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I am an American woman

I am an American woman . I do not feel oppressed . I have had bad things happen to me , some at the hands of men , however, I am NOT a victim . I don’t want to be treated as one . I am not fragile or easily broken . In fact I’m stronger than most men I know .

I have survived bad things however I do not need , closure, revenge , justice, marches, protests , lawyers , politicians using me for personal gain, celebrities speaking for me . In fact no one speaks for me . I can speak for myself . I live in the best country in the world, I can be anyone I want to be , and do anything a man can do and in this country that is my right, and I am grateful to it for that . Please stop using my gender to pretend you are my champion to gain power, recognition, votes or line your pockets.

JLE

You hear this cliche all the time . Everyone seems to have an opinion on what’s wrong with the world . What they mean is what’s wrong with us . The Human race. We all think we know . We all feel we have the answers and all we truly have is opinions . As we forge through this journey of our existence in the world, from generation to generation old problems are solved and new ones emerge and we never eradicate hate, violence, bigotry, fear , do we ? We remain divided and at odds with one another because it’s always someone else’s fault . Well of course it is , because we cannot help ourselves from believing we are not part of the problem . We tell ourselves we are right they are wrong . We are not afraid, angry, judgmental, and prideful . Other people are . What each and every human being fails to realize is that everyone one of us are exactly that to some degree . Because regardless of the physical strength we posses or the intellectual knowledge we gain, The EGO is what’s wrong with us . It is at the root of all our conflicts over our racial, religious, cultural and ideological differences . The Ego tell us we are ok and the other guy is not . EGO feeds our fears, our anger and pride . And it is at the very heart of the human spirit. It’s not a physical or intellectual problem, it’s a spiritual one .

Remembering

As I get older, like others my age I complain more and more about my memory failing me. But regardless, a Mom never forgets the details of the birth of her first child. Today marks that event 43 years ago. What a child I was myself. Looking back it is like I was someone else. Life tends to transform you that way. At twenty years old, it was the most exciting, scary and amazing thing that had happened to me up to that point. I can still remember feeling the first signs of her life inside my womb. Saying it was surreal is an understatement. Along with the anticipation as the months ensued, of being a mother and raising a real life human being. There was so much I had yet to discover about the immense responsibility this would be. And when the day came I can recall it all. Waking up discovering I had broken my water. Sitting on the couch timing my contractions with her father. Trying to recall and put in to practice all the advice and instructions I had been given up to that point. I wanted to do it right.

Luckily labor was short for a first child . 6-7 hours from start to finish. Remembering that this was 1975 I chuckle at how the process has changed in 42 years. I was put in a hospital room pretty much alone for the labor part with someone checking on me now and then. As awful as this sounds I remember my wrists actually being secured to the bed rails . I think it was so that I did not pull out my IV everytime I would have a contraction and tend to want to sit up and roll over. Ugh, have times changed. Fathers were not present there for the delivery. It was a new concept. And when the time came to push I remember being whisked away to the delivery room and put to sleep. After that, nothing, until I woke up as a Mom in recovery.

Seeing her for the first time was like being handed a living baby Doll. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And she was mine. And there began a lifetime of unconditional love, sacrifice, pride, hard work, moments of heartache and  joys beyond measure. Looking back I am grateful for every single teachable moment. I learned as much as she did in these 43 years. Through trial and error, plenty of mistakes but thankfully enough successes to get her through to adulthood. Nothing will grow you like parenting. I am thankful for every second of it. And seeing your child become an adult  you are proud of is one of the most rewarding things life can bring.

I am now the mother of two beautiful adult daughters. It is a very different experience than raising them was but equally as rewarding and challenging all at the same time. I would not trade this role for anything in the world.

Never Forget 2

I’ve been thinking today about how abundantly the term “Never Forget” is used today in memory of 911 by people of all walks of life.

It’s another one of those catchy slogans that I myself use, but normally don’t like to use at random because It’s important to me when I say something, it is not up to the interpretation of others like many of our catchy slogans today. It’s that thing I have about not liking labels which I have talked about before. So I stopped to think what I personally mean when I say “Never Forget”. It’s not just a statement of remembrance to mourn those who perished. To think about their families. To feel sad about the loss. It also isn’t about revenge or a vow to carry a grudge toward a certain group of people. When I say never forget, I mean this. I will not forget the horrors that resulted from the lack of regard for human life in the heart of of those terrorists. . I will not forget the sickening result that comes from humans believing that violence is the answer to our differences. I will not forget what can happen when human hearts are twisted with hate for one another over religion, politics, ideologies, grudges over past oppressions in our history. When I say never forget, it means today, and every day I remember what happens when we cannot learn to solve our disagreements with peaceful communication and respect for one another. Human life is sacred. Taking life is unfortunately a horrible reality sometimes necessary to protect the innocents . Its awful that we must use violence to protect ourselves and others but the act of violence against the innocent is the most despicable of human acts. I look around, and see all the justification for violence, sometimes it even sounds reasonable, empathetic, understanding. And then I think of this day, and what hate can lead to. That’s what “Never Forget” means to me,

