seventy years…

…old. Trump is an old man who is showing his age.

Nearing seventy myself, I can speak with some authority on the dilemma of old-age. It’s not only a daily struggle to keep everything on my body from “going south,” it’s equally challenging to keep my mind from closing in on itself.

What we seem to be witnessing in warp speed is Trump’s mental capabilities disintegrating right before our eyes. His campaign rhetoric gave us clues as to his mental state, but very few took him at his word. We were told by his surrogates, like Kelly-Anne Conway, that his supporters knew not to take their candidate literally. On January 9, she advised us to “Judge Trump by what’s in his heart, not what comes out of his mouth.”

Trump has shown his heart to have all but stopped beating.

This president has split America to its core as Lyndon Johnson did during the Vietnam War. Folks, especially vets and their families, are still suffering the psychological, physical and economic effects of that political fiasco. Trump is on the path to paying a steep price for warring against Americans who refuse to engage in his brand of politics…”an eye for an eye.”

We’ve all known someone with pent up hostility and anger toward those who have crossed them. The elderly are more likely to have accumulated decades of such riffs. If these are not addressed and resolved in a timely manner, then the anger and determination to “get even” is that much greater.

The flip side to this dilemma is that those who remain in good standing will reap the rewards. This encourages all kinds of “hangers-on.” Relatives, self promoting crack-pots, wily master-minds, and perpetual money-grubbers. Of course there are the well-intentioned loyalists who are unable to back out of the situation in which they find themselves. One that further entraps them the longer they commit themselves to the Mad Hatter in the midst of a firestorm of his, and their, creation.

Having lived in Trump Tower most of his adult life, neither the president nor his family know the plight of real people. Unfortunately, this did not dissuade voters from deciding that a billionaire who regularly stiffed ordinary folks like themselves, should wield immeasurable power over their lives in big and small ways.

Trump has bragged about sleeping 4 hours or less each night. Scientific evidence supports the fact that sleep deprivation has a devastating effect on persons who regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep each night. Without the optimum period of time within which to rest and recuperate, our bodies begin to lose the battle against diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. There’s only so much our bodies can do when running on “empty.”

While seventy-year-old Trump’s finger hovers over the nuclear button, he has already detonated his own mental and physical implosion. The executive orders he has executed with lightning speed this week, have brought a volcanic eruption of Americans rising up in protest. He may have won the electoral votes, but only a week into his presidency, Trump is losing more and more of those he swore to lead.

It might be different were Trump winding down his presidency, but that’s not the case. Instead, we must face at least 4 years of increasing senility. Trump’s inability to distinguish between fact and fiction; his inability to move beyond past transgressions; his demand for absolute loyalty; his need to silence any opposition; his insatiable appetite for approval.

Were the Trump family dealing with their patriarch on their own turf, celebrating his “ups” while softening the impact of his “downs” the billionaire would have been left to his own devices. His impact would’ve been minimal, perhaps affecting only a segment of the community. As president of the most powerful country in the world, however, Trump’s impact is global.

Trump has the potential to be the greatest catastrophe America has ever seen. Singlehandedly, he is undoing the very fabric of our country. With the stroke of a pen and an off-hand remark this president has thrown a bag over the Statue of Liberty. For as long as Trump presides over our country, these words ring hollow…

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As I grow older, 68 this year, I can only wonder at Trump’s increasing older age. Someone in his predicament cannot have the wherewithal to keep himself in prime physical and mental form. All presidents before him have undergone a transformation from when they first sat in the Oval Office to when they left. As much as Trump likes to brag that he only feels he’s in his 30’s, I would hazard to guess that he’s already dreaming of long, relaxing interludes on one of his many golf courses.

Let’s see how long it takes before the man gets his wish. How about we all donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation on behalf of Trump?

…won’t you contribute?

………hugmamma

 

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hope and grit…

I’ve been very fortunate to serve as a guest columnist to a local, community newspaper from time to time. It’s allowed me to share my opinions on issues near and dear, here at home and abroad. The following was my latest submission for consideration by the editor.

HOPE and GRIT

Regardless of which side we were on during the presidential election, we all have Hope in common. Clinton’s campaign hoped love would trump hate; and Trump supporters are hoping the president-elect returns them to a time when America was great for them.

It’s more difficult for some than others to get past the divisiveness of the campaign, but do so we must for the good of the country. How best to do that is the question. Perhaps it would help if we began by focusing upon what remains familiar for all of us.

Transitioning from one presidency to the next is done peacefully, assuring that we can go on about our business the day after election. Freedom of speech is still protected by the Constitution. Individually and collectively, we can continue to voice our differing opinions. Regardless of our politics, we all believe in the sanctity of life. War abroad and at home is never a given. Above all, we continue to hold strong to our abiding belief in an America where dreams can still come true for all those who come after.

