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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Wonderful Dance


My son's wedding is now over a month ago.  He and his beautiful wife are back home from their honeymoon in Iceland.  They had an absolutely breathtaking time and I am glad they went and happy they are home safely.

Before the wedding, I wrote a blog about choosing a song for the Mother/Son dance. I have to now say, the moment was even more than I could have hoped.  During the dance, looking in my son's eyes, holding him in my arms as I've done from the moment he was born until this precious moment, the world around me truly didn't exist.  I forgot about all the people watching us and was lost in an overwhelming, forever connection. The love and pride I have for my Michael is truly never-ending.  His compassion, his thoughtfulness, his consideration, his intelligence and his loyalty all shine through.

I promised in the blog before his wedding I would let you in on the song we chose to dance to afterward.  The time is here.  

The song was "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" sung by Rod Stewart (written by Van Morrison).  

The song can be heard by clicking the following link:

In my texts to my children, I tell them multiple times how much I love them.  Michael once said something to me on the lines of, other Mom's don't tell their children 'I love you' in a lifetime as often as I say it in one email.

I can't help it.  I was never good at hiding my feelings.

I will let the song speak for itself. I hope you enjoy.

Michael......have I told you lately that I love you?  You fill my heart with gladness and take away all my sadness.....ease my troubles, that's what you do.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton makes me angrier than Donald Trump…and why I’m voting for her anyway. ~ A special blog written by my son!

After reading my son's thoughts on this year's election, I thought it was tremendously important for others to see how so many of us view the 2016 Presidential election.  I hope you take the time to read this beautifully written essay written by Michael~

This has been a strange election year for a number of reasons, mostly due to the absurdity of candidates that the Republicans have put forward, but also due to the rise of Bernie Sanders. I started following Bernie around June of last year, and my first thought was, “I’m so glad Clinton won’t run unopposed! A primary challenger will make her a stronger candidate to run against the Republicans.” Then, something amazing happened. I started listening to Bernie Sanders speak…and I heard everything I’ve wanted to hear for my entire adult life which I thought was impossible to say in American politics: We should have single payer healthcare, tuition free public college, a livable minimum wage, guaranteed sick and family leave, etc…I could go on for pages. I always thought that the things I believed in would never gain traction in this country, in a sense, I felt alone. Then Bernie came along, and with millions of followers together, I didn’t feel alone anymore. There is a sizable group of people in America that do believe what I believe, and it feels great. In short, I have known since the first time I went to Europe in 2008 that America is not the shining city on the hill that we were taught about in school. We are not the greatest country in the world, but WE CAN BE! We can provide the things that Europeans consider to be basic human rights. The only thing stopping us is our own pessimism. So I fell in love with Bernie’s policies, talked about him to people I knew and spread the word, donated (Maybe a bit too much for someone who makes what I make) to his campaign. 

There is another side to this however: Hillary Clinton. I grew up thinking (And still do think) that Bill Clinton was one of the best Presidents of the modern era. His wife, however, is someone I have never been a fan of. Back in 2008, I was originally a supporter of John Edwards. Despite what he has done since, he was the first one on the national stage to be talking about income inequality, what he called “Two Americas” in 2008. I supported him in my first ever Presidential campaign, but he was a fringe candidate and didn’t last long. Luckily for me, when he dropped out, there was another candidate that I had an enormous amount of respect and admiration for, a young senator named Barack Obama. I had no trouble switching to the Obama campaign in 2008, because I loved him just as much as Edwards. I was not a sore loser, I did not withhold my vote, and I happily campaigned for Obama in 2008 and 2012. If I could accept the fact that my candidate lost in the primaries in 2008 and get behind another Democrat when I was just a kid, I don’t think my reservations about doing it now are about being pouty, spoiled, or having a temper tantrum. It’s democracy, the one with the most votes wins, and Hillary is going to win the primary. The truth is, now that we are down to Hillary Clinton vs. Republicans, I realize that for the first time, there is no candidate that I can turn to and think “I respect and admire this person”.