I believe that emotions are our biggest barrier to knowledge and wisdom We cannot avoid our emotions but If we let them take the lead when evaluating situations and forming opinions we are not thinking objectively. It is why Jurors are so carefully screened and asked to separate from their emotions when evaluating facts. How we “feel” about something will affect how we view it. The stronger the emotion the more tainted our evaluation will be.

Shadows of Past

It was a warm sunny Saturday. The type of day when just the hope of spring was in the air as children still buttoned up in jackets emerged from their homes on Hanson Avenue eager to explore all the possibilities the outside world held for their curious little minds. On the front porch of 435 Hansen Avenue gathered a small group of  three such children. The youngest was a honey blonde little girl with soft brown eyes and soft Shirley Temple type locks. She was six years old. Mommy was at the center of her world at her young age. That was it. She was the one constant in her life. The one who made her feel loved, protected and safe. Everyone else she knew were sideline characters that leaned in and smiled at her, calling her cute and attempting to gain her trust, but she was always guarded. For all the earliest years of her life her world existed  her and Mommy alone. Then in the past year Mommy got married and shadows began lurking in the corners of her bedroom at night. On the ceiling, swirling around, changing shape. The shapes would become scary faces and then dissolve into dark blobs again. All the new people in her world reminded her of those shadows. They were mysterious and unknown to her.

On this particular day, the little girl was in the care of two of these strange people. They were her new Grandparents who lived downstairs from her. Two old people that looked to her like characters out of one of her a fairy tale books. Like the sort that might put her in the oven and cook her up for dinner. They acted like they were trying to be nice to her but she did not believe or trust them. Her new step daddy who gave her the same feeling was at work so they had to take care of her today. And Mommy was in the hospital because she just gave birth to her baby sister. She wished Mommy were home.

Of the other two children on the porch, one was her cousin, so she was told. But somehow she understood he was not her real cousin. He was the oldest, a lanky boy of 12 with crooked teeth and a bit of drool always oozing from the sides of his mouth when he spoke. The little girl understood that he was not quite normal. Not “retarded” like she understood that word to mean, but different. “Slow” they said. In her six year old mind he was funny. He told constant riddles and laughed a lot at himself. The little girl was not afraid of him. Adults she did not know made her more ill at ease than other children did. The other child was a girl between them in age. A friend of the boy’s. A stranger to the little girl. As they all played together on the porch the morning wore on.

Out of boredom the older two decided to wander away from the house. “Let’s go to the Field”, they said. “C’mon”, they told the little girl. Assuming she was in her pretend cousin’s charge, since he was the oldest, she followed. And off to the field on the next block they wandered. The little girl never went that far from the house by herself. But it seemed to her that since the older two said so, it was ok to go. The field was muddy in spots. The result of a rainy Month. There were puddles, and tall reeds. Some taller than her. It looked to her like a maze, as the three explored. They came upon a small pond. There was an older boy there. Or maybe he was a young man. Much older than her cousin. He started to talk to the three of them. The little girl just listened. They were thinking of a game to play. The new strange young man, had an idea. There’s something that looks like a raft in the water. How about two of us go to the other side of the pond and the other two stay here and push it across to us. He looked at the older girl and said, “Lets me and you go across.” “No, no, I’m not going” she said. “I don’t want to go. Let her go”, she said pointing to the little girl, who wondered why she was making such a fuss. After all, he picked her. So the youngest of the three began to walk with the strange man to the other side of the pond. He lead, she followed. “This way” he directed as they walked silently. Then suddenly a strange feeling began to grip the little girl. A tightening in her belly as her heart began to beat faster. It came upon her so fast it began to panic her. Fear. The realization she may not be safe. The feeling she had about all the new strange people in her life but ten times stronger. This bad feeling began gripping her within one minute’s time. She stopped. “I want to go back”, she said meekly. Then the slow motion began. “Noooooo”, the stranger’s mouth formed the words as he grabbed her arm and began to pull her against her will. Her heart pounding in her chest could be heard up through her ears and out into the day. The sun moved behind dark clouds as the stranger pulled her down in the brown grass among the reeds. Her back to the ground, the stranger looming over her, the clouds looked like the shadows in the corners of her room at night. They formed the scary blobs above the man’s face. His face became one of those scary shadow blobs. She opened her mouth but could not scream. Then he placed his hand on her mouth while the other hand was doing something. And then she saw it. He showed it to her and said touch it. The strange part of him that she knew was not meant for her to see. Shaking her head violently away from his hand she again tried to scream but, no sound. Then with a softer shaky voice she heard herself meekly say. “Please, Mister, tell me, what are you going to do to me?” He just stared at her and said nothing. She could see above the reeds behind him, something tall like a stick coming toward them a little distance away. Then she saw him turn his head and look behind him. In an instant he released her, rose up, ran away disappearing into the reeds. Then out of the reeds appeared the other two children. Her pretend cousin with a tall stick in his hand. And the girl. They were laughing. We came to save you. They acted like nothing more were happening than children playing on a sunny afternoon. She rose to her shaky feet. “I want to go home”,  she said behind tear blurred eyes. “No, we don’t want to go home now”,  they protested. She followed them whining and crying. The older girl looked annoyed.” I want to go”,  She continued stumbling through the puddles. She tripped and fell and the knees of her jeans got wet. Finally the other two children gave in and they headed back to the porch at 435 Hansen Avenue. Walking home all the little girl could think of was how she wanted to tell Mommy. She wished Mommy would be there to tell when she got back to the house. But she knew she would not. She could not tell the strange new Grandmother. She would tell Mommy when she came home from the hospital.