Personally, in our own lives, we can look to what remains familiar and comforting…our loved ones and our communities.

During the holidays we focus attention upon the happiness of others, whether they are from within our tight-knit circle of family and friends or strangers in need of our help. Our hearts and minds are opened to putting their needs before our own. We are all part of a unified spirit of goodness as we rush around like Santa’s elves.

In doing for others, however, we often overlook our own spiritual and physical well-being. The holidays always compound our oversight, and for some folks this season is especially exasperating because they remain traumatized by the recent election. In speaking with a couple of mental health professionals last week, it may be that those still reeling in the aftermath of the political upheaval are suffering signs of PTSD. War, real or imagined, can have the same effect upon a person’s psyche. Moving beyond a traumatic event takes effort, sometimes superhuman effort. “Grit” was a word referenced in my discussion with one of the experts.

In her book, “Grit” The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth signals grit as the ingredient necessary in a person’s character which drives him or her to succeed. Duckworth determined it as the single, common denominator as to why individuals succeeded whether she encountered them as a math teacher or psychologist. In fact, she credits grit, not talent, as the reason she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “genius grant.”

I like to think of Americans as having grit. In our struggles to persevere as a democratic people in the face of national and global adversity, we have survived and will continue to do so no matter what.

Armed with hope and grit, we remain “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

…wishing you and yours…a holiday season filled with peace and joy.

………hugmamma.1127

 

…drive by information…

Contributing to America’s recent political Armageddon is the Internet, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

Americans, particularly Millennials, get much, if not all, of their information from these sources. Most have probably not picked up a book, magazine, or newspaper to read the hard facts behind the headlines.

Internet users accept whatever their friends, or strangers, promote as the truth. And this “truth” gets passed around. One example is the fabricated story that circulated about the Pope’s endorsement of Trump. Need I even say that this was, of course,  false?

Google and Wikipedia are where Americans go to fact check. What we forget is that their information is gathered by human beings like us…folks who are fallible and imperfect. What is offered might be accurate, but something just as accurate might be selectively or accidentally omitted.

Technology has made us lazy; just as fast food has made us obese. Neither condition is good for our well-being. Veggies and fruit guarantee good health. Reading a variety of books, periodicals and newspapers guarantee informed decisions.

Improving one’s situation involves work on our part. It doesn’t take a lot of money. We can grow our own healthy food; we can borrow books from the library. Neither requires much money, if any.

Convenience has become synonymous with the American way of life. Think Costco, Amazon and FedEx. It’s a sad truth. Americans expend as little energy as possible to reap what we have not sown with our own two hands. Progress is a double-edged sword.

It’s up to us as individuals to pick and choose what’s best for us as human beings from the array of goodies laid out before us. We shouldn’t grab for every single thing that glitters like gold. Some will inadvertently turn out to be…

…fool’s gold.

………hugmamma.Image result for fool's gold images

 

 

 

remembering…

She was like a second mother, my sister Ruby. While it’s difficult to remember all the details of that time, I can distinctly recollect her being warm and understanding where my own mother was sometimes gruff and exacting.

Misc July 2010 00069The event that remains permanently etched in my memory was when Ruby allowed me to help run the wet clothes through the wringing rollers in her old-fashioned washing machine. I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and very conscientious it seems. Wanting to do it correctly, I hung onto the piece of clothing a tad longer than I should have as it made its way through the wringer. In seconds my hand was being dragged along, all the way up my forearm. Screaming bloody murder, I was rescued by my sister who came running to unplug the machine. I’m sure I steered clear of that fandangled contraption after that.

As a youngster I spent a good deal of time with Ruby and her cowboy husband, Steve Autry. I’ve no idea what brought him to Maui back in the ’50s. Perhaps he was lured by the image of roping horses and riding Brahma bulls in the annual rodeo held at the base of Haleakala, the island’s dormant volcano. Or maybe he thought he’d work at what he knew best…being a cowboy and whatever that entailed.

My sister and her husband made an unusual couple in those days…a lanky, 6 footer whose mischievous, blue eyes peered out from beneath strands of blonde hair streaked by the island sun. His tanned face, deeply lined and freckled. Standing alongside him, Ruby was inches shorter. Hair cut short in the natural ebony color of the island women. A jaunty smile compared to her husband’s. A crooked one that partially hid his tobacco-stained teeth.

Watching my brother-in-law roll cigarettes was always captivating. First came the crisp, creamy-hued slip of rectangular paper, followed by the tobacco pouch. With deft agility he’d tug at the strings of the pouch so that a slim rivulet of tobacco dribbled onto the paper. Taking the strings between his front teeth, Steve would draw the pouch’s opening to a close. Returning it to the shirt pocket over his heart, he’d take the nearly finished cigarette between his thumbs and index fingers. Using his pointy, long tongue he’d spread just enough saliva along the length of one side of the paper allowing him to fasten it to the other side. Slipping the newly-minted cigarette between his lips, my brother-in-law would light it with the strike of a match along the underside of his boot.