Why do I not admire Hillary Clinton? I’m a Democrat and so is she. I’m a feminist, and so is she. I’m an environmentalist, and so is she. I do believe that she has faced an unprecedented amount of criticism and scrutiny, much of it being due to the fact that she is a woman. I want to see the first woman President. I think that would be an enormous step forward for the country on a cultural level. However, I want the first woman President to be someone I admire, respect, and believe in. Unfortunately, no matter how much I try to convince myself, that woman is not Hillary Clinton. Hillary was not with us in the fight against the Patriot Act and the Iraq war, until they were proven disastrous. She was not with us in the fight for LGBT rights, until it was already popular nationwide. She was not with us in the fight against trade deals like TPP, until polls came out saying Democrats didn’t want it. She was not with us in the fight against the Keystone pipeline, until the left pushed her to be. All of this adds together to make a disturbing trend of things that progressives hold dear that Hillary has fought against, only to come around as soon as it is politically favorable. The honest truth is that I WANT to believe her when she says she’s a progressive, but when she says in front of a different group of people that she is a centrist, it’s hard to believe her. I WANT to believe in her, but I don’t.  

This is where I get to the meat of my rant. If Hillary Clinton votes with Bernie Sanders 93% of the time, it should be a no-brainer for me in this election. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. Like George Takei said in his fantastic video I posted to my facebook, the fight between Bernie and Hillary is like a family squabble. The problem is, that’s why it’s so hard for me to come over to her. When your enemy does something to spite you, nothing changes: you still hate them, they still hate you, and none of your previous misconceptions have been challenged. However, when someone of your own family, a friend, or a loved one betrays you, it cuts much deeper. It’s much harder to forget, and it hurts a lot more. This is why I dislike Hillary Clinton so much. It hurts to see a DEMOCRAT up there saying we can’t make the minimum wage a livable salary, that we can’t change anything about the horrendous prices of university, that we can’t change the campaign finance system destroyed by citizen’s united in 2010, that we can’t ban fracking, and that the Iraq war was just a whoopsie-daisy rather than a complete bastardization of everything America claims to be. These are all progressive liberal staples, and ones that progressives should be champions of, not giving up before the fight begins. So yes, Hillary Clinton is not my enemy, she’s family, which is why it hurts so much when she betrays me.

So if I think of Hillary Clinton as a person who personally betrayed me and my ideals, how could I vote for her? I won’t lie, it’s hard, but there are two words that should get everyone to the voting booth in November: Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a con man, racist, misogynist, xenophobe, narcissist, sociopath. Donald Trump is the absolute personification of everything that’s wrong with America. He’s a pseudointellectual bully who would not hesitate to use force to get his way. I feel dirty for even mentioning his name, but that’s how far gone the Republican party is. I don’t even need to get into specifics here. If I need to list reasons to you why Trump is a national disgrace, you’re already a lost cause.  

Overall, I’m left with a choice: Do I vote for someone who I’ve despised for my entire life, and is the worst of America incarnate? Do I vote for someone who I feel has betrayed the very people who helped elevate her to the position she’s in now? Do I abstain from voting? Vote for a 3rd party candidate for some misguided “Protest vote” that no one will ever see or care about? The truth is, there is no good option for me, or any of the progressives out there who truly want America to join the EU in the 21st century.

Welcome to the 2016 general election America. It’s rotten, it’s a disgrace, it’s a betrayal of most of the ideals I hold dear, and it will inevitably be a small (Or large) step backwards in the ongoing fight for America’s progression forward. It’s a terrible decision to make, but sit down and take your medicine progressives. It tastes bitter as hell…Hillary 2016.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Right Song

My son, Michael, is getting married in June. 

Weddings are beautiful when you are a guest and you see the couple, so in love, so excited about starting their lives together as a married couple.  However, as I learned watching my daughter get married, they are an entirely deeper, heart-filling experience when it is your own child up there exchanging vows.  The hopes and dreams you hold for this new Mr. and Mrs. fills your universe.  Your soul expands with a joy that is all encompassing and overwhelming. 

Here is this person, this beautiful, loving, caring person that you raised and nurtured beginning one of the most joyful, hopefully everlasting, relationships that life offers.  I think back to all the experiences my husband have shared and I can only hope that my children’s’ spouses are always there for them, in good times and in tough times, because life is full of both, as my husband has been there for me.  Through all my goofiness, silliness, and over-protective worrying quirks, he has stood by me.  No one is perfect, but having a partner that willingly accepts those quirks, even when they may make him a bit exasperated at times, is really what this special, unique partnership is all about.   

Knowing how emotional I am going to be at my son’s wedding has always been an accepted fact.  Just as my daughter and I have an exceptionally close relationship; my son and I do too.  I am very lucky to have a son who is willing to discuss his interests, his goals, his dreams, and his aspirations.  We have always shared fun times….from the times when he would so seriously discuss his imaginary friends, starting with Momboweeze, Peekels etc, to collecting beanie babies, to playing Mario Kart when he was younger, up to the present when we share some of the most heartfelt discussions over politics, his deeply meaningful work, the love of his life, and anything else under the sun.  My son brightens my world and fills my heart with a love that is impossible to put into words. 

