that I was bleeding from a stab wound in my shoulder or that my neck was already turning colors from being choked. I often wonder if I hadn’t shown physical evidence would I have even been believed. I don’t know. But, what bothers me the most is that my incident happened over 40 years ago, and this disregard for women is still happening today and that enrages me. So, I put a little humor into my blog so that I would have the courage to talk about this important issue. It is time we women stood together to end this harassment. It is time! It is time!!!!!

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Crimson Widow: Prologue

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I have been working on a paranormal mystery/romance novel that is almost finished.  Here is the prologue.

Crimson Widow                                                       Lesley Kluchin

                                                  Prologue  

The Dream…

Elizabeth Kain abruptly awakened from a hauntingly real nightmare. Her face beaded with perspiration, her hair drenched in sweat as a cool palm wiped away the moisture dripping from her brow. She lay motionless, reliving the lingering memories of a recurring vision that had plagued her for decades. Images flashed before her of a dashingly handsome gentleman whose face remained hidden in the shadows. His silken hair blew savagely around an angular profile, permitting a hint of his strong muscular physique to peek through a tightly pressed shirt. Crisp white linen lay beneath a lengthy midnight blue duster that whipped about violently from the force of the evening wind.

Tonight the dream had gone further, allowing her to observe more; unveiling just a hint beyond the mystery that she couldn’t quite grasp, plummeting her down into yet another layer of the black hole that was her subconscious.

On other nights when she had the dream, she could glimpse a portion of the cliff where the man stood. This evening, she saw that the grass beneath his worn leather boots had turned brown and was growing sparse in patches.

Slowly, Liz inched her way up onto her elbows to keep the room from spinning while flashes of the dream continued to invade her consciousness. It occurred to her that while asleep, she had observed the mystery man almost as an outsider, looking down at him from above and studying every single detail below; every blade of grass, every crumpled leaf on the ground, the muted colors and smooth texture of the fabric he wore on clothing that appeared to be from another time. In her reverie, the region was visibly familiar, and yet she still couldn’t place the location. It gnawed and tugged at her brain but was just an echo of a memory that had vanished. Some nights, the images were clearer, but this night, she noticed the foliage around her was in full bloom, glistening as it swayed in the breeze; revealing that it must have been early fall. The cool crisp weather, the leaves on the nearby trees had started to change yet most were still intact. And HE was staring at her with a gaze somewhere between anger and anguish.

Her breathing began to intensify and she closed her eyes tightly wishing she could descend back into the dream again, if only to catch another glimpse of him. But, even with the hopes of going back, there was also the fear that if she did fall asleep again, the painful agony and hurt upon leaving him would engulf her completely, and this time she would be too far-gone to recover. Somehow, she knew that this man, the beautiful creature on the hill, was saying goodbye to her, and was never returning, and that notion was utterly unbearable. She forced back a stifled cry of despair remembering her last glimpse at the perplexing specimen on the hill.

An eerie sensation deep within her suddenly made her vividly cognizant of all her newly awakened senses, and they sang from every pore of her being. She sensed that in the dream the lovers had been intimate for the very last time, and her body ached to run to him and cling tightly so that he might hold her in his arms once more. Yet, she also knew that in the vision she was walking further and further away from the cliff and away from the man. Tonight she saw herself turn back and take one last glimpse at his image and she felt her heart crumble.

Her response was always the same, her chest tightened to where she couldn’t breathe, her heart pounded so rapidly that the beating sound blasted up into her ears like a thousands drums, and right before she yelled a gut-wrenching scream, she would fully awaken. Always startled, always knowing, yet not understanding. Still feeling his touch, still hurting from their separation, and filled with a vapid empty void that bored at the very core of her soul.

Elizabeth Kain sat up in bed, ran a shaking hand through drenched hair and let out a sob.

In the distance…. on the rooftop across the canal, stood the shaded figure of a man, He intently scrutinized Liz’s feminine form, which he clearly observed through the darkness and distance. As he surveyed every inch of her body, drinking in the delicate movements of the woman he had secretly watched over for the last 25 years, his stone-like features softened. She moved with the ethereal ease he had come to know so well. His face was fixed in a tormented grimace that came exceedingly close to exposing his suffering. Would he ever be able to stop loving her? Would this agony never end? He let out a sardonic laugh and realized at once that nothing ever ended for him, especially not the pain of losing her.

And so it was, on this night, like so many other nights over the last two and half decades, that Marco Trubiano looked up to the sky and let out a moaning howl before turning abruptly, and effortlessly gliding down the rooftop, landing with perfect proficiency onto the gravel below. Disappearing instantly out of sight as the dawn approached.

And The Beat Goes On…

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And The Beat Goes On…  (A spoken word poem.)

Today I was inspired….I heard an interview with an author I greatly admire,

And when she was asked why she was drawn to the unusual, to the paranormal…

She explained with honesty and simplicity,

That vampires, ghosts, and werewolves were nothing more than a metaphor for those of us who walk on the sidelines.  Those of us who feel like we are on the outside of society looking in.

And I had an epiphany for my entire creative existence.  My whole life I have felt like I was on the outside. Different.

That everyone else was walking in a straight line, a set path, while I veered and swayed to the left of it and danced my way through life fighting past the looks of concern, scorn, or sheer misunderstanding.

Always searching for those rare moments when I felt the warmth and acceptance from a select few who understood my dance.

I recall being but a young child and proudly getting up in front of the class bursting with anticipation and determination.

Excited about learning, and burning inside to share my research with my peers, who were waiting patiently with their tiny hands folded upon their wooden desks in neat little rows.

It was the 1950’s and a time of great speculation and fascination with outer space. An exciting decade in which to live. But an equally cruel and unforgiving era as well.

I tried my best to follow all assignment rules, but could not stop there. I always had more to contribute, or so I thought…. Too much energy to contain, so much desire with every task presented.

I had a need to exhibit my child-like visions in drawings and drama and proceeded to show my artful masterpiece as I stood before the class with great trepidation.

But to my dismay, my schoolmates’ eyes were focused on my teacher’s scrunched up angry red face and not on the report and drawings I held with pride.  Miss Rich stood stern and tall and pointed to the corner of the room with condemnation, rather than the adulation, which I had craved and thought was well deserved.

My fearless leader saw none of the creative imagination in my renderings I had added to my assignment.  She had no understanding of my youthful enthusiasm. Instead, she proceeded to punish me for veering off the path of rules.

I was sent into the CORNER OF SHAME. (Or that is what she thought.)

But little did she know, that the “punishment corner” had become my own special place of retreat. I had come to know it well to work off my outbursts of enthusiasm and innovative ideas that she never approved of…

And as I stared at the cracks in the wall that I had begun to embrace, I saw people, places, and wondrous things, which swirled and danced in my head. I wrote stories and poems in that corner instead of atoning for the sin of thinking out of the box.

It was the 1950’s after all, and no one was supposed to veer off the learning path to the left.   And yet I did.

In art class, my elephant was purple not gray, and I was yelled at and punished for not following the rules!  And still I refused to change my picture because I wanted my elephant to be purple! (Just like the stuffed animal my father brought home to me and who sat on my bed at night to comfort me when my dreams took me to scary places.)

I twitched and turned and could not sit still which annoyed just about every teacher I came to know. All because I heard the beautiful beat of a drummer in my head… pounding out a rhythm that made me want to jump and dance as it beat louder and louder… reverberating up into my brain with words and images that had to be written down or drawn.

It didn’t matter if no one else could hear the beat of my music. Because I could hear it.  Yes, Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and ME!  We all heard the music. We all were on the outside looking in….and NEEDED to whirl around to the beat. It forced us to move and feel…

So sometimes, even when I was supposed to stay seated, when the music was especially loud and wonderful, I HAD no choice, but to get up and dance.   Even when I wasn’t supposed to.  Because you see, it was a happy, bright place filled with fantasy just on the outside of the line where I stood.

If only other people would join me there.  Then maybe their distain would disappear if they would just take one step on my side of the straight and narrow line…. Maybe then they would see that the world was much more colorful over here.  The music was louder and all the instruments played non stop ALL the time.

Sometimes out of tune, but that never mattered.

And so the Instruments continued to play in my head. They blared on; drums, violins, harps, trumpets…. each one entertaining me with a symphony of notes, sometimes in words, often in colors, and it was always beautiful!!!!!!

And then one day, a very kind English teacher applauded after I shared a poem that I created and he pulled me aside.  He took me by surprised when he stated. “You don’t belong in this class. You need to be with the advanced students. Why on earth has no one addressed this before?”

I sheepishly told him I thought it was because I talked too much and was WAY too much trouble!  I explained that I usually wrote my poems while I was in the corner and nobody ever heard them but me.

He smiled and let me know that he would fix things. He told me from now on I would feel at home in school and that it would be okay, because there were others who would appreciate my writing.  And so that very day in 7th grade, when Mr. Wilson, a frail thin man with a smile as warm as freshly baked cookies, heard the rhythm of my music, it was then I began to realize that sometimes others could feel what I felt, see what I saw…

But, in reality, it didn’t happen very often.

I thought that as I started to grow up things would change and the sound of my music would disappear… But no, I still heard the beat.

And when I transitioned further on in middle and high school, where the world was a very confusing place…. I watched as our beloved President Kennedy died and Martin Luther was envisioning his precious dream and trying to enlighten the world.

And I wrote it all down in words and turned them into songs and tears.

As the music continued to beat louder in my head,  my very close friends and I wrote what was in our hearts, and formed a band to tell the world how things should be if only people would listen.  My classmates thought we were crazy because girls weren’t supposed to perform like boys. Girls didn’t play guitars. It just wasn’t done. Not in 1966… But we did it anyway…

As the beat blared thunderously in our heads, it was now vampires, ghosts, werewolves and rocker chicks…. who wanted the world to change and let equality reign in our songs.

And then in college as I sat with a sea of people tightly blending together and holding hands… a rainbow of colors heard my song.  I understood then that there were other vampires, ghosts, and werewolves out there trying to change the world too. Apparently more then I had ever imagined. And I felt empowered and basked in the strength of numbers convinced that we could indeed change the universe together as long as everyone heard the beat.

A special literature professor named Mrs. Keenan took me under her wing and approached me with tears in her eyes one afternoon at the end of class. She confided that she looked forward to reading my essays and that whatever I wrote, always spoke to her heart. It made her want to sing and dance, and feel young again. She begged me to never stop writing.  She told me that when she was submersed in my words, she felt like she was Juliet, Elizabeth Bennett, Rosaline all rolled into one.

This dynamic, beautiful lady played a monumental role in why I became a teacher. Her supreme joy in teaching affected every pore of my being and I lived and breathed literature when in her class. Her love of the written word glowed from her very spirit and washed over her students like a spring rain…. and inspiration thrived in one tiny room on campus, and danced in my head when she defined the works of Tolstoy, and Chekov. Life was divine and everyone felt like an insider within the confines of her classroom.

But, life is filled with twists and turns and as I grew older and settled down, I strained harder to hear the music.  There was marriage, motherhood, work, divorce and putting food upon the table.  At the end of the day, my weary senses were somewhat dulled and the music quieted down.   I had to rely on the sparkle in my son’s eyes for the songs to find me again.

They were always there you see…just hiding in the darkness when life’s pain and struggles overshadowed the joy. But right behind the laughter of a child the melody continuously plays…

The hardest times were during my early teaching years when I was told to stop being so creative and to follow and just conform to the rules.  To only use text books and throw away my innovative thoughts and ideas.  To tear down my 3- D bulletin boards because it made the other teachers look too ordinary….And I didn’t understand…  Nor could I stop.

Because with each child’s face the music became louder and louder again.  A symphony sprang up from every student … And when I gazed upon their smiles, my own beat emerged louder than ever before.

And so when I closed those doors behind me and faced the wave of children crammed into their tiny desks, I understood.  I finally knew why I had been given the gift of being able to hear the music.

Why I was able to dance to my own beat. It was to let the children before me hear the music too and to give them the opportunity to create their own dance, their own rhythm.

I knew that no other child should have to be stashed away in a corner to hide her creativity, or pretend not to see the whirling cracks in the wall. And that my purpose was to inspire my students and let them create all the purple elephants they wanted.

I had to let freedom and creative thinking inside the walls of my classroom.

And so I did… And 36 years later when my superiors asked me how I was so successful, why my students in particular always did so well….I smiled.  I told them it was because I allowed children to think for themselves! To write down their ideas and hear the thoughts that were inside their heads and to trust themselves. To understand that their own personal voice was always something they needed to listen to.  And most of all, that in my room…they would always be safe and could dance to whatever beat they heard.

Yes, they could hear their music, or dance their dance when they walked through my door. They could write and say all the things they weren’t supposed to do traditionally.

Because inspiration creates knowledge, and perfection happens when students are inspired.  How ironic that at the end of my long career, I finally received recognition for being unique.

Suddenly, I was considered a wonderful educator. And yet, my methods had not changed, just the data that recorded the scores. It wasn’t until technology put a number on smiles and happiness and equated them with percentiles, did administrators take notice of my gifts.  Ironic, because had they listened, they could have heard the music the moment they opened the door to my room.

And still…. deep inside I felt that I was among the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves not being understood.

Oh, the children understood, let me be clear…children always understand.  Just like vampires, ghosts, and werewolves,  who ALWAYS  dance to the beat of their own drummer… Living on the outskirts of society.

I realized today as I write this poem, that those who are the visionaries, the innovative souls who may look a bit different, sound slightly off kilter, laugh at things others might not hear or see, Listen to music that is not apparent to everyone’s ears…

Those are the souls who can change the world for the better.  Those are the individuals who see what others avoid.

So, bless the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves and the teachers, for they are my inspiration.

They keep me hearing my own music and the pounding beat of my own drum.

And for as long as I hear my own beat, I will keep on dancing…

MARLA AND LOLLY 1966

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The Wild West of America!

 

Tombstone

This morning I was drinking a cup of coffee and watching the news still reeling from yesterday’s heartbreaking mass shooting that took place in a church and killed 25 people (Thus far).

So… A man with domestic battery on his record, who was discharged from the military, let go after a few months working as an unarmed security guard, was able to buy an assault weapon. But hey, we don’t need stricter gun laws?
The reporter said a local store sold him an assault rifle , even though he shouldn’t have been able to buy one. How could this have happened? Oh right, our gun laws don’t identify restricted people nationwide. What a concept! I mean, time after time some lunatic purchased a machine gun legally even though they shouldn’t have been able to. Until we ban deadly assault weapons these mass shootings will continue, and continue, and continue…

This country has turned into a modern version of Tombstone. We now live in the “Wild West of America”. A country with no regard for human life, but rather, a bromance with assault rifles. A nation where the GOP’s family values consist of worshiping NOT G-d, but the NRA. (And for clarification I’m NOT against the 2nd amendment. I just want safer common sense gun laws.)

Our President said this is a mental health issue. I agree. The mental health of our Republican Congress is indeed distorted and sick. Our representatives care more for the All powerful NRA than the citizens who elected them to protect and serve. Our Commander in chief appears devoid of compassion and prays to the all mighty dollar, while Congress refuses to help communities and individuals. Is it because they have easy lives with paid healthcare benefits? They rarely show up at work, and when they do they seem to care only about themselves and their party or crushing the other party even at the expense of our citizens. They have forgotten their responsibilities, how to compromise, and what being an American representative is all about.

As far as I’m concerned, They can all go to hell. I’ve often expressed my anger and frustration at this new inflexible and selfish GOP, but I’ve never wished ill will towards any of them (or any human being for that matter) before in my life.  Even 45, who I don’t care for.  However, I’ve finally had enough of their opportunistic, egotistical, cruel behavior!  Too many children and innocents have died at the hands of home grown terrorists with assault weapons that nobody but our military should have.

So, this time I’m condemning the members of Congress who won’t make safer gun laws to rot in Hell for the countless murders they have committed!  Until we ban these assault weapons and make safer gun laws they are ALL murderers! So murderer McConnell and Killer Ryan and all the rest of the cowards who bow down to DT and the NRA can dance with the Devil, since it’s obvious they’ve already sold their souls… and anyone who continues to vote for these heartless, cruel monsters can join them in the flames for eternity.

Yes, I’m mad. Enough is enough! Our President AND the GOP Congress are as much to blame had they put their hands on the trigger! Murderers every one of them!

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Housekeeping in the 1950’s

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I don’t know about any of you, but I really hate washing clothes.  In fact, I hate housekeeping in general.  I much prefer doing something more creative with my day, but let’s face it; we all have to deal with the fact that once or twice a week, it must be done. Sigh. We need clean clothes and an environment that is habitable.

I often wish that I were more like my mother, because she took on the task of  washday and made it one of the highlights of her week. She figured out a way to actually make it fun. (At least for her!) To Gert Kluchin, washing clothes was like solving a mystery. She turned every piece of clothing into a challenge and a creative way to remove stubborn stains from all three of her children’s outfits.

