nurturing thursdays: …in adversity we find happiness

Recently I heard something which made a lot of sense…after I’d thought about it a little.

It was while listening to NPR radio, during a piece on a journalist who had spent the better part of his career in war torn countries. When he returned to the States and settled into a more mundane existence, he came to realize that he missed life in the war zone.

Like you, I was taken aback. “Is he nuts?” I thought. After hearing what he had to say, I totally got where he was coming from. And now, after living through my own personal war I am convinced the man is right.

My Easter posting was a very brief piece wishing everyone a blessed holiday. In it I asked that prayers be said for my daughter. At the time I revealed nothing except that she had surgery, not one, but two.

Hurriedly booking a flight to leave the next day, it would take more than 24 hours before my husband and I could reach our daughter’s hospital bedside. Until then we had no idea what to expect. The last bit of news we’d had…from her boyfriend…was that the ER doctor thought our daughter’s CAT SCAN showed internal bleeding.

And so began our war to win back our daughter’s prior good health.

Five weeks later, the battle is winding down. While I would like to declare victory, as the saying goes…”it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” And this fat lady for sure ain’t singin’…not yet at least. Not until our daughter’s dancing a rollicking jig again…contemporary-style.

Our daughter underwent surgery to remove a fibroid from her uterine wall. Because it was a polyp, the gynecologist wanted to be certain it wasn’t cancerous. Fortunately it wasn’t. Unfortunately its removal proved tricky.

While trying to unstick the polyp, the forceps pierced the uterine wall. Realizing this, the doctor halted the procedure deciding not to attempt removal of a second, larger fibroid. Deciding that the uterine wall would self-heal, the doctor released our daughter allowing her to go home. A few hours later she returned to ER in excruciating pain.

Later that evening our daughter was admitted as a patient. The next morning the gynecologist consulted with a general surgeon specializing in bowel operations. It was decided that in penetrating the uterine wall, the forceps also pierced the bowel wall. Bile had leaked out causing the unbearable pain our daughter had experienced. Without being totally coherent about all that would occur, our daughter underwent the second surgery to repair her bowel wall.

Two centimeters of bowel was removed. Rather than perform the less invasive procedure, the surgeon opted to get in quick, probably to halt the spread of more toxins throughout our daughter’s body. Of course the abdominal incision meant a longer recovery time. Hence, her hospital stay of 6 days.

My husband and I were by our daughter’s side two days later. We kept a vigil for as long as we could each day. We took turns walking the hallways so as not to cramp up while sitting in the hard chairs.

Having us with her allowed our daughter to relax into her recuperation. She was the child again…reveling in the loving care of doting parents. Best medicine in the world. Just what the doctor ordered.

Lucky for us our daughter’s boyfriend, whom we had not met until then, proved an excellent fill-in. He was with her throughout the entire ordeal, right up until we arrived. Even after our arrival, he’d visit nightly after working a full day. It took him half-an-hour to get to the hospital and 45 minutes to drive home to his apartment. They’ve only dated 7 months and yet, it seems they’ve been waiting their whole lives for one another.

Wedding bells will peal in the not-too-distant future. We couldn’t be happier for our daughter and her awesome beau.

Happiness is truly where you find it, and often it’s under the least likely circumstances.  I wouldn’t question it…

…i’d just…go along with it.

………hugmamma.

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in the blink of an eye…

That’s all it takes to lose what you love most…the blink of an eye.

As we flew 3,000 miles to be by our daughter’s side as she recovered from a second surgery to repair her bowel wall pierced during a surgery to remove a couple of fibroids from her uterine wall, I prepared myself for the worse case scenario.

Death.

I thought how fortunate I was to have mothered such a lovely, loving, young woman. A gift from God for which I have always been grateful these last 29 years. I would mourn her loss, but I would try to focus upon the years I was so blest to have her in my life. I would not give in to anger. I would honor her memory that way because she rarely, if ever, showed anger towards anyone. She forgave much quicker than I ever could.

So much I have learned and continue to learn from my dear, sweet daughter. Fortunately, I will continue to learn from her.

Our daughter is recovering. The incision is finally shrinking; the wound not so red and gnarly. She just returned to driving again. The need to earn a living as a dance teacher, a strong incentive. There are still bills to be paid, after all. Including the hospital’s $50,000 charge for the 6 days stay. It’s almost certain the surgeons’ bills will amount to as much, if not more.

If not for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, our daughter might have been another liability for the taxpayers. Instead, she’s been able to afford the $89 monthly premium, instead of the $200+ our daughter would have had to pay without the government’s tax credit.