At my daughter’s wedding, my husband had the chance to dance with her, the bride.  I loved every minute of watching them, holding each other, images of him cradling her in his arms when she was a newborn merged into this one dance.  He found a song that perfectly described the emotions of that moment.  Now, it will be my turn to have that special dance with my Michael.  The song has to be perfect.  I know that probably no one else will listen to the words, but I will, and I want the words to resonate with my son and convey to him the love, respect, and pride I feel whenever I think of him.

I know that everyone has thought my search for this special song has been a bit over the top.  I emailed a DJ I know, and a very special singer, song writer and asked them to pour over songs that could possibly relate to a Mother/Son Dance.  It is amazing to me that there is such little to choose from in the millions of songs that are out there!!  Most are about romantic love, or there are songs about Fathers and Sons or Sons to Mother…..but they usually involve important passages, like in the song “Sadie” by the Spinners: 

Early one Sunday morning
Breakfast was on the table
There was no time to eat
She said to me, "Boy, hurry to Sunday school"
Filled with her load of glory
We learned the holy story"

These lyrics have nothing to do with our relationship, even though he did go to Hebrew School on Sunday, this just didn’t pertain. My search continued for months from songs such as “You are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder, to “You’ll be in My Heart” by Phil Collins…..”How Deep is the Ocean” sung by Barbara Streisand and her son Jason Gould, to finally “Because you Loved Me”, by Celine Dion.  They are all beautiful songs, but none felt right.  They all had an important passage or two that just didn’t pertain or make sense.  I was feeling disappointed but refused to give up the search.  I knew that my hours of pouring through music on YouTube and asking everyone would not be in vain.

Words are so important to me.  Words can heal or destroy, they can empower or hinder, they are powerful and meaningful and in the midst of this special day, Michael's wedding day, words need to be filled with love and importance. This moment, this dance, when I get to hold my son in my arms, I want to make him know and understand how absolutely vital he is to my life.  I want him to feel how deeply I admire him, how strongly I support him, how proud I am of him, how unconditionally I love him.

I have found my song.  After months of searching and believing it hadn’t been written yet, I stumbled across it on my way to work yesterday morning.  I was listening to talk radio, when I had enough of politics, and thought I needed a little music.  I turned the station and a song came on that I hadn’t heard in quite some time.  By the time I arrived at work, my make-up was running from my tears.  THIS was the song.  I wrote it down and wondered if I would feel the same when I heard it again, and read the lyrics. 

This morning, I did both those things and I feel even more certain of this song.  I know it will be only two minutes of this very special day, but it will be two minutes that will live in my heart forever. 

Michael ~ I am so glad you agree and like this song.  When we dance, just always know that you are loved more than words, no matter how great they are, could ever convey.  Just know that I wish you and Rebecca all the most wonderful of times together. Like the saying goes, “May your joys be doubled and your sorrows be halved”.  Just always know……..

I love you for ever, I love you for always ~

PS) I will post the song after the wedding.........

Friday, March 4, 2016

Oy, What are We Doing?????

Last night I watched the Republican debate.
It was filled with anger and filled with hate.
They argued over each other without end ~
Donald even talked of his little “friend”……

Wake up America, this is beyond comprehension!
That we could support these folks fills me with tension!
Anyone not white, Christian and male....
They hate us all, without fail.

Cruz is a lunatic, no compromise.
Rubio misses work, no surprise
Kasich tries to look smart; he’s not wise
Trump is a narcissist in orange disguise

They rant and scream, they holler, so rude!!
Their lack of solutions is embarrassing, crude.
Their consistent mantra is to fill you with fear.
Their bigotry and belittling makes me shed a tear.

It’s embarrassing to witness what has become
a part of America, proud to be dumb!
Please, United States, don’t elect this scum!
I’ll be humiliated to say this is where I come from.

A Presidential debate should be full of thought;
At least that’s what I was always taught.
What we’re showing our children is a shame
picking a President just on fame?????

So please America, shake off the stupid!!
The ugliness shown can’t be disputed.
We’re in this world, we’re a big part ~
Let’s lead with love and a peaceful heart.

Turn off the media when they talk of Trump!!
He’s nothing but a vulgar chump.
Stop the hate ~ don’t be so small.

Remember, We’re AMERICA…after ALL!!!!!!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Communication is Key!!

When will companies learn that communication is of vital importance and would actually help THEM have a much easier existence?

