silver lining…

As a guest columnist for our local newspaper, my writing is featured under the heading…Sprinkled with Humor.

Please enjoy my latest submission…

Silver Lining

For most of us, the White House is so far removed physically that it doesn’t have much relevance in our daily lives. That’s not to say its decisions have no effect. Quite the contrary, the president’s personality and political persuasion form the backdrop against which our lives unfold. It’s no different than what we encounter in our homes or places of employment. Management’s style matters.

While there are those who have adapted easily to this administration’s flailing attempts to govern, others of us resort to relief of some kind.

Alec Baldwin’s comedic portrayal of the president is the painkiller many ingest to cope with the collective migraine enveloping our country. Others might be sipping more heavily at the numerous wine-tasting venues proliferating from coast to coast. Even churchgoing teetotalers might’ve finally succumbed. A bit of Eucharistic wine on Sunday, and they’re sufficiently revived. Hallelujah!

If you’re like me, you’re talking to yourself more. The TV’s on, but like your significant other, it’s immune to your blubbering. The point being…the election’s been decided. Nonetheless, you point out, it’s not right that Russia had a hand in it. It’s just not right!

For this particular malady, I turn to nightly prayer. I ask God to grant the president a “get out of jail” card NOW, so he can get back to doing what he knows best…playing real life Monopoly with family and friends.

I also ask God to help the Syrian refugees looking to the world-wide community, including America, for deliverance from an evil regime. I likewise pray for immigrants here at home who find themselves caught up in a net flung far and wide by the Justice Department, with seemingly little discretion as to who is targeted, apprehended and ultimately deported.

One thing for which I should ask God’s pardon, but somehow fail to do when asking forgiveness for my transgressions is using unladylike language during political talk shows on TV. I’m sure he knows I’m only joking, and is chuckling right along with my husband.

Countering the perceived injustices emanating from this administration’s policies, protesters act like a soothing balm upon my frayed nerves. Knowing that Americans remain ever vigilant in their fight to uphold our democratic principles is indeed the “silver lining.”

The rise of “fake news” as spread on social media is the latest incarnation of evil. Truth, as supported by facts, continues to be our most formidable weapon; that and our steadfast belief in the brotherhood of mankind, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, culture, education, gender, wealth and social standing.

Our children and grandchildren, as well as generations still to come, depend upon the choices we make today. We do not have the luxury of an independent decision. We are a global community, and as such must decide together how best to live as one people on a planet whose resources grow more limited with each passing day.    

Educating ourselves, rather than just going along to get along is something each of us can do…starting today.    

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

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family…

I’m sure we’d all agree how important family is to ensuring harmony within our everyday lives. The same, it would seem, applies to the Trumps.

Having said that, family harmony is never a given. No matter our good intentions, it can be an ongoing struggle to maintain  a simmering boil among conflicting personalities. For some, it’s a welcome challenge; for others, like me, it can be toxic, even corrosive.

For many years now, I’ve enjoyed reading about the lives of others. Biographies allow me to step inside another’s journey in an effort to make sense of my own. Knowing the back story has also enhanced my understanding of the person whose life is under the microscope. Oftentimes, I come away feeling some measure of compassion.

Prior to the presidential election I read books written about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I learned details about them which impacted my vote. As with other biographies, I was particularly interested in their familial relationships. What effect did their parents have on their evolution as adults? What values, if any, were instilled in them at a young age? And how did they impact who they are today?

In some ways, Hillary’s middle-class life was something with which I could identify. Education and hard work were just as important in my life, even though the death of my father when I was one meant our family lived from meager paycheck to meager paycheck. With the help of Catholic nuns at the orphanage where my mom worked, we survived…just.

Hillary’s mom was farmed out to relatives at a young age. Through grit and determination she survived. The kindness of a teacher who, for a year, shared her lunch with the poverty-stricken youngster had a lasting impression. One that Hillary made a point to “pay forward.” During college she began the journey which would become her life long passion…helping others in need.

Hillary’s dad was a task master. Where her mom shrank from his bullying tactics, Hillary thrived. A talent that served her well as she wend her way through hostile territory…a world that catered to white men.

