Politics Anyone?

silhouette of people beside usa flag

Primaries are done here in Florida, and my two favorite candidates did not move on to November’s general elections.  I suspected as much, but I was hoping that others would get on board after they got to know them and saw how hard they were working.  Don’t get me wrong, we had many qualified candidates running for various seats, but these two guys gave me a good feeling.  They were in it, heart and soul; no frills, no deals –just hard work.  

I am pretty passionate about politics, not necessarily politicizing all current events or as in nonstop mud-slinging campaigns, but I am a firm believer that every vote does count.  I often hear people say they don’t vote because they don’t believe in the process or politicians are all crooks.  It is sad that people don’t care enough to do the research or look beyond the headlines.  In some cases, it’s getting past the smoke and mirrors to see behind the Wizard’s curtain as Dorothy did the Land of Oz.  It irritates me when the same people are the first to complain about the schools, roads, and the water pollution for example.  I have known a few politicians personally who sincerely got decided to get involved in politics for the love of their communities.  These individuals stepped into the arena believing one voice; one vote could make a difference.  We have seen it in recent history in Congress and the Senate and elections around the country.

I can speak most about the man who was running for a congressional seat in my district in this recent election. He lives in my city. I didn’t know him before, but I saw firsthand how he managed the campaign, but more importantly, how he handled himself, and I was moved to support him.  Let’s call him Fred.  

Fred is an educated professional, a trained social worker, and an executive director of a large healthcare facility.  If I were to guess, I’d say he’s in his early forties and looks fine in his campaign photos.  Fred is an unassuming family man who moved to Florida about 20 years ago from the Midwest, looking for a better life for his family with the chance to enjoy a variety of outdoor sports.  He and his family have been active in a local church and through the years have been involved in a variety of volunteer projects like Habitat for Humanity.  

Fred decided to get into politics after sitting with families in financial crisis due to medical bills while dealing with terminal illness and end of life realities.   Before the big news about toxic algae and intensified red tide blooms, he was concerned about the ecological changes to Florida’s natural resources and talk in Washington about eliminating Environmental Protection Agency safeguards.  In short, Fred decided to enter politics because he wanted to be a voice, an agent for change.   He had no interested in becoming a “career politician,” he wanted to get in get things done and get back to his family and his career, his life’s mission of helping the less fortunate.

During the campaign, Fred worked hard.  His was a barebones, grassroots effort.  He took pride in not taking any money from donors with big pockets who would later come knocking on his door for favors.  For the most part, he supported his campaign from his own finances.  He rolled up his sleeves to make signs, and tee shirts.  He traveled around his district knocking on doors and holding town meetings to hear the concerns of his constituents.   So why would a nice, qualified guy like Fred not make it past the primaries?   The answer is complicated. 

As I said at the beginning of this post, both primary candidates were well qualified but this is the Twenty-first Century, and it takes a bit more than good old blood, sweat, and tears to win an election.   His opponent, let’s call him Doug, decided to run shortly after newly elected officials began their term in 2017.  Doug then had a six-month head start to get his team together and get his name out there to begin networking and making connections for fundraising efforts.  Doug’s training was in administration and finances.  He had his own company and was skilled in marketing and selling his agenda in social circles.  He had a more integrated web presence including a well-organized and attractive web page.  These things are critical in today’s elections because our society has become reliant on social media for answers and information.   

Doug will need more funds for an intense media campaign to include TV and print ads as he looks toward the general election in November.   His opponent is the incumbent and has personal resources as well as the backing of the NRA and ultra-conservative Political Action Committees which can represent business, labor and a variety of special interests.  This brings me to why I am in favor of campaign reform, especially when it comes to fundraising efforts.

We have seen time and again good candidates, backed by well-meaning grassroots operations, unable to move forward due to insufficient funds.   We have seen special interest groups pour money into campaigns in order to cash in on favors that will benefit a specific group by way of policy changes or government spending.  In 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled that political donations and spending is a form of promoting free speech protected under the First Amendment.  Since then the Federal Election Commission, which regulates campaign money, has repeatedly asked Congress to amend the law.  If you follow politics, you will notice how much of what can be called “dirty politics” is protected under this law. 

I think we need to get back to protecting the rights of our citizens so that anyone who has the ability and the passion can run for office and succeed.   In the meantime, I will back the candidates that support my beliefs.  I don’t believe in extremes of black and white.  I think reality is mostly shades of gray.  The truth lies somewhere in the middle.  I believe that the United States of America is a great country. I believe that the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had the foresight to know that the future would change their reality but the upcoming generations would be entitled to the same “unalienable rights.”  

With that in mind, I intend to volunteer for the candidates of my choice to represent me.  I will continue to encourage everyone to make informed decisions, to look beyond the headlines. Please don’t pass on misinformation just because the heading caught your eye. If something sounds outrageous, go beyond the headlines, look it up in different sites or publications.  Mostly I challenge people to cross over and listen respectfully with an open mind to what “the other side” has to say.   Not trolling for argument’s sake, but to really understand.  You’ll find that the average person on either side wants similar basic things.  Don’t buy into the fear and hysteria LOOK It Up and then share what you’ve learned. 

And there you have it my friend, my political spiel.   On to November! 

