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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.

Rest in Peace

My biological Dad passed away this week. April 1st 2018 to be exact. I did not find out until two days after. Apparently the very small family that is left of the descendants of Dominic and Celia Carlo could not get in touch with me right away. But I did manage to get to New York for his final wake and funeral. We were not close like most Fathers and Daughters most of my life for a host of complicated reasons, but never really anger or resentment on either of our parts. We never had harsh words with one another. My feelings about our relationship took many forms throughout my life but most importantly in recent years they were best described this way. He was who he was. He could have done better by me. But later in life he knew it, and tried his best to apologize. I know he loved me. And I loved him just the way he was. Simply because he was my Father. Yet another exercise in forgiveness, which always ends well for me.

Death has touched me personally more these past two years than in my entire lifetime. I am learning about grief in all of its forms and varying intensities. The loss of a Son in law, and now my Father. In addition, plenty of second hand grief of dear friends who have lost someone. My husband always reminds me that the older we get the more accustomed we will become to this painful fact of life. I am also continuing to learn the importance of forgiveness. Human relationships normally do not just glide happily along with ease. They take determination and the grace to understand that we are all broken in some way. They take work. It is why we say “Rest in Peace’ to those who have passed on and are finished with their work in this life. I truly believe the two most important reasons I am here , is to learn and grow and at the top of the curriculum, is love and forgiveness. There are no life lessons more valuable than this. Not in my book.

 

It was a day not much unlike any other day in the dead of winter in Staten Island New York. I had been busy all day doing the things one does when your kids are school age. Get them off to school, go shopping, clean house, bathe the dog, after school homework, cook dinner, family time, get kids ready for bed etc. The day was coming to a close and I realized I had not had my daily run. It was a crucial element of my daily routine. Not only did it keep me in shape, it was the time of day when I was alone with my thoughts and I worked out all of life’s problems in my mind, came to decisions, reflected on my blessings and much more. It was my alone time, my prayer time, my meditation time. I looked forward to it with great anticipation. Therefore rarely did the weather keep me from it. Of course I was in great physical shape then and the pounding of my feet on the pavement did not produce the creaks and moans that such an activity would produce in this present day. My muscles were strong and could support my joints much better back then. There were times when I literally felt like I was flying 6 inches off the ground when I ran. It was a wonderful time. Even in the dreaded summer months, which I have never been a fan of, I would go out after dark when the sun set and run the track at a nearby high school so I could do speed laps and keep water handy on the bench to guzzle after each lap. Winters where no different. Rain sleet or snow I was out there doing my run.

This was one such winter evening that I will never forget. Not because anything happened of consequence, but because of what that run felt like. The sights, sounds and smells and the feeling that lives eternal in my mind because of its magic in the moment.

I began the process of dressing for a frigid winter run. It may have been pretty low in the teens if my memory serves me right. Leggings under sweatpants, two pairs of socks under my running shoes. Layered tops, not too confining, but plenty of layers, thick gloves , warm cap and a scarf wrapped around my face to protect my skin from the biting wind.  Vaseline to protect whatever skin was still exposed . Down the stairs I went out into the freezing winter night. Hopped in the car and drove over to the school about a mile or so away. It had been a day of freezing rain earlier in the day and the ice had covered the already several inches of snow that blanketed everything. The temps had dropped drastically, earlier in the evening and froze everything in it’s place.

On days when I had longer runs planned I skipped the track and ran on the sidewalk around the perimeter of the high school. This was my plan this night. The cold and wind would slow me down so a steady long run was on my agenda. As I pulled up to the school to park my car I realized the ambience my run would be blessed with that evening. As I stepped out of the car I noticed the palpitating silence. No sound but yet the quiet had a sound. The chain link fence around the school was a glistening sheet of solid ice all the way around. The trees along the path of the sidewalk were something out of a magical fairyland. Every branch from the thickest to the tiniest was fully covered with ice right to its tip. It was a stunning world of glass. Everything was covered and I mean everything that was not moving. I stood there in amazement gazing at this awe inspiring sight. I pulled the scarf from my face for a few seconds and inhaled the frosty winter air. It felt so cleansing. As I looked up I realized what had been illuminating the icy environment around me like a prism. The moon was big, and white and the night was clear. Stars could be seen dotting the sky. Sporadic street lights around the school added to the illumination of the ice world making it glisten even more. I began to run and all I could think about was how lucky I was to live in a world where God allowed the harshest conditions to create such beauty. Where both hardship and blessing could abide in the same place and at the same moment. Winter can be cold and dark and brutal yet at the same time can be so beautiful if you have eyes to see it. Much like life. I will never forget that run. I think it is ingrained in my memories because it is one of the earlier ones I have of learning to be in the moment. I have had many such moments since that time and the older I get the more I am learning about being present in the moment. To feel, see and experience every drop of beauty that moment has to offer. I don’t think I solved any problems, or made any major decisions that night. I think I just was ecstatically grateful.

