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.

 

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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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