Each Day the Sun Rises

Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. Virginia Satir  http://www.brainyquote.com

from Morguefiles

The ocean’s waves came up, splashed around her and sprayed her face as she sat there waiting.  She smiled.  It was a good omen, she thought, like when the Priest comes around sprinkling everyone with Holy Water.  Luella Delsapo came out for a walk early this morning, the beach town just starting to stir, the tide was out and the morning was gray.  The sand, full of tiny holes and bubbles was cold and damp under her feet. She didn’t care that the rocks were still wet as she took a seat to gaze at the horizon.  It was chilly for summer, and she was glad she brought a shawl.  She sipped tea from her travel mug and took a deep breath.  The salty air of a brand new day filled her lungs, and she breathed again deeper into her belly.  She tried to relax. 

Luella liked watching the sunset and closing the day with a colorful display, but she loved the sunrise.  There was something promising about imagining a Higher Power slowly pulling up the shades to let the sunlight fill the day and bring us out of the darkness.  Compared to sunsets, the morning colors seemed softer, gentler to her as the lavenders and pinks turned to honey behind the brilliant golden ball.  Luella was not disappointed this morning.  As the sun crowned the horizon, she closed her eyes to take it all in- the sounds, the smells, the cool breeze on her face; she waited for the sun to warm her.  Luella Delsapo had longed to be here.  She needed to be here.

She had visited other beaches, like the beautiful beaches in the Caribbean with aquamarine waters and parades of colorful fish.  She had been to the white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and enjoyed watching dolphins in their natural habitat.  It was as if they performed their dance just for the pleasure of being alive.  But it was this gray, rocky beach that through the years collected much of her tears.  She came after the heartaches or to remember loved ones on her personal memorial days. It was this part of the immense ocean that allowed the winds to take away the hurt and give her the strength to start over.  It was here she dared to dream again, and that’s what she came back for.

Recently when a friend passed expectantly, Luella heard the words one can’t escape at every funeral.  The expressions of condolences are meant to be of comfort, but after the one-hundredth time, they seem to lose meaning.  Well-intended friends and family try to be reassuring with phrases like “she’s in a better place” or “he’s no longer in pain” or “they would not want to see you suffering”; Luella remembered. She had heard it all more than once.

The first time Luella lost someone close, it was shocking to her that a person can actually feel the physical pain of a broken heart.  She was twenty-three and never knew the heart could hurt so much.  It was as if an elephant was sitting on her chest to make it burst like a water balloon, and yet it didn’t.  After a while, as the days passed, when someone approached her to say: I’m sorry for your loss, she said: “Well don’t be, it wasn’t your fault, and there is nothing we can do about it now.” 

People told her to give it time; everything is better with time.  Well, Luella found out they were right, but it’s not magic.  Time heals, but the pain doesn’t go away.  It is there in the background, in the corners of the mind.  She learned that over time the pain of grief is not felt with the same intensity or frequency, but on any given day something will trigger a memory and the wound is fresh again.  Fortunately, she developed the ability to recognize it and give it a moment before continuing with the business of living.

Luella came to understand that to manage grief; one needs to prepare for the flooding of emotions.  The first year, was the hardest.  On every holiday and every birthday, she was reminded that the life she had dreamed of with her husband was no longer an option.  She often cried for herself and for her children.  She was familiar with the process now.  She created traditions to remember, and activities for self-care.  And so it was that each time Luella lost a loved one, she didn’t feel as confused or overwhelmed. 

In prayerful mediation, she became aware of the sun warming her soul as her breathing caught the rhythm of the rolling surf – in and out.  With each exhale, the ocean rolled out with the pain and gently came back in with hope.  She opened her eyes to find the sun well over the horizon, the grayness had dissipated, and it was the start of a beautiful summer day in New England.   She found what she came for – a new day with hope for new beginnings.  

#shapingyourstory   Week Two   I’m incorporating assignments into new posts while I’m working on another project.   Really enjoying the lessons.  Thanks a bunch Michelle W.

Cause to stumble?

This post is written with a sincere heart, but I realize it may be objectionable or even offensive to some.  For that, I apologize, but I did not have it in me to “self-censor” these thoughts.  The Bible is filled with warnings to Christians to be mindful of their actions so as not to cause another to stumble or fall in the faith. If at any point this post becomes too much, please stop reading and carry on with your life.  I will understand.  Since I started writing this, I have heard that a few Christian community leaders are speaking out against the Administration’s Family Separation policy for asylum seekers.   I am grateful, but it’s not enough, not yet.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

I sat at my computer several times over the last few days trying to write about what is heavy on my soul.   Each time I sat down to think about a way to start, an image presented in my brain.  It is the image from the Gospel according to Luke chapter 19 at verse 41.  Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Luke 19:41 Good News Translation (GNT)                                                                                        41 He came closer to the city, and when he saw it, he wept over it,

This verse talks about Jesus as he is approaching near to the city of Jerusalem.  He stopped to take it all in and then he cried.

Over the years I’ve heard different preachers give sermons about this verse.  Different people chose to interpret the chapter as they saw it in their hearts. Based on a cross-reference of verses, some people said that he was crying for the future of Jerusalem, others expressed that Jesus was crying because he knew what was waiting for him in Jerusalem; others explained that Jesus cried because he knew the people of Jerusalem had hardened hearts.  I believe all three are correct, but given the circumstances of our own country today I feel that our leaders have hardened their hearts to the pain of humanity.  

Matthew 23:37 Good News Translation (GNT)                                                                                37  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!”