Letting Go

When I became a mother, I entered into a whole new existence. No longer did everything center on me. I moved to a place where everything centered around my children. They became my reason for living, and protecting them from the harsh realities of life was instinctual. But as they grew, I learned that you couldn’t protect them from pain, sadness, disappointment, hardship and even suffering because in this life, at some point, they are going to have to face those things, just like I had to, just like we all have to.  It’s part of the Journey. And life is not about dodging bullets; it’s about taking the bullet and surviving. It’s about learning through the pain, things like strength, resilience, compassion and forgiveness.

At some point when my girls reached young adulthood, I had to face a hard truth. That it was time for them to make their own decisions and I had to let go of control. My role would be different. It would be about sitting on the sidelines of their lives and cheering them on. Watching them make mistakes sometimes and praying that they would make it through the consequences of those mistakes and learn from them. I remember that time. It was a feeling of freedom, relief and fear all mixed into one. But as the years went on and I watched them forge their way through life and create families of their own, it became easier and easier to relax, to trust and rest in the knowledge that I did my best as a Mom and actually raised good women. Watching their successes, their joys and their triumphs is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But, they would have to walk through some of their own fires in life and watching them get singed and even burned sometimes was painful for me as well, but continuing to be there, to help wrap up the burns, was my new role, not to prevent them.

Life brings more hardship for some than it does others. It is just the way it is. You never know in advance what cards will be dealt to you until you are staring at them in your hand. And there is no giving them back. You have to play the hand you are dealt; there is no other way.

It is this reality that brought me to a new place recently as a parent, to walk some ground I had never walked before on my life’s journey. A blazing fire broke out in the life of one of my adult children that had made the brush fires up to that point almost inconsequential, as her life was ripped open due to the sudden, and unexpected death of her still very young husband. And suddenly in the blink of an eye I was the parent of a little child again. A woman who is strong resilient and fiercely independent, was instantly transformed in my eyes into the little girl with the big brown eyes and pigtails who’s body I picked up and ran to the hospital with when she fell off of a wall and hit her head. The little girl who’s tears I wiped, and who I rocked and sang to and comforted all those years ago. I was not rusty. I was not at a loss as to how to react for it was instinctual. For months my life drifted quietly into the background and suddenly again I was waking up everyday asking myself what I needed to do for her this day.  

It’s funny how that happens in times of crisis. Real crisis, not the everyday bumps and bruises that we all need to experience to make it successfully in this life. The big, things, the tragic things. You recognize those things, when you see that strong responsible person that you raised unable to get up and brush themselves off. Not that they don’t want to, they literally can’t. You just know and you unquestionably become the parent of that little child again, and the process begins again of slowly letting go, like when they took their first step, or faced that first day of school, or stood up to that bully in the school yard. You stand close, but you slowly let go, again, as they attempt to carve their way through whatever pain and tragedy brought them to that place where they needed their parents again in a way they had not in a very long time. Depending on the severity of the blow, 10 days 10 weeks 10 months 10 years, you patiently let go as slowly as they need you to until they are standing strong against the winds of life once again and you move from being a fortress, a supporter, a guide to becoming more of a spectator of their journey, their biggest fan, smiling on the sidelines of their lives as you watch them soar. 

There is a memory burned into my soul that will be with me until the day I die. In fact there are a few memories like that related to this recent tragedy in my daughter’s life, some are hard to revisit as they are dark and sad. But this particular is neither happy, nor sad. It is just profound, and speaks to this very topic. It is the memory of moving through the airport, my husband and I, with the most precious and fragile cargo in tow. Our daughter and two Grandsons. Bringing them from their home in California where they lost the most important person in their lives, to rest, recover and grieve their loss in our home under our loving care. Their eyes empty of emotion and reddened with tears, a look of utter despair and ultimate trust in us, as we gently held their grieving hearts in our loving arms. Going through the motions of a process they had gone through many times, in happier times and for happier reasons. Moving mechanically, shoulders slumped, Mom clutching her boys, sons clutching their Mom and us, walking behind them with careful eyes on their every move, every facial expression, ready to pounce on their every fragile need. On the plane sitting strategically across my from my daughter, watching her clutching the remains of her deceased husband to her chest and waiting for signs of panic, knowing flying was difficult for her, even under the happiest of circumstances. Reaching across the aisle holding her hand with a lump in my throat. These memories will be with me forever. It was when I was called again to be that mother, before the letting go the first time.

Many months later I ponder the process of the past six months, as I watch her walk through the various stages of grief and I am struck with the realization that life sometimes comes full circle. Sometime we need to repeat processes. It has been a time of letting go just a little and then running to pick her up off the pavement and then letting go again. I am still very needed at this stage in her journey and it’s fine with me. In fact it’s an honor, and as she grows stronger in her journey there will be lots of letting go, again and again and again.  

By: JLE September 13, 2017