Trump learned that the world was a “dog eat dog” world from his father. But for the fact that Trump admired her for being a happy housewife, there’s little reference to his mother. While his dad taught him the value of a buck, Trump learned his hardcore values from others…the military school to which his father sent him to be disciplined, and Harry Cohn, the tough lawyer who ran legal interference for the mob. Trump likened Cohn to a surrogate father.

Although I was able to understand the trajectory of both their lives, I could more readily accept the unfolding of Hillary’s, including the flaws.

On the other hand Trump’s life remains an enigma, despite my knowing the facts. I can only surmise that his narrow purview of the world beyond Trump Tower is owing to his isolation, both physically and mentally.

Education, whether formal or informal, is the hallmark of smart decision-making.

Hillary is a product of all she gleaned from Wellesley. More than that, however, her college degree was a starting point from which she launched her broader education into the world at large. She never stopped learning and changing, without sacrificing her core principles based upon uplifting the downtrodden.

It’s obvious that Trump thinks little of educating himself, instead preferring to rely upon others for his “alternative facts.” Because of this he wallows in conspiracy theories. Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon gained valuable access to Trump because of this. Together, they are conspiring to reinvigorate the white man’s standard “make America great again.”

By example, we learn the act of living from our families. We needn’t adopt everything without question. Our lives are clean slates upon which we can write our own stories. The decision is ours.

In observing Trump’s family, it’s apparent they defer to him. Melania is Trump’s ideal woman…a happy housewife. According to him, his first wife Ivana’s growing business involvement contributed to his divorcing her.

It’s common knowledge that Trump had no hand in raising his children until they were of an age to learn about the family business. One has to wonder about the values they absorbed over the course of their lives. With the acquisition of wealth being their father’s singular focus, not to mention their having been raised by a single mother whose well being, and theirs, depended upon the beneficence of her husband, money must have been of major concern. Especially given the life style to which they’d become accustomed.

The Trump children have access to all the material pleasures their father’s empire, and now his presidential power, can afford them. Unfortunately, because of their public deference to him in all things, they, and Melania, will suffer the same pushback Trump receives from a less than adoring public. Those who will be affected the most because of their daily interaction with schoolmates are…son Baron and Trump’s grandchildren.

Does Trump care?

Will Melania, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric confront Trump’s bullying to ensure that their own children do not inherit his destructive propensities and are, instead, instilled with indestructible moral compasses? Or will the Trump legacy continue to be one of self-aggrandizement, immorality and bald-faced lies?

…family toxicity at the presidential level.

………hugmamma.

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

 

hope…

Fellow blogger, Lisa, reminded me that we have HOPE on our side. Fortunately we’ve had two presidents who embodied it…Presidents Obama and Clinton. We who voted for them can carry their legacies of HOPE forward.

We will hope that the next president can live up to the public service demonstrated by that of his predecessors.

As is evident from the thousands protesting Trump’s election, he will never regain what he has already lost as a result of his vitriolic campaign. What he did reinforces what my beloved mother-in-law always warned…words have a permanent effect, especially hateful ones. I firmly believe that what she said is true. Personal experience attests to that fact.

No matter the nice words or gestures the perpetrator tries to offer afterwards, words blasted in anger are forever emblazoned across our memories…and our hearts. Trust in that person is lost forever, like it or not. Those victimized try to get through the avalanche of hateful words the best they can, but their hearts are forever secured against the hurt caused.

Trump is trying to “make nice,” with those he bullied while acting out his school ground antics. Too bad he never learned to “play nice” throughout his 70 years on earth. He may have some measure of success as a businessman, although his methods remain questionable, but his failure as a human being with those outside his tight-knit circle is massive. Whoever shares in the responsibility of his evolution as a self-serving despot should be ashamed for all Trump has become.

Ugly words are just that…ugly. There’s no rationalizing otherwise. Perpetrators have tried…and failed. External expressions may show otherwise; internal hurts are rarely, if ever, healed.

The Obamas will never be able to set aside Trump’s denying the president’s legitimacy as an American. Why should they? The Clintons will never be able to forgive Trump’s words calling for Hillary to be “locked up,” or placing 4 female accusers in the audience front and center during the final presidential debate. Who does these things? Donald Trump, that’s who.