Money matters. It helps pay the bills. It affords us respite from life’s daily challenges. And yet…

Without those we cherish the most, life would hold little meaning. Not that we should end our existence. Only that we should love deeply, remembering that nothing lasts forever. That, however, doesn’t mean our lives can’t end happily.

Quite the contrary. Abandoning ourselves to love will guarantee us…

…a very, very…happily ever after.

………hugmamma.

i’m a huge fan…

…of Michael Jackson’s talent. 

Once upon a time I would have done what I could to nurture my dream of becoming an entertainer.

I can remember as a child sharing a passion for music with my mom. Among my cherished memories are the occasions when she would play the ukulele while we sang her favorite Hawaiian songs. Among them, Ke kali neau, The Hawaiian Wedding Song.

My love for dance was initiated by an older sister who taught me…the fox trot and the cha, cha, cha. Later, in my teens, I went on to master and instruct others in…the mashed potatoes, the twist, and the jerk.

In college I entered a talent show. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a competition because I don’t remember any prizes being awarded. However, the next day I got a call which made me feel as though I’d won.

A guy called inviting me to be the vocalist for his band, explaining they did gigs at the local hangout for university kids. Thrilled to be asked, I nevertheless decided against a singing career. For a girl like me, born on Maui in the late 40’s, entertaining was too much of a dream to ever become reality.

The rest is history. At 65 I’m very contented with my lot in life…a housewife for 44 years with a loving husband and daughter who cherish me.

Michael Jackson, on the other hand, died a lonely man most of his life. If he’d lived longer he more than likely would have enjoyed some of what I have…in the love of his three children.

I have probably read all that’s been printed about Jackson, before and after his death. Not having kept abreast of his life and career once he separated from his brothers, I wanted to know all that there was about him after he died.

Reading various biographies about Jackson helped me formulate a more balanced perspective of the man. I arrived at my own decisions as to who among all the players in his life were there for the right or wrong reasons. These included…the lawyers, the businessmen and women…the reporters and others in the media…and family and friends. 

Without thinking twice, I’m certain that Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe both loved their husband very much. That Michael Jackson used them to his own advantage is also undeniable. 

Jackson was a master manipulator, having learned from his family and all those who wanted a piece of him financially. Unfortunately, that included everyone who had anything to do with him. How could they resist? He was an irresistible man, personally and professionally, by all accounts. 

Blame for the mess his life became was shared by all, including Jackson himself. It didn’t help that poverty set the scene for the way it unfolded, his parents and siblings grabbing for whatever they could to keep the dream of wealth alive. And Michael spending his way through billions of dollars faster than he could earn it.

It was apparent Jackson was trying to fill the hole in his psyche with all the material things he could amass. That was the reason the number of concerts for This Is It quickly jumped from the initially agreed upon 10, to the staggering amount of 50. He was in hock up to his eyeballs…and some. 

The man was a magician when it came to getting in and out of trouble, personally and professionally. Unfortunately he had to pay up sooner or later. Hence the lawsuits that never seemed to stop, even after his death.

Untouchable, The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson by Randall Sullivan, reveals the overwhelmingly muddled mania surrounding one of the most iconic celebrities ever to have been born. I could only repeat to myself as I read my way through the book’s nearly 600 pages that it was almost best that Jackson died when he did.

He was like the grey whale at the center of a sharks’ feeding frenzy that I’d seen on a television documentary. There would have been no shred of the man left, had his life continued to spiral downward as it was.

It was interesting to observe that among all the bad people in Jackson’s life, there was no differentiation as to race, creed, gender, age, or social and financial standing. Whites, blacks, Jews, Muslims, men, women, young, old, rich, poor…they all shared in the Sodom and Gommorrah that followed the star wherever he went.

The more I read of celebrities who succumbed to the trappings of fame and wealth, the more I’m thankful for having escaped going down that road. Even minor celebs have their share of unwanted drama, like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and the self-absorbed Kardashians.

Jackson was a smart man in many ways and determinedly naive in others. In the moment he could destroy all he’d built by shrewd business negotiating. More often than not, the little boy who didn’t have a normal childhood won out when struggling with the man Jackson was trying to become. 

As in all walks of life it seems, if our morals and values are not solidly grounded, we can easily be caught up in the confetti that swirls around us. If we could only remember that all those little pieces of paper eventually find their way…

…downward.

………hugmamma.

(Wikepedia photo)

 

 

friday fictioneers: the devil incarnate…

PHOTO PROMPT - Copyright - Adam Ickes

It was devastating to see her sitting there, on the edge of her bed, scissors in hand, cutting her dress into shreds. Thin, wiry strands of hair fell carelessly across her face. Eyes swollen and puffy, tears streaming down her cheeks, she was in agony. 