Now, you must keep in mind that I grew up in the 1950’s and children played outside. We ran and jumped and rolled around in the dirt. We played tag, Red Rover, red light, green light, baseball, and basketball, we swirled round and round using hula-hoops… and we roller-skated and rode our bikes everywhere. Therefore, we fell and scraped a lot of knees, came inside with massive grass stains, ripped pants, torn shirts and sweaters, because we truly lived and played in our clothing.

AND when we were done with those clothes, IF they could be salvaged, we passed them down to our younger siblings. So they HAD to be mended.  I suppose THAT is where the excitement began for my Mother. She  dabbled in a variety of ways to fix torn, worn out pants, invented experimental methods to make invisible patches, and concocted her own solutions to clean the impenetrable stains. And 99.9 percent of the time her remedies worked!!!! Remember, those were the days before supermarkets carried sprays or pens that doubled as spot removers. So, she loved Wash Day. And I admire her for that.

And she was great at it. She found a way to make something boring, exciting and creative. I recall her calling me (or my sister) over to show us her miraculous fixes. (Oh, yes, she darned our socks too and they had to be perfect so we couldn’t feel them in our shoes!!!) She was like Mr. Wizard in her Laundry room.

My sister must have found all this pretty extraordinary because she possesses this gene too!!! She can spot remove and fix torn clothing really, really well. Even my sons quietly (Yes, behind my back) have been known to ask her to mend their jeans (after my mother died) and like a good Auntie she always accommodated them. Smart boys, I have. They knew I would have either thrown them out, or cut them up and used the denim to make unique patches. Then I would have put them on my jeans and created a cool pattern that looked very hippie chic. OR, I would have created an interesting denim patchwork pillow or purse.  But no, I would NOT have mended their jeans.

And,  never – ever, have I enjoyed washing clothes. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that year after year as a teacher we did science fair projects and there were always a few children who elected to do a project on which brand- of clothes detergent cleaned better. For all you inquiring minds out there…pretty much it was always a tie with a few brands doing slightly better. (Yawn). Yeah, they are ALL basically the same. Some just have fragrance and some do not. Some are better for the environment than others, but they all clean the same when you use data and chart the results!!!!

Even when I did a class science project I stayed as far away from clothes washing as I possibly could. In fact, I remember when I sent away to Harvard University for a kit on a study (for gifted children) on ESP, (which actually developed math/science skills) using probability and deductive reasoning. The children always found it cool to think ESP was involved. (BTW, I never found a student in 36 years who really had ESP. I did, however, have a parent one year who thought ESP was the work of the devil, and didn’t understand that it was just a probability lesson, which is math.  (But, as teachers you always run into a few odd balls.) And guess what?  BOTH the girls and the boys were equally able to predict outcomes. No surprise there.

Another fun science fair project that didn’t involve washing clothes was to see what kind of music would make plants grow better.  I can tell you right now that Mozart and Beethoven are enjoyed much more by plant/green life than heavy metal rock groups. (Yes, ALL the heavy metal bands actually KILLED the plants.) The Beatles, however did pretty well except for songs like “Helter Skelter” and “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.” So the lesson? Our environment is sensitive to the vibrations around us…  I could go on, but I digress….

So, while I love to solve a mystery and do research on just about anything, I DO NOT like doing housework or laundry.

And, in a moment I will have take out my delicates and hang them up and then put in a load of jeans. The only exciting thing about that is my next load is filled with very cool embroidered jeans, so I will have to hang them up rather carefully instead of putting them in the dryer. (Yawn) Still not very exciting.

My point in all of this? I guess I was just thinking that I really admired my mother for finding a creative way to make housekeeping and washing clothing in the 1950’s enjoyable.  I’m 68 and I still haven’t figured out how to do that. But SHE DID!  She never seemed unhappy  doing the wash or housework, and made it seem like she was the Indiana Jones of Laundry. And that is really rather special.  I didn’t appreciate her creativity back when I was little, but I certainly do now.

And when her day was done and the three kids were in bed, sometimes I would creep into the hallway and peek in to see what my mom was doing at her desk while she waited for my dad to come home.  I’d sit and smile and watch her. She’d be typing away in her journal letting her imagination run wild as she relived the events of her day. I’d hear the indistinguishable sound as her fingers flew across the keys and she wrote down her thoughts about politics and other issues happening all around the world.  Journal entries that I did not read until after she passed away.  Gosh, I really miss her.  I think if she were alive today, I might even pay better attention to how she took out those difficult grass stains….

UGH! There goes the buzzer. Time for another load of laundry ….

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Time To Join Hands!

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Today I had lunch with a dear friend who I have known since the mid 1970’s. Over the years we rarely (if ever) discussed politics. She knew I was a Democrat and I was aware that she was a Republican. It never affected our friendship or any other aspect of our lives, at least not until Donald Trump ran for President. There were even times over the years when we didn’t vote strictly down party lines but voted for who we thought was best for the country, or best for our state. Mostly we kept pretty quiet about our personal political viewpoints. Perhaps because we were teachers and as educators we knew that personal views on religion or politics were subjects that weren’t appropriate for the classroom or open for discussion in school. Students, teachers, and parents never knew our individual political viewpoints. And it didn’t matter because we were consummate professionals.

But, this last election was different. We both have been retired for a few years now and when things got heated during the election we chose not to discuss the candidates simply because we didn’t want politics to ruin our friendship.

However, today she blurted out a comment that shocked me to the core and made me wonder if that’s how a majority of Republicans feel. Or perhaps how people in general think.
She told me she thought that I worried way too much about everyone and everything and that all she really cared about was what affected her personally. That stunned me! I explained that I felt today, more than ever, we HAD to care about our fellow man if democracy was going to survive. I let her know that while she might not be suffering or discriminated against today, tomorrow it might be her without healthcare or she could be the one excluded from living in certain places due to age discrimination or religious exclusion. I tried to share how wrong bigotry of any kind was, but I still could not get through to her.

I wonder if that’s what has happened to Congress and to many of our citizens in general. That they only care about themselves and what affects them. Not about anybody else. Not even their constituents. and that thought hurts me to the core.

Those are NOT the principles our founding fathers wrote about when they referred to us as “WE THE PEOPLE”. This is not the United States of Lesley or Susie or Teddy. It’s the United States of America and ALL of us matter. We HAVE to care about one another. If we don’t, we not only lose our freedom, we lose our humanity.

I remember seeing a photo taken during WWII where a group of women were stripped naked and they were in a long line waiting to be shot. Their babies clung tightly to their mothers’ chests as they tried to find comfort. Naked, they all stood together. The rich Indistinguishable from the poor. Their only link being that they were Jewish Women.
If WE all stood together naked, hand in hand, what would we see? Nothing but a group of human beings together. Neither rich nor poor, just people. Americans! There would be no major differences between us. We are all human. Some taller, some shorter, some smarter, some prettier, some more athletic, others more talented, but all human beings. We Americans need to unite not fight. In the end we are no better than the next person. We cannot let 45 divide us. That is what dictators do.  “WE THE PEOPLE” have no choice but to join hands and unite if we intend to hold on to our precious inalienable rights!

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We All Should be Wonder Woman!

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We All should be Wonder Woman!

Last night I FINALLY got around to seeing the new “Wonder Woman” movie. Subsequently, I felt empowered, inspired, and more ready than ever to fight for equality and justice for everyone on the planet!

The film was terrific! Directed by a woman, it took on an entirely different approach to a super hero, showing that when a woman is at the helm, not only can she be strong, intelligent, and capable, but she can do it without revenge and with love in her heart. I think that is why more women need to have leadership roles in our country and around the world. The movie brought up that theme in many ways. The Amazon society in this film was about unity, appreciation, community, responsibility, strength, and caring. It survived on resilience, honor, and intelligence and love for humanity. Qualities in my mind that go along with being female.

I pre- ordered the film on Xfinity knowing that someday when my grand daughter gets a little older, we would watch it together. And the extra video clips that come along when you purchase the film, included spoken word poetry, inspirational thoughts from the director and other contributors of the film, as well as technical details, costumes, historical information about the original Wonder Woman, and a noted call for peace and unity in the world.

*What I found especially fascinating was that the athletic trainers noted a huge difference in preparing a group of women to become fit and strong for their roles as Amazons, in contrast to how men react and respond during similar strength training. They said men usually become competitive and aggressive, whereas the women were continuously supportive and encouraged one another. Each time a woman succeeded, she was applauded for her efforts by the other women in the group. They worked as a united team rather than individuals. YES, imagine that!!! They worked together. A completely different experience from the way men train. The director selected female athletes from all over the world, including women of all races and all nationalities, and trained them for five months. And so to everyone’s delight, the women  became more united the more they trained. They WERE Amazons!

Of course, I have to admit, that I could not hold back tears of joy seeing a Sabra play the heroic role of Wonder Woman. A young Israeli woman chosen to lead the fight against the forces of evil in order to save humanity. That was the icing on the cake for me!!!

Quite honesty, I cried, I smiled, and I felt pride as a woman as I watched this film. It made me feel like I was a warrior too. That I could achieve any goal I set for myself, or I’d die trying to accomplish it! And that is what I have always believed. That we women can change the world for the better. We can do it because we are able to unite and fight for freedom more easily than men. (We don’t seem to let ego get in the way.) And not only can we do it, we do it with love in our hearts!   So far, men have muddled things up pretty badly. Therefore, it is time for women to make sure that justice prevails. We ALL can be Wonder Women! We can do this!!!!!

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Know Your Women’s History!

KNOW YOUR WOMEN’S HISTORY!!!

This morning I turned on the television while having my morning cup of coffee and the channel was already tuned in to the “Today Show” (A program I usually never get to watch). The host, Jenna Bush, was asking women in the audience some EASY questions about Women’s History. (They were given 3 multiple-choice answers to make it even easier.) And these young women still did not know the correct answers.  Ladies, seriously?? You didn’t even know who Sally Ride was???? How is this possible?

I taught Women’s History long before President Jimmy Carter declared March as Women’s History month in 1987. (I got my teaching degree in 1971.) I was happy that the White House finally understood that we needed to recognize our unsung heroines, but by 1987 I had created dozens of lessons that I did every year with my students to help them learn about the AMAZING females who were part of American history, even though most of them were not in our text books.

Ironically, I usually presented my lessons around March simply because it fit nicely in between some other important historical events.  After honoring the Presidents and African Americans for Black History Month in February, and then paying tribute in April to William Shakespeare, (His birthday is April 23rd – and also his recorded death.) I decided that in my classroom April would be poetry month (Decades before it was declared poetry month in the 1990’s.) I mean what teacher in her right mind wouldn’t celebrate poetry and writing for an entire month to pay homage to the Bard??? Duh!!! It’s common sense!!  So, I added women’s history in between and that way I could include First Ladies, important African American women, and add female poets and writers too, and have a three month research-biography celebration in my classroom. It just made creative academic sense! At least it made sense to moi.

After 1987, Broward County, where I was teaching, created their own curriculum and had writing contests about Women’s History. So lessons for every teacher were made available if they wanted to take the time to add that to their curriculum.

I will never forget when Esther Rolle (Good Times) came to Florida in the late 80’s and helped judge the Women’s History essays and the top two winners in the entire county were MY students. (YES, they actually beat out the high school students!!!! One girl and one boy from my class won! It was picked up by the local and national papers and turned into a big deal. The funny thing was that the essay topic my kids wrote was from a lesson I had created back in the 70’s!!

But, suddenly March was National Women’s History month and so my students won awards for the knowledge they would have learned anyway in my gifted class.  I was thrilled, but my point is, why was I, (then and even when I left teaching after almost 4 decades), just about the ONLY teacher in most of the schools teaching children about women who made a difference??? This is something every female on the planet should know. It is important! Yes, you can now buy pre-fab bulletin boards about women in history and decorate your classroom during March. But how many teachers actually TEACH this  to their students and have them research these women????? Sadly, not many feel they have the time with all the testing.

The fact that so many young people do not know the names of the women who helped forge our nation is unforgivable. No wonder so many millennials (and women in general), didn’t understand the implications and magnitude of the first woman candidate of a major party running for President. They had no clue about how long and hard women fought for equality and what a big deal this was. Oh, they thought they understood. BUT, clearly they did not. Our current situation in Washington is proof enough of that.

Ladies of all ages, it is time to get with the program. We are handing over the torch to you! You have to learn this stuff because my generation is getting old and won’t be around forever to help guide you and remind you about your history. We’ve already lost most of the amazing WWII generation of women (and men) who fought tyranny and kept America from fascism. It was filled with strong women who flew planes, bravely went over seas and participated in defeating Hitler. And here at home women put away their aprons and filled the factories to build bombs and planes that helped us win the war. We need to remember those women. They did all that and yet women couldn’t even get a home loan in their own name or a credit card, and their husbands were legally allowed to beat them without police interference. That was the way it was back then. However, they could save lives, build bombs, fly planes and fight Nazi’s!!!

My generation got us those credit cards without having to use our father’s or husband’s signature. We gave you the right to wear pants in the work place and jeans in school. We fought to give you jobs that were previously only allotted to men. We ended quotas for women in law and medicine, and gave you the chance to become managers. My generation of women gave you the right to stay working if you got pregnant, and allowed you to get hired to teach school even if you were divorced. We did all that and more!!! We flew into space, we won gold medals, and we were mathematicians and CEO’s. We were members of Congress, Secretary of State, and we ran for President.

Now YOU have to carry the torch and continue the fight for female equality and the first step IS TO KNOW YOUR HISTORY! READ! GOOGLE IT!! Study! And then tell your daughters and grand daughters. Tell your students, your nieces and nephews. Everyone needs to know!

And teachers, don’t give me the baloney that you don’t have time to teach Women’s History. I made time for it and you can too! It’s one month out of the year!  MAKE TIME! Even if it is just five minutes every day in March! Because if you don’t, our girls won’t understand how valuable they ARE!  They won’t know they were an important part of American history and made a huge difference in the lives of their mothers and grandmothers. They won’t know that once upon a time, women inventors had to use a man’s name to get a patent to create an invention and that they never got credit in history for their genius. (Example: Ely Whitney did not invent the cotton gin. His landlady, Catherine Littlefield Greene did. He lent his name to her invention because women were not allowed to get a patent!) But today, WE can invent anything because we have the power to be whomever we choose to be. But we must teach this in our schools and in our homes.

This past election was proof enough that not enough women support women, and that is mainly because they are not taught to be aware of their illustrious past. They don’t recognize all the fabulous females who paved the way for their future. So…

Happy Women’s History Month. We Celebrate ALL women. Know your history!!! Remember, Susan, Elizabeth, Sojourner, Alice, Harriet, Shirley, Eleanor, Rosa, Sally, Madeline, Gloria, Hillary and all the little girls who will one day be women who will change the world! REMEMBER them and celebrate!!!

NO MORE!!!!

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This is my America. The country I have loved for 67 years. The land I felt immense pride in while driving cross-country visiting every historic landmark in my youth. This is the country I stood up for and pledged my allegiance to every single day during my childhood, and for 36 years every morning when I taught elementary school.

I pledged my allegiance to the flag even when we were fighting in Viet Nam and my friends were coming home in body bags. Even when people were protesting against wars, against racism, against animal abuse, against guns, against pesticides, and a million other causes, because in America we have always had the right to free speech. We are accustomed to living in a democracy and being able to express our thoughts, opinions, and assemble peaceably.

Decade after decade I happily stood in front of my students and led them standing tall and proud as I put my hand over my heart and faced the American flag. I wanted them to understand the importance of why we began each day with The Pledge. I explained how lucky we were to be living in the greatest country on earth, America.

And every April I read aloud the Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”, to help them understand how it all began. But, towards the end of the poem, no matter how hard I tried, I would have to hold back my tears, barely making it through to the last stanza because I inevitably got all choked up. Some years I would have to hand the beautifully illustrated poetry book  to one of my students to finish the last few sentences for me, because my tears would be falling and I couldn’t get the words out.  The children always seemed to understand that their teacher was greatly moved by this historical event. An incident that took place long before any of us were born. And they too were moved and inspired by those men and women who helped form this great nation.

“A cry of defiance and not of fear,

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,

And a word that shall echo forevermore!

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,

Through all our history, to the last,

In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

The people will waken and listen to hear

The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,

And the midnight message of Paul Revere.”

I never tire of hearing that poem. The bravery and dedication and all the sacrifices the men and women who fought to make this a free nation, lingers between every line, every stanza. And those courageous values have been entrenched in our history and embedded in my heart.

So much so that when I left for work each morning I felt lighthearted and safe. And when I returned home at the end of the day to see my own children, I rejoiced in the fact that I could raise them in this glorious country and that they too would be safe and secure and have countless opportunities ahead of them. Yes, that is the America I grew up in. The America I love so dearly. That is the democracy that chose a young Jewish woman named Emma Lazarus to write the poem that was engraved on our Statue of Liberty, which represented to the world how America welcomes everyone:

“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!”

THAT is the America I have known for almost 68 years. Those were the values I was taught growing up and those were the American values I taught my children and my students. But I realized today that THAT America is fading quickly under this new administration and may soon cease to exist.