To love, then, is to obey the whole Law 

I was in a bit of shock the other day.  In response to critics on the Administration’s implementation of the immigration policy, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions got to the podium and “for our church friends” explained that the reason for coldhearted treatment of persons seeking asylum was because the Bible said so. Sessions, with a smirk, went on to read such scripture to support his claim.  He read from the book of Romans 13, the first verse, which as a side note was also used by the slave owners in their attempt to justify keeping slaves during President Lincoln’s time.

Romans 13:1 Good News Translation (GNT)                                                                                    13 “Everyone must obey state authorities because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God.”

Even Steven Colbert pointed out that Sessions should have kept reading because verses 8-10 could have proved fascinating to hear.  

    8 “Be under obligation to no one—the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. 9 The commandments ‘Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else’—all these, and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ 10 If you love others, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.”

God’s kingdom is a spiritual realm

What has shocked me the most is that Jeff Sessions and later Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had the audacity to use the Bible to give credence to the current Administration’s policies and interpretation of the law.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but the United States of America is not a theocracy.   When the Founding Fathers wrote the constitution, they wrote: We the People.  They had come here to get away from a government-sponsored religion.  I understand that we have grown accustomed to the fact that everything in this administration is “unprecedented,” but we cannot be fooled to think God ordains this.  God’s kingdom is a spiritual realm.  We need to stop using religion to excuse bad policy or bad behavior.   

John 18 Good News Translation (GNT)                                                                                              33 Pilate went back into the palace and called Jesus. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.   36 Jesus said, “My kingdom does not belong to this world; if my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. No, my kingdom does not belong here!” 

Is God good enough?

I have often said that some Christians seem to create a God in their image.  If we take the Bible as a starting point, the Bible says that God created us in His image.  Where is the disconnect?  Is it faith?  I’ve noticed that the “conservative” movement feels it’s their responsibility to get God’s work done one way or another.  They think they can use the government to move God’s timeline.  When Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, many Christians were posting on social media “even so, come Lord Jesus.”  I saw people posting things like “ok it’s done, we are ready for you to come.” Did they think that their God could not figure out a way to get things done? Did they think they had to elect Trump to do God’s work; to get things done? God wasn’t good enough to do it on his own? 

When Evangelicals support Trump, it seems to me that they are re-creating the story of the Passion of Christ when the High Priest in Jesus time, instigated the crowds to demand Barabbas be released.  If you have read the story of the Passion, you may remember that the crowds yelled and screamed asking Pilate for the release of Barabbas and to crucify Jesus.  The High Priests didn’t want someone who was going to take away their power and bring the people closer to God; they wanted someone who was going to get them out from under Roman rule. They wanted self-government which gave them the power and control over the people.

In my experience, whenever someone quotes the Bible for a political purpose, very rarely have I heard anyone quote something that Jesus actually said.  Trump’s entourage of evangelical advisors often quote the Old Testament histories or they bring up one of the letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to one church of a specific place and time.  They don’t however, bother to explain the historical context.  If I’ve missed it, please do comment here, it is not my intention to spread wrong information.  There are many examples of Jesus teaching using parables.  One the most well-known perhaps is the story of The Good Samaritan from the Gospel of Luke chapter 10 verses 25-36. This parable teaches that spiritually is not bound by race, ethnicity or nation of origin but rather by a love of God and His creation.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan                                                                                                25 A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?  ”26 Jesus answered him, “What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?”  27 The man answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with your entire mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”  28 “You are right,” Jesus replied; “do this and you will live.”  29 But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  30 Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead.  31 It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side.  32 In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side.  33 But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity.  34 He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.  35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’”   36 And Jesus concluded, “In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?”  37 The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who was kind to him.”  Jesus replied, “You go, then, and do the same.”

To get the full meaning of this parable, one must understand that the Jews and the Samaritans did not get along; similar to racial and ethnic differences and tensions in our country.  According to the parable, while a priest and a Levite, saw the injured traveler, neither one stopped nor did anything to help (in a nutshell, a Levite was an assistant to the priests and caretaker of the temple). The Samaritan, however, was filled with pity and took action.  How does this passage compare to our current day issues? As Christians, how do we compare? Do we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan from the pulpits in this country?  The Samaritan used his own money to take care of someone in need; even though they were strangers.

The reason I bring these things up is not that I want to point fingers at anyone but to bring up one of the teachings I am most respectful of.  Throughout the New Testament, we noticed that new believers are compared to children; children in the faith. 

Matthew 18 Good News Translation (GNT)                                                                                   18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”  2 So Jesus called a child to come and stand in front of them,  3 and said, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.  4 The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.  5 And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.  6 “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.  7 How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen—but how terrible for the one who causes them!

There is nothing more for me to add to this. There are plenty of verses admonishing seasoned Christians to take care of those struggling to believe, struggling to keep the faith. I hear it all the time, Christians who want nothing to do with organized religion because the image of Christianity projected in our society is not Christ-like.  I ask fellow Christians to do an honest self-exam.  I know there are true believers out there doing their best.  They are my friends, they are my family.  They radiate the love of God in their lives.  Is that you?  Are you careful not to cause your brother or sister to stumble, to lose faith?  Only you and God know if your life is demonstrating all the love of Christ. That love that makes people realize that God is real and a peaceful spirit can be found in Him. 