No other candidate in the history of presidential elections has ever demonstrated such ugliness towards his fellow human beings as Trump. And his response to Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes” (to be aired this Sunday), when asked if he regrets his words? He quickly replied “I won!”

Trump won…but he lost the hearts of millions and millions of Americans. What an empty, sad life. To quantify success in the accumulation of accolades and material wealth.

Trump lost. Connection with other human beings is the most valuable asset any of us can have when we take our last breath. No earthly treasure can measure up.

Trump may have gained the world; but in the process, he has lost…

…trump has lost.

………hugmamma.Image result for images of donald trump

 

 

dorian gray…

Whatever the outcome of the election, whoever becomes our next president, Donald Trump is…lost.

Trump is like Dorian Gray, the man whose portrait is transfigured over the course of his life…from that of an ordinary man to that of a hideous monster. How appropriate it would be to view The Portrait of Dorian Gray, a horror film sure to tickle our Halloween fancy, if it weren’t for the scary fact that we have seen it unfold before our very eyes over the last year of the presidential campaign.

Like Dorian, Trump views his likeness as projected back to him…by himself. He needs no other confirmation of his greatness. The fact that others believe in him only fuels his grandiose self adulation.

We all tell “little, white lies.” I don’t know if it’s possible for any man, woman or child, to go a day in his or her life  without ever having said at least one untruth. I’m sure even the religious will tell a lie if it were to further a greater good…like saving someone else’s life. At the same time I’m just as certain there has never been another American, at least in my lifetime, who has lied with such vigor and constancy as Trump.

Trump is a pathological liar.

We all have prejudices, born of our circumstances…ethnicity and culture, spiritual beliefs, gender, education, jobs, social standing. Until now, we have all strived to keep our individual wants and needs in check. America, and the world at large, belongs to all fortunate enough to have been born. If anyone thinks differently…look around. Savor the beauty of autumn’s changing colors; ponder the undeniable affection a loved one has for you. Don’t take these for granted. They could be lost in the blind fervor Trump supporters have for a self-serving autocrat.

Trump is narcissistically selfish.

Women continue to struggle for respect…in our private and public lives. Physical and verbal abuse continues to plague us…in the home and in the workplace. I’m not sure it can ever be balanced out given our physical differences and the fact that men have long governed every aspect of our lives since the beginning of time. Perhaps if the roles had been reversed as in the time of the ancient Amazon women who ruled their people. Trump is disrespecting of women; even as he promotes them in his empire. He uses them to amass his wealth; while he uses their bodies to satisfy his sexual appetite.

Trump is a misogynist and a sexual predator.

Manipulative people assert themselves upon others. Perhaps we all do this from time to time…with our spouses, our children, other family members, friends and acquaintances. Whether we do it knowingly or unknowingly, it happens to the best of us. Taking it to a whole other level, however, Trump has shown himself to be a master manipulator. Not only is it obvious with those who have abandoned their morals to his presidential coronation, but it is also apparent in those gathered in a tight circle around him, his family. His children and his wife serve as his mouthpieces. Makes sense…they are Trump’s legacy and the benefactors of his wealth.

Trump hustles everyone with abandon.

Education, whether formal or informal, fosters the growth of civilization. Mankind pulls itself ahead of the other species with whom we inhabit the earth by our intelligence. Were we to abandon our thirst for knowledge, we would find ourselves back with our ancestors, the cavemen. Trump has shown by his ignorance of the facts, that he prefers syphoning information off of the Internet, in particular, Twitter and Brietbart. In so doing the Republican presidential candidate is allowing the more learned among his staff, such as Harvard-educated Steve Bannon, to drive Trump’s conversation. It’s not a stretch to imagine that he could easily succumb to the wiles of Vladimir Putin, former KGB operative steeped in the ways of undercover intelligence.

Trump is intellectually lazy.

Living in his ivory Trump Tower, The Donald is isolated from reality. Reality TV will always be his domain. As depicted on The Apprentice, Trump thrives on judging others. Lo and behold those who attempt to judge Trump, however. They run the risk of inciting his ire. At the second presidential debate he promised to appoint a special prosecutor to see that his arch enemy, Hillary Clinton, is brought to justice.

Trump justice.

