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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 3 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. At the center of her world at her young age was Mommy. 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 only of her and Mommy. 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. 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 boys. 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 the little girl. 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 older boy, or 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 he 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 wining 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 said? 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.

By:JLE

Shadows of Past

Election 2020

My outlook:

Who resides in the White House is temporary (thank God for that ).

Americans still have a tremendous amount of control over how they live their lives, what they believe, how they raise their children , work, play, worship etc . I am a believer that we create our own destiny . What is around us only dictates what methods we need to use and what paths to chose in our journey to happiness and success. Nothing is an obstacle if we view it as a stepping stone .

I refuse to fall into the fear game that the world will self destruct in 4 or 8 years over who is President of the United States. Fear is a political tool everyone uses and it always has been .

Don’t misunderstand me. I know this is an important election as two ideologies of the parties could not be further apart, not that I can remember in my lifetime . And politicians working with one another across the aisle in a bipartisan way seems to be a forgotten practice . Both sides have dug their heels in deep . I know that . We all must do our duty , become informed and vote for who we truly believe will be best for our country at this time .

But it’s important to remember that The balance of powers shifting back and forth has always been the characteristic of our system of government . It’s the way the founders intended . And we have enjoyed great success as a Nation with it working that way .

I have lived through multiple President’s terms, both Democrats and Republicans and in my lifetime I have still seen our country move in a forward path in the bigger picture, through both good economies and bad , through times of war and peace , civil discord, pandemics and all kinds of challenges along the way .

Presidents will Continue to come and go but the American people’s spirit is indestructible . We will all be ok .

And Lastly and my most important solace. God is still on the throne . Enough said there.

I May have my preference but I for one will not melt down over the results and will respect the process .

Keep calm and vote on 😊

B: JLE

I love N.Y.

I was born and raised a New York City Native. I raised my own family in New York City. I know the impact on those who were living in New York when 911 happened. I know what it is like to have seen the smoke swirling into the sky with my own eyes and not just on the TV screen. I know countless people who literally watched the towers fall in real time. I know people whose loved ones perished there. It was horrific. But I also know what it was like to be part of the aftermath. The comfort, the love for our city, the resiliency with which I my fellow New Yorkers pulled together and supported one another through this time. The loyalty and determination at all costs of New York Cities first responders. My eldest Daughter, Son in law and Grandkids currently live and work in New York City. From my safe little North Carolina town I hear and read about the challenges my native city faces today. The covid Pandemic, the rising crime in current times. But my daughter keeps me balanced. She reminds me that New York is a big place, and it has always faced challenges of a big city that small towns don’t. That New Yorkers know how to watch their backs, watch the backs of one another. That the people of New York can withstand challenges and will rise above them, as this day reminds us. They are resilient people. Politicians will come and go but there is spirit about New York that is unfailing. Yes, New Yorkers are loyal to their culture. They are straight forward, and busy. But have their own brand of warmth and friendliness. They are accepting and diverse. New York will always be my home town and it will always be a big part of who I am. I ❤️ NY.

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