Memorial Day 2017


Honoring those who served on this Memorial Day. We must all take a moment to think about what freedom truly means. And to give a moment of silence not only for our veterans but for all the people in this country who have given up their freedom because of any kind of injustice laid upon them. Freedom is not just for some in America, but it is for everyone who came here, was brought here, was born here or was a native. And we all need to figure out a way to make sure this freedom is shared equally. 

Peace to you all.

Merry Eostre


So my dear and diverse readers in blogging land, I’m going to diverge from my normal protocol (well mostly) and stick my toe into the potentially controversial topic of religion.

Today as most of you know is Easter here in the US. And some of you may also know, because I have mentioned on my blog before, I am not Christian– although I do tend to be a very spiritual (and respectful) person. But there is one thing that I have found over the years perplexing (and maybe slightly tiresome) that I’m going to put out to you all.

Why do people–like almost everybody I bump into–feel compelled to wish me a Happy Easter and assume this has meaning to me? This has been going on for days leading up to today and each time I hear it, I just wonder what they think when they say it. Do they think that I too am Christian and celebrate this particular holiday or is it just something to say instead of: gee, it’s a nice day out?

To me it would seem the more appropriate thing to say might be: Do you celebrate Easter? And then this might open a conversation. Or they could even discuss their Easter plans and say: What a great day for Easter. Then it leaves the other person open to speak of their plans if they have any, or just listen if they don’t.

If someone is a completely different religion, say Jewish, wishing them a Happy Easter, is not particularly relevant to them. At Christmas time these phrases (Merry Christmas!!) happen too, although folks seem sometimes to be a bit more aware and sometimes offer a ‘Happy Holidays’ just in case.

I understand that people aren’t trying to be rude or anything, but it’s more about awareness of ones interactions with people and who they might be. Like the adage: don’t assume. Just because you believe something and it has meaning to you, doesn’t mean it does to someone else (even if it has meaning to a large population). It’s maybe not a big thing really. Just a small politeness. A tiny way to say: hey, I’m me, but maybe you’re you and it’s OK. We can all live here together with our own beliefs, traditions and truths. A way to keep trying to connect our world on a more individual level and not lump everyone into a category. Maybe if we tried this and took the time to get to know each person we met rather than treat them as a reflection of our own insecurities, there wouldn’t be so much hate and fear.

So what if I said to you: Merry Eostre. What would you say and how would you feel? Would you take the time it hear what it means to me? Or will you remain in your own story till the end…??

I hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful and blessed Sunday.

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Sorry I Just Had To…


I’m not usually very political on my blog, but it’s getting harder and harder not to be these days. I turn on the radio and listen for a few minutes and either get ill or have to turn it off. Every time I hear something to do with our president-elect (sorry but I will not give power to him by mentioning his name), and feelings of such sorrow come over me.

Today I heard a story on NPR where a Gay man was interviewed in Orlando. He is a prominent figure in that town and the reporter was recapping the Orlando massacre, how the city has handled it, how this man feels now in Orlando as a Gay man and as one in general.

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While he felt there has been an outpouring of support in the city, he said his biggest fear is in the future or this country’s attitude because of the election. Since the vote, he has experienced even more hate crimes and said there is more fear in the Gay community. My heart just sank. It doesn’t surprise me though….

The radio is just heavy with the news of death everywhere in the world: major world powers teetering on the edge of hate ready to explode, while others are in the thick of raging wars already. Innocent people trapped between warring extremes desperate to escape somewhere, anywhere safe.

And now so many places, including potentially our country, shutting our doors to these people. It sickens me. Our fellow humans! What is the difference from them and the Jews in Germany? Nothing! Since when have we become so narrow? Why is there so much hate in people’s hearts now? Hate against anyone different… But the sad irony is: we are all the same!!!

Cut us open: we all bleed, break down our cells, we all share the same DNA; hurt us, we all cry; we all have the same bodies, bones, skin, brain. It is crazy to me that some people look at cultural differences, or skin colors, gender orientations and to kill over these things? I mean, seriously: think about this….

When will we all just think about ourselves as HUMANS?

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All the chatter about Christmas…does anyone remember the first five letters in that word? What would He say about this behavior? Hey, I’m not even Christian, and I know!