For the second time this week the JCC ( Jewish Community Center) down the street from my home was threatened and evacuated AGAIN!  Over 200 Jewish schools, centers and Temples have been vandalized and attacked and threatened and every day it gets worse. People of my faith are threatened all over this country. We Jews no longer feel safe in our homes, in our schools, or in our Synagogues. That is no way for any American to live. We should not be fearful in this country.  This is the home of the free and of the brave. None of us should have to be afraid for our lives and the safety of our children.

Every single day I watch as my fellow Jews are put in danger and little Jewish children are rushed out of their classrooms simply because of their faith and I think this cannot be happening in the country that I love. NOT in my America. Freedom of religion is part of our Constitution!!!   I am heartbroken, disappointed in my government, and frightened for my family and for my fellow Jews.

We The People can NOT turn our backs on this kind of discrimination and bigotry. We demand action, protection, and punishment for the perpetrators of such evil. And we say to you, NO MORE!

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Anti-Semitism In My Neighborhood

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Anti-Semitism Hits My Neighborhood!

I have taken some time to cool down from the fear and anger that has been building up inside of me since the latest string of hate attacks on Jewish schools, community centers, cemeteries, and other acts of anti-Semitism and vandalism has happened across America in the past several days.

This is not the first time anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head in South Florida since Mr. Trump was elected President. But it IS the first time it has been so close to home, and the first time my entire family was affected. These strategically calculated attacks have been too numerous to ignore, and have brought back some disturbing and sorrowful memories from my childhood.

As a little Jewish girl growing up in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1950’s, I heard hushed accounts of what happened to Jews during World War II. My father was a decorated Army Lieutenant and I lived in a housing development where at least 90 percent of the community fathers were Army Veterans who fought against Hitler and fascism. I played with children of all faiths and remember having a happy and diverse childhood. I knew that there were bad people in the world, but because of loving parents and a strong relationship with my family and our local Synagogue, I felt relatively free from anti-Semitism. I knew it still existed and the threat of it was still very real for my parents and grand parents who had grown up experiencing bigotry and exclusion on every level, but  to me I couldn’t feel or comprehend their fears. In my innocent childhood world, I liked everyone and they all seemed to like me and nobody judged me by my faith. Or at least I was not aware if they did. 

However, it was impossible not to notice that one street over from my house, were several neighbors who had bluish numbers tattooed on their arms. I would often come home from school to find my mother sitting at the kitchen table with women from the neighborhood, and sometimes I could hear crying from those ladies with the ugly blue numbers marring their creamy white skin.

When I would ask my mother about the numbers and the crying, she explained that the Jews who were taken prisoner by the Nazis were tattooed. She told me that people who had numbers still carried very bad memories of all the sad things they saw when they were put into “The Camps.” I tried to find out more information, and while she tried her best to answer and still be honest and age appropriate for my inquisitive young mind, she let me know that the survivors had all lost their families during the war and were treated cruelly in the camps. That much I seemed to comprehend, but I didn’t fully understand the extent of what these people had endured.

I may have been very young, but I was extremely curious about all the people with numbers and kept quizzing my mother to learn more about them. And I was instructed NOT to stare at their arms. They all went to my Temple and always seemed kind and gentle, but also appeared to carry an unspoken burden of sadness with them. (Even when they laughed.) And that was confusing when seen through a child’s eyes. I knew there had to be much more to this and my confusion haunted me. 

I recall one afternoon after walking home with my older brother, instead of going out to play; I crouched down outside the kitchen and hid. I tried to listen to the conversations my mother was having with the women from the neighborhood. I recognized the voice of one woman crying. It was the beautiful raven-haired lady who lived behind us. She was speaking a mixture of English and Yiddish and sobbing. I couldn’t understand all her words just the horror and sadness in her voice along with gasps of air and sobs emerging from what was usually a warm and inviting room. And so being intrigued, I peeked in, only to see her lovely face contorted in agony! I instinctively got up and ran to her and gave her a big hug. I started crying too at her grief, even though I didn’t understand the implications of her tears. I couldn’t have been more than five at the time because I do remember being in kindergarten.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned the extent of why she had been crying. When I was young my mother obviously did not go into detail about the Holocaust. I only knew my pretty neighbor had been put into a concentration camp simply because she was Jewish. I knew for some reason she could not have children and sometimes cried because she wanted them desperately, but the war somehow made her unable to become a mother. Well, that had me confused!!!

I was very aware of how she fawned over me. She and her husband owned a clothing shop for children and she would design and make gorgeous outfits as well as selling other brands. She’d delight in having me try on various styles of dresses and model her creations before putting them in the store window. Honestly, she made me feel like a princess!  Yet, even when she delighted in watching me twirl in her fancy lace and satin dresses, I could still sense the overwhelming sadness behind her smile. Sometimes her eyes filled with tears when she watched me.

What I discovered years later, when my family moved to Florida and I was a teenager, was that this beautiful, Natalie Wood look alike, had been tortured by the Nazi’s. Her entire family had been shot and killed in front of her, and she was saved as a young teen simply because of her extreme beauty. She had been passed around from officer to officer to do with her as they pleased, and then when they tired of her, experiments of some kind were performed on her that made her unable to have children. I was never told anything else, no matter how much I asked.  As I grew up I realized her torture was much, much more than even my imagination could conjure up. So, to this day, I still don’t know the horrific treatment she must have suffered.  And I still shy away from reading about Dr. Mengala and his inhuman experiments, because I can still see her beautiful face and I don’t want to think about what she might have been forced to endure.

Every time I hear of an anti-Semitic act, I think about the beautiful lady who lived behind me when I was a little girl. Her dark, shiny hair and bright smile that lit up the room, but who cried sometimes in my mother’s kitchen. And I remember how she would gently grab my hand and I tried so very hard not to gaze at the blue numbers on her arm while she whispered into my ear that I was such a lucky, special girl, and how she wished that she could have a beautiful little daughter just like me!

She even told me once that I reminded her of  when she was a little girl. (Now, keep in mind I was a feisty child, and often spoke my mind a little too much for the 1950’s! Compared to my mild mannered older brother and my baby sister, and being the notorious middle child, I was a spitfire and well aware of being the most challenging of the three children in my family.) So, to have “the dress lady” tell me that she too was a bit “spirited” when she was little, made me happy. But, at the same time, even as young as I was,  I somehow knew that those memories of herself were before the Nazi’s came and took away her “spirit .” Because even though her beauty remained in tact, and her smile was as lovely as any movie star on the cover of Photoplay Magazine, there was always sadness behind those dark eyes of hers.  I understood that deep down, when she looked at me, she saw not only the little girl she would never have, but also the girl she could never be again.

I tell you this story dear readers, because this was as close as I ever got to understanding some real life pain the Nazi’s caused. Her husband had numbers too, but he was a quiet, intellectual man, who only smiled and nodded at me and mostly kept to himself. It was his beautiful wife whose warm heart and kind smile that I remember most. And her longing eyes… which made me understand that being a mother was a gift not everyone was lucky enough to experience.

So, I share this memory to explain to you that for the first time in almost 68 years, I am afraid while living in America. I have felt safe in my country up until now. In the 1950’s I watched Jewish Concentration Camp survivors persevere and try to live their lives even through their sadness. They deeply loved this country with all their hearts and souls.  I protested for equality and women’s rights during the late 60’s when I was in college, and I am still fighting for those rights even now that I am in my late 60’s and a grand mother. I lived my life never worrying that my country was anything but the essence of democracy and freedom. I felt safe living in America.

Not until Donald Trump ran for President has that changed. And suddenly anti-Semitism has personally affected my family and myself. And now with this string of daily vandalism and bomb threats it affects my entire community, my religious freedom, and every person in this country. And just two days ago it affected my grandchildren’s school and the Jewish Community Center down the street from my home.

What is happening in this country is shocking. Especially since these acts are play-by-play incidents that are exactly like what Hitler and his band of Nazis did in Germany to the Jews in the late 1930’s. Trump is systematically making anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry something the people in this country are becoming numb to. It is so frequent, that nobody is watching or caring any more. Even the police are not taking threats seriously. “Another false alarm” one local officer said about the JCC a few streets away from my home the other day. As if it were nothing at all. But it isn’t nothing at all. It is a big deal. A very big deal!!!!!!!

Those of us who have studied history know what this is, and what is to come if we don’t stop it. I predicted this rise in hatred would happen if Trump won the election, and people did not want to listen. BUT now it IS happening. He has incited masses of people to do his dirty work. He preys on the weak and incites hatred and bigotry in the minds of the fearful and the uneducated.  We all need to protect our children and grandchildren from the monstrous things that are about to occur in America if we do not stop Trump and Bannon. I cannot resist Trump by myself, but I will try. I will continue to reject his policies, write my representatives, phone them, and protest!

I will give my life to save this country because freedom and justice matter. And my children and grandchildren matter and so do yours! No matter what faith they are or what color they are. They ALL matter!

“We the people” CANNOT IGNORE WHAT IS HAPPENING. WE CANNOT NORMALIZE TRUMP’S BEHAVIOR! And we cannot allow anti-Semitism to rise again. Not ever!!!  America needs to unite and remain strong against bigotry and hatred. We must demand that freedom of the press continue and that our right to life, liberty, and THE pursuit of happiness is not denied or destroyed. And we must fight and resist every single day if this is to remain the land of the free. WE MUST RESIST!!!!!! Please, JOIN ME!!!

I want to continue to hold my precious grandchildren (pictured below) and know that we are all safe and free!!

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Dust In The Wind…

I awoke today with slight vertigo and a migraine headache.
So, as I sip my tea, and try to be patient until the pounding in my head dissipates (And I know it eventually will), I can’t help but hear the song, “Dust in the Wind” rolling around my brain.

With the Trump Inauguration tomorrow, my hopes and dreams have been temporarily shattered. The causes I fought my entire life for seem to be disappearing and floating away before my eyes.

The struggle for equality, all our precious freedoms- including freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the rights of EVERY human being to matter – from the severely handicapped to the most brilliant of minds, for the poor to have as many opportunities as the wealthy, for medicine to be available to every person on the planet, for scientific discoveries to be applauded and encouraged, for the creative arts to be honored and appreciated and studied in schools around the country, for people of all genders who love one another to be able to share that love, and finally, to at last see a qualified woman become our President… all those dreams now seem to be just dust in the wind…

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My Parents, right after WWII ended and my father had just returned home from the war.

 

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night…

bob_dylan_-_bob_dylan    dylan-thomasimages

I was just going to write Happy New Year, or say something about the burden of 2016, and then decided to turn this blog in a more positive direction. (I have written quite enough  about my disenchantment with 2016.)

Instead, I want to think about all the GOOD things I’ve learned from a year that had me riding the wave. Yes, I was heartbroken, angry, and left numb at the roller coast ride that was the catastrophic 2016. But, then I thought about a few of the miraculous events that took place this year that helped me gain knowledge from the Universe. (If we cannot learn from what drags us down or causes us pain, then we aren’t taking advantage of growing as individuals.)

This year some incredible events actually did take place!!  I mean, who would have thought that 50 years after I first listened to Bob Dylan that he would have received the Nobel Prize? Now THAT is something extraordinary isn’t it? (I do have to take a moment out and thank my friend, Marla Schaefer for being the first person to introduce me to Dylan’s  album, which totally rocked my musical world!)

SOMETIMES greatness takes time to be appreciated and honored. Therefore, I learned patience and appreciation when Bobby “Zimmerman” won such a  prestigious award more than half a century after he recorded his first commercial album. So, THANK YOU 2016 for giving me a lesson in patience and understanding. I now realize that brilliant minds and poetry written or sung can indeed make a difference and change the world. My hope is that this achievement will encourage more funding for educational programs to promote writing, poetry and music in schools in the year that is to come.

Next, I am grateful for all I have learned watching and listening to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her perseverance, her intellect, her patience and determination for decades, and her grace under fire, taught me that sometimes the smartest person in the room doesn’t always win or get the job. And although she and the women (and men) who supported her did not reach our ultimate goal, she DID CHANGE HISTORY!!! (That somehow has been underplayed and forgotten in this election). She WAS the first woman to ever run as a major candidate for The Presidency. And that is no small feat when you look at the role of women in American history. Hillary is a bit like the late, great John Glenn, who may never have been able to land on the moon, but he WAS the first to orbit the earth! And without him, others could not have gone as far or even dreamed of reaching their goals.

So while 2016 did not give me the first female President in my lifetime (thus far), it did give America a role model for all the girls growing up in this country. One is my own grand daughter who suddenly became aware that she could be more than a Disney Princess. She could make her own choices and become ANYTHING she wanted to be. (Even a princess if that was her choice. But SHE was in control of her destiny.) She could lead a nation if that was what she chose to do. And while it personally broke my heart that women did not go as far as I had hoped, we still went further than ever before. Because when I grew up, it would never have even been a dream in the 1950’s, that I could possibly have run for President of the United States. But now girls know that it IS a possibilty! And that’s really progress!

AND most of all, 2016 has taught me that NEVER can we as a people, become complacent with the world, or our country as it is, because at any time, our freedom and our equality can be taken away. And if we refuse to look at history and respect and believe in it, we will be forced to repeat the mistakes of the past. (We cannot go forward without honoring the past to give us guidance.)

Yes, I have learned all that. The fact that two people from my generation, a musical, poetic genius, and a female who has made children, women, education and healthcare a priority in her lifetime, changed the roles that had been previously defined for them is monumental! Artists can earn awards they never imagined, and women can soar to great heights and inspire others to dream beyond the boundaries that were put in their pathway.

And “We the people”, have learned never to be content with the status quo, because society is fickle and can change like the wind. Thus, my words to all of you for the upcoming year are this:

“Do not go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas)

Be kind to others. Love your neighbor, no matter what their race, religion or gender may be. Strive to learn and reach your goals. Think about all the positive things you can do to make this a better world. Never ever give up!!!  And be grateful. Happy New Year. May 2017 bring you enlightenment, joy, and the ability to be kind and make a difference. Peace out… xoxo

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Out, damned 2016! Out, I say!

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Out, damned 2016!  Out, I say!

So very many people left us this year. With each one’s passing I kept hearing the words that Shakespeare wrote so long ago. Lines I had to say as Juliet when “She” walked on stage thinking about her beloved Romeo. To this day, those words reflect how I feel when someone I love or admire dies. So,without thinking, the Bard’s lines race through my brain as a tribute of sorts, to those who have passed away in 2016 and were cherished by us all.

Quite often, the way I deal with sadness or grief is through poetic verse. Prose and poetry can often express what the heart feels but cannot say. The month of December for me is never easy. My late Mother’s birthday is on the 8th, the passing of my son’s father is on the 12th, and my wedding anniversary was on the 28th.

And so when celebrities die, it brings back sweet memories of my own family and our happy times together watching or listening to those talented few. And the words that have been rolling around my brain ever since our Star Wars Princess and her Movie Queen Mother passed…. Those select words that have forever made me look to the night sky and see it very differently are below. Somehow, they changed my life in 1970 when I transformed into Juliet, and spoke the beauty that Shakespeare wrote so effortlessly.

“Give me my Romeo. And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

After playing that part, every time I saw the night sky and the stars glistening, I thought of all my loved ones who had passed, and all the philosophers, the artists, the writers, the scientists, the entertainers, all the people who changed our world. Every star, every night sky, reminds me of all those souls who now light up the sky and guide us here on earth and help us find our way through the darkness.

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The Death of a Princess


I didn’t hear about the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher until about 8 pm tonight. Needless to say I was stunned and deeply saddened. I have so many memories throughout my life of watching this remarkable woman grow from baby to adulthood, that her death took me totally by surprise and it hurt to find out that such a beloved icon had died.

I flashed back to my childhood in the 1950’s, when my parents received magazines like LIFE and PHOTOPLAY, that would show up on our doorsteps, or in the mailbox, and we’d rush out to get them so we could discover who was going to be on the cover of this month’s edition. I believe it was LIFE that had a Cover shot and an inside spread of Carrie with her parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Since I was 7 and a half years older than she, I remembered thinking what a sweet baby girl she was. In later photos I noticed she resembled her famous father, Eddie Fisher, a man whose records my parents played frequently. I liked him too, but I preferred to listen to her mother’s songs, and watch Debbie Reynolds perform on TV or in the movies. I must have seen “Singing in The Rain” a dozen times growing up. I wanted to be just like Debbie Reynolds when she played Tammy (In “Tammy and the Bachelor” in 1957) I even learned how to play the theme song on the piano. So, of course I was interested in the children of two of my favorite celebrities. Carrie’s family was constantly in the news and I’d hear my mother and her friends discussing the fate of poor Carrie and her brother when Eddie left Debbie for Elizabeth Taylor. It was scandalous (and a bit delicious) to hear the secret whispering among the neighborhood moms. But, I too started to worry about poor little Carrie without her Dad. I kept thinking about that cover shot of the happy family and remembering that I cried thinking she would have to come home from school and not have a father around any more. I didn’t quite understand what had happened, I just knew that she was a little girl without a Daddy. And that really bothered me because my father was my ultimate hero.