To a clueless kid like me, it was pretty cool stuff.

A few years younger than me, my niece and I would often accompany her dad, as he scoured landfills and roadsides for stuff to resell, especially scrap metal. Growing up poor meant not having many toys like friends who did. So climbing over piles of junk in search of hidden treasures was fun. It was kind of exciting to see what I’d find under the rubble. One discovery turned out to be more than I bargained for. Watch for that story in a future post.

They might have made it as a country singing duet. With Steve on the guitar and Ruby singing harmony, they sounded like the real thing. Not that I’d had much opportunity to hear country music, but I knew what I liked and I liked what I heard. My favorite was a haunting lullaby which included some yodeling. My sister yodeled beautifully. Imagine that! An island gal yodeling as naturally as though she’d been born on the range. I’m certain my love of singing blossomed during these impromptu song fests right there on the front steps of their house. 

 Sadly for Ruby and her daughter, the cowboy didn’t remain a permanent fixture. He and my sister divorced when I was a preteen. Since they’d moved to Honolulu, the islands’ designated “big city,” I would spend part of my summers with them. And much later when I returned to attend the University of Hawaii, my sister Ruby’s apartment was where I went the first couple of summers after I vacated the college dorms.

My sister didn’t have an easy life, raising a child on her own. In fact, my young niece lived with my mom and me for a couple of years on Maui while Ruby sought to earn a living. I’m not certain, but it may be that she continued to struggle until the end which came on July 27. She died of lung cancer, a result of decades of cigarette smoking.

I will remember Ruby as a soft-spoken mediator, a comforting presence, humble, self-sacrificing and perhaps easily overcome by stronger personalities, like my mom. I truly believe she would give the shirt off her back if someone needed it more than she. I’m sorry we’d not been in touch later in life, but she seemed content with where she’d finally landed…living with her daughter and her family. Secreted away from the turmoil she’d known, it felt right to let her be, to let her live in peace and quiet, no longer saddled by the burdens of others. At least I’m hoping that’s how it was.

…blessed are the peacemakers…

…for they shall be called children of God.

………hugmamma.Miscellaneous Pictures July 2010 124

 

 

 

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: did you talk to your child today?

My daughter and I spoke at some length this evening, after she got home from teaching dance classes and rehearsing students for an upcoming competition. We’re indeed blest to share such closeness all these years, talking on the phone for hours…like best girlfriends.

It wasn’t always that way.

Until she was 16 when I accompanied her to Georgia to train with Atlanta Ballet, I was mom. I set the rules and she followed them. It wasn’t like I had to punish her, it’s just that she knew the boundaries within which to operate to keep everything on an even keel. Because my husband’s job kept him on the road and at the office from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., I functioned like a single parent. Even more so when my daughter and I lived in Atlanta while he remained  in Washington, working to pay the bills.

The boundaries were stretched when she dated her first boyfriend. Their relationship lasted 3 years or so, during which time there were the usual highs and lows accompanying first love. Hers. He’d already been in and out of several relationships. On my own to figure things out, I did my best. There were conflicts for sure, but my daughter knew I always had her back. Early on I tried to send the guy packing because I thought he was pretty selfish. I relented when she ran after him. Eventually he drew me in with his charm. I was still under his spell when my daughter finally broke up with him. Thank goodness she did. He really was a selfish opportunist.

My daughter fared no better with the next few romances. She kept dating losers. Eventually these failed relationships coupled with a profession that requires so much emotional and physical stamina, caused her to spiral downwards into depression. She eventually reached out to us. Thankfully! Bursting into tears on the phone, she immediately agreed to come home so we could help her. 

I flew east to help her pack and see to last minute arrangements. The ballet company kindly offered to hold her job until she returned. For 2 months, our daughter was under psychiatric care. It was determined that a concussion she’d had as a child probably altered her brain chemistry. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the accident skewed her perception of reality. Dance probably helped divert her attention from negative thoughts. There’s just so much choreography to memorize.

Only when she encountered the usual mind games that come with a job and a boyfriend, did our daughter start to overthink everything. On the cusp of adulthood, she tried to tackle her problems on her own. Dance friends her age were little help, since they were burdened with their own problems. Years passed; things worsened. A psychologist she engaged only made our daughter’s task more daunting. She could not figure out how to put her life back together again after those raw, gut-wrenching, one-on-one sessions. Her safety net, my husband and I, lived 2,000 miles away.