John 13:35 Good News Translation (GNT)                                                                                      35 If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Peace be with you. Blog Jesuslove-1221444_960_720

Home to where I’d never been

I came across this quote from North 20°54, West 156°14, a personal essay by Maggie Messitt on Bending Genre. “Maps are about boundaries and perception. They are about recognizing and being recognized.”
It is a beautiful place
One summer as soon as school was out, our parents took us to their little island in the Caribbean. It was the late 1960’s; it was the year my paternal grandfather died. It was unexpected. I don’t remember him, and I don’t think he ever met the twins. That’s probably why they made an effort to get us over there to meet the family now. I was apprehensive at first. My Dad was staying home, but we were going for the whole summer! I was starting my teenage years, which is a big deal in itself but on top of that, all I knew about Puerto Rico were the stories my parents had told me. Whenever they got together with my aunts, uncles and older cousins, they would tell the stories of the “good old days.” According to my parents, “It is a beautiful place! Just wait and see.”
Who are we?
The teen years are confusing. It’s a time when we are trying to figure out who we are. We had moved to this neighborhood a couple of years ago. At first, we were told that we could not speak Spanish outside of our new apartment. Should I be ashamed to speak Spanish? Is there something wrong with speaking Spanish? In order to get this apartment in a “better neighborhood” (read white, blue-collar), my dad had lied and told the landlord that we were Italian. My parents were afraid if she found out we were Puerto Ricans, she could kick us out. Should I be ashamed to be Puerto Rican? We are a light-skinned bunch, and my mother had blue-green eyes. We were able to pull it off – we “passed.” The Fair Housing Act was signed in 1968. In Current Events class, we briefly touched upon the Civil Rights movement, but I didn’t make a connection to what was happening to us. When my parents thought it was safe to do so, they told her the truth. We lived there for many years after.
Puerto Rico had been a United States territory since 1898, and the people were granted United States citizenship one month before we entered World War I in 1917. Wilson signed the compulsory military service act two months later. Puerto Ricans have been serving in the military ever since. In school, we just briefly touched on its history. All I remembered from history class was that it was an island that Spain gave to the United States after they lost the Spanish-American war. Should I tell my friends I was going to Puerto Rico? I don’t know if they knew. I was born and raised in the North East. I looked and sounded just like them. How would they know?
What a beach!
As our plane approached the island, I began to feel excited. Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea after all. The colors were the first thing that amazed me. My siblings and I strained to catch a glimpse through the tiny windows. From the sky, we could see the crystal clear turquoise waters and sandy beaches like superfine white sugar. I remembered during my aunt’s visit, she was so disappointed to see the beaches in New York. “You call this a beach? You have to come and see what a real beach looks like.” She laughed. Now I understood what she was talking about. Compared to this, Manhattan Beach, Brighten Beach, Coney Island looked gray and dirty. There were no boardwalks and no amusement park rides, but it was breathtaking. Beyond the water, we could see the vibrant greens and browns of the mountains with ribbons of rivers running through them. I decided then; I was going to enjoy this adventure.
My mother’s youngest sister, “Asore” still lived at home with her parents. She had taken time off from work to show us around. Our first trip was to the beach of course. I couldn’t get over how clear and warm the water was. The waves didn’t crash on shore; they gently rolled in and quietly rolled out. We didn’t need a beach umbrella; we had put our things between two palm trees and hung a hammock. To this day that is my mental go-to place; effortlessly rocking in the hammock and listening to the sounds of that beach. Afterward, she took us to the thatch-covered eateries that lined the road by the beach as we headed home. We each tried something different rellenos-de-papas, (deep fried meat filled potato balls), alcapurias de jueyes (root vegetables filled with crab meat), and meat-filled turnovers, just to name a few. We were in heaven! Everything was delicious.
Spaceships in the mountains, crawlers in the water
The next stop was El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States. My aunt said that many believed spaceships regularly landed on very top of the mountain. We explored the mountain and the waterfalls. Before we left, we swam in one of the pools that form along the river. I had never been swimming in a river! The water was cold, and I was afraid of what else might be swimming there. On the way back we bought tropical fruit on the side of the road. During that summer we traveled with my aunt and crisscrossed the island at least a couple of times visiting many beautiful places. There are plenty of travel blogs and magazines that talk about the wonders of Puerto Rico. This blog is about perception, awareness, and self-discovery. It’s about a young girl recognizing that there are no boundaries.
Who are these people?
As we visited and got to know family and friends across the island, I began to see Puerto Rico different from what I had imagined. We spent time with cousins our age; boys and girls who laughed and played like our friends in New York City. They used dried palm tree shafts like sleds to go down the grassy hills in the countryside just outside of town. They confidently walked right by the cows and pigs as we stared and walked cautiously slow, afraid that any sound or fast movement might call attention to us. Our cousins fished in the creek and showed us how to collect tadpoles in a glass jar. I don’t usually like tadpoles, but at the time I thought it was all fun and so exciting.
In New York, I didn’t know any Puerto Ricans outside of my family. The ones I saw depicted in movies or on television did not reflect my reality. No one in my family had been to jail or belonged to gangs or sold drugs on the street corners. We went to school and church. My family in New York was tight-knit and made up of all hard working folks, trying to survive all the challenges that came their way. They were printers, handymen, electricians, seamstress, and clerks. I didn’t know of any Puerto Ricans who were doctors or lawyers. In school, we didn’t learn about the artists, poets, musicians, actors, comedians, songwriters and authors. Here we learned that my grandfather’s brother had been the Mayor of their hometown. Our great-grandfather had been a well-known troubadour. Other family members were respected members of the community. It was a life I had seen on TV, but here the characters were real, and they were Puerto Rican.
For the love of art, music, and literature
I was glad my aunts took the time to take us to museums and talk to us about our history. We got to listen to some of waltzes and ballads that were written by Spanish and Puerto Rican composers. There was a Symphonic Orchestra! We saw the folk dancers in streets of San Juan and heard traditional music, played on instruments that originated on the island.