And then as time passed, there was a magical day in 1977, when I took my four year son, Seth to see what I thought was going to be just a little movie about rocket ships. Needless to say he and I were star struck, and the rest is history. After that, every Star Wars film became a family event. We’d wait in lines to see the movies on opening day! It was part of the fun! Especially when we wore T shirts with our favorite Star Wars characters on them.

And as I watched my son play with his action figures, I was delighted that Princess Leia was among his set of Star Wars figures, along with the Millennium Falcon and every other creature or ship put out in the 70’s and 80’s. And now my grandchildren have their own Star Wars toys and Lego figures and naturally Princess Leia is a part of their world too. I’ve grown up with Carrie Fisher and they have grown up with Princess Leia.

I have to admit, when Carrie first showed up on screen as Leia I was thrilled. A female protagonist, who was not only beautiful, but also strong, smart, feisty and tough! She could fight and shoot in a lovely futuristic gown. NOW THAT WAS A HEROINE! An entire generation of girls and boys grew up to know and love her because she could rule the galaxy at the same time as being gorgeous, witty, adventurous and brave. What an outstanding role model for children.

And Carrie Fisher was just as ground breaking in real life. She fought her demons with courage and strength and through her writing she conquered them. The last Star Wars movie when Harrison Ford embraced her one last time, and I saw the mature version of the characters we have all grown to love, I wiped away tears watching them together again on screen. It was wonderful. And then two night’s ago I saw her in London on the Graham Norton show (a BBC TV show like our Tonight show) and she spoke about her new book. Her clever wit was ever so sharp and I really enjoyed listening to her speak. I thought she had so many more years ahead of her to create, write, act etc.

She was returning from London when she had her heart attack. It doesn’t seem possible that our Princess is now gone. Carrie/Leia wasn’t just that little girl I worried about without her Daddy in the 1950’s; she became a Princess and a General on screen, and a first class author in real life, proving girls could achieve anything!!

Her character on film and her character in real life was innovative, adventurous, and brave. She broke gender barriers in her films and won battles, and she fought like hell in real life to do the same. I feel a deep sense of loss for this extraordinarily talented woman.

But, I prefer to believe that her star will not burn out. That she will glide throughout the Universe shining brightly forever, and live on in the hearts of her fans, that range in age from children to senior citizens. “May The Force Be With You”, Princess Carrie. We will miss you. G-d Bless.

Happy Everything!

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday season.  I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a beautiful and blended family. One who shares in love and joy as we celebrate and embrace our differences, while joining together in harmony and affection.

No, this is not just a season of one holiday; it is a season of many.  I was brought up Jewish and remain faithful to my religion.  I raised my children with the customs of my ancestors. However, my late husband was not of the Jewish faith and so to honor his beliefs, we also embraced Christmas. My children felt very lucky to be able to light candles one week and wait for Santa the next. And my oldest son married a lovely Filipino woman and so they too have a blended family, which unites and cherishes traditions.

Last evening my grandchildren came by and we lit the candles for Chanukah and they opened their presents and spun the dreidel as they shared in the customs my parents and grandparents taught me.  The following day they awoke to find that Santa had visited their home and supplied them with gifts for being a good little girl and boy!!!  What lucky children!!!

I have never understood why people fight over faith.  We are more alike than different if we believe in G-d.  And even if we don’t, we are still faithful members of the human race, and owe each other kindness and compassion. It isn’t about whose traditions are better, or more important.  It’s about extending love to one another.

And so from my family to yours… Happy Everything!  May this be a season of peace and joy, filled with love. And may the coming New Year be one where we learn to unite and work together!  Peace and Love to you all!!!

Let Freedom Ring!

I wish all of America could witness the jubilation happening in Miami as many celebrate the death of a terrible tyrant. Perhaps what many citizens around the country, and even in Northern Florida do not clearly comprehend, is that the Cuban people who came to this country did so to escape a brutal, oppressive ruler. They risked their lives to come to America so that their children could live in freedom without the fear and instability of a savage dictator.

I am old enough to remember the influx of Cubans fleeing Castro. My Temple helped countless Cuban/Jewish families come to this country and assisted them in assimilating so that they could live safe, free lives in South Florida.

I grew up and attended school with these children, some of whom were traumatized by a move from their homeland, had to learn a new language, all while trying to block out memories of an oppressive Castro regime. I watched as they acclimated themselves, becoming productive members of the South Florida community. That is why I rejoiced at the news of Fidel Castro’s death.  I wish those brave early immigrants, who first arrived when I was little, were still alive to witness the death of the dictator who caused them so much pain and heartache and forced them to flee their beloved homeland.

It is this knowledge I witnessed growing up. I learned the lessons of the Holocaust in the early 1950’s when I observed many of my neighbors with numbers burned deeply into their flesh. It was then that I first understood the value and the price of freedom and equality. Those courageous men and women were examples of the human spirit, and helped shape the woman I grew up to be. Their endurance and strength became implanted in my brain enforcing the message that we Americans must NEVER allow any dictator to rise up ever again. NOT ever!!!

That is why I am wary and very fearful of Donald Trump. He needs to be watched carefully to make sure he does not turn into a Castro or a Hitler. America MUST remain the land of the free, a shining example of democracy.  Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t seem to understand that in America, EVERY citizen has rights, and we follow our Constitution. He is President Elect, NOT King Elect and is required to uphold our Constitution. He can NOT do whatever he feels like on a whim.

I pray that each of us stays vigilant so that the Cuban people did not flee their country in vain, and that the Jews who fled Europe for freedom, are not suddenly victims once again of  blatant anti-Semitism. And I hope that all the other immigrants who came to this great land because they wanted a shot at the American dream, will get to continue to live out those dreams in freedom.

Today watching the celebrations in Miami, I understood more than ever just how much Castro’s death means to the Cuban community. It represents hope.

I beseech America to carefully make sure freedom always rings throughout our land! It is up to us to make sure that our President Elect does not take away our rights. They are ours to have. Do not let a dictator ruin what so many of our ancestors fought and died for.

G-d Bless America.

A Trump Apocalypse

images   A Trump Apocalypse!!

I have been trying not to watch the news these last few days before the election, because I get way too upset at the realization (and the absurdity), that half of our nation is likely  to vote for Donald Trump to become the President of the United States.

That thought has me so baffled and distraught, that I have begun to binge watch just about anything on Netflix to avoid thinking about Donald Trump! Suddenly, rather than watching non stop MSNBC or CNN, I have found other types of TV to  become my  mindless entertainment, just so I don’t have to think about the possibility of impending doom in the event that Hillary doesn’t win the election.

This morning I tuned into the show “The View” to get away from anything political while I had my second cup of coffee.  However, no such luck! The moment I clicked on the tube, I discovered that Chris Wallace was their first guest! And once again I felt that deep sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that life as I have known it for over 6 decades, was about to end. And worst of all, every time I hear anything about the election, I feel like a “huge” amount of Americans are being sucked into the “Trump Zone”. (Imagine the music from the Twilight Zone playing right now.)

Forget worrying about a zombie apocalypse, and think Doomsday, the Trump kind!!!! Which is way worse because zombies are nowhere near as scary as Donald Trump!

Ugh! Apparently, I can’t seem to get away from that misogynist  no matter how hard I try. Newscasters, even some of my friends and neighbors, and quite frankly the oddest groups of Americans I have ever observed, seem to be coming out of the woodwork and repeating his nonsensical rhetoric. It is horrifying….I feel like I am in the middle of bad B movie where the zombies have eaten the brains of half the population and the ones who are left are not shouting “Brains!” But, are doing that weird Zombie walk screeching, “Trump.” Their lips are moving, but their eyes are glossed over and their brains are completely gone. And daily I become more disheartened at the foolish, surreal behavior I am observing from what used to be perfectly normal human beings.  They are Trump Zombies who have lost all logic, all reason, and are beyond judgment and critical thinking ability. I just don’t get it!!!

For a dedicated educator like myself, to see such recklessness, such a lack of thinking,  it is disheartening. I am ashamed to watch former rational people make irrational decisions. It makes me contemplate if I will have to give up on my life’s dream of making this world a better place. Because, if a man like Donald Trump can run for President of this great nation, then we have reached a new low in standards, a new low in kindness and compassion, and a new lack of decency. Our values in the country I love, seem to have fallen by the wayside and gotten lost somewhere under the bleachers at a Trump rally.

Our political system has traveled far away from just Republican or Democrat. As this election has evolved, it has transformed from normal political banter into vicious GOP intimidation, to  out and out lies. Making dignity, class, responsibility, and actual facts no longer matter. Decades of public service are ignored and bullying is applauded. Nope, I really don’t get what happened in this election.

My goals in thinking that human beings have an innate desire to strive, to learn, to educate themselves to find the truth, and then pass it on to help one another, have been squashed by listening to the fabricated falsehoods of Mr. Trump and his tyrannical verbal accusations or his rampaged tweets. All justifying  violence!

And my desire is to go back to the philosophers of old to seek the truth, which in my estimation is pure and quite simple. If you care about others, you take the high road, and help your fellow man succeed. You fill yourself up with all the knowledge available. If you are going to become a leader, then you make sure that those who are less fortunate than yourself are taken care of and are taught how to care for themselves so they can improve the quality of their lives. And you think positively not negatively.  You uplift the country not tear it down.

So, let me try to clearly break down and explain to those of  you who have decided to vote for Trump, what you are ultimately doing:

1.You are condemning women to remain second-class citizens. Your daughters and grand daughters will learn that they can NEVER achieve no matter how hard they try or how bright they are. By voting for an unqualified Trump over an experienced Hillary, you are showing girls that they can NEVER get to the top! That even if they reach the head of the class, and are the smartest, most competent girls or women in the country, they can NOT defeat an incompetent, less qualified, brash, crude man. Simply because they are female! And because of blind prejudice.

2.  A vote for Trump means you are sentencing minorities to be treated as if they are  subhuman, and not a vital part of our society.

3.  A vote for Trump is saying that bullying is acceptable and that sexual harassment is the norm and requires no punishment for bad, disgusting behavior.

4. A vote for Trump means you are condoning bigotry and allowing sexism to overtake our Republic once again.

5.  You can kid yourself and say a vote for Trump is a vote for conservatism. But conservative values do NOT undervalue women, children, minorities, or the law. Religious freedom means that ALL faiths may worship freely NOT just one faith.

6. A vote for Donald Trump is in essence, saying that you are voting to take away every constitutional right we ever had, and every amendment we added, because Trump does not have a clue about government or our Constitution.

Make no mistake. If Donald Trump wins, the rights of women, children, minorities, will diminish, and we will travel back to the days where women died in back allies, where segregation was legal, where people who were not the majority faith, color, gender in this country were not given jobs, could not go into certain establishments ,or live any where they wanted, or marry who they love.

8. A vote for Trump is more than just a vote. It will be the end of Democracy, as we know it.

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Praying That Love Trumps Hate On Yom Kippur.

yomkippurOn the holiest day of the year, a day of reflection and prayer, when we Jews are closest to G-d, praying and repenting for our sins, evaluating how we can become better people and do even more to help others, I have spent the morning with love in my heart and thinking about the future year ahead… I then made the mistake of turning on the TV.

I was suddenly plucked out of a calm inner peaceful sense of prayer and shocked as I was thrown into the world of reality by being bombarded with nasty, vile ads from Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. Not ads discussing policy differences but clips of her coughing and tripping when she was ill.  Attacks on her that were based on falsehoods and that made me so very sad. Not angry, but saddened at the level of barbarity I was seeing.

I quickly turned off the television because the disgust at the nastiness was just too overwhelming when I was trying to forgive all those around me who may have wronged others. So, on a day when I am trying to focus on how I can continue to grow as a human being, become a holier person on a daily basis, do more mitzvah’s (good deeds) for others, witnessing such negativity just reaffirmed that “Love Trumps Hate”.

Perhaps G-d’s lesson here is that we must look evil in the face and rise above it. We must see hatred and bigotry and learn from it that we can NEVER let our lives be consumed or manipulated by others to feel hatred, or think anyone is better than anyone else just because they may have power or money. So, while the ads are detestable and out and out lies about a candidate I admire, I have to learn that the righteous thing to do to become a better person, is that every time I see shallowness and bigotry, I have to pray even more than ever that Love will trump hate! I have to work even harder in my community to see that every person is cared for and has a voice. I have to forgive those who spout evil and understand that they are mentally unwell and need our help and our pity. And I have to pray for them to become better human beings and find peace. Amen.

yommages

Trump deserves the “HUGE” backlash!

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I have to admit that it is rather gratifying to see Donald Trump getting such a “HUGE” backlash from the decade old video that recently resurfaced showing his despicable behavior towards women. And isn’t it ironic that most Republican men have refused to admit that their candidate was a reprehensible misogynist until they had actual video footage? Why is it that they had to wait until Trump was caught on camera before they stepped in to denounce him?

It was obvious to all the women who saw his conduct on the campaign trail that he was a bigot and a misogynist.  Even Republican women like Ana Navarro  denounced his behavior long before this video surfaced. She knew who and what he was and begged her fellow Republicans NOT to support him. Yes, women heard him and recognized his lack of character every time he spoke in front of a crowd, or gave an interview. Women picked up on his sexist jargon and his bigotry in every speech he made and in every aside or comment he snuck in about various females who weren’t perfect tens by his standards. WE knew all along what he was!!!! So why did it take most of the male population and the media so long to figure it out and finally address the elephant in the room? WHY?

I am baffled that the males (and some of the females) in the Republican Party purposely chose to hide the fact that Trump was a racist, elitist, chauvinist, uncouth jerk. They knew this and yet they let his behavior slide. The GOP establishment didn’t really care that he was unfit for the Precedency. No, they waited until his inappropriate behavior was finally exposed and up in their faces. It had to be caught on camera for them to distance themselves from Mr. Trump. Had the video not appeared, they’d still be cheering him on saying he was “Great!”

Personally, I think that’s the real problem with this new extremist Republican Party that has come to exist in our country. They want to win at all costs. The truth doesn’t seem to matter any more, nor do the citizens of our country as long as they win the White House or dominate the Senate!  Certainly Trump’s derogatory comments about women and minorities have been totally ignored or dismissed. Sadly, until this latest bombshell appeared, they haven’t even wanted to address Trump’s shortcomings. Even Pence in his debate with Kaine the other night avoided answering anything about Trump, making it seem as if the GOP nominee wasn’t even in the race. It was bizarre.

Well, guess what GOP? You’ve been caught!!! And it’s too late for you to do a switcheroo now! You got yourself into this mess and now you can’t get out of it!  You had plenty of time to separate yourself from the joker who is your candidate for President. But YOU decided NOT to do anything about removing this unsuitable, reprehensible thug, when you knew full well he was an unqualified, crude, buffoon. You chose to let him represent you. You closed your eyes and ignored Mr. Trump when he spoke bigoted comments about Latinos, African Americans, The LGBT community, and laughed away his offensive comments about women. He’s YOUR guy and you and Donald Trump are joined at the hip!  You’ve got your vulgar, bigoted, crude, rude, unqualified excuse for a man and candidate.  You didn’t have the guts to remove him and select one of the more qualified members of your party. So, yes since you let this happen, enjoy your choice. You and you alone dismissed the bigotry and sexism. And because YOU opted to ignore it, it’s slammed you in the face and you have to deal with the consequences of your actions.

“Too bad so sad.” Enjoy your loss.  It will be HUGE!!!!

 

Why Hillary Outclassed Trump!

1scuehd6pojctw9ksyht7caAfter watching the first of the 2016 Presidential debates, I rejoiced at Hillary Clinton’s thunderous win and wiped away tears that escaped after years of pent up emotion waiting for America’s first female Presidential candidate to take the stage and debate her opponent; a feat I was not sure would ever happen in my lifetime. Secretary Clinton was composed, Presidential, filled with factual information and had a clear, concise plan for America’s future. She was able to address all the questions presented while giving answers relevant to every American citizen; rich, poor, male, female, all races and all faiths.

Her challenger, Donald Trump, on the other hand, babbled on endlessly, was consistently incoherent and off topic, and unable to answer the questions posed by the moderator. Mainly because he could not stay focused on any one topic or issue for more than a few seconds. He was rude, arrogant, interrupted Mrs. Clinton relentlessly, all while huffing and puffing like he was running a marathon. And then there was the constant sniffling… This combined with his bizarre ranting had me questioning whether or not he was on some sort of drug that was adding to his irrational behavior. But even without bringing up Rosie O’Donnell, Trump looked unprepared, un-presidential, and uninformed. However, what bothered me the most about his unpolished, brash performance was the fact that he was proudly smiling when he admitted he had not paid any federal taxes! And then had the nerve to state that in doing so he was being smart!!!

How is it that a man, who professes to being a millionaire or billionaire is paying zero in federal taxes, while the rest of us ordinary citizens are paying our fair share? That’s about as un-American as you can get!!! It really irritates me that my children and I are paying more taxes than Donald Trump!!! Not only is that absurd, it is disrespectful to Americans and undeserved!!