With the help of a few close friends to whom she finally opened up, our daughter started to find her way out of the black hole that engulfed her. Thank God for them. Thank God she reached out for help. Thank God my husband didn’t think twice about bringing her home so we could help her heal. Six years later, she’s excited to be marrying a young man who cherishes her for who she is. Her happiness is priceless.

Today my daughter told me of a 12-year-old dancer in one of her classes who lost her brother this week…to suicide. He text his friends, thanking them for trying to help. He told them they did all they could, and asked that they help his parents. Rumor has it that he had been distraught over a failed relationship. Although it’s not certain.

My daughter cried on and off the day she heard of the young man’s death. And the following day, she thought “He was only 16. A baby. And he didn’t live to see today.” She still registered disbelief when telling me about it.

Talking to our children is a lifetime blessing. We wield so much influence over them, whether we know it or not. We can never take for granted that…

…our loving words…can save their lives.

…i know.

………hugmamma.img_5209.jpg

(View more inspirational thoughts at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/nurt-thurs-would-you-glow/

talk about old…

…and I know old.

Returning to Cold War rhetoric is like dragging the tyrannosaurus rex out of mothballs. Isn’t it preferable to leave dinosaurs where they belong…in the Smithsonian?

Arianna Huffington recently explained that Donald Trump is sleep deprived. He admitted as much himself, claiming to get by on just 3 hours sleep a night. Obviously he’s not well read on the consequences of long term sleep deprivation. Among them fatal diseases like heart attack, cancer, even Alzheimer’s. At 70, it’s worrisome that a President Trump would have his finger on the nuclear button. He could blast us all to smithereens in the midst of his own personal crisis.

Putting all of one’s faith and hope into a man who lives in the past, wanting to return America to an “us vs. them” mentality is akin to wearing a blindfold for the next 4 years. The world will move forward in spite of us. The U.S. will be the “it” in a global game of “Blind Man’s Bluff,” stumbling around unable to discern what it is the other players are doing.

For better or worse, the world is on a path forward. There’s no hitting the “reset” button and doing a makeover. America can remain an important player, having significant influence every step of the way. Or America can play Trump’s game and cry “wolf” every time he stubs his toe.

Bernie Sanders is 74, an old man with big dreams. I worry he won’t be around to see them all come true. Who will carry his torch? His loving, loyal wife? Good for them. Maybe not so good for America.

Passing the torch is an Olympian fete. It’s a team effort. It’s essential we have a captain who can lead the way, outlining a path toward greatness. It’s also essential to have someone who has “walked the walk” and not just “talked the talk.”

Yes, like everyone else I’m awed by charisma. However if my life depended upon it, I’d want someone who’s not afraid to show us that she’s also an intellectual geek to captain my team.

Slow and steady won the race for the turtle. And that’s who I’m rooting for in the presidential elections…

…mama turtle, herself!

………hugmamma.

a good man…but

I like Bernie Sanders…his affinity for everyman. Sanders’ compassion for the less fortunate is palpable. His ideas to uplift the struggling masses and level the playing field is what America should be about. If everyone thought as Sanders does…peace might be possible.

Sanders, however, cannot be our next president. He proselytizes, speaking to our “better angels.” Abraham Lincoln first spoke to that side of human nature in his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861…

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Almost 155 years to the day, we are where we were then. American turning against American, each side using the Constitution in defense of its own dogmatic, ideological stances.

I give Sanders credit for being the voice of Lincoln when that President’s own party, the Republican Party, has long turned its back on what he stood for…and died for.

Being a senior citizen myself, I can understand Sanders sense of urgency to remake America before he dies. He’s 74. He wants it done…yesterday.

Like President Obama before him, Sanders has started a movement, primarily among young adults. He is calling upon them to help fix our broken society. Sanders expects that they will continue to actively support his presidency, if and when that day materializes. They are to strong arm Congress into enacting all that Sanders envisions in a progressive society.

It may be that Obama wrongfully shouldered the burden of his office alone, as some in the media have accused. However he may have been more realistic than Sanders who expects working class folks to add to their daily overload by actively involving themselves in remaking America. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s just a question of how realistic an expectation it is.

How will Sanders pay for all the freebies he proposes to give out…free college education for all, rich and poor…and Medicare-like health insurance for all, rich and poor? In addition he wants to expand Medicaid benefits…raise the minimum wage…make it easier for people to join unions…break up the big banks…bring parity to women’s wages…invest in our crumbling infrastructure…and more. Fantastic…rhetoric, to be sure. But who’s going to pay for all of this?

If Sanders’ desire is to fashion our society to look like some in Europe, then we must be prepared to pay the price, as do those citizens. For example, Norway’s total tax burden is 45% of GDP…twice that of the U.S. More than the cost in dollars, however, is the price paid in individual enterprise and hard work.

Yes, I’d like the have-nots to have more, but they should still have the opportunity to work for it.