We approached, my toddler and I, fraught with anxiety at the horrible scene. Uncomprehending, we tried to console the poor soul. 

She would have none of our pity. Flailing her arms to keep us away, we could only watch as her consumption began.

Alzheimer’s was feasting on my mother.

I could do nothing.

Except cry. 

IMG_4143

seahawks all the way!!!

I’m not a foot ball fan, even though I was a high school cheerleader. For me it was more about leading the crowds in cheering our team onto victory.  And, of course, there was the especially close proximity to the players. At the time I was dating the captain.

With the Seattle Seahawks winning streak thus far, football has once again propelled itself front and center in our household.

The difference, however, is that our daughter is home to share in the good times with her dad.

When she lived in Atlanta and Tennessee, our daughter joined friends at a few of the local football games.

Having gone to a high school conservatory where she majored in ballet, our daughter didn’t partake of the normal social scene most high schoolers experience. Nonetheless, she took to football like a natural, although hockey is her first love.

As a Christmas gift for her dad, our daughter purchased tickets to the last Seahawk season game. It was a father/daughter day they’ll never forget.

Because I never knew my dad…he died when I was one…I’m 100% behind my husband and my daughter having a great relationship. And because the Seahawks did their part in nurturing that father/daughter bond, I say…Seahawks all the way! 

…bring back a superbowl win!!!Photo: We're going to the SUPERBOWL!!! #GoHawks……..hugmamma.

“a doubting thomas”

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a “doubting Thomas.” In fact  my husband, a former seminarian, has raised an eyebrow or two when I’ve taken to interpreting Catholicism differently from that of the Church.

I’m no pushover as a follower. Perhaps that’s the black sheep in me. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve always been a rebellious, youngest child. Tell me I can’t do something, and you’ve got me wondering…”Why not?”

Give me something I can understand and own for myself, and I will follow you to the moon and back. But never try to pull the wool over my eyes, for you will probably lose me.  Perhaps forever.

At the moment I’m once again a “doubting Thomas.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, “doubting Thomas,” it refers to one of Christ’s followers who, when confronted by the risen Christ is unable to accept that He is, in fact, risen from the dead. So that Thomas can believe, Christ instructs His disciple to place his finger into the holes in both hands where the nails were, and into the hole where a soldier’s lance pierced His side.

Only with physical proof could Thomas accept that his Lord and Master had indeed risen from the dead

Maybe that’s what I need. A face to face meeting with God.

You’re probably wondering what set me off this time. Well I’ll tell you.

Eastside Catholic School, an institution of some repute within our community, is in the midst of an uprising of sorts.

The school’s president and CEO, Sister Mary Tracy, fired Mark Zmuda, the vice-principal after learning that he married his gay partner last summer. She did so because, historically, the Catholic Church preaches against the evils of homosexuality. And according to her, she was acting on behalf of the very conservative Archbishop J. Peter Sartain formerly of Tennessee, who now heads the Church here in Seattle.

The outpouring of support for Zmuda from students, parents, the alumni, and the community-at-large has grown exponentially within the last several months. The protest has been brought to the attention of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and will probably make it onto Stephen Colbert’s show.

At this juncture it seems Sister Mary Tracy acted on her own.

The website of the archdiocese clearly states that it has no jurisdiction over Eastside Catholic School.  “…this school is a Catholic institution that is separately incorporated and is not part of the Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle. It is not sponsored, directed, administered or managed by the Archbishop of Seattle or his delegates.”

It’s almost a certainty that she won’t be turning to Pope Francis for help since he has publicly stated that he is fine with gays.

And it’s that papal statement upon which the protesters have decided to hang their cause. If the Pope is up for change, then why isn’t Sister Tracy?

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the school’s theatre director, also gay, intends to marry her partner this summer. To make matters worse, her contract was renewed along with an increase in salary.

Alumni member Mary Helen Nuxoll Kopczynski, class of 1996 and the school’s first female student body president, now residing in NYC, also questions how two long-time Jewish teachers at EC can follow Catholic doctrine since the school fired Mark Zmuda for “not following Catholic doctrine.” Kopczynski goes on to say that 17 teachers were fired in 2010 for wanting a grievance policy; they were each paid $7,000 for their silence. Kopczynski remarked

We are the crusaders, we are the product of this school and we don’t agree. I’m having a tough time understanding these weird unilateral, dark decisions. 