Later standing in the kitchen of the Grandmothers house, the Grandmother looming over her with her scary face, she trembled. The Grandmother was questioning where she had been. “Why are you pants wet ?”  she asked. “Where you in the Field?”  “Yes”,  the little girl muttered holding back tears with a lump in her throat the size of an apple. With one swift movement the Grandmother slapped her hard across her face. It hurt her frightened and bruised heart worse than it hurt her face. The hurt of that day and all its events would leave a bruise that would remain for life.

For the rest of that week she told herself she would tell Mommy when she got home and Mommy would comfort her. Mommy, the only constant in her life of scary shadows, and strange people. Later that week when Mommy returned the little girl did not tell her. As each day passed she blocked out the scary day until it was like a bad dream. When Mommy returned, all the focus was on her and the new baby sister.
Standing in the background she somehow felt that she had been a bad girl that day and that’s why the bad thing happened to her. She became afraid to tell Mommy and never told a soul until many years later when she grew up.

Let Go

Let go

Oh sultry summer heat,
Do you not know?
Your allowed time has passed,
You must flee, you must go.
It is time for the cool and crisp to awake,
We desire a big cleansing breath to take.
We have adorned our dwellings with emblems of Fall,
We are stocked with spices and scents of it all.
Nature is painting with colors of splendor,
creatures are prepping for the impending November.
Right at our doorstep sweet October knocks,
The birds have assembled
to journey their flocks.
You are no longer welcome,
So off you must fly.
Let go, torrid summer,
We bid you goodbye.

By: JLE, Sept 29, 2019

On Love and Hate

I will never forget a story I once heard from a street preacher . He told of his experience on the streets of the most dangerous areas of NYC , telling people that God loved them, and an encounter with a young gang member who threatened his life with a knife if he didn’t take his message elsewhere. He told how he looked that young man straight in the eye and said: “ you can cut me into 100 pieces, and every single one of those pieces will still cry out from the pavement , that God loves you . That impacted me so much . If it’s “God loves you” or “I love you” the idea is the same . Can humans perfect this ? No, not until we reach a higher spiritual level than most of the human race is currently at . Few people have walked the earth to this day that could lay claim to real unconditional love, Jesus of Nazareth being one of them, but this kind of love is and should be the Gold standard we hold up, and every day we fail at it we can get back up and try again . Humans need more love, but first humans need more humility, to realize we all contribute the the problem . The hypocrisy of the day astounds me. It makes me realize just how primitive we still are. I sometimes feel when I step way back the human race resembles one big giant narcissist. Sure there are lots of truly loving caring souls out there. But isn’t one whole greater than the sum of its parts. Then wouldnt the whole problem be greater than the sum of its parts. Until we look within ourselves not outside of ourselves  to conquer the hatred we will spin around and around in the same whirlpool. 

I believe there is no shame in being patriotic and proud of your country, though no country is perfect, this is mine, and I stand for my flag , and show respect for our leaders .

I think politics is a nasty business and a constant struggle for power, therefore corruption will always exist on all sides so long as the human ego is involved .

I do not trust the modern mainstream media . Political interests have spoiled fair factual and unbiased journalism which is sadly a thing of the past .

I believe in listening to all sides of an issue with an open mind and drawing my own conclusions, not jumping on bandwagons and always running with the crowd .

I think our emotions are our biggest deterrent to making informed decisions as to where we stand on an issue, what and who we believe, and whom we support or don’t . If we find ourselves highly emotional, we are not thinking clearly . It’s the basis of hate, bias anger and bigotry .