Hillary Clinton’s plan to help college students is to…allow them to refinance, just as we are allowed to refinance our homes, so that they are not paying excessive interest rates of 10% or more. She is not about forgiving their debt altogether. Furthermore, Clinton offers college students the opportunity to repay their loan as a percentage of wages earned after graduating. 

Bernie Sanders is unrealistically ideological. Hillary Clinton is pragmatic about her ideology.

…I’m for getting something done…

…not for daydreaming about it.

………hugmamma.

what do you think…

…about concussions and football?

I’m not a sports fan myself so I’d just as soon see the game go away. In theory. I say that because I understand that football, and other contact sports, are acceptable outlets for aggressive behavior. Since prehistoric times man has had to use brute force to survive. Times have changed, but man’s primeval behavior hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaurs.

The over-arching problem is the millions of dollars the NFL dangles before would-be prospects looking to play pro-football. Most concerning, however, is that parents wholeheartedly encourage their sons to play a game which, according to recent statistics, puts their lives at risk. Is the money worth it?

…about bringing trade schools back?

In our rush to outdo, or at least keep up with, China and other countries technologically, America has placed tremendous emphasis on math and science. Our children are pushed to excel academically in order to secure jobs with Microsoft, Apple and the like. As has always been the case, not every child is suited for college.

Trying to force square pegs into round holes is as implausible today as it was in generations past. A child who is more adept with his hands is not going to be happy sitting at a computer all day. Forcing youngsters to pursue careers in the hopes that they will be set financially, can set them up for failure in the long term. Besides which, all the jobs for which they might be better suited are being shipped overseas. Meanwhile, folks who might be happier in those blue collar jobs are beginning to form a new class of “have nots.” They are the ones clamoring for a return to the good, ole’ days when they could “pull themselves up by their own boot straps.”

…about life imitating art…or real life imitating reality tv?

With the media’s constant hype about Donald Trump’s steady rise in the polls, it makes one wonder…”What in the world?” This morning it finally dawned on me…reality TV may have more to do with it than we might like to think.

Look at Barbara Walter’s choice for the most fascinating person of 2015. Caitlyn Jenner!

(Photo…businessinsider.com)

Yes, I get that she champions the gay-lesbian community but that’s primarily because of her celebrity on reality TV. By comparison Johnny Weir, a well-known, gay American figure skater, does not share the same mega-watt platform as former Olympic track and field star Bruce Jenner aka…Caitlyn.

Who would have thought that the Kardashians and the Housewives and the Bachelor would still be with us…years later? And what about Abby Lee of “Dance Moms” fame? My daughter, a professional dancer, cringed whenever she caught a segment of that reality show. How those mothers could allow that evil woman to treat their daughters as she did is unfathomable.

I must confess to watching those shows now and then, especially since they dominate much of what’s available on TV now. I’ve done so with fascination and disbelief. And perhaps that’s what most viewers find intriguing about reality TV. How can these people put their lives out there for millions to see? Do viewers relate to the flaws…the gaffes…the ridiculous lives? Or are these reality stars so far outside our realm of what’s normal, that we watch in disbelief, our mouths wide open?

Is that then, Trump’s appeal? A reality star transcending the small screen into the arena of real life politics? Looking for our votes as…favorite reality star of all time? A vote for Trump as President is akin to saying he’s won the Oscar of all Oscars?

So again I ask you…

…what do you think?

………hugmamma.

 

 

nurturing thursdays: those who serve…

Two news pieces reported on MSNBC today, made me pause to reflect upon the sacrifices made by those who keep the rest of us safe.

The first was about firemen who helped in the aftermath of 9/11. As usual, they did not consider the risks to their own safety and well-being. Only years later did that horrific day return to haunt them, many suffering the effects of cancer. Mounting medical bills in addition to an emotional and physical roller coaster ride puts the victims and their loved ones at high risk for depression and serious loss to their quality of life.

Following that report was a piece about a military family whose husband/father has been deployed to the Middle East multiple times. Of the 19 years they’ve been married, the couple have been separated 9 years. Their two sons, now teenagers, have missed their dad tremendously. While the family understands their sacrifice as a career choice, it doesn’t lessen the impact of losing a member for years on end. Especially knowing that each deployment could mean the death of their loved one.

It’s easy to shed a tear or two for the plight of these folks whose lives are spent protecting us. Having compassion, however, also includes giving back…not “sitting back.”

Rather than pay for “pork belly” projects put forth by representatives in Congress, our tax dollars should be spent accommodating the financial needs of those who risk their lives to save ours.

I think that’s what’s so frustrating about many members of the Republican Party. They want “boots on the ground,” but they ignore the fact that these folks have needs. They’re not wind-up robots. They feel. They break. They bleed. They die…and leave behind loved ones of their own.