One son of mine is the devoted father of three and works a full time job and two part time jobs to make sure his family has everything they need. My other son is 15 years his junior and just starting out in his profession. He still was able to purchase a home by saving his earnings AND paying Federal taxes that Trump conveniently avoided. So here’s my youngest child, who works in the film industry, which requires him to travel around the country working crazy hours on a salary that isn’t much above minimum wage, working his heart out while Trump gets a free ride but my kid doesn’t?  What is so special about Mr. Trump that he can complain about what America doesn’t have and yet refuses to pay Federal taxes, which is what helps build our country. America IS great and now we all know it certainly didn’t get that way because of anything done by Donald Trump!!!

My point is, that both my boys work their behinds off, don’t complain about it, and still have time to help others all while paying their taxes. Both donate their time to our community and help out local foundations in a variety of ways.

I am a retired elementary school teacher who lives on a small teacher’s pension and my social security and I still find time to volunteer in classrooms and help write the educational curriculum for a non-profit organization. In my family, we ALL volunteer our time to help others. We all work and pay our federal taxes, unlike Mr. Trump! None of us has a lot of money, (like you know who) but it would never dawn on my boys to avoid giving back to our government or to our community. That’s not who we are and those aren’t the values of the America I know and love.

Yet a man who is running for the highest office in the land, the President of the United States, doesn’t care enough about his country to do the same. He doesn’t give back, he only takes.

This country was built on the backs of the working class. My family worked hard, I worked hard, and my children work hard. And I am insulted that this imprudent candidate, who was too lazy to even prepare for the debate, has the gall to admit he paid zero federal taxes. And then smirks and tells us he was being smart! NO, he wasn’t being smart, he was being a cheater!!!

I have prided myself on being a first- rate mother, grandmother, and teacher for instilling good and righteous values in my children, grandchildren and my students. And I take pride in my community and my country. I have never resented paying taxes to help our schools, our roads, our clean air, our environment etc. And in the past, I have been proud of most of our leaders. Because no matter who won each election they were decent human beings who cared about America.

But this man has no sense of right and wrong. Whether he is a sociopath in his every day life I cannot say. But, he certainly is a societal sociopath, that’s for sure. Last night proved his inability to have any sympathy or concern for the people of this country. It was unmistakably clear when he actually showed pride for what he got away with. Not what he did for this country, but for what he didn’t do. And of course, JFK’s words rang in my head. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” That is a lesson Donald Trump obviously never learned.

I do not begrudge successful people in society. I have some very prosperous people in my circle of friends and among my relatives. BUT they all pay their fair share of taxes and they ALL give back to their communities and do so gladly and generously. Not so with Mr. Trump.

I was brought up to do a “mitzvah” (A good deed) every single day. That is how my parents raised me, which is a Jewish tradition, and how I raised my own children. And my oldest son, who is now a father, is carrying on that tradition teaching kindness and understanding to his children and showing them how important it is to help others. That is the pride, which my grandparents taught my parents when they immigrated to this great country of ours. America is all about opportunities and about communities. We are ALL one big family!

Someone should give Mr. Trump a lesson in American History so he can try to understand the reasoning behind our founding fathers. Right now he has no sense of the word community. He is all about “I” not we. And those are not qualities America needs or wants in a President. Trump’s true nature rang out loud and clear last night and it wasn’t the Liberty Bell that was ringing.  It was the chime of selfishness, greed, and egomania.

 

Memories of 9/11

911maxresdefaultMemories of 9/11 Fifteen years later:

September 11th 2001. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since that tragic day. And like most citizens of this nation, I remember practically every detail of what happened during those horrific moments when the towers fell.

I was home from work with a really bad cold getting ready for a morning doctor’s appointment. I assumed it was my usual first cold of the teaching year, but this time I thought I might need a round of antibiotics and so that particular morning I was home drinking coffee and watching the news rather than working in my classroom, when I saw the exact moment the first plane hit the Twin Towers. I remember in slow motion putting my coffee cup down, and looking at the TV screen in disbelief. My mouth agape, I was totally stunned, not sure what I was witnessing. And then the news kept playing it over and over again. I grabbed the phone and called my now late husband, who was teaching an American history class at Dillard High School. I told him to immediately put on his classroom television and turn on the news, explaining that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers. And as I was reporting the incident, the second plane came flying in and the tower burst into flames.  I screamed out loud as it happened. There was a silence out of shock as we both watched it together, but miles apart. Suddenly, I heard a group of his high school students scream in the background. I told him I would call him back after the doctors and we hung up not even knowing what to say because neither of us could even comprehend what we had just witnessed. I continued to get dressed, still watching the news, horrified as I, along with the country, now realized that this was not pilot error. It was an attack. Yes, America was beginning to comprehend that for the first time in modern history we were being attacked on U.S. soil.

I drove to the doctor’s listening intently to the radio news trying to understand the depth of what was going on, and when I got to the office the nurses and doctors were huddled around  various televisions that usually shared health hints in the waiting room, but now were tuned into the crash site and the tumbling towers as the news unfolded. I was called back into a patient room by a nurse, but then was waved over to a TV in the very back of the row of offices. It was then I heard about some of the other events of the day. We all looked at each other horrified. Men and women of all ages, races, doctors, nurses, patients in total disbelief. I remember an elderly patient crying. My doctor/nurse practitioner, grabbed my hand and took me into the room to check me out.  I believe she gave me a sample Z pack since I have no memory of ever going to the pharmacy. (That part is hazy. I might have gone to the pharmacy, but I truly don’t recall.)  We briefly shared how horrified we were and I told her that I was going straight to pick up my middle school child and she said, she wasn’t quite sure  what she was going to do, but also expressed concern about her boys who were young and in school as well. We looked at each other shocked and grief stricken and then hugged.  And I left the office.

Suddenly, everyone became afraid for the children. The realization that perhaps these attacks could happen randomly anywhere in our country, even in schools, entered every parent’s mind. So, when I left my doctor’s office, I headed straight for my son’s middle school. My son, Johnny was clueless as to why I was picking him up early and even more baffled that other parents were beginning to crowd the office asking for the release of their children too. While driving home my husband called panicking and telling me to pick up our son, I explained that I already had. We expressed our love for one another and then hung up. I called my 28-year-old son who was working and he said he was fine and it was business as usual and told me not to worry. He worked for the Miami Dolphins back then and nothing changed a sports schedule until a national emergency was declared. I told him to keep in touch and that I loved him. He said the same.

And so I drove home, coughing and sneezing, feverish, and in total shock over what had happened in our country.

I had some chicken soup, took my medicine, and continued to watch the news. My 13-year-old son, Johnny watched a little news too and quite honestly I am not quite sure how he felt. I was crying by now and hugging him, because everything was sinking in and I don’t believe my youngest son understood the extent of what was really going on. He watched a little TV and I told him not to worry about anything, that our country and the military had things under control and he seemed ok, just saddened at the loss of life. We both cried. I encouraged him to work on homework and he went to his room  to finish a school project. And then until my husband came home I don’t think I left the family room. I was glued to the television. Our family watched news non-stop for updates and luckily, my husband brought home dinner on his way home from work. Together as a family we felt closer than ever, and yet we watched in a zombie like state, as our nation seemed shattered. I remember sobbing as I  gazed through tear streaked eyes at the brave first responders trying to save those in need and my husband and I clung to each other tightly still in disbelief.

There are no words great enough to describe the events of that fateful day and all those who lost their lives when the towers fell. No words significant enough to express the sorrow and loss our country endured. Fifteen years…. we can never forget.

 

 

 

There Is Only ONE Choice!

hillary-clinton-thumbs-up

I just turned off the evening news and I am angry!!  I am so sick of people saying there are two awful choices in this election. I totally disagree. There is only ONE awful choice. The other choice is an amazingly dedicated woman who is more experienced and qualified than any other candidate I have ever seen in the past 45 years that I have been voting. NEVER have we had a candidate with Hillary Clinton’s superior qualifications.

Sadly, the American media has decided to justify how absurdly unqualified Trump is, and therefore chosen to lower the bar, creating a new vacuous set of rules for “The Donald” because he is not your typical candidate. Instead, he is like dealing with a spoiled, argumentative preschooler. And in this bizarre world of 24 hour non stop news stations, all the leading channels appear to be sharing a “Voting for Dummies” guidebook.  One in which Trump doesn’t appear as ridiculous and inept as he actually is. And worst of all, in an attempt to make their news reports more credible, these so called journalists are now identifying Hillary as an equally bad candidate just to help Trump appear less nonsensical and somewhat normal. (Like they think the public won’t notice?)

I assume this is being done for ratings, but it seems to me that the closer we get to the election, the majority of reporters don’t want Trump to stand out as the ineffective joke that he is.  They would rather pretend to the public that he is a viable candidate in order to level the playing field. Or make it appear level.  That in itself, is absurd, sexist, and totally unfair to the one candidate (Hillary) who is intelligent, competent, and actually Presidential material.

But what bothers me the most, is that this just isn’t fair. Hillary doesn’t belong in the same category as Trump, nor does she deserve this kind of abusive treatment from American journalists and the American people. Especially, when she has spent a lifetime helping our citizens. Talk about a lack of respect!!! (Let alone the fact that her decades of work and effort have been totally ignored and undervalued.) There is no comparison at all between the candidates.  One has spent a lifetime helping others and one has spent a lifetime helping himself.

Why is it that Hillary has had to fight harder than any other candidate in our history and had to prove herself more than any man running? Why must she answer more questions when Trump gets a free ride? Oh yes, of course, it’s because she’s a woman. To heck with that!

Anyone who cannot see her superiority in this arena over Mr. Trump, is quite frankly, not thinking clearly or rationally. This isn’t reality TV, this is real life!!! And I for one, am sick and tired of intelligent qualified women having to constantly prove themselves over and over to less capable men every single second of every single day in this country! There is such a double standard that it is appalling and offensive.

If Trump wins, then I feel like I have wasted 36 years of teaching.  Because that means deductive reasoning, research, logic, intellectualism, has been thrown out the window. It means rationality and wisdom have died in our nation.

We as a society cannot compete in this world with an ignorant Commander in Chief. Our founding fathers did NOT want us to elect a vain CEO who plans to be a figurehead and delegate responsibility without bothering to learn our history or our constitution. Those great men wanted an intelligent, strong leader who could make perceptive decisions and command effectively. And this time, by golly, it’s going to be a woman. So deal with it!!!!!!!

 

Revolution

Girls Need Female Action Figures!

Revolution

Famous female action figures for our daughters!!! That is what they  need!!!
I woke up today with an idea that I wish I could afford to put into motion. I mentioned it briefly in an earlier post but in my slumber last night it became much clearer to me.

As a mom and grandmother, I have spent a small fortune buying action figures that were theme related for my children and my grandchildren. My oldest son in the 1970’s had every action figure and creature related to Star Wars and every flying machine from each of the Star Wars movies. He also had Superman and Daredevil figures and Wrestlemania guys equipped with an actual ring. Many a battle was held in his bedroom where Andre the Giant fought Roddy Roddy Piper and a plethora of other wrestling stars, all of whom he could name and quote their current wrestling statistics. He loved all those heroes. They were part of his childhood and long after he grew up, he saved portions of his array of collections, some of which became valuable items. Many are now boxed up in his attic or on display in his home office.

Fifteen and a half years after Seth was born, I had my second child, Johnny, (a wonderful 40th birthday surprise,) and he had me searching for Power Rangers and transformers that he enjoyed like his older brother before him. He created universes where his action figures saved the world from destruction and he used to make mini films with them, moving each figure frame by frame to appear like they were doing amazing things. (I believe a few of his childhood films are still on you tube somewhere, including a zombie movie where the three stooges were turned into zombies if memory serves me correctly.)

And both my boys would often surprise me with my own version of super heroes after visiting those comic stores where they bought Daredevil or Superman comics (or other  figures that were trending at the time). They came home once with a Sherlock Holmes action figure and magazine for me, and a Shakespeare figure equipped with a quarto and quill for good old mom! Former students bought me a Xena action figure because they thought I was a true warrior princess!  (I used to be able to do a great imitation of that Xena warrior yell on the playground to round them up – ahyayayayaiiiii-)  And a few years after my second husband passed away, a man I once dated bought me a Joan Jett doll since he was former fan of when I was a rocker chick and played in an all girl’s band in the 1960’s… a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

But, my question is this… WHY HASN’T ANYONE DONE FAMOUS WOMEN IN HISTORY ACTION FIGURES?  Where are Susan B Anthony? Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gloria Steinem or Harriet Tubman? Sure, we can have every princess on the planet at Toys R Us, but why can’t we have REAL women in history as action heroes for girls to play with? Every March when I taught women’s history I would take out my famous females playing cards. (I had 4 boxes of them, two different sets.) There were women who were famous firsts in science/ medicine, civil rights, politics, inventors, women’s health, education, sports, entertainment etc. And each card had the picture of the famous woman on the front and their bio on the back. We would play various games with the cards but mostly they were used for research because in February and March I always had my American Celebration. A way to encompass Black History, Presidents, and Women and actually TEACH children about American history. With state testing looming overhead I found by combining Black History Month and Women’s History Month I could stuff in all the important historical figures they needed to know and testing didn’t push history to the wayside.  It allowed me to make sure students understood the importance of those who paved the way in our country. Perhaps some of those millennials at the DNC who did not understand the political process would have better understood how things worked if they had been a student of mine in 4th or 5th grade and taken a journey into the past in women’s history in my classroom.

I wish I had the capital to make a little Susan B Anthony and a Harriet Tubman doll. Or Sybil Ludington with her horse (She rode further than Paul Revere on that famous night to let people know the British were coming.) Why is it that Legos and Matel and all the toy manufacturers can make thousands of Disney Princess figures and Star Wars figures (But very few Prince Leah’s by the way, I can never find her for my grand daughter) but they totally over look the women who paved the way for this momentous accomplishment that Hillary Clinton just made. If there are any investors out there…. let me know. I have a list of women who deserve to be the heroes (heroines) for all the little girls out there growing up. They don’t need dolls with lots of crazy make-up, or even Barbie with unrealistic measurements when there were and are real honest to goodness women who lived and died so that females today could have the rights that they do now  in our country and in many places around the world.

The next time my grand daughter, Toli has a tea party she can have it with Grandma and the Hillary Clinton action figure  I just ordered. (Part of the cost goes to fund her election.) That should be fun. Included in our party will be my River Song figure (From Doctor Who), My Xena and Joan Jette action figures as well as Rosie the Riveter too. And if she wants to include Ariel and Cinderella they can join us as well. All the girls are welcome. And we can drink our tea and discuss literature, politics, being strong and powerful and how to change the world…. Pass the sugar substitute please…Girl Power!!!!!!

MARLA AND LOLLY 1966

(1966 photo of friend Marla on the left and Moi on the right. Today we are still trying to change the world in our own separate ways.)

Update:  I did find on eBay a few female action figures that were made in the 1980’s. Annie Oakley is one, Rosie the Riveter is another.  And in the 1950’s tiny glass figures of a several American women were made that went into a lovely curio cabinet.  (Now they are priced at about 500 dollars a set.) It appears that we need to go back and give our little girls real honest to goodness heroines to be proud of.  And there are also actual paper doll sets on eBay and amazon of famous women that were created in the 90’s.  I’m not sure how we got so off track, but we need to re-establish our priorities again and instead of Kardashians give our little girls real heroes to look up to. They are out there, we just need to look…..

 

Is Hillary Too Intelligent For Republicans???

I read an article the other day stating that the problem with the GOP is that President Obama is much too intelligent for them to understand. It stated that his ability to see the bigger picture and understand far reaching problems confuses them. It also mentioned that he focuses not just on the here and now, but on the direction in which the country needs to head and all that evidently, is just too taxing on many of our Republican leaders and their constituency.

I tend to agree with that to some extent. I feel there is a large amount of one-issue conservatives in Congress who are a lot like cattle, following and meandering slowly along with the crowd and failing to think for themselves. (That is not to say there aren’t a few deep thinking intelligent people on the GOP side.) Sadly, the majority of them seem to lack the ability to respond to stimuli, the weather around them, and can only continue to live like their grandfathers did in the past. They see themselves as elite and above the common man. And yet, if anyone is common, it is those individuals who are not open minded enough to see into the hearts and minds of our citizens in need or in despair.

BUT, if you think Obama is a smart man, here’s the clincher… IF you use IQ points, HILLARY BLOWS EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT WE HAVE EVER HAD OUT THE WATER WITH HER HIGHLY GIFTED IQ. She is in the top 1 percent of people on the planet and would be our most brilliant President to date.

As a recently retired teacher,I studied gifted education and I taught it for over 36 years. I understand the nature and needs of the gifted population of students (top 2 percent of the nation) and the highly gifted student, (top 1 percent). So while I am not in the top 1 percent like Mrs. Clinton, (the top 2 percent works fine for me), I still comprehend how her brain works. I have raised gifted and highly gifted children and so far I have one grandson who is in that category. While vastly different, all these individuals have one thing in common. They ALL have vision, and their vision is not often seen or understood by the rest of us.