Blog Kite flying at El Morro Esplanade -Pinterest
I fell in love with Old San Juan and the fort that protected it El Morro (Castillo San Felipe del Morro). It’s still picturesque and quaint, something that you would think of finding in Europe. It was old Spanish Colonial architecture painted in pastels and cobblestone streets where I imagined the Spanish senoritas walking with parasols. I was amazed at all the cultural richness that I found. Yes, I was already a nerd back then, and at the end of the trip, I wanted to twirl on the lawn of El Morro and down the streets of Old San Juan like one of the protagonists of a Roger’s and Hammerstein musical. Picture Julie Andrews as Maria VonTrapp singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music.”


A new me
When school started, I had been excited to share all this with my friends back home. My aunts had given me books and souvenirs that told our story, and I brought these things to school. My friends were not interested, not even the pictures of cute Puerto Rican pop stars made them look. They were still in seventh and eighth grade, and the world didn’t matter much beyond the cute boys in the next class.
I was hurt at first, but no one could take away what I had learned that summer. I wrote about it in my English class and had a piece published in the school yearbook. I argued with my history teacher and told him whatever he was teaching had nothing to do with me. (He was great though. He became one of my favorite teachers, and I Aced his class). In Orchestra class, I played my cello as if I was playing at the Pablo Casals Festival in San Juan.
I was glad we made that trip. I’m pleased with this assignment. Though not a typical road map, it took me on a fabulous journey. “Maps are about boundaries and perception. They are about recognizing and being recognized.” Maggie Messitt
How about you? Have you ever been “home” at a place you’ve never been before?
Day Seventeen: A Map as Your Muse #everydayinspiration

The Girls were home today

alarm alarm clock antique bell
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The alarm went off as usual at 6:30 AM even though it was the weekend.  She heard Cason go into the shower and wondered where he was going so early today.  She rolled over got comfortable again.  It was too early to the day to start.  She heard him getting dressed and in a short while he mumbled something about the Club on his way out the door.  Whatever the reason that got him up and out this morning, she was grateful.

Time to get moving

The sun peeked through the blinds, and Arielle Delsapo jumped out of bed with excitement.  It was already 7:30 in the morning!  The kids were home for the weekend, and she loved it!  She planned to cook their favorite meals and pour on the loving.  Arielle still liked to make everything special for them whenever she had a chance.  She believed that if they found love and tranquility in their home, the world would seem like a better place.   

Not ready to tell them

Arielle pulled the curtains and opened the windows.  It was important to let the bright morning sun and fresh spring air fill every corner of the house with the beginning of a brand new day.  She quickly stuffed the bed covers in the hall closet and arranged the cushions on the couch.   She wanted to enjoy the day and not waste time explaining why she was sleeping on the sofa bed.  Satisfied that everything looked, as usual, she went to the room to shower and change.

Time to Cook it up

She looked at the time. She was glad Cason has gone to the club early this morning; he would probably be gone all day. That worked out fine.  It was 8:30 AM, surely the girls were awake already.  Like her, they were early risers but were enjoying a lazy Saturday morning, reading in bed and cuddling with the cats.  She knew once she started cooking, the smell of all their favorites would make it impossible to stay in bed.  She lovingly prepared pancakes, scrambled eggs, crisp bacon.  Her Dad would be here soon with an Italian breadstick warm from the bakery, and they would have real butter. 

She knew the kids would want coffee.  She took out her mom’s stovetop espresso maker for some old fashion “café con leche.”  The coffee would go on last to make sure they had a freshly brewed pot. She knew they would be out in the kitchen as soon as the fusion of aromas reached the bedrooms and announced that breakfast was ready.  She put out food for the cats and sat to drink some by the window as she waited for them all to get up. She enjoyed the smells and the sounds of a peaceful house. The curtains waved gracefully in the morning breeze hypnotizing and transporting her to another place full of anticipation and hope. She sipped her tea and let it take her away…..

The Kitchen smells of love

Arielle was snapped back to her kitchen as quickly as she had slipped out.  Lovey came into the kitchen sniffing the air with her eyes closed. “The cat wanted to get out. Hmmmm, yum  – where’s the coffee? “ Annie followed shortly after, she put her head down on the kitchen table and grumbled, “coffee?” Relieved for the interruption of her thoughts, Arielle jumped up to get a couple of mugs. 

The Grandpa and the fresh bread

As expected, her Dad arrived on cue with the warm bread, at 9:30 am. The girls were always happy to see him.  “Abuelo!”  Hugs and kisses all around.  Lovey grabbed another mug and plate, and Annie got the milk. They all sat around the table. They ate, laughed, and put on another pot of coffee.  Before they knew it, it was almost noon, and the girls were still in their pajamas.  Her Dad said he had errands to run and managed his goodbyes, without shedding a tear but he marveled one more time at how grown-up they were. 