Mingling only with the rich and famous, Trump cannot organically understand the plight of the lower classes. He only knows them as the doers in his empire. Folks who serve his needs and those of the wealthy classes with whom he prefers to associate. While he professes to empathize with the plight of Blacks and Hispanics, he can only spew stereotypical anecdotes about their lives. All of them bad… including those which condemn these groups for criminal activity. For someone totally alienated from lower class, nonwhites on a daily basis, it’s easy to revert to what’s familiar, what’s natural.

Trump is an ignorant racist.

Indulging his own desires at the expense of all else, has altered Trump’s humanity beyond all recognition.

…trump is dorian gray.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

…hug mamma!

Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother…children, grandchildren, students, others’ children…and, of course, pets. Make sure you get your requisite hugs and smooshies. Have a few extra for me since my daughter is thousands of miles away. Although she and her fiancé had a beautiful vase of fragrant stargazer lilies and roses delivered to me today.

Of all the days we celebrate, Mother’s Day is by far the one I cherish most. If it weren’t for God’s grace I might never have been a mom. Not until my husband and I were wed 16 years was I blest with our only child. That’s why I write, wearing my heart on my sleeve…about my daughter.

Moms are special human beings. We give and give and give…and yet we never think of it that way. That’s just how we’re built it seems. It’s in our DNA. We instinctively nurture our children, fulfilling all their needs…physically and spiritually. When called upon we can even become…Super Women! There’s nothing we can’t do for our children. Nothing!

When our children are ill, we inhabit their bodies with our minds…willing them to heal. We instinctively feel their sorrows and weep as one with them. When they are elated, we carry them heavenward.

Because children are flesh of our flesh, we would step in front of a careening car to save them. Or exchange our healthy bodies for their diseased ones. We would sacrifice our lives…to spare theirs.

The light goes out when a child is gone. All that remain are memories. Truthfully, that’s all any of us have when our lives end. And isn’t that what really counts? Memories. Precious memories. Nothing material compares.

So we should live fully in each moment. Savor our children…their smiles, their frowns…their gusto, their  withdrawal…their mastery of some things, their lack of skill for others.

If we stockpile memories of being with our children we will never be without them. And we will always have…

…a beautiful and happy mother’s day.

………hugmamma.IMG_4128

hard to believe…

…it’s been 50 years since I graduated from high school! Jan 14 024

I don’t think I’d have remembered if I’d not received an email reminding me. Unfortunately my daughter’s wedding precludes my attending the reunion.

Half-a-century ago the island of Maui was my entire world. As a youngster, I only knew mainland America as it was reflected in TV sitcoms, like I Love Lucy or variety programs, like The Ed Sullivan Show. Anything beyond the United States might as well have been somewhere out there in the universe.

Today, Maui is one of the most sought after destinations in the world. Oprah Winfrey calls it her home-away-from-home, with a beautiful spread in Kula.

The Maui I knew was small-town USA, in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean…still is. Kids were kids, trying hard to be seen but not heard. Entire neighborhoods were ours to explore. We were allowed to wander as far as our small legs could carry us, to and from. Walking to the local library, 45 minutes from home was not a big deal. Lugging a bag of groceries home from the supermarket was a fact of life for me.

Scoring a dime from my mom for an ice cream Dilly stick at Dairy Queen’s was a rare treat. Joining my best friend and her dad for a Saturday morning cartoon, and having him pay my 25 cent theater admission was a huge deal! And waiting outside the local bakery’s back door for hot-out-of-the oven butter bread, was well worth all the kneeling and praying I’d done at church just prior.

For 12 years, St. Anthony’s School was my life. And while my feet were firmly planted in Maui, the nuns who taught me helped grow the wings I would use to one day leave behind my idyllic, island life. Much to my chagrin at the time, the good sisters would prod me on to do better academically. It was easier for me to dance the night away, than it was to recite correct algebra answers. Pranks were more my style, like the time I squirt dish soap into the fish tank. Sister Dominic, the biology instructor, was not too happy at having to empty the tank of all the suds and refill it with fresh water.

I learned about boys, even dated a few…in spite of the nuns. Although I’m certain they had a hand in keeping me virginal until the right time…and man…came along. Thank you, Sisters!!! My husband thanks you as well…

Periodic newsletters arrive from my old alma mater. Images of fresh-faced, young students rekindle a flood of memories reminding me of simpler times. When folks lived simpler lives…enjoying one another…and being thankful for what we had.