In addition, Kopczynski said the alumni want to see the school’s board include two parents, two teachers and two alumni, not just ‘rich people.’

She said the school’s attorney, Michael Patterson, donated $90,000 to the school and he is also the attorney for the archdiocese, which would seem to be a conflict of interest.

An adult protester made note that “If Jesus were here today, he wouldn’t be in Sartain’s office, he’d be out here with us.” You’d think that was a no-brainer, right?

Unfortunately the Church bureaucrats get so caught up in their rules and regulations that they forget to live like Christ. They keep Him high up on a pedestal away from His followers.IMG_2301

And so, here I go again…

…i’m a doubting thomas…and glad of it…

…hugmamma.

friday fictioneers: light my way

Copyright - Erin Leary

Like a beacon in a world gone dark

your love shines bright

leading me back from the edge of despair.

Without you

where would I be?

Committed to an asylum?

Or worse…

buried six feet under.

Don’t ever leave my side, 

even if I push you away

a thousand times and more.

Keep telling me I deserve you,

that I’m worth your love.

The shadows recede

as the light of your love

fills the cracks of a heart that was broken.

Mine.

Cherish me always.

Warm me. 

Show me the way to daylight again.

Like a flower

I will bloom.cropped-img_2034.jpg

nurturing thursdays: love among the ruins

Yesterday my daughter and I saw Meryl Streep’s latest film, August: Osage County. Other famous actors were cast, among them Julia Roberts.

We were prepared for some light-hearted fare, a comedy with a sprinkling of drama. Instead we were thoroughly surprised by the heavy drama about which there was very little to laugh.

The byline should have read…tragic mayhem in a fractured family. The film was reminiscent of  holiday dinners one hears about where family members spew venom across a table of delightful goodies.

If I had to describe the film in one word it would be…ugly. 

While both Streep and Roberts seem to be aging beautifully without the help of bottled potions, their depictions of the main characters  was anything but. I’m certain neither actress is really like the persons they portrayed, a bitch of a mother whose daughter followed suit.

I’ve always felt that parents play a big role in determining the outcome of their offspring. After all, we are their first role models, like it or not. Like the monkeys, our children imitate what they see us do. Understanding what it is they’re doing comes later, sometimes much later. Like when we’re adults unable to change who we’ve unwittingly become.

The silver lining to an otherwise tragic story is that we can break the pattern. We needn’t continue the legacy of bad parenting. It may take all that we have to cut the ties that bind us to an abusive past, but for the sake of future generations we must. Otherwise, endless lives continue to be heaped upon the landfill of lost souls.

August: Osage County is rife with lost souls…Streep’s husband who commits suicide because he can’t continue living with a venomous wife…Streep’s sister who ceaselessy hurls abuse at the son she fathered with Streep’s husband…Streep’s daughters, Roberts who has taken up the mantle of her mother’s razor-edge tongue, and her sisters of whom one can only find love with the brother whom she thought was a first cousin, and the other sister who is marrying a lech because he promises her an island honeymoon.

Perhaps the film’s characters are over-the-top, but I’m sure we all know someone who has suffered the effects of  abuse that made its way from one generation to the next.

Love is key to finding one’s way back from a life of purgatory on earth. Love of one’s self, nurtured by the supporting love of others.

…a big step forward is not being closed off to love…

………hugmamma.

...a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations...

…a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations…

“it’s the daughta!”

That’s what my husband and I exclaim when our daughter calls on the telephone.

“It’s the daughta!” To which she replies “It’s the madda!” or “It’s the fadda!” Inside joke. And one which has us grinning like cheshire cats and laughing like madhatters.

What’s she been up to these days, for those of you wondering since our daughter left ballet for contemporary dance?

Well, her recent performance in Houston Grand Opera‘s AIDA went splendidly.

upper right corner..."the daughta!"

upper right corner…”the daughta!”

Our daughter was the dance lead which placed her front and center in Dominic Walsh‘s choreography. She was also honored to be only one of two dancers featured in the show’s glossy program, alongside the several, notable opera singers from around the world. The other dancer was the male lead.

Not one to be put off by funky costumes, our daughter relished her role as the Ethiopian witch doctor who battles the Egyptian warrior intent upon enslaving her people for his pharoah. I applauded her wild, frenetic moves in battling with her armed opponent.

I imagined our daughter following in the footsteps of her great aunt, my mom’s eldest sister, a kahuna…a native Hawaiian witch doctor. I never saw my aunt “in action,” although I’m sure she was just as formidable.