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Maybe I will be wrong about this all and He-he-who-will-remain-nameless will get his act together and not start another world war. Maybe he will realize you can’t keep opening up your yap all the time and say the first thing that comes out of it just because you feel like it. Maybe congress will actually do something smart for once and realize what a blessed mess we’re in and hopefully not undo so many of the decent things that are in place just to show they can.

Any maybe Santa is real too…

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Vive La Difference!


Some parts of moving here have been hard: moving away from family and friends, leaving my home, making the decision to retire from a career. But one thing that I am really loving is the mix of people here compared to where I used to live.

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Welcome!!

Where I came from before, it was much more homogeneous. It was a rarity to see someone ‘different’ or unique or speaking anything other than English. Here it is an every day occurrence to hear a span of languages or dialects.

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Buenos Dias!!

Even where I work, we are all so different. There are many people of all different colors. It’s not always easy for me to understand everyone and how they speak, so I must be more diligent in my listening skills–never a bad thing for any of us.The accents are tricky so I try hard to understand what is being said to me. It doesn’t always work and sometimes I fail miserably.

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I hang out and listen quietly…

We all look different too. Many with beautiful dark brown skin and hair worn in all sorts of fantastic styles. Some with more light brown skin and the stories of their home back in Puerto Rico or Cuba. Many of these co-workers were immigrants and tell me their stories and have such interesting opinions during this political time. It’s fascinating to hear their perspectives.

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There are holes in the US system….

Many have heavy New York accents or speak outwardly about their strong Jewish or Christian faith. Some are teased a bit: like when they want their cup of ‘cawfee’, but it’s all in good fun. There is an acceptance of the openly gay and lesbian employees also, something that probably wouldn’t fly where I used to be. Everyone is just out…no hiding. It’s comfortable and cool.

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Come on out!!!

They might kid me about being a vegan and the strange drinks I bring in, but it’s not unheard of like before. I mean after all, this is a city! Yeah, most of them drink alcohol (not at work), but they understand the good stuff too. People bring in ethnic dishes to share, bake for one another and generally share cultures.

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Help yourself….

It’s viva la difference! Pretty much no-one cares….at least to your face. What they say behind one’s back, well, that I do not know. But generally I do get a sense, at work anyway, that the skin colors, ethnic backgrounds, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations etc. really don’t get in the way of anyone’s opinion of each other. Maybe other stuff, but not those things.

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Don’t be shy!!

This is quite a refreshing change. And for me personally, I completely love being immersed among so much color, culture and diversity!

Who Am I?


This is the unending question of an adoptee. We go through life trying to figure out where we belong, who we look like, how do we fit in and who we are… It does not matter if we come from loving homes (as I did) or if we ended up in less than perfect ones. Most of us have this hole that just can’t be filled by the families that picked us.

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It’s no-one’s fault. It’s just this genetic thing I feel that most of us yearn for deep down, adopted or no–to want to know who ‘our people’ are and what ancestral pool we crawled out of that made that person staring back us look the way we do.

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Well, because of that longing that I’ve had just about as long as I can recall, I took the plunge, and sent in some saliva to a company a couple of months ago and got some DNA testing done. It’s a simple, but accurate test from what they say. I’ve had friends do it and while it cost a little, for me, it was worth every penny.

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I’ve waited patiently for the results to come back and while some of them corroborated what my adopted Mom said to some degree, some of them surprised me. Here is what I found out:

Europe: 79%

  • Italy/Greece: 61%
  • European Jewish: 8%
  • Iberian Peninsula: 7%
  • Trace Regions: (Europe East 3% and Great Britain <1%)

West Asia: 21%

  • Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey) 14% Note: also places like Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, Turkmenistan
  • Trace regions: 7% Middle East ( Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan and Iran)

My adopted Mom had told me about my Italian heritage long ago and more recently that there might have been some Jewish background (although I still think of this more as a religion personally), so now it is all confirmed! It is very exciting to have some concrete information. She thought it was very interesting too.

But all the other cultural information was amazing. It kind of puts so many deep seeded things about me together now. Because as I’ve gotten older, and actually raised an adopted child, I have begun to believe that nature has much to do with how we turn out vs. nurture. We can’t get away from our genes, no matter how much we may think so. What is tied to our DNA is real, ALL of us. That is why we as a species have survived and do what we do all the time.