Mozart could hear a symphony in raindrops; Beethoven could feel the vibrations in the air and write something as magnificent as “Ode to Joy” when he was on the verge of becoming totally deaf. Few of us could accomplish those tasks.

These uniquely brilliant individuals were thought to be odd and were often shunned as outcasts in society. Van Gogh painted “Stary Night” from the window of an insane asylum. Scientists recently discovered that he drew the accurate motion of the earth as it rotated around the sun in that painting by using the precise swirls in his rendering that can be seen through telescopes. Incrediby, HE could see the swirls with the naked eye. He could see movement all around him when nobody else could. But, instead of calling him brilliant, they thought he was crazy. Yet all the while the molecular motion still existed. However, society locked him away for being different. Why? Because he was a genius and saw things  that the average Joe could not see nor comprehend. And Obama, because of the color of his skin was not supposed to be able to see the “whole picture” in politics. He wasn’t supposed to be that much smarter than everyone in Congress and so they hated him for it. How dare a man of color be so brilliant? And worse yet, now a woman is going to threaten the sanctity of the good old boys club!

And that, I feel, is how Trump slid by and became the nominee. Yes, half of the population would rather vote for a bigoted idiot than vote for a brilliant, experienced woman because her brains scare the hell out of them. She’s too darn smart and that makes them uncomfortable.  THIS is just ONE reason why Republicans hate her so much. They can blame a million other trivial things on her, but really they are thinking, “HOW DARE A WOMAN BE SMARTER THAN EVERYONE! HOW DARE SHE BE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT SOLUTIONS MORE QUICKLY AND SOLVE PROBLEMS IN A MORE LOGICAL MANNER THAN EVERYONE IN THE ROOM!”

And all I can think is, how did this woman even survive her entire life in the political arena near these buffoons? The patience she learned in dealing with them is a feat in itself. She has always been wise beyond her years and ahead of her time and she is smarter than anyone in politics today. Her experience, her temperament, and her intellect will make her one of the best Presidents this country has ever had. And just like history will write something similar about Obama being brilliant and suave, history will give him credit for being in the top five of our very best leaders. And, if given the chance, Hillary will be in that group as well.

It is astounding to me that she even has to fight for the win. Especially when we have Donald Trump, who clearly has not read a book in the last 25 years. (If he ever did read and finish a book during his entire life without cliff’s notes.)

So on one hand we have a man who can’t control his temper and spouts off bigoted comments like gunshots, without even understanding that he is being racist or politically incorrect.  And then we have Hillary. Who is female and Republicans and many citizens can not stand her. And because of GOP lies people say they don’t trust her.  Why the hell not? Because she gives folks an intelligent answer that isn’t simplistic?

Have we dumbed down America so much that people cannot think beyond the amount of characters on twitter? It is obvious that most folks don’t know or understand what Hillary or Obama are talking about. And yes, it would be easier to shout out…”Tricky Trump” or “Dumb Donald” over and over again to compete with Trump’s crooked Hillary rhetoric. But, as an intellectual with actual decisive plans on how to help America, Hillary just can’t do that. It isn’t who she is.

May I suggest that people READ Abigail Adam’s letters to her husband John. (Or watch the film 1776.) And if you can’t muster up the stamina to read a book, then there are many Children’s books written about her. I have one at home called “Remember The Ladies”. The eloquence of her written words is simply breathtaking. In fact, if you really want to feel somewhat lacking in articulating your emotions, check out the expressiveness of common foot soldiers during the Civil War. Their beautiful, lyrical letters are astounding compared to the men and women in Congress today. People had a mastery for language and communication back then.

In 2016 we may have SMART phones, but we have DUMB people!!! We have become an inarticulate society and thus people like the simplicity of Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great.”  To someone with a higher IQ like Hillary, that comment is unnecessary, because we know America is already great. But to the Trump crowd, it is all they can process. A few phrases here or there is all their minds can handle. Much like Trump himself.

I, for one, want a President who I think is smarter than I am. One of the reasons I disliked George W so much was because I knew I was much smarter than he was. And I couldn’t respect a President who wouldn’t be able to answer any of my questions. (Another reason Obama was such a breath of fresh air. What a pleasure it was and is to listen to him speak!)

I NEED Hillary to be our next President because she is the most intelligent candidate with the most experience. Yes, I won’t lie, it totally rocks that she is a woman. (It is long over due.) But, she is just so damn smart, and a solution sort of person. She’s a real problem solver and I would give my eyeteeth to watch her work. America NEEDS her! I need her. My children and grandchildren need her. We all need an intelligent role model if we want a society of smart people!!! We don’t want to be known as the nation of Dumb and Dumber!!!

You know, The thing I miss the most about being retired from teaching is standing up in front of a class of gifted and highly gifted students, and posing a question to them. I’d watch the look on their faces as their eyes lit up one at a time when they thought of an answer. And I’d go around the room and ask the students with their hands up what they thought the answer could be. I’d write on the board a condensed version of what each student said, until every child had shared a thought.

And then I would stand back and together the class and I would look at the amazingly creative answers before us and give a collective sigh or a “Whoa!”

And from that brainstorming session they would usually break into groups and either write an essay, a short story, present their ideas using technology; a power point, flip chart presentation, a poem, a play, an illustration, a song, a mini movie… any creative way they could conjure up to show me the answer to my question, they did it! Filled with excitement as they busily got to work to create their answers.

And ALWAYS, always, always, their answers were far beyond the scope of what I had imagined they would be. They were wonderful answers!!!  If ONLY America gave Hillary a chance so she too could surprise us and do her thing. Then and only then can this country get back on track.

I beg of you dear readers, not to let this nation turn into a book called, “America for Dummies.” PLEASE! Let this highly gifted woman win in the fall and lead us into greatness, knowledge, and peace!!

All Are Punished!

160612060626-orlando-shooting-exlarge-169All Are Punished! (A Poem about Dallas.)

Falling with the elegant grace of a dancer,

Splatters of crimson red spread in slow motion,

The deafening noise of gunshots continue in succession.

Confusion and panic erupt through mass hysteria,

As people race for cover.

Bodies plummet to the ground while dark liquid consumes their form and covers the pavement.

Fear on the faces of the innocents,

Disbelief and shock on a cluster of shapes running.

Black or white it doesn’t matter.

Nobody sees color in the crowd of figures trying to get to safety.

They are all afraid,

They are all in peril.

Citizens protesting in peace,

While officers rush to save the masses.

Yet, still the shots shriek out from unknown locations.

Dead! Dead! Dead! Dead! Dead!! The shots blast!

Violence erupting from despair?

A conspiracy group trying to shift the blame?

Police risking uncertain death to protect citizens,

Who hesitate to trust men and women in uniform,

Until they see the compassion in their eyes.

A peaceful protest turned to devastation by weapons that NO civilian should ever possess.

Do we blame the government that allowed these killing machines to be purchased?

Do we blame our leaders or the actual weapons themselves?

What about the insane being who pulled the trigger?

Who do we blame?

WE BLAME THEM ALL!

It is a collective tragedy and we all  bear the responsibility.

“ALL ARE PUNISHED! ALL ARE PUNISHED!”

We blame them ALL!

 

 

 

Crying for Dallas!

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I woke up this morning to see all the chaos that happened last night in Dallas. In a world where guns are so easy to access, people who can’t deal with their frustrations any more lose control. And they seem to lose it by killing other human beings.

Black or white, people who can buy dangerous military style weapons hurt and kill other individuals when life gets too difficult to endure. America’s biggest problem is not the top one percent or the cost of college. (Although those are issues of concern, they are not our top priority.) Our biggest problem is that every single day we are killing one another. Every time you turn on the news you see people trying to annihilate anyone who looks or acts differently than they do. Each night as I press the on button to my television, or click on my iPad, I can’t help but feel stunned and powerless. How do we stop this needless violence? What can we do to save America?

After all the senseless shootings against the African American community in this country, this horrific incident could not have been totally unexpected. But, a few sick individuals do NOT represent every person!  And had those disturbed individuals not had access to assault rifles in the first place, those brave officers would still be alive. Had the GOP allowed another vote when Democrats formed a sit in, maybe things would have been different. Maybe not. But once again, assault rifles murdered individuals who should not have died.

I blame the Republicans in Congress for not compromising with Democrats and voting for common sense gun laws that reflect the wishes of the American People. The blood of those five officers in Dallas is on the hands of every Republican who voted against banning assault rifles. They had another chance to get this right after the Orlando massacre but they decided that voting against the Democrats rather than FOR the safety of the American people was more important than representing the citizens who elected them to serve and keep them safe.

How many more of our dear citizens must die before Congress wakes up and makes our country safer? How many people have to bleed before Senators and Representatives do the right thing and vote on laws to prevent at least some of the violence that is plaguing our nation?

We all are sick of the violence. People are feeling helpless, hurt, and stunned. A peaceful protest turned into a horrible massacre of law enforcement officers and that is unconscionable. More precious lives lost. I am just sick inside.

Change the gun laws, respect one another, look beyond the color of a person’s skin, beyond their gender, beyond their uniform, and find kindness in your heart. We need to make America SAFE again. And Congress, work together and DO YOUR JOB!!! PLEASE!!!

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How Does Brexit affect my favorite shows Game of Thrones and Outlander?

The world is an uproar!  And after the shock of all the voting in the UK and trying to understand the consequences and just how it affects the United States, today I suddenly wondered, what does Brexit mean for two of my favorite shows, “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander”? Will we fans be forced to stop seeing Jon Snow or never again look upon Jaime and Claire after waiting decades to get their characters on screen?? Please tell me it isn’t so! How can Politics change my television choices??? Obviously, a lot.

As a political junkie it gets me really annoyed that the masses, evidently across the pond as well as in America, don’t think, research, or do their homework before they decide to vote. I don’t understand it.  The last article I read said that the folks in the UK wanted to revote now because they didn’t understand the consequences of what might happen!  REALLY????  And all I could think about was what if that happened in America if a certain reality TV star wins the election. The consequences would be horrifying! And then people would say, “Gee, I didn’t think it would be so bad.” or  “I didn’t realize he didn’t know anything about world issues.”  I don’t want that to happen in my country!!!

Is it so difficult for people to THINK before they decide to vote for “unorthodox” candidates who either don’t understand politics or who want to start a revolution without thinking ahead about the possible consequences their vote might cause? (Yeah, that IS what happened in the UK!! And we need to learn from their hastiness.)  Because like America, many of those voters didn’t really understand what they were voting for. Political decisions affect every aspect of our lives!! And people had better understand the fall out before they cast their votes. Just listening to a dynamic speaker, or someone who sounds great isn’t enough. (May I remind you that Hitler was a master orator?)

Ya know…Revolutions sound amazing, but guess what? In reality, not only can they affect our food supplies and possibly cause our economy to plummet or stagnate, (If we follow history). They also can affect our art, music, theatre, literature, and now our technology, as well as our film industry. Yes, our movies may get cut back, changed completely, or disappear entirely from lack of funding. So yeah, our  votes can affect not only our economy, but our internet, our schools, and our spoiled daily lives which include what we watch on television and go to see at the movies.

And yes, we have become a spoiled society who protests for one thing thinking how radical we are and how it will change our country if we start over and rebuild, so we vote for a revolution and a drastic change. But, you see, we also are a society who likes to stream movies on our phones while we sit in the car, use the restroom, or take pictures of our food in restaurants and post it to everyone in the world. Surprise gang.  RARELY, can you do that in a revolution!

And, what if those films we love so much can no longer be made??? What if, our favorite television shows are cancelled because they cannot be filmed in certain countries or are just too costly to make? And what if,like Cuba, for decades, we can no longer have access to world news or  internet? Yeah, revolutions sound great but they are usually messy and dirty, and not the stuff that movies make them out to be. They are not glamorous!!!

The same millennials who are protesting to keep fighting for a certain senator long after he gave it his all and lost fair and square, would not be so happy if they are too stubborn to cast their votes for the Democratic Nominee and thus handed over the election to the bigoted option running for the GOP. (Who they don’t seem to care for either.)  Those young protestors could quite easily be left standing in bread lines without their cell phones. How would they survive then??? Because the GOP’s candidate would certainly put us in a worse situation than the UK is in. But, hey, don’t worry.  The rich will still have their golf courses.

I personally live with a daily reminder of just how terrible it can be when a majority of people vote for a bad candidate.  In Florida alone, we lost millions of dollars and thousands of jobs because Governor Rick Scott refused to renew the Florida Film incentives. So now all the movies and TV shows that were made down here in our lovely climate all year long, were forced to set up in Georgia. I know because my son, who was working steadily down here and bought a home locally, now rents it out and works in the Atlanta area. I get to see him a few weeks out of the year and that is heartbreaking for me as his mother.  I miss him.  It has had disadvantageous affects for Florida economically, but thankfully, no global complications. However, it was an unnecessary outcome stemming from poor decision making prompted by uninformed voters. So while Florida lost millions of dollars and put thousands of employed people out of work, the film industry regrouped and bought hundreds of acres of land and built studies in Georgia and they are giving  thousands of jobs to Georgia locals.  All jobs and money that would have all gone to Florida’s folks. So voting for the wrong candidate affects more than you think. It affects every aspect of society!! And in this case it affected our public schools, our government jobs, and our local film industry totally disappeared when it was thriving and producing jobs. All because a GOP candidate had plenty of money to make great commercials and got people to vote for him, even though he wasn’t the best person for the job..

I don’t know about any of you, but  I personally love my little inconsequential life just like it is. I am a retired teacher who volunteers for a non profit organization that helps children. I write curriculum for the bluapple poetry network, I take art classes, I write a blog, and I enjoy my three grandchildren. I earn a small teacher’s pension and get a little social security after teaching for 36 years. My life is not extravagant, but it pretty much how I planned it to be and I like it. It’s safe, it’s filled with joy, and I can pay my bills and pretty much afford everything I need. I can get HBO, Starz, and Netflix to watch my favorite shows, I can download kindle books on my iPad and my iPhone, I can use an app to order my groceries on days I am ill, and because of my access to everything on the internet, I am able to order anything on line, even Disney DVD’s that are no longer available commercially,  from eBay, for my grandchildren. Life couldn’t be better and I think I am really a very lucky woman.  And, guess what? I don’t want any of that to change because some people didn’t take the time to THINK before they cast their votes.  I don’t want an incompetent  Presidential candidate to win, nor do I want a revolution.  I just got back on my feet after the Bush years where I lost everything. So my life under the current administration has gotten back on track and my senior years ahead will be wonderful if all goes as planned.  But now watching what is happening in the UK is an eye opener to what might happen here if the wrong person gets into the White House.

I urge voters to do their research as I would tell my former students.  Use 3 to 5 sources on any topic you look up on the internet, because crazy people as well as competent ones write things on line. Seek out the truth and be careful what you wish for.  Don’t think a revolution will solve all your problems or that a candidate who had a reality show actually understands world affairs.  Learn from history that we need to look to the past just as much as we need to look to the future to seek our answers.  And vote wisely. Sometimes we have to vote for the candidate who is the best but may not have been our first choice. Sometimes we have to vote against rather than for, and sometimes we can actually make a progressive change in history with our votes by voting in the first female President of the United States.  Sometimes we CAN make things even better!!!  And perhaps, THEN we all can hope that “Game of Thrones” will still be on HBO!  And that we can go to the movies and enjoy a new “Star Wars” Film.  May the Force Be With You when you VOTE!!!

http://www.ibtimes.com/what-brexit-could-mean-game-thrones-outlander-other-shows-filming-uk-2386433

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A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Food Market!

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A funny thing happened to me at Doris’ food market today… I was standing in the check out line and I took a glance at the man in front of me loading up his groceries. It occurred to me that he was extremely handsome. I mean, VERY good looking. He wasn’t a kid, or an elderly gentleman, but a ruggedly, attractive  guy over 40 who had captured my attention.

Now this is NOT something that ordinarily happens to me at the check out line when I buy food. I run my errands and don’t gawk at men. Especially since I shop for groceries near a senior community, so the majority of males who I see shopping for dinner are either in one of those go cart apparatuses or are using a walker. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. After my accident two years ago, I too was restricted to those devices for a few months. ) But, because I either see young kids or really old people where I shop, I don’t think about hunky men. And I rarely ever see a handsome man that turns my head at the food store. I just don’t. In fact, I don’t go clubbing or out looking for that sort of thing. I might go to a Sherlock Holmes lecture, a poetry slam, or a Shakespeare festival now and then, or check out a science fiction convention, but Klingons and old Jedi Knights are not especially sexy to me. So, I admit it, today I couldn’t help but stare while I loaded up my food on the check out counter. And this unusually handsome fellow looked as yummy as the Italian pastry he was putting on the conveyer belt. Delicious!