When not the wild and wooly witch doctor, our daughter joined the other female dancers as high priestesses and slave girls. Years of training and performing ballet continue to shine through our daughter’s seemingly effortless moves. Her solid foundation in technique will serve her well no matter where she lands in the dance world.

On the final day of the show the dancers were invited to audition for the opera’s spring engagement of CARMEN. The entire NYC production will take up residency for a month-and-a-half. Houston’s opera was asked to provide one male and one female dancer to “cover” or understudy the dancers being imported from the Big Apple

As she sat on a plane leaving Houston bound for Pittsburgh and her next gig, our daughter was notified by email that she was chosen for CARMEN. Talk about an ego booster!

While performing great roles is of course a dream come true, for our daughter the process is equally as important. 

Working with artists from whom she can learn and grow, and sharing in the camaraderie of fellow dancers with varied backgrounds and experiences is something our daughter relishes. She does not like to stagnate…as a dancer or as a person.

As she charts this the next course in her dance career, networking is absolutely vital. Hence working with the movers and shakers from the New York production staff of CARMEN will put our daughter in touch with folks she might not otherwise have gotten to meet. Already she was excited to work with the woman who put the dancers through their paces as she auditioned them for the opera. Our daughter looks forward to working with her again, as well as the director and his assistant who did not make it to Houston for the audition.

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

And here’s the thing. Dancers in operas CAN make more money than ballet dancers. For CARMEN our daughter’s salary will be nearly double what she made with the ballet company. After being with them for 6 years, mind you! I’m certain even some of the principals don’t make as much as she’ll be making. 

But then, of course, there’s the flip side to every coin. And that’s the fact that our daughter must pay her own way…from housing to health insurance…and everything in between. So life isn’t always…a bed of roses.

Nonetheless, our daughter is thrilled to be the one picking and choosing which roses she’d like to smell as she wanders down life’s path. And as far as we’re concerned, hubby and me…

our daughter is the most beautiful and fragrant of roses…

………hugmamma

…don’t blink!

That’s what Heritage Action’s 31-year-old president Michael Needham is advising his Tea Party rookies in the House of Representatives.

Don’t blink!

In the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial “The Strategist Behind the Shutdown,” Needham is hailed as the craftsman behind the tragedy in which millions of Americans find themselves. Himself a pawn in the game of high stakes funded by the likes of billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch, Needham vows to wreck havoc with Obamacare.

So what is the endgame–is there any exit strategy short of Mr. Obama rolling over? Mr. Needham admits that ObamaCare will never be repealed as long as Mr. Obama is president, but he still thinks it can be defunded or delayed: “Look, Democrats usually win these fights because they do a better job of not cracking. Obama says he will never blink and we believe him. They’re very good at this. We’re obviously very bad at it.”

At some point, doesn’t there have to be a compromise? That’s the way the system works, after all. Mr. Needham agrees, “at some point in this fight somebody has to blink.” His mission, he says, is to persuade “the House not to blink first.”

And so conservative wonder boy, Michael Needham, wears a broad smile in the face of the government shutdown. “Why so?” you ask. Because Needham believes “…we are in a great position right now” since he feels the Republican Party and the conservative movement will win the political battle over the shutdown.

One wonders why Needham credits the democrats with not blinking first.

Perhaps it has something to do with the Democrats’ steadfast commitment to the 98% of Americans whom Republican delegate Mitt Romney claimed not to represent during his run for the presidency.  Helping the less fortunate among us is not a game of “see who blinks first,” as Needham seems to think. 

He says the path to victory now is for the House to keep passing bills to open up popular agencies of government, such as the national parks, the National Institutes of Health and Veteran Affairs: “I don’t think that the Senate can keep refusing to open up these agencies as the shutdown drags on and on and on.”

Like his predecessor Ed Feulner, founder of Heritage Action, Needham believes that ” ‘in the war of ideas there is no room for pacifists,…” Those within his party in opposition to Needham’s ideas “denounce him as everything from cocky to a GOP wrecking ball.” Sources interviewed for this article, “both inside and outside of Heritage have complained of late that Mr. Needham’s $7 million lobbying shop has become the tail that wags the $75 million think tank.” 

Michael Needham is unconvinced that shutting the government for weeks and weeks is a bad thing for the economy. His only concern is the repeal of Obamacare. All else is of little consequence.

So it seems fair to say that Needham, Cruz, and their financial backers have the President in their sights, and are determined to…

…take the president…down…

………hugmamma.

weekly photo challenge: saturated

I often times think my decorating style is…saturated.

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Wish I could go…simple…you think?

…nnnaaahhh!!!…

………hugmamma.