Then, as now…

…getting back to basics…is life in a nutshell…no matter where I live.

………hugmamma. 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: the dancer…

…my daughter.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen my daughter perform…probably 4 to 5 years. Memory-wrapped images are all that remain, and they get fuzzier as time passes. So I’m very grateful for Youtube.  It’s captured the following contemporary piece in which my daughter was the featured soloist. She danced with Nashville Ballet at the time. I only wish it had shown the actual performance, in which she wore a white, romantic tutu which made her look like an angel. Although I’m not complaining; I’ll take what I can get.

This piece was choreographed by Sarah Slipper, founder and artistic director of Northwest Dance Project in Oregon. My daughter had danced with the company for a couple of summers. It’s performances are cutting-edge, thanks to the amazing talent of Sarah and other choreographers she hand picks to join her in producing a show.

Artists…dancers among them…reflect the beauty of the human spirit. If only we would allow…

…more of that inner beauty…to shine through.

………hugmamma.

(Find more wonderful inspiration at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/nurt-thurs-our-example/

she was loved…

I just learned that one of my sisters has passed away. Praying that she would not succumb, it wasn’t a complete surprise that she did. She’d had cancer.

A few years older than me, I grew up idolizing Lucy. She was pretty, had a smile that lit up her entire face…with a personality to match. She was a songleader…a softer, more lyrical version of a cheerleader. And she was smart. Why guys weren’t knocking down our door to date her, I’ll never understand. Maybe it was our strict Catholic upbringing, or mean looks from our mom, or maybe it’s because my sister had really high standards. I’ll bet she’s looking down, nodding her head in agreement with the last reason.

My sister and I were quite a few years apart, separated by a brother. They were closer in age. As a result they were best buddies. I kind of tagged along, orders from my mom. I was probably a real drag to have around.

I remember once when I went with them in search of something we referred to as “rabbit grass,” to feed our rabbits. We climbed over a fence onto private property. As we poked through the overgrown vegetation, I heard my sister yell “A bull!!!” She and my brother lit out of there as if it had started chasing them. I ran to the fence only to find that they were already hightailing it down the road back to our house. When they realized I’d been left behind, I think Lucy said they’d better return to get me or “mama will kill us!” They returned, hiked me up over the fence, set me on my feet, and we all got the heck out of there. I think I was crying, but I don’t remember the bull making a move toward us. I’m not sure.

Lucy taught me to dance. I was always a willing partner when she was trying to learn new steps, like the cha-cha-cha or the be-bop. We would laugh as I stumbled, trying not to step on her feet. I can’t remember my brother joining in. Maybe he did, but thanks to my sister my passion for dance grew. When I was a teenager, I was known as the dancing queen around school. Classmates would ask me to teach them how to do…the twist, the jerk, and the “mashed potatoes.” I continued the tradition and passed my love of dance along to my daughter, who went on to make it a career. Thanks sis!

The thing I admired most about my sister is the wonderful brood of children she raised. She cherished them, 3 girls and 2 boys. And I have no doubt they were as devoted to her as she was to them. They, and their children, are a credit to my sister, and her husband Jim. Both role models, living their lives with compassion for others.

While my sister and I weren’t as close we probably would have liked…our lives taking us in different directions…in our hearts we had only the best wishes for one another’s well-being. So I’m at peace with her now being in Heaven, relieved of her suffering. Nonetheless, I am sad for those closest to her heart who are left behind. It will be awhile before their sorrow is lessened. I’ll continue to pray for them, that God keep watch over all…

…my sister by His side.

………hugmamma.012

 

 

 

being myself…

That’s what I love most about my husband.

He lets me be myself.

He loves my goofiness, my seriousness, my intelligent moments as well as my dumb ones.

He never defines me, instead letting who I am ring true.

He never for a moment considers if others might think ill of me. And if someone should, it has no influence whatsoever on his loving me.

To him, I’m perfect just as I am. Maybe not for anyone else, but for him there’s no one else.