This morning, I had to be up at 4 AM as we had inventory at the store where I work and heaven forbid they have it at normal business hours and lose sales.  Our company hires an outside organization to help with our inventory.  Just for general reference, it’s a Monday morning, after a major snowstorm that blanketed the entire east coast of the United States with over two feet of snow. 

My alarm rang at 3:54 AM (I always set it for weird times).  I got out of bed and walked sleepily into the bathroom to get washed.  It takes a minute for warm water to flow, so I turned on the faucet and waited patiently.  After what seemed like a long time, the water still was not getting warm.  Just then, my husband came up the stairs with a note in his voice that always tells me something is wrong.  The heater was not firing.  We have oil heat so when it doesn’t fire we don’t have heat OR hot water, which is especially bad when it’s 12 degrees outside.

Getting washed with cold water wasn’t fun; sitting on a very cold toilet seat is also not a barrel of laughs.  My husband called our heating company as they supposedly have an “Emergency Line”.  So, by 4:10 AM, we put in our first call.

Meanwhile, I got dressed and headed out to work, in the cold, in the dark, on the partially snow covered roads.  Thankfully, my husband drove me to the store.  Still waiting for the heating company to call us back, our cell phones were in our glove-covered hands.

The bright lights of my store looked welcoming.  I could see the cars of my fellow employees in the parking lot, but the van that should be there to bring the inventory company's employees was nowhere to be seen.

The Assistant Manager of the store opened the door for me.  He is a nice, funny young man who I always look forward to working with, next to him was another part-time manager who is one of the hardest working people I have ever had the privilege to work alongside.  As my husband started to pull away, they told me to stop him.  Apparently, the Supervisor of the job from the inventory company couldn’t get to our store and therefore the inventory was cancelled.  All of us, the workers from our store were there.  We had prepared for the week prior and if inventory was not taken today, most of our work was for nothing, not to even mention the fact that we had all woken up so early, on such a cold, dark day after a blizzard, to be there.

Why didn’t they know earlier that she couldn’t be there?  Why didn’t they call our store manager or our district manager before we were all there?  Wouldn’t she have known or at least had an inkling the night before that she couldn’t make it??  Communication!!!!!!  All of us were not only annoyed, our company wanted us to clock right out, so we were destined to have done all of this for nothing!

During this time, my husband had gone home as a co-worker said he would drive me back if the inventory company couldn’t find another supervisor.  Once again, the communication of the inventory company, internally, and to us, was severely lacking causing a continuation of confusion and anxiety.

The parallel side of this is that my husband and I were still waiting for a call back from our heating company.  My husband texted me when he arrived home to say he still hadn’t heard anything, so he called the “Emergency Number” again.  Once again a woman, who is probably just part of a generic answering service, took our number and said someone would get back to us. 

At 6 AM the inventory company had finally contacted the Manager of our store with their definitive answer, the inventory was to be cancelled!  All the work, all the hassles of fighting snow covered roads to get in, all for nothing!!  We were told to clock out and go home.  Thankfully, my prior manager, who was there as our company supervisor, drove me home.

I walked in the door to find my husband frustrated to no end.  He had not heard a thing from our heating company.  It was now after 6 so it had been two hours.  Our house was freezing cold and who knew if the pipes were going to burst?!!  Some emergency number!!!!!!

At 6:30 AM he called again, at 7, I called.  I asked why we hadn’t even received a call back as it was now already 3 hours since our initial call.  She said all she did was leave messages.  What’s the sense of that?  If an EMERGENCY number just leaves messages, why not just have an answering machine?  What difference is there to the customer if there is no actual SERVICE behind the number?  And, why don’t they tell you, after the initial call, that you won’t hear back until after normal business hours?  I did ask when the office of the heating company actually opens during our last call to the emergency number.  She told us they open at 7:30 AM.

My husband and I sat under blankets, wore gloves, and continued to wait for some word.  We gave the office a few minutes to get in and called back at 7:35.  A woman answered the phone at the actual company; thankfully, it was no longer the answering service.  However, the woman was beyond rude right off the bat.  She said we were on the list and someone would be here sometime today.  My husband tried to convey the fact that we were concerned about our pipes bursting and that we were freezing in the house.  My 88-year-old mother lives with us, which is an added concern.  The woman at the heating company could not have cared less.  My husband asked if we could get a “window” as to when we might expect some help or if someone could at least call us back to tell us something we could do to keep our pipes from bursting which would only be a bigger problem for them to fix and a more expensive problem for us.  With a note of annoyance, she told us we would hear from someone this morning.  Now why did she have to be so rude?  Why couldn’t she just have told us that from the beginning? 