And just as my mind began to wander…. I was brought back to earth by him speaking out, “Hi Pop, I got all your groceries loaded for you.” And there walks up an older gentleman with similar features who was the reflection of what this man would probably look like 25 or 30 years down the road. I glanced from father to son and realized that while the son was giving me heart palpitations, the father just looked like a nice older gentleman. And then something dawned on me that was horrifying!!!

I suddenly realized that most likely I was closer in age to the father, then to the son. Yep. I looked closely at the father and he was probably in his late 60’s or early 70’s, putting his son right around the age of my oldest child. And instantly I felt like a dirty old lady… and rather silly. And I began to laugh and could not stop.  The cashier and the two men turned and looked at me rather puzzled and I just stated through waves of laughter, “Don’t mind me, I was just thinking about something funny.” And the men proceeded to check out while I continued to giggle and cover my mouth because I couldn’t contain my chuckles.

When it was finally my turn, I greeted the gal behind the register and she was now  laughing because I was. (We all know that laughter is engaging and catches on.)  “You seem to be having a lovely day,” she smiled.  And I responded still stifling my laughter, “Yes, I certainly am.”

And so, today I had a real slap in the face of life. We really don’t perceive ourselves as we are and we don’t ever feel old on the inside. And I think I understood what most men and women who are in their 60’s probably find to be true. That we are likely more physically attracted to younger people than to those our own age. Unless of course you are fortunate enough to still be in love with the same person for decades. Then you don’t seem to notice the aging. You see the person behind and beyond the exterior. And that is a wonderful gift.

I remember not noticing how gravely ill my younger son’s father looked at the end of his life because I didn’t really see the dying man. Instead I thought about the young man I fell in love with because it was his eyes and smile that stared back at me. That was much easier to bear than the person who had dwindled down to skin and bones. We see what we want to see. And love truly does blind us to age, illness, and even sometimes to flaws.

But as a single woman in her 60’s, who doesn’t go out looking for anything in life except enriching my heart and mind, I don’t really think about attraction very often. The love that engulfs me is that of my children and my grandchildren. I am still working on changing the world, getting Hillary elected President, making sure gun laws are safer .. so who has time for that dating nonsense?

But, today I realized that the handsome 40 something man at the food market looked mighty good. REALLY good actually. And when he glanced at me, most likely the truth is,  he probably didn’t think anything at all, or if he did, he may have thought I looked a little like his mother. And that’s pretty funny.  Oh here come the giggles again…

**Clarification: I am not in any way putting down men my age. They are all adorable in the same way women my age are beautiful. We are, what we are! And the years of wisdom we have gained are a thing of beauty in itself!!! Peace out. xo 🙂

Zombies Love Jane Austen

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Zombies Love Jane Austen

I have been a Jane Austen purest since I was 16 years old. Ever since I opened the novel “Pride and Prejudice”and became acquainted with the self assured, gutsy heroine, Elizabeth Bennett and the dashing Mr. Darcy. I fell in love with those two characters and the novel, which has been my dearest friend for over five decades. So, when my youngest son informed me that I would genuinely enjoy the film, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” I scoffed at him and thought he was crazy. I mean how on earth could I lower myself to watching such balderdash, and yet… I was intrigued. Plus, I simply couldn’t resist the challenge. And guess what? My son was right!! I just finished watching the movie and I LOVED it!! I never thought it would be a film that I’d even like, let alone love, but I did. It was terrific! (For a Regency Zombie/Jane Austen film.) Yes, I admit it, I really, really loved it!!!!

I am still trying to figure out how the director managed to pull off such perfect Regency costumes, impeccable period etiquette, with such flawless finesse, while using adept British actors who could in one moment switch from civility, to fiercely taking down zombies with a sword! Honestly, it was stunningly brilliant! And I’m not even a horror film fan. And no, I don’t watch “The Walking Dead.” It’s gross. In fact, the only Zombie movie I ever liked was the one called “Warm Bodies” and that was because it was a clever comedic take on “Romeo and Juliet.” I avoid gory, icky horror movies at all cost. But this one was different.

There was something really wonderful about this movie. Or should I say, something delightful about how they infused Jane Austen’s magical dialogue into the middle of fighting disgusting Zombies. And they did it while using direct lines from the book!!! That’s what had me hooked. So even though the sub plot was a Zombie battle/take over, the protagonists looked, sounded, acted, like the beloved characters I have come to know so well over the years. And the lines the characters spoke, were the same exquisite phrases that I know by heart. That was the best!!! It really was well done. Imagine seeing Darcy and Elizabeth go back and forth using Jane’s dialogue, while watching out for the Undead or beheading a zombie wearing a bonnet in perfectly coordinated Edwardian pantaloons!!! It seriously worked!!! Really!!!

And unbelievably, the romance between Darcy and Lizzy was beautifully captured as well as the relationship between Jane and Bingly. Yet, they were killing zombies right and left. But somehow, it all blended together like a waltz. Picture the ball scene, gracefully dancing and reciting those perfect Austen words one moment and then slicing the head off a zombie the next. Hard to imagine? I thought so too until I saw the film.
Not only did I love it, I’m going to buy it and watch it again! The DVD will happily join my Jane Austen collection of books and films. And on one rainy day when I don’t want to venture out doors, or I am tired of all the channels on television, all the movies on Netflix, or shows on HULU, I will reach up on my shelf and slip in the movie again and watch Lizzy and Darcy go after Zombies while they have their intense repartee with one another.

I think what I loved the most about this movie, was that this strong, kick ass version of Elizabeth Bennett really represented the character I imagined when I first read the book when I was about 15 years old (In the mid 1960′s). It was Lizzy’s strength, independence, unbridled honesty, and how she spoke her mind (during a time when women were usually quiet and submissive) that I admired. She was unbelievably brave and thus became my favorite literary heroine. Somehow, the strength of this particular Ms. Bennett, through her masterful fighting skills typified what I had seen in her character from the very beginning. And possibly why I have always adored Austen. She created women who were intelligent and she made her female protagonists strong and uncompromising, even while they politely curtsied. It’s why I like to read about powerful female heroines in novels, or enjoy seeing leading ladies with courage, and why I want a strong female President. Jane Austen created women like that on paper. And here we are a few hundred years later and Lizzy Bennett is still kicking ass. (Except this time she’s killing zombies.)

If you love “Pride and Prejudice”, you will enjoy this film. If you like Zombies and Jane Austen you will really love it. And that dear readers, is “a truth universally acknowledged”……

Seniors For Safety!

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Seniors For Safety!
Whether you call us #SeniorsforSafety, #Grandma’sforGunControl, or #BoomersforBanningAssaultweapons, we are a force to be reckoned with!
We are mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. We are women and men who have reached the age of wisdom, and want to share how easy it is to CARE rather than KILL!

We have protested by holding hands and singing peace songs, we wore flowers in our hair and said “Make Love Not War.” We are the Peace generation and WE have had ENOUGH of this sickening gun violence! We have had enough mass shootings and massacres. We are fed up because each time there is a gunman who was able to purchase an assault weapon without any difficulty, our loved ones die. And we won’t stand for it any more. The NRA does not own Us!!! And we MUST protect our children and grandchildren if Congress cannot.

Our children, our grandchildren, our sisters and brothers, our husbands and wives are dying daily from gun violence and we want it stopped. NOW!
Did you hear that Congress? Are you listening Republican Senators? We are watching you.
We have waited patiently hoping you’ll do the right thing. We have given you chance after chance to make us safer and each time you have let us down. But we have finally had enough!

THIS time we will see how you vote, and this time America will fight back. Not with assault weapons, but with weapons of the heart and mind. We will kill you with our voices and our votes. Your death will not be physical, but political, and your role in Washington will no longer exist if you refuse to protect the people you pledged to serve.

Yes, this time, you will need to use common sense and your heart when you vote. If someone is on the “No Fly” list then they should not be allowed to buy a gun or war weapon! Weapons of war need to be banned. Only our military need to have assault weapons, not the guy down the street. Too many innocent people have died because weapons of war are easily attainable.

Senators, you were elected to work for US, not the NRA! YOU work for us. WE are your bosses. And if you cannot do your job, we will make sure you lose that job. Come November the name of every senator who voted against “NO FLY NO BUY”, and the banning of assault weapons, will no longer be our representatives. We will vote you OUT!

So, please, protect our country. Listen to the people of America (and your elders), because “Seniors for Safety” is telling you to vote to make safer gun laws. We don’t want to lose any more of our precious children and grand children. We have had enough!!!

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The Tony Awards

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The Tony Awards has been a wonderful uplifting treat after today’s tragic events that occurred in Orlando this morning. I have spent the entire day aching inside for the wounded and the dead, feeling numb and broken. I even took a long walk and attempted to push away the pain, but to no avail, it lingered on. Until finally, I clicked on the TV to discover that the Tony Awards were on and suddenly, my sorrow lifted.

There is something quite magical and wonderful about the Theatre. It’s extraordinary performers, the incredible music, the dance numbers, the brilliant scripts and the overwhelming creativity that emanates from a room filled with talented artists. So, as I try to forget the shattered lives in Orlando and watch the brilliance of these Broadway entertainers, I am transported from tears to joy. And I needed to feel that joy after the sadness of this latest massacre. The largest mass shooting in our country’s history. So is it any wonder that Broadway opened my heart again?

You know, one of the most beautiful aspects of The Theatre is the uniqueness of each and every actor as well as the unity of the ensemble players. I think that is what I miss most about being a part of that world. Their total love and acceptance for one another. Each show creates a family. Everyone depends on one another, they trust one another, and they care about one another. Their color, their sexual preference, their gender never ever mattered. It was their professionalism, their generosity and caring for each other that made such an impact on me and allowed me to fall in love with all that is Musical Theatre when I was younger. Nobody was ever judged by any of the things the outside world viewed as odd or unusual. Behind the curtain there were only performers. Each one there to do the job of entertaining. And in the process, a great play, a superbly executed line could be life changing for those who experienced it. Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” If only the entire world saw all people they way theatre people do.

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You Know You’re A Teacher When…

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You know you’re a teacher when it’s summer vacation and you still wake up in the morning thinking about a fabulous lesson you’ve just created in your dreams. A lecture that could change the lives of the students in your classroom.
BUT, you realize that you were BORN to teach, when you are retired and this phenomenon still happens. When you suddenly wake up with a smile on your face after having had an epiphany of an outstanding lesson that clarifies a concept so perfectly, that the mind of a small child suddenly understands an abstract notion that he or she previously had difficulty grasping.

This fall it will be three years that I’ve been retired and I still dream that I am up in front of a classroom of children interacting with them in some form or another. They ask me questions and in my slumber I have to think out of the box, and off the cuff, and come up with answers that explain their wonderful queries better than any textbook ever could. And as I am posed with these questions, I try to figure out a way to make my replies fascinating enough to motivate the students to do the very best at whatever subject we are learning in my dream. And they MUST acquire this knowledge with enthusiasm and gusto or I haven’t done my job adequately. And so while sleeping, I gather my thoughts and reach for guidance from the countless souls of all the past educators and mentors to help bring me the quintessential answers that might satisfy the insatiable curiosity of a child.

I think I started having these dreams in the early 70’s when I first became a teacher. When I realized that I needed to have a pad of paper and a pencil at my bedside to make sure I didn’t forget any detail of the visionary lessons that came to me during the night. (Before I could just type it on my smartphone.) Then I would awaken and run to my trusty typewriter (Because computers weren’t around back then) and jot down my ideas. I am sure hundreds of those lessons are still around in folders or in cabinets since they were shared at gifted meetings all over Broward County since the mid 1970’s!! Many have been retyped onto a computer and made to look graphically beautiful, but some still have typewriter ink that has faded like my contemporaries who are now all retiring from the field of education. All these lessons were created from my imagination and my dreams because my aspirations were to continuously make learning a thing of beauty for my students.
I used these ideas for all the grants that I received, for the lessons I wrote, and now for the curriculum I create for educators to use and implement with their students.
** I often wonder that if in a teacher’s dreams, the great writers, poets, scientists, and performers, all unite to become our muses. If they form a partnership of sorts and in unison secretly chuckle as they share their wisdom to the universe and wait for a teacher to listen. To hear their brilliance in a rainstorm, or in the whistle of the wind, or perhaps in the flight of a bird, the shadow of the sunlight as the waves crash upon the shore. All inspirational, all miraculously innovative, and all leading to creativity. Somehow, good teachers never fail to hear the thoughts and ideas of the masters who came before them and continue to learn from their greatness.

When I was younger I used to wonder what happened to brilliance when the geniuses of the world died. I couldn’t believe that minds so profoundly remarkable could just stop. I came to the conclusion and to believe, that they must continue to exist in some form. And that out there somewhere in the universe is Einstein and Newton, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, Austen and Conan Doyle, and now our precious Maya Angelou. And that all their wisdom is floating around the Heavens just waiting for us to pluck it out the sky. So that each of us can absorb a small portion of their brilliance and bring it to our students.
We teachers always use our brains to come up with an idea to fill the void when needed. Be it a storm day when students can’t leave the building due to dangerous weather conditions and their fearless leader has to keep order in a creative way. Or when a badly written lesson from the provided textbook goes totally wrong and needs instantaneous teacher improvising and improvement. Yes, a teacher has to constantly come up with an alternative version that works to meet the needs of her particular students each and every day. There’s creating lessons for those children who are behind because they learn differently and cannot grasp concepts that others might find simple. Or the gifted students who already know and understand more than the basic textbooks and need to explore topics far beyond the curriculum. A teacher draws upon her muses to find all the lessons in her head and feeds those hungry minds with her wisdom to help them learn.
Isn’t it ironic that State officials haven’t figured out that all children think differently, learn differently, and are composed of uniquely different gray matter to varying degrees of intellectual ability? They just don’t get it. But classroom teachers do. They understand.

So, this morning I awoke and had one of my wonderful, vivid teacher dreams. My students and I were sitting on the floor in a circle and we were coming up with the most amazing vocabulary words imaginable. The faces of my students from all 36 years of teaching were gathered around me. All smiling, all raising their hands and asking me countless questions. So folks, I have another lesson to write…Because I need to answer those questions. I guess I better get busy and start creating…

 

The Beat of My Own Drum

 

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Today I was Inspired.

I heard an interview with an author I greatly admire.  And when she was asked why she was drawn to the unusual, to the paranormal…

She explained with honesty and simplicity, that vampires, ghosts, and werewolves were nothing more than a metaphor for those of us who walk on the sidelines.

Those of us who feel like we are on the outside of society looking in.  And I had an epiphany for my entire creative existence.

My whole life I have felt like I was on the outside. Different.

That everyone else was walking in a straight line, a set path, while I veered and swayed to the left of it and danced my way through life fighting past the looks of concern, scorn, or sheer misunderstanding.

Always searching for those rare moments when I felt the welcoming acceptance from a select few who understood my dance.

I recall being but a young child and proudly getting up in front of the class bursting with anticipation and determination.  Excited about learning, and burning inside to share my science report to my peers who were waiting patiently with their tiny hands folded upon their wooden desks in neat little rows.

It was the 1950’s and a time of great speculation and fascination with outer space. An exciting decade in which to live. But an equally cruel and unforgiving era as well. I tried my best to follow all assignment rules, but could not stop there. I always had more to contribute, or so I thought.  Too much energy to contain, too many ideas for every task I was given. How was I to know that children were supposed to curtail their curiosity when they ran out of paper?

I had a need to share my child-like visions in drawings and proceeded to show my masterpiece as I stood before the class with great trepidation…

But to my dismay, my schoolmates’ eyes were focused on my teacher’s scrunched up angry red face, and not on the image I held with pride.  Miss Rich stood stern and tall and pointed to the corner of the room with condemnation, rather than the adulation which I had craved and thought was well deserved.

My fearless leader saw none of the imagination in my renderings, and had no understanding of my impish enthusiasm. Instead, she proceeded to punish me for veering off the path of rules.

I was sent into the corner of shame. Or that is what she thought.  But little did she know, that the corner had become my own special place of retreat.  A place to work off my outbursts of enthusiasm and innovative ideas that she did not often endorse.

And as I stared at the cracks in the wall that I had begun to embrace, I saw people, places and wondrous things, which swirled and danced in my head. I wrote stories and poems in that corner instead of atoning for the sin of thinking out of the box.

It was the 1950’s after all, and no one was supposed to veer off the learning path to the left.  And yet I did.

In art class, my elephant was purple not gray, so once again I was yelled at and punished for not following the rules.  But, still I refused to change my picture because I wanted my elephant to be purple! Just like the stuffed animal my father brought home to me and who sat on my bed at night to comfort me when my dreams took me to scary places.

I twitched and turned and moved about, which annoyed just about every teacher I came to know.  All because I heard the beautiful beat of a drummer in my head… pounding out a rhythm that made me want to jump and dance as it beat louder and louder… reverberating up into my brain with words and images that had to be written down or drawn.  It didn’t matter if no one else could hear the beat of my music. Because I could hear it.

Yes, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and me! We all heard the music. We all were on the outside looking in, drawn to the beautiful sweet melody.