 

Through my husband’s eyes I’ve come to realize I am “perfect,” just as I am. In moments of self doubt, and, of course, I still get them…I tell myself  that I am a good person. God has let me know that by gifting me with two of His most wonderful creations…my husband and my daughter.

My daughter. When I look into her eyes, I see total, unconditional love…for me. Nothing I do or say can alter that fact. In return, I never overstep my place in her life. Just as I know that I am a good person, I know that she is as well. So why would I need, or want, to trespass upon all that she is?

This morning the imp in me took over and I hid from my husband in the midst of fixing our bed. He had gotten an earlier start to the day, as is his usual routine. He’s an early bird riser. I’m a midnight owl who has no use for worms when I first wipe the sleep from my eyes. I could hear him walking all around in search of me…through the bedroom, adjoining library nook, walk-in closet, bathroom and nearby laundry room. He may even have peeked into the garage. As he strode past the bedroom, I jumped out of my hiding place and scared him. I really did scare him! He kind of froze in place. And then we both burst into uncontrollable laughter. Giggling like high school sweethearts…rather than the middle-aged seniors we really are…we hugged and laughed and laughed and laughed.

I’m lucky. Real lucky. My husband loves me…

…just as i am.

………hugmamma.

 

nurturing thursdays: feeling good…

Have you ever contemplated how great it is to…feel good? To have that warm, fuzzy feeling that all’s right with the world? Well, perhaps not the world outside your walls, but the world which you inhabit inside your walls. And more specifically…the inner spaces of your heart and mind and soul?

With age comes a good deal of reflection. Having attained most, if not all, of the physical wants on our check lists we begin to wonder what is left for us to do while we count down the years until the end. What is there left to do? Have we done it all? Do we feel good about how we’ve lived our lives?

Speaking from my own personal experience, feeling good about things outside of myself only came when I began to feel good about myself. And that only happened when I accepted that what others thought, felt and did was not my responsibility. More importantly, it did not really involve me. Accepting that fact was like having an invisible wall deflect any and all negativity coming my way back onto those from whom it was being generated.

Folks unhappy with their own circumstances tend to blame others for what’s wrong within themselves. Unable to resolve their problems, they want others to do it for them. Even going to extremes as we’ve seen in the case of shooters who opt to commit suicide, whether by their own hand or at the hand of others.

Wallowing in the hate generated by negativity as we see happening with Donald Trump and his followers, blackens the environment like a thick fog of pollution. Rather than succumb to its poison, we should hold strong to the fact that he and they have issues with which they are struggling. Because they cannot think through constructive solutions based upon positive thinking, they find it easier to pass along their problems to the rest of us. They bleed negativity, not caring about the effect they are having on the masses.

That’s how Trump and others like him “feel good”…by feeling bad. It’s what stokes their already smoldering dislike of the unfamiliar and the different. They refuse to flex with the changing environment, preferring to encapsulate their rigid views of how life should be…in stone.

Truly feeling good means accepting that we are basically good. How we react to adversity outside of ourselves determines whether or not we continue to feel good.

Like others, I am disturbed by the constant reminder that many are hell-bent in bringing about Armageddon…sooner rather than later. I’m equally disturbed by the desire of many in the Republican Party that America return to isolationism from the rest of the world. Obviously, neither Armageddon nor isolationism is compatible with the survival of the human race. What separates us from other species is our ability to THINK through alternatives to our problems, arriving at the best one for the good of all, not just a few.

As naïve as this may sound, I strive to remember that each of us is basically good. We didn’t start off as bad babies. What happened after that was dependent upon circumstances, much of which is beyond our control…our birth country…our parent’s economic standing…our education or lack thereof…our jobs…our families, friends, enemies. What we do have control over is how we act and react under these circumstances. Again, however, we cannot over-stress or over-worry about others’ actions and reactions. We can only act and react, striving to do so from a platform of positivity, not negativity.

Feeling good. Or feeling bad.

…our choice.

………hugmamma.

(Note:  Enjoy other nurturing words at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/nurt-thurs-how-long/#comment-26111

 

nurturing thursdays: love one another…

In keeping with the season, I think it’s fitting to remember that we are all children of God.

That includes those among us who choose to turn their backs upon the rest, even going so far as to massacre innocent people.