Communication!!!!!  The inventory company could have avoided extra hassles to everyone by cancelling the night before OR at least by 3 AM this morning!  The heating company could have informed us that the emergency number just takes the message and passes it along to the company when they open at 7:30.  The woman at the heating company could have answered the phone with a smile and told us she knew of our issue, had contacted a repairman, and he would be out this morning!  Both episodes would have been so much easier for everyone had common sense communication taken place!

Here’s the message I am trying to communicate this morning.  When an issue comes up, as issues always will, be honest, confront it as early as possible, and communicate a solution or a timetable to a solution, clearly and nicely.  I don’t understand the benefit of anything less!!  It doesn’t help the person with the problem as they become frustrated and annoyed and it doesn’t help the company involved, as a frustrated, unhappy customer will eventually lead to a failed business.

Thankfully, the oil company repairman has now been here for over an hour and he is knowledgeable and friendly.  Had the office been as professional, I would be now writing how great it was to have the problem solved before lunch.  A positive perspective is enhanced by clear, honest, friendly communication.  We are not adversaries unless forced to feel that way.

That’s my rant for the day.  I hope I’ve communicated it clearly!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Just Ask

Did you ever wake up in the middle of night, in the middle of a dream only to find yourself falling back to sleep and back to the same dream?  It happened to me last night and it has stuck with me this morning.

The strongest feeling that is still with me this morning is one of anticipation.  I’ll set the stage for you to the best of my ability so you can follow along.  Maybe you can tell me what you think it all means.

Apparently, I was in charge of orchestrating a very small dinner party.  The woman who hired me to arrange this party was always in shadows.  I could see that she was probably forty-ish and had shoulder length dark hair.  Her voice was soothing but strong.  There were to be 7 other guests at this party, aside from myself, and the woman in control of this occasion held very high connections.  

She sat across from me behind a huge glass desk.  Her swivel chair was turned so that as she spoke she was looking out of a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooked a clear day, a blue sky, in the middle of a busy city.  I could even hear the traffic whizzing below us.  She was leaving the guest list up to me with the only criteria being that those invited had to be people I didn’t know personally and they had to be well respected, accomplished in their field.  An invitation with this woman’s name on it would not be rejected, she assured me, so there was no limit.

My most important, immediate task was creating this list of 7 people that I, as an average person, would value learning from at this particular time in history.  The people had to be real, alive, and not superficial. 

The next thing I remember is sitting behind an old, vintage typewriter.  The room was now very much darker and full of empty shelves, aside from dust.  There was no computer, this list, apparently, had to come from my heart alone.

Feeding the paper through the typewriter and getting it set as I remember doing back in the days before computers and Word, I stared at the white sheet in front of me.  As I stared at the paper suddenly all kinds of names started appearing:  Barack Obama, Deepak Chopra, Paul McCartney, Noam Chomsky, Lily Tomlin, Richard Dawkins, Carole King, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks,  Stephen Colbert, The Dalai Lama,  Gloria Steinem.  I had to narrow this list to seven even as more names were popping into my head…

I don’t know if any of you reading this are old enough to remember that in the old days, when typing on a typewriter, some parts of a letter would be really dark and almost go through the paper.  Everyone with an ‘i’ in their name, the dot was unbelievably dark.  So that left me with Gloria Steinem, The Dalai Lama, Carole King, Richard Dawkins and Lily Tomlin.  My list now had 5 names so I had to narrow the remaining list down to two.  If you know me, then you know that Barack Obama would HAVE to be there.  That left me with Deepak Chopra, Paul McCartey, Noam Chomsky, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Stephen Colbert.  Of them, only one could join the dinner.

It was at this point in the dream that I woke up.  I glanced at the clock on my night table to see it was 2:27 am. I was thinking about the names that were so ingrained in my head and felt overwhelmed and kind of chuckled to myself for this weird dream.  I flipped on my back and remember starring at the ceiling.

The next thing I remember, I was back in the dream.  The paper with the names was miraculously still in front of me.  I thought to myself, I have a religious man, a scientist/atheist, a strong politically involved woman, a musician, and a comedian.  I also included President Obama so I had a politician with a background in Constitutional law.  I now had to decide if I wanted an actress, an actor, a philosopher, another amazingly accomplished songwriter, another comedian or a scientist.  I could feel my hands typing, pushing down hard on the round keys of the antique typewriter:   Noam Chomsky.

The next thing I remember is being back in the clean, clear office of the woman with the dark hair and the big window.  She was talking on the phone, (a sleek desk phone, not a cell phone) and she just held out her hand for the list. 