An eventful day

 The girls wanted to get some things before they got back to school.  All three headed to the Mall.  The warm Spring weather was encouraging as they searched for jeans, sandals and sleeveless shirts.  It was 1:30 PM.  They were just about done but decided to check out which movies were playing.  Surely they could get a matinee in before dinner.  The girls had planned to meet up with friends afterward, and they tried to negotiate a time.  Arielle called Cason to see if he had a preference for dinner, but he said he couldn’t make it and they should make plans without him.  

Matinee and dinner

They picked a “chick flick” a romantic comedy about mothers and daughters adapting to major life changes.   It was almost 7:00 pm when it was over. They chose a new restaurant nearby.   It was trendy with just the right lighting, music and the food was good.  While they were waiting for dessert, Ariel took a deep breath and said “I’m done. I’m getting a divorce.” The girls looked at each other and finally Annie said, “Well its about time!”.  “No kidding” echoed Lovey.   They hugged their mom. They were not children anymore.  They had seen the writing on the wall. 

They enjoyed their desert and headed home. Lovey and Annie crossed paths with their step-dad Cason, who was going out for the night.  The girls decided to stay home with their mom and played Forty-Fives for awhile before going to bed.  Arielle went to the hall closet and took out the bedding for the sofa-bed.   She was glad to have spent another great day with her girls.  She went to their rooms and kissed each one good night.  They were reading, and each one had a cat snuggling under the sheets. 

Day Fourteen: Recreate a Single Day   #everydayinspiration   

True story in One Hundred Words

black and white hand raining
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

 

“I love the summer rain!” I shouted in my head. It was because of him. I stood there for a moment in the pouring rain; long enough for the video to replay in my mind. 

He was fiftyish, receding gray hair, twinkling eyes, and crooked smile. He had lost his shoes on the porch. He skipped and twirled as his granddaughters joined him. 

I wished him here today to hold him tight like I couldn’t do on his last night. I am grateful for all he was and all he left behind including that little bit of him in me. 

Day Thirteen: Play with Word Count   #everydayinspiration

Roseanne, Samantha and Free Speech

 

Critique does not come easy for me.  I try to be careful but truthful with my words.  I don’t like to be rude.  I don’t want to hurt anyone.  I consider myself a moderate in many things.  I prefer to look at both sides of an issue, as I know that circumstances can appear different to each of us. We all have experiences that color our perception of the world around us.  I’m one of those who believes in “being nice to someone no matter what because you don’t know what they’ve been through.”  When there is a bizarre statement trending on social media, I try to look it up before I pass judgment or share inaccurate or misleading information.  I have voted for political candidates on both sides of the aisle, taking into consideration which person I feel is best for the job. That being said, when push comes to shove, I lean to the left.  My reasons?  That’s for another blog post-stay tuned.

Today let’s talk First Amendment, specifically regarding Freedom of Speech, Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee and Colin Kaepernick.  I have never been a fan of Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee, and I have had a passionate dislike for reality television since its inception.  I don’t care much for professional sports where the tickets are financially out of reach for the average family.  In my opinion, both women are the type of comedian who does or say anything outrageous just for laughs.  Reality stars are a peculiar bunch whose behavior is motivated less by real emotion than by the drive to affect the ratings and stand out from the rest by being dramatic or outlandish.

Samantha Bee’s statement about Ivanka Trump falls into the comedic arts category.  I think there were other ways she could have addressed Ms. Trump’s apparent lack of empathy for the families separated at the border.  The offensive word Samantha Bee used was not funny and did not advance her message, but the “wow factor” did get her media attention.  Should she have been fired? I suppose some might argue that foul language and off-color remarks are acceptable as part of a comedy routine. In the general population, some people use swear words like others use punctuation marks.  I have been known to unnecessarily spice up my language to make a point, but I am never in favor of anyone using disparaging statements to describe another person or to lash out at someone. 

Roseanne Barr, also a comedian, woke up in the middle of the night, sent out a racist tweet and tried to backpedal by saying she was under the influence of prescribed medication. There is an old expression that says, “a drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.”   Is that comparable to a woman on Ambien?  I called out a colleague at work once for a scornful comment he made. He apologized saying that he said it without thinking; this admission on his part told me that derogatory thoughts were part of his belief system.  Had he been thinking, he would have filtered his words. I don’t believe medication, alcohol or Bipolar Disorder makes a person racist.  It is something taught early in life, and some people never learn anything else.  Should Roseanne Barr have been fired?  I’m sure she is not the only racist in Hollywood, but because she does not hold political office, she does not have the right to call people apes or fat or ugly or cowards or losers or sons-of-bitches. Ms. Barr doesn’t have the right to change the facts or make fun of disabled people or ethnic groups or even to say white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are made up of good people.  Although she is a celebrity, she is not the President of the United States and does not have the same rights sanctioned by conservative groups that the President has.  Instead, Roseanne Barr is an actor who worked for a family oriented business, and an angry racist is not kind of image Disney wants to be associated with their brand.

Since some in the media have linked Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee, and Colin Kaepernick, in the same First Amendment debate, I will address it here as well.  Colin Kaepernick, a young athlete of African-American descent, decided to use his position, his celebrity status if you will, to advocate for change in the justice system, specifically concerning racial profiling and use excessive force often leading to death.  We teach our children that one person; one small act can make a difference.  One NFL player “took a knee” to bring awareness to an ongoing problem in our country. He lost his job and was blacklisted from the sport.