God the Almighty Father will determine their fate.

We know not what lies deep within one another’s hearts…our sorrows, our anxieties.

Only God knows.

Rather than sit in judgment, we should rally with one another to heal any divisiveness.

Our fundamental humanity should bind us one with the other.

We should put aside our robes of many colors…racial, cultural, religious.

Those who would lead us astray and isolate us one from the other are themselves enemies of humanity and…of God.

“I am the Lord thy God…thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”

Let us not follow graven images eager to raise themselves up to be false gods.

They are only interested in amassing personal wealth and an army of followers to rival all that has been created by the one, true God of all people.

God does not choose one race over the other.

God does not choose one culture over the other.

God does not choose one religion over the other.

God created all of us  with love.

God will have the final say…

…about what we have done with His love.

………hugmamma.

(Note…more inspiration can be gathered from ladies of wisdom at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/nurt-thurs-peace/#comment-26089 )

trump…and the pope

What do these men have in common? Not much it would seem.

Trump is about Trump. Pope Francis is about others.

Trump lives like a king, isolated in his own tower. Pope Francis lives in apartment #201 at the Vatican Hotel…so he can be closer to the people.

Trump seeks the presidency so he can, as he tells it…single-handedly return America to its glory days. Pope Francis agreed to forgo retirement so that he could shepherd world citizens to do what we can for the less fortunate among us.

Perhaps the Pope’s message of inclusion will resonate with those seeking the presidency. We can only pray that those who call themselves Christians, are, in fact, Christ-like.

The Pope’s words spoken during the homily at the Mass canonizing Junipero Sera to sainthood…

Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, rejoice! These are striking words, words which impact our lives. Paul tells us to rejoice; he practically orders us to rejoice. This command resonates with the desire we all have for a fulfilling life, a meaningful life, a joyful life. It is as if Paul could hear what each one of us is thinking in his or her heart and to voice what we are feeling, what we are experiencing. Something deep within us invites us to rejoice and tells us not to settle for placebos which simply keep us comfortable.

At the same time, though, we all know the struggles of everyday life. So much seems to stand in the way of this invitation to rejoice. Our daily routine can often lead us to a kind of glum apathy which gradually becomes a habit, with a fatal consequence: our hearts grow numb.

We don’t want apathy to guide our lives… or do we? We don’t want the force of habit to rule our life… or do we? So we ought to ask ourselves: What can we do to keep our heart from growing numb, becoming anesthetized? How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take deeper root in our lives?

Jesus gives the answer. He said to his disciples then and he says it to us now: Go forth! Proclaim! The joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and lived only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away.

The spirit of the world tells us to be like everyone else, to settle for what comes easy. Faced with this human way of thinking, “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and for the world” (Laudato Si’, 229). It is the responsibility to proclaim the message of Jesus. For the source of our joy is “an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of our own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24). Go out to all, proclaim by anointing and anoint by proclaiming. This is what the Lord tells us today. He tells us:

A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news! A Christian finds ever new joy in answering a call: Go forth and anoint!

Jesus sends his disciples out to all nations. To every people. We too were part of all those people of two thousand years ago. Jesus did not provide a short list of who is, or is not, worthy of receiving his message, his presence. Instead, he always embraced life as he saw it. In faces of pain, hunger, sickness and sin. In faces of wounds, of thirst, of weariness, doubt and pity. Far from expecting a pretty life, smartly-dressed and neatly groomed, he embraced life as he found it. It made no difference whether it was dirty, unkempt, broken. Jesus said: Go out and tell the good news to everyone. Go out and in my name embrace life as it is, and not as you think it should be. Go out to the highways and byways, go out to tell the good news fearlessly, without prejudice, without superiority, without condescension, to all those who have lost the joy of living. Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father. Go out to those who are burdened by pain and failure, who feel that their lives are empty, and proclaim the folly of a loving Father who wants to anoint them with the oil of hope, the oil of salvation. Go out to proclaim the good news that error, deceitful illusions and falsehoods do not have the last word in a person’s life. Go out with the ointment which soothes wounds and heals hearts.

Mission is never the fruit of a perfectly planned program or a well-organized manual. Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven. Mission is born of a constant experience of God’s merciful anointing.