I handed my list to her and in a flash I was sitting in a magnificent room with the most comfortable, cozy, contoured chairs.  Each was exactly the same, situated in a circle and each had it’s own personal table set with a white tablecloth, light blue clothe napkins, and a simple vase with a white chrysanthemum.  The china was white with a delicate blue line.  The room was full of windows and surrounded on all sides by a magnificent garden.  The greens of the outside garden gave the room a beauty that I truly cannot explain.  I remember feeling a bit nervous, as I didn’t know what to do next.  Was I supposed to greet the guests as they entered?  Was I supposed to speak to them?  I looked down and realized I was holding a leather bound book, perhaps the answers to my questions were in the book?  As I opened the cover to look inside the book the room was suddenly full of all the people on my list!  President Obama was sitting right next me; his big smile and warm eyes were taking in the room which was now filled with waitresses and waiters as the aroma of fresh baked breads, and for some reason, cinnamon, filled the air.  Noam Chomsky and Carole King were chatting amicably to my left.  Across from me, the Dalai Lama and Richard Dawkins were in deep discussion while Gloria Steinem and Lily Tomlin were laughing hysterically.

I felt as if I was somehow see-through…as if they were all solid and there but I was transparent.  Food was served on delicate silver trays.  I wish I could remember what the food was, (maybe my current diet is blocking the image from my mind).  The woman who had me arrange this time then entered the room through a crack in the wall.  She glanced around slowly as everyone looked toward her, even though she was in shadow.  Her voice was warm and kind as she expressed to everyone there how welcome they were.  She walked around the interior of the circle of chairs and tables and invited them to share their simplest secret, to share what they apparently already knew.  All their voices came together as one word, ‘ask’, filled the room.  Ask for opinions, ask for help, ask for guidance, and ask for the truth.  She then looked at me and suddenly I wasn’t transparent anymore.

With that, I woke up.  I have no idea what or who I am supposed to ask.  But I feel compelled to find out, so I am just putting the asking out there.

I suppose this dream will fade in time, but the task is reverberating in my head.  I guess this blog is not the same as most of my others, but it is just so strong in my own thinking today that I wanted to write it down.  Perhaps one of the things I am asking for is your indulgence in helping me think about all those I invited to this meal.  All are people I admire greatly.  All are people, including the bigger list, of personalities I would love to meet and have an in-depth discussion with about the world and how to work to make it a nicer, safer place.  I suppose it would be my dream to have these people assemble to work out the problems and lessen the hate.  

I hope you ask for and receive all your fondest dreams. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This War on Christmas is Exhausting!!

It’s still dark in the morning when I get in my car and head to the store where I work. I have no choice but to wear a Christmas (holiday), red and white T-Shirt (normal is black and blue). This year’s Christmas (holiday) shirt consists of George Washington wearing a Christmas (holiday) cap. Our extended Christmas (holiday) hours exist to “make it easier” for the customers to get their Christmas (oops, I mean holiday again) shopping done. The fact that the extra hours of operation multiplied by the hundreds of stores brings in millions of extra dollars, ah, that’s just a side issue.

The fog has been extremely thick these early mornings due to the crazy warm December weather we’ve been having on the east coast ~ of course global climate change has nothing to do with that circumstance, (fa lalalala lala la la) ~ the drive is extra tricky and quite nerve racking.

Turning into the parking lot, I steal my thoughts and garner my energy. Eight hours is a long time to stand, day after day, continuously bagging large orders. The parking lot lights visible through the fog are decorated with Christmas (oops, I mean holiday) trees. The Christmas (holiday) garland is wrapped ever so tightly around each and every lamp pole making them look all ready for the Christmas (holiday) season.

Walking into the store, I trip over a box of to be unpacked Christmas (oops, there I go again), HOLIDAY ornaments. They will have to be squeezed into the already stuffed ENTIRE front section of the store that is full of Christmas (holiday) wrapping paper, pajamas, stockings, neck ties, cups, lawn decorations, gift bags, Santas, Reindeer, candy and other assorted Christmas, (holiday) stock. Wow, this war on Christmas is exhausting. Meanwhile, the Hanukkah end cap has wrapping paper with stars of David and a few mugs that say Oy. That’s it. There is nothing for Kwanza. That’s our “Holiday” section!!!!

After regaining my balance, I slide through the additional wall of Christmas (holiday) socks, gift tags, and gift boxes to make my way to the register. First thing I have to do is turn on the Christmas (holiday) music. Songs that mention sleigh rides and silver bells are one thing, but wow, that war on Christmas is really evident when all the songs that mention Jesus start playing! (Can you imagine a song mentioning Allah or Moses????? Me neither.)