President Obama is walking a tightrope between keeping our country safe during these perilous times…and showing compassion for the men and women who must answer the call to lay down their lives for their country. Not an easy decision, although the president’s critics rant and rave that it’s a no-brainer. Scary to think what Obama’s successor would do if he or she is a Republican intent upon spilling blood.

…when did we become a dispassionate people?

………hugmamma.

(Note: For more inspirational writing, visit…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/nurt-thurs-you-are-2/

parents matter…

The role we play in the lives of our children really does have a lifelong impact. Whether we are good at it or not so good, will affect the adults our children grow up to become. It follows the rule of…cause and effect.

For most of us the path is unpredictable. It’s not like hitting a bull’s eye with a bow and arrow. Or is it?

I’ve never shot an arrow, but I imagine that when you pull the arrow back there’s a quiver in the movement which you must control so as to hit the target. That momentary quiver might be compared to the push and pull parents and children engage in as they strive to become independent. Not all “hit the mark” set by society.

Special needs children are doubly challenging for parents ill-equipped to manage their youngster’s early years, not to mention when they become teenagers and young adults. Their journey towards independence requires a lot more strength…to keep the bow from quivering so much that the arrow misses its mark altogether. More patience is required to keep a steady hand, no matter the repetitive practice involved.

Introducing guns into the mix is likely to upset the fine balance necessary in youngsters’ lives already compromised. Once they begin to think for themselves, they begin to make their own judgement calls.

A gun in the hand of a youngster beset by his own trials and tribulations can be a tool to end it all…as in the cases of the Newtown, Connecticut and Umpqua,Oregon shooters.

California just adopted the “right to die” law allowing assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. It is only the 5th state to enact this law. A testament to the fact that lawmakers, all right-thinking adults politically appointed to make decisions for their constituency, have pondered long and hard whether or not to allow suicide under any circumstance.

Why then would a parent put a gun in the hands of a youngster who, at times, struggles with life? The responsibility if he takes his own life and the lives of others must be shared by those making guns accessible to him…

…including those who love him.

………hugmamma.

…a man at peace…with himself…

It could be said that President Obama is as unpopular these days as Donald Trump.

Where Trump spews volumes of empty words, Obama speaks only when he has something important to say. Both are equally bad in the minds of some.

There’s no doubt that Trump is an egomaniac. I’m sure The Donald himself would agree…and wholeheartedly. Some say Obama is just as arrogant, holing himself up in the White House, unwilling to glad hand Congress in order to wheel and deal.

Trump uses the media, as does Obama. Don’t all folks who find themselves in the glaring spotlight of 24/7 coverage?

It’s said the back story makes the person. Trump, the real estate prodigy with NYC in his veins. Obama, the interracial child nuanced in the ways of a tropical paradise. Both, strangers to main stream USA.

Trump, in his own convoluted way, is convinced he is what America needs. So too did Obama feel the need to bring Americans together for the good of the entire country. Just as the President fell short of the mark, so too would Donald Trump. Neither man can be all things to all people.

I didn’t expect much of Obama when he took office. I was just happy to see what I thought was a good man, occupy the White House. The fact that he was raised in Hawaii, where I was born, gave me hope that the Aloha Spirit could spread to all Americans. And maybe that’s what he thought too. Islanders can be naive that way. After all, we’ve not the sophistication of mainlanders who have experienced more of everything.

The fact that Obama was the first black president was a plus. How nice, I thought, to have someone other than a white man in charge of our country.

That Obama was an academic, was even more appealing. Finally! A thinking man. A man disinclined to pull the trigger first, and ask questions later. Of course that hasn’t sat well with the trigger-happy, gun-toting bullies who want our country back up on the pedestal, our God-given right in their eyes.

For me it’s enough that Obama has accomplished what he has…saved the country from fiscal armageddon…brought a halt to health insurances denying coverage to those with pre-conditions…returned the country’s focus to the need for quality education…rid the world of Osama bin Laden…made it possible for gay partners to legally unite…resisted the clamor to send our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, into harm’s way yet again.

Yes, it’s more than likely that the future president should be a glad-hander…a back-slapper…a social drinker…someone more akin to Bill Clinton, who refused to accept that he couldn’t make friends with his enemies. Next time around, I’ll probably vote for a person who’s a schmoozer, even though I’m not crazy about having to do it too much myself. But I’m not running for president.

What I am crazy about is my family…my husband and my daughter. And it’s obvious to me that Obama shares the same craziness for his wife and two daughters. Barring a national emergency, he has dinner at 6:30 every evening with his family. More importantly, he’s moral. Michelle is still the the love of his life…and his children remain uppermost in his thoughts.