The Church, the holy People of God, treads the dust-laden paths of history, so often traversed by conflict, injustice and violence, in order to encounter her children, our brothers and sisters. The holy and faithful People of God are not afraid of losing their way; they are afraid of becoming self-enclosed, frozen into élites, clinging to their own security. They know that self-enclosure, in all the many forms it takes, is the cause of so much apathy.

So let us go out, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). The People of God can embrace everyone because we are the disciples of the One who knelt before his own to wash their feet (ibid., 24).

The reason we are here today is that many other people wanted to respond to that call. They believed that “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort” (Aparecida Document, 360). We are heirs to the bold missionary spirit of so many men and women who preferred not to be “shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security… within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving” (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). We are indebted to a tradition, a chain of witnesses who have made it possible for the good news of the Gospel to be, in every generation, both “good” and “news”.

Today we remember one of those witnesses who testified to the joy of the Gospel in these lands, Father Junípero Serra. He was the embodiment of “a Church which goes forth”, a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God. Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters. Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.

Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!

…words inspiring us to act with mercy and compassion.

………hugmamma.

a man…a saint

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I prayed for Pope Francis. Image result for pope francis gallery

Not someone I normally think of when I pray.

I had real concerns for the Pope’s safety…still do…as he rides amidst thousands gathered to see him. There’s no way of knowing whether or not there’s a gunman among them. 

Even the Pope needs our prayers. Like us, he’s made of flesh and blood. At 78, Pope Francis has limited stamina and energy. His crusade to alter the plight of the world’s poor is a task not even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet can fully accomplish with all their billions. And yet the Holy Father is like the fountain of youth, offering life to all in need…physically and spiritually.

I can’t recall another world leader, past or present, so aligned with the downtrodden. A humble man where his needs are concerned, Pope Francis is nonetheless outspoken when promoting the causes of the less fortunate. Using his powerful platform as the head of the Catholic church, the pontiff runs the risk of incurring the wrath of those who disagree with his beliefs. It matters not to him. He is about God’s work.

Just as Jesus Christ was about His Father’s work…for which the Son was crucified…and subsequently rose again in glory, to sit beside His Father.

I believe one day, Pope Francis will be canonized a saint. Yet I’m sure many agree that he walks among us today…

…already a saint.

………hugmamma

Image result for pope francis gallery

…celebrity…at what cost…

Watching the Pope disembark from his flight today at Joint Base Andrews, it was as though God Himself was walking down the steps. At least to Catholics who believe that he is God’s emissary on earth. Dressed in white, Pope Francis seemed translucent, although he appeared like a man who enjoys good food. He seemed untouchable, although he’s a man who enjoys being touched.

What a dilemma for Pope Francis. While waiting for the chauffeur to drive away, the Pope looked as though he were about to bolt from his seat. The cries of the people behind the fence tempting him to do what he loves doing…walking among them…touching them and having them touch him.

Celebrity? At what cost?

The tabloids are filled with stories of entertainers trying to escape the clutches of their adoring fans. Those who jostle their idol for some tangible proof that they were up close and personal.

Michael Jackson tried to give his fans what they wanted…access to him. Sadly, there were opportunists who took advantage of Jackson’s desire to be loved. He paid dearly. One could say…with his life.

Elvis Presley enjoyed his celebrity. It provided unimaginable wealth which he could never have dreamed of…growing up like White trash on the wrong side of the tracks. He, like Jackson, allowed fans access. Whether it was a wise decision, is something you can judge for yourself. Numerous books have been penned about Elvis by those who had access to the icon.

If I were to meet Pope Francis, I would automatically reach out to hug him. That’s just my natural inclination, unless I feel the recipient would prefer I not. I think the Pope would reciprocate my hug, but I’m not sure his security detail would even let me. Those charged with protecting the Pontiff are on high alert to protect him from all harm. And no one can blame them.

The Pope realizes that allowing his followers access might cost him his life. He is willing to take that risk. He has said…”I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time.”

Yes, Pope Francis is a celebrity…the state of being famous or celebrated (according to Webster’s Dictionary). However it’s unlikely that the pope considers himself a celebrity. He is what he has always been…

…a man among his people…

…a pastor shepherding his flock.

………hugmamma.