To the tune of “Oh Holy Night”, I count the cash at my register as the Christmas (holiday) shoppers start their daily gift buying pilgrimage. Many customers this year are wearing a pin that says, “It’s okay to wish me a Merry Christmas”. To those people, just so you know, I will wish you a great day…no mention of Christmas will come from my lips because of your sanctimonious attitude. It’s very hard to feel bad for your holiday being under attack when everything Christmas is bombarding my senses from blinking red and green lights, songs about Santa, and Christmas just existing all around me!

I only wish those same people, wearing that pin, would be as willing to heed what I always thought to be the REAL, true meaning of Christmas all year round and not fight raising the minimum wage or having universal healthcare; in other words, REALLY caring about their fellow men and those less fortunate. But I guess the powers that be, those that make and promote slogans like a War on Christmas, don’t push that because there’s no profit in it.

At our store, we collected toys for two Christmas (holiday) charities. One charity gives toys to military families and the other is Toys for Tots. I think it’s really wonderful that we collect for these charities, don’t get me wrong, but what about needy children that may not be Christian? Should a retail store make it a point to accept donations all year round for all faiths? How about atheist children? How about poor children who can’t afford school supplies or birthday gifts all through the year? Wouldn’t that be a great “pro-life” thing to do? Also, shouldn’t the store give a discount if a person is donating to a charity? Isn’t it funny how the charities chosen coincide with the store’s profit motive? I ask the customers, would you like to donate to Toys for Tots? The customers say yes, they pick an item or two to donate, I ring it up at full price and put it in the box. Great for the kids, and I am happy for that….but also, really great for the company!! I am sorry, but I don’t call that charity, I call it-increased sales. The donation, in my opinion, should at least be given at a discount…but I digress.

Also, apparently, December 25th isn’t even Jesus’ birthday! Jesus was most likely born in March or November, not December. The only reason December 25th was chosen was apparently because it was already a popular day in Pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. Go figure ~ birthday of the sun or birthday of THE Son, hmmmm.) So, just like the trees, much of the celebration is a pagan holiday, so don’t get so insulted!!

The stress on the faces of so many customers this time of the year is apparent. They are stretched to the limit with not enough time, not enough money, and they get exasperated easily. Some people, on the other hand, are honestly very charming. I can see the holiday spirit in their faces, and they have yet to be wearing the pin telling me to wish them a Merry Christmas. They buy hundreds of dollars worth of toys to give to needy people in their Church. I truly admire that. To those folks, I will absolutely wish them a Merry Christmas, for they are showing the spirit of what the holiday is supposed to be about.

After my shift, I walk over the mess of the store and stop in the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. There, the Christmas (holiday) music is also blaring, the Christmas, (holiday) specials are piled by the entrance, the Christmas (holiday) aisle is straight in front of me, full of decorations, plates, candy, cards, lights……I go home, look for something to watch on tv…there’s Christmas specials, Christmas movies…..beautiful and charming and I absolutely love them, but don’t you see, there is no war on Christmas!!!!!!!

If there was really a war on Christmas, wow, we non-Christians are losing it badly. To all those who feel the need to substitute Christmas for holidays I say get a life. We all know your holiday rules this time of year, including you, and that’s fine. Being inclusive in the word only makes it a bit more enjoyable for those of us who don’t share the massive celebration. Preaching good will toward men while attempting to ban a religion that isn’t yours from entering our country, and cutting benefits for needy children, isn’t in keeping with the words you speak, the words you want respect for in your holiday celebrations. The “holidays” include New Years, think of it that way. There is no war on Christmas, the war exists nowhere but in your minds and on Fox news. Your holiday is THE holiday, we all live it ~ we get off work for it, even if we don’t celebrate it…we can’t shop or go out to eat on it (except for Chinese food) because the world shuts down. You don’t have to use your personal time for your holidays like the rest of us do. So be a bit giving this time of year and stop with your preaching of a war on Christmas when the world has exploded in an array of red, green, tinsel, and over-worked retail employees whose Christmas bonus consists of aching feet and a cookie.