So then too, it is why we as individuals act a certain way, crave things, miss things, need things, want for things, feel certain ways, act a certain way, are shy or bold, crave a big family or like small family gatherings. I have always wanted to be a part of a huge family and now I wonder if it is my Italian/Greek/Mediterranean background??

It also seems to hurt me on some soul level when refugees from these areas are suffering; it’s like I’m suffering–maybe I am on some genetic level.This is the beauty of humanity and the binding of our molecules and atoms. We are all one when it comes right down to it.

Maybe this is the start of a journey to a distant place, a land and history that belong to me. A part of me that has not really forgotten. Because within my DNA my ancestors are carried: the memories of their lives, their footsteps, their journeys across land and oceans. Journeys that eventually brought two people here in the US together,  combining their DNA creating me.

And now I carry DNA and I gave it to my daughters who carry it on filled with all the ancestors from the ages. May we do them all honor.

 

 

 

Mitzvahs


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Trying to love the enemy, so to speak. It’s very easy to be kind and nice to those we like or who are good to us. It’s a lot harder to kiss the hand of the ones who snap at us, don’t include us or we know just don’t like us.

Yet it’s those very humans that we must sometimes force ourselves to see beyond their off-putting initial countenance. For on closer inspection, maybe there is some beauty hidden. Or, at the very least, it might make us feel good to take the high road.

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It’s tempting to scurry away. I know I want to climb deep within the recesses of some dark cave and never emerge. Usually though, oddly, I do the opposite and offer the spider a fly (of sorts) to appease its voracious nature. And for a time at least, it backs off–maybe even offers me a tasty morsel if I’m really lucky.

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The point being, that ultimately I’m creating Mitzvah: points in the book of heaven. Not that I believe in heaven particularly, but I do believe in doing good, being kind –even if it means facing a scary creature now and then –and if perchance I get some points besides, then all the better!

Guilt and Freedom


As I grow older I realize my sense of guilt seems to be leaving me. Many of us may carry around this sense of guilt for a variety of reasons–maybe it was because of the way we raised, maybe it’s our inherit personality type to ‘do the right thing’–but whatever it may be, for me as a younger person–this lurking sense often seemed to be there around the corner.

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The dark window of guilt

For me it was usually intertwined with a sense of responsibility–toward a relationship of some sort, a job or maybe a project. If I had made a committment, then it couldn’t be broken, even if it was killing me in the meantime. So I would stay in a job I hated because I had bills to pay, kids to take care of–and yes, I even felt guilty because of the people there (some of whom I didn’t even like that much) would be put in a bad position if I left! It was nutty.

My stomach would grind, headaches would be daily occurences and life would just feel miserable. Maybe many of you understand how this goes? We just stay put within a marriage, partnership, friendship, career or whatever because this deep sense of guilt or whatever you want to call it–nags at us to do so.

When I would talk to my Mother, she would say: chase the guilt fairy away! Funny coming from a Jewish mother who is suppose to be constantly handing out the guilt. But she was usually reasonable and helpful. Nope, it was me, doing it to myself. Usually (not always mind you) we do these things to ourselves! Because if you think about it: is anyone really holding a gun to our heads making us stay? (Yes, sometimes in an abusive situation someone is–but that’s not what I’m taking about here).

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I’m not guilty at all!!

But there comes a time–at least for me–when it seems we realize: hey, wait a minute, I don’t have to feel bad about this stuff anymore! And just like that a deep sense of peace washes over you and ahead you see: freedom! When we let go of the guilt, there’s freedom of choice and decision making to do whatever we need or want to do with our own lives. Because ulimately, this is the only person we owe anything to: ourselves! I’m not suggesting we should forget all our responsibilites, but we can make decisions about doing what’s best for ourselves at the same time!

Today I heard a term: Radiant Sovereign Self, I believe Margaret Fuller coined it. It’s so lovely and what I want to be. One can’t be this carrying around the burden of guilt. Another beautiful gift I got today was to hear a poem by Mary Oliver.

To me it was about freedom. I share it with you all.

The Journey.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.

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Too Small


Inspired by the movie “The Woman In Gold,” I have begun to read the book titled “The Lady In Gold,” by Anne-Marie O’Connor. It is about a famous painting by the Viennese artist Klimt which was stolen during the Nazi invasion of Vienna by Hitler, along with many other Jewish treasures and artwork.