Sometimes, even when I was supposed to sit still and stay quiet in school, I couldn’t hold back. When the music became thunderously loud, I HAD to get up and dance, No matter what consequence awaited. I had no choice but to express myself. I had no choice…no choice at all… dancing and breathing were one in the same.

Because you see, where the music played, was a happy niche filled with light, love, and acceptance just outside the line where I stood.  If only I could get other people to join me. Then perhaps their distain and confusion would disappear if they would just find the courage to take one step on my side of the straight and narrow line.

Maybe then they would see that the world was much more colorful over here.  That the music was louder and all the instruments played non stop all the time. Sometimes out of tune, but that never seemed to matter.

The Instruments continued to play in my head…They blared on; drums, violins, harps, trumpets…. each one entertaining me with a symphony of notes, sometimes in words, often in colors, and it was always beautiful!!!!!!

And then one day, a very kind English teacher applauded after I shared a poem that I had written, and he pulled me aside after class.  He took me by surprised when he stated. “You don’t belong in my class. You’re special. You need to be placed with the advanced students. Why on earth has no one ever addressed this before? Why were you overlooked?”

I sheepishly told him I thought it was because I talked too much, and that previous teachers said I was too much trouble. I confided that I usually wrote my poems and stories while in the corner being punished, and that nobody ever heard them but me.

He smiled and let me know that he would fix things and that from now on I would feel at home in school.  And so that very day in 7th grade, when Mr. Wilson, a frail thin man with a smile as warm as freshly baked cookies, heard the rhythm of my music, it was then I began to realize that sometimes others could feel what I felt, see what I saw…

But, in reality, it didn’t happen very often.

I thought that as I started to grow things would change and the sound of my music would disappear…But no, I still heard the beat. And when I transitioned further on in middle and high school, the world was a very confusing place….I watched as our beloved President Kennedy died and Martin Luther King was yearning for his precious dream to come to pass…And I wrote it all down in words and turned them into songs and tears.

As the music continued to beat louder in my head my very close friends and I wrote what was in our hearts, and formed a band to tell the world how things should be if only people would listen and hear our music.

My classmates thought we were crazy because girls weren’t supposed to perform like boys. Girls didn’t play guitars. It just wasn’t done. Not in 1966… But we did it anyway…

As the beat blared thunderously in our heads, it was now vampires, ghosts, werewolves and rocker chicks…. who wanted the world to change and let equality reign in our songs.

And then in college as I sat with a sea of people tightly blending together and holding hands… a rainbow of colors heard my song.

I understood then that there were other vampires, ghosts, and werewolves out there trying to change the world too. Apparently more then I had ever imagined.  And I felt empowered and basked in the strength of numbers convinced that we could indeed change the universe together as long as everyone heard the beat.

A special literature professor named Mrs. Keenan took me under her wing and approached me with tears in her eyes one afternoon at the end of class. She gazed directly at me and confessed that she looked forward to reading my essays because they spoke to her heart. She told me my enthusiasm made her  feel young again and she begged me to never stop writing.  Dear, caring, Mrs, Keenan revealed  that when  submersed in my words, she felt like she was Juliet, Elizabeth Bennett, Rosaline all rolled into one. I can still see her smiling and hear her voice almost 50 years later.

This dynamic, beautiful lady played a monumental role in why I became a teacher. Her supreme joy in teaching affected every pore of my being and I lived and breathed literature while in her class. Her love of the written word glowed from her very spirit and washed over her students like a spring rain…. and inspiration thrived in one tiny room on campus, and danced in my head when she defined the works of Tolstoy, and Chekov. Life was divine and everyone felt like an insider within the confines of her classroom.

But, life is filled with twists and turns and as I grew older and settled down, I strained harder to hear the music.  There was marriage, motherhood, work, divorce and putting food upon the table.

At the end of the day, my weary senses were somewhat dulled and the music quieted down.

I had to rely on the sparkle in my son’s eyes for the songs to find me again. They were always there you see…just hiding in the darkness when life’s pain and struggles overshadowed the joy. But right behind the laughter of a child the melody continuously plays.

The hardest times were during my early teaching years when I was told to stop being so creative and to follow and conform to the rules.  To only use text books and throw away my innovative thoughts and ideas. To tear down my 3- D bulletin boards because it made the other teachers look too ordinary….And I didn’t understand.  Nor could I stop.

Because with each child’s face the music became louder and louder again.  A symphony sprang up from every student …

And when I gazed upon their smiles, my own beat emerged louder than before.

And so when I closed those doors behind me and faced the wave of children crammed into their tiny desks, I understood.

I finally knew why I had been given the gift of being able to hear the music.  Of being able to dance to my own beat. It was to let the children before me hear the music too and to give them the opportunity to create their own dance, their own rhythm.

I knew that no other child should have to be stashed away in a corner to hide their creativity or pretend not to see the whirling cracks in the wall. And that my purpose was to inspire my students and let them create all the purple elephants they wanted.  I WOULD let freedom and creative thinking inside the walls of MY classroom.

And so I did… And 36 years later when my superiors asked me how I was so successful, why my students in particular always did so well….I smiled. I told them it was because I allowed the children to think for themselves! To write down their ideas and hear the thoughts that were inside their heads and to trust themselves.  To know that their own personal voice was always something they needed to listen to.  And most of all, that in my room…they would always be safe.

They could hear their music, or dance their dance when they walked through my door. They could write and say all the things they weren’t supposed to do traditionally…. Because inspiration creates knowledge and perfection happens when students are inspired.

How ironic that at the end of my long career, I finally received recognition for being unique.  Suddenly, I was considered a wonderful educator. And yet, my methods had not changed, just the data that recorded the scores. It wasn’t until technology put a number on smiles and happiness and equated them with percentiles, did administrators take notice of my gifts.

Ironic, because had they listened, they could have heard the music the moment they opened the door to my room….And still…. deep inside I felt that I was among the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves not being understood.

Oh, the children understood, let me be clear…children always understand.  Just like vampires, ghosts, and werewolves, who always dance to the beat of their own drummer… Living on the outskirts of society.

I realized today as I write my first attempt at spoken word poetry, that those who are the visionaries, the innovative souls who may look a bit different, sound slightly off kilter, laugh at things others might not hear or see…

They ALL Listen to music that is not apparent to everyone’s ears… Those are the souls who can change the world for the better….

Those are the individuals who see what others avoid….

So, bless the vampires, ghosts, werewolves and the teachers…. they are my inspiration.

They keep me hearing my own music and the pounding beat of my own drum. …And for as long as I hear my own beat, I will keep on dancing…

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The Beat Of My Own Drum

The Beat of my Own Drum  (A spoken word poem.)

Today I was inspired….I heard an interview with an author I greatly admire,

And when she was asked why she was drawn to the unusual, to the paranormal…

She explained with honesty and simplicity,

That vampires, ghosts, and werewolves were nothing more than a metaphor for those of us who walk on the sidelines.  Those of us who feel like we are on the outside of society looking in.

And I had an epiphany for my entire creative existence.  My whole life I have felt like I was on the outside. Different.

That everyone else was walking in a straight line, a set path, while I veered and swayed to the left of it and danced my way through life fighting past the looks of concern, scorn, or sheer misunderstanding.

Always searching for those rare moments when I felt the warmth and acceptance from a select few who understood my dance.

I recall being but a young child and proudly getting up in front of the class bursting with anticipation and determination.

Excited about learning, and burning inside to share my  reports to my peers, who were waiting patiently with their tiny hands folded upon their wooden desks in neat little rows.

It was the 1950’s and a time of great speculation and fascination with outer space. An exciting decade in which to live. But an equally cruel and unforgiving era as well.

I tried my best to follow all assignment rules, but could not stop there. I always had more to contribute, or so I thought…. Too much energy to contain, so much desire with every task.

I had a need to share my child-like visions in drawings and drama and proceeded to show my artful masterpiece as I stood before the class with great trepidation.

But to my dismay, my schoolmates’ eyes were focused on my teacher’s scrunched up angry red face and not on the drawing I held with pride.  Miss Rich stood stern and tall and pointed to the corner of the room with condemnation, rather than the adulation, which I had craved and thought was well deserved.

My fearless leader saw none of the creative  imagination in my renderings I had added to my report.  She had no understanding of my youthful enthusiasm. Instead, she proceeded to punish me for veering off the path of rules.

I was sent into the corner of shame. (Or that is what she thought.)

But little did she know, that the punishment corner had become my own special place of retreat. I had come to know it well to work off my outbursts of enthusiasm and innovative ideas that she never approved of…

And as I stared at the cracks in the wall that I had begun to embrace, I saw people, places, and wondrous things, which swirled and danced in my head.

I wrote stories and poems in that corner instead of atoning for the sin of thinking out of the box.

It was the 1950’s after all, and no one was supposed to veer off the learning path to the left.   And yet I did.

In art class, my elephant was purple not gray, and I was yelled at and punished for not following the rules!  And still I refused to change my picture because I wanted my elephant to be purple! (Just like the stuffed animal my father brought home to me and who sat on my bed at night to comfort me when my dreams took me to scary places.)

I twitched and turned and could not sit still which annoyed just about every teacher I came to know.

All because I heard the beautiful beat of a drummer in my head… pounding out a rhythm that made me want to jump and dance as it beat louder and louder… reverberating up into my brain with words and images that had to be written down or drawn.

It didn’t matter if no one else could hear the beat of my music. Because I could hear it.

Yes, Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and ME!  We all heard the music. We all were on the outside looking in…. We wanted to jump and dance and whirl around to the beat.

So sometimes, even when I was supposed to stay seated, when the music was especially loud and wonderful, I HAD no choice, but to get up and dance.

Even when I wasn’t supposed to.  Because you see, it was a happy, bright place filled with fantasy just on the outside of the line where I stood.

If only other people would join me there.  Then maybe their distain would disappear if they would just take one step on my side of the straight and narrow line….

Maybe then they would see that the world was much more colorful over here.  The music was louder and all the instruments played non stop ALL the time.

Sometimes out of tune, but that never mattered.

And so the Instruments continued to play in my head. They blared on; drums, violins, harps, trumpets…. each one entertaining me with a symphony of notes, sometimes in words, often in colors, and it was always beautiful!!!!!!

And then one day, a very kind English teacher applauded after I shared a poem that I had written, and he pulled me aside after class.

He took me by surprised when he stated. “You’re special you know. You don’t belong in this class. You need to be with the advanced students. Why on earth has no one addressed this before?”

I sheepishly told him I thought it was because I talked too much, and got too excited about learning. That teachers always said I was too much trouble!  I explained that I usually wrote my poems while I was in the corner and nobody ever heard them but me.

He smiled and let me know that he would fix things. He told me from now on I would feel at home in school and that it would be okay, because there were others who would now appreciate my writing.

And so that very day in 7th grade, when Mr. Wilson, a frail thin man with a smile as warm as freshly baked cookies, heard the rhythm of my music, it was then I began to realize that sometimes others could feel what I felt, see what I saw…

But, in reality, it didn’t happen very often.

I thought that as I started to grow up things would change and the sound of my music would disappear…

But no, I still heard the beat.

And when I transitioned further on in middle and high school, where the world was a very confusing place….

I watched as our beloved President Kennedy died and Martin Luther was dreaming his precious dream and trying to enlighten the world.

And I wrote it all down in words and turned them into songs and tears.

As the music continued to beat louder in my head,  my very close friends and I wrote what was in our hearts, and formed a band to tell the world how things should be if only people would listen.

My classmates thought we were crazy because girls weren’t supposed to perform like boys. Girls didn’t play guitars. It just wasn’t done. Not in 1966… But we did it anyway…

As the beat blared thunderously in our heads, it was now vampires, ghosts, werewolves and rocker chicks…. who wanted the world to change and let equality reign in our songs.

And then in college as I sat with a sea of people tightly blending together and holding hands… a rainbow of colors heard my song.

I understood then that there were other vampires, ghosts, and werewolves out there trying to change the world too. Apparently more then I had ever imagined.

And I felt empowered and basked in the strength of numbers convinced that we could indeed change the universe together as long as everyone heard the beat.

A special literature professor named Mrs. Keenan took me under her wing and approached me with tears in her eyes one afternoon at the end of class. She confided that she looked forward to reading my essays and that whatever I wrote, always spoke to her heart. It made her want to sing and dance, and feel young again. She begged me to never stop writing.  She told me that when she was submersed in my words, she felt like she was Juliet, Elizabeth Bennett, Rosaline all rolled into one.

This dynamic, beautiful lady played a monumental role in why I became a teacher. Her supreme joy in teaching affected every pore of my being and I lived and breathed literature when in her class. Her love of the written word glowed from her very spirit and washed over her students like a spring rain…. and inspiration thrived in one tiny room on campus, and danced in my head when she defined the works of Tolstoy, and Chekov. Life was divine and everyone felt like an insider within the confines of her classroom.

But, life is filled with twists and turns and as I grew older and settled down, I strained harder to hear the music.  There was marriage, motherhood, work, divorce and putting food upon the table.

At the end of the day, my weary senses were somewhat dulled and the music quieted down.   I had to rely on the sparkle in my son’s eyes for the songs to find me again.

They were always there you see…just hiding in the darkness when life’s pain and struggles overshadowed the joy. But right behind the laughter of a child the melody continuously plays…

The hardest times were during my early teaching years when I was told to stop being so creative and to follow and just conform to the rules.  To only use text books and throw away my innovative thoughts and ideas.  To tear down my 3- D bulletin boards because it made the other teachers look too ordinary….And I didn’t understand…

Nor could I stop.

Because with each child’s face the music became louder and louder again.  A symphony sprang up from every student …

And when I gazed upon their smiles, my own beat emerged louder than ever before.

And so when I closed those doors behind me and faced the wave of children crammed into their tiny desks, I understood.

I finally knew why I had been given the gift of being able to hear the music.

Of being able to dance to my own beat. It was to let the children before me hear the music too and to give them the opportunity to create their own dance, their own rhythm.

I knew that no other child should have to be stashed away in a corner to hide their creativity or pretend not to see the whirling cracks in the wall. And that my purpose was to inspire my students and let them create all the purple elephants they wanted.

I had to let freedom and creative thinking inside the walls of my classroom.

And so I did… And 36 years later when my superiors asked me how I was so successful, why my students in particular always did so well….I smiled.

I told them it was because I allowed children to think for themselves! To write down their ideas and hear the thoughts that were inside their heads and to trust themselves.

To understand that their own personal voice was always something they needed to listen to.  And most of all, that in my room…they would always be safe and could dance to whatever beat they heard.

Yes, they could hear their music, or dance their dance when they walked through my door. They could write and say all the things they weren’t supposed to do traditionally.

Because inspiration creates knowledge, and perfection happens when students are inspired.  How ironic that at the end of my long career, I finally received recognition for being unique.

Suddenly, I was considered a wonderful educator. And yet, my methods had not changed, just the data that recorded the scores.

It wasn’t until technology put a number on smiles and happiness and equated them with percentiles, did administrators take notice of my gifts.  Ironic, because had they listened, they could have heard the music the moment they opened the door to my room.

And still…. deep inside I felt that I was among the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves not being understood.

Oh, the children understood, let me be clear…children always understand.  Just like vampires, ghosts, and werewolves,  who ALWAYS  dance to the beat of their own drummer… Living on the outskirts of society.

I realized today as I write this poem, that those who are the visionaries, the innovative souls who may look a bit different, sound slightly off kilter, laugh at things others might not hear or see, Listen to music that is not apparent to everyone’s ears…

Those are the souls who can change the world for the better.  Those are the individuals who see what others avoid.

So, bless the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves and the teachers, for they are my inspiration.

They keep me hearing my own music and the pounding beat of my own drum.

And for as long as I hear my own beat, I will keep on dancing…

MARLA AND LOLLY 1966

Save Our Children

How can yet another school shooting happen in the country that I love so very much?  What has gone so devastatingly wrong that children and teachers have now become the weekly target and victims of a Congress whose members have lost sight of reality and the people they represent?  They stick their conscience up their proverbial behind and bury their souls in the ground with the fallen, as they forget about the school children in this country who will one day become its future.  What changed so drastically during my 65 years on the planet that took away reason and public awareness from our elected officials and allowed insecure nut cases to tote weapons around like water bottles, ready to take a drink of violence and destroy unsuspecting innocents at every turn?    I am angry, I am broken hearted, I am fed up, and I just want it to stop. If Congress refuses to care, then WE THE PEOPLE must unite with our intelligent voices of reason, not with a rifle strapped to our backs. To quote Hillary Clinton, “Our politics right now are dysfunctional.”  In my opinion we need to oust anyone who is not for protecting our children. Stricter gun laws must be enforced to protect society. Students have a right to feel safe in our schools. Teachers shouldn’t have to worry every day that their lives are in danger. What are we teaching our young people if our Congress continues to model bad behavior by refusing to work together to keep our country safe? I’ve had it! If we want change then we need to make our politicians know we are furious with their inability to work together to make this a safe country again.