Speaking of bigotry, it is a tangled web that is not one directional but runs in all directions, and we all must work toward conquering our own personal prejudices, because it is an element of the flawed human condition, to fear what is different and unfamiliar.

Though I don’t always understand the lifestyles of others, I do believe we should all be free to live, marry or blend our lives with anyone we choose regardless of race, religion, cultural background or gender .

I believe in women’s rights in all areas, however, I am Pro- life when it comes to the unborn child . Not because I don’t support a woman’s right to chose what to do with her body, but because I believe an unborn child is a separate life from that body who has rights as well . Firstly the right to life .

I believe in the second amendment, and the preservation of our right to bear arms, but I also believe there is no need for the average citizen to have assault type weapons. Especially if the freedom of citizens to own one, is posing a threat to the innocents in our society.

I always am postured in support of the helpers and protectors in our society. Law enforcement, our military, first responders. Humans are flawed, there will always be bad actors and those who fail to uphold their responsibility. It does not change my respect and reverence for those who are willing to risk their lives and safety to protect the innocents.

I love that America is a country of immigrants. I am the offspring of immigrants . I am proud of my ancestors who came here for a better life . I am also proud that their contribution and devotion to this country helped make it an awesome nation. I believe this is what immigrating here should be. Done legally, with the desire to contribute to and embrace the values of a nation others come to because of the love they have for it . Coming to America should equal the desire to be American. Not forgetting our heritage, but embracing our new one with pride and teaching our children who are born here to honor and respect it . In a perfect world, I can visualize a border- less planet . But this is not a perfect world, and if we want to preserve our freedom and our way of life, borders are necessary and a legal process to come here is critical .

I think each citizen of this nation has a responsibility to do his best to make his own way in life . To provide for himself, his/her family , to contribute something to society.

I don’t believe anyone is responsible for my success but me. I think all citizens should have equal access to the tools needed and opportunities to succeed in life but it is up to each and every one of us to avail ourselves of those opportunities and strive toward that success, and if we fail to, we are not owed anything by anyone. However I do believe we all have a moral responsibility to help others in need. Charity should mostly come from our neighbors communities and churches. Not regulated by government . Governments should govern. Not dictate our morals .

Moral codes have its roots in the human’s belief in accountability to a higher power, or our creator . This is faith .

I believe Faith is personal. Each person should honor and respect the faith of others and government should not interfere or make laws attempting to restrict, control or discredit the faiths of its citizens or the practice thereof . So long as that faith does not require one to do harm to, or infringe upon the freedom of others to practice their beliefs accordingly .

I do not believe any race , or group of people should be held accountable for the injustices of our forefathers. Every race, nationality, religion, cultural group, every generation, has faced hardship, injustice, suffering at the hands of others because of the flawed human condition . The healing comes through Love, Forgiveness, Moving forward and not repeating mistakes of the past .

This week throngs of young people will walk across a stage to accept their diploma’s as they graduate from high school and enter in the world that calls them adults, going off to college or to work or whatever their destiny calls for. This Grandmother is celebrating the accomplishment of one particular young man this week. For this young man was born on January 23 in the year 2000 into what society might consider a,  “not so ideal” family circumstance. Born of a young single Mom, you would assume his life challenges began right there. But this young man was one of the lucky ones. For His Mom was a young woman of strength and resilience. A product of a line of strong and resilient women as her own Mother and Grandmother were, including her older sister who were all there to welcome this young man into the world. Yes, the early years were faced with challenges and sometimes hardship but his Mom’s selfless and undying love for him was no match for any of life hurdles they had to face. And then as luck would have it, or as was destined from the beginning, however you want to look at it, his Mom met someone who would be an intricate part of what the future would hold for him. A man who was truly one of a kind, and with careful thought and consideration his Mom welcomed him into their lives and allowed him to step into the role of Dad. Yes I say again , he was one of the lucky ones. Because he couldn’t have had a better team to raise him to adulthood. Their tireless efforts, and love and devotion to his success clearly became evident as he grew up in every aspect of his life. And today, the young man, son, big brother, he has become is the fruit of the efforts of his parents, family, support system and all those who know and love him. We are proud, but we are also eternally grateful for those who have poured themselves into the life of this young adult. His Mom, My daughter, can rest her head on her pillow this week knowing she has done her job as a mother, and then some. We can all be reminded in gratitude to my late Son In Law Jerry, for the selfless efforts, love and support and fatherly wisdom he imparted. He could not have asked for a better  example of a good man and productive member of society.  Godspeed into adulthood my dear Grandson Tyler James. We can’t wait to see what life holds for you. You are truly one of the lucky ones.