The meaning of Christmas that I grew up with is a meaning that consisted of brotherhood, of kindness, of good will. The trumped up (I can’t believe I used that word) notion of a War on Christmas is a tactic, and way too many are falling for it. The only reason those of us who do not share in your holiday would like some small bit of accommodation is because in our country there is majority rule, with respect for minority rights. You are the majority, that doesn’t give you the right to force your Christmas off everyone’s lips. Donald Trump saying, if he’s elected everyone will say Merry Christmas, is against EVERYTHING we stand for in our country. Don’t let their manipulations allow you to lose sight of that. You don’t have the right to feel abused because your holiday IS everywhere, abuse doesn’t mean those who don’t celebrate it have to participate. So, let’s get back to the meaning of Christmas, share peace and love and good will toward ALL men. Let’s stop the endless chatter about a ridiculous war on Christmas and start fighting the war that does exist, the war on decency, respect, science and compassion. We’ll ALL be better off if we fight THAT war.

Thank you……and Happy ALL the Holidays.

Friday, September 4, 2015

We have so much to learn from the giant sequoia/redwood trees!!

Certain facts of nature are truly astounding.  I was amazed to learn that the largest trees on our planet, redwoods and sequoias, have a shallow root system.  It is truly miraculous that trees as majestic and grand as these could stand and thrive long enough to grow so large with such a shallow structure.  Common sense would seem to dictate that over the thousands of years that some of these trees have stood, storms, wind, rain, would have toppled them since their roots don’t stretch far into the earth.  But they do stand for centuries and they do withstand storms, and they don’t fall…why?

It seems these giant trees have an elaborate, far reaching, if not deep, root system.  Their roots grow more horizontally, they latch onto other roots from fellow redwoods or sequoias and their strength comes from their community. I suppose they truly live the saying, “United We Stand”!  What an important lesson to be learned here!  These root systems are large, extending over 100 miles.  They intertwine with the roots all around them.  Baby redwoods latch onto the root system at the base of their parents and obtain their nourishment to grow and thrive.  These trees grow in clusters shaped like circles, these circles are sometimes called fairy rings. What a beautiful image that captures the magic of what these forests must exude.  Someday, I would love to go see these giants.  What a sight they must be, what a feeling they must give!

One other fact that I find so interesting about these trees is their dependence on fires to periodically sweep through.  Something so frightening as a fire has to visit them or they would not survive!  Naturally, every 25 years or so, a huge fire would happen to burn through sections of the forest clearing out all the built up debris that would otherwise keep the sunlight from reaching the ground.  The sunlight is necessary for other plants to grow, plants that would never be able to exist without access to the sun.  The bark of the redwoods and giant sequoias are not immune to fire, but the living part of their bark contains no flammable resin and is extremely thick and durable.  Only the dead wood inside the tree will burn, leaving the living parts that much stronger!  After the fires clear the ground, seeds from the redwoods themselves could grow with an increased chance of survival.  The ash left from the fires would leave nutrients that would seep into the ground after a rain.  These nutrients are also necessary for plants to grow.

The fire that is so necessary to the survival of the forest can be equated to a society's need to clear out the old, built up, cluttered, archaic views of its' existence.  Just as this clearing makes the forest stronger, a rethinking of our world view could only make our lives richer and stronger. A re-evaluation of humanities reliance and interdependence on each other would make our shared lives together on this beautiful planet so much richer.  The 'baggage' being cleared from the ground of these majestic trees makes them all stronger.  This enables the sun to shine through, reaching and warming parts of the earth that need it to thrive and grow.  

As a people, we need to clear our thoughts periodically, and no longer functioning ideas need to be discarded.  Sometimes it takes a deep awakening to discover that we are all people who are connected to each other and we need to allow the sun and all the goodness that is so abundant in our world to shine and permeate all of our lives.  Only by making the best possible environment for all can we each live our best, most meaningful life.

Learning about these giant trees is so interesting, so poignant.  If only we, human beings, could truly take their lessons to heart.  Imagine if we lived our lives reaching out to others in order to be stronger, instead of digging deep and alone into our own small existence?  No one person, like no one giant tree, can truly survive all that life brings alone.  Imagine how much lovelier, how much calmer, how much safer we would all feel if we had an elaborate root system that kept us standing through rough times and nourished us all in good times!  Families and friends are a great source of this root structure, and would still be at the heart, but even there, in too many cases it’s my family vs. your family, or my country vs. your country, or my people vs. your people…when, in reality, we are all ONE.  If mankind supported and helped each other instead of hating and blaming and weakening; killing and destroying each other, wouldn’t we ALL be better?  If one giant redwood stole all the nourishment in the ground causing the other trees to fail, eventually, that giant would also die, so what’s the point?  Lifting others, not stepping on them, best shows strength.  Living life to the fullest involves being a part, not being separate.  In reality, there are not differences among us that really matter.  We all have the ability to capture the love in our hearts and give it freely, give it with every breath so we can all live our one life in peace, love and abundance.