Recently I wrote the President a letter thanking him for Obamacare. I explained that earlier in the year my daughter, who dances as an independent contractor, had had a surgery to repair a tear in her bowel wall, inflicted during a prior surgery to remove fibroids from her uterine wall. Thanks to the surgeon correcting the mistake, my daughter recovered completely. Unfortunately she was saddled with medical expenses in excess of $52,000 and unable to work for a couple of months. That meant no money coming in. Thank goodness she had obtained insurance coverage only 6 months before. It paid $49,000 of her $50,000 hospital bill.

I was surprised, and impressed, to receive a letter in return. While I’m certain it wasn’t penned by President Obama, I’m almost positive the signature is his. And even if it isn’t, my words of gratitude were acknowledged.

Politically, I’m only a constituent. Personally, however, Obama and I are “ohana,” having both grown up under the same rainbow in our beloved…

…hawaiian islands.

………hugmamma.

living her best life: #57…pat’s new normal

Just the other day someone asked how my sister-in-law Pat was doing after her recent stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It reminded me that I’d not posted about her ongoing battle with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis in some time.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, it’s just that I’d not been posting anything in quite some time. When I sit down at my laptop for any extended period, I tend to lose track of time and forget about everything else. In deciding to see to other areas of my life, I’ve resisted my passion…to just write.

Pat is doing well. She’s not perfect, but she’s on track…feeling healthy and looking forward to what each day brings. She’s returned to work. Yes! She’s back at work. She’s eating as best she can, given that her molars were extracted. From a photo she texted me a week or so ago, Pat’s smiling broadly. And best of all, her sense of humor is still intact.

When I asked if she wanted to reflect upon her time in Minnesota, Pat replied…

I haven’t really reflected yet on everything I went through at Mayo. Part of me doesn’t want to relive it and the other part thinks “Oh. That’s old news. I’m looking more toward the future…the uncertainty of it is a little scary so it’s still a challenge. I’m thinking of going back to work next month…I wish I could just retire and know that everything will be fine. On the other hand work keeps my mind sharp and occupied.

A week later, she wrote…

We are all doing good here…keeping an eye on the approaching hurricane. I’m feeling stronger every day and am planning to go back to work on Tuesday. I figured out the best time of day to take my meds to optimize how I feel during the day. I just have to remember to be careful in crowds and stay away from sick people. I’m back to “I don’t feel sick” which is good, but I have to remind myself that I’m not in the clear yet.

What’s next for Pat? 

As I understand it, she’s looking forward to the 100th day-post-stem cell transplant…and what it brings. She won’t need to return to the Mayo Clinic, instead she will meet with her own physician in Hawaii. Meanwhile she will be on one medication til then, and at least two others for the next year.

Once she left Rochester and the Mayo Clinic back in August, Pat and Brad spent a few days in Duluth, Minnesota, before heading to Minneapolis where they caught their flight home.

We are enjoying ourselves in Duluth right now. From our room we can watch huge ships roll in night and day…it’s pretty amazing. Lake Superior is pretty cool too. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was the Atlantic Ocean. Being here is therapeutic, nice bright room, lots of sunshine and a body of water that reminds us of home. We’re staying one extra day here.

We are in Minneapolis now…big city…long gone are the fields and fields of corn. Duluth was very therapeutic and I’m glad we went there. Now that we’re in the city we have the opportunity to go to concerts or shows but I don’t think I’m up for that. Theaters and shopping are close by and we are near Target Center (basketball arena?) and where the new stadium for the Vikings is being built. Neither team has anything going on…thought we would catch a ball game or football training camp practice. Well I’m really ready to go home…the sisters and my mom-in-law are going over on Saturday to clean. Julie’s also going to clean out my fridge and do a little shopping for me. I also asked if Dennis could make some pork with squash…yes, my appetite is back full force but my tongue is still swollen so sticking with soft foods and lots of soups.

So “How’s Pat doing?” Well, she could be better. She’d probably prefer it if she could revert back to her old normal. Yet that’s not how my sister-in-law operates. Pat pretty much goes with what’s on her plate. She’s acclimating to what’s been dished up without a whole lot of whining and complaining. It could be her island mentality…her Catholic upbringing…being the youngest of twelve..the mother of two teenage boys…or having awesome parents as role models. It’s more likely a combination of all these factors.

All I know is Pat’s become my role model.

Life is about change, good or bad. Better to accept that as fact and work with what we’re dealt at any given time. None of us can go back to the old normal. It’s always being tweaked…by us or by fate. We can make life good…or we can make life hell. It’s up to us.

I count myself lucky to have someone in my life to show me how it’s done.

…thanks, pat.

………hugmamma.

living her best life:#56…hawaii bound

Yesterday Pat text me some great news …

Wanted to update you…I’m doing really well.

We meet with Dr. Gertz tomorrow and expect him to release me. If that happens then that means we can go home! [whoopee!!!]