The book goes into much detail about the horrors of that time and it has hung heavy on my heart. And I realize, though, it seems not much different from today.

When I woke up this morning, after having dreams about German invasions of a hospital (because of my new job offer at a hospital I suppose), I turned on the radio and heard about the San Bernardino shooting.

My early walk had already been filled with thoughts of what a violent species we were, and questions about why this was so. And here it was yet again! More death, more unnecessary bloodshed.

NPR was profiling the current types of people who do these sorts of things: the outcasts, the unhappy childhood, the ones that feel separate or not a part or who have been rejected. This was even Hitler! It’s shocking. But what makes that one person turn on their fellow human and decide to harm them–sometimes en masse?

Sometimes this person is so extreme in their behavior they are able to recruit others–even change a nation to be brutal! Slavery of any kind is also a kindred kind of violence unleashed upon others and is filled with superiority and hatred.

In looking through history, what little I know of it, it seems that many indigenous people did not act in these types of ways. There may have been some tribal fighting, but the random ethnic cleansing due to insecure and hateful personalities of individuals seems to be missing.

I often wonder if we are mutating to possess some gene that carries this violence within us. I pray we do not. There are days I fear turning on the radio and simply feel numb when I hear about more dead.

How do we stop this march? How do we make these people feel more a part? Can you start to sense when someone might do a heinous thing and help them see it is not the answer? Are we all simply lost?

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Maybe work places need to provide more time for employees to meet, gather and really talk. And make sure everyone’s mental health is stable. We need to really start caring about one another: our co-workers, neighbors, family members–even people you just meet in the street.

Because if we all are going to live in this volatile world together, then we are each responsible for the action of another. The earth is getting too small to believe otherwise!

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Sunday’s Visit


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Moving to a new place can be a lonely proposition. While I’m an introverted person, that does not mean I don’t like the occasional chat with a like-minded person, or something to do now and again. Having no job yet can leave a person like me (usually someone who likes to stay very busy) quite bored.

So on one of my walks the other morning, I had an epiphany and realized that it might be a great idea to visit the local Unitarian Universalist Church. I figured there had to be one in this area being a pretty culturally diverse and fairly liberal area.

Sure enough, when I got to the library, I googled UU churches in my area and happily I found one quite close to my house. Searching the website, I even found a sermon from the prior week and discovered that the minister, whose name is Harris, happens to be a woman! Who knew? That’s fine with me too. 🙂 Finding what she had to say worth hearing and hoping the people there were welcoming and warm, I looked forward to a visit today.

In my past, my UU Church was where some of best friends were found. I was much younger and visited with a friend, but it was a place of peace, acceptance and action. It was where I realized my true sense of spirituality and branched off with some special women into our own women’s group which we called Chrysalis. Because of this group, the Goddess sings within me still.

At first the idea of a ‘church’ was odd and uncomfortable to me since my Mother was Jewish and she had always hammered into me that I was too. We celebrated some Jewish holidays growing up when we were still around my Mother’s family, but since my step Dad was a WASP, we also had a Christmas tree and all the trimmings (which I liked better). For me, I never embraced either religion.

It wasn’t until the basement of the UU Church and my special women’s group that I began to know where my spirit flew. It was feminine, earthy, all-encompassing, magic and joyful. I was finally home.

I tried the UU Church in New England where I recently lived, but that one did not resonate with me and didn’t have a space for my special spirituality. It met in a real ‘church’ and we sat in pews, so unlike my old one from long ago. Plus, while some of the folks there were lovely, most just weren’t my people.

Walking into the building today, while it gave me sense of trepidation, it also felt like deja vu once I walked into the sanctuary. It was not as big as the one I used to attend, but was bright, with windows, modern and with comfortable chairs. People immediately came up to me and began to introduce themselves and ask after me. During the service new people were asked to stand and say who we were. There was a peace in the ‘sameness’ of the service, so like others I’ve attended.

It seems like the welcoming community that it’s suppose to be, there are many committees, groups, young people, older people, kids and the sermon was something worth hearing. I was invited for the lunch after, but didn’t stay. My introverted nature reached its burnout point and I needed to head home.

But I will definitely return next week. And I hope, eventually, it will feel more comfortable to me. That I too, will eventually find friends there and be a part of this community.

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