According to a Snopes fact-check published September 28, 2017, former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, educated and advised Kaepernick and former teammate, Eric Reid to “take a knee” instead of sitting out the National Anthem in objection to current civil liberty violations.  The three agreed this was more respectful,  “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect…”  Eric Reid is quoted as saying “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”  The “take a knee” demonstration was a thoughtful form of silent protest.  It is protesting social injustice, not the flag, not the military or the country or whatever other theories are out there in the media. 

Divisive politics and fear-mongering have tried to skew the facts and turn the story around to question the integrity or validity of the complaint; to question the patriotism of protests in general. It is sad to me that the government has stepped in to coerce private companies to make employees behave in a way that is acceptable to the Administration’s agenda.   The NFL’s new policy about the etiquette during the national anthem is an example of this.  Last year it was indirectly suggested that perhaps the Administration should look into the tax breaks the NFL teams were getting since they were disrespectful to the flag and country.  Why these teams need “tax breaks” is beyond me, but that’s a topic for another post.  The point is the suggestive language worked.

According to Britanica.com “In the broadest sense, totalitarianism is characterized by strong central rule that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life through coercion and repression.”   I find it upsetting to think this is happening in our country.  People complained about political correctness, an idea that attempted to invoke fairness and open-mindedness but what I see now; is an agenda to make sure everyone is behaving and thinking in the same way.  This plan is based on one group’s interpretation of Judeo-Christian traditions or the Constitution or whatever else they can use to manipulate the masses.   

How does this change?  It changes when everyone takes an interest in being well informed and challenging the ideas that limit our freedoms.  It is disheartening to know that a significant number of people in this country stop at the headlines they see in social media. They don’t read entire articles nor do they cross-reference sources.  That’s why it is easy for foreign powers to influence our politics or how we look at the world around us.   It changes when citizens of this great nation stand-up and give a damn to research the candidates beyond the sound bites.  It changes when well-informed citizens get out to vote. 

Day Twelve: Critique a Piece of Work or Write an Opinion Piece   #everydayinspiration

If we were having coffee right now

two brown and black ceramic teacups filled on black saucers
Photo by Jana on Pexels.com

If we were having coffee right now, it would indeed be a special event.  You see I consider myself a social drinker.  I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis, only on occasion.  Every morning I drink hot black tea in round bags with boiled water from my teapot.  I let it sit for several minutes so that the caffeine is extracted and then I add a drop or two of milk.  During the day I reach for green tea –hot or cold, sometimes I pop in some raspberries for a different flavor. 

If we were having coffee right now, I would have been tempted by the rich aroma of the Arabica beans filling the air.  I love the smell of coffee brewing, especially the espresso method that seems to squeeze out every bit of flavor from the finely ground beans.  Coffee fills my senses and reminds me of home; of my mother and both grandmothers who sometimes had sweet bread or pastry with coffee or café con leche in the afternoon. 

If we were having coffee right now, we would be sitting in your kitchen as we had many years before.  We would catch up with stories about our children, siblings and rest of the family.  You would have shown me that you’ve started working on your garden after the harsh winter. I would tell you I’m still trying to get my orchid to bloom after all these years.  We would reminisce about the fun times we had as a group of women getting together to laugh and share our personal philosophies of faith, love and the quest for happiness in our lives.  How I’ve missed that camaraderie with like-minded women!  I consider it one of the blessings in my life to have you all when in time of need. 

If we were having coffee right now, we would talk about our busy week.  You would tell me about your travels and the interesting people you’ve met.  I would tell you that I’m writing a blog for fun and sharing of ideas.  It’s a journal sprinkled with creative writing, poetry, and essays.  You’ll tell me you’re working on another book about the program you’ve developed with your longtime colleague at the Institute.  It will undoubtedly be just as successful as the first one.  I still have my autographed copy.

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you that I’ve started going to town meetings and focus groups in preparation for the coming elections in August and November.  I have found people and politics so different in my new city in the southeastern part of the country.  We would both agree that it is never too early to start examining the candidates, there is too much at stake.  You would get me up to date on the issues in your city, which in large part have not changed much since I was here.  Politics usually leads us to religion.  It’s so refreshing to talk to someone with the same values and level of empathy for our fellow compatriots.   

If we were having coffee right now, I would treasure the moment and file the memory like a snapshot in my mind.  I would save it and document it until we can make it a reality again.   Social media, phone calls, and emails can’t replace the joy of sitting to have coffee with an old friend. 

Day Eleven: A Cup of Coffee   #everydayinspiration

The letter I never wrote

My Dearest Bobby, 

It’s been almost half a century since we last saw each other or since we shared about our lives and yet I looked for you a few years back when I found myself in a new city without friends. Where have all my young friends gone, long time passing? 

How I had missed you!  You drove west on a cross-country adventure right after college, looking for John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High.  I went looking for myself on the little Caribbean Island where my family roots were waiting. 

The last time you wrote to me, you told me that you finally understood when I wrote to you about my special love for Edward.  You wrote that you had found someone extraordinary as well and felt like you were on cloud nine. “I’m walking on air! This is the one,” you wrote.  I was so happy for you.  You deserved to be loved to the max.   I never heard from you again; not even when I wrote to tell you of Edward’s unexpected passing.  I always wondered about that and thought it strange.  Did you get my letter?  It was before Facebook and emails when letters often were lost and neither party knew it.  I believe in my heart that if you would have gotten it, you would have reached out.  You were always there for me.

Speaking of Facebook, let me tell you that there must be a gazillion Robert J. Smiths on Facebook! You had told me once. that Robert James Smith was a common family name from one of the islands in the Canadian Maritime provinces where your parents were born. I expected many Smiths but I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting so many with that name combination in our age group. I tried many variations to filter my search and convince the algorithms to give you up. 

Finally there it was; a Robert J Smith from New York currently living in the Rocky Mountains!  The profile picture was a portrait of a past president known as a great social reformer. I knew I had to be on to something, but the profile said this Robert J was a computer guy at some Rocky Mountain University, not a famous photojournalist traveling the world in search of a great story. 

Although this Robert J was not the photojournalist you had dreamed of becoming, there were random sarcastic posts and funny tongue-in-cheek comments in reference to some joke among your friends.  I remember that you were always amusing with a sharp wit. I kept scrolling on that page.  The information available on the public profile gave me an indication that I may have found the right person. 

It seems this Robert J was an activist like my Bobby who inspired and motivated us to march and protest many things while we were in high school.  I remember the cold, wet days we spent holding signs in front of the local state-run mental hospital to oppose the abuse and demand better community options for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.  We recycled and protested about pollution. All the while you documented it with exceptional photos for the school paper.

It seemed like this Robert J was also a patron of the arts and I remembered how we spent that one summer exploring all the little museums in the city because we had already exhausted the larger ones.  The haunting photos you took at the Cloisters were amazing.  It was exciting watching them develop in the makeshift darkroom in your parents’ apartment. 

We enjoyed that summer even if it was just the two of us. All our friends were busy with their own projects or were just not interested in the same things.  Bernice approached me once about her insecurities because we were spending so much time together.  I remembered assuring her that you loved her and the only reason you kept inviting me was that you being ever the supportive friend, didn’t want me to be alone as I dealt with my recent breakup with Harry.  

Suddenly as I scrolled through the photos on that Facebook page, I saw your smiling face; still looking like a cherub with curly gray hair.  Even in the black and white photo, your eyes had a sparkle as you sipped from a champagne flute in the back seat of a limo with your wife.  She looked nice. I was glad to see you so happy; I didn’t bother with the friend request.

About a year later I tried again.  This time there was just one status update post.  You were glad it would be your last radiation treatment. You explained that you had just started chemotherapy on Brain Cancer Awareness Day.  So many memories, and some regrets, all came rushing at me.  I said a prayer but didn’t contact you.  I wish I had.   

Months later around your birthday, I checked a third time, but when nothing new had been posted, I looked for your wife.  Did I just become a stalker? I didn’t care; I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I saw the condolences on her page.  So many people were acknowledging what a wonderful friend you were and how you touched their lives.  They all loved you, as I did.  I saw what she said was her favorite picture of you posted for your birthday.  She wanted to reassure her friends that she was coping well and but admitted she missed you so much. I was glad to see she loved you so.

It was a professional portrait, and it was how I had imagined you aging with soft gray curls and a neatly trimmed beard.  Your mismatched eyes were apparent, one green, one hazel.  They were thoughtful eyes, caring eyes.  My sweet Bobby; you found someone who loved you the way I couldn’t.  I thank God for her. I wanted to reach out to her and add my condolences, but I didn’t. 

I still remember you on your birthday and say a prayer.  I’m sorry I didn’t love you the way you wanted; the way your parents would have wanted. I’m glad we were best friends though. I’ll always remember the special moments we shared, the decision we made that summer to protect Bernice. I question myself about that choice from time to time and naturally wonder what could have been,. 

Of one thing I am certain, I am grateful that I had you to walk beside me as we were growing up and transitioning into adulthood. 

Rest in peace my dear one. 

You are forever in my heart – love me.                                                                                                                                                           

america arizona blue canyon

Day Eight: Reinvent the Letter Format   #everydayinspiration

Writing Space

Most days I enjoy writing in the quiet of my room, up away from the street noise and TVs.  I have a small computer desk where I perch my laptop on its stand and pull out the keyboard from the tray.  I’ve got a table with a couple of notebooks and pens for jotting ideas or taking notes and always a glass of ice water.  I love a bright sunny day when I can write without lamps and open the window for fresh air.  

My ideal space would be a loft on the second floor of a Spanish colonial townhome on the edge of the Old San Juan historic district; with a view of San Juan Bay.  I would also be satisfied with a loft apartment in the same place but now over a Spanish style bakery with the aroma of fresh Mallorca and expresso spiraling up through the open doors on the balcony which overlooks the cobblestone streets.  Who am I kidding?  Neither one of these would be conducive to productivity.   I would spend hours daydreaming or people watching or maybe not indoors at all.   In that case, I will stay in my own little corner, twirling in my office chair, in front of my computer desk. 

Some of you may have noticed I am working in a group to continue to improve my writing.  Photo by 85Fifteen on UnsplashFor the past few days, at the end of each post, I have identified the task for the corresponding day.   Today’s assignment has a part two.  We have been asked to collect post ideas from our readers that we can refer to in the future.  What would you like to see me write about?  We are to gather ideas that will in some way be integrated with our Day 15 assignment.  I would certainly appreciate your help.   You can leave an idea in the comments section or go to my Contact Me page from the blog menu.  

Here is the link to Contact Me —-  It should be fun. 

I look forward to hearing from you.   Contact Me

Day Six – A Space to Write  #everydayinspiration