Because our flight is not until the 8th we’ll have some time to play tourists again. The plan is to check out of the Transplant House on Monday and drive to Duluth near Lake Superior for a couple of days and eventually be back in Minneapolis near the airport before the weekend.

Can’t wait to go home [!!!!!]

Without a doubt…

…pat’s living her best life…

………hugmamma.

living her best life: #55…can’t wait!!!

I text Pat today…

How are you? Whatcha doing? I am headed to the antiques shop to put some stuff. [I sell antiques/collectibles at an antiques mall.] Armsful of hugs…

And Pat text me right back…

Hi…actually just had lunch and am ready for a nap…can’t take the Hawaiian outta this girl! [tell me about it] I’m eating more of my meals as opposed to drinking them. My numbers are continuing to go up and I’m feeling much better. They stopped a bunch of meds…woohoo! [double woohoo!!!] 

I have a followup appointment with Dr. Gertz on Friday along with the transplant coordinator. This is to go over what to do at home [home…yahoo!!!] for the next 100 days and thereafter. Usually patients return on Day 100, but I’m pretty sure that appointment will be with my oncologist back home.

Not sure when Dr. Gertz will actually clear us to go home but our flight is scheduled for the 8th. [yippee, yay yeah!!!] 

If we have a few days we’ll leave the Transplant House and maybe drive to Duluth. In any case we’ll be in Minneapolis the night before our flight so we won’t have that long drive.

Looking forward to going home!

Quite a woman, my sister-in-law. The way she tells it…it’s just another day in the life of. And yet we all know it’s been anything but. I’m sure Brad would have more to say about the journey he’s traveled with Pat. Knowing the two of them as I do though…

…she’ll go back to work, and he’ll go back to fishing…and their sons will enjoy having mom and dad home again.

…all our love and prayers go with them.

………hugmamma.

living her best life: #54…letting go…

…of her “crowning glory.”

As usually occurs when a patient undergoes heavy doses of chemotherapy, Pat lost her thick, beautiful hair today. The upside, if there is any, is that she’s midway through her treatment so she should begin to feel better.

Fingers crossed.

7/22… …Haven’t been eating a whole lot…lost more weight. Have to get calories in some way so most are from liquids. I will eat half a banana or peach, some cereal…but liquids are just easier.

7/23…I’m feeling better today. I might be turning the corner although the antibiotics still knock me out. 

7/24… …As for me, I’m just resting before my evening appointment. It’s typical for me to run a fever in the afternoons so I took some Tylenol. They’ll take blood cultures this evening just to make sure there is no infection.

I’m at the point now where I’m hanging on desperately to what dignity I have left. My hair is starting to fall out in clumps…I’ve got so much hair though that it may take a while. May end up at a salon to just buzz it off…we’ll see.

…I love you too. Thank you for being so supportive.

…We’ve been texting. Aiden’s wondering how I’m doing with Brad’s cooking. Says he’ll cook me something good when I get home.

…weather has been really nice in MN. Today is that magic Day 12 and my counts are headed up! That means I should start feeling better but today I was feverish for most of the day. Tylenol takes a while to kick in and doesn’t really get rid of the fever completely. Wanted to take a drive today but just couldn’t bring myself to go…slept most of the day. Still go in twice a day for antibiotics and anti-nausea meds.

The nurse I had tonight was nice enough to buzz all of my hair off. We had made arrangements in the morning for him to do it in the evening. We weren’t sure if we could go to just any salon being that we have to be careful of any cuts so when we asked John, he said he could do it for me. Apparently he does it for a lot of patients. Not sure if he’s the only one, but the other nurses said “Welcome to John’s House of Beauty”…it’s one haircut he can’t screw up. Feels better but weird. Better because my scalp was kinda sore…I told Brad I think it was the hair desperately trying to hang on…so that pain is gone. Weird in that when I put on the hood of my jacket it feels like my head has a cap with velcro on it. It’s a new look for me…that’s all I can say.

To which I responded…You’re beautiful…inside and out. I love you for the fantastic person you are. You’re like my guardian angel…without hair. Love it. I’d say I’d join you…but I think I’m headed there anyway…thinning hair. Trying to hang onto the few strands I have.

Pat’s been amazing in allowing me to ruminate with her about my daughter’s wedding next year. In spite of her own situation, she offers support for what’s in store for our family as we count down the months, weeks and days until the big event. She and Brad are planning to fly from Hawaii to be with us and has texted…”let me know if you want anything from Hawaii…not that anything Hawaiian would match, but maybe favors with a Hawaiian twist,” and…”We would love to help out in any way we can!”

Imagine! My sister-in-law has cancer…and she’s offering to help me. A sweetheart. That’s all I can say…

…sending pat and brad…armfuls of hugs…from all of us who thinks…she’s pretty great!

………hugmamma